Ivan Morris Column - ‘Real’ golf is strokeplay or matchplay

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris
Counting all of our strokes, is more than most of us can bear.

Counting all of our strokes, is more than most of us can bear.

That’s why we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that playing in stableford competitions is ‘real’ golf.

The inability by most of us to keep a score together for 18-holes was the very reason why the ‘sympathetic’ stableford system was invented.

All golfers are familiar with the sinking feeling when somebody asks them the question, “Whaddya shoot?”

That’s when few golfers can resist the temptation to resort to a series of shudda, cudda and wudda excuses in response.

Invariably, our scores are never as good as we think they could have, or should have been. Very few of us return scores as low as we think we should on a regular basis.

That’s why ‘real golf’ is stroke play or match play – certainly not the stableford system where you can have a few bad holes and still return a good result for the round because ‘damage’ is limited.

In stroke play you haven’t that liberty whereas in match play it is even more unforgiving – you win or you lose!

Years ago, I found a better way of keeping score that gives me ‘comfort’ and saves me from being driven to despair almost every time I play. I call it ‘The Bolene Method’ after a friend of mine in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Bruce Bolene brought his proud, plus-one handicap to Ireland on a regular basis where he said: “Irish courses make minced meat of my handicap. They eat my lunch and you take my money!” (Never quite worked out what that means, apart from the last bit!)

To overcome the difficulty of playing to his ‘extreme’ handicap in strange surroundings, Bolene invented what I believe is an ingenious scheme.

After 18-holes, if you asked Bolene what score he shot he would come up with an answer like “9-6-3.”

That meant nine good holes, six mediocre ones, and three poor ones.

A good hole was defined by hitting ‘good shots’ that reached the fairway and green in regulation, a mediocre hole might involve missing a fairway but finding the green or hitting the fairway and slightly missing the green and getting up and down, while a bad hole was one that included two poor shots or, maybe a destructive one that rendered achieving par impossible. That is all the detail you got. Wasn’t it enough?

Bruce used to say that if he could shoot twelve “good” holes per round, he’d be ecstatic. Myself? I have never managed more than 10.

The Bolene Method makes a lot more sense than counting every backbreaking stroke. I have been using ‘Bolene’ now for several years and, in the process, causing plenty of confusion for my playing companions but when I take the time to explain, they seem to see the sense in it.

When I came off the course last week and someone asked me the dreaded: “Whaddya shoot?” I answered “7-10-1” and that’s all the information I divulged.

Unless, I have had a rare, out of the ordinary run of good fortune and, in that case would be ‘bursting’ to tell the whole world about my score – I’ll stick with Bolene’s Method.

More Loft More Distance – If I were given a euro for every time I was asked the question, “How do I get some extra distance?” It would be like winning the Lotto.

Depending on whom I am talking to, I usually say, “Hit the ball ‘purer’ or try hitting it higher; more height = more length.”

TaylorMade Golf seems to have copped on to this idea at last.

They have just announced that they will launch an unprecedented 14° SLDR driver soon. All of you out there struggling for some extra length would be well advised to test it.

With a remarkable low and forward centre of gravity (CG) placement making it the lowest spinning driver Taylormade has ever manufactured, they are already telling golfers – including PGA & European Tour players – to “loft up.”

It’s a message that flies in the face of what golfers have been told for decades but it makes sense to me.

Advancements like movable weight, larger faces, adjustable shafts and improved aerodynamics have cracked the distance barrier.

Now more loft, is going to be yet another way of achieving more distance.