GolfDifferent Strokes

Golfers Todd Clements and Nick Bachem step out of their comfort zone

Duo take the opportunity to try world’s longest zipline before last week’s tournament in the UAE

Golfers on tour can be a closeted species, invariably moving from hotel to golf course and back again without ever venturing into the cultural highlights or adventures offered by their global itineraries.

Such a stereotype can hardly be thrown at young professionals Todd Clements and Germany’s Nick Bachem who escape the comfort zone of their golf world to take on two extreme experiences ahead of last week’s Ras Al Khaimah Championship in the UAE.

The pair agreed to take on the Jais Flight – the world’s longest zip line at 2.8km long over a canyon at speeds of up to 160km an hour – and the Jais Sledder, a downhill ride in a toboggan (on rails).

As Bachem put it: “I definitely need to do something. I feel like when you travel the whole world it is like such a great chance to see so many different places . . . it was insane, so much fun.”


“I think we do get put into our own little bubble and when you escape, you wonder, ‘why haven’t I done this more?’” said Clements, adding: “My heartrate was going for sure! It far exceeded my expectations.”

As for the golf? Not so good unfortunately for the adventurous duo. Clements finished a distant tied-61st while Bachem missed the cut by one stroke in the tournament won by Daniel Gavins.

Famous Swilcan Bridge gets an upgrade... but not for long

It’s sometimes perilous to materially alter iconic landmarks, as the St Andrews Trust has discovered: work to create stonework at entry and exit points to the famed Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course has been halted and, indeed, the intention is to remove the stones and to revert back to the original turf surfaces.

Just 24 hours after it had outlined its reasons behind the controversial new stone paths, with 1990 Open champion Nick Faldo among the online critics of the plan, the St Andrews Trust released a statement stating:

“The exploratory works around the approach to and from Swilcan Bridge had been undertaken as part of ongoing attempts to mitigate the issue of significant wear and tear to the turf. In recent years we identified and trialled a number of solutions, with the primary ambition always to find something that is both adequate for the amount of foot traffic for such a popular location whilst being in keeping with its surroundings . . . in this instance, we believe we are unable to create a look which is in keeping with the iconic setting and have taken a decision to remove it.”

By the Numbers

$20,000,000: That’s the newly inflated purse for this week’s WM Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour, one of the so-called elevated status events on the US circuit (as part of the fightback against the LIV purses). There are three Irish players in the field: Rory McIlroy, Seamus Power and Shane Lowry.

Word of Mouth

“That was cool to have the giraffes there, it’s definitely different and part of the experience of playing in Kenya . . . . I don’t think I’ve ever seen them that close before” – India’s Aditi Ashok after securing a wire-to-wire win in the Magical Kenya Ladies Open at Vipingo Ridge, the season’s opening tournament on the Ladies European Tour. Ashok won by nine shots to secure her fourth career win on the LET. Olivia Mehaffey marked her return to competitive golf by making the cut in the tournament, ultimately finishing in tied-48th place.

On this day….7th February 1982

Jim Simons had the sort of night before the final round of the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Links that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep his focus, quite literally!

The 31-year-old American wore what he described as “piggyback” contact lenses that had two layers, a soft one next to his eyes and a harder one on the outer surface. All Saturday night, however, he suffered because the eyes were not tearing properly and he spent most of the night inserting a lubricant in his eyes to relieve the abraded cornea.

Add in the fact he was also troubled by tendinitis in his shoulder, and Simon’s final round 66 for 274 was all the more impressive as he mounted a remarkable comeback to lay claim to a third PGA Tour title.

Simons trailed Craig Stadler by five strokes through eight holes of the final round but the man known as The Walrus suffered a double-bogey and two bogeys down the stretch while Simons picked up a series of birdies.

“I have to say, I didn’t know I could play that well. When he got o five behind. I was also thinking there’s a lot of money for second place too, and I kept my patience.”

Such patience was well and truly rewarded, giving him a first tour win since his Memorial success in 1978.

Twitter Twaddle

Let’s do it…. #paddiesontour – Shane Lowry responding to a request from amateur Matt McClean – who has earned a spot in the Masters following his US Mid-Amateur win last year – to play a practice fourball with Lowry, Rory McIlroy and Seamus Power at Augusta National.

Grande @abraham_ancer – Joaquin Niemann leaving nobody in any doubt of his support for fellow South American Abraham Ancer after his wire-to-wire win in the Saudi International on the Asian Tour.

I’ve had a slight issue again with my hand. It got very sore end of last week and hopefully I’ll be ready for Singapore – Andrew “Beef” Johnson updating on his injury woes.

Know the Rules

Q: Is it true that a player may repair natural wear of the hole on the putting green before putting?

A: No, it is false. A player may repair damage on the putting green, however, such ‘damage’ on the putting green’ does not include any damage or conditions that result from natural wear of the hole (Rule 13.1c)

In the Bag

Abraham Ancer

Saudi International

Driver – Callaway Epic Speed Triple LS (8.5 degrees)

3-wood – TaylorMade SIM2 Max (15 degrees)

5-wood – Callaway Rogue ST prototype (19 degrees)

Irons – Srixon ZX Utility (4), Miura TC-210 (5-PW)

Wedges – Miura HB-10 (52 degrees), Artisan Prototype (56 and 60 degrees)

Putter – Odyssey White Hot No.5