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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 02 1

DENIS PUGH REBEL WITH A CAUSE page 14

MASTERMIND VS PERFORMER TREVINO AND LANGER CREATE SPORTING DRAMA page 8

HITTING NEW HEIGHTS "THE MOST AMAZING GOLF COURSE ON EARTH" page 48

EASY RIDERS CRUISING AROUND THE GOLF COURSE page 53


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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, strength and conditioning coach and writer. His latest venture is focusing on helping golfers achieve physical peak. He writes predominantly about sport, health and fitness.

Craig Buglass is the Co founder of the agency SPARK. Passionate about golf as well as luxury fashion and sportswear, Craig’s work as a Creative Director has been instrumental in the growth of multiple iconic brands, such as Nike, Puma, Belstaff and Alfred Dunhill. 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. 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.

Caroline Mohr is a Keynote speaker, NLP Trainer and former golf professional who’s been featured in Forbes, ESPN and The Times. She survived an earthquake, cancer and lost her leg, but made a comeback to professional golf within 3 months. She’s passionate about inspiring people to grow through challenges. Sam Oliver is a PGA professional and Membership Director at The Wisley. In his role, he is responsible for marketing, building brand partnerships and ensuring members and their guests enjoy the ultimate golfing experience.

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. Mark Souster is a renowned sports journalist writing for The Times. Before covering racing, he has been rugby correspondent and has been named sports journalist of the year. Mark has covered England’s World Cup in 2011 for which he has been awarded the sports scoop of the year award.

PUBLICATION DETAILS Publisher Editor-in-chief Editorial and Artwork Creative Director Printer

The Ad Store UK, hello@adstore.uk.com Daniel Blattler David Brown, Nathalie Breuer, Katrin Kroschinski Stephan Hammes PUSH Print Ltd.

4  |  upsWing  |  spring 2021

CONTENTS 8 The Mastermind and the Performer Trevino and Langer’s most memorable moments in golf, their famous victories and valiant misses. 14 Rebel with a cause Struggling as a player, thriving as a coach. Denis Pugh – the most low-profile, high-profile swing coach in golf. 20 Lockdown golf Oliver Wilson, Jonathan Joseph and Jordan Smith about some golf-friendly home improvements. 26 Royal North Devon, the St Andrews of the South Ben Sargent visits Westward Ho!, England’s oldest golf course. 30 The green shoots of innovation Fashion and sportswear brands are moving to more sustainable and earth-friendly products. 34 A future star in a dream car We take up-and-coming golf talent Thalia Kirby for a spin in the Ferrari Roma. 38 Place your bet. Game on. Golf could be the next big thing in the sports betting. 42 Move & improve Simple exercises you should add to your fitness routine. 46 When the perfect shot ends up in a divot Mind games – how to deal with difficulties and focus on the things you can influence. 48 Hitting new Heights Matt Cooper travelled to the Himalayas to experience “The Most Amazing Golf Course on Earth.” 53 Easy riders Since we live in a socially-distanced world, a new trend for single-rider machines on golf courses has emerged. 56 A game of integrity For Membership Director Sam Oliver, golf is more than a sport as it continues to teach valuable life lessons. 58 It’s in your blood A crash course in Japan’s blood type theory and what it has to do with golf. 62 Simon says Back in the swing of it. The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


WE’RE

HERE

TO

H E L P.

D O N ’ T R E LY O N L U C K , R E LY O N S AV I L L S


R A R E G E M S TO A T E E

H A N D M A D E I N LO N D O N SINCE 1980

Mayfair, W1 +44 (0)20 7499 6814 hirshlondon.com


FOREWORD

DE AR RE ADER Welcome to our third issue of Upswing. It has been a very challenging year for all of us, for sure. However, as spring is here, there are unmistakable green shoots of hope that the worst is behind us. It’s likely though, that the pandemic will have lasting effects on society, whether it’s the changes we’ll see on our high streets or the increased flexibility we’ll get in terms of where and when we work. There’s no doubt that the golf industry will see some changes too – and we know that golf, as an industry, isn’t known for its flexibility and embrace of change. Upswing is The Wisley’s platform to show a side of golf that is maybe less talked about in the golf media. In this issue, we spoke to future star Thalia, a talented young woman who is currently at the pinnacle of amateur golf, and took her on a spin with a stunning dream car. Someone who is known for his opinions is our very own ambassador and Vice-President, Denis Pugh. He features in our cover story, talking about his coaching career and the joy of working with people who share his passion for the game, whether they are elite players or amateurs. Our travel article takes us to a high-altitude golf course in the Himalayas for an unforgettable golf adventure. Hopefully, it won’t be too long until we can venture out again and experience golf trips on our island or further afield. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy issue 03 of Upswing in its printed form and online (www.upswing.golf) for even more golf and lifestyle content. Stay well and enjoy your golf. JOHN GLENDINNING, Chief Executive of The Wisley Golf Club Upswing magazine is published once a year for The Wisley Golf Club plc. by The Ad Store UK. Please email all magazine enquiries, comments or complaints to thewisley@adstore.uk.com. The Ad Store UK believes in upholding the highest standards in journalistic integrity. © 2021 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. Upswing is printed on FSC certified paper that has been carbon balanced. The printer is FSC and ISO 14001 certified, the internationally recognised standard for best practice on the environment. The energy used in the production has been carbon offset.

upsWing  |  spring 2021

Web: upswing.golf Facebook: facebook.com/upswingonline Twitter: twitter.com/upswingonline Instagram: instagram.com/upswingonline The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine  |  7


The Mastermind and the Performer Words Robin Bar wick

GOLF’S GREAT PERFORMANCES ARE RECORDED IN HISTORY; THE FAMOUS VICTORIES, THE VALIANT MISSES, BUT SOMETIMES THE MOST MEMORABLE ENTERTAINMENT COMES FROM THE CONTRASTING PERSONALITIES THAT COMBINE TO CREATE SPORTING DRAMA.

Ryder Cup at The Belfry, 1985 – Lee Trevino (sitting) with Bernhard Langer and Jose-Maria Canizares.


I

n the Piccadilly World Match Play at Wentworth in 1972, Lee Trevino was drawn against home favourite Tony Jacklin in one of the semi-finals. The two golfers knew each other well – both major champions in their conquering prime – and just weeks before, in The Open at Muirfield, American Trevino had broken Englishman Jacklin’s heart with a holed chip from deep rough at the penultimate hole (it set up victory for Trevino and the ensuing years would show that Jacklin was never the same force again). As they teed off on this October morning in the Match Play, Jacklin wasn’t in the mood for Trevino’s famous verbal stream of quips and clamour. He said to Trevino, “Lee, I really don’t feel like talking today, if that’s okay, so I’m probably not going to say much.” In a flash, Trevino replied: “Hey, Tone, you don’t need to talk, just listen”. There was no stopping Trevino, and Jacklin couldn’t find the answer that day either, losing at the last hole.

It was not a distraction by design by Trevino, but when he got inside the ropes, he liked to talk, and the fans loved to listen, which spurred him to talk all the more. “I feed off people,” Trevino once said. “Sometimes I think the fans follow me as much to hear me talk as to watch me play. Whatever, I’m the people’s champion and proud of it. When I get out of that car at the course, I’m on stage and I enjoy what I do.” American writer Sam Blair, who collaborated with Trevino on his autobiography ‘SuperMex’ agrees that Trevino is “a golfer who captured the world as much with his personality as he did with his game. He comes across as fresh and quick, and he is.” Trevino would ultimately win six major titles between 1968 and 1984, the first two of which were US Opens, at Oak Hill in 1968 – Trevino’s first professional victory – and at Merion in 1971, when he defeated Jack Nicklaus in an 18-hole play-off. Talking of quick wit, after that championship Trevino said: “I love Merion and I don’t even know her last name”. It is a great line, but Jacklin might not have laughed. Jacklin was a fiery, uncompromising competitor – and the first English golfer to win the US Open in the post-war era, in 1970 – although he mellowed as time passed.


AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS:

L. TREVINO B. LANGER

PGA Tour Rookie of the Year

1967

PGA Tour leading money SECTIONFirst golfer to win US Open, Canadian Open & winner ($157,037) British Open in the same year

1970

1971

Inducted into The World Golf Hall of Fame

1981

Won European Tour Order of Merit

“Everybody on the tour knew this was just Lee’s way of dealing with the pressure. He had to talk,” Jacklin once said. “That was his release valve. No-one talked as much as Trevino and it was always just that little bit of a distraction. Did it take away something from his opponent’s resolve and concentration? Yes, it did. But what’s important is that Lee never used it that way. It wasn’t a conscious thing on his part. Lee Trevino was Lee Trevino and he couldn’t help himself. You just had to learn to deal with it.” One of the best-known Trevino stories is the one that nearly killed him when he was struck by lightning at the 1975 Western Open at Butler National Golf Club. It was laced with irony too. Literally, the week before Trevino was hit, he played in the US Open at Medinah when the klaxon blew for a weather warning. “I’m not scared of lightning,” Trevino told the adoring gallery, “I’ve made my peace with the Lord and he promised he wouldn’t throw any darts at me.” Trevino retired that joke once the bolt of lightning bounced off a lake, shot through his back and out of his left shoulder, and dissolved the lubricant between his vertebrae on its way through. Lower back trouble would persist for the rest of Trevino’s career and we’ll never know how much more his golfing dominance could have endured during the late 1970s and early 1980s had lightning not struck.

“Lee Trevino can make it all seem so easy,” starts Bernhard Langer, who would follow Trevino to the top of the world game half a generation later, with their careers overlapping midway. “Lee is a natural comedian, an intuitively funny man. Yet, even in his case, he needs time on his own, space away from the crowds who demand his attention. “I am not a joker, but I enjoy hearing an amusing tale told by someone who has such a gift. Life must not be taken seriously all the time.”

Trevino and Langer project contrasting personalities, yet they have both carved out historically successful careers, both in their own inimitable way, and yet they do have something in common. Both golfers emerged from poor backgrounds, both found golf by putting in the long, hard miles caddying for money as kids before they picked up a club – both caddying from the age of eight – and both entered the professional game as outsiders. Trevino was the first American of Mexican heritage to become established on the PGA Tour in the United States before Langer became the first German golfer to win on the European Tour and play in the Ryder Cup. Ultimately, he would become the first German golfer to win a major when winning the Masters in 1985.

Unlike many of today’s young professionals, who make the carefully nurtured progression from college golf to the pro circuits, golfers like Trevino and Langer, Jacklin and Seve Ballesteros, each had to forge their own paths through some difficult terrain.

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LEE TREVINO Born: December 1, 1939, Dallas, Texas Home: Dallas, Texas Turned pro: 1960 Pro wins: 72

Major wins: 6 (US Open 1968, 1971; The Open 1971, 1972; PGA Championship 1974, 1984) Ryder Cup: Played on US team six times (1969, ‘71, ‘73, ‘75, ‘79, ‘81). Captained US team in 1985.

On winning his first pro title at the 1968 US Open, Trevino joked: “There were thousands around the green and five policemen escorted me through the crowd to the clubhouse. I hadn’t had so much attention from the cops since I backfired my 1949 Ford on North Central Expressway when I was 15.” For Langer, in 1972 and at the age of 14, looking to leave school to pursue a career in golf, he had an appointment with the local institute for job placement in Anhausen. When Langer told the official he wanted to be a golf professional, he replied that he had never heard of such a job. The official went into a different room to look for information on golf pros, before returning to tell Langer, “There is no such thing… find something else to do.” On the outside, these golfers might exude contrasting personalities, yet an upbringing of occasional hard knocks left them with an iron core. Just as Trevino was never intimidated by the peerless Jack Nicklaus, so Langer has never shied from Ballesteros. Many tour golfers could not honestly claim the same.

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


1986

Won seven titles in first full season on PGA Tour Champions SECTION& became first golfer to earn $1 million in a season on the tour

1990

Became golf’s first Official World Number One

2002

2008–2017

Inducted into The World Golf Hall of Fame

10 consecutive seasons as leading money winner on PGA Tour Champions

Rory McIlroy. “It’s so impressive, just the way he methodically plots his way around and gets it up and down when he needs to,” said McIlroy after their round. “It’s really cool to watch.” When Langer rose to the top of the world game in the early 1980s, his principal rival on the European Tour was another contrasting personality, Ballesteros, the hot-headed, impulsive matador of golf. When Ballesteros famously won The Open at St Andrews in 1984, his playing partner in the final round was Langer. A few months later, when Langer won his first Green Jacket in 1985, he played in the final round with Ballesteros. “I congratulated Seve at St Andrews and he congratulated me at Augusta,” recalls Langer. “Those were two pairings I will never forget, put it that way.” Steve and I were arch-rivals in a sense. We were quite the opposite of each other in terms of style of play and it was fascinating. When I was younger, I was intrigued by the rivalry in tennis between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. Borg never showed any emotion, as cool as a cucumber, whereas McEnroe was the opposite, always shouting and losing his temper. They played each other many times and they both had great success, and it was hard to tell which player was better. Those opposites in sports are fascinating for the spectators, and different people root for different players.

