The Gallery.

UNFORTUNATE LIE AT SELBORNE IN SA WOMEN’S OPEN.

English golfer Rebecca Hudson was horrified to find her golf ball lying within a dead branch from a palm tree next to the tenth green at Selborne in the final round of the SA Women’s Open. And a strong wind was blowing the branch about, so she was faced with a moving ball. When the branch stopped moving, a rules official gave her the bad news: she must play the ball as it lies, or deem it unplayable and take a penalty drop.

Natural objects such as dead branches are loose impediments, and can be moved without penalty. But they cease to be a loose impediment if they adhere to the ball (see Definitions in the Rules of Golf). In this case the ball has become attached to the branch. If the removal of a loose impediment causes the ball to move, it’s a one-shot penalty.

Hudson took a double-bogey 6 on the hole, but wasn’t really in contention.

ERNIE’S VICTORY AT LYTHAM WAS IN THE BEST TRADITION OF SEVE.

In your Open preview (July issue) for Royal Lytham 8c St Annes, John Barton described the potential winner: «Where the US Open generally favours the grooved, one-dimensional mechanic, the Open rewards the charismatic artist, and that is true at Lytham as anywhere else. This summer, Lytham is not only looking to identify the champion golfer of the year, but a right full successor to Seve Ballesteros, too.»

Ernie (Els) encompasses this description very well. He is a popular player on all the tours, and displays amazing powers of recovery (maybe not as much as Seve did, but close).

His running chip that threaded the greenside bunkers on 16 late on Sunday afternoon, displayed his excellent imagination and cool headedness. All I saw was a chunked flop shot. Ernie had the guts to hit the chip-and-run shot that is just a magnificent tribute to the type of golf shots one wants to see from the Open champion.

Ernie also has two US Open wins in his resume, indicating a willingness to adapt his game to whatever is required to win.

Even the manner of Ernie’s victory was much of what Seve was about: his back-nine charge on Sunday afternoon was the epitome of Seve’s game.

After nine holes the smart money was firmly in favor of Adam Scott. But as is always the case of the untried and untested, Adam eventually gave in to the pressure and started looking. He hit most of his shots left on the last four holes.

In contrast, Ernie hit driver on the last to totally remove the cross bunkers from play, whereas Adam in an attempt to protect his score went with a 3-wood which brought them into play. Ernie is a deserved winner of the Open at Lytham, and hopefully Adam will not be «scarred for life» as Nick Faldo immediately alluded to after the fateful miss on the 18th green.

TOO MUCH MEDIA FOCUS ON HOW SCOTT LOST THE OPEN.

I received my August copy a few days after Ernie’s fabulous Open win. Boy, was I surprised by your editorial! It was like you had cheated, but of course the magazine had gone out a week or so before the Open started!

Coincidentally, Ron Sirak also featured Ernie in his US Open review in the same issue, and maybe this was the karma Ernie needed to come through!

However, his magnificent win was somewhat overshadowed by the media focus on how Adam Scott had lost the tournament. If Scott had squandered a few shots at the beginning of his fourth round, maybe the focus would have been different. Shortly after Ernie’s win, Sky News was airing the story of how unfortunate Scott had been, and how he (Scott) really deserved to win. And all the other media reports aired similar sentiments.

What all these people failed to recognize, however, was how well Ernie had actually played to win. Five or more of the world’s finest golfers, all contenders, had gone backwards on a tough course on a tough (windy) day. Ernie was one of only a handful of players in the top 18 finishers to shoot under par for the day! The rough was unlike anything I can remember in a major tournament. But that’s golf! They are the worlds best, and separated only by a bounce or roll of the little white ball! I say, ‘Well done Ernie! Fantastic win, you make us proud! And, bad luck Adam, you did your best!’

And, if by premonition, Keegan Bradley was your cover personality in the same edition, and he has just clinched the WGC at Akron!

SEVEN HOLES WITH PAPWA.

