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Re: An old thread...
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2010, 01:37:48 PM »
"I have never read The Match, but I know the concept of it. What year was that?"

The so-called "Match" took place in 1956 at Cypress Point. It was as the result of a massive bet between George Coleman and Eddie Lowery (famous as Quimet's miniscule 1913 US Open caddie). Eddie told George at the Crosby at Pebble that his two amateurs, Venturi and Ward, could beat any team period and that he would put something like 10 grand on the line to back it up!

Coleman said to Eddie; "Any team?" Eddie said: "Yeah, any team."

And so Coleman said you have a bet and he brought the team of Hogan and Nelson. They played Venturi and Ward at CPC the next day and it was reputedly one helluva match and some incredible golf and it all came down to the last putt on the last green.

The basic theme was that this particular match was the time that golf finally completely accepted that the best players were no longer some of the amateurs but were now the pros---no question.

The subplot was Harvie Ward and the loss of his amateur status pretty much due to Lowery who was actually on the board of the USGA at the time.

The only one I didn't know that much about was Harvie Ward even though my father knew him pretty well. Man could that guy play! He was just one of those guys who got it done when the time to get it done was at hand.

One of the best lines in the book was just after Harvie Ward's funeral when a young guy came out of the church and saw Venturi and said to him: "Ken, I don't know that much about Harvie Ward as a golfer; tell me about him."

Ken V said to him: "Put it this way; Jack at his best and Harvie at his best; I'd take Harvie every time."


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Re: An old thread...
« Reply #26 on: June 08, 2010, 02:24:06 PM »
I agree with much that Sean says in his reply. There are two factors we've not mentioned about British golf - the World Wars. At the end of both the country was bankrupt and golf clubs were in financial difficulties. Members were scarce. There is another element to the British angle which is that we were not tourists. We did not travel overseas. We did not know what was out there. That began to change in the late 60s when air travel began to be affordable for the ordinary family. It coincided with RTJ building Sotogrande and Henry Cotton Penina. Slowly a new tourist industry grew and embraced all the northern Europeans, looking for warmer weather and better light for their winter golf. What they found was very different from what they were used to at home (I'm including Scandinavia, Germany, the Low Countries, which at that time still had classic courses and traditional clubs). They found resort golf. Not surprisingly, most was on American lines. This coincided with the start of televised golf. We began to see golf from America and with its Palmers and Nicklausen we were smitten. When Jacklin won his US Open it was one of the biggest things to happen in British golf. It was on a new course. It must be better than anything we have - it is, after all, American.

Americans cleaned up much of the early design work. RTJ was idolised in Europe and he, his sons, von Hagge and others got most of the big design jobs in Europe. For better or worse, lakes and fountains, eye-candy bunkers, seriously watered greens and all the other trappings were rampant and welcomed by the new generation of visitors whose home courses stimped at 2 or 3, whose bunkers were raked once a week, where drainage was seriously problematic and carts and buggies hadn't been thought of. Inevitably the new generation of British courses were designed by Americans - St Mellion, East Sussex National, Oxfordshire, Carden Park and so on - and you could easily believe you were in some resort abroad, if only the weather were not so frightful. Then came the explosion of Florida as a holiday destination for Brits. Golfing Brits discovered it too and many still think it is the best place on earth. They are not going to get to play Merion, Shinnecock, Crystal Downs or Prairie Dunes, so they have no inkling that there are fabulous traditional designs out there. American golf to Brits is alligators, island greens and the rest and what we see on TV from the tour confirms that. What we see on TV of the European tour is also American golf. We've been catching up. 40 years after we first saw it on TV we now have American style courses on which our professionals  demonstrate their talents. If Rose can win at Muirfield Village, McDowell can do it at Celtic Manor.

We take most of our 'improvements' from America - not just golf, but guns and all those wonderful things we see on American TV because we can't be bothered to make our own programmes. America is 40 years ahead of us in appreciating proper golf course architecture. Unfortunately I won't be here in 2050 to witness the restoration movement coming to Britain. Rather more unfortunately there will be even fewer records available in golf club archives to link our long-neglected courses with Braid, Vardon, MacKenzie, Fowler, Simpson, Herd and the rest. Having been mixed up in umpteen centenary books I am aware of how little archival material has been kept. I am also aware that in most cases these architects were not held in particularly high regard by the clubs employing them. They were tradesmen who were payed for their work in the same way that the brewer was paid to supply beer. They were simply a line in an accounts book - if it survives. 


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