ups W ing T H E W I S L E Y G O L F M A G A Z I N E | S P R I N G 2 01 9
FRANCESCO MOLINARI FROM SERIAL CONTENDER TO CHAMPION page 12
NEPAL PRATIMA SHERPA FOLLOWS HER DREAM OF BECOMING A PRO page 4
OUTER HEBRIDES AN UNFORGETTABLE RUGGED GOLFING EXPERIENCE page 26
JAPAN A GOLFING EXPERIENCE & DESTINATION NOT TO BE MISSED page 41
CONTRIBUTORS Robin Barwick is a sports writer and managing editor of Kingdom magazine, the quarterly golf & lifestyle title founded by Arnold Palmer in the United States. Robin has contributed to newspapers and magazines internationally and has been a regular contributor to Golf Monthly in the UK for nearly 20 years. Louis Blattler is a personal trainer and writer. His latest venture is focusing on helping golfers achieve physical peak. He writes predominantly about sport, fitness and cars and now future stars.
Matt Cooper is a golf journalist who works for ESPN, Golf365 and NBC Rotoworld among others. He has covered many Ryder Cups and Open Championships, but his favourite stories have emerged in the sport's furthest outposts such as Kazakhstan and the Seychelles. Sarah Forrest is an established freelance golf travel journalist. Being truly passionate about golf, her knowledge and enthusiasm about the game shines through her lively articles. Sarah is also a golf travel consultant to enhance club membership experiences through global golf travel. Simon Holmes is a golf pro and instructor to all levels of player from total beginner to tournament professionals. Besides holding seminars on elite performance and habits, he also teaches at The Wisley. Alison Root is the editor of Women & Golf, a bi-monthly magazine and website that provides female golfers with the latest news and features, instruction, fashion, equipment, travel and lifestyle.
Ben Sargent is a PGA professional and retail manager at The Wisley. He contributes to Golf World and National Club Golfer magazine, specifically their Top 100 course ranking lists. He is passionate about all things golf, especially its history, course architecture and golf travel within the British Isles. Tamara Will is a creative thinker who has a knack for words and an eye for detail. She enjoys crafting articles on a broad range of topics and isn't one to shy away from a challenge. Storytelling is what drives her – either through writing or visual images.
EDITORIAL & DESIGN The Ad Store UK +44 2071 510 180 firstname.lastname@example.org 2 | upsWing | spring 2019
CONTENTS 4 A girl with a dream Pratima Sherpa: the 18-year old Nepali teen is following her dream to become Nepal’s number one female golfer. 12 Francesco Molinari 2018 Open Championship winner Francesco Molinari talks about passion for the game, hard work and how every setback can be a lesson learned. 20 A future star in a dream car We take the up-and-coming football talent Jude Russell for a spin in the Bentley Continental GT. 26 Raw golf We’re in the Outer Hebrides, experiencing the rather rough but beautiful Askernish golf course. 30 From staid to stylish Long skirts and cloche hats, matching argyle jumpers and socks – how fashionable active wear is challenging golf etiquette. 36 A (time)piece of history When history lives on in form of truly exceptional and limited timepieces. 41 Big in Japan Stunning golf courses, mouth-watering food, hot springs volcanic baths – a journey through Mie prefecture in Japan. 48 Charles McGill How golf and particularly golf bags shape a lifetime of art. Charles McGill’s choice to use the demanding material to create his art has deep symbolic meaning. 52 Seeking perfection What have Miura, Ping, PXG and Seven Dreams in common? The drive to create ‘yuiitsu muni’. 56 From gaming to training Playing Pebble Beach or The Old Course at St. Andrews, at 9 pm or in the deepest winter, simulators make all that possible. And they get more and more realistic. 58 Simon says Golf pro Simon Holmes looks at what lies ahead in 2019. Upswing magazine is published twice a year for The Wisley Golf Club plc. by The Ad Store UK. Please email all magazine enquiries, comments or complaints to email@example.com. The Ad Store UK believes in upholding the highest standards in journalistic integrity. © 2019 The Wisley Golf Club plc. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. The articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinion of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers. The contents of advertisements and advertorials are entirely the responsibility of the advertiser. No responsibility is taken for unsolicited submissions and manuscripts. We use paper from sustainable sources.
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DE AR RE ADER Exciting, fresh, unconventional and seriously passionate about golf. That might be a good way to describe our new magazine Upswing. But why create another golf magazine? After all, aren't there already enough out there, covering seemingly every aspect of the game from tournaments to reviews of yet another new driver to the hottest tips on how to improve your swing? Which is exactly why Upswing is different. Of course, golf will always be the main focus of Upswing. However, we aim to create something bigger: a lifestyle magazine with a vision to capture the essence of what it means to be an avid golfer in today’s world. Golf is changing, it’s becoming more inclusive and open but it’s never losing its fascination. Here at The Wisley, we understand that the world of golf is progressing and that it needs a magazine that’s just as innovative and forward-thinking as we are. Something that challenges the current status quo. Expect a wide range of topics that are of interest to the modern golfer: captivating interviews and stories, golf fashion with an edge, luxury motors, as well as travel and art features. We see golf as more than just a pastime activity. It’s a lifestyle and a passion that connects like-minded people. I hope you enjoy the first edition of Upswing. JOHN GLENDINNING, Chief Executive of The Wisley Golf Club
upsWing | spring 2019
The Wisley | Golf Mag azine | 3
Even though Nepal has no history of professional golfers competing beyond its borders, Pratima wants to turn professional and compete on the world stage.
A girl with a dream The story of a young woman on her way to becoming Nepalâ€™s first female professional golfer. Words Matt Cooper
“She got here yesterday,” he told them with a proud smile. “From Kathmandu in the Himalayas.” “Really?” they gasped. “Oh yeah,” affirmed Horovitz. “Really.” “But how?” one of them asked. “How did that happen? How did she get here?”
Arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal’s capital city is a dizzying experience. The road into the centre of Kathmandu is a riot of trucks and buses, tuk-tuks and carts, motorbikes and scooters. Engines throb, horns blare, the air is thick with fumes and dust.
n late April 2018 Oliver Horovitz peered out from the third tier of Chelsea Piers driving range in Manhattan and smiled. In front of him a short girl was bashing balls into the far distance. They soared into the air, high above the Hudson River, crashed into the high netting and fell to the ground.
Pratima Sherpa, 18, lives in a shed by the fourth tee of the Royal Nepal Golf Club with her father, Pasang Tsering, and mother, Kalpana.
Around him he was acutely aware that fellow New Yorkers were assembling to admire this young golfer’s swing and her air of giddy excitement. No one asked any questions, yet their curiosity hung in the spring air. Horovitz took their cue.
As that road takes a sharp right and sweeps down the hill there is much to distract the newly-arrived visitor. A dirt track emerges from the jungle, freight lorries and tractors spitting sand high above the tree line. Food sizzles on stoves set up by vendors who sell to the tourists and mourners who are heading towards the Hindu cremation site of Pashupatinath. Its thick smoke drifts into the sky above the heads of the ash- and paint-smeared holy men who pose for photographs with foreigners for a fee. This place appears to have little in common with Chelsea Piers in Manhattan and yet it does. Because beyond the traffic, the street food and the tourists is a high wire fence keeping this chaos separate from Royal Nepal Golf Club. Stood at that fence, their fingers coiled into the loops, are intrigued locals, their gaze fixed on a short girl readying herself to bash a ball into the far distance. This young golfer is stood on the fifth tee, facing a shot to a tiny target 120 yards away. Distance is no problem. Instead she knows that anything short will disappear into scrubland and anything long will fly into the jungle. The raised green is bone hard and nothing but a handful of paces deep. Only a pure strike will hit the green and hold it. “Who is this girl?” “What is this strange game she is playing?” “And why is she playing it with Americans and Europeans?”
The greenkeeping staff at the Royal Nepal Golf Club includes teams of women who hand-pick the greens, fairways and rough.
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“Getting to help Pratima, getting to share her story, getting to do a small bit of good – it just feels so nice. It’s been wonderful to witness the outpouring of support from golfers around the world.” OLIVER HOROVITZ
Pratima proudly shows off her letter from Tiger Woods.
Five hundred yards from that spot, in a dip between the third green and the fourth tee, is an equipment shed. Within the shed is a small room, home to Pasang Tsering, a greenkeeper; his wife Kalpana, a weed-picker, one of a team of ladies who walk the course in brightly-coloured saris, hand-picking rogue plants from the greens and fairways; and their daughter Pratima, the girl with big dreams. When she was a small child Pratima watched the members at Royal Nepal play golf and was transfixed. She’d hunt the rough for balls and then hit them with clubs her father crafted from the branches of nearby trees. In time her skill and passion caught the eye of the new teaching professional Sachin Bhattarai, who persuaded the members to pass on their old clubs and allow her to play.
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Six days a week Pratima would take the one-hour bus ride to and from school, but her real focus was returning to the place she calls home: Royal Nepal Golf Club’s nine holes and the community there which is in thrall to her. The ladies in saris are proud of their friend’s daughter, the caddies quietly point out that she is the best player in the country, Bhattarai is thrilled to teach such a willing student, and the members insist that every international visitor is introduced to her. Nepal has no history of professional golfers competing beyond its border and the country has precious little experience of any international competition in any sport. Moreover, the nation is very traditional with women taking on conventional roles. Pratima knows all of this and has never let it steer her clear of her desires: she wants to turn professional and compete on the world stage. Her hero, her inspiration, is Tiger Woods.
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Pratima looks forward to graduating from high school so she will have more time to hone her golf game.
In May 2016 Horovitz joined the story. He was on a golfing buddy trip with a difference: the golf courses of Nepal with added Himalayan trekking. A New Yorker by birth, Horovitz had found his spiritual home in St Andrews, where he caddied on the Old Course during his university days. His love of the home of golf has seen him return for the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he has caddied for rock star Huey Lewis and alongside Rory McIlroy. Auspicious experiences, and yet if you ask him for the best of the lot he answers: “Simple. The day I caddied for Pratima – one of the best days of my life.” Those Royal Nepal members had insisted he and friends Miles Ashton and Vladimir Weinstein meet their favourite golfer and one thing led to another. “We were on the fourth green and, as she’s putting, people are passing us on the street,” he explains. “They’re stopping and hugging the fence as they look through at what we’re doing. “What they’re seeing is a local girl playing golf and an American guy carrying her bag. They’ve never seen that before. That moment was totally cool. “It made me think: ‘This means something’. You could see that it clicked as they watched. It was transformative for me; she has a chance to inspire a whole generation of girls in Nepal, to really make an impact.” Not characters to stand by, the three friends decided they had to act. “We wanted to help her,” says Weinstein. “Whether that meant a new set of clubs, solid foundations for her career or the support of the international golf community. We got her story on video and her introduction alone was enough for the world to see her amazing personality.” Horovitz adds: “Going to Nepal I expected new adventures, but I never expected to be inspired like this. Pratima Sherpa is my hero.”
It was a small snowball and over the next two years it hurtled down the slope. Pratima featured in magazines and online articles, readers reached out with donations and in the summer of 2017 Pratima and her coach visited California. “It’s been wonderful to witness the outpouring of support from golfers around the world,” says Horovitz. “It reminds you that the world can really be good.”
