Tait: Golf's new terms another attempt to dumb down great game

Ben Hogan of the USA, puts in a practice round over the championship course at Carnoustie, Near Dundee, Scotland on July 4, 1953 for the British Open Golf Championship. Associated Press (Ben Hogan - 1953)

Tait: Golf's new terms another attempt to dumb down great game

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Tait: Golf's new terms another attempt to dumb down great game

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You’ll never hear me use the words “tie” or “tied” when talking about match play golf. I wish broadcasters of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play felt the same way.

The on-screen graphics referring to matches as “tied” or describing a putt to “tie” were a further step in the attempt to dumb down this great game.

There’s nothing wrong with “all-square” or “halve,” terms that have served the game well since two shepherds decided to play against each other with crooks and stones on the Fife coastline 500 years ago.

Thankfully, Sky Sports broadcasters refused to endorse the new terms much to the relief of British and Irish golf fans. Paul McGinley, Ewen Murray, Robert Lee, Rich Beem, Nick Dougherty and Andrew Coltart steadfastly refused to adopt the terms that have somehow been legitimized by the new rules of golf published on Jan. 1.

Rule 3.2a Result of Hole or Match states: “A hole is tied (also known as halved).” Quite why the R&A and USGA couldn’t have written it the other way to read: “A hole is halved (also known as tied)” is beyond me. Compare this with Rule 2 in the old book that says: “The state of the match is expressed by the terms: so many “‘holes up’ or ‘all-square.'”

Sadly, there is no mention of all-square in the new rule book. It’s been quietly deleted in the supposed attempt to make the game more accessible to new players. Maybe the governing bodies think the game’s going to become populated by morons incapable of understanding simple terms like all-square and halved.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that wonderful, unique to golf term “dormie” is edited out of the next edition of the rule book even though it’s been in existence since Mary Queen of Scots pondered the benefits of an overlapping
grip over a ten-finger one.

The language of golf is part of its allure. English poet Robert Browning
realized that in the 19th century.

He wrote:

“Golf’s lexicon of colourful words and phrases is its crowning achievement. For long after the urge of the ability to play the game leaves us, golf’s joyful adjectives and modifiers, its splendid superlatives and unequalled accolades ring in my ear the waves of familiar sound.”

So true, yet we live in an age when age-old terms seem to be disappearing. Many no longer use “albatross.” We’re now subjected to “double eagle” which surely can only be used if a player scores one on a par five?

Broadcasters seem scared to use flag or pin, but bore us with constant repetition of “hole location.”

Last I checked, the hole locations at Woburn Golf Club are in the same place since I began my membership. The first hole on the Duchess Course runs away from the clubhouse, the second is perpendicular to the first and the third returns to the clubhouse. The only things that change are tee placement and pin or flag positions.

Hole locations? Honestly!

Can you imagine the uproar in other sports if ruling bodies suddenly started replacing age-old terms? Imagine if football commentators suddenly stopped using “touchdown” and replaced it with “six-point score”?

“Golf is the Esperanto of sport,” the great Henry Longhurst once said. “All over the world golfers talk the same language.”

Old Henry must be choking on his claret up in that great clubhouse in the sky at the dumbing down of the sport he loved so much.

I’ve got a foursomes’ match this week. I hope it isn’t all-square after 18 holes. I hope I have many opportunities to halve holes. Oh, and I won’t be wearing a tie. Gwk

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