Each week, four of the NCG team get together to ask each other the pressing questions. The only rule is the question must be golf related. In this edition, Alex Perry, Dan Murphy, Keel Timmins and Steve Carroll take to the tee to discuss the latest R&A initiative and much more…
Alex: I have a few friends who prefer long par 3s to short par 3s. Are they mad? I can’t stand them. What say you?
Dan: Obviously a short one. I’m not sure I have ever met a golfer who has relished the long par 3 as a concept, which makes you wonder why you find so many of them. One of the many ways I judge a course is on its set of short holes. You should ideally hit a different club on all of them. At the best courses, you will often find that each one plays in a slightly different direction.
Keel: Short par 3s are much better. They’re more memorable, often more strategic, and a lot more fun to play.
Steve: “I love hitting 3-wood into a long par 3,” said no club golfer ever. A good short, strategic par 3, that’s a test of accuracy but rewards a well executed shot, is surely what we all want.
Dan: An existential one from me today. What is the point of a starter?
Keel: They serve to only further the embarrassment when you invariably heel one into the nearest bush. Head down and make the walk of shame to locate your ball, or make an awful joke about how you’ve only just got out of the car and you’re still feeling a bit stiff.
Steve: Get a good one and they can ease you into the day. Get a bad one, as I did recently at a certain course where he reached through my mid-layer to see if I had a collared shirt on, and it sours the whole experience. I can live without them.
Alex: I kind of get it on a public American course where every tee time is blocked out for the entire day, but that’s it. So many times I’ve arrived on the 1st tee of a deserted course and had to go through the motions with a starter. I’m with you. What is the point?
Keel: Carry, trolley or buggy?
Steve: Carry. You’re supposed to get a bit of exercise, aren’t you? Trolleys and buggies are for the old and infirm. I can never get into the flow of a round when in a buggy. I don’t want to feel like I’m racing round.
Alex: I use a trolley because I have my dad’s back. I’m being semi-serious, but largely if I carry I’m absolutely shattered by about the 6th hole and it affects my swing. I don’t like using a buggy, unless I’m on a resort where the distance between the green and next tee often requires your passport.
Dan: Carry for me. It’s way more convenient and takes away all of the faffing. Totally appreciate you might use a trolley or buggy for health reasons or because it’s 35˚ but otherwise you really should be walking. It’s amazing how much of the golfing experience you lose if you are in a buggy. You need to be walking to appreciate a course fully.
Steve: I once witnessed a former captain of a club tell a prominent lady member that she should be at home making his tea. With that sort of attitude deep-seated in some venues, will the R&A’s Women’s Charter launched this week make any difference and, if not, what will?
Alex: As far as I’m concerned, it’s the same as any sport – if you want to boost participation numbers of a certain demographic, then you go in at grass roots level and hit it hard. And it needs actual people who know what they’re doing and what they’re talking about to get involved. So-called “social influencers” aren’t and can’t be the answer. It’s a positive start from the R&A, that’s all I’ll say for now.
Dan: Good question, Steve. While the R&A’s initiative – and cash injection, let it be said – is welcome, it is a bit rich that an organisation who didn’t have any female members until as recently as four years ago are now telling us all to be inclusive. I’m afraid I don’t see anything changing very quickly in terms of female participation in this country although I dearly hope I am wrong.
Keel: You’re probably right and I do fear that these attitudes are held at golf clubs up and down the country. But it is a positive sign that the R&A have setup this charter and in the process have admitted that there is a problem with the current state of women’s golf. You only have to cast an eye to the situation with the Ladies European Tour to see that drastic change is needed in the UK and indeed Europe. This begins at the grassroots level.