Her journey to California was captured by ESPN, and the film they produced premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York – hence the visit to Chelsea Piers. Aged 18, over 7,500 miles from her home, Pratima stood on the red carpet and Horovitz says: “Her smile shone brighter than all the lights.” But the excitement was far from over. A donor to the Tiger Woods Foundation had been at the viewing and approached Horovitz wiping tears from his eyes: “I’m heading down to Florida tomorrow for an event with Tiger. We have to get Pratima there.” Three days later hundreds of guests were awaiting the arrival of the host at Medalist Golf Club. A buggy swept towards them and when it stopped the first word the driver, Tiger Woods, uttered was: “Pratima!” and the two embraced in a bear hug. “Ten feet away,” says Horovitz, “everyone was crying.”
Back home Pratima returns to the range at Royal Nepal Golf Club (it doubles as the ninth fairway). It’s not quite like the range in Manhattan, but this girl has a dream and it isn’t yet realised. She’s working at it and she won’t stop.
► To watch a video about Pratima please use the QR code on the left
Returning home, they set up teampratima.com.
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“We didn’t come here to win the foursomes. We came here to win the Ryder Cup, and it’s not over.” Words Matt Cooper
When drive equals ambition: Molinari’s winning swing is the result of rigorous training.
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mid all the trumpet calls, glory and excitement of the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris, a week which transformed European golf’s perception of Francesco Molinari from popular Italian to cult hero, one moment stands out.
It came in the aftermath of Europe’s 4–0 Friday afternoon foursomes dismantling of the Americans which in one fell swoop turned a 3–1 deficit into a 5–3 lead. The galleries were ecstatic, the atmosphere euphoric, his teammates giddy. Yet Molinari was having none of it. “We didn’t come here to win the foursomes,” he said. “We came here to win the Ryder Cup, and it’s not over.” Simple words, straightforward sentiments, but essential, single-minded and revealing: an insight into the golfer he had become. One for whom a good start was only that, for whom near misses were no longer sufficient, for whom drive now equalled ambition.
It is easy to assume that Molinari’s 2018, a season which witnessed unparalleled worldwide success, must have been prompted by one promising result. Easy, maybe, but incorrect because golf’s upward curve very rarely runs without deviation.
upsWing | spring 2019
was there, and he was a little concerned by my technique.” Denis Pugh has been Molinari’s swing coach for the past 15 years. Together, over many hours at The Wisley, they have honed one of the most admired swings on the European Tour. “Normally,” says Pugh, “if I was doubtful, Francesco would act immediately, even at a tournament, but this time he was chirpy and happy. He put his arm around me and said: ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got this’.” “It’s true,” admits Molinari. “Except I didn’t have it. I shot 73–73 and missed the cut. It was a big wake-up call, but it was also a vital experience and a lesson learned.” “It was a very low point,” agrees Pugh. “We returned to England, worked hard and I said to him: ‘Never ever tell me you’ve got this’. In fact, for the next few tournaments, before he left the range, I’d say, ‘Have you got this?’ and he’d reply, ‘I haven’t got a clue’. We weren’t joking; we were quite serious. Anyone overhearing us might have been concerned, but we knew what was happening. We knew it mattered.”
Arriving at TPC Sawgrass for The Players Championship in mid-May, Molinari was well aware that he had finished top ten in the three previous editions of the tournament and top 20 the week before.
Two weeks later Molinari made the short journey to Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship. Like Sawgrass he possessed a fine record there: five top tens in his six previous starts, three times the halfway leader, in 2015 he had still had it after 54 holes and yet the win wouldn’t come.
“I was very confident, too confident,” he says. “I felt so close to good results and I was playing very well in practice, but Denis
Many would have argued the record reflected his career; that the then four-time winner on the European Tour contended
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Francesco Molinari won the 2018 Open Championship with a twounder 69 in the final round.
far more often than he converted. When a Saturday 66 earned him a share of the lead with Rory McIlroy those same observers might have wondered why this time should be any different. The Sawgrass wake-up call maybe? Yes, that mattered, but so, too, it transpires, events of late 2016. “I had played two Ryder Cups (in 2010 and 2012), but then I had missed two (2014 and 2016) and I just didn’t like how things were going,” says Molinari. “I sat down with the people around me and we decided to turn it around.”
“He’s still got a temper, but I think that fire in the belly and the ability to control it most of the time is what makes him a champion.” “It wasn’t as simple as one meeting,” remembers Pugh. “Instead it was a pretty honest and hard look at the facts. He was swinging the club extremely well, but not getting results on the course and that’s always concerning. I said to him, ‘You’ve got a very, very good career and if you want to continue it, carry on. But if you want a great career there’s got to be changes.’ He
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agreed and initiated the changes himself, such as working with Phil Kenyon on his putting. He takes responsibility like that.”
Molinari completed a fourth round 68 to claim a two-shot victory: the serial contender was now champion.
A key detail was the consequence of good fortune when John McLaren, one-time caddie for Luke Donald, filled in for Molinari’s bagman for one week only. “John showed Francesco some practise ideas that the performance coach Dave Alred had used with Luke and it piqued his interest. John recognised they would make a good match and made introductions.”
Seven days later an emotionally exhausted Molinari rode the wave of home support to finish second in the Italian Open. Back on home soil there was the opportunity to reflect on the difference between the man he is now – to those of us outside the ropes one of the most unflappable characters in the game – and the boy he was.
Most famous for working with rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson, Alred focuses on execution under pressure and in golf terms he has two unique traits. The first is that he knows nothing of the golf swing. “But it doesn’t matter because he understands performance,” says Pugh. “High jumpers, ballet dancers, tennis players – whoever performs on the edge, he’s very, very good with them.” The second Alred quirk? He tosses away the driving range rule book on smacking ball after ball after ball.
“Oh I had a temper,” he laughs. “I would throw clubs and break them too. From ten to about 15 I was terrible. At the time I just wasn’t mature enough to control my passion. Fortunately, my dad punished me with weeks and months without golf. Eventually it taught me to contain myself – and actually just stop looking stupid.” The fervour remains, and is an intrinsic part of the bond he has formed with his coach. “We got on pretty much immediately because we’re similar personalities,” says Pugh. “We both appear to be easy going and calm, yet we’re also both very passionate about what we’re doing so there is potential for clashes, but we rarely have them which is good!
“My practice is a lot less repetitive now,” says Molinari. “No more 200 balls in two hours going bang, bang, bang. Now every shot has a consequence, recreating tournament conditions. It’s about knowing that I have only one shot, one opportunity. If you don’t take it, you don’t get another chance.” Some 18 months after those changes in late 2016 McIlroy turned to his caddie towards the end of the final round at Wentworth and gasped: “Frankie is like a robot. He never seems to miss a shot. Ever.”
Molinari made 16 pars and two birdies to claim his maiden major title.
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“He’s still got a temper, but I think that fire in the belly and the ability to control it most of the time is what makes him a champion.”
The watching tournament host, Tiger Woods, had one word for the round: “Phenomenal.”
“My passion for the game,” adds Molinari, “is what drives me. Every tournament I show up at I can’t wait to get started. It’s what makes the difference, what prompts me to want to get better all the time.”
Molinari made his major championship debut at Carnoustie, the tough Scottish links course nicknamed “Car-nasty”, and he’d never really liked it. He missed the cut in that first appearance and became so disillusioned with the layout he stopped attending the European Tour’s annual visit to it.
A disappointing U.S. Open prompted a return home. If tournaments are Molinari’s shop front, then time spent at The Wisley appears to be when this golfing craftsman is comfortable in his workshop. “I need time with my game, to make my swing feel good and ready,” he explains. “There have been many long days when I might not finish until I am so tired, but I know that in those times with Denis, Dave or Phil I have learned something that somewhere down the line will prove vital.” “There are several skills Francesco has,” adds Pugh. “A strong mentality, huge desire and self-belief, but his ability to be coached is one of his primary skills.” In his next start he went into the final round of the Quicken Loans National tied for the lead and carded a sensational 62 to complete an eight-shot victory, his first on the PGA Tour: “One of those days when everything goes right. It’s a great feeling, but one you really don’t get very often in golf.”
The course remained a conundrum on Friday of the 147th Open Championship, when a double-bogey six on the 17th hole left him outside the top 25 and six shots behind the leaders heading into the weekend. “I was so far back I took a different mindset into Saturday. The course was wet, there was no wind, it was a day to be aggressive: I went for it.” A 65 left him three shots back in a tie for fifth, but his immediate thoughts were elsewhere. “I was hoping not to get paired with Tiger,” he says. “Not because I don’t like him, but because it would be chaos. When our pairing was confirmed I knew what happened next was important.” “I began to prepare myself mentally, recalling past experiences of it. It helped a lot. I was ready. I was taking responsibility.” On the final day of any Open, spectators follow their favourites and then drift towards the grandstands around the 18th green. On this Sunday they drifted in the opposite direction to join Woods, who was leading the tournament at the turn. The predicted chaos was exactly that. For any shot by Woods there was rapt silence and no movement; for Molinari it was bedlam. On the 13th green Woods completed his par and the crowds surged
towards the 14th tee, like commuters racing for the exit at Waterloo in rush hour. In the middle of them all, Molinari was bent over his par putt and in the distance, peering across and through the hoardes coming her way, his wife Valentina, tensed as she waited for the putt to drop. When it did, she bent at the knee, fists and face clenched in celebration. One moment among many on that back nine when Molinari defied his course history, the field, the galleries and arguably the greatest golfer ever to secure the Claret Jug: not just his but also Italy’s first major championship victory.
The year was not yet finished, but the season he had enjoyed had transformed the role he would assume at his third Ryder Cup. “The whole captaincy team were talking to me all week,” he explains. “They told me I had to take the lead, not so much in partnership with Tommy, but in the team room. It helped me; it was the first time in a Ryder Cup that I felt the complete trust of the team.” In the first session Molinari and his partner for the week Tommy Fleetwood were the only Europeans to earn a point. By the end of the week they had collected four points together and Molinari added a further point in the singles. The partnership, christened Moliwood, joined the great Severiano Ballesteros/Jose Maria Olazabal combination as Europe’s most loved and feted. Golf fans had always been fond of Molinari, now they were in love with him. “It was like a wonderful revelation to the public of what I’d known all along,” says Pugh. “The reason Moliwood worked so well is that Tommy brings out all the factors that are already there. They’re good mates, which helps – but Tommy has a very lovely way of being confident but not arrogant, and that confidence spreads to those around him.
Francesco (right) with his caddie Pello Iguaran (left).
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“I think that’s the one fear Francesco has. He would hate to be thought arrogant. He’s modest in demeanour, but not in ambition.”
In July 2019, The Open will return to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years.
The week started with people wondering if the city of Paris could ever be afflicted with Ryder Cup fever. It might not have ended with a parade down the Champs-Élysées, but Molinari’s arrival at Gare du Nord on Monday morning prompted a remarkable station-wide chorus of songs celebrating the success of Moliwood. “It was so incredible to experience,” says Molinari, still a little in awe. “It just shows why the Ryder Cup and the European team are so precious. That would never have happened after the Open.”
