Golf Writer, Keith Cook, looks at the upcoming end of the golf season.
With cold mornings, the leaves changing, and, once again, dressing in three layers to play, another golf season begins its long curtain call here in the Midwest.
At the end of the season, there will be a thousand articles on “Golf’s Year in Review” where writers will discuss Jordan Spieth’s amazing year, how Suzann Petterson’s non-gimme putt reminds all of us of at least one golfer we play with, and how the younger generation is carrying the game forward as modern stars like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson begin to fade into the distance.
However, with respect to the Touring Pros; golf is not all about the Professional game. Golf is, and has always been, about a personal challenge and a personal experience. We love, enjoy, hate, or despise our own golf games; sometimes feeling all of those emotions in one round.
It’s cool to know Jordan Spieth won $22 million dollars in 2015, but the reality is, most golfers are thinking about THEIR games … and where THEIR games are at this exact moment in time.
Having played golf for coming up on 30-years, I know one thing for sure. If golf were all about the score, we’d all quit. Golf is an unsolvable puzzle where we can become overly obsessed with getting better and in that drive to improve, sometimes forget it’s also about the larger picture … the personal picture.
From my personal picture, this year I’ve witnessed two holes-in-one. One was the first-ever for a guy who’s played golf for nearly as long as I’ve been alive. The other was a hole-in-one, but in the wrong hole on a double green! That sucks, but a free drop and two putts later … nice par!
Personally, my attitude this year was adjusted by one of my worse shots. I was well left off the tee in the rough (nothing new for my game) and followed that up with a nasty duck hook, which hit – off of a tree – and ricocheted right into the cup for an eagle. It’s at that point, you have to realize the game of golf is both stupid and awesome at the same time and begin to enjoy it a bit more for its randomness.
I could remember the bad swings, the bad rounds, or the missed putts, but instead it’s the good memories of golf that keep me coming back.
On the golf course in 2015, I’ve seen beautiful sunrises, amazing sunsets, played some good golf, and had a great time. It’s been both a short and long golf season all in one.
In many ways, I can’t wait for the season to be over. However, then again, we’ve still got a month or so of golf left, so I’d better keep my clubs clean, my putting sharp, and get ready to tough it out until next spring!
BIO: Keith Cook has been a writer/blogger/contributing editor at localgolfer.com since 2013. He is a retired U.S. Military Veteran and amateur golfer living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer.
Earlier in the day, one of the announcers in the Golf Channel booth mentioned that it had been three years since the last hole-in-one on the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he predicted that we we’re going to see one today. Well….so be it. Francesco Molinari successfully carded a ONE just about an hour later.
It’s one of the most coveted tickets in golf, and the loudest! Fully enclosed, the 16th hole at the TPC Stadium Course is reminiscent of Roman times, where gladiators competed for their lives in order to satiate the audience’s thirst for bloody spectacles of glory by the competitors.
Albeit a little less bloody, Tour pros at the 16th are subject to boos for missing the green, boos for missing a birdie putt, but they will also be treated to raucous roars of approval for landing close to the pin. In a sport where quiet is the operative word, the 16th at TPC Scottsdale serves as the antithesis to the norm. A crowd of 15,000 spectators were on hand to watch Francesco Molinari as he took his turn on the 16th. At 133 yards, the players can practically throw the ball on the green. A fluid swing turned into a watch-full eye of the ball’s flight. The ball landed just a few feet right of the pin, did a little side-spin, and ever so slowly, inched its way to the center of the cup. NICE!
Molinari reacted with a huge smile, and thrust his arms up in the air encouraging the roar of the celebration for his hat trick. Beer cups immediately came flying out of the stands in approval, punctuating the landscape. And, true to the sponsor of the event, Waste Management, the mess was quickly cleaned up in ready anticipation of perhaps another, calculated to be 2,500 to 1 odds, shot at the cup.
Crowd anticipation of what Molinari would do with the ball-keep it or throw it to the crowd-was heavy as he lifted it from the cup. True to the fans, and typical of Molinari being a class act he did the right thing, and donated it to the fans.
“Gowf” as it was referred to in Scotland in the early 1400s, became so popular that in 1457, an Act of Scottish Parliament was passed to prevent the playing of the game on Sundays. The Act was signed into law by James II, King of Scotland, in hopes of preserving the skills of Archery and ensure people of the time focused more on military training.
Originally played with a roughly fashioned club and ball, the history and origin of the game was divined (as some Scots will tell) on the beautiful and rolling sandy links of Scotland’s East Coast.
Citizens of Aberdeen, Leith, and St. Andrews first nurtured the game and for over 500 years since, have helped grow the game to one, which is now played and loved by millions.
Not well known, the tradition of no golfing on Sundays still exists to this day on The Old Course at St. Andrews. Every Sunday, The Old Course is closed to golfers and is open to the public to walk and enjoy. The only allowed and rare exception to this policy is when The Old Course hosts prestigious tournaments such as The Open Championship.
On a typical Sunday, you will see families strolling the links, people walking dogs, and visitors taking pictures at famous course landmarks around the course, such as the Swilcan Bridge on #18.
It is something you have to see to believe at the “Home of Golf.”
TRADITIONS & POPULAR QUESTIONS
For newcomers to golf (and even for some golfing veterans), the terms, rules, and traditions associated with the game can lead to questions about their origin. Some of the most popular questions and their historical beginnings follow.
Why do we yell “Fore”?