BERNHARD LANGER Born: August 27, 1957, Anhausen, Germany Home: Boca Raton, Florida Turned pro: 1972 Pro wins: 106

Major wins: 2 (Masters 1985, 1993) Ryder Cup: Played on European team ten times (1981, ‘83, ‘85, ‘87, ‘89, ‘91, ‘93, ‘95, ‘97, ‘02). Captained European team in 2004.

By studying Langer’s body language and facial expressions on the golf course, it is very hard to tell how he is playing. It was the same with another of his great European rivals, Nick Faldo, while Trevino and the late Ballesteros were much more expressive. “I think I show more emotions now than I used to,” offers Langer. “If someone knows me, they can tell right away by my facial expressions how I am feeling, or by my body language. I tried very hard to remain steady when I was younger. My sporting idol when I was young was Borg, so maybe some of my outward calm came from watching him.”

Indeed, Nicklaus would later concede: “Of all my contemporaries, Trevino was the hardest to beat.” “That comment is the feather in my hat,” says Trevino. “I was so proud when I heard Jack said that. I get goosebumps telling you this now. I am proud of a lot of things but I have never received a greater compliment. It means even more coming from the greatest golfer of all time.”

Trevino, now happily retired at the age of 81, would like to see more golfers on tour today open up their personalities. “I just wish we saw some humour in more of the young players,” he says. “Humour is pretty rare on the golf tour now. There aren’t many who will stop between holes to tell a joke anymore. So many pro golfers today have gone from high school to college to the tour. They have been totally isolated. They’ve never had to deal with the public.”

Spontaneous Trevino talks his way around the course while methodical Langer is not silent, but every word, every move, every swing, is the result of fulsome consideration. Not only did this approach earn Langer two Masters titles, the second coming in 1993, but it made him golf’s first official World Number One (before Ballesteros, who was ranked second in the inaugural ranking of April 6, 1986).

As professional golf has become more corporate, golfers speak to the media less as their time and exposure are more carefully managed by agents. More isolation from the public, less spontaneity. Yet, it is unrealistic to expect golfers today to emulate Trevino, or Ballesteros, or American golf’s great post-war hero, Arnold Palmer, who was pursued religiously at tournaments by “Arnie’s Army”. These are personalities with a magnetism that cannot be taught and cannot be forced. The important thing is to cherish these characters as they come, to retell their words and reflect on their brilliance. Failure to do that would be the real crime.

Last November, on his favourite golf course at Augusta National, Langer’s relentless work ethic saw him set a new mark as the oldest golfer ever to make the cut at the Masters, at the age of 63 and two months. The following day, in the third round, he was grouped with

upsWing  |  spring 2021

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine  |  11


Upswings and Downswings in the Stock Market How to avoid the stress and achieve a classic finish… by Nick Fletcher, Senior Partner, London Wall Partners LLP

One of the most common mistakes people make when investing their hard-earned after-tax savings capital may surprise you – they make ‘investing’ their starting point! However, we believe this is wrong and has two negative outcomes – it generally results not only in under-investment in quality assets for the long term, but also in people worrying and getting stressed about short-term stock market movements, most of which are irrelevant to achieving a positive outcome or ‘classic finish’. Ben Hogan’s classic finish, depicted in the famous picture when he hit his one-iron to the heart of the 18th green at Merion before winning the US Open in 1950, came at the end of his classic swing. First, we saw Ben take his posture, stance and aim, then make his backswing and downswing in that order. Similarly, if you were building a new home on a plot of land, your first port of call would be to an architect to draw up a set of plans based on your aims and objectives. You would not go straight to a builder and ask him to start building the house. Why then do people take a different view when it comes to investing? One answer is a lack of totally impartial and independent financial advice. Who can you rely on to provide advice that is purely in your best interests? Who will show the same care and attention as, perhaps, a heart surgeon, where one careless move may have serious, possibly fatal, consequences for the patient? The financial services industry is renowned for selling products and gathering assets, often without putting their clients’ interests first. So how do you avoid the stress and achieve a ‘classic finish’ with your money. There are several starting rules or etiquette, just like in golf, to follow before you get on course, as follows: 1.

You must appoint an independent financial adviser that you pay and is on your side of the table;

2.

You must want to be a good steward of your capital and forgive yourself for past errors;

3.

You must think of today as being the first day of the rest of your financial life;

4.

You must want exceptional value for money and service standards;

5.

The adviser must be highly experienced and have a long track record of client retention;

6.

The adviser must be supported by a team and not a jack of all trades, master of none;

7.

The firm you appoint must obtain most of its business through word of mouth;

8.

The adviser firm must have an impeccable regulatory track record;

9.

The adviser firm must have a robust investment track record in good times and in bad;

10. The principals of the firm must invest their own money where they recommend you invest yours. London Wall Partners LLP meet all of these ten rules and many more – we are dedicated to assisting our clients achieve classic results over the long term. It is very rare indeed to come across professionals, who can pass these rules and plan, allocate and invest to the quality level that will surpass the expectations of top class professional clients to the extent we do – we would love to meet you for a confidential discussion about your requirements; do contact us on 0203 696 6801. Investments fluctuate in value and may fall as well as rise and investors may not get back the value of their original investment.


Independent advice on how to PLAN • ALLOCATE • INVEST your money

Copyright USGA / Hy Peskin. Courtesy of WWW.USGA.ORG.

www.londonwallpartners.com London Wall Partners LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under number 583354 and is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales with Partnership Number OC375373. The registered office for London Wall Partners LLP is Salisbury House, London Wall, London, EC2M 5QQ.


Denis Pugh became a professional golfer at the age of 17 in 1972 and within two years, as a PGA member, was regularly qualifying for events on the European Tour.


DENIS PUGH

REBEL WITH A CAUSE

Words Matt Cooper

When Denis Pugh’s dreams of a playing career were ended in abrupt fashion, another possibility opened up for him; one that took him to the top of the golfing ladder and also allowed him to retain his affection for those who share the love of the game at all levels of the sport.

T

ime spent with Denis Pugh is a little like playing with a certain kind of toy car, the type you pull back and let fly across the carpet. The difference, perhaps, is that the toy car eventually slows down and stops, whereas Denis Pugh – enthusiast, veteran coach and Vice President of The Wisley – doesn’t.

The energy and the passion are infectious. A torrent of words, a burst of stories, and a brain that both fizzes with ideas and is alert to new impulses. It’s no surprise that this PGA Master Professional has not only inspired golfers across the entire range of abilities to improve their score but to do so with a smile on their faces. What may come as a shock is that the kickstart to his successful career was a metaphorical slap in the face, a home truth articulated by the esteemed South African coach Phil Ritson as Pugh struggled to establish himself as a tour player some 40 years ago. “It’s a true story,” Pugh recalls with a chuckle. “He told me straight that I’d never be better than an average player. I was in my mid-20s so it was very hard to hear. Then he told me I could make it to the top as a coach.” The thunderbolt nature of the first part of the verdict would have broken many, yet Pugh is under no illusions that the honesty made him. Ritson had seen the qualities he had rather than the ones he hoped he had. “Absolutely,” says Pugh. “He saw my passion for the swing, and he also recognised that I get along with many types of people because he always emphasised that, alongside technical skill and up-to-date knowledge, good communication is a major asset in coaching.”

upsWing  |  spring 2021

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine  |  15


DENIS PUGH

Once the transition had been made, Pugh embarked on a journey of discovery alongside Ritson and also David Leadbetter, both of whom were early pioneers of video instruction, memories of which prompts more laughter: “It was very radical at the time, but the video recorder back then was the size of a TV camera, and I’d carry it around with a battery that was the size of a suitcase!” Progress was swift and Pugh began to identify standards that have instructed his work ever since. “Success in anything, but specifically in golf comes firstly, primarily and almost exclusively as a consequence of talent,” he explains, the words tumbling forth. “You polish that talent and they call it work, but it’s more like skill acquisition. The final factor is luck. Everyone who’s been successful at anything will pay respect to the fact that they got lucky at some point and, because of their talent and that skill acquisition, they were able to take advantage.

to become nightmares for people. I’ve seen how golf can turn a 20-year-old hopeful into a 25-year-old bitter person who hates the game and everyone he met along the way. It’s a tough sport.”

A variation of the tough talk took place over breakfast at The Wisley in late 2016 with Francesco Molinari. “He was a very, very good European Tour professional,” Pugh says. “But he didn’t want to be that player. He wanted to be the best he could be. That morning we determined what was needed. Cold-blooded, high-risk, chips-on-the-table decisions because there was an acknowledgement that if it didn’t work out, it could be the end of Francesco’s career. Chatting now, I can say how great that journey was, leading to Ryder Cup and Open Championship glory, but I know about the grind, the disappointments and the stepping stones along the way. It’s remarkable that someone in his early 30s would be prepared to do that.”

“ I’m an itchy feet person. I never get stuck in any area; it keeps me fresh.”

“Also, and this is absolutely vital, you never grind a diamond, you polish it. If you keep grinding a diamond, you’ll end up with diamond dust. That was one of Phil’s two rules. The second was more blunt: if you can’t help someone, don’t muck ‘em up. You take them into areas where you know that if it doesn’t work out, they won’t be ruined.” Perhaps there was also a third Ritson rule because Pugh never forgot the initial reality check. “I really needed to hear what Phil told me and fortunately, I was willing to accept it. But there’s no doubt that one of the hardest aspects of coaching is intruding on the dreams of a younger golfer whose parents are convinced he’s destined for great things when it simply isn’t going to happen. It’s brutal, but I don’t want dreams

16  |  upsWing  |  spring 2021

Pugh’s focus stretches beyond the top of the sport. “I’m an itchy feet person. I never get stuck in any area; it keeps me fresh,” he explains. The quest for new ideas is never-ending and led to some frustrations in his dealings with the Professional Golf Association, a period almost defined by the description of him by former pupil and fivetime European Tour winner Frank Nobilo as “anti-establishment”. “I’m a rebel with a cause,” Pugh laughs. “I instinctively rebel against any rule that doesn’t make sense to me and it’s a really good quality in terms of learning better ways to swing a golf club and understanding what happens to the golf ball because before Trackman technology, there was so much


Denis was Head Professional at The Wisley from January 2000 for almost 10 years.


DENIS PUGH

rubbish talked about what happens to ball flight. Knowing that, I was quite rebellious with the PGA in the 90s, yet, a few years later, I co-authored the PGA manual. So, I’m a rebel, but I’m also an establishment supporter because it should have rules that make sense instead of nonsensical ones. I’m not into chaos!”

potential to improve. Together with Paul Lyons, he co-founded The Golf College to help youngsters’ progress into the industry and one day set them question. “I asked: ‘If, for the rest of your life, you can consistently shoot 72 or you shoot average 72, which means you’ll have days when you shoot 82 and others when you shoot 62, which do you

Denis Pugh has been a regular and well-respected pundit for Sky Sports’ golf coverage for more than 20 years.

To mention golf’s dress rules is to witness Pugh’s belief in golfing egalitarianism in full flight. “The Wisley gets it!” he cries. “But some places? Well ... The funny thing is that I couldn’t be more conservative in what I wear, I don’t even own a pair of jeans, so it’s not self-serving! What matters to me is that someone wants to play the game in the right spirit!”

Appreciation of golf’s soul matters to Pugh; it fuels his time spent with amateurs. “There are Wisley members I play with who will never play better than a 20-handicap, but they have an absolute passion for the game,” he says. “The prowess of a golfer is not necessarily the most important measure, it’s increasing their enjoyment of the game.” Which is not to say Pugh doesn’t demand fire in the belly, especially from those with

18  |  upsWing  |  spring 2021

choose?’ It horrified me that 20-year-old kids playing off four or five took 72 every day of their life. It’s actually one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. In terms of making a living from the sport, you’ll never be any good with that attitude. Never. “It’s a vital mindset. Never be so scared to play badly that you won’t take a risk. Fear of failure is a great motivator, but you should never avoid placing yourself in a position where you might lose. That applies at every level. A lot of club golfers are like that. I ask: ‘What are you going to lose?’ A 20-handicapper might be afraid of becoming 30, rather than excited by becoming ten.”

