Defending Olympic Gold


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).


The Winnipeg/Manitoba Senior Putter Leagues

The Jimmy Doyle Senior Putter League

Know as ‘Senior Putter’ the Jimmy Doyle Senior Putter League is what Mundie Putter players graduate to once they either cannot, or no longer are interested in  playing in the Mundie Putter League.

As the name ‘Senior Putter’ suggests players are required to be 55 years of age or older.  Matches are conducted at a more dignified time (1:30 in the afternoon) compared to Mundie Putter where the last teams at times finish in the dark, especially early in the golf season.

The League consists of 10 member clubs;  St Charles, Glendale, Southwood, Niakwa, Elmhurst, Pineridge, Rossmere, Breezy Bend, St. Boniface and Bel Acres.

Each club is represented by three two-man teams and the scoring system is the same as Mundie Putter, one point if you win the front, one point for the back and one point for the overall 18.

Play differs from the Mundie Putter League in that the matches are played at stroke play.  That means at least one member of each team must finish the hole.  Matches usually go right to the 18 hole due to the fact that you can gain multiple strokes on one hole.  You could be two or three strokes down going into the 18th hole and still have a chance to tie or even win.

The top four teams in the standings at the end of the season get into the playoffs.

The Central Senior Putter League

The Central Senior League consists of both Winnipeg-based and rural golf clubs. Like the Jimmy Doyle League it is restricted to golfers 55 years of age and older. At the present time the League has 15 member clubs.  They are: Wildewood, Assiniboine, John Blumberg, Transcona, Larters, Selkirk, Meadows, Oakwood Steinbach, South Interlake, Portage, Carman,  Winkler, Minnewasta, and a new addition for 2016, Bridges.

The matches are played on Mondays at 9:30 in the morning and are preceded by breakfast at the host club.  The format is four ball match play.  Each club is represented by three  two-man teams.  The scoring system is the same as the other two Leagues with a total of three points up for grabs in each match.

The team that generates the most points through the regular schedule is the League winner.  There are no play-offs.

The season is ended with a  wind-up event that is hosted by one of the member clubs.

End note

Over the past twenty-five years I have participated in the Mundie Putter League as well as the two Senior Putter Leagues.  The players in all  three Leagues display a high level of sportsmanship and camaraderie.  The Mundie Putter League, which has no age restriction attracts good young players and is the most competitive of the Leagues.

The Jimmy Doyle League because it is based on stroke play is in my view is the most difficult as, if both teams members have a ‘blow up’ on the same hole it is much more difficult to recover from.

I would urge all Winnipeg/Manitoba golfers to consider competing in one of the three Leagues if they are able.  It is just a down right enjoyable experience.

The Mundie Putter Golf League

The Mundie Putter Golf League is a competitive amateur  league that has run continuously in Winnipeg since 1957.  The League consists of an ‘A’ Division and a ‘B’ Division.

The ‘A’ Division is the premier division and teams move up or down between divisions based on performance. The top 3 teams in ‘B’ division move up to the ‘A’ Division and the bottom 3 teams in ‘A’ Division move down to ‘B’ Division on an annual basis.

The competition is played using the four ball format at match play.  Each team is represented by 8 players, and matches are played on Mondays.  Upon conclusion of the regular schedule, playoffs are held to determine a champion.

At the present time the League consists of 16 teams, 15 teams each representing a Winnipeg golf club and a team that consists of elite Junior players.  The 15 Clubs currently in the League are:

Breezy Bend, Glendale, Bel Acres, Selkirk, Larters, Pineridge, Elmhurst, St. Boniface, Niakwa, Transcona, Rossmere, Wildewood, Southwood, Assiniboine, St. Charles.

The 2015 League Championship was won by Breezy Bend.

Over the 59 year history of the League the competition has been dominated by Elmhurst with 23 wins, followed by Breezy Bend and Niakwa with 9, St. Charles with 5, Southwood and Pine Ridge with 4, the MGA Juniors with 3, and St,Boniface and Rossmere with 1 win each.

