Ivan Morris – Harrington much more than great chipper and putter

Ivan Morris – Harrington much more than great chipper and putter

WATCHING Padraig Harrington winning the Portuguese Masters recenty reminded me that it doesn't matter if a golfer strays off the fairway - as long as he has a free shot at the green.

It doesn't matter if he misses a short putt occasionally or doesn't hole many long putts. It doesn't matter if he misses a few greens, as long as he chips within four feet every time. The big difference is in how close a golfer hits his approach shots, especially the number of times he gets close to the hole from long distances.

The long game is the separator and when extra distance is involved, more so. It shouldn't be a surprise to learn that that better players are a little bit better at everything not just chipping and putting. Don't fall for the idea that Padraig is 'only' a great chipper and putter.

Padraig's game is an awful lot more than that but one thing he might not want to subscribe to is pro golfers (as a rule) need to take it on board that playing slowly is not a right. Playing slowly is off-putting for spectators.

I would like to see more pro golfers playing the game like the way the great, Laura Davies does. In her considerable pomp she gave the ball a whack, not always in the recommended direction, found it and whacked it again.  

After one thrilling expedition through the trees onto the wrong fairway, Laura somehow avoided the forest with her next swipe, carried a yawning dip and landed the ball on the correct green.

On the way back, a mesmerized spectator was bold to ask, “How big was the gap, LD?” “There wasn’t one!" said Dame Laura, who always saw things 'her way.'

I have always felt there are far too many rules in golf. If you cannot write them all on the back of a matchbox, something is wrong - Henry Longhurst

It is vital to start putts on the exact and proper line. On a 10-foot putt, any ball hit more than 1-degree off line has no chance of going in. A maximum of 2-degrees succeeds from 5-feet. On a 30-foot putt you need one third of 1-degree accuracy.

Most of the time, the term 'growing the game' is a protective shield to justify the act of making (a lot of) money.

Jack Nicklaus may speculate (but I have the answer): there (appears) to be more good players today. That's saying a lot because we had plenty of good players when I played. There was a bit of a lag while Tiger was so much better than everybody else.

Now you've got a lot of guys that are really good and they all sit in the same pack. (They are all so good because today's equipment equalizes them)

The object of inventors is to reduce the skill required for golf and they are succeeding.)

Increasing green speeds have hurt the game of golf, causing greens on many golf courses to be nearly unplayable for the average golfer to negotiate - Pete Dye

Momentum is everything but it can be so hard to find. Just as soon as you find it, it can disappear again in a flash.

Two good shots can start a bit of momentum going; one bad putt will stop it in its tracks.

The best golfing grasses vary in colour. They may be red, brown, blue, dark green, light green, yellow, and at times even white and grey. A golf course consisted entirely of one shade of green is ugly. There is great charm and beauty in varying shades of colour on a golf course - Alister Mackenzie

For a player to be told she has a 'good' swing is the highest praise. A bad style is the cause of much despondency and any remarks on it, is an insult never forgiven - May Hezlet.

Without wind a golf course is always the same, but as the wind varies in velocity and direction, a single course becomes many courses. 

Golf should be learned starting at the cup and progressing back towards the tee.

If a beginner tries to learn the game at the tee and move on toward the green, postponing the short game until last, this is one beginner who will be lucky ever to beat anybody - Harvey Penick

For me to give up playing golf would be to start a part of the dying process and begin a slow march towards the graveyard - extremely sad and emotionally painful but the inevitable is very close now.

The current handicap system is misleading. Are young guys as good as their handicaps suggest? They certainly would not be +5 or +6 on the courses we play on Tour.

I was at Deeside recently and I was asked what my handicap might be there? They laughed at me when I said: +7 or +8. On a good day, I'd come down by 0.6 on a bad day I'd go up by 0.1 - Paul Lawrie

Golf gives no margin: either you win or fail. You cannot hedge; you cannot bluff. One chance is given you, and you hit or miss. There is nothing more rigid in life. It is this rigidity that makes golf is so immensely interesting - Arnold Haultain

It's no exaggeration to say that learning to be a better golfer is like learning to be a better person - Pia Nilsson