In 1996, 13-year-old Francesco Molinari ran home from school one Monday afternoon in May to watch the final holes of the PGA Championship from Wentworth on television because his compatriot Costantino Rocca was in contention. The youngster was inspired to see Rocca complete the win, just a few months after he had narrowly failed to win the Open Championship and a year before he would play in the final round of the Masters, where he would watch playing partner Tiger Woods win his first major championship. What does 36-year-old Molinari think that boy would say if told that he would not only emulate Rocca at Wentworth, but join him as a Ryder Cup hero and then better him by winning the Open (playing with Woods no less)? “He would be very, very happy,” he laughs, a little shyly. “And I think he would have been very excited to watch it all unfold on television.” In reality, he did better than that: with hard work, tough questions, honest answers, a strong team and family bonds, that boy earned and lived it.
upsWing | spring 2019
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We're taking up-and-coming football talent Jude Russell for a spin in the Bentley Continental GT to The Wisley.
A FUTURE STAR IN A DREAM CAR Words Louis Blattler
n this feature we’re giving up-and-coming talents across all industries a taste of what stardom might feel like by taking them for a spin in a dream car, to a destination where they can experience effortless luxury first hand: The Wisley. Besides a golf lesson from the best in the industry, they also get a treat for the palate – in other words: a very nice lunch.
Sporty dream cars and 16-year-old boys are a match made in teenage heaven, so when I picked up Crystal Palace Under 18s defender Jude Russell in a brand new Bentley Continental GT it wasn’t surprising that his eyes lit up in excitement as the car rolled up in front of his family home. In true generation Z manner, a phone was quickly whipped out to take several pictures for friends, family and social media channels. Who could blame him though, seeing how impressive the jet-black car with the deep red interior looks. Getting into the Bentley, the first pressing question is whose phone to connect to the infotainment system. Looking around the luxurious leather interior, the young footballer admits that he hopes to be driving something like this at some point in his career. “I like everything about it,” he says, laughing, as I ask what his favourite part of the Bentley is. The engine starts with an impressive roar suggestive of the raw power that lies beneath the bonnet. The young footballer next to me seems to enjoy the ride, telling me about his experience of playing for Crystal Palace for the last nine years.
“That’s the stadium right there,” he points “My family keeps me firmly grounded and so much money for players. Football is big out as we drive past Selhurst Park – only my team mates are all in the same situation. business and every club is competing for a ten-minute walk from his family home. Of course, we are all competing for the few the best. Of course, we are all hoping that He tells me proudly that his whole in a couple of years it is us the clubs family has always supported the What does a normal day of a 16-year-old compete for”. And when you put football scholar look like? Eagles: “I think the first match I things in perspective, who wouldn’t E s s e n t i a l l y, w e t r a i n e x a c t l y l i k e t h e went to was when we were in the buy a Bentley Continental GT if it Championship and we were wearing first team except that we also have to only sets you back a weeks’ wage. a yellow kit with the TDK logo on it,” fit in schoolwork. Monday is a review Jude said. “That was a long time ago.” of the weekend game, and then we Jude hopes to stay grounded. start preparing for the next game. Having good friends and his family Jude has always known that he We wor k on tactics and skills ever y around him is very important. wants to become a professional d a y, f o l l o w e d b y g y m . I n a d d i t i o n t o Jude says “I’m lucky to have great footballer. Having grown up “always schoolwork we also have workshops on friends outside of football too. playing, talking and watching various topics,such as One of my best friends is a good football,” he realised quite early on media training. basketball player; he was selected that he was good at it. Luckily it to play for England last year. He didn’t take long for others to recognise that spots available in premiership football, but understands the dedication, commitment too. At the tender age of 16, Jude is enrolled I think we all know that it is up to each one and compromises we need to make”. in the Crystal Palace Academy scholarship of us to make it happen. So we respect each programme. In other words, at an age when other for the success we achieve.” I dig a little deeper, asking Jude about his most youngsters go to school, Jude heads to thoughts on what makes a premiership the Crystal Palace Academy every day, doing Dressed head to toe in designer clothes footballer. He explains that most footballers what he loves most. Jude certainly looks like a pro footballer. his age get to a similar kind of level, but it’s He admits that the appetite for the better determination and willingness to listen to Back in March 2017, he has been named things in life is part of the dressing room the coaches that are the decisive factors in EA Sports Academy Player of the Month, culture even at this level. I ask him what he who makes it to the top and who doesn’t. and last year The Guardian has listed the thinks about the obscene amount of money To Jude, football is not just about what you promising defender as one of the “20 best premiership footballers get paid these days. can achieve on the pitch. “I’d say 60% is talents at Premier League clubs.” I’ve asked “At the end of the day, footballers get into footballing ability; the other 40% is divided Jude how such early success has changed the game because they love playing football,” into things like your personality, attitude, him. He answers confidently that it hasn’t. says Jude. “It’s not our fault that clubs pay commitment and ability to listen and learn.”
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The Wisley | Golf Mag azine
A F U T U R E STA R I N A D R E A M C A R
It becomes clear that Jude is a young man driven by ambition. Jude knows that the qualities that made him succeed so far are his adaptability and willingness to work hard every single day. He trusts his coach and is open to any criticism that will help him reach his dream of playing for the first team.
“I’ve played golf a few times when I was at Whitgift. We had a driving range there and everyone gets golf lessons for the first year,” explains Jude as Ian asks if he has ever tried out the game. If he was any good? “I was in year six when I did that. But I think I’m pretty decent. I did go to the driving range
After having taken in the beautifully landscaped greens of the golf club, Ian kindly invited us to lunch, so we’re heading to the newly-refurbished clubhouse. It’s a beautiful space with an open and modern feel. We take a seat, and an attentive waitress is immediately by our side taking our orders. It’s a delicious Sunday roast What went through your mind for me and a juicy burger for in the FA cup game Liverpool vs Wolves when Jude. What a very pleasant way Klopp brought on a 16-year-old defender? to wrap up what has been a I w a s n’ t a c t u a l l y w a t c h i n g t h e g a m e u n t i l m y thoroughly enjoyable day out parents called me to come down and watch. with a future star in a dream car.
I ask Jude how his life differs from that of his school friends. “There are drawbacks, of course. I have to consider everything I do a bit more than most my age. I always have to be careful I t w a s q u i t e e x t r a o r d i n a r y. A 1 6 - , 1 7 - a n d when I’m going out because I 18-year-old on the pitch. It is really good to don’t want to be in the wrong see more and more clubs bringing academy Many thanks to Jude Russell for giving us an insight into his life place at the wrong time. I have players through. as a Premier League Academy to be sensible and mindful of scholar. Thanks also to H.R. Owen what I’m doing all the time.” For Jude, it once with some of my teammates at Palace for providing us with the dream car, the truly is always about the future. His focus lies and I think I was better than most of them” impressive Bentley Continental GT; and of course, steadily on what’s in front of him. His he says, with a cheeky smile. thanks to The Wisley for hosting us! immediate goal is to play for the under 23s. One step closer to the first team.
We arrive at The Wisley and, to our surprise, the Bentley Continental GT has a similar effect at The Wisley as it had on the streets of South East London. Driving into the car park, surrounded by other luxury motors, people stop and point at the breathtaking car – it truly is a showstopper. We’re greeted by Ian Cox, who is the Development Director at The Wisley. Our plan was for Jude to get a golf lesson at the exclusive golf club. However, when Ian asks him about it, he politely declines, explaining how he had picked up a minor injury in his last game against Bristol (Palace 2 : 1 Bristol), and that he doesn’t want to aggravate it with exercise he isn’t used to. Once again, the dedication to his career shines through, always trying to keep himself in the best possible shape. “I’m hoping to be selected to play in the under 18s FA Cup against Bolton next Friday”. As Ian shows us around the vast property, we’re greeted by various golfers enjoying their round of golf despite the rather dull weather. Everyone is so friendly, which makes for a really warm and welcoming atmosphere.
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Max Power – 626 bhp / 635 PS / 467 kW @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque – 664 lb-ft / 900 Nm @ 1350 – 4,500 rpm
Engine Capacity – 5,950 cc
Fuel Type – Petrol
Acceleration – 0 - 60 mph 3.6 seconds, 0 – 100 km/h 3.7 seconds
Max Speed – 207 mph / 333 km/h
Kerb Weight – 4,947 lb / 2244 kg
Gross Weight Vehicle – 5,985 lb / 2715 kg
Boot Volume – 12.6 cu ft / 358 litres
Fuel Tank Capacity – 20 gallons / 24 US gallons / 90 litres
Overall Length – 190.9 in / 4,850 mm
Width Across Mirrors – 86.1 in / 2,187 mm
Width With Folded Mirrors – 77.4 in / 1,966 mm
Overall Height – 55.3 in / 1,405 mm
Wheelbase – 112.2 in / 2,851 mm
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A little rough around the edges where cows and sheep tend to the grass more often than man and mower – Askernish’s golf course revels in its truest form of naturalness.
bundles of overseas visitors to the area. This year it will even host the Irish Open. By contrast, far flung Askernish will do well to see a fourball of visitors a week, even in high season.
Words Ben Sargent
he Outer Hebrides, commonly known as the Western Isles, are a group of Scottish islands situated on the extreme north west frontier of Europe. Iceland and the Faroe Islands are the only other land masses left in this furthest corner of the continent. In the late 1800s, Old Tom Morris staked out a golf course near Askernish, a bustling village of 150 people on the island of South Uist. Around the same time, he was laying out a new links on the west coast of Ireland in the slightly larger and more popular holiday town of Lahinch in Country Clare. Of course, both of these locations would have been hoping for their respective new courses to be highly successful and attract many new visitors. Lahinch won the bragging rights here: it’s highly ranked in various top 100 lists and draws
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Many of the ranking panellists and visitors would not even add Askernish to the top 100 at all due to its – let’s call it – ‘rugged’ condition. Nowadays golfers prefer – or even expect – golf courses more akin to Augusta or Wentworth, rather than something rough around the edges like Askernish. I, however, reside firmly in the other camp: the one that relishes the naturalness. After all, links golf is, and always will be, elemental. At least that’s how it should be, in its truest form. Overly manicured and tampered-with links are not the real deal. An example for this is the Old Course of St Andrews, another Old Tom classic which I do love to bits. However, it has been preened and refined endlessly in an attempt to reach the level of perfection that the modern golfer demands. If you’re seeking the truth, a glimpse back towards the genesis of golf, you must search for the holy grail that is Askernish. Here, where cows and sheep tend to the grass more frequently than man and mower, you will find some of the most exposed land in golf. Rabbits
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charge in and out of hidden warrens in bunkers and if you’re lucky you may hear the rasping bird song of a corncrake, hiding somewhere in the fertile machair. While I’m sure Jesus never had the pleasure of drinking in the delights of Askernish, Old Tom certainly did. His masterpiece in the dunes and machair of this faraway land was lost for many years and only recently rediscovered and carefully nurtured back to life. Golf at Askernish is not golf as you know it. It’s golf as Old Tom knew it. You feel connected to the course and one with nature. The golf course itself is cradled by the peaks of the mountains Beinn Mhòr (2,431 ft) and Hecla (4,892 ft), to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Upon arrival there is usually no other human in sight, or indeed on site. The small pebbledash ‘clubhouse’ is often closed, with a sign asking golfers kindly to post the modest green fee through the letter box. The opening hole is, somewhat cunningly, the most featureless-looking hole on the
property – perhaps even in all of golf. I wonder how many people have turned up here, parked their car in the three-space gravel car park, peered into the dark, locked up clubhouse and stood on that first tee wondering what all that Askernish fuss was about – and then promptly left. Once you get up to that first green the course and its subtle beauty slowly begin to emerge. If Askernish’s charm still hasn’t captivated you by this point, things become more apparent by the second hole: an innocuous looking short par 3 with a wickedly undulating green. Once you reach the sixth green you will have played a par 5, a par 3 and four par 4s. Shots to all points of the compass will have been played, just like a driveable par 4. A dogleg left, a dogleg right. Bowl greens, upturned greens, a flat green, a green on top of a large dune plateau.