Golf companies today are always claiming how their latest clubs will give you extra distance. They have been doing it since the game began. I remember 45 years ago buying a new set of Spalding irons which claimed to be power processed and were said to hit the ball further. I was playing with them at the old Circle Country Club near Pinetown (KZN) one day when we bumped into the late great Papwa Sewgolum on the 12th tee (the halfway house came after the 11th). I told him about my new clubs and the power process theory. He asked to try out the 3-iron on the 12th, a shortish but tricky dogleg left par 5. He took a tiger line over the trees, and put the ball in the middle of the fairway, leaving a 9-iron to the green. I had my answer! The power is there in the hands of the right player. We played the last seven holes with Papwa, and what a memorable experience it was. He explained to us every shot he was trying to hit, and executed them perfectly.

HUMEWOOD AND DURBAN CC ARE TWO GREAT COURSES WORTH VISITING SOUTH AFRICA TO PLAY.

With respect to the controversial thoughts of letter writer Garry Southern (August issue). South Africa might not have any of the world’s great classic golf courses, but he’s got a cheek to suggest there are no outstanding courses worth the trouble of coming here to play.

We have many superb old parkland courses in Gauteng which are a joy to play, and a number of classy coastal layouts. While I’m not a fan of the modern estate courses that have proliferated everywhere, there are some creative designs among them which are a pleasure to play, even if subjecting oneself to riding a cart in order to get around.

In any case, the average golfing tourist today is not overly concerned with playing the «greatest» golf courses on the planet. He or she is content to experience a well-conditioned and beautiful course in pleasant surroundings, backed up by good facilities. And to my mind South Africa delivers on that score, at reasonable green fee prices.

From my grasp of the history of golf course design in South Africa, which you have detailed in past issues, we suffered from a lack of world-class golf course architects visiting this country in the first 30 years of the last century, so that’s why we don’t have a Royal Melbourne or Kingston Heath equivalent. The best designer to visit our shores in that era was Colonel S V Hotchkin, who gave us Hume- wood and helped remodel Durban Country Club, East London and Maccauvlei.

Which brings me to the real reason I am writing this letter? Every year I am horrified by the fact that Humewood is not ranked among the top 10 courses in South Africa. And this year you had the effrontery to leave Durban CC out of the top 10. Has your «rating panel» finally taken leave of their senses?

Humewood is a links unique to this country, where we don’t have links golf, yet your Top 100 suggests that it must bow to resort courses like Fancourt and Simola and the Wild Coast. Shameful! South African golfers don’t seem to appreciate their best golfing assets. Humewood should be treated like a national treasure, with golfing benefactor’s spending money to improve it, and raise it to world class standards. The same could be done with Durban CC.

I would like your readers to consult a website called Planet Golf (planetgolfusa.com), a good read when it comes to golf course architecture. It is put together by an Australian, Darius Oliver, who has played all the great courses in the world, more than a thousand of them. In his own personal list of what he considers the best 100 courses in the world, he includes both Humewood and Durban CC. They are near the bottom of the list, but the fact remains that he rates them both highly. And yet they can’t make Golf Digest’s Top 10 in their country!

This is what he has to say about Humewood:

«As genuine as links golf outside Britain gets and a superb test of your golfing capabilities, Humewood does not come highly recommended simply because it is a links but because it is a fine links and the continent of Africa hurts for good golf. Were it in Britain it would probably not rate as high as it does here but this is a rare jewel in South Africa and ought to be one of the first courses confirmed on the golf itinerary for anyone making the trip to this intriguing country.»

SHOULD GOLF CLUBS HAVE ‘CHEAP’ GOLF DAYS?

I read a disturbing article that a beautiful course like Pearl Valley is struggling, or should I say, is not making money. I have an idea regards cheap golf for all. Let me know what you think.

Many courses are expensive and it is not always possible for ordinary people to play golf. Even myself, a teacher, struggles to play more than twice a month, and I am a club member. What can be done to help golf clubs and golfers who cannot afford expensive green fees?

Why don’t we have a once-a-month R100 for a round of golf day for non- members and affiliated members? More courses will have more players visiting them, and they will still make money in their bars and halfway houses. We will also be able to intro-duce golf to more people. And courses will have ‘feet on the fairways.’ The golf club also gets the chance to introduce and sell their club.

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