Sport on TV: Seve's story shows strides golf has taken – in wrong direction

When Seve Ballesteros dinked a tricky shot along the ground between the bunkers during The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1976, "golf had a new entertainer". So said Gary Lineker in Seve: The Legend (BBC1, Sunday), adding that the Spaniard combined "sport and showbusiness". So Seve was the new rock 'n' roll of golf – or at least the new chip 'n' run – and his premature death in May adds to the impression. The sport whose only claim to craziness was lurid trouserwear could boast flair of a different kind.

Jimmy Tarbuck put him up there with Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and George Best. The comedian was grateful for the tips Seve had passed on, though the great man might have wondered why he was playing with the likes of Tarby and Bruce Forsyth when he could have been mingling with Frankie and the King.

It was left to Peter Alliss, the king of curmudgeon, to break the spell cast by golf's magician. "He could be crotchety," the commentator said, after claiming that watching Seve was like rushing to catch the latest Clint Eastwood film – presumably along the lines of "Go ahead, putt, make my day". When Seve thrashed his way spectacularly out of the woods, he always felt lucky.

His caddy Billy Foster may have been closer to the pin when he told Seve before an incredibly difficult shot out of the trees in Switzerland: "I know you're Seve Ballesteros but you're not Paul Daniels." One wonders if Seve's love of English culture stretched to an appreciation of Daniels, McGee et al, but needless to say he nailed the shot. Forget the little magician, this was more Harry Putter (or is that Dirty Harry Putter?).

Comparisons, of course, are odious and Seve's greatness surely lay in how different he was from everyone else. Think of Tiger Woods' hothouse boyhood or the pictures of Rory McIlroy swinging away merrily on TV at the age of nine. Here we are told that in his first competitive round as a child, Seve was 51 over par after nine holes. We see the adult Seve still digging little holes in the beach and planting tree branches in them for flags, and we hear that he used to drive his parents to distraction as he chipped the ball back and forth over their farmhouse deep into the night.

He grew up in a different world from the cocoon inhabited by the modern golfer. And while the likes of Woods fall off their pedestals as victims of the high life, Seve's standing with his adoring public remained undiminished. He could always find a way out of the woods.

* There were a couple of surprises last week. In Four Rooms (Channel 4, Tuesday) someone tried to flog a bottle of George Best's bespoke wine. The dealers weren't too impressed, but the remarkable thing was that the bottle wasn't empty. A woman also tried to sell the memorabilia from her time as a Playboy bunny, which would have gone well with a Best claret. Full of body and all that.

On Top Gear (BBC1, Sunday) it was no surprise to see Sebastian Vettel record the fastest time as the Star in the Reasonably Priced Car. But of greater value was the look on Jeremy Clarkson's face when Vettel told him he watched Top Gear at home, with dubbed German coming out of Clarkson's mouth. As the dealers in the Four Rooms will know, some things are priceless.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project