Disabled golfer George Groves possessed the right mindset. He progressed his game to scratch whilst at college and has since

topped the disabled world rankings. Born with limited movement in his joints and muscles, his left arm had little function, a situation at odds with the traditional swing and a challenge Pugh relished. “We effectively rewrote the book for him,” he reveals. “It was a case of – let’s find a way. It wasn’t just me, we had a team who developed a swing that maximised what George had and by the end, he was hitting like a pro.” What of the future for the sport he loves so much? “Twenty years ago, I wrote in the PGA manual that there are three requirements for an elite golfer to reach the top: power, power and power. That was a prediction in the Tiger era, and it is still true today. The game is clearly getting longer. Some blame the ball or the driver technology, but undeniably we see golfers change physically. We now have athletes playing the game. Is it good for the game? I’m not sure. Golfers will arguably have a similar physique – more like we see in basketball, rather than the chess players of the past.”

If it seems a glum assessment to end on, Pugh cannot stop himself adding: “If you give me a power player with the capacity to acquire skills, that’s the future.” See what happened there? He’s always thinking, even when dealt a hard truth. The words still spill forth, the feet still itch, the brain still fizzes – the Pugh passion undimmed.

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


OFFICIAL FERRARI DEALER

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Lockdown golf Words Robin Bar wick

Challenged, but certainly not beaten. We spoke to three golfers who found their own ways to progress their game despite lockdown.

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any might presume that a touring professional must have a suitably expert-level practice facility at home. Yet, real life is rarely so straightforward. Take the European Tour’s Jordan Smith, who was admirably resourceful when lockdown struck last spring. “I ordered a net online, but it took ages to arrive, so I made my own makeshift net,” the 28-year-old Englishman tells us. “I had a clothes rack with a bed sheet over it, and I was hitting balls into it off a doormat. It got quite interesting.”

Full marks for ingenuity. Fellow European Tour pro Oli Wilson took to re-arranging the furniture at the home of what sounds like very obliging in-laws in North Carolina. “I commandeered the basement and pushed everything to the back of the room to make way,” explains Wilson, 40, who played on the European Ryder Cup team in 2008. “As soon as we realised what was happening [with lockdown], I basically bought a gym and set it up, and I set up a net and a mat. I call it the dungeon.”

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Except the first net Wilson bought wasn’t up to tour-level ball speeds. “I bought the first net online and it was terrible. It lasted about five shots before it started to fall apart. I kept folding it over to cover the holes, but each time I did that the net became smaller as a target. I made it work for a while, but then I ordered an archery net [pictured] and hung that up.” So, have you broken anything? “There might have been a couple of incidents, but I can’t go into them,” laughs Wilson. “Nothing that can go on record.” Don’t mention it to his in-laws, whatever you do.

Meanwhile, Smith completed a house move during the spring lockdown, from Corsham – near Bath where he grew up – to Chobham in Surrey. At the old house, Smith had at least an artificial putting green in the back garden, complete with gentle contours. Once he moved into his new home, the lockdown putting practice was relocated to a 14-foot indoor putting mat, just like countless other lockdown golfers. And it turned out the sheet-and-clothes-rack combination was more resilient than expected.

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


LOCKDOWN GOLF

European Tour pro Oliver Wilson set up his so-called ‘dungeon’ in the basement and has been hitting balls into an archery net.

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LOCKDOWN GOLF

Jordan Smith focused on keeping fit and building strength once his gym equipment was all set up in the garage of his new house.

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LOCKDOWN GOLF

“It actually worked out surprisingly well for a couple of weeks as proper nets were sold out everywhere and the one I ordered took ages to eventually arrive,” recalls Smith, winner of the Porsche European Open in 2017. “Admittedly I couldn’t hit a too lofted club as the ball would just go over it, but I never missed the bed sheet to be fair.” The doormat, however, took a pounding. “It lasted the best part of a couple of days before bits started to come loose. Eventually it just fell apart,” adds Smith. Smith’s proper practice net for the garden finally arrived, while his home gym was transferred from the old garage to the new. “The challenge of lockdown was to find things to do to keep my golf game ticking over,” explains Smith, who was just finding some consistency on the European Tour’s swing in the Middle East when lockdown scuttled the tournament schedule. A finish tied for 6th in the Oman Open at the beginning of March was evidence of emerging form. “I tried to do little bits each day to keep me going. Then Trackman came up with this online competition with Sky Sports, which meant we could hit balls with the Trackman radar and play a virtual round of golf. I ended up doing that for four or five weeks, competing against other European Tour pros and that was quite good fun and it kept the competitive spirit going.”

To most serious golfers, keeping fit for the game is about more than just swinging a golf club. Jonathan Joseph (aka DJ Spooney) lives in a flat in Hornsey, north London, and while this seven-handicapper’s clubs gathered dust during lockdown, he concentrated on golfspecific strength and conditioning. “I have not bulked up like Bryson [DeChambeau], but there are a couple of elements in his science that I have incorporated into my exercise, because with

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greater strength and stability you can really explode through the impact area of a golf swing while keeping your balance. The aim is to swing with greater speed while keeping your balance and a lot of that comes down to core strength.”

Wilson added 20 yards to his driving distance over lockdown, working with his trainer and swing coach in the ‘dungeon’ via Zoom, while Smith also endeavoured with strength training once his gym equipment was set up in the garage of his new house.

DeChambeau, who claimed the first major title of his burgeoning career at the US Open at Winged Foot last September, has physically bulked up dramatically over the past two years. He drives the ball in tournaments like he is in a long-driving contest as part of a strategy to overpower golf courses. He was statistically the longest driver on the PGA Tour in 2020 with an average of 322.1 yards per drive.

“Once I get into the routine with the gym work I quite enjoy it,” he says. “It can be hard when you have not done it for a while, but it is a key part of the game now. 99 percent of golfers on tour train in the gym and it’s clearly beneficial for your game if you want to hit the ball further and straighter.”

“Bryson says he does very little compound training, and that most of his strength training is specific to certain areas, and this is something I have been working on with my personal trainer,” explains Joesph. “During lockdown I stayed in touch with my PT online, and there are single-arm exercises which I didn’t do previously and some single-leg work that really helps your core and stability. I have increased my strength a little and I can feel there is less wobble through the impact when I swing fast. That gives you more confidence to hit the ball hard and to be more aggressive because you know you are going to keep your balance.” Joseph has reaped the benefits of some impressive lockdown focus and discipline, and he is not the only one who saw lockdown as an opportunity to increase strength and swing speed.

“Three of four times a week, I would work out with my personal trainer via Zoom,” says Wilson, who had been struggling with his driving on tour. “It was great to have someone there to push me. When you are in a gloomy basement on your own it’s not easy to get motivated, but I did some excellent work in the gym, got stronger and a lot faster.”

Wilson and Smith, like amateur golfer Joseph, each have their own ways of forging selfimprovement, yet in lockdown they shared a common ambition to increase their swing speed, one way or another. “Tiger [Woods] was the first golfer to train as hard as athletes from more physical sports like football, American football or basketball,” adds Joseph, who played amateur football in London at a high level before DJ work and golf took over. “Tiger revolutionised the game. People were saying that golf is not about going to the gym and they were questioning him, but eventually the game caught up, going to the gym became standard for tour golfers and now Bryson has picked up the baton and is doing things his way, taking it a step further. When you are the first person to do something, you are always going to have doubters and critics.”

It will be fascinating to see if the hard work pays off for these golfers in 2021. Joseph would like to get his handicap down to five if he can find enough time to devote to his game, while Wilson and Smith are both dead set on returning to winning form on the European Tour. We wish them well.

Looking to improve your strength and stability? We show you how to MOVE & IMPROVE on page 42.

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Watches of Switzerland Broadgate, part of the Watches of Switzerland Group - the UK’s leading luxury watch specialist are proud to announce a new partnership with The Wisley Golf Club. Watches of Switzerland Broadgate is the latest luxurious new showroom from the Group and marks an exciting return to east London where the company first began trading on Ludgate Hill in 1924. Located within the impressive 32-acre central London site, the visionary new development at the edge of Broadgate Circle supports a diverse community offering an exciting public destination as a retail, leisure and cultural City hub. Alongside a dedicated event space, designed specifically to host exclusive watch launches, Q&A’s and VIP events, Watches of Switzerland Broadgate will immerse everyone into the world of Swiss watchmaking.

Carl Dunnet, VIP Sales Manager, Watches of Switzerland Broadgate said: “I am delighted to be representing this partnership with The Wisley Golf Club on behalf of Watches of Switzerland Broadgate. Watches carry a strong affiliation in the Golfing world and so to work in partnership with such a prestigious and desirable club like the Wisley seems like the perfect match. Swiss watchmakers are the very best, and are known throughout the world for making superb timepieces. They are precise, reliable and expertly crafted. Here at Watches of Switzerland Broadgate, we are proud to offer the best of the best from the industry. It is important to note that not only do we sell exceptional timepieces; we also sell an exceptional experience. I look forward to building long-standing relationships with your members.” Carl Dunnet VIP Sales Manager, Watches of Switzerland Broadgate

Please contact Carl Dunnet for further information on any enquiry you may have. Telephone: 0204 519 2688

Mobile: 07464 765 585

Email: Carl.Dunnet@watches-of-switzerland.co.uk


Royal North Devon, St Andrews of the South Words Ben Sargent

Of the near forty thousand golf clubs in the world, Royal North Devon is one of just 66 clubs that have been given the ‘Royal’ seal of approval. Roughly half of these Royals reside at home in the British Isles, with the other half dotted around the world.


RAW GOLF

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ncidentally it was the Prince of Wales – not the current and dutiful Heir apparent Charles, but the less dutiful Edward, aka Bertie, who took a shine to the club. Let us now dispense with the Royalties and refer to Royal North Devon by its more common handle, Westward Ho! – formed as a club in 1864 and granted its Royal status barely a year later in 1865. The man perhaps most responsible for the course’s instant acclaim was Old Tom Morris. The then holder of the ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’ title, bestowed to the golfer who records the lowest score in what we now call The Open, Old Tom was fast becoming the most revered course designer of his time. As a player, he was certainly dominating, winning three (1861, 62 and 64) of the first five Opens. In fact, one could argue that Old Tom won three of the first four Open’s

since the inaugural Open in 1860 was not actually ‘open’; it was by invitation only for a select group of golf clubs to enter their best professional golfer into the contest. It was not until the following year that the event was ‘open’ to all golfers, be them professional or amateur. Returning to Westward Ho!, we learn that Old Tom devoted a tremendous amount of time to the course and its development over its early years. In 1860, before the ‘club’ was fully formed, Old Tom spent a month with local Reverend Isaac Gosset, taking much time to study and rearrange the very rudimentary course that existed. Later, in 1864, when Tom returned in a more official capacity, he spent ten days on the project when the norm was two. Reverend Gosset was reputedly a self-styled ‘Apostle of Golf,’ one who presumably learned a great deal

from the original golf emissary. He chose wisely appointing Tom – his craftmanship of the links as well as his skill on it, his stature as Champion Golfer and his humility while teaching the locals would spark and sustain their growing interest in the relatively new pastime in England that golf presented and help to establish Westward Ho! as the St Andrews of the South. Old Tom himself clearly had an affection for the place as he returned several times, making his last visit and round of modifications as late as 1887. Aside from a love for the course and its golfers, it is likely Old Tom was perhaps also partaking in the relatively new pastime of a seaside holiday. Westward Ho! the town was also in its infancy and had only been constructed a few years prior to the golf course itself, specifically crafted as a holiday destination resort.


RAW GOLF

Interestingly, at the same time Old Tom was working on Royal North Devon, he was also making his return to St Andrews. In late 1864, Old Tom left Prestwick after well over a decade of service and made a return to the town where he spent his formative years to become the ‘Keeper of the Green’ for the Old Course. Over the next four decades, Tom would tend to the course, make many important changes to its layout, conditioning and generally help to re-establish St Andrews as the true ‘Home of Golf’. During this time, Tom continued to compete in, and occasionally win, The Open Championship and many other tournaments, exhibitions and challenge matches. He also branched out further into course design, creating or altering close to 100 courses in his time. Aside from Prestwick and St Andrews, it is not unrealistic to think that Old Tom had a real soft spot and a passion for the course and golfers down at Westward Ho!. It is probably no coincidence that the course itself resembles Tom’s pride and joy in the Kingdom of Fife greatly. Royal

The mowing team is out in full force on the 6th fairway.