Scores for the Mundie Putter League are posted on the Mundie Putter website.


Play From The Tees That Are Right For You

Before you get started please watch this short video.  It may help to put you in the right frame of mind what is to come

Every golf club has a few of these: guys that can’t break 90 but refuse to play any tees other than the back tees.  If you ask them about their tee selection they will say things like, “I paid the full price so why would I play only half the course”;  “I only play from where the pros play”; or “That’s the only way I can compare my game to the  pros”.

Well, the fact is, if you can’t break 90 you have no business comparing your game to the game pros play, it’s an entirely different game and all you will do if you persist is clog up the entire course and rob yourself of any enjoyment the damn game has to give.  Golf is frustrating enough when played off the correct tees, never mind when it is played off tees that far outreach one’s ability.

So why do golfers end up picking the wrong tees?  I think it’s a combination of things:  Ego plays a part in it.  For younger macho players with high levels of testosterone, playing off the whites or the blues would be unthinkable if there are blacks to be had, especially if they are playing with their peers.  No one wants to be the ‘pussy’ that suggests anything other than the blacks.  For older men it may be simply a matter of raging against father time.  They started out playing a particular set of tees as younger men and to change would be to admit their abilities and talents are on the decline.

Women for the most part don’t seem to have this problem.  They tend  as a matter of course to play off tees that match their ability.

Playing off  wrong tees causes two major problems:

  1.  It robs golfers of enjoyment and adds to their frustration with the game. Who wants to play 3-woods or hybrids into par 4’s and 5’s all day, or hybrids or even woods into long, well protected par 3’s?
  2. It slows down the game and affects the enjoyment for all players on the course.

The USGA and the PGA have come up with a program to address this issue, it is called ‘tee it forward’.  The program is designed to ensure that golfers play courses from a length compatible with their abilities, and thereby add to the enjoyment of the game and at the same time speed up play.

Picking the Right Tees

Golf courses provide both general and specific guidance on tee selection for golfers.  It comes in the form of overall distance, course rating and slope.  Distance is pretty self-explanatory.  If you are a bogie golfer on your home course which plays at 6200 yards, don’t be eyeing the 7300 yard tees.

The next hint is the course rating.  Courses that are less difficult to play have a course rating that is below par, e.g.  a rating of 69 on a par 72 course.  Difficult courses have a course rating that is at par or in some cases well over par, e.g.  par 72  course rating 74.5.

The slope rating is also helpful.  In terms of slope, a course rated at 113 is considered middle of the road in terms of difficulty.  A slope rating lower than 113 means it is a relatively easy course, and the higher the rating is above 113 means its more difficult.

Some courses take it a step further and actually suggest the tee you should play based on your handicap factor,   e.g.  0-4  blacks, 4-8 blues,  etc.

Formulas and Tables

Some suggest that a good approach is to take the  average distance (not your best, your average) you hit your 5 iron and multiply it by 36.  The product is the length of course you should play,  eg 36 x 180 = 6480 yards

Another approach is to take your average driving distance and  multiply it by 28, e.g. 240 x 28 = 6720

These two formulas seem reasonable as the numbers used in the examples are my average distances and I’m confident that playing tees up to around 6700 yards I can on average, play to my handicap.

Another easier approach suggested by the USGA is the following chart:


Avg. drive Recommended Tees
300 yards 7,150-7,400 yards
275 yards 6,700-6,900 yards
250 yards 6,200-6,400 yards
225 yards 5,800-6,000 yards
200 yards 5,200-5,400 yards
175 yards 4,400-4,600 yards
150 yards 3,500-3,700 yards
125 yards 2,800-3,000 yards
100 yards 2,100-2,300 yards

In my view the numbers on this chart are perhaps a bit conservative as my experience has been that a golfer who drives the ball around 250 yards can quite comfortably play a course significantly longer than 6400 yards.