The Askernish golf course is regarded as one of the finest links golf courses in the UK.
There is more variety, fun, challenge and beauty in this first third of the round than most courses manage as a whole. The weather is as unpredictable as the golf course itself. Storms frequently blow in from that wild sea and ravage the links with wind, rain and hail – even in summer. Usually, this only lasts for the time it takes to play a short par 4 and there are plenty of dips and hollows in the dunes that provide cover. You may even share your shelter with a sheep or a cautious rabbit.
The course runs parallel to the island coastline and follows an anti-clockwise path from start to finish.
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It won’t take long, though, for the sun to return and paint the links and machair in even more vibrant colours than before. The 7th tee of Askernish could be one of the finest spots in golf. It also marks the start of an incredible run of holes right along the beach, better yet than the previous ones. From now on, you will find yourself in the dunes: in and out, up and down. Take in the far-reaching views, incredible white sands and more peaks to the south when you’re up on the high dunes. Down in the valleys the views momentarily fade away, as do the rough elements. Spend a moment to drink in that calm, that feeling of what seems to be utter silence and solace. Does this feel like the Holy Grail of golf yet? But there is no time to ponder – the back nine awaits, with its tumultuous dunes and more humps and bumps. Askernish is golf architecture in its finest, most natural moment, incomparable to anything you have seen before.
If you want to find out more information about playing golf in the Outer Hebrides, Skratch TV (the modern social media arm of the PGA Tour) visited recently and their short film is available on YouTube.
In case you can’t make it as far as Askernish [A], the next best thing is Machrihanish Dunes [B] on the Mull of Kintyre. Only half as far away as Askernish but almost as natural and raw. Yet twice as luxurious, thanks to the attached newly-built hotel, lodges, spa and pubs... but that’s another story!
If you are ‘askernishing,’ then make sure to visit the 9-hole course on the isle of Harris at Scarista [C], home to one of the best beaches in the world. London
Perhaps rather sneakily, as with the first hole, the drama recedes slightly on the last one, as you return to the flatter, more farmland-looking terrain and the tiny clubhouse. Looking around, all that’s visible is the flat opening hole and similarly bland finishing hole. Was it all just a dream? All the action of the back nine is hidden away behind a dune and now, standing in the car park, you begin to wonder if it exists at all. There is only one way to find out: step back on that first tee and do it all over again.
If this story calls to your golfing soul, don’t wait, and go there soon. Who knows how long it takes before the visitors start to flock there in large numbers? How long before the lone greenkeeper becomes two, or more, and the livestock are withdrawn to make way for a fleet of high-tech mowing machines that are a lot more efficient at chewing the grass than the cows? Suddenly, Askernish won’t be the visceral and sensuous experience it is now, and there will be no more golf epiphanies. Go now, before it's too late, and discover the truth.
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Also in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland is the 9-hole links golf course on the isle of Harris at Scarista, which is often described as one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world.
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FROM STAID TO STYLISH Golf fashion is now part of everyday life and its overall development over the last decade or so, which has been fastforwarded by changes in society and lifestyle, has brought with it a whole new set of rules and dress code debates within the pro ranks and at golf clubs up and down the country. Words Alison Root Rรถhnisch spring/ summer 2019 collection
one are the days when golfers had limited choice of what to wear. A basic pair of plain cotton trousers or shorts, combined with a shapeless and scratchy polo shirt was generally the norm, even towards the end of the last century.
In the 1920s, at the same time that female golfers were taking to the fairways in long skirts, cardigans and cloche-style hats, the first argyle design was used on a jumper for the Duke of Windsor, as he wanted something to match the pattern on his socks. Fortunate or not, it was this design that became part of golf’s heritage, and was particularly popular in the 70s and 80s, especially when British golfer Sir Nick Faldo began lifting a number of major trophies wearing diamondpatterned Pringle sweaters.
Röhnisch spring/summer 2019 collection
During the 1990s, big hair, unflattering baggy trousers and an overload of check designs superseded the argyle pattern, although as is often the case with fashion, what goes around comes around, and Pringle made a resurgence in early 2000 when style icons Jodie Kidd, David Beckham and Robbie Williams contributed to making the pattern trendy again. Over recent years tour players have forged ahead to give the game a much-needed element of colour and glamour, although sometimes not without having their knuckles rapped if tournament organisers felt that their choice of outfit had overstepped the mark. As an example, who can forget Ian Poulter’s flamboyant Union Jack trousers that he wore for his opening round at the 2004 British Open at Royal Troon? Rebellious perhaps, but they demonstrated how golf fashion can be fun and interesting. Rickie Fowler always wears Puma orange on the final day of a tournament, a tradition that stems from his days at Oklahoma State University, while John Daly, the larger than life American chooses the Loudmouth brand to match his personality. Röhnisch spring/summer 2019 collection
Fashion has transcended to a whole new level for professional women golfers and, with an influx of Asian players on the LPGA Tour, the fairways are definitely brighter as they express their love of colour and glitz through their outfits. Similarly, leading players like Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist and Sandra Gal, to name just a few, look more like supermodels than sportswomen, wearing short skirts and figure-hugging Lycra tops.
In fact, in the summer of 2017 the LPGA thought that some players had gone too far and were showing a little too much flesh for their liking, so the organisation issued a new dress code policy:
• • • •
No collar means no racerback top Length of skirt, skort and shorts MUST be long enough not to see your bottom (even if covered by undershorts) No leggings No plunging necklines
Note: Anyone flouting these rules will be liable to a $1,000 fine. Of course there are limits and it’s important to understand and apply golf’s traditions, rules and etiquette, but in a sensible manner. Perhaps it’s the likes of professional golfer and social media sensation, Paige Spirinac, who is known for her provocative outfits and how she looks, rather than how she plays, that had some influence on the new rules, by way of trying to curb sexualisation of women’s golf. Regardless, Tour players are professional and highly-skilled athletes and surely they should be allowed to dress as such in the latest modern-day golf fashion if that’s what they feel comfortable wearing. Indeed, women’s golf is not the only sport to land in hot water with regard to dress code dos and don’ts. At last year’s French Open, tennis sensation Serena Williams made her return to Grand Slam tournaments following the birth of her daughter wearing a skintight black catsuit. The 23-time Grand Slam winner dedicated the outfit to new mothers, explaining that it made her feel like a “queen from Wakanda” in reference to the Black Panther movie. French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli announced a ban of the catsuit at future events, telling Tennis magazine: “It will no longer be accepted. I believe we have sometimes gone too far. You have to respect the game and the place.” As far as women and girls’ golf is concerned in the UK and in the US, there is a continued focus to attract more female players to the game, particularly millennials and, if anything, it’s the development of golf fashion over recent years that has helped to drag the sport into the 21st century and quash the historic perceptions of golf being a fuddyduddy game. The governing bodies mean well, but implementing stricter dress codes at professional level unfortunately gives good reason to many golf clubs to follow a lead and stick with some of their stringent and outdated dress code policies. Abacus spring/ summer 2019 collection
The professional/amateur dress code divide is already confusing enough as there is a stark contrast between what is acceptable to wear on tour compared with what you can wear at traditional UK golf clubs. That said, there is similarity between both sets of players
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in that the game does give people the freedom to wear clothes in colours that they might otherwise leave hanging in the wardrobe, particularly men, who seem suddenly to get a penchant for pastelcoloured trousers. Professional players are role models. Youngsters and adults alike want to emulate their heroes, but often this isn’t achievable due to strict rules like ‘collar required’. It was back in 2003 when club committee members became very hot under the collar when Tiger Woods wore a Nike short-sleeve mock turtleneck at the Buick Invitational in California. It’s a style that has since become popular, although not without backlash. The collar issue remains and affects women too, plus for those fortunate enough to have a gorgeous Michelle Wie-like figure that complements a short skirt or pair of shorts, they also face disappointment when a club stipulates that the length of such an item must be a limited number of inches above the knee. Men are sometimes turned away from golf clubs for not wearing long socks with knee-length shorts, and only last summer, a gentleman was unable to tee up at Letchworth Golf Club in Hertfordshire because of the colour of his socks. The club demanded that he purchase white socks from the club’s pro shop in order to be allowed on the course. As for juniors, it’s difficult to retain them in the sport if they are subjected to too many dress code rules and regulations, especially when there are so many other sports competing for their attention. Ladies European Tour player Meghan MacLaren is a good example of how golf clubs can help themselves by acting sensibly when it comes to implementing dress code. As a seven-year-old Meghan learned to play at Wexham Park, a 27-hole facility near Slough, and she was allowed to play on the club’s 9-hole course wearing her beloved Newcastle United football strip. Meghan’s father David is completely and utterly convinced that the fact that she is a professional golfer today is because Wexham understood the difference between standards and stuffiness, between enjoyment and enforcement, and between rules and guidelines. Of course, at the heart of golf fashion are the forward-thinking manufacturers that test dress code boundaries. They follow the latest high street trends and produce what they believe golfers really want to wear on and off the golf course as Mikhel Ruia, Managing Director of Glenmuir & Sunderland of Scotland explains. “Interestingly we are finding that the female golf clothing buyers have become increasingly savvy and price conscious but are willing to spend on products which are well made, long lasting and can be worn in a lifestyle environment rather than strictly just on the golf course. As well as golf, a number of our padded down products, performance mid-layers and luxury knitwear are being used for
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Abacus spring/ summer 2019 collection
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Golfino spring/ summer 2019 collection
“We continue to conduct research and listen to athletes so that we can create clothing that is as high performance as possible.” Without doubt there has been a dramatic transition from staid to stylish, but it’s yet to be seen whether everyone will embrace a more modern and relaxed dress code in the future. What will we be wearing in five years’ time? As previously mentioned, what goes around comes around, but I do hope big hair, baggy trousers and check don’t make a comeback!
horse riding and walking due to their fashionable but functional properties. This trend has been seen for many years with the rise in ‘athleisure’ and we have seen the same in golf.” There’s a natural crossover between golf and other leisure activities including tennis, cycling and fitness, and most companies now recognise this by strongly promoting their brand and collections through a series of pictures in a lifestyle environment. European companies like Sweden’s Daily Sports, Abacus and Röhnisch, along with Germany’s Golfino and Italy’s Chervo, have long been championing the female market. Unisex polo shirts and sweaters really are a thing of the past, and women can now actually swing a club and look good at the same time in a variety of fashionable colours with flattering silhouettes in high quality performance fabric. Colmar, an Italian company renowned for its ski and leisurewear, entered the golf market in 2010 so is a relative newcomer to the sport, but Colmar has already confidently and successfully targeted the golf/ lifestyle market, and President Mario Colombo believes the company truly understands what clothing appeals to modern-day golfers. “We like to develop collections for wear on and off the golf course that work for current lifestyles. Style has never been so at home and key, with loose lines, bright colours and increasingly dynamic movement.”