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North Devon offers many of the same great design principles and course features one encounters on the Old Course at St Andrews. A Scottish golfing pilgrim that made it as far south and west as Royal North Devon would not be disappointed in the slightest to what he or she saw. A mostly flat landscape, but one with many subtle obstacles to overcome. As with most great links courses this means mastering the trajectory and shape of your ball flight while also being confronted with an ever-baffling array of awkward stances. The stretch of holes from the 3rd through to the 10th are fantastic and as good a run of holes as you will find on the British Isles. Here you will find true linksland. Wide-reaching views across the course and out to sea. Crazy hazards like the giant 20-foot-deep bunker on the 4th hole, known as Cape. Mammoth golf ball eating sea rushes. Impressive too is the depth in variety of the holes, the green sites and styles. Like St Andrews, the course is wide and offers the golfer plenty of room to play from the tee, but plenty of strategy in how to

approach the greens and plenty of skill and cunning needed to get the ball close to the hole. Perhaps greater than St Andrews, Royal North Devon offers up some breath-taking scenery, such as the view from the high 6th tee. A stunning par four with a rollicking fairway that stretches out seemingly forever, with yet more glorious linksland and the steely ocean beyond. In fact, these fresh seaside holes persist on and off throughout most of this run of holes, a treat rarely offered up at St Andrews. Speaking of treats, don’t forget to stop off at the ice cream van in the adjacent beach car park shortly after you tee off on the third hole. Soak up the atmosphere and general bonhomie that is so acute and palpable on a bright blue day in an English seaside resort. Then, trot off down the fairway without a care in the world, in search of that silly white round thing.

Let us consider the ‘Championship’ pedigree of Westward Ho! Royal North Devon may not have held The Open like many of the other pretenders to the crown of St Andrews of the


RAW GOLF

South, but it has held several other grand events. Royal North Devon was considered highly enough to host The Amateur Championship three times in 1912, 1925 and 1931. Around this time The Amateur was in fact considered a ‘major’. Indeed, it was in 1930 that Bobby Jones achieved his famous ‘Grand Slam’ feat – winning all four majors in a year. Triumphing in The Open, The US Open, The Amateur and US Amateur. At this point in time The Amateur Championship would have been a hugely important event on the golfing calendar. When the Championship returned to Westward Ho! in 1931, it surely would have had the full attention of the golfing world. If you are familiar with the Bobby Jones story you will know that he sadly didn’t travel to defend his title and experience the delights of Westward Ho! for himself as he promptly retired from competitive golf at the tender age of 28. Next time you are suffering from first tee nerves, consider this: Bobby Jones cited nerves as the main reason for his rather hasty and premature exit from competitive golf. Often quoted as being sick to his stomach as a result of the mounting

pressure associated with performing to such high standards, Bobby Jones announced his retirement just two months after becoming the first and only golfer to win all four majors in a calendar year. Despite a relatively short career, Jones amassed an impressive 13 major victories. Only Jack and Tiger have won more. Westward Ho! bumps shoulders and mounds with similarly impressive company when it comes to majors. Outside of the USA only 24 courses have played host to a men’s golf major championship. Yes, 24! Of those, only ten are non-Open Championship hosting courses: Portmarnock, Royal Aberdeen, Royal Porthcawl, Hillside, Formby, Royal County Down, Nairn, Ganton and Royal Dornoch. Of these non-Open calibre host courses only Royal Porthcawl and Formby have hosted The Amateur more than Royal North Devon. You may wonder why Royal North Devon is not more of a household name these days.

The few of you already acclimatised to RAW GOLF know the joys of striking a

crisp iron from tightly gnashed turf, where the fairways are kept short by rabbits and other graminivores. For the golfing masses however, this is not something they are used to and may never have experienced before. Travelling golfers that make it into this corner of the golfing kingdom will usually be found across the bay at the much more manicured Saunton Golf Club. Nothing wrong with that; Saunton possesses one of the finest and most challenging 36 holes of links golf in the world. But Royal North Devon offers something different and quite unique in this ever-homogenised world. And don’t necessarily confuse the raw element of Royal North Devon as being something inferior to the more modern version of golf. Far from it. But to understand what golf is really about, you also need to take a step back. Go to Westward Ho!, leave your titanium clubs and your electric trolley in the garage and bring your old set, the really old set, in fact, just bring half of it in a pencil bag, play the yellow tees, get round in under three hours and still be home in time for tea.

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THE GREEN SHOOTS OF INNOVATION Words Craig Buglass

© The Plastic Pick-Up

INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY HAVEN’T ALWAYS BEEN THE MOST COMFORTABLE OF BEDFELLOWS – PARTICULARLY IN THE WORLD OF SPORT. THE FORMULA 1 TOUR GENERATES HUGE AMOUNTS OF CARBON EMISSIONS (OVER 250,000 TONNES IN 2018), POLYESTER CLOTHING CAN TAKE UP TO 200 YEARS TO DECOMPOSE, AND EVEN THE LONDON MARATHON LEAVES BEHIND 5,200 KG OF RUBBISH AND 3,500 KG OF RECYCLING.

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olf isn’t immune from environmental criticism either. Usually centred on land and water usage, any claims are typically countered with the true level of water required by fairways and the evidence that a properly designed and maintained course can support drainage, oxygen production and provide suitable habitats for wildlife. The R&A have issued environmental impact guidelines that will go a long way to ensuring golf courses are a net benefit to the planet for years to come. One story from the golf world that was difficult to dismiss, though, concerned a teenage diver in California who, swimming off the coast of Pebble Beach in 2017, found in the region of 50,000 golf balls on the ocean bed. Over time, golf balls will degrade to release a small amount of toxins into the water. However, the bigger issue is the decomposition into microplastics that could be consumed by marine life and inadvertently find their way up the food chain.

Whilst, for the most part, outdoor sports like running or golf are environmentally friendly, there are always areas that can be improved. The key challenge for designers, engineers and scientists is to innovate in a way that not only promotes sustainability without impeding performance but, where possible, enhances the function of the new, greener products.

Californian teenage diver Alex Weber and her father have fished more than 50,000 golf balls out of the ocean to stop them for poisoning sea creatures.

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Seemingly small and simple initiatives, such as using recycled polyester in clothing, can become wide scale across the sporting industry and have huge benefits. Equally, grand ideas can initially drive up costs

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Spring Summer 2021 Collection

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THE GREEN SHOOTS OF INNOVATION

Nadi X: yoga pants that provide haptic feedback (little pulses or vibrations against the skin) to improve posture and pose during a session.

but have a massive long-lasting upside. The New Jersey Devils spent over $1m on a dehumidifying system for their ice hockey arena, ensuring a perfect 30% humidity to keep the ice in immaculate condition while delivering a 22% saving on energy usage. Let’s zero in on innovation and sustainability in clothing, though, as it’s the one constant in every sport from mountain climbing to surfing, and a perpetually thorny topic whether we’re talking about the treatments of workers or the negative effects of mass consumption. Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has been nothing short of a disaster, lockdown gave us an opportunity for introspection. With photos

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of clear waters in the canals of Venice, sheep roaming through town centres in Wales and sightings of bats up 143% in the UK, we can be hopeful that the penny has dropped and, as a society, we have a rekindled respect for our surroundings.

The Waste Management Open is widely considered the most environmentally-minded tournament on the Tour, but 2021 naturally saw a completely different tournament due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Last time out, plenty of companies used the event and its proximity to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando to raise their voices about sustainable innovation and how

they were trying to pave a new way forward. Ralph Lauren, for example, unveiled three fabrics made from recycled plastic, claiming each polo shirt uses the equivalent of seven plastic bottles. Nike and Adidas also laid out their green-cred by showcasing new golf lines with recycled materials. It’s a step in the right direction, but is it really worth shouting about? After all, Nike first unveiled fabric made from drinks bottles for their team kits at the 2010 World Cup, so why has it takenso long to drift onto the fairways? At the WM Open, both Ralph Lauren and Adidas reiterated their strategy to be completely free from virgin polyester in

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THE GREEN SHOOTS OF INNOVATION

the next few years – 2024 for the German giants, with New York-based Ralph Lauren a year later in 2025. Certainly a worthwhile and beneficial goal, but it doesn’t make the products work better, merely taking a more conscious approach to manufacture.

There’s a good argument that product longevity is even more important than thoughts of recycling products that have a limited lifespan. A bottle can be recycled to make a t-shirt, but the t-shirt can rarely be recycled because of the mixed materials in the thread, labels, logos and other trims. Even on a golf course, there are opportunities to make better products that will last longer. Wooden tees are clearly better for the environment than plastic ones, but the complaint has long been that they break too easily. Ocean Tee claim to have overcome that issue by using bamboo to make their product. Strong but with a natural flex, bamboo is less prone to snapping than regular wood and because they grow so quickly, bamboo forests are much easier to maintain. Similarly, how often have you forgotten, misplaced or just left a plastic ball marker? Seamus are a company making hand-forged markers from bronze, copper and even recycled oil cans, meaning you’re more likely to treasure them and less likely to leave them behind. If we look outside of golf, innovation continues to be the cornerstone of other sports and increasingly with an eye on the environment around the wearer. Neviano, for example, create swimwear that monitors UV exposure and communicates with your phone to send you reminders to put on more sunscreen. In golf, this could make scarlet forearms and faces a thing of the past. The Aerochromics brand have developed a print that can warn you if air pollution levels are

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getting too high – useful if you’re playing a round in Beijing or LA, perhaps. Elsewhere, your outfit can intuitively help you to up your game. Nadi X sell yoga pants that provide haptic feedback (little pulses or vibrations against the skin) to improve posture and pose during a session. Imagine a base layer that could read your swing or help to retrain your tee shot. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have engineered a bacteria-based fabric coating that reacts to sweat, opening lasercut vents around the garment to keep you cool on demand. But what, if technologies offer a benefit to both the user and the environment? Materials are a great place to start with that, particularly antimicrobial fibres that prevent clothes from smelling, even after multiple uses between washing. Products such as X-Static and SILVERbac use the natural properties of silver to help keep you fresh, reduce the amount of laundry you need to do and increase the lifespan of your clothes.

Other material innovations are looking back to nature too. Lab-grown leathers are more durable than the real thing but with the same texture and smell, whilst more typically grown materials like wood and cinnamon can be used to create fabric that will keep you cool, dry and comfortable.

Golf remains a relatively untapped market in terms of true innovation in clothing and a focussed approach to environmental responsibility, but change is surely just around the corner. Industry insiders are whispering about a new brand called Bounce, which is supposedly being developed by executives from within fashion, sport and technology with a shared love of golf to combine cutting-edge ideas with style and sustainability. It’s all being kept top secret, but the time has never been better for a brand like that to enter the stage. While strict rules are in place regarding the performance enhancing features of equipments such as clubs and balls, there is still a long way to go between what is legal in clothing and what is currently available. If golfers were presented with an opportunity to look smart and be comfortable whilst wearing technical fabrics and doing their bit to protect the environment, who among us wouldn’t welcome that? The green shoots of innovation appeared in Phoenix and Orlando at the start of 2020, but the onus is firmly with the players to tell brands that table stakes aren’t enough, to tell them that they need to do more, to innovate more. And to do the right thing while they’re at it.

Neviano: swimwear that monitors UV exposure and communicates with your phone to send you reminders to put on more sunscreen.

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20-year-old Thalia Kirby’s aim is to become one of the top 50 golf players and be able to participate at the Augusta Women within the next four years.


A FUTURE STAR IN A DREAM CAR We take up-and-coming golf talent Thalia Kirby for a spin in the Ferrari Roma to The Wisley. Words Sam Oliver


“Are you sure we can fit my clubs in this boot?" asks our future star as we approach our dream car. My reply was a confident “of course,” although I had not tested it before. To my relief we found a hatch in the boot that allowed us to snuggly fit the bag in the boot. In fact there was even space for a couple of overnight bags. I’m picking up this year’s future star Thalia Kirby, the 20-year-old amateur golfer with a bright future ahead. We have just about an hour’s drive ahead of us to The Wisley. So, plenty of time to find out a bit more about Thalia, her achievements, ambitions and dreams. But let’s first introduce the second star of the story, the dream car.

In Rosso Magma, a red indicative of Italy, speed, power and precision, perfect on a track or the Italian countryside’s winding roads. A Ferrari, of course. Perfect contours, powerful lines, beautifully balanced arches and power domes on the bonnet and a grille that oozes character and confidence, adorned with the distinctive prancing horse. This truly is Italian design at its best. A car that embodies the badge it proudly wears. The Ferrari Roma is a head-turner. Our eagerness to get inside was only partially due to the weather; we also wanted to see if the magic of the Roma’s exterior translates to the experience inside. And we are not disappointed. Style, comfort and simplicity are in abundance within a cabin that is not lacking for technology. A little red switch on the steering wheel gives you four drive

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settings: WET, COMFORT, SPORT allowing for an effortless drive, and then we have the fourth setting: RACE . I was however firmly told by the guys at Maranello to keep my fingers off the RACE button on this occasion!