A recent survey of golfers who participated in the Tee It Forwards  program showed that:

  • 56 percent played faster
  • 56 percent are likely to play golf more often
  • 83 percent hit more-lofted clubs into greens
  • 85 percent had more fun
  • 93 percent will TEE IT FORWARD again

So, unless you still harbor aspirations of playing on the tour,  for goodness sake play the tees that are right for you, so that the rest of us can play in fours hours and be home in time for supper.  And you don’t have to go home and kick the dog.

What is your Handicap

And more importantly how is handicap index determined

If a golfer were to shoot 20 consecutive rounds of even par on a par 72 golf course with a course rating of 69.6 and a slope of 123 would his handicap index be  0?

The answer is no, his handicap index would be 2.1.

So, what about if another golfer who also played 20 round of golf on the same course and shot 1o rounds at even par, and the remaining 10 rounds were scattered between 73 and 82.  What would his handicap index be?

It would also be 2.1.

Why is that you ask?  Well, it’s because for handicap purposes the accepted practice is to use the best 10 out of your last 20 rounds for handicap calculation purposes and the best 10 rounds out of their last 20 were the same for both golfers.

So if the 10 scores used for handicap calculation purposes  were all even par why is the handicap index not 0?

The answer is that a formula laid out the Golf Canada is applied and that formula stipulates that the course rating and not the par for the course be used to calculate the handicap index.  In the case of the above two examples it would work like this:

The differential between the score shot and the course rating is calculated for each round used for handicap purposes.  In this case the differential for each round was the gross score minus the course rating (72-69.6=2.4) as the scores were all the same.

In real life the calculation would be done for each round, they would then be added up and divided by 10 to obtain an average.  That number is then multiplied by 113 which is the slope rating assigned to golf courses that are of average difficulty (113 x 2.4=271.2)  This product is then divided by the slope rating for the course in question 271.2/123=2.2

The last step in applying the formula is to multiply 2.2 by .96 which yields a handicap index of 2.1

The good thing for golfers is that you don’t need to do any of these calculations.  All you need to do is to enter your score into the computer and the handicap software looks after the rest.

So, if your handicap index is 2.1, the average of your best 10  out of your last  20 games playing off the white and red tees at The  Wildewood Club should be 72.

Take two weeks off and then quit

What makes golfers keep playing

I have often said to people I play with that when my average score reaches 85 I’ll give up golf.

Aside from the many snide and humorous remarks like ‘so you are quitting  at the end or the season’, and ‘I guess that means you don’t have many games left’ most people rather say ‘no you won’t’.

I guess the question becomes, what is it about golf that gives you enjoyment? Is is shooting a good score, is it the friendship and camaraderie, is it the endless pursuit of par?  I suspect it is a very individual thing and in most cases a combination of things that keeps golfers going.

Most golfers are constantly trying to improve their game, but what happens when you reach the stage in your life (and your golf game) where your handicap starts heading in the wrong direction, what keeps you going then?

I recently played with an older fellow (older than me that is) who has been playing golf for over 60 years.  He recalled how as a younger man he played a lot of competitive golf and got his handicap down to a low single digit number.  Now it hovers around 15.  He plays 3 to 4 times a week and still derives great enjoyment from the game. He hits the ball approximately 170 yards off the tee, usually in the middle of the fairway, his approach shots are usually somewhere around the green, he chips reasonably well and two putts a lot.   ‘I don’t need much anymore’ he told me one day.  A few pars, the odd birdie and shooting his age a least once every week keeps him coming back and enjoying the game.

Then you get the other type of  player, the player whose handicap has always been around 20 with no improvement in sight.  What is it that keeps them coming back? For some players its becomes all about their net score, especially when there is money on the line.  They take great pride and pleasure in taking money from low handicappers on the odd hole with their net par or net birdie.

So what will I do when my average score hits 85.  Well, one can never say with certainty what one will do in the future, but because for me the enjoyment of the game is the pursuit of par I suspect that when 85 becomes the number I may well heed the advice of the late Tommy Armour and ‘take two weeks of and then quit’.