'Rio Ferdinand hasn't a clue about golf': Ivan Morris

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris

RIO Ferdinand may have been an excellent footballer but he hasn't a clue about golf.

It gave me a good laugh when Rio complained about the way footballers’ wages are scrutinised when compared with the ‘extravagant sums’ (his words) earned by pro golfers.

Of course, you can make a case that golfers at the very top of the tree are overpaid to an obscene degree but, if you think about it, only a relatively few of them earn mega, mega bucks. If there are 300/500 golfers worldwide in the super-millionaire, super-rich category that’s about the limit of it.

How many ’extremely average’ footballers can be classed as ‘multi-millionaires?’ An ‘average’ golfer won’t earn a penny.

Rio must not realise that every shot counts in golf including the misses. One missed putt might cause a missed cut and not earning any wages that week.

Gavin Moynihan has experienced that a few times since he joined the European Tour. If you don't play at the weekend, you get no pay but your expenses are the same.

How many footballers have to pick up the tab for their travelling expenses even if they sat on the bench or missed a match-winning penalty? Golfers are on their own.

They have nowhere to hide. They are solo artists with nobody watching their back or paying their bills - if a golfer plays a bad game he won’t earn a penny. In fact, he will lose money.

Which professional footballer pays an entry fee to play in a game and also has to provide his own transport and subsistence? If you are a golfer you won’t have the comfort of a home game every other week either. Sleeping in one's own bed is a rare luxury for a touring professional.

There was a poll in the UK recently that placed golf at the bottom of a “boredom list’ of the 17 sports surveyed.

What is boring about golf at the moment apart from watching JB Holmes and Kevin Na dithering interminably? Since the turn of the new year, the action on the European and PGA Tours has been stunningly good not to mention the excitement in seeing Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods back in action and both showing serious intent.

Has there ever been so many genuine contenders for the majors as there are this year - Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia and, dare I whisper it, TW?

Did you notice how many Europeans are on that list? Only a few months ago, Europe’s chances of regaining the Ryder Cup looked hopeless but not anymore they don't. But, it is depressing me that Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne have such big tasks ahead of them to make the Euro team.

I'm convinced that neither of them will be captain’s picks. They’ll have to qualify as automatics and that will be far from easy. But, Captain Bjorn has every right to feel confident – no matter how good the Americans may seem on paper and in the World Rankings.

I'm often asked about my modus operandi for rating golf courses. How do I decide that one course is better than another? Do I study every feature in detail or do I rely on an overall impression and how much I enjoy the venue? That’s a great question, which may be interpreted as meaning I really don't know the answer.

The truth is I struggle to be coherent because all golf courses are basically the same – a collection of holes and hazards laid out across a piece of land. I compare golf courses to symphonies – a collection of notes and signs laid out on a page. It’s how those notes are played that makes them different. Great music touches the soul. A great golf course will have the same effect. In my view, any golf course should be playable by everyone, not only the virtuosi.

Like music, my favourite golf courses challenge and excite me even when I cannot play the notes perfectly but not like Eric Morecombe who claimed to be playing the right notes, all right, but not necessarily in the right order.

The setting and routing of a golf course is very important to me. It has to blend and flow. Declaring one course better than another is purely subjective. Preferring one course over another is not scientific. It’s more about ‘feelings’.

If you over-analyse you spoil the fun and end up frustrated. Stick to the theme of enjoyment and leave it at that. How soon do I want to play a course again as I exit the 18th green remains my unfailing measuring stick for rating a golf course.

There are a few (but not many) that I never want to play again!

Words of the Wise

American golf architect, Charles B. McDonald, who masterminded the iconic National Golf Links on Long Island said: “No real lover of golf with artistic understanding would undertake to measure the quality or fascination of a golf hole by a yard-stick, any more than a critic of poetry would attempt to measure the supreme sentiment expressed in a poem by the same method. One can understand the meter, but one cannot measure the soul expressed."

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