I press the start button and the initial roar of the engine quickly settles in a comforting growl. Thalia is guiding me out of the one-way system to the main roads and the chat focuses on how she got into golf. “My Grandad was a keen golfer,” she explained. “Most weekends we visited him, and he took us to Harleyford golf club where he was a member.” Thalia’s brother, who is two years older than her, got into golf first. In the usual brother and sister rivalry, Thalia didn’t want to be left behind. So, at the age of five, she started taking lessons too. And they were both pretty good at it. I learned that neither of Thalia’s parents played golf, so this is all truly down to Grandad.

Thalia was generally sporty as a child and besides golf – tennis, football and rowing were her favourites. She would eventually have to make a decision and focus on one sport when the schedules between the various activities clashed too much. It was between rowing and golf, both time-consuming sports, but golf came out on top. Harleyford has a strong junior program and Thalia was lucky to have come through the system a few years behind tour star Tyrell

Hatton, who gave the program a huge lift. Seeing Tyrell progressing from strength to strength was, of course, a great inspiration. But Thalia also talks about the dedication he displayed, the countless hours chipping and putting that inspired everyone around him to put in the hours too. Being so close to Tyrell and seeing him grow from a junior to number 5 in the world ranking has clearly made an enormous impression on Thalia. “Last year, I was out in America on my college visit to sign up for a three-year scholarship course at Daytona College in Florida, when I got a message from Tyrell asking me to come down and play a round at Lake Nona with him.” Thalia explains how Tyrell was in incredible form, finishing their round in 9 under (10 under is the course record at Lake Nona). Going to the States wasn’t planned. Thalia got approached by Daytona College completely out of the blue and they offered her a scholarship. She was pretty sure her mind was made up before visiting and what she saw only validated her decision. The campus was great and the girls she met seemed really nice too. It’s fair to say that Thalia was pretty excited at the prospect of joining her new college team mates.

Going back to Thalia’s early golf, it was the Buckinghamshire County program where she was introduced to competitive golf – starting with par 3 tournaments and gradually working her way up to the bigger events. Thalia was conscious that

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A FUTURE STAR IN A DREAM CAR

she was often the only girl competing at tournaments; luckily it wasn’t an issue for her. However, she can see how it would easily put other girls off, and she is hopeful that clubs take a proactive role to encourage girls and women to play golf. “It is so important to see role models you can relate to,” she says. At 13, Thalia won the Buckinghamshire Championships. That gave her the first real taste of the thrill of winning. Thalia retained the title the following year. At 15, she played off scratch and now she is playing off +4. Incidentally, Thalia holds the course record at Harleyford at 3 under and her best round ever was at Sunningdale – the new course – where she shot an impressive 5 under par. We muse over the car’s performance while The Wisley greens glint, in the way only a perfectly manicured lawn can. The conversation turned to how Thalia prepares for a tournament or a high-pressure round. They say the young don’t feel nervous as much, but Thalia feels to have some nerves is a good thing. “Pressure is a privilege,” she says. Of course, a little flutter on approaching the first tee is always going to be there. Thalia explained how she used to suffer from terrible nerves to the point where she had ‘performance anxiety’, which almost stopped her golf career. Luckily, with support from various people, including her coach Zane Scotland, she turned nerves into strength. Her rigorous pre-match routine is the process of putting her mind and body into optimal place. Thalia’s first introduction to representing England ended in disappointment. At the age of 12, she first trialled for the national squad, but sadly was rejected. Although devastating at the time, Thalia feels today that it was an important driver. It helped her to realise her desire to represent her country. And it clearly paid off as Thalia is today a member of the England lady’s squad. “Training with the England squads, both the girls and now the women, has been amazing.” Thalia talks about her experience of playing on the international stage and has particularly fond memories of a tournament

upsWing  |  spring 2021

in Germany. This exposure has been the trigger for Daytona to offer the scholarship. Things took a very unexpected turn – shortly after Thalia’s visit to Florida, the world was thrown into turmoil with the spread of Covid-19. It’s fair to say that Thalia had

“It is so important to see role models y o u c a n r e l a t e t o.” imagined her fresher’s year to be drastically different and definitely more exciting than it turned out to be. “I have been at uni for a whole year, but not once met anyone in person after the initial visit at the end of 2019”. Being enrolled with an American college makes it really difficult when taking part in remote lessons as they often carry on into the night because of the time difference. This August, Thalia will hopefully be able to fly out to Daytona and experience the college properly. She is looking forward to measuring herself against an international group of girls,

something that will help her prepare for when she is on LPGA tour. Yes, that’s firmly in her sights, but there is still plenty to achieve first, not least finishing college. Currently 600 in the world ranking, Thalia wants to climb the ladder. Her goal is to get into the top 50, so that she will get invited to play Augusta Women within the next four years. “I might even treat myself to a nice car when I get there,” Thalia laughs. The drive in the Ferrari certainly inspired her. Thalia told how she got into F1 watching Drive to Survive, the Netflix series. Of course, the Roma would be a bit of a step up from the Toyota Aygo she is driving at the moment. One day.

Many thanks to Thalia Kirby for giving us an insight into her life as a golfer. Thanks also to Maranello Sales (Surrey) for providing us with the dream car, the truly stunning Ferrari Roma, and of course, thanks to The Wisley for hosting us!

Max Power – 620 cv @ 7,500 rpm

Max Torque – 760 Nm

Engine Capacity – 3,855 cc

Fuel Type – Petrol

Acceleration – 0 - 62 mph 3.4 seconds

Max Speed – 200 mph

Kerb Weight – 1,570 kg

Gross Weight Vehicle – 1,472 kg

Width Across Mirrors – 1,974 mm

Fuel Tank Capacity – 80 l

Overall Length – 4,656 mm

Wheelbase – 2,670 mm

Width – 1,974 mm

Overall Height – 1,301 mm

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine  |  37


PL A C E YO UR BE T. G AME ON. Words Mar k Souster

GOLF BETTING HAS BEEN ON THE RISE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE 2019/20 SEASON AND IS STEADILY GAINING POPULARITY. THIS GROWTH HAS LEAD INDUSTRY EXPERTS TO CONCLUDE THAT GOLF COULD BE THE NEXT BIG THING IN THE SPORTS BETTING INDUSTRY.

F

or those of a certain vintage, there are moments in golf which stick out in one’s mind. Remember Doug Sanders missing a two-foot putt for The Open in 1970, and Scott Hoch from a similar distance for The Masters in 1989, thus earning himself the soubriquet ‘Hoch, the Choke.’ How must backers of both men have cursed? Arnold Palmer blew a seven-stroke lead at the 1966 US Open with nine to play and who can forget Greg Norman’s back-nine collapse at Augusta in 1996 from which Nick Faldo took full advantage? And probably the saddest of all was Jean van der Velde committing his very own public version of hari-kari at the last in the 1999 Open. He could have afforded a double bogey, but instead suffered a total meltdown and that after taking his shoes and socks off to try to play from the stream. There are more recent examples of major blowouts too. In 2016, Jordan Spieth turned for home and a historic back-to-back Masters at his mercy with a five-stroke lead. But at Rae’s Creek, he twice went into the water for a quadruple bogey, gifting the tournament to Danny Willett.

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The odds on any of the above happening are remote. But happen they did and such examples and numerous others have helped to boost the appeal of golf as a betting medium. After football and racing, it is probably now the third most popular for the armchair punter. And for good reason. The range of bets and options are numerous. Golf betting has increased significantly in popularity in recent years. This is partly down to the interest generated by emerging young talents and the potential value it offers bettors. You need to know where to look and there’s some great value to be found. Fifty years ago when Sanders imploded, the market was restricted really to win or each way. Now there’s a blizzard of bets to choose from and a welter of data to help the decision-making process. Bookies love it because it appeals to an ABC1 audience, there’s a tournament somewhere in the world most weekends, it gets wall-to-wall coverage and the audience is captive for six hours at a time for the real golf enthusiast. Tournaments reach their denouement over a weekend when people have time to relax and want to engage. Understanding how to bet on golf is a lot easier than many people think. The most common form of golf is stroke play but there is also match play – this is when two or more golfers score each hole individually and the game is decided by winning the most holes. In terms of golf betting, the main competitions of interest are the four-yearly majors (The Masters, US Open, The Open and PGA Championship), as well as PGA Tour events, European Tour events and the Ryder Cup. Knowledge of the sport is merely a starting point when learning how to bet on golf. The next step is to understand the type of markets available and how to find valuable

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


betting opportunities. Study general form, course form, the stats and avoid inexperienced players. Accumulating knowledge of how certain players play and the course layout for a particular tournament is essential. Different players are better suited to specific courses depending on their strengths and weaknesses and will, therefore, perform better in some tournaments. For instance, the big-hitting Bubba Watson and the aforementioned Spieth suit the longer courses such as Augusta and Quail Hollow as they are longer with their driver. In contrast, players like Phil Mickelson with a hot as mustard short game suit courses like Pebble Beach which require a better mastery of irons and wedges. Look at statistics like scoring average and driving accuracy as these are good indicators of performance. However, for a more advanced approach to golf betting, strokes gained statistics, greens in regulation and fairways in regulation are much more useful.

But when tournament fields are made upwards of 140 players, it often makes sense to back a golfer in the each way market. It can certainly offer great value, especially with bookmakers paying 1/5 the odds down to seven places. Take the winners of the 2019 Majors: Shane Lowry 100-1 at The Open, Gary Woodland 80-1 US Open, Tiger Woods 14-1 for the Masters and Brooks Koepka 10-1 to win US PGA. Some people made a tidy profit. Away from the ‘mainstream’, there are the top 10 and top 20 markets. This is a useful section to back golfers who are steady but who rarely threaten the top of the leaderboard.

Additionally, scrambling percentage – missing greens in regulation but making a par or better highlights a player’s ability to recover after an error. Top 10 finishes can be used to gauge consistency.

Another way to make money betting on golf is to focus on match bets. People might think they can find a certainty, albeit at short prices in a three-ball. It could be the players are on offer at 4/6, 5/4 and 11/4. Even 4/6 could offer value to a big punter. There is a huge market for that.

Betting on an outright winner is undoubtedly the most popular market when someone is looking to bet on golf online. Sometimes backing a favourite outright is simply just the way to go in any sport, even in golf.

How about top nationality betting? Or holes-in-one? They seem to be getting more frequent as players are getting more and more accurate and aggressive as equipment improves and standards get higher. The final statistic that is always a must – a player’s putting ability. As the old adage goes, ‘driving for show, putting for dough’. If a golfer struggles to putt due to a poor technique, suffers previous mental scarring or the yips under the Sunday afternoon pressure, then he isn’t going to win you money.


increasingly popular type of betting. He could make a fast start due to an early morning tee off. And, weather permitting, he will get the best of conditions and low winds, fresh greens and no leaderboard pressure.

Then there’s in-play betting. It’s great fun, you can bet golf live and the results can be highly profitable. This sector is growing. The amounts matched on The Open are thought to be as much as £30m. One expert described it as a stock market based on a moving golf tournament. Effectively, there’s a market on every stroke in golf – a way of betting on every shot of the ball. Let’s imagine The Masters. Where and what should we look for? Past form used to be a more reliable guide to a player’s chances. Jack Nicklaus won it eight times, Tiger Woods four times including last year’s heart-warming comeback victory, and Arnold Palmer four times in eight years way back when Phil Mickelson, Nick Faldo and Gary Player each have three Green Jackets. But if you take the results from the past decade or so, attempting to find the winner of The Masters is more problematic. That is why the bookmakers love it and why golf has become such a popular betting platform. So, where would we start? Maybe with Rory McIlroy. Some believe he is really getting better with age. Others would put a line through his chances if he had started as expected as 6/1 favourite. Why though back a player who hasn’t won a Major for six years and needs a Green Jacket to complete a Grand Slam which in itself lends huge added pressure. There’s therefore no value in backing McIlroy. But there may be value in betting on him to be first round leader at say 20-1. He has form there, so it provides value and is an

Next step? Start looking for value for players who are in form but you’d do better to rule out players who have been injured this year, such as Koepka and Dustin Johnson. Tommy Fleetwood might be 20-1 but ask yourself why would you back him when he has only won one tournament in three years and never a major. Better surely someone like John Rahm? He is a multiple winner and consistent. So is Justin Thomas. This is key. Jack Nicklaus once said: “When you are playing golf, you must win regularly to give yourself the confidence to win Majors.” Then, look at up-and-coming players. Into that category would come Zander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau. Finally, we should not forget the big daddy of them all, the Ryder Cup. It’s another serious attraction. Europe has still got the strength in depth and ability to win it more often. If looking today at the 2020 event, you can get 6/4 on Europe winning the next iteration while America is 8/11 albeit the USA had home advantage. In a two-horse race and on past form Europe’s odds look fairly generous to some punters.