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Golfino spring/summer 2019 collection
The Wisley | Golf Mag azine
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A (time)piece of history Words Tamara Will
n 3 December 1903 Orville Wright lay face down on the lower wing of the first ever engine-powered aeroplane prototype. Moments before history was made, he turned his head, eyes directed towards the sky above. He wanted to be up there, among the birds and clouds. Give mankind wings.
The late 19th century was an age of invention. Mankind wasn’t just taking steps towards the future any more – it was leaping. The telephone, escalator, motion picture, typewriter, and even vaccines were all invented just before the turn of the century. New patents were filed at a rapid speed by the brightest thinkers of the age.
Just seconds later the machine moved along a single rail on the ground. The heavy seaside wind of Kitty Hawk picked up its muslin-clad wings and, with the help of the propellers, lifted it off the ground. This flying machine was called the Wright Flyer I – and it kept on flying.
However, one challenge remained. Even though many had tried, humanity was still unable to fly. Orville and Wilbur Wright grew up witnessing the desperate struggles of aeronautic pioneers. It was a frustrating challenge, depressing even. While many managed temporarily to glide through the
1903 is the year the Wright brothers took off in their ingenious flying machine.
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air, no one had ever mastered the task of controlled flight. With great engineering skills and a relentless spirit, the Wright brothers decided to tackle the task of human flight themselves. Their lifelong fascination with the prospect of conquering the skies turned into obsession. Arguments, sleepless nights, exhaustion. Their quest seemed impossible; several times they nearly reached their breaking point. “Man will not fly in a thousand years,” Wilbur, the older brother, had remarked in 1901, after yet another soul-crushing failure. Only two years later, the Wright Flyer I took off. It was the first ever engine-powered, fullycontrolled flying machine. It is this spirit of determination that brothers Nick and Giles English, the founders of luxury watch brand Bremont, wanted to capture in their Wright Flyer limited edition collection. Just like Orville and Wilbur, Nick and Giles grew up fascinated by flight. Their father had been a pilot, too. He tragically lost his life during a practicing session for an air display in 1995. He wasn’t the only one involved in the fatal accident – his son, Nick, had been on the plane with him. Nick broke over 30 bones when it went down. Miraculously, he survived. This marked a turning point in the lives of the English brothers. They decided to devote their lives to something they truly loved: the engineering and creation of technically challenging yet aesthetically pleasing objects.
The Wisley | Golf Mag azine
Beautiful, intricately-made watches. Just like the Wright brothers they had a mission: to bring luxury watchmaking back to the United Kingdom, the birthplace of many of the most game-changing inventions in the creation of timepieces. But how does one create a watch that represents a truly meaningful tribute to the history of aviation? This is the question that Nick and Giles asked themselves. The answer? Put a piece of the first ever aeroplane inside it. When the English brothers first approached Amanda Wright Lane, the great-grandniece of Orville and Wilbur Wright, they were turned down. Too many times the Wright family had received similar offers, all of them driven solely by commercial gain. Only when she learned the English brothers’ story and their many similarities to the Wright brothers did she agree. She knew that Nick and Giles understood the meaning of the Wright brothers’ achievements. As fellow brothers, pilots and engineers, they had the right mindset to create a tribute that would do them justice.
This is how they acquired a piece of the original muslin that covered the Wright Flyer I’s wings on 3 December 1903. The first ever controlled aeroplane took off four times on that cold, windy day. It marked a turning point in the history of mankind. It is a symbol of the determination, relentlessness and willpower that went into creating the Wright Flyer I. Priceless material that can never be replaced.
The Supersonic series made with aluminium from Heathrow Airport’s last remaining Concorde
And still, Nick and Giles were not solely interested in the rarity and subsequent value of the muslin. It was the story behind
it that remained the most important aspect. Storytelling is, indeed, a part of Bremont’s very core. The watches in the Wright Flyer series are neither the first nor the last to incorporate meaningful authentic material. Bremont also have created watches with parts of the P-51 Mustang fighter plane used in World War II, and oak, timber and copper from the warship HMS Victory. Their latest historical release, the Supersonic series, was introduced in October 2018. It is made with aluminium from Heathrow Airport’s last remaining Concorde: the G-BOAB. Previously, parts of the Wright Flyer I’s muslin had only ever been given to prestigious institutions and people who were makers of history themselves. In 1969 Neil Armstrong had carried a piece of the muslin with him during humanity’s first ever lunar landing. It was a gesture of gratefulness and admiration for the Wright brothers’ achievements. Without Orville and Wilbur’s inventions and insights, Apollo 11 could never have been engineered. One giant leap for mankind, indeed.
The fabric inside Bremont’s watch comes from the lower left wing section of the original Wright Flyer I.
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Cast pieces are forged into watch cases at a temperature of roughly 1,200° C.
Professional golfer Ian Woosnam must have felt like a man on the moon, too, when his home country Wales was repeatedly confused as a part of England during tournaments in America. Wales simply hadn’t surfaced yet on the global map of professional golf. This, however, was about to change with Woosnam’s performance at the 1991 Masters in Augusta, Georgia. It was a warm, sunlit evening on 14 April 1991 at the Augusta National Golf Club. The crowd that had gathered around the 18th hole had become frozen in silence. Everyone was waiting for the Welshman to take his shot. He was dressed in redchecked trousers, a navy blue shirt and white shoes. An outfit that, even amongst the brightly-dressed crowd, seemed daring. Hundreds of eyes were watching him, and it was as if he could feel every last one of those stares. Eventually Woosnam took position for what he hoped would be his final shot. A few practice swings, just to get the feel. It was in this moment that he thought to himself: “This is your time, step up.” He could feel the desire to win in every fibre of his body.
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He needed this, needed to prove to the world that he was better than everyone else. A step closer to the ball. This time, the putter would connect with the ball. A careful, controlled swing. The ball rolled as if in slow motion; it felt like time was standing still. Woosie, as many call him, could tell even before the ball reached the hole: he had done it. It was official: he had just won the Masters. As with most great stories, Woosnam’s wasn’t just written overnight. Starting out as a young professional golfer, Woosnam and a friend travelled to European tournaments in an old camper van. Dinner usually consisted of beans on toast because that was all they could afford. Whenever he ran out of money, he had to go back to working various jobs for a while. He was used to working class life having grown up on his parents’ farm, where he and his brother helped out as much as they could. His exceptionally strong golf swing is often attributed to the many hay bales he had to lift during this time. Most likely, though, it
can be traced back to the boxing lessons his father gave him. It is just fitting then, that Jaermann & Stübi have partnered with Woosnam to create a limited edition watch, as the Swiss watch manufacturers create timepieces with a strong shock absorber made with the impact of golf swings in mind. Similar to Bremont’s Wright Flyer series, Jaermann & Stübi’s Ian Woosnam Watch WO1 is made with an irreplaceable material: in order to create something truly special Jaermann & Stübi have melted down the original golf club heads Woosnam used during the 1991 Masters. It takes a temperature of roughly 1,200°C to achieve this – knowledge they obtained after collaborating with the best metallurgy specialists in order to come up with the perfect conditions for turning club heads into watch cases. Urs Jaermann and Pascal Stübi have always had something special in mind when they came up with concepts for Jaermann & Stübi watches. Called ‘The Timepiece of Golf,’ the watches come with a patented Golf Counter complication. There is one counter for strokes per hole, a second
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counter to keep track of total strokes per game, and a retrograde counter to display holes played. It is, however, not just the technical aspect that makes their watches the timepieces of golf. Urs and Pascal seek to create watches with “a special aura,” ones that truly capture the spirit of golf and pay tribute to the sport’s legends – such as Ian Woosnam. The design of the watch they have created in collaboration with the 1991 Masters champion is inspired by Woosnam’s unique outfit in the colours red, blue and white. It is also decorated with Woosnam’s signature on the watch face.
expensive. It needs to be more than that. Rare. Exclusive. Limited. This is why there are only 72 of the Ian Woosnam watches. They share this idea with Bremont, who have limited their Wright Flyer series to 250 pieces for the stainless steel version, 100 for the rose gold one, and 50 for the white gold watch – the rarest in the series. But Jaermann & Stübi and Bremont have more in common than the limited numbers of their creations. Both brands are young compared to the big players in the world of luxury timepieces. And they both seek to create meaningful pieces that capture important events in history. Timepieces that, quite literally, allow their wearer to own a part of history.
A moment in golfing history: Woosnam was the first Welshman to win the Masters.
To the high-end watch manufacturers luxury does not simply mean that something is
The exclusive Jaermann & Stübi watch comes with a patented golf counter complication that allows its wearer to keep track of the game.
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JAPAN Words Sarah Forrest
country full of surprises and formalities, exemplary manners and impeccable hospitality, mouth-watering sushi, fullcontact sumo wrestling and stunning golf courses. Even though Japan is not often thought of as a golf destination, there are over 2,000 courses across the country, many of which are beautifully designed and meticulously maintained. After my golf trip to Japan last year, I can confirm that playing golf in Japan is a real treat. Flights are direct from the UK to Tokyo, but my final destination airport was Nagoya via Hong Kong. Arriving at Nagoya was like arriving into an exceptionally-clean
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shopping mall, with shops and restaurants to divert the weary traveller’s eye, although my eye was firmly set on my bed for that night! Japan is split into counties known as prefectures: Nagoya is in the Aichi prefecture and about three hours west of Tokyo. My golf trip was to start in Mie (pronounced ‘mee’ or ‘mee-ah’) prefecture next door.
Playing golf in Japan is a different experience. Caddies take your clubs and put them on carts ready to play as you make your way to the clubhouse reception where you’ll be given a wallet. In this wallet is your locker key and a players card. Once golf-ready, leave everything in the locker and just bring your wallet and players card which now acts as your personal credit facility; anything you buy from the proshop, the bar or the snack hut is put on credit against your name and you simply settle up one final bill before you leave.
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I played three golf courses in Mie prefecture: Nagashima Golf Club on day one, with a steady nine holes getting you into the correct time zone. Nagashima, built in 1991, was easy on the eye and quite playable, but needed pretty much every club in my bag! Twenty-seven holes of golf are available at Nagashima, each completed nine is met with a short break in the clubhouse, players card at the ready, awaiting the tee time allocation for the next nine holes. Nagashima’s sculptured fairways blend seamlessly into the backdrop of the landscape with the only definition being the different colour green to guide you gently around doglegs and towards the holes. An undulating but quite walkable course, the four-seater caddy remote-controlled buggy trundled along by itself down the path as the golfers walked down the fairway with the clubs carefully organised on the back, ensuring easy access for the caddy. Water was in play for some holes creating a mirror for the rising hills in the background.
