Tait: The 72 Club isn't meant for snails

Colin Montgomerie

Colin Montgomerie

The range of estimated times for 18 holes tells you this club is not for snails. The “slowest” time is 2:45, as in two hours and 45 minutes. Wouldn’t golf be heaven if everyone played that slowly?

We’re talking the 72 Club, folks. It’s that time of year again, when a bunch of us get together to take on the gem that is Littlestone Golf Club in Kent, England to play 72 holes in one day, walking and carrying our golf bags, and counting every stroke in four medal rounds.

The entry form asked for a realistic estimate of how long it would take me to play each round. I was given options from two hours and 20 minutes to two hours 45, at five-minute intervals. I went for two hours and 35. I am one of the “slower” 72 Club members, but only because my 9 handicap means I don’t hit it as straight as other members.

Bryan O’Neil is secretary and iron man of the 72 Club. He’s played in every one since it’s inception in 1972. He’ll celebrate his 40th this year. He aims to play in another 10, by which time he’ll be 72, a neat, symmetrical way to bow out.

O’Neil took the first time. He and his partner will have no problem getting round Littlestone in an average of two hours and 20 minutes per round.

I’ve been in training, taking the dog on long walks every day. I’ve already bought some Band-Aids in case I get a few blisters on my feet, and I’ve got the Epsom Salts ready for a good hot bath the morning after. Will let you know how I get on next week, but even now I’m looking forward to my 72nd tee shot on Littlestone’s par-5, 18th hole. Believe me, there is no better feeling in golf.

Monty’s mixed message: I had to laugh when I heard Colin Montgomerie say “golf has had this elitist feel for too long. It’s my job, along with the Golf Foundation, to break down that barrier and get school kids to play the game.” Montgomerie was speaking in his role as president of the Golf Foundation, an organization that does a sterling job of introducing kids to golf. Monty grew up in Troon, Scotland. His father was secretary of the ultra elite, all male Royal Troon GC. The young Monty wasn’t allowed to play the course because juniors weren’t welcome. Monty also got married at the exclusive Loch Lomond Golf Club in 2008. He’s attached to Open Championship venue Turnberry, where a green fee will cost you £120, rising to £180 on May 1. When he lived in England he practiced at The Wisley Golf Club, an up-market club just outside London. Glad to see Colin believes in matching action to words.

Sergio’s sorry state: I’m getting tired of Sergio Garcia feeling sorry for himself. The Spaniard said he wasn’t good enough to win a major during this year’s Masters. This is the same guy who said the gods of golf were against him after losing a playoff for the 2007 Open Championship. Of course, he would have won that Open if he’d holed a 12-foot par-putt on the 18th green, after bunkering his approach. He was in a great position to win this year’s Masters after 36 holes, and might have done so if he had more belief in himself.

Wherefore art thou Tiger? We heard Tiger Woods was “back” after he won Bay Hill. So where is he now after his dismal Masters performance? Answers on a postcard please.

Am I not clever? Cricket commentator Geoffrey Boycott made me think recently. He said cricketers who keep playing badly aren’t very clever because if they were they’d figure out how to play better. That’s so true about golf. Take my own game. How, after playing 30 years, with a 9 handicap, can I stand in the fairway 120 yards from the green and not get the ball on the putting surface? Is it because I’m not very clever or lack the coordination to play this stupid game? Let me know, please!

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