HEALTH & FITNESS

MOVE & IMPROVE stability and balance Words Louis Blattler

I

n this issue I will be focusing on increasing stability and building on the core work we covered in the previous issue. Hopefully, you will have included the core exercises into your fitness routine and noticed an improvement in core strength. The first point to make is that a good golf swing hinges on there being a sturdy and stable base from which it is produced. This of course starts with the feet. It’s where we initialise rotation and sustain power throughout a drive. The second point is on consistency. It’s what separates average from good and good from great. Of course, that comes from ingraining movement. Practising a shot until it becomes more natural to produce the desired result than to not. Where does stability fit into this? Stability is one of the aspects that provides consistency. If your base is strong and stable, it will certainly help you keep your swing in its optimal path. Although stability is required at every joint in golf, lower body stability is most crucial, which is why we are concentrating on the hips down. It is important to understand which parts of your body provide stability and which provide mobility. Your feet provide stability – ankles mobility, knees stability – hips mobility, lumbar spine stability and thoracic spine mobility. It’s no accident that they are stacked in that order. So, let me help you improve that stability. This is done in a multitude of ways and we will explore three effective methods:

1. Unilateral exercises These are essentially one-sided movements. The suitcase lift – where weight is positioned only in one hand as you progress through a movement – is a typical example. Other unilateral exercises are single leg squats or pistol squats to name just a few. 2. Rotation exercises A soon as we engage the transverse plane of movement, we experience an increased load placed on the stabilisers. Most of the movement we do is in the frontal and sagittal planes, i.e. forward/backwards or lateral movement. The golf swing is of course a great example of movement in the transverse plane, requiring the body to produce an enormous rotational force. Rotational exercises therefore help the conditioning for the stresses associated with golf. 3. Destabilising exercises This may initially sound counterintuitive, but the idea to prepare your body by overexaggerating conditions is quite logical. With the help of a balance board or a bosu during our exercises, we increase the difficulty, forcing the body to adapt to the new stimulus. Besides the obvious muscle groups, increased stabilisation is being demanded from the core and through heightened proprioceptive feedback. Proprioceptors are neurons within muscles tendons and joints that respond to position and movement, if we try and stand on one leg with our eyes closed it is these proprioceptors that help us not to topple over. Or, perhaps a safer example, it’s what enables our index finger to find our nose even with our eyes closed.

You can view these exercises on www.upswing.golf  

42  |  upsWing  |  spring 2021

Peterson step up

Paloff press with rotation

Tri planar foot taps

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When the perfect shot ends up in a divot CREATING NEW POSSIBILITES AND OPPORTUNITITES IN CHALLENGING TIMES Words Caroline Mohr

W

e all know that feeling of a perfect ball flying through the air. Timing is impeccable, the ball strikes middle of the clubface and flies towards the target. You enjoy your finish and bend to pick up your tee. You walk towards your bag with proud steps and sense the admiration from your golf friends. That was a great ball. You head towards the middle of the fairways, expecting the perfect position.

Many of us had a lot of expectations and plans for 2020/21. The past year truly tested our ability to become more flexible and redesign our plans to move forward. It’s challenging for many and requires effort to make adjustments, adapting to the change and bounce back.

You may have read about my story in the previous edition of ‘Upswing’. I was a golf professional, fulfilling my dream to play on tour when I was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer. I had to get my leg amputated in order to survive. I had planned, learned and practiced my whole life for the dream of being a golf pro and suddenly, I had to redesign my future. It felt like I had hit the perfect shot, only to end up in a divot. I was devastated and didn’t know if there was a

These are questions I have been obsessed with answering. Today, I am a Mindset Trainer, Keynote speaker and NLP Trainer. Back in 2011, I made my comeback to professional golf at the Swedish Championship only two and a half months after the amputation. This may seem like a short time to cope with the aftermath of an amputation and getting ready to play on tour with one leg less. But the truth is, those two and a half months felt like a long time.

How could I make a comeback that fast? Way too many times have I hit that perfect shot, only to realise I ended up in a divot. However, it has taught me an incredible life lesson. In order to let go of arising frustration and energy loss over the bad lie, I am forced to focus on something else – on the possibilities. What are my choices in this moment? What can I actually influence? I can choose how I breathe in this moment, what club I choose to hit the ball with, I can fully redesign my plan from this new position, I can work on my body posture, I can learn a new shot and I can get a little creative to get myself out of there. In an instant, I navigated my focus towards simple, yet powerful things I could influence. I became aware because I pointed them out consciously. This might be the most powerful practice to incorporate in your life in order to make changes efficiently.

With excitement, a bit of adrenalin and quick steps, you come closer to the ball and realise that it ended up in a divot. The risk of ending up in a divot mid fairway is rather small, however, it is there. Yet, golfers are prepared and ready to invest time to play the game.

way forward. Like with all changes, there are different phases we go through – after a state of chaos and condemnation, we start to elaborate on the change and then form a clear strategy, which is helping us to find acceptance and inspiration to move forward and thrive.

So, we play the game. We plan, learn and practice. We execute and enjoy. We succeed and cope with the moments of falling flat. The resilience muscle of a golfer is naturally inbuilt throughout the process and may be your greatest resource in times of change.

What, if there is a way to cope with change more efficiently? What, if we can speed up the journey through the phases – from devastation to acceptance – and, as a result, lose less time and energy throughout the process?

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Many golfers love to increase their swing speed to gain more power and hit further. What, if it’s possible to do exactly that with your mind? To get more efficient, reset from ‘bad lies’ and changes to gain more momentum for action and thrive far beyond your goals? The mind is so powerful, yet many underestimate its greatness. Staying consistent to the practice of finding good within every moment does not mean you suppress what you experience to be

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


MIND GAMES

tough, it just means that you train your mind to be more flexible and efficient to navigate towards what gives you more energy, less headache and accessible solutions. This is a way to change your experience, from though to easy, from heavy to light.

What are my choices in this moment? What can I actually influence?

With the future in front of you, what is the first step you want to take in order to enable greater impact, achieve clarity and flexibility, turning challenges into real possibilities? And next time you end up in a divot, what will you choose to do?

Since the day I lost my leg, my attention has been heavily more focused on what I can do and create, rather than what I can not. Challenging myself to find out what’s possible broke the barriers for what many thought was possible to achieve in just two and a half months. When I realised that I was able to maintain stability and balance throughout my swing just as good on one leg as with two legs, I committed to practice this skill every single day and eventually became really good at it. My confidence increased and I could start to imagine playing golf again on one leg. Other people couldn’t imagine the vision I had, as they were not on my journey. But if they had also paid attention consciously to their foot posture, balance and strength every day for two and a half months, they would have experienced the progress, the increased balance and eventually created mental images of their new possibilities.

Golfers have an advantage in that they unconsciously train resilience on the course every day. In order to make this truly translatable to business and life, and use it as a powerful skill to go from devastation to acceptance, I identified four essential steps: • Step 1: Navigate your focus to what you can influence. • Step 2: Commit to practice this daily. • Step 3: Celebrate progress to create new mental images of what’s possible. • Step 4: Execute actions consistently in this direction.

upsWing  |  spring 2021

Holding a NLP master degree, Caroline has inspired and helped thousands of people and companies around the world on how to set meaningful goals, handle change and become mentally strong.

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine  |  47


Hitting new Heights Words Matt Cooper

The Himalayan Golf Course is considered by many to be one of the 10 most unique golf courses in the world. The course includes some of the most visually dynamic holes known to golf.

Nepal is known across the world as a trekking destination, less so as a golfing country. When Matt Cooper ventured to the roof of the world, he didn’t encounter Tiger, but he did come close to a leopard.


GOLF TRAVEL

T

here is no easy way to reach Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal, 1,400 metres above sea level and the hub of the country’s tourism trade. The flight from the capital Kathmandu is short but fraught with nerves; the drive is long (slower than the 120 miles suggest) and arguably more fretful, requiring a stomach tough enough to deal with roads that cling to near-vertical mountainsides, pockmarked by deep,

crumbling holes in the surface. Details that pass by truck drivers like the buses they overtake on blind bends. On arrival, it is typical for visitors to take a late afternoon stroll along the water’s edge at Phewa Lake, to gaze at the peaks of the Annapurna range into which many will soon venture on trekking expeditions. The hazards may not have abated because on any spare stretch of ground, the city’s children will be eagerly conducting ad-hoc games of cricket. It’s not a question of avoiding one ball, but many of them, flying in all directions, plundered by hard-hitting batsmen who dream of smashing sixes in the Indian Premier League. It’s rather like taking a sunset ramble around the 200-yard mark on a busy driving range. Half a mile away, along the main tourist drag, evocatively named establishments fight for custom via bold metal posters. Hotel God Pigeon is one. Hotel Snow Leopard another. “Most sublime restaurant,” reads a third, adding: “No lonely, only harmony.”

I almost miss a fourth, distracted when two cows, apparently unattended, wander in front of speeding buses and motorbikes. Tourists freeze in horror at what seems like unavoidable carnage, but the traffic careers past the carefree cattle. And there, beyond them, is another rusting sign, creaking in the breeze, advertising my destination the following day – the Himalayan Golf Club. On it, a golfer is silhouetted by the sun and above him reads another somewhat audacious claim, but one I have hopes will be very much fulfilled: “The Most Amazing Golf Course on Earth.” The journey out of town the next afternoon reiterates that avoiding potholes on Nepal’s roads is a challenge every bit as complex as negotiating safe passage around The Old Course in St Andrews without visiting a bunker. A Gurkha soldier guards the club gate and when he lifts the barrier, we’re shocked to journey through the eerie remains of an abandoned and unfinished hotel. Our questions are met with evasive answers and the driver is palpably relieved that a first sight of the course distracts us from further investigation. By this time, I am also concerned that we have no more than three and a half hours light remaining in the day and as a consequence, as designated leader of the group, I bustle around the clubhouse. Green fees are paid, scorecards collected, hire clubs, caddies, even forecaddies assigned,

© Chandan Chaurasia, unsplash


GOLF TRAVEL

Our forecaddie Susil, a lad of 13, pointed downwards. “I get ball,” he said. “No, don’t bother,” I started, but he was off, descending scree into thornbushes with an eagerness I found alarming.

and swift introductions made. In the hubbub, I find myself accidentally in the zone and so keen to get moving that I pull the driver, tee it up and hit before I’ve even noticed that a gallery of about 40 people have joined us on the tee. The ball, which sails straight and true, is greeted by the most astonishing noise any of my blows has ever prompted – cries of congratulations, all peppered with the polite tones of Empire, and a generous round of applause. To the enormous relief of my playing partners, who admit that they’ve played one round between them in the previous two years, this gallery does not accompany us down the first, instead returning to the bar for gin and tonic. The first hole is a simple affair and the second, another short par-4, appears much the same. My approach requires an 8-iron, which I land short but am unable to stop on the dry earth. “Over green, Sir,” says my caddie Krishna. “Only just,” I insist, “it’ll be okay.” “Maybe,” he says, looking a little more concerned than I felt warranted. It turns out he was right. The ball may have only trickled beyond the back edge of the green, but it then descended approximately 300-foot into the scrubland that clings to the cliff faces of the vast canyon which hosts the majority of the course. This was not the first encounter with it that I had been expecting.

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famed Machapuchare, the highest unclimbed peak in the country, often referred to as the ‘Holy Untouched Mountain of Nepal’. The fifth is a par-5, which crosses the river twice, the approach shot needing to find a green that sits on

Fifteen minutes later, he re-emerges in the middle of the third fairway with a ball in his outstretched hand. “I found it!” he cries, wearing a proud grin. There was, I am convinced, no way he could have discovered my ball, with its Women’s British Open stamp, among that vertical jungle, but I decide to humour his enthusiasm. Like Krishna, it turns out he was right – the logo was there to prove it. There is no time to dwell, however. The

course, originally designed in the 1990s by Major Ram Garang following his retirement from the British army and expanded in 2011, demands my attention. Rugged and rigorous, it is as if two tectonic plates have cracked apart and revealed a little piece of Scotland in the gap. The greens are small, the targets smaller due to fast-running turf, the threats devilish: gnarly rough, dense jungle and, from the fifth tee onwards, we are introduced to the frothing, milky white Bijayapur River that thunders through the heart of the layout, its freezing water descending straight down from the heights of the Himalayas, quite possibly from the

an island in the middle of the white water. The par-3 sixth then plays across the chasm to a green perched high on the canyon side. Krishna, who was a little in awe of my opening tee shot and consequently overestimated my ability, has come to terms with the underwhelming reality. Still, he remains desperate to demonstrate his own swing and I suggest he hits a tee shot here. He leaps at the chance, launching a 4-iron to the back of the green, a shy smile failing to mask his pride. Our three balls also reach the other side and so, too, do we, but only after a fraught journey across a metal bridge that shredded what few nerves we had after thinning, slicing and ballooning our tee shots in the general direction of the green. After completing the turn, the tenth hole returns close by the riverside and somehow the fast-flowing water seems to hasten my tee shot down the fairway. It definitely had that effect on my playing partner’s ball after he sliced it in there. Having found the middle of the fairway, I found myself a little confused by what to do next. “Where do I hit it?” I ask Krishna. “There,” he says. “But that’s a cliff,” I say. “Yes,” he says. “Hit to the top of cliff.”