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Only playing nine holes enabled us to visit the flower gardens afterwards at Nabana no Sato. Anyone who thinks about Japan is sure to have an image of some kind of flower, usually the famed cherry blossom whose season spans in excess of a month starting south and heading north as the weather improves, leaving in its wake a number of festivals celebrating the trees in bloom. At that time of year, the begonia was prevalent, its mass displays creating flowered carpets tumbling down the walls in a riot of colour. Who would have thought the humble begonia could be so artistic. Sadly while playing Tsu (pronounced Sue) Golf Club the heavens opened. Again, a course of variety with some deep pothole bunkers befitting a British links course! Seemingly carved out of the landscape, Tsu is another relatively new course built in 1990 by the course designer Masashi Ozaki Sato, offering challenges of long fairways and tough but reasonably large, receptive greens. The weather did not detract from the game in hand and playing with three Japanese local men members gave me great insight into their textbook style of golf, perfect swings and hitting a
country mile, yet soft around the greens. We were in great humour as we plodded our way around in the wet, challenging me to hit some quite difficult shots, reciprocating the challenges bestowed upon them on previous holes. Elevated greens and interesting course design left a great impression on me to return again. Food was served in the clubhouse afterwards and while I had been given miso soup before, I wasn’t quite prepared for miso itself, the taste was beefy, yet the texture was quite unpleasant. To my Japanese playing partners’ delight my face told the story! Miso is fermented soy beans and used quite a lot in Japanese cooking.
one can really appreciate the irregular-shaped bunkers with their white sand in sharp contrast against the vibrant green fairways. A large-scale course redesign in 2015 by American Damian V Pascuzzo flipped holes around to embrace the views over Ago Bay, to
Elevated greens and interesting course design left a great impression on me to return again.
The final game of golf was at Nemu. Nemu golf course is perfectly manicured, offering twists and turns as you finish one hole and pop out of the woods to be greeted with an inlet of clear blue sea and a golden sandy beach edging its shores. Having vista views
hit shots over the inlet and maximise the natural terrain. Positioned as a seaside course, it does not have the links feel or style as we know in the UK but does, in my opinion, sit as a combination quality cliff top and parkland course of exceptional views and playing holes. It wouldn’t be unusual to spend a full day at the golf club, play golf, eat lunch, have a few drinks then visit the onsen. The best onsens are natural warm hot spring volcanic baths with no chemicals added. There to help erase that memory of the rubbish shot out of the bunker on the 18th! Strict rules apply when entering the onsen. First, you don’t wear shoes; you leave them at the threshold or where indicated.
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Book flights for Christmas back home
2. Cancel flights. Mum wants to stay with you 3. Book table at Michelin-starred restaurant for Xmas Day 4. Book extra seat for Michelin-starred restaurant (Dad’s coming now) 5. Buy skis 6. Take skis back. Buy new skis (this time in your size) 7. Ask everyone you know what the best spring ski resort is 8. Book holiday somewhere hot instead. Sell skis to annoying brother-in-law 9. Try not to laugh when brother-in-law twists his ankle on the black run 10. Get dream job in incredible location 11. Realise you’re going to have to relocate family to incredible/inconvenient location 12. Cry 13. Ring round new city’s best schools and plead with them to take your kids 14. Ring round new city’s second-best schools and plead with them to take your kids 15. Stay in present job. Develop high-blood pressure and grudge against employees 16. Join gym. Surely this counts as exercise, right? 17. Book personal trainer. How can one person have so many tattoos? 18. And so much hair gel? 19. Leave gym. Treat yourself to weekend away with your partner just to de-stress 20. Realise your weekend away is in an ex-Soviet republic with easy access to the local asbestos museum
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Secondly, you must wash before entering the onsen bath, by way of a small personal cubicle, a flexible hose and a small seat to sit on. There is usually everything one might need for washing, and the final rule - you will be naked! Don’t worry, onsens are split into female and male facilities. Often there will be multiple baths of different temperatures from plunge pools to larger sprawling cave-like baths for peace and harmony and quite often
with a view over the gardens. Afterwards, wash down again and move conveyor-like onto the drying phase with big fluffy towels provided before getting dressed and leaving the onsen feeling refreshed and having forgotten the 18th hole! The Iga area of Mie is said to be the birthplace of the Japanese ninja. It now boasts a museum where you can learn ninja culture and see the original weapons on display. Ago Bay
in Mie is home of the 2016 G7 summit and proudly displays the round table with flags representing countries attending at the Shima Kanko Hotel. Mikimoto Pearl Island is also in Mie, where in 1893 Kokichi Mikimoto devised a way to culture the modern-day pearls. We watched the Ama ladies dive for pearls in their traditional all-white costumes covered from head to toe. A distinctive whistle gently emitted by a small breathing tube became as characteristic as the pearls themselves. Visiting the shop afterwards gives you the opportunity to see the craftsmanship in setting the pearls in a variety of ways to display their beauty. And what better way to dine after the trip to Mikimoto Island than an Ama hut where the ladies, dressed in their traditional attire, prepare and serve the freshly-caught seafood over open coals for unique tastes of the sea.
Whether you just want to play for fun, practice or play in a tournament, Nagashima Country Club is an excellent place to play golf.
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Food in Japan must be one of the most colourful experiences I have ever engaged in. Carefully thought-out meals are presented often on trays full of various little pots, some lidded, some not. Sushi is likely to take centre stage, along with probably miso soup and
certainly rice. Kobe beef is known as the best beef, often confused with Wagyu beef. Wagyu is the collective name meaning simply ‘Japanese cattle’. In Mie the local beef delicacy is Matsusaka beef, a highly sought-after beef, treated the same way as Kobe but not exported to international markets. Cows are lovingly fed on beer and massaged with sake for three years to give the distinctive marbled effect and mouth-watering taste. The next stop on the Japanese adventure was a trip on the Shinkansen, or bullet train. The Shinkansen was first proposed in the 1930s and became a reality in 1964 with the first high-speed train reaching up to 130 mph. The bullet train name came from the shape of the trains and still resembles a bullet today. Ten million-plus people ride the Shinkansen regularly and their safety record is unblemished. The more modern trains can reach up to 200 mph as a routine cruising speed. As you can imagine everything is timed to perfection, the train arrives and departs on time. It isn’t easy to take luggage on the train: a small hand bag is fine, but the rest of the luggage is transported by a super-efficient road network service and is ready for your arrival while you enjoy the train ride.
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Breath-taking views from the 17th hole of the Fuji Country Club golf course.
We arrive in Shizuoka prefecture, home of Mount Fuji. It is little known but Shizuoka boasts the best green tea production, which by arrangement you can pick and enjoy the fruits of your labour. In contrast, there is also craft whisky production, located in cypress-built buildings for
Golf in Shizuoka is, as you can imagine, quite spectacular with Mount Fuji, commonly known as Fuji san (san being the honorific title for Mr, Mrs, Ms etc) ever present. Fuji Country Club celebrated its 60-year anniversary in 2018. Proud members of Fuji Country Club show off the clubhouse and 18 holes with Fuji san choosing not to make an appearance on the day of the photographs! It is shy they say with a wry smile. Hard to believe as it looms over you at 3,776 metres!
everything is timed to perfection warmth, delivering locallyrooted whisky in harmony with nature. Many Japanese beers are also brewed in Shizuoka. From blonde to heavy darker beers, there is a taste to suit all beer drinkers. The fertile soil of Shizuoka clearly is the foundation for all good things.
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Designed by Mr Shiro Akaboshi, Fuji Country Club first opened in 1958 with support from expats and locals alike, with the plan of encouraging employment in the locality and encouraging tourists into Gotemba, Shizuoka.
Sadly we were unable to play the golf course but were treated to an incredible lunch! A quick scoot around the course does mean I want to go back though. The Fuji Course at Kawana Golf Club is in the Top 100 in the world. With a hotel on site, this little corner of Shizuoka is worth the pilgrimage to visit and stay a few nights. The Fuji course hosts an annual ladies’ competition every April. It is often on people golfing bucket list, so I was keen to take a look myself – and I wasn’t disappointed either. The hotel on site has an incredible onsen, and while the restaurant for
the golfer is a little lacking in character, the main restaurant is warm and welcoming. Both serve great food. There are two courses in Kawana, Fuji and Oshima. Both are 18 holes. I played only the Fuji course. Walking the course, the caddy pushes a trolley which accommodates all four golf bags. She is spritely, darting here and there for the golfers, but enjoys walking the course too. That said, on the odd occasion where there is a steep incline, the clever Japanese have got that covered too. There is a remote-control buggy to ride to the top, a driverless buggy which picks you up and deposits you at the top before retiring back to collect the next group. There is no controlling the speed: it was slow, but it did give you a chance to breathe in the fresh sea air and take in the stunning views across
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The Kawana Fuji course is often called Japan's Pebble Beach because it is a golf resort set on cliffs near the ocean.
the course towards the ocean. The first hole is an elevated tee to shoot down a long fairway, a nice easy relaxing shot to prepare you for the course ahead. From there the course meanders around, up and down hills and pops you back on the top again part way round. The classic par 3s with elevated tees to target greens are more of a challenge than you’d think! Finishing hole 11 doesn’t prepare you for the 12th hole. The iconic 12th hole with the ocean on the left and the sprawling fairway ahead is a sight to embrace. Opening in 1936 and designed by C.H. Alison the fertility of the natural landscape has been maximised to please golfers and nongolfers alike.
I cannot write about golf in Japan without mentioning the people themselves. The Japanese people are the most humble people I have met. They are willing to please and go the extra mile to make your trip the best it can be. Their knowledge of the English language isn’t great, but luckily the language of golf is pretty international. Any other obstacles can be overcome with translating apps. Caddies generally don’t get a tip, nor do they expect one, although sometimes a small monetary reward is given if they have done an outstanding job.
• • • • • • • • •
Japan will be hosting the Rugby Word Cup across numerous prefectures this year. The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the world at 3,911 metres, and connects some of the islands to the mainland. Face masks are worn not to keep pollutants out, but because the wearer has a cold and wants to be considerate to others. Japan has in excess of 2,300 golf courses. The climate in Japan is seasonal. However the central and northerly prefectures can experience snowfall while the southern ones are basked in sunshine. Snoozing during the day? 10- to 20-minute power naps are not discouraged. Japan is made up of 6,852 islands. The Japanese name for Japan is ‘Nippon’. With Shinto and Buddhist cultures, there are many shrines to visit for a true authentic feel for the history of Japan.
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Charles McGill Inspiring, provocative, challenging. Charles McGill (1964 – 2017) was an outspoken artist who was trained in classical painting and later turned to sculptural artwork. To McGill, the objects he created always had to be “visually engaging first and socially relevant second.” While the inspirations behind his pieces were often serious, shocking or saddening, the creations themselves are not. His wall sculptures are always intriguing arrangements of texture and colour. It is only after moments of serious contemplation that one begins to understand the subject matter behind each piece. Words Tamara Will Golf bags are probably not the first material anyone would think of with regard to an artist’s resources. Oil paint, marble, pencils, clay. But bags meant to carry golf clubs? And yet they are exactly what McGill used to create most of his work. A strange choice at first glance. And maybe even at second. Golf has been a fascination of Charles for most of his life. In fact, he played golf but for an African-American in the 80s, golf was not quite as inclusive as it is today. So for Charles the golf bag became a symbol for social inequality.
