On the Fairways with Bill Tait

The Silver Scot - Tommy Armour
The Silver Scot - Tommy Armour
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We are into the last month of the year and are still enjoying some glorious sunshine and despite the chill there is little wind to disturb the flight of a golf ball.

Well at least the Girvan golfers found those conditions for the Winter Stableford last Sunday which brought in David Mair to win on (15)44 points followed by Tom Stewart (19)43 points and Andy MacFarlane (15)42 points.

With the disruption at Turnberry I have been unable to report on any scores, however the mounds of earth appearing on the old pitch and putt course at the back of the hotel is intriguing, but we shall just have to wait and see what rises from the ashes.


Well, well, I have found a report on golf in the Philadelphia Times of 1889