Defending Olympic Gold

AFP_Getty-464338670-760x499

Olympic golf venue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

Golf has only been played at the Olympics on two occasions: 1900 in Paris, France and the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri.

After an absence of 106 years, golf will once again be an Olympic sport this summer at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Who is the defending champion?  Well its Canada of course.

The individual gold medal at the 1904 Olympics was won by George Seymour Lyon of Canada.

Lyon, (July 17,1858 – May 11th 1938) was born in Richmond Ontario.  Lyon, a cricket batsman did not take up golf until 1896, at the age of 38.  Eight years later he won Olympic Gold.

Just in case you might think his Olympic Gold win was a fluke, Lyon  won the Canadian Amateur Championship eight times between 1898 and 1914.  He also won the Canadian Senior Golf Championship a total of 10 times between 1918 and 1930.

In 1908 Lyon went to London England to defend his Olympic Gold title but golf was removed from the Olympics because of a dispute between English and Scottish representatives over the format of play (Lyon won the title in St. Louis at match play).

Lyon was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame (1955) and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame(1971.

Who will defend the title for Canada

The field for the Olympics is restricted to 60 players in both the men’s and ladies divisions.

Eligibility will be determined by the World Golf Rankings.  The top 15 players on the world rankings are eligible to play, the only restriction being that no country can have more than four players.

Apart from the top 15 players in the Wold Rankings, each country  that does not already have two or more players in the top 15 can send two eligible players.

In the case of Canada those two players based on the rankings as they stand today would be Dave Hearn (ranking 38th) and Graham DeLaet (41).

Based on the current standings on the women’s side,  Canada will be represented by Brook Henderson (9) and Alena Sharp (38).

Advertisements

New Irons for 2016

Many of the major golf manufacturers have released their new line of irons for 2016.   These are the clubs that will go longer, fly higher, go straighter… well you know, the usual advertising hype.

What was of special interest to me were the lofts of these new weapons.  A few months ago I wrote a post  about how the lofts of irons have been inching downward in an attempt to convince golfers that a particular brand of clubs goes further.   What becomes readily apparent is that there is no longer a  ‘standard’ loft.  I’ve listed the lofts for 6 irons and pitching wedges.  Some of the manufacturers are really pushing the envelope on lofts with 6 irons as low as 25 degrees.  In the 1970’s 3 irons were 24 degrees.

With a variance of six degrees (the equivalent to a club and a half) it is a no brainer that the Taylor made M2 6 iron with a loft of 25 degrees will go further than the Wilson FG Tour 6 iron with a loft of 31 degrees simply based on loft.

 

Manufacturer/model                  6 iron         Cast/Forged         PW        Price

Tour Exotics  CB Pro                   26.5                  C                      45            $700

Ping G Max                                    27                     C                       45           $800

Cobra F6                                        26                     C                       45            $700

Wilson C200                                 28                     C                       44            $800

Wilson FG Tour                            31                     F                       47            $800

Callaway Apex                              27                     F                       45             $1200

Mizuno JPX EZ                            28                      C                      45             $800

Taylormade M2                            25                      C                      43.5          $800

Titleist 716 AP1                             28                      C                      43            $900

 

The Wildewood Golf Club, a hidden gem

wildewood 6This is the  135 yard second shot that faces you on the 6th hole.  If you have arrived at this position it means you avoided the trees left and right, and did not roll through the end of the fairway.

The Wildewood Golf Course located on North Drive in  Fort Garry  is a gem of a little golf course.  I say ‘little’ only because it is a nine-hole course that is not particularly long at 6048 yards.  I’ve had friends scoff at the idea of playing Wildewood, calling a ‘short little goat track’.  I’ve frequently countered with an offer that if they can break 90 on the ‘goat track’ the first time they play it I’ll pay their greens fee and if they can’t break 90, they buy lunch.  Over the past 25 years I’ve enjoyed many excellent lunches.

So how can a course that plays at 6048 yards, has no water hazards and a limited number of bunkers be difficult?  Don’t let the yardage fool you.  Because of the design of the course and the strategic placement of trees, a number located in the middle of fairways, it plays longer  than the stated yardage and requires a unique approach in terms of scoring.

Wildewood has trees.  I mean literally hundreds if not thousands of trees.  And they are not little trees, we are talking mature elms  and oaks many in the range of 40 to 50 feet tall. Apart from the aesthetics, these trees provide shade and serve as a buffer on windy days.

When I first joined Wildewood in 1990 one of the old timers who has since passed, advised me that either of two things would happen:  Either I would learn to hit the ball straight or alternatively I would quit the game.  I still don’t always hit it straight but neither have I quit the game.

Wildewood is a regulation par 72 course with four par threes, 10 par fours, and four par fives.  What makes it play longer is that for longer hitters the driver is not a good option on most of the par 4’s.  Because  you end up hitting a 3 wood or hybrid (if you are playing strategically) on the par 4’s you end up giving up anywhere from 30 to 50 yards on each of the par 4’s as compared to a wide open course where you can flail away with your driver on all the par 4’s.  Virtually every fairway is tree-lined, on both sides of the fairway.  In the case of the doglegs, tee shots must be curved to prevent entering the trees at the end of the fairways.  These factors make it a difficult course to score on until you understand the course and develop a scoring strategy.

Since first joining Wildewood in 1990 I’ve made my way around the course an estimated 3500 times.  That is a lot of golf, but it’s also a lot of years and in those years I’ve managed to reduce my handicap from the 15-18 range down to the 3-5 range (and I’m stilled married to the same woman).

If you have not played Wildewood you need to.  Over the past several years the course has been very well maintained and it provides some unique challenges that few others courses can equal in terms of  the scoring strategy required.

In a subsequent post I will detail some of the strategies I use to score on Wildewood.