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He loved the game, but at the same time it represented a lot of what was wrong with society at the time. This frustration and anger with social inequality was perfectly represented by the golf bag because it was such a demanding material to work with. It could be painful, difficult and very physical work. You could bend it one way and something else is undone. Golf bags are designed to last – not to be torn apart. His compositions made of parts of golf bags required a tremendous amount of brute strength, “a lot of ripping, cutting, tearing, sawing, pounding.”
McGill never had a concept in mind before he started a new journey of creation. The process, as he described it, took place on a “subconscious level” – one that required him to let his art-instinct take over. A part of his very core that was “primal and necessary, visceral and vital.” However, the emotions he felt through the process were of a very conscious nature: raw, unfiltered feelings. Mostly rage, anger and frustration, mainly caused by the incredibly difficult to handle material. Every single one of his artworks was a fight. A fight against the golf bags that refused to bend to his will – but also a fight against the symbolic meaning they represented.
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I N S P I R E D B Y G O L F.
All images are courtesy of the estate of Charles McGill and Pavel Zoubok Fine Art, New York
Angry Atlantic (Sandy) (2012) Usually, McGill was not one to comment directly on current affairs. To him it was important that his work was “contextually relevant” at any point – he never wanted to “report on events like some artists.” Angry Atlantic (Sandy) is an exception. It is a visualisation of the deadly hurricane that struck the Caribbean and the east cost of the United States. The composition of tornapart golf bags resembles a dark, stormy ocean. There is a prominent shape in the middle that could be interpreted as a sharklike creature, the centre of the hurricane, or a hooded figure. It is an image of the destructive forces of the natural disaster, as well as a comment on the social issues that arose after it. Goat, Bull, Rooster, Horse (2014) One of McGill’s major inspirations was no less a person than Picasso himself. He was fascinated by the master’s ability to merge the likeness of both animals and people with “such virtuosity that it seemed magical.” His sculpture Goat, Bull, Rooster, Horse is a homage to the famous painter. Made of the material typical for McGill, the sculpture could be any of the animals mentioned in the title. They blend seamlessly, revealing different creatures depending on the angle from which the piece is viewed. It is proof of McGill’s ability to make use of his classical training in order to create something new and surprising. Target 51 (2015) In retrospective, one of his most impactful – and personal – pieces of work is the tondo Target 51. The circular composition resembles exactly what the title suggests. McGill created the piece in remembrance of his father who died when he was just 51 years old. Ever since the traumatising event, McGill had the haunting feeling that he would not be able to make it to the same age; that he would lose his life even earlier than his father did. Fifty-one, therefore, became his ‘target’ age. When McGill had reached it, he created this piece to celebrate and pay tribute to his father. Sadly, only two years later, the artist died at the age of 53. Cancer had shortened his life significantly – almost turning Target 51 into a kind of tragic prophecy.
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Installation view, Pavel Zoubok Fine Art, 2015
Angry Atlantic (Sandy 2012) 52 48 14 inches
Goat, Bull, Rooster, Horse, 2014, 23 20 11 inches
Target 51, 2015, 92 inches in
diameter, Collection Stéphane Samuel and Robert M Rubin Watermelon Patch, Harlem, 2001, from Playing Through Color, photograph 39 1/2 31 1/2 inches
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I N S P I R E D B Y G O L F.
Charles exhibited in numerous galleries and museums, including the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Lehman College Art Gallery, The Baltimore Museum of Art, the Norton Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. In 2016, the Boca Raton Museum of Art staged his first solo museum exhibition, Front Line, Back Nine, curated by Kathleen Goncharov. He contributed 30 pencil drawings to the book called The Six-Spoke Approach to Better Golf, by PGA golf teaching professional Tom Patri and shares credit on the project with such esteemed names as PGA Tour professional Fred Couples and NBC sports commentator Jimmy Roberts. In 2005 the owner of The Bridge Country Club in Bridgehampton, NY, commissioned one of Mr McGill’s most controversial pieces. Arthur Negro - Head of The Former Black Militant Golf and Country Club, a life-sized likeness of the artist, is displayed for members and visitors alike in The Bridge Pro Shop. His performances, sculptures and installations have met with critical praise from Art in America, The International Review of African American Art, The New York Times.
Charles McGill was a passionate professor who hoped to inspire in his students what his teachers once inspired in him: the urge to create meaningful art. This spirit is going to live on through the Charles McGill Scholarship that was created to help less fortunate students of the Borough of Manhattan Community College with their education. Charles, who was a professor there himself, will thereby continue to help aspiring artists find their way. His artwork and legacy will continue to encourage what was most important to him: change. 50 | upsWing | spring 2019
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Uncompromising Performance kjus.com
SEEKING PERFECTION So much of modern golf, modern sports, modern life is rationalised and economised, then sold in bulk. But what would golf clubs be like if they weren’t mass produced, if budget constraints were not a factor? Robin Barwick investigates.
Seven Dreamer’s autoclaving process helps the carbon fibre retain its quality without the need to grind, polish or paint.
here is a special saying in Japan: ‘yuiitsu muni’, which means to be one of a kind. In the sphere of golf equipment, manufacturing practicalities make it very difficult for companies to achieve any real sense of yuiitsu muni, although premium Japanese brands like
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Miura and Honma have come very close with their handmade clubs and smaller production volume. Starting out in the 1950s, Katsuhiro Miura spent 20 years working for golf club and steel manufacturers in Japan, but he became
increasingly frustrated with manufacturing constraints that prevented him from achieving any sense of yuiitsu muni. “Mr Miura believed the forging process was fundamentally flawed and he saw a better way to do it,” says Bill Holowaty, chief operating officer of Miura Golf, which was
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P E R F EC T IO N AT A L L CO ST
founded in 1977. “He started his own company and developed proprietary manufacturing techniques to manipulate the grain structure within the clubhead to produce a denser soft carbon steel, which led to better feel and better performance.” States Katsuhiro Miura: “Our desire was always to make something elegant and refined, to create something beautiful, with the highest degree of precision. Our irons must be built to last forever, that is most important.” In 2019 the Miura offering is led by the CB-301 handmade forged irons, which were launched in January. Made in Miura’s factory in Himeji, these are the first fully-forged cavity-back irons from Miura in eight years. The demand for ultra-high-end golf equipment in Japan has long been insatiable and, like Miura, Honma’s Japanese-made
While Phoenix-based Ping continues to produce excellent golf equipment today, another Arizona company, Scottsdalebased PXG, has spent the last four years chiselling its own niche at the very top end of the market. PXG was founded in 2014 by billionaire GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons (PXG stands for ‘Parsons Xtreme Golf’), and inventiveness in irons clubheads put PXG on the map. The company injects a proprietary polymer into a forged, hollow-bodied iron and PXG promises this allows for “extraordinary forgiveness, increased distance and an incredible sound and feel”.
What matters is performance, sound and feel equipment is gradually finding traction in the western golfing strongholds of the UK and the United States. Honma, which began supplying equipment to Justin Rose in January 2018, is luring the top-end of mass market budgets with its new TWorld 747 range, but it can be hard for golfers to avert their gaze from Honma’s premium Beres IS-06 forged irons once they have caught the eye with cavity inserts like miniature gold ingots. In the United States, Ping – which remains a family-owned business today, as it was from the beginning – was built on the ability of founder Karsten Solheim to craft one-of-akind putters for tour golfers in his garage in the early 1960s. Solheim certainly achieved yuiitsu muni and his heel-toe weighted Anser revolutionised putter design.
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“We are in a different business than the other manufacturers,” says Parsons, a former US marine. “For PXG it doesn’t matter how much we spend. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how many iterations. What matters is performance, sound and feel. Each one of those things must be right for us to consider releasing a club.” Launched last spring are PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons series, which were three years in development. Swedish LPGA Tour and Solheim Cup star Anna Nordqvist claims: “It literally took me two shots to fall in love with these irons,”
which feature a new COR2 polymer injection, to dampen vibration and enhance C.O.R. properties (Coefficient Of Restitution), or in layman’s terms, the spring-effect of the clubface). PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons fit neatly in the bag alongside the company’s striking 0311T Milled Wedges, which were launched in 2017. Uniquely, each 0311T wedge clubhead is 100 per cent CNC milled from an 11-pound block of 8260 soft carbon steel. PXG’s extremely precise CNC milling from scratch takes four and a half hours per clubhead, which is an age by modern golf manufacturing standards.
P E R F EC T IO N AT A L L CO ST
“I have always wanted to design an entirely milled wedge, but it’s a time consuming and expensive process,” said PXG’s senior designer Mike Nicolette when the clubs were launched. Claims Parsons: “Performance is PXG’s only measure for success and we believe our milled wedges could very well be the best performing, most consistent wedge the golf industry has ever known. Every detail is held to the highest tolerance on a CNC mill and the finish is smoking hot.” The 0311T wedges come with a choice of four sole grinds and lofts range from 46 to 60 degrees. The latest release from PXG is its new GEN2 drivers, fairways woods and hybrids, launched in January and which succeed the company’s X Collection from 2017. New for GEN2 is PXG’s Hot Rod Technology, featuring a variable thickness carbon fibre crown on the clubheads to complement the honeycomb TPE insert and precision weighting system adapted from the X Collection. The multi-level, anti-glare crown serves as an alignment aid while PXG promises its stiffer carbon fibre construction will reduce energy loss at impact, thereby increasing ball speed and shot distance. Stronger support for the clubface should also tighten shot dispersion. “With a bigger sweet spot, the GEN2 driver’s performance is insane and the consistency is unreal,” says PGA Tour golfer James Hahn, who was the first golfer playing PXG to win on the PGA Tour, when he claimed the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow with an X Collection prototype driver, in May 2016. “I can swing the driver a little faster and not worry about mishits because I know, even on a mishit, the ball is going to fly straight and go long.”
what it cost to manufacture our game-changing clubs at low quantities. PXG’s growth has been tremendous and with that comes certain economies of scale. Our new pricing, while still premium, is exactly where it ought to be given our success.” And finally, for golfers who would like to enhance their hardware performance with some aerospace-grade graphite tech, they could do little better than to return to the Land of the Rising Sun, where shaft specialist Seven Dreamers is continuing the Japanese speciality of golfing perfection at any cost. Conventional manufacturing of graphite shafts requires the shafts to be wrapped in shrink tape for oven curing. Afterwards, when the tape is removed, the shafts need to be ground and polished. They can be susceptible to broken fibres, fibre voids and resin-rich spots; flaws that compromise the performance of a shaft. This is why Seven Dreamers cures its shafts in an aerospace autoclave instead of an oven. An autoclave is the sort of machine used in the manufacture of parts that have to withstand extreme conditions, like the tiles on the exterior of a space shuttle. By applying six to 10 times atmospheric pressure to each shaft, Seven Dreamers promises the result is as close to perfection as any manufacturer could get. The process
eradicates the need for shrinking tape and post-curing grinds and polish, and the company says the result is that the shafts are completely free of fibre voids and resin spots, thereby enhancing the energy transfer capability of each shaft. All Seven Dreamers shafts are custom made and customers must complete an individual swing analysis prior to order, and before parting with a four-figure sum per shaft. It’s a lot of money for a graphite shaft but cheaper than a space shuttle. Seven Dreamers, like Karsten Solheim, like Katsuhiro Miura and like Bob Parsons and his team at PXG, are pushing back the boundaries of golf equipment, taking the game into new realms of possibility. While they strive for perfection in their labs and factories, they are helping golfers get as close as they can to perfection in their own games. The golfer can hardly ever achieve perfection but the fun comes in trying; and anyway, ‘yuiitsu muni’ has never been easy to come by.
