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range balls

Scabby range balls and bunker rakes: What we’d put into club golf’s Room 101

What would you eradicate from your golf club if only you had the chance? Tom Irwin and Steve Carroll set out their personal pet peeves
 

It was the place you faced your worst fear. In the classic novel, 1984, Room 101 was the Party’s way of maintaining control – a worst nightmare come true.

Now, it’s become synonymous with our pet hates and peeves and, on the most recent From the Clubhouse podcast, it appears Tom Irwin and I have plenty of them in club golf.

We set out some of them for you. We’re not looking for your approval – and you’ll probably shake your fist in rage at a couple of these. But let us know what you think, and what you’d into put your own club golf Room 101, with a tweet. To hear the rest, why not give the pod a listen?

Our top four entries for club golf’s Room 101

Room 101 driving range

Scabby range balls

We’re not talking a little scuffed. We’re talking cut. We’re talking mis-shaped. I’ve even hit some that were practically dimple free.

“I’m not going into a range and expecting pristine Pro V1s or TP5s. I am a realist,” I said. “But when you’re paying whatever you’re paying, you put your token in and you get balls that are cut and balls that are cast-offs that people have taken out of their own bags and are desperate to get rid of, then I just don’t see the point in practising. I’d like to see a minimum standard of range ball, which doesn’t look like the surface of the moon.”

golf slice

People who pull out on the morning of a competition

You’ve turned up, but your playing partners have not. They’ve looked at the forecast and decided they didn’t fancy it. They’ve withdrawn on the app, or rung the pro with a phantom injury, and now you’re stranded.

You’re hoping you can get fixed up. You’re hoping there is still a spot somewhere on the tee sheet. You’re begging any group around you to split so you can get a game. It’s not how this was supposed to go down.

“What I’m talking about is people who look out of the window, or look at the forecast, and it might be a bit spotty and go, ‘I’m not going to play in that Medal or that Stableford’,” I explained.

“They leave you bereft and without partners and this has happened to me loads of times over the years. I remember the pro, or whoever’s in the shop, would say to me, ‘your partners have dropped out this morning and currently we can’t pair you with anyone. We’re trying to find someone. But you might have to wait for 35 minutes, or do you see that group that are preparing to tee off? Maybe you can go and ask them if you can play with them?’.

“Unless it’s an emergency, when it gets to the morning of a competition, if you’re name is still in there, it should be as if it’s written in blood. Basically, turn up under all circumstances.”

golf divot

Relief from divots

A pet peeve that’s bound to wind up quite a few of you – given the rage that floods social media every time someone asks which rule in golf they would most change. But this debate is probably not going to go how you intended. Tom believes there should never be any relief provided for a ball in a divot.

Just hear him out: “People raise this quite a lot on Twitter, don’t they? It often comes up in tour events where someone might hit it in a divot and people will say, ‘it’s ridiculous they’ve been asked to play out of that’, and the balance falls down on people saying you should get a drop out of a divot because it’s totally unfair and you’ve hit the fairway.

“I find that incredible. It is possible to get a variable lie on a fairway that’s not in a divot, for a start. Many types of bad break exist in golf, where you could have hit an equally bad shot and got a totally different result. So fortune and misfortune is a massive part of the game.

“But the biggest thing for me is how on earth do you define a divot? What happens if you end up on an old divot that’s been replaced?”

He added: “It’s a really weird thing to focus on and it’s another variable in golf. It’s a skill hitting it out of a divot.”

bunker rakes

Bunker rakes

Have you calmed down yet? Be careful with your blood pressure again here. Tom would also like to remove all rakes from bunkers.

“Bunkers are supposed to be a hazard,” he insisted. “It’s supposed to be a hazard where you have the opportunity to recover. That’s why they are much more interesting than a water hazard. You have the opportunity to get up and down and play can continue without having to take a drop.

“I wonder, at what point in golf history, that it became expected that you get a pristine lie in the bunker? Even the most well-raked bunker does not give you a consistent experience. You might be up the lip, you might have one foot in and one foot out or you might be fortuitous and be completely central. So the experience is already random.

“These days, because of how equipment has moved on and what we now understand about coaching, and because at many golf courses you have this uniformity of sand and the expectation that the bunker is going to be raked, the bunker is no longer a hazard.”

He added: “It’s just somewhere else to play from and if we did away with bunker rakes we’d stop arguing about whether they were left in or out and it would return the bunker to being the hazard it should be because you would get variable lies.”

You can get into the whole conversation by clicking the link to listen to our podcast and why not let us know your views on what you’d put into Room 101 by tweeting us.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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