fbpx

Why golf’s modern crusaders should take a leaf from Sunningdale’s book

Once again, Tom Irwin came away from the Sunningdale Foursomes thinking there is nothing better than golf in its purest form
 

Be it shot clocks or mixed-entry gimmicks or team events or six-hole sprints, there has been no shortage of attempts to modernise golf tournaments in the last few years. Recently I played in the Sunningdale Foursomes, and I left once again feeling that those trying to reinvigorate the sport should spend a few days in this special corner of Berkshire each spring and see if anything can be learned from this ancient, storied, idiosyncratic event.

This year in the wind and rain, the reigning Women’s British Open champion Georgia Hall teed it up in a field that also included two men’s European Tour players, Challenge Tour players, a plethora of strong amateurs, and people like me.

Past winners include Max Faulkner, Peter Alliss, Sir Michael Bonallack, Peter Oosterhuis, Sam Torrance, Ronan Rafferty, Chubby Chandler, Luke Donald, and Ross Fisher.

In recent years Paul Lawrie and his son have formed a pair, Sandy Lyle is a regular, they all come and subject themselves to the early spring weather, the foursomes very own handicap system, and the likelihood they will be eliminated by some chancers no one has ever heard of in the second round.

Sunningdale Foursomes draw sheet

That unique handicap system allows pros, amateurs, men and women to compete fairly from the same set of tees. The foursomes element helps of course, and what a curious leveller alternate shot can be.

This year’s weather only added to the challenge. Rain and wind blighted the first two days and certainly in our matches it was a relief to be without a card and pencil.

In our final match the combined handicap of the group was +8, we lost at the 17th when approximately 18-over-par.

Scoring that morning had been rather better, but as the rain clouds gathered over lunch and our defeated opposition settled in at the bar with a bottle of red, you did wonder who had the better deal.

Tom Irwin Sunningdale Foursomes

The Foursomes has been around exactly along as the Masters. In their own way, both wave in the start of another season and can be counted as two of golf’s most brilliant and bonkers events that you hope those aiming to modernise the sport choose to copy not change.

Tom Irwin

Tom Irwin

Tom is a lifetime golfer, now over 30 years playing the game. 2023 marks 10 years in golf publishing and he is still holding down a + handicap at Alwoodley in Leeds. He has played over 600 golf courses, and has been a member of at least four including his first love Louth, in Lincolnshire. Tom likes unbranded clothing, natural fibres, and pencil bags. Seacroft in Lincolnshire is where it starts and ends.

Latest Posts

short golf courses

Courses and Travel

What will it take for short courses to take off in Britain and why are we so dismissive of them?

By

Read full article about What will it take for short courses to take off in Britain and why are we so dismissive of them?
Rockliffe Hall

Courses and Travel

Rockliffe Hall: The hardest course in England

By

Read full article about Rockliffe Hall: The hardest course in England
Isle of Purbeck

Courses and Travel

Isle of Purbeck: The breathtaking course with a special backstory

By

Read full article about Isle of Purbeck: The breathtaking course with a special backstory
best hotels in dominican republic

Courses and Travel

Terrific Tortuga and wonderful Westin: Which Dominican Republic hotels should you stay in?

By

Read full article about Terrific Tortuga and wonderful Westin: Which Dominican Republic hotels should you stay in?
Stoneham Golf Club

Courses and Travel

Stoneham: This rare Willie Park heathland is a real treat

By

Read full article about Stoneham: This rare Willie Park heathland is a real treat
Leven Links

Courses and Travel

Leven Links: The first of its kind and one of the finest finishing holes in golf

By

Read full article about Leven Links: The first of its kind and one of the finest finishing holes in golf
dominican republic golf

Courses and Travel

Dye Fore and the Dog: Golf in the Dominican Republic is a dream

By

Read full article about Dye Fore and the Dog: Golf in the Dominican Republic is a dream
Hallamshire Golf Club

Courses and Travel

Hallamshire: From city centre to national park

By

Read full article about Hallamshire: From city centre to national park
Belton Park

Courses and Travel

Belton Park: Golf in a National Trust estate

By

Read full article about Belton Park: Golf in a National Trust estate