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The Sunningdale Foursomes offers a glimpse of golf’s future

Golf needs to be more inclusive to women, take less time and have a more relaxed vibe. Sounds a lot like that latest disruptor, the Sunningdale Foursomes, est: 1934
 

What do Robert Rock, Amy Boulden, Georgia Hall, Charley Hull, Mike Davis and Andrew Strauss have in common? They are all playing in this year’s Sunningdale Foursomes.

Pros, ams, women, men, old (sorry Mike) and young playing together, from the same tees, in mixed pairs with an equitable, uncomplicated handicap system.

Before you say ‘here we go again, woke NCG and their extolling of the modernisation of golf’ – not so. Yhe Sunningdale Foursomes was first played in 1934.

Retaining its regular date in the second week of March ever since, past winners include Max Faulkner, Peter Alliss, Sir Michael Bonallack, Peter Oosterhuis, Sam Torrance, Ronan Rafferty and Chubby Chandler. Each year the field routinely boats tour professionals and former Ryder, Solheim, Walker and Curtis Cup players, both male and female.

What’s more, these players all play from the same tees and to the same par using a unique and simple handicap system where:

Male professionals play off +1
Male amateurs play off 0
Lady professionals play off 2
Lady amateurs play off 3*

Foursomes is also quick. For the most part the tournament gets through 36 holes a day, despite limited daylight hours. Even rounds going the full distance are scheduled to take under four hours.

I have played three times. In 2015, with a retired LET pro, knocked out in the 3rd round by a pair of teenage, Swedish, female phenoms. Losing in the field in 2016, largely due to a broken fly, and finally losing in a storm in 2019 with my teaching pro.

Foursomes rules. It digs into the very core of what makes golf great. Patience is a virtue as you are left up a tree by your partner, or you miss a crucial three-footer. A great foursomes player never apologies, and thinks only of what he or she is leaving their partner with. It rewards steadiness. A pair will lurch from the sublime to the ridiculous, grooving out par after par or never quite striking the same chord. There is an intimacy to foursomes that no other format comes close to. It can of course be funny, in that giggly, schoolboy way that the best golf is. Golf is ridiculous and there is nothing more ridiculous than hitting one off your knees out of a gorse bush that your partner has planted you in.

As golf fumbles around in shorts, with dance music humming in the background, telling us not to blink, and trying to pretend it is something it isn’t like a drunk uncle at a wedding, I can’t help but think that the TikTok generation would prefer the speedy, silly, equitable, early spring days at Sunningdale than the contrived vibes of Mayakoba.

Have you ever played in the Sunningdale Foursomes, or even teed it up in your own club’s alternate shot event? Let me know with a tweet.

This year’s Sunningdale Foursomes has been cancelled following overnight snow. Check out their website.

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