Not surprisingly, the word “fore” is Scottish in origin. It is a shortened version of the word “before” with the meaning of “look out ahead.” The word “fore” originated in military circles, where it was used by artillerymen as a warning to troops in forward positions. Golfers, from as early as the 18th century adopted this “look out” warning for use on the course.
Why are there 18 holes on a golf course?
This popular question has its roots in the game’s long history. Originally, the links at St. Andrews were designed by topography with the holes and the course designed as “God laid the land.” The original design had 11 holes, which were played all the way out, and then the player would turn around and play them back to the clubhouse, for a total of 22 holes.
In the mid-1700’s, several of the holes were deemed too short and the course was redesigned to a full course of 9 holes out, and 9 holes in, for a total of 18 holes.
In the late 1890s, when all golf clubs in the United Kingdom formally recognized the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) as the official rule making body, golf clubs expanded (or reduced) the number of holes on their courses to 18 holes as well.
In fact, the size of the hole has been 4 ¼ inches in diameter since 1891, when the R&A issued a new rulebook stipulating, amongst other things, that the size of the hole should be standard on all golf courses.
In the earliest days of golf, holes were simply dug out with a trowel to an approximate size. Many times, the holes would be inconsistent from hole to hole (even on the same course) and would also vary in size at different courses.
Some stories credit the original size of a typical hole (prior to 1891) to being similar in size to the bottom of a whiskey bottle. This makes sense and may also be the reason for some of the inconsistencies seen in hole cutting … depending on the numbers of samples taken while cutting the holes.
However, the real history behind the 4 ¼ inch golf hole dates back to 1829 and the invention of the first known hole cutter at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club in Scotland. The Royal Musslelburgh Golf Club (the fifth oldest golf club in the world) takes great pride in this historical distinction and has the original hole cutter, which is still in existence today, proudly on display in the clubhouse.
It’s an interesting fact the exact measurement of the hole or the hole cutter itself was not purposefully sought out for any specific reason. The dimension is the result of the actual size of the original hole cutter itself, which was typical to the size of a common drainage pipe at the time.
Why Are There Only 14-Clubs Allowed In The Bag?
The official rule for a maximum of 14-clubs in a player’s bag was put in place by the USGA in 1938 and the R&A in 1939. But why 14-clubs and not another number?
The origin of the number is a legendary story, and one that gives American Bobby Jones and Britain’s T.A. “Tony” Torrance credit for settling the debate. Most are familiar with Bobby Jones and his place in the game. However, not as well known, T.A. “Tony” Torrance, was a dentist by profession and a well-respected amateur golfer in the United Kingdom. He was also a person of great influence within the R&A.
The story’s origin dates back to the 1936 Walker Cup, held at Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey. After a round, Jones and Torrance were discussing the numbers of clubs that different players carried. There was no limit to the number at the time, and it was common to see 20 or more clubs in a player’s bag. The issue had been in debate for a number of years, but to no avail, because no one could come up with an agreed upon number.
During the discussions, I’m sure over a drink or two, Jones shared that he carried 16 clubs in his bag during 1930, the year he won the Grand Slam. Torrance then shared, he had only carried 12 clubs in the 1935 Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham. “Let’s split the difference,” one or the other of them says, “and we’ll make it 14.”
The story sounds far fetched, but is given some credence, because Tony Torrance was about to become Chairman of the R&A Rules Committee, and Bobby Jones, not surprisingly, had significant influence within the USGA.
It should be noted, the 14-club rule was first introduced and established by the USGA in 1938, and in 1939, when Tony Torrance was appointed as the R&A Rules Committee chairman, the R&A adopted 14 as the fixed number as well.
Why do I buy a round for everyone if I get a hole-in-one?
One of the most puzzling and popular question in golf is why the tradition exists that the player who achieves a hole-in-one buys a round of drinks for anyone in his/her group and anyone who witnessed the hole-in-one.
This “tradition” has existed for hundreds of years, but over time, has been skewed (in some circles) to a larger financial burden being levied on the victor. In present times, you may have heard of buying a round of drinks for the entire clubhouse, paying for a round of golf for your entire foursome, or other more credit card defying levels of celebration, such as individual gifts to club members.
In fact, the tradition can get so out of hand, golfers may actually hope against a hole-in-one, because of the cost and social responsibility associated with it. As an example, in Japan, car insurance policies have “hole-in-one” insurance standards added just in case the worst of the worse happens to you – a hole-in-one.
While living in Japan, I once yelled, “Get in the hole!” to a nice tee shot and it was like I had wished the worse possible luck on my Japanese playing partner. He angrily replied, “No, No, No!” I quickly learned in Japan extravagant gifts after a hole-in-one are not only the expectation, but a serious social responsibility.
On a positive note, the Brits seem to have figured it out in their own steady, “Keep Calm and Carry On” style.I’m told in years past, hole-in-one obligations also got out of hand in the UK. In a nice merging of tradition and common sense, today’s modern tradition is back to the round of drinks for your foursome.
If the hole-in-one occurs in a tournament (or in league play), the lucky player with the hole-in-one buys a bottle of his/her favorite alcohol from the bar (Scotch, Bourbon, etc.) and shares the bottle with the larger group. This limits the financial obligation of the player and also more importantly, keeps the tradition intact.
BIO: Keith Cook has been a writer and contributing editor at thelocalgolfer.com since 2013. Follow Keith on Facebook (@KeithCookWriter) or on Twitter: @_KeithCook.