The Easy, the Tough and the Nearly Impossible

There are many types of golf courses to play on and each one has its unique challenges but there are the easy ones where it is like throwing darts, your ball will stop on the green irrespective of whether you hit your approach shot out of the rough or off the fairway. The tough ones are where you have to find the fairways off the tee in order to hit a crisp iron shot to get the ball to stop on the green because they are firm and quick. Then you get the nearly impossible – the challenging Links courses.

I played Carnoustie for the first time in 1995. I had been a tour player for a number of years, had played in varying conditions in South Africa, Canada and Asia but nothing prepared me for one of the great old ladies of golf. She was dry, bouncy and unforgiving where a well struck shot quite often goes unrewarded and to be quite frank I did not have the skill to meet her demands. To hit a tee shot down the middle of the fairway and have your ball finish in a bunker 100 yards from where you pitched was a whole new experience for me, hitting approach shots to land 20 yards short of the green and trust the ball is going to bounce straight and finish on the green was a foreign concept and as you can imagine the old lady chewed this ‘sonny’ up and sent me on my way.

I had very little experience playing Links golf – the few tournaments at Humewood Golf Club being it and prior to playing Carnoustie honestly thought I would be able to get by with the experience and the skill set I had, a shock was in store for me.

It takes many years of playing links golf to play those courses effectively, this year no less a player than Phil Mickelson said after winning The Open at Muirfield that it had taken him all this time to develop the skill set to win on a Links. It takes imagination, shots out of the ordinary, a wonderful short game and one of the toughest mental skills to master – patience.

I travelled with the under 17 and 19 Southern Cape teams to East London in the last week of September to watch them compete in the Hexangular Inter Provincial on a gem of a golf course – do yourself a favour and have a round of golf at West Bank Golf Course if you are in that part of the world but be prepared to exercise your patience. West Bank is not like the courses in the Southern Cape where you can attack the flags with your approach shots and expect the ball to stop quite quickly, you have to choose your shot wisely and on occasion think of where best it would be to chip from should your ball not find the green – just like the great Links golf courses around the world. This was a challenge with a difference and took all the boys out of their comfort zones but what an experience and they have all come back with more knowledge and experience and will be better for it.

Perhaps one of the boys will go on and win The Open one day and the winning shot may come from the memory bank created when playing West Bank Golf Course as a youngster.



Roger Wessels
Head Coach