The Hacker: My half can't save Wales but at least they enjoyed the footy
Sunday 04 July 2010
I trust that Dr Frank Stableford approves that, every year, 20 or so of his devotees gather rather rowdily to celebrate his immense contribution to golf.
His points system of scoring is blessed by millions of golfers around the world and nowhere is he appreciated more than at Wallasey golf club on Merseyside and The Glamorganshire in south Wales where special annual tournaments are held.
It was at Wallasey in the early 1930s that the good doctor perfected the Stableford system but it was at Glamorganshire in 1898 that he first experimented with it. The 30-year gap is maybe explained by his absence as an army surgeon in the Boer War, the First World War and one or two other military campaigns.
When we at Glamorganshire marked the centenary of his first attempt with a commemorative event, Wallasey sent down two teams of four and the bonds formed over a few drinks until 5am have led to an annual fixture.
Last weekend was the 12th such meeting and it was our turn to be hosts. In recent years, Wallasey have played a preliminary game at Royal Porthcawl to where Dr Frank moved when he returned from the Boer War. There is no record of him trying to develop his system there but he won the club championship and reached the semi-final of the Welsh amateur to prove he was a tidy golfer.
This year we put out a team of Porthcawl members in a match of greensome foursomes. It was a hot, sunny day and the course was in great condition having staged a European Tour seniors tournment the previous weekend.
The club has purposely not watered the fairways because it wanted to foster fast-running links which they were – especially when the ball was running backwards. At the holes that required an uphill approach shot, you had to be sure to land the ball well on to the green otherwise it would roll back into a bunker or soon join you at the foot of the hill. I am told it builds character.
I was partnering Bob against Les and Neil whose combined handicap was 18 compared to our 40 (my 28 comes in handy sometimes). That meant we had 11 shots and, in a close game, made the most of them to be one up coming down the 18th. I hit my drive miles to the right but Bob was straight down the middle. Unfortunately, we couldn't find either so we shook hands on a half.
Since Porthcawl had lost the other four games, it was a solid victory but it was only a friendly. The real match was the following day at Glamorganshire in which I couldn't play. On holiday in Exmoor, I made a special journey back to play at Porthcawl but I couldn't stay for the Sunday.
Sadly, we lost 3-2 and the bow-tie award went back to Wallasey. The award is a bronze replica of a polka-dot bow-tie beloved of the doctor who drove a yellow Rolls Royce. Immediately after the presentation the teams sat down to watch the England-Germany game and it was sad to see our visitors' euphoria gradually disappear.
In accordance with Wales' proud record of never taking pleasure from the sporting disappointments of our neighbours, we didn't laugh until at least 30 minutes had gone.
I am not sure Dr Frank would have approved of such rank bad sportsmanship.
Tip of the week
No 56: keeping the correct loft through impact
It is important to maintain the right amount of loft on the club face through impact. If the club is swung too steeply, the club face will be de-lofted and the ball will travel too low – and vice versa for a shallow swing plane. With either of these faults, distance control and ball flight will be inconsistent. It is easily corrected with this routine: set up to the ball in your normal manner, move the club to position the butt of the grip in your navel, and hold down on the shaft to take your normal grip. Maintaining your posture, swing back normally to waist high, keeping the butt of the club in your navel. You should see the club face remain square. Rotate the body back through impact and to waist high in the follow-through. Do this slowly to achieve the correct feel. If the butt of the club stays in the navel, the club face should remain square and with constant loft. Try to repeat this feel with your normal swing.
Simon Iliffe, Head Professional, Bramley GC, Surrey. www.theshortgame.co.uk
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