Good news for golfers is that thanks to upscaling its production, PXG has managed to bring its premium pricing down a notch. “PXG’s goal has always been to develop the world’s finest golf club technology,” says Parsons. “Initially our prices reflected
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The Wisley | Golf Mag azine
N O W M O R E T H A N E V E R, O U R 1 5 0 Y E A R S O F E X P E R I E N C E M AT T E R S
From gaming to training At first glance, when taking an evening stroll through its frenzied centre, Seoul is much like any of the world’s great capital cities. There are fast food joints, coffee shops, bars and shops, all of whose branding is familiar the planet over, while those that aren’t reproduce and ape the styling we’re all so used to. Peer a little closer, however, and the differences reveal themselves. That’s when it becomes clear that the best fast food is cooked at tiny stalls which cling to the edge of the pavement, that the most popular coffee might be the one served in the cat cafe (quite literally a cafe where you go not only to drink beverages but also to play with pets) and you realise that the bars take great delight in being themed around bizarrely niche cultural icons (the 1960s pop act Peter, Paul and Mary, for example). There’s something else too. High on the walls of these Seoul streets there is one neon-lit word unexpectedly repeated, flashing away at passers-by, seducing the sports fan up the stairs where he will experience a traditional sport in a way its Scottish pioneers would find utterly incomprehensible, but which Koreans find completely normal. The word is ‘golf’ and the studios those golfers ascend to are often run by Golfzon, Korea’s leading producer of golfing simulators. Within their premises millions of rounds of golf are played every year, tournaments are fought over, two professional tours are hosted
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Words Matt Cooper
and hundreds of thousands of golfers revel in a virtual reality that they don’t believe is second-best to the real thing, simply different. The emergence of this alternative form of the game slots neatly into the history of virtual reality, the origins of which hark back to the 1950s and Morton L Heilig whose ‘Sensorama’ and ‘telesphere mask’ were bold and imaginative precursors to the technology of today – wraparound headsets which take the viewer into a different place. The actual term ‘virtual reality’ was not commonly used until the late 1980s when it was popularised by Jaron Lanier, a scientist who transformed the possibilities for the future and led where Sega and Nintendo, among many others, would travel. Gaming was at the forefront of this new technology and golf, it was soon obvious, was a sport which transferred perfectly to the computer. It was Nintendo which first hit on the three-click power bar system which became standard, creating sufficient nuance in the playing of every shot to attract the ‘real’ golfer. It would eventually be superseded by a mouse-driven swing which took the process yet further. The arrival of Tiger Woods revolutionised the sport and his EA Sports games would reflect this, even becoming an integral part of his story. Alongside it there was another, perhaps more cultish, classic – Links. It was slower than Tiger’s game, but the noises of a golf course were lovingly recreated and nerds across the planet
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G O L F S I M U L ATO R S
constructed their own courses or copies of the greatest layouts on the planet. Suddenly golfers could play pretty much anywhere in the world after a quick download. Wii Sports took it a step further, allowing players literally to swing their way to success. And running alongside the rush of gaming there was another evolution that would impact on golf. The aeronautical and medical industries have always used simulators, typical examples being the flying of planes, surgery and even virtual warzones to help the sufferers of PTSD. The swift progress of such technology impacted on golf because the sport not only suited the flat screen, it was also a neat fit for virtual recreation – quite literally what happens when the practice net meets computer game and has a virtual reality baby. It didn’t take those at the forefront of this technology, or the investors, long to realise the potential. Not only the sheer fun of suddenly playing any course in the world from a spare room at the clubhouse, the garage or a downtown bar, but the possibility that golfers might actually improve as a consequence. In the United Kingdom virtual reality golf has now lost the initial stigma of being second class, as players embrace party nights out at the likes of Urban Golf or use the bays to sharpen their game during weekday lunch hours. The success story of Urban Golf, founded in 2004 and still going strong in London’s Smithfield with a new Soho venue under construction, is based on its claim to have the “world’s coolest clubhouses” which mix golf, craft beer and cocktails. But without sensational technology the tag line ‘Golf & Grooves’ would have withered on the vine: golfers demand a product that replicates the real thing even when having fun. In 2009 Urban Golf installed simulators created by aboutGolf and the reasoning was straightforward: Urban Golf’s Managing Director James Day believed the accuracy of the ball tracking was unparalleled, allowing golfers to shape shots and spin the ball in ways that indoor golf had never allowed before. Such is the rapid progress of the industry that what was once an experience limited to commercial outlets is now quickly coming within the realm of individuals. The spare room, shed or garage are no longer where golfers leave their bag between rounds, but where, with an aboutGolf simulator installed, they can hone their game in all weathers, day or night, trusting a system that faithfully replicates their performance while they play the likes of Pebble Beach and St Andrews. While the world had to rid itself of the indoor golf stigma, Korea never had such qualms and they remain ahead of the curve. “We’re taking fresh ideas and developing new technologies for the golf industry and golfers around the world,” says Golfzon CEO Park Gi-Won. “We’re growing an exciting new culture in the game.”
upsWing | spring 2019
At one of their city centre cafes Kim Boo-Won, a 20-year-old student who had never played what the Koreans call ‘field golf’, happily took on the challenge of The Old Course in St Andrews. “I watch a lot of golf on television,” he said. “But it’s very expensive to play here and I live in the middle of Seoul. It’s not easy for me to get out to the clubs and very few have been built anyway in recent years. In the cafes I have been able to learn quietly. I think I would be scared playing badly on a field course. Here I just have fun.” Golfzon has nearly 6,000 outlets in Korea, but it operates elsewhere too and the numbers are persuasive. It has over 30,000 simulators at over 5,500 locations in 43 countries. The most recent figures report that there are over two million members and that 55 million rounds are played per year which works out at over 150,000 rounds every day. So far, so amazing, but here is where it becomes extraordinary. There are 300 tournaments held each day and one of them allows amateurs from around the world to compete for the prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to a worldwide finale in Seoul at the Golfzon headquarters. Even beyond this the regular Korean weekday tournaments lead to weekend finals at this same location. And then there is the GTour which has a ten-event schedule, attracts crowds who sit in mini versions of major championship grandstands, is covered by television and has a total prize fund of $1.3 million. There is also a women’s GTour, as befits a nation whose female golfers rule the world. It is a virtual world beyond the comprehension of many golfers and there are ‘field golf’ tours across the world which could not compete with these rewards. It’s all a very long way from the very first stick golfers in computer games of the 1970s or from complex balls-on-string which could be hit from mats in the 1950s. Golfzon allows the golfer to hit from a mat which tilts to produce uphill, downhill and sidehill lies, which permits him or her to play anywhere in the world, against pretty much any nationality you could imagine. It is no longer ‘virtual’. Instead it is a new reality and an exciting one too.
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SIMON HOLMES IS A GOLF PRO AND INSTRUCTOR TO ALL LEVELS OF PLAYER FROM TOTAL BEGINNER TO TOURNAMENT PROFESSIONALS. SIMON HAS COACHED OVER 80 TOURNAMENT PROFESSIONALS AND WON TOGETHER OVER 50 TITLES AND TWO MAJORS. HE HOLDS SEMINARS ON ELITE PERFORMANCE AND HABITS AS WELL AS APPEARING ON SKY SPORTS PGA TOUR GOLF COVERAGE EACH WEEKEND AS THE RESIDENT SWING EXPERT. SIMON HOLMES TEACHES AT THE WISLEY.
S I M O N S AYS Welcome to Upswing, and a few thoughts from me! Golf supplies us with a never-ending dossier for discussion. Here are a few subjects that I have a thought or two on! The new rules shall be a never-ending source for discussion in clubhouses up and down the country, and all over the world, tapping down spike marks has been met with universal approval, while putting with the flag in is getting rather mixed reactions; and don’t get me started on being penalised should you drop your ball from anywhere other than knee height. This has turned the very straightforward (and dignified) act of dropping a ball to a contrived curtsy, this may be revisited sooner rather than later! Tiger Woods: a great win at the Tour Championship is not enough to convince me that he is back to anything like his best, though his swing technique is certainly close. His performance at the Ryder Cup and his own Hero Invitational tournament were rather lacklustre, I’m not convinced this was due to fatigue. His schedule was hardly back-breaking (please excuse the pun)! One thing that is certain with regard to Tiger is his ability to move the needle. He is the needle, and the tournaments that he plays in are the events to be a part of, whether as a player or a viewer. This season Tiger 5.0 will play a full schedule. Will his presence in pairings still act like a 15th club? The season-ending Tour Championship saw Rose wilt in the third round, and Rory move into reverse gear in the final round. There may be life in the old cat!
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Who will win big in 2019? It will be more of the same! Tommy Fleetwood will land his first major, John Rahm will match him, and the American quartet of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Bryson de Chambeau will share many of the spoils. Cameron Champ announced his arrival on the PGA Tour with near-400-yard drives as well as a win in only his second tournament. Expect to see him contend often. Two other players who will contend globally are Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia; too good for too long in Garcia’s case, energised by a great Ryder Cup. Inspired by fatherhood, this could result in major number two! Jordan never truly left the limelight: will the success of close friends Koepka and Thomas inspire him? Something tells me his inspiration comes from within. He’s just too good; as is Tony Finau. Definitely worthy of noting for future glory! On the European tour look out for Matt Wallace backing up his 2018 season with a multiple win season, as well as featuring in a Major. Rose equipment change. The World’s number 1 golfer Justin Rose has decided to replace the equipment that took him there! In addition, he is not moving to one of the familiar powerhouse names. He’s chosen Honma, or rather they have chosen him to the tune of a reported $10 million! What was the motivation? Was he seduced by the Yen? Who knows? Though perhaps his decision is similar to the many club golfers that test new equipment frequently, in the hope of finding their own Excalibur. Why should tour professionals be any different? It would be very easy to rely on the same technology that you have, content that it works for you. Why not explore every possible avenue to learn whether there is a better option? In this modern age of Trackman and adjustable everything, equipment is a dynamic, not a static. Perhaps seek and ye shall find! Ultra-premium equipment. PXG started the trend three years ago. Many scoffed, some watched, the early adopters dived in. They were right to: the irons outperformed all others, mishit shots were finding greens that other clubs didn’t. They cost more. So do many other items that the successful enjoy, except this item lowers your scores and adds to your enjoyment, which seems a fair exchange to me!
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The Wisley Golf Magazine | Spring 2019