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


GOLF TRAVEL

I do as he asks and am amazed, following the subsequent hike to find myself left with a mere chip to the green. There is, however, a problem. The putting surfaces, like many hill courses in Wales and Scotland, are defended by small fences, often with a turnstile for entry, against which my ball now rests. “Sir, free drop,” says Krishna. “What are these fences for?” I ask. “What are they keeping out? Sheep? I haven’t seen any sheep.” He doesn’t miss a beat. “No sheep,” he says. “Leopard.” It occurs to me that a big cat is unlikely to be inconvenienced by a handful of horizontal wires, but the thought of a large, spotted one nearby is a new golfing hazard to me and more distracting than a pot bunker, so I’m quietly pleased with myself when the pitch lands stone-dead to secure my par. Leaving the green, one of my partners admits he is feeling a little beaten-up by the course, and two holes later, he proves it. The tee of this par-3 calls for yet another cleanly struck effort over the river to a distant green. He misses our discussion of the challenge due to a call of nature, but on his return hits a magnificent blow which sails straight and high, landing softly in the middle of the putting surface, some six feet from the flag. “Best shot of the day,” he cries, mystified by the

green, letting us know he has found the errant shot. More laughter. At the back of the 14th green Krishna points across the river, first to an eagle’s nest and then to a small hamlet sitting on a ledge halfway up the gorge. “I live there,” he tells me and suddenly all is clear. The golfers in Nepal are almost exclusively ex-pats or ex-Empire. The exceptions are curious locals, their interest piqued by the sight of this peculiar game played near their homes. Few would have had the view Krishna has woken up to every day of his life – the best view of the course imaginable. No wonder his interest was aroused. This is not a course lacking for an explosive finale. The 15th is a majestic, sweeping par-4 that would grace any Scottish course. The tee shot calls for a high blow to a fairway shaped like a saddle and is set plum in front of the Himalayan backdrop. We’re in the wrong part of the country for it to be geographically correct, but I long to ask for the line and perhaps be told: “You see that peak in the distance? That’s Everest. That’s the line.” The approach descends to the green, a fast-running shot with the river in the far distance.

silence, more confused still when the caddies descended into fits of giggles. “Wrong green, Sir,” they say. Down below us, Susil is waving from the wrong

upsWing  |  spring 2021

tee which is perched on the edge of an escarpment and calls for a long carry over a sheer drop back where we’ve just come from. Not for nothing is the hole known as “The Abyss”. The tee shot demands steady nerve just to be played because anyone wary of heights might struggle even to tee up the ball, never mind take a swing at it. Safe to say, we all favour the back foot with our efforts. With the light fast fading, we opt not to play the first and second holes again (which is how to complete the 18 here). Instead, I chat with Krishna about my small rucksack, which he has been wearing all day and making regular admiring comments about. I empty the contents into a plastic bag, hand him the rucksack and a tip.

Before we leave I ask him a quick question: “What links the fifth hole at Prestwick (host of the first 12 Open Championship), one of the three loops of nine at Princes (host of the 1932 Open) and the putting green to the right of the second hole at St Andrews, the Home of Golf?” He shakes his head. “They’re all called The Himalayas,” I explain. A smile breaks across his face and then, with a cheeky glint in his eye, he adds: “But Sir, only one genuine Himalaya Golf Club.” Not for the first time today, I admit he is right.

It’s followed by a climb out of the canyon, which redefines the notion of lung-busting, but it is worth it for the view from the 16th

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine  |  51


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EASY RIDERS Words Robin Bar wick

MORE THAN A CENTURY AFTER JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER FIRST CYCLED BETWEEN GOLF SHOTS, ROBIN BARWICK WRITES THAT THE INDUSTRY IS BEGINNING TO THINK THE AMERICAN INDUSTRIALIST MAY HAVE BEEN ONTO SOMETHING.

J

ohn D. Rockefeller was not a man tied down by the constraints of convention. This oil magnate – thought to have been the richest man in America – was an innovator, a problem solver. When he caught the golf bug in his early sixties (Rockefeller was 60 years old at the turn of the 20th century), he found a novel way of squeezing as many holes into a limited timeframe as he could, by cycling on the golf course from shot to shot. But did he have two bikes, one for him and one for his caddie, or did his poor caddie have to carry Rockefeller’s bag while running to keep up? We don’t know – apologies – although we do know that Rockefeller’s bag was not an easy ‘carry’. A golfer who struggled to shoot under 100 over 18 holes, it has been said that Rockefeller fined his caddies when he lost a ball, although ultimately he would tip generously before peddling off for lunch.

Rockefeller would have roundly approved of the 21st century’s purpose-built, Americanmade Golf Bike. Much of the Golf Bike appeal derives from its relative simplicity: it is a six-gear peddle bike with standard rim brakes operated by handlebar levers. The real ingenuity of the Golf Bike is its three-bag system installed on the back. Instead of carrying a standard golf bag – which could cause havoc with balance while riding – the Golf Bike comes with a pair of narrow side-mounted bags that sit either side of the

rear wheel. A set of clubs is split between the two bags. “The concept of the Golf Bike is based on three elements: fun, fitness and speed of play,” explains the Golf Bike’s Shawn Cury, based in Tallahassee, Florida. “The Golf Bike has allowed the individual to play faster. Many of our customers use it early in

The Golf Bike has been through five years of prototyping and testing before launching in 2014.

the morning or later in the afternoon when the courses are less crowded. They can play 18 holes in three hours with no problem.” The Golf Bike was launched five years ago and is available in “Golf Bike Green” only – which is a bit like Kermit the Frog green. It remains in its infancy in terms of distribution, while the company is now working on an electric model to give golfers some added power on hilly golf courses. The Golf Bike is among the leading exponents of a new trend for single-rider machines in golf. This is not to suggest that the days of the traditional golf buggy are numbered, but after a year in which socially-distanced golf enjoyed a boom in the UK and across the world – and during which the sharing of buggies was widely prohibited – the concept of transit alternatives on the golf course has gained momentum. There is even a two-wheeled golfspecific Segway model – with two parallel wheels and a platform in between on which the rider stands – although our attempts to find out more were fruitless and honestly, it is difficult to imagine a Skooza’s fat-tire electric scooter K1 series starts from $3,495.


EASY RIDERS

Rick Reimers, CEO and Inventor or the Finn Cycle, says: “It is time to rethink golf. The young people don’t have 4.5 hours to spend on the course.”

much fun. It gives new meaning to enjoying a round of golf. Every single person we have put on the Finn Cycle has come back telling us how fantastic it is and it is going to help attract more people onto the golf course.”

Segway reaching the golf mass market. Segways seem perfectly suited for security staff in massive shopping malls – that kind of thing – and perhaps the Segway is a practical companion for golf on the famously flat golf courses of Florida, or out in the Great Plains of Nebraska, but in the wooded Surrey Hills or out among the dipping dunes of an old links course, the Segway is unlikely to take hold.

Positioning the golf bag on the centerline of the Finn Cycle promotes incredible riding comfort and stability, with great maneuverability.

Taking the concept of golf course bikes up a gear is the lithium-powered golfer’s scooter, the Finn Cycle, which is the invention of Rick Reimers (CEO of equipment and apparel brand Sun Mountain) in Missoula, Montana. Before your imagination conjures visions of your beloved, favourite golf course being reduced to an oversized dirt-bike track – with the delicate scent of summer roses replaced by the gritty whiff of two-stroke – be reassured that the electric Finn Cycle tops out at a sedate 15 mph. This is not a machine built for speed, but more for a serene journey around the course, and the all-important biker’s balance is aided by a clever location of the golf bag along the central shaft of the bike frame. “The Finn Cycle is tremendous,” starts Nigel Freemantle of UK distributor Brand Fusion, who hopes to get Finn Cycle on sale in the UK this summer. “Every time we take them out on golf courses, they create such a buzz. Thanks to great torque, they will carry you pretty much up any hill, but the big thing is that riding the Finn Cycle is just so

54  |  upsWing  |  spring 2021

Probably the widest two-wheeler on the course belong to Skooza, which was launched into the American market at the beginning of 2020. After a slow start, once the pandemic resulted in socially-distanced golf, Skooza sales rocketed. A scooter that can ride on the street and on the course, a battery that powers up to 35 miles of use on a single charge, Skooza’s low

centre of gravity and extra-wide stance ensure a high level of handling and user safety. It is an ideal single-rider for America’s golf-course communities, where residents traditionally drive their own buggy from their garage to the first tee, and it zips passed the Finn Cycle with a top speed of 28 mph. “Before the pandemic, I was like the ‘soft spikes’ salesman walking into the pro shop in the nineties,” starts Skooza’s Phillip James. “That’s when the pro would look at you and say, ‘That’s a really cool idea but it’s not going to work’. Well, the golf market has flipped now – as it did with spikes – and Skooza sales have increased by more than 300 percent, month on month.

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


EASY RIDERS

“Skooza is to golf scooters what Tesla is to electric cars. We are positioned at the top of a new category that is more active than playing golf in a cart.”

Shifting up from two wheels to four, the GolfBoard is another eye-catching single-rider and a kind of hybrid between a skateboard and an electric trolley (yet safe to ride without elbow and knee pads). And it might look like it’s built for the youth of today, but with wide, high-traction wheels, four-wheel drive, a broad base on which to stand and a stately top speed of 13 mph, the GolfBoard is geared for safety at any age.

With its unique and urban look, the Skooza scooter certainly draws attention.

“It’s like a puppy. Last year, I was up at Hexham Golf Club and it was raining, but this 91-year-old lady enjoyed testing the GolfBoard so much, we couldn’t get her off it. ‘That was the best fun I have had in years,” she said. “It brings out the kid in you.” The GolfBoard is made by the Solboard company in Bend, Oregon (West coast, naturally) and while the GolfBoard is becoming more frequently spotted in the United States and is being rented out to golfers at more than 300 golf courses worldwide, it remains a very rare breed on this side of the Atlantic. There are less than 50 GolfBoards in the UK at the time of writing, but Barry is waiting patiently for more open golf courses and an economic bounce-back in 2021. “I am very optimistic for 2021,” he says. “Renting GolfBoards to golfers can be a nice revenue stream for clubs, they take up less storage space than buggies and they don’t damage golf course turf like buggies either.”

It is a frequent claim from single-rider sellers that their product causes less turf damage than a golf buggy, yet the scientific evidence of this is scarce. These single riders may be lighter than a buggy, yet buggies spread their load via four wide tires, and it might jar with golf course managers and superintendents to accept single two-wheel riders after they spent much of the summer lockdown chasing away maverick mountain bikers.

A combination of an electronic snowboard and a golf cart – GolfBoard changes the golfing experience, without changing the spirit and traditions of the game.  

So, while 2020 was a breakthrough year for the single rider in the United States, it will take longer for the trend to take hold in the more traditional lands of the UK. “This is a long-term, five or 10-year progression to seeing clubs with their own fleets of single-rider vehicles,” estimates Finn Cycle’s Freemantle. “Golfers and clubs will slowly get used to the idea and gradually appreciate the benefits.” A century on from his cycled rounds of golf at home in New Jersey, it is a pity that Rockefeller cannot see how his idea is taking hold in America. “I told you so,” he’d say.

The fun in riding one looks undeniable. The handlebar on the front is only there to maintain stability and control the speed, but not the direction. To turn left or right, the rider needs to lean one way or the other, with a motion similar to that of skateboarding and snowboarding. “When we let people try out the GolfBoard they don’t want to hand it back,” starts Malcolm Barry, who distributes GolfBoard from his base in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Safe, easy to learn, and environmentally friendly, anyone can ‘Surf the Earth’ on the GolfBoard like a pro in just a few minutes.

upsWing  |  spring 2021

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine  |  55


A GAME OF INTEGRITY. Words Sam Oliver

There are few pastimes that teach you the traditional attributes of true sportsmanship, the art of winning and losing, trust, honesty, integrity, humility more than our great game of golf.

Illustration montaguesketch.com

A

nyone fortunate enough to have grown up around the game will have been exposed to many of these important life lessons from a young age, quite often learning them without even realising.

