Annual 72 Club meeting centers around fast play

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Got four pairs of socks ready, packed two pairs of underwear, sticking plasters, four bottles of water, two packs of mixed nuts and fruit.

Let’s see, what else do I need? Oh, yes: talcum powder.

It’s not often you have to pack the above for a game of golf, but that’s what I’ll be taking to play Littlestone Golf Club on April 18. Yes, folks, it’s 72-hole time again – the time of year when I play four rounds in one day.

Oh, and did I mention it’s stroke play and that I’ll be walking and carrying my own bag? No gimmes, either. Everything holed out. Littlestone is a proper golf course, too - good enough to have hosted qualifying for the Open Championship, the British Boys and the Ladies British Amateur Championship.

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis will know I belong to a small cadre of hardy souls devoted to fast play. Every April, we gather at Littlestone to prove that a round of golf doesn’t need to take five hours. In fact, some in the 72 Club would argue that two rounds of golf shouldn’t take five hours!

Twenty-two of us have signed up this year to play the 72 Club over the little gem that is Littlestone. My tee times are 7:20 a.m. and 1:20 p.m. in the company of Dave Kingsman, a 72 Club diehard.

I’m anticipating being finished by 7 p.m. We won’t be the quickest pair, either. You can bet early starters such as Bryan O’Neil and Martin Watters will average just more than two hours per round.

Remember that the next time you think you’re a quick player. I will let you know next week how I do.

• • •

The best thing about Rory McIlroy’s Masters collapse was that it showed just how petulant some of our top golfers are. The way he handled himself afterward proved he is a class act. Contrast him with Tiger Woods and you would have been confused as to who shot 80 and who came in with a 67. And we are supposed to believe Tiger is a changed man? Yeah, right.

• • •

Adam Scott seems to have found salvation with the broom-handle putter, but how long will the Australian be allowed to use it? There’s been talk for years of banning the long putter, but nothing has happened. After speaking with various people this past week, I think it could happen sooner rather than later. Are the R&A and USGA contemplating finally taking action over the long putter?

• • •

The creme of English junior golf was in action this week at Copt Heath Golf Club near Birmingham for the McEvoy Trophy. Nathan Kimsey of Woodhall Spa won. No doubt most of the competitors had stars in their eyes, dreaming of making it on the European Tour. If a list of past winners proves anything, then most of these kids are bound for failure. Since its inception in 1988, the only winners to make it so far are Lee Westwood (1991), Brian Davis (1992), Steve Webster (1993), Justin Rose (1998) and John Parry (2004). The lesson is simple: Kids should make sure they have a decent education before they turn pro. They will probably need a backup plan somewhere down the road.

• • •

Nigel Edwards, captain of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team, has a huge challenge on his hands this year. It’s not just beating a strong U.S. side at Royal Aberdeen, but hanging on to GB&I’s best amateurs. I’ve heard through the grapevine that a number of English players are thinking of turning pro before the match. The period after the European Men’s Team Championship in Portugal July 5-9 will be an interesting time for Edwards. There could be a few potential team members jumping to the money game after that.

• • •

Look out for another Rory McIlroy coming out of Northern Ireland. In fact, look for his namesake. Not quite the same spelling, but remember the name Dermot McElroy from Ballymena Golf Club. The 17-year-old is the reigning Irish Boys champion. He finished the McEvoy Trophy with a 10-under-par 61. GB&I Walker Cup selectors have been casting their eyes over him. Don’t be surprised if he forces his way onto this year’s team. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.