Different strokes

Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 01:00

Compiled by PHILIP REID

Eisenhower Trophy: Ireland gain from going it alone

The first reaction to Ireland’s result in the world amateur team championships – otherwise known as the Eisenhower Trophy – is one of disappointment. With Irish golf consistently punching above its weight in terms of bringing home silverware, in professional and amateur events alike, the tied-27th position in Turkey, where the USA were runaway winners, would seem to take some of the wind out of our sails.

Except, such is not the case!

For sure, there were extenuating circumstances in Ireland’s below-par performance. The loss of Alan Dunbar, the British amateur champion, to illness reduced the three-man team to a two-man effort with no room for manoeuvre. His loss would have hit anyone. Kevin Phelan and Gavin Moynihan, left to fly the flag without any safety net, can look back on it as part of a learning curve that will only get tougher when their respective paths we presume lead them eventually to professional careers. That is down the road.

But it will stand to them.

The important thing for Irish golf is that Ireland – like the Scots, English and Welsh – are competing separately in this championship. Up until 2000, all four “home” countries competed as one (under the banner of GBI) and, to many, it seemed to be inequitable on a number of fronts: firstly, some of the most powerful golfing countries in the world were able to join forces at a time when other countries where golf was a fledgling sport competed on their own; secondly, some players who should have had an appearance in the Eisenhower on their CVs were deprived.

Indeed, it seems particularly odd that Pádraig Harrington (above, right), who played in three Walker Cups, never actually got selected to play in an Eisenhower. At the time, his constant omission had many of us scratching our heads. And hindsight only makes it all the harder to fathom.

It took a number of brave decisions – among them by past GUI president Paddy Murphy and the late Gerry O’Brien – to pave the way for Ireland to compete as a separate team, with the other “home” countries also going their own way. It was the right decision at that time for golf, and it remains the right decision even if Ireland haven’t quite brought home the bacon as of yet.

Ireland’s results have been mixed, to say the least: 2002 – 18th; 2004 – t-17th; 2006 – t-9th; 2008 – 22nd; 2010 – 6th; 2012 – t-27th.

That best performance came in 2010 with a team of Dunbar, Paul Cutler (since turned pro) and Phelan. But there is no doubt Ireland (and, for that matter, Scotland, England and Wales) have benefited from competing on their own steam.

It’s only a matter of time before, some day, Ireland will get the rub of the green in this biennial competition. The succession of wins at European strokeplay and British amateur level confirm that the conveyer belt remains extremely strong in terms of the quality being produced.

Ryder Cup: K Club sets the standard

The impact of the Ryder Cup is real, it would seem. Not just the recent one in Medinah – but those held on this side of the Atlantic, at the K Club in 2006 and Celtic Manor in 2010. In setting out its plans to develop a 333-acre resort close to Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the Wirral council – which owns much of the lands to the east of the Hoylake links and which is looking for a private partner to advance the development – have set the K Club and Celtic Manor as the benchmark. Council director of regeneration Kevin Adderley said: “We want developers to share our vision for a world-class facility to rival those at the K-Club and Celtic Manor.”

Average alright: Carlsson numbers don't quite add up

If you ask most tour pros, the statistic most valued at the end of the day is the one relating to stroke average. After all, the lower a player is shooting, the more he is ticking the boxes required in getting the ball into the hole.

Not surprisingly, the top spots in this particular ranking are occupied by men who have enjoyed seriously good form this year: Louis Oosthuizen leads the category on the Genworth stats on the PGA European Tour (averaging 70) and among the other notables at the business end of the ranking are Justin Rose, Nicolas Colsaerts and, of course, world number one Rory McIlroy.

The presence of one Magnus A Carlsson is harder to fathom, though. The Swede occupies a lofty third place (ahead of McIlroy) with an average of 70.06 (from 36 rounds).

The reasoning for Carlsson’s high position is probably explained by the fact he hasn’t played in any of the Majors, where scoring is obviously much tougher.

The rules

Q A player’s ball lies on the putting green. The ball is oscillating because of the wind. May the player make a stroke at the ball while it oscillates?

A Yes. As an oscillating ball is not moving as defined by the Rules of Golf, there is no penalty for making a stroke at an oscillating ball. Under Rule 14-5/2, the player must continue play without undue delay.

Black and . . . white: Buckle up with a Ryder Cup belt

It’s amazing how one of the most “essential” accessories for a golfer these days is a belt, as evidenced by the growing trend of golfers – especially younger players – wearing white belts. All manufacturers, it seems, have got in on the act.

Those golf fans (of a European persuasion) keen to emulate the heroes of Medinah can get their hands on a specially-designed Ryder Cup belt manufactured by Druh, the official licensee of belts and buckles for the 39th Ryder Cup match. Druh produced a range of handmade belts featuring the 2012 Ryder Cup logo. They are available online from Druhbeltsandbuckles.com. Lee Westwood is a brand ambassador for Druh, as are two of Europe’s vice-captains, Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn.

The belts are available in traditional black . . . and the more modern white!

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