56  |  upsWing  |  spring 2021

Bridging the gap of age and society, golf teaches us how to engage with strangers from all walks of life, brought together by the game, spending hours in the company of someone you have just met. The first tee nerves, the preparation for the big

game, concentrating on that all-important strong ‘handshake’, the introductions and, of course, then remembering what your opponent said their name was amongst all of the stress. You then set off on a unique journey together. Regardless of whether you

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


A GAME OF INTEGRITY

are with a stranger or a friend, as golfers we know that there is a bumpy road ahead, a road that must be tackled with honesty and integrity. Unlike most sports, trust is placed on individuals to play without the direct supervision of qualified referees. Players are left to interpret the hefty set of rules, identify the correct decision themselves and, while some will bend them, the majority will play by the book and anyone intentionally breaking the rules, vilified venomously. We see all too regularly Premier League footballers and NBA basketball stars sprawling around on the ground like they have been shot by a sniper in the stands, trying to hoodwink the referees into giving a free kick, free throw, or worse, result in one of the opposing team being sent off. Cricket is notorious for the on-wicket banter or ‘sledging’ between batsmen and fielders. Rugby scrums are fraught with punches, nips and grabs under the radar of the referee. While these are all accepted parts and characteristics of each respective game, with golf, it is refreshing to have a sport that sees players fully respectful of their opponents, responsible for their own scores, even on occasion calling penalty on themselves.

upsWing  |  spring 2021

Golf never stops teaching you lessons whether you have played for years or took to the game later in life, you will continue to discover things about yourself (and your playing partners) you never knew existed. A round of golf will disclose almost everything you need to know about your playing partners’ persona, not only the general conversation as you go but also through how they conduct themselves, their pace of play and even how they swing the club will often be a pretty accurate reflection of their character. The emotional rollercoaster the game can take you on is a real test of one’s personality which will, on occasion, turn the mildest mannered individual into an angry and hot-headed human being after missing a simple tap in putt. Fact is, it will be their sportsmanship and honesty that has the power to either make or break the journey ahead. It is not surprising that great friendships are formed and sometimes broken on the golf course, not to mention countless business deals sealed whilst out on the course. As a result, honesty and respect for the people and the environment around you are key values. Being your very own referee, as a golfer you should be true to yourself at all times and cherish the great game of golf.

Originally from Stocksfield, Northumberland, Sam was introduced to golf by his grandfather, a former Stocksfield captain/champion. Sam represented England schoolboys, after becoming the youngest Stocksfield club champion at just 18 years old. He was part of a talented crop of youngsters to have since emerged from the club, including former County Champion (and now PGA Professional) Andy Paisley, European Tour Player Chris Paisley, and 2017 PGA Cup Professional Chris McDonnell. Sam spent the first few years of his career at the International Championship Golf Resort Slaley Hall, located in his home county of Northumberland. During his time there he gained valuable exposure to everything resort golf has to offer including the running of a number of European Tour, Seniors Tour and Europe Tour events. He then went on to progress his career as Director of Golf at another top north east venue, Linden Hall. Thereafter, he spent a number of successful years in sales management roles with marquee brands TaylorMade and Alfred Dunhill, the latter submerging him fully into the luxury brand industry and the levels of service and customer expectation that come with that world. Missing the mayhem of running a golf operation, Sam eventually moved back into club management in 2017 as Director of Golf & Leisure at worldrenowned and former Solheim Cup venue Dalmahoy on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The experiences gained to this point lead to Sam joining The Wisley in December 2019 as Membership Director, bringing with him his broad knowledge of golf and luxury to The Wisley team.

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine  |  57


JAPANESE GOLF – AN UNLIKELY BLOOD SPORT Words Matt Cooper

Ryo Ishikawa has always been the been the focus of intense Japanese media scrutiny, especially when conducting photo opportunities with a haggis at the 2009 Open Championship.


IT’S IN YOUR BLOOD

T

alking of the quest to identify young golfing talent, a coach opined recently, “There was a time when we looked for a natural swing, great touch or maybe just real flair for the game.” He shook his head and added: “Now it’s changed. Modern coaches just look for swing speed. If a player can create speed, they figure he can hit it a long way and the rest can be learned.” The coach looked lost. He was concerned that the game was becoming one-dimensional and worried that he was out of touch with the modern world, so I attempted to cheer him up. “It could be worse,” I said. “In Japan they’d just ask the player what blood group he is!” The coach furrowed his brow. It was clear that I had failed. I hadn’t made life easier. Clearly, my comment hadn’t cheered him up, at best, it left him confused.

FOR A LONG TIME, JAPANESE GOLFERS WERE KNOWN FOR THEIR CAMEO PERFORMANCES ON THE WORLD STAGE, BUT HIDEKI MATSUYAMA TRANSFORMED THAT BECOMING THE FIRST JAPANESE WINNER OF THE MASTERS IN APRIL 2021 - AND BEHIND THE SCENES OF THIS STORY IS AN INTRIGUING MYSTERY SURROUNDING THE NATION'S LEADING STARS.

My interest in this baffling story was first piqued nearly ten years ago when I noticed that the Japanese Tour’s official website, in addition to the obvious details such as date of birth and nationality, also listed blood group. My initial reaction, other than surprise, was to assign it to the famed Japanese attention to detail, but it was a rather hazy, maybe even lazy, assumption. And, as if to prove the idleness of the thought, it was one I chose not to investigate further. A couple of years later, I made acquaintance with a new Japanese friend. I mentioned the subject in passing and was suddenly introduced to an explanation I could never have imagined. It turned out that there is a popular belief in Japan that blood type dictates temperament and character, a notion somewhat similar to astrology, but apparently more widespread.

Indeed, as incredible as it may seem to us, major companies recruit according to blood type, kindergartens make teaching decisions based on the information and government ministers have even blamed errors of judgement on it. All of which explains why the information is considered essential on the Japanese Tour

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IT’S IN YOUR BLOOD

website and it immediately prompted the possibility that whilst most golf fans watch a hot-head implode in the final round and say “He choked”, in Japan there might be armchair onlookers gasping: “What do you expect? Google his blood type. Of course he choked. It’s written in his haemoglobin.”

Google, of course, is exactly where I now headed, determined to learn more of this most unlikely revelation, keen to wonder what it reveals about Japanese golfers. It transpired that the notion only began to take popular hold on Japanese society as recently as the 1970s when Masahiko Nomi wrote a series of best-selling books about the predictive qualities of blood type. His critics insisted that he had no medical qualifications whatsoever, but that didn’t stop Nomi or his son (equally unqualified) who established the Institute of Blood Type Humanics. At this point, I was expecting to discover that Nomi had been discredited. Instead, I discovered that the idea is sufficiently widespread to have prompted something called bura-hara which is essentially bloodtype harassment. Because of it children are bullied, and adults discriminated against. What I really wanted to know, however, was its implications for sport and further investigation led me to discover that the Japanese women’s softball team, gold

medalists at the 2008 Olympics, was reported to have used customised blood type training and a New York Times article in 2006 claimed that top Japanese professional baseball players tend overwhelmingly to be blood type O.

Which, of course, returned me to the subject of golfers. Could it be possible that blood type and golf performance were connected? More than that, perhaps one dictates the other? Half in thrall to the possibility, half wondering if I had finally lost the plot, I headed to the profile page of the Japanese Tour website. By my right hand, I had a list of the top Japanese golfers on the world stage over the last 40 years. I first typed Tsuneyuki ‘Tommy’ Nakajima, probably the most-recognised Japanese player in the 20th century, a 48-time winner on home soil and the man who famously contended the 1978 Open Championship. His blood type? O. Next I tried Isao Aoki, the first Japanese winner on the PGA Tour and winner of the 1978 World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth. His blood type was B. What about the famous Ozaki brothers? Jumbo, whose total of 94 Japanese Tour wins is not only the highest count, but betters Aoki’s second best by a massive 43, is also B. So are his brothers Joe and Jet.

Blood type

Ratio in Japan

Positive traits

Negative traits

A

40%

earnest, neat

stubborn, anxious

O

30%

easygoing, leadership ability

insensitive, unpunctual

B

20%

passionate, creative

selfish, uncooperative

AB

10%

talented, composed

eccentric, two-faced

60  |  upsWing  |  spring 2021

Shigyeki Maruyama, a three-time PGA Tour winner? Another B. Shingo Katayama, the cowboy-hatted star of the early years of the 21st century? Also B! How about the two modern superstars? Ryo Ishikawa, nicknamed the Bashful Prince, is O. But Hideki Matsuyama, six-time winner on the PGA Tour, the highest-ever ranked Japanese player in the world rankings (No. 2) and now the country's first winner of a major championship is yet another B.

So, seven out of nine of the greatest-ever Japanese men golfers are blood group B. It seemed as if the type was over-represented, so I sought stats. Surely it must be the most common blood type? Wrong. According to three separate sources type B accounts for about 20% of the Japanese population – and yet somehow it accounts nearly 80% of its best golfers. The next move was to discover what character traits type B personalities are supposed to have and incredibly many seemed apt for golfers: specialists, individualists, goalorientated, selfish. I emailed a Japanese journalist and he replied almost immediately. “Blood type B is perfect for golf,” he wrote, so straightforwardly it ended all debate. “We know that.” It makes you wonder. Maybe the coaching quest is asking the wrong questions. Maybe the key to unearthing future stars is not how fast a golfer’s arms move, but what is running through his veins. And maybe it’s not ice he needs in there, but blood type B.

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


SIMON SAYS

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 After another long pause we finally returned to our beautiful golf clubs. The Wisley is looking amazing, busy with golfers out on the course as life is slowly unlocked. It was a grim start to the year but thankfully we didn’t miss too many good golfing days in the first three months, and it was a great escape to watch the PGA Tour playing out on immaculate golf courses in glorious sunshine to help keep me connected to our game. The organisations behind professional golf have done so well to keep the game going and there has been some really entertaining stuff, despite the lack of crowds and socially distanced masked player interviews. We saw some new champions, Collin Morikawa picked up his first major victory at the USPGA with a final round 64. Collin has now won 4 times as a pro, he is 24 years old. It would be interesting to know if the absence of fans and the tension that a gallery adds to live sport has positively impacted some of the younger players. Victor Hovland is another star in the making, a great long game, a short game that is improving fast, but you can’t see his greatest skill which is the calmness of mind under pressure. You’ll get to see more of this in this year’s Ryder Cup, I’m sure. The US players are looking good too. Bryson DeChambeau has made noise over the last 12 months and probably scared everyone on tour with his performance at Winged Foot, a course with a ferocious reputation. Not only did he smash it everywhere with the driver off the tee, but he used his long, more upright irons to great effect from the rough and putted brilliantly. Bryson was salivating at the chance to destroy Augusta, he had two chances, the November Masters in soft conditions and a fast-running master’s during its normal slot in the spring. Bryson was just running too hot and never contended, he lacked the discipline and was continually out of position.Dustin Johnson showed why he’s World No 1 in November with an exceptional display, especially on Saturday when his 65 effectively won him the event. Matsuyama was equally dominant around a firm Augusta

62  |  upsWing  |  spring 2021

this spring, his short game and a very hot Saturday, after the restart gave him a lead he never relinquished. It’s a huge victory and will be massive in Japan where golf is loved. The moment when Shota Hayafuri (Matsuyama’s caddie) replaced the pin on 18 on Sunday and then removed his hat to bow to the course was another moment that all Japanese can be very proud of and I wish we saw a little more of that respect in our own culture. As the tour continued and Bryson just kept smashing it behind the scenes officials were getting even more worried. Is distance destroying the game, has it now become too one dimensional and are we losing skill from the top parts of the men’s game? Now this chat started back in the 1920’s when new materials were used, and the ball started going further. I’m really not sure where I stand on this argument. If you can hit a ball through the air 320 yards and find the fairway that’s a blend of power and huge control. You still have a hit it close and make a putt for the power to be an advantage to your scores. Nevertheless, Bryson has become the poster boy for power and the debate has reignited. There are so many factors to be considered in the distance debate, some of the players have come out looking like line-backers. I have found the last year of golf to be very entertaining, there has been a huge variety of winners Kevin Na (putting and grit) Brain Gay (putting only), Sergio, Patrick Cantlay and Harris English (ball strikers). The live golf was great to have in the dark evenings and it served as a reminder that we would be back and now we are back and that feels really good. It’s always interesting to see what happens to golf games after 90 or so days without hitting a ball! I think the best attitude to have starting the season is to recognise that timing takes a while to re-acquire. Our games haven’t gone, the sweet spots haven’t disappeared, and we will all regain some flexibility and range of motion. We are probably not as good as our best shots, not as bad as our worst shots but somewhere in between. Ride out that wave and enjoy the rediscovery. It’s just lovely to be back.

The Wisley  |  Golf Mag azine


The new Bentayga.

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BENTLEY SURREY


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