Wednesday, August 12 2020


Seeing red on reading the greens

Update: May, 07/2017 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

By Robert Bicknell

There are days when I sit in front of my computer and have no idea what to write. Let’s face it, when you’re doing this for 19 years (Holy Crap!) and you have limited intelligence to begin with, the old brain starts to run on empty.

But then something pops up on my screen which makes me either go “Hmm” or launches me out of my chair screaming “WTF?”

This is a little of both.

The R&A (aka “Colonel Blimp’s aka Stuffed shirts sitting in overstuffed armchairs yearning to return to the days of featherie balls, hickory shafts and when England ruled golf unopposed), and the USGA (aka “Guys who can’t play golf to save their asses and set up Open courses in the best way to embarrass players)  sent out a joint Statement:

“The R&A and the USGA believe that a player’s ability to read greens is an essential part of the skill of putting. Rule 14-3 limits the use of equipment and devices that might assist a player in their play, based on the principle that golf is a challenging game in which success should depend on the judgment, skills and abilities of the player. We are concerned about the rapid development of increasingly detailed materials that players are using to help with reading greens during a round. We are reviewing the use of these materials to assess whether any actions need to be taken to protect this important part of the game. We expect to address this matter further in the coming months.”

Uh, OK… say what? Look, I know we here in Viet Nam are a little behind the times, but when has there ever been a “device” to help players read greens? Has some little maniac developed an Android/iPhone app that projects a hologram on to the green with the best putting line? Am I missing something?

Uh, no.

Apparently, they are talking about “putting books/charts” which most professional caddies make during the practice rounds, along with a detailed Yardage book for their players to use during the event.

What, you thought the players calculated distance via dead reckoning? Fuggedaboutit. With so many events each year and limited intelligence, they have trouble even remembering the town they are in.

Imagine this: a player is 172 yards from the flag. Not only does the book tell him he’s 172 yards, the pin sheet tells him exactly where on the green the hole is located and the Green map tells him which way the green is running and where the slopes are. Therefore, he needs to land the ball exactly three metres to the right of the flagstick so the ball will catch the hill and roll towards the cup.

What, you thought it was luck? Fuggedaboutit.

And it’s these books and maps the USGA/R&A are considering banning. They seem to think it causes delays and reduces the necessary skill levels of the players.

I am pretty sure they once thought about burning the Yardage bushes, but it might have been a little too Biblical for them. Why take a chance like that? The last time someone encountered a burning bush we ended up with 10 Commandments from a significantly higher authority than the USGA/R&A, but most people don’t obey those either…

My advice: Leave the books alone. Let people have fun out there. If you want to speed up the pace of play in professional tournaments, put a shot clock on the green, not just fairways.

OTHER NEWS – Viet Nam is finally starting to put together a “Local Professional Tour” as more kids desire to turn professional. This means we need sponsors!

It doesn’t have to be HUGE money like the PGA Tour, or even the Asian Tour. It can be a much smaller amount, because we need to start somewhere. I am pretty sure the Golf Equipment reps in Viet Nam (TayloreMade/Adidas, Acushnet (Titleist/Footjoy), Cobra, Callaway, Ping, etc would be willing to get on board. But each event should have a Title sponsor to name the event after and that means putting up a little money.

I am even willing to make my Golf Course (Tràng An Golf&CC in Ninh Bình) available for an event and a ridiculously, embarrassingly, low price.

More details as they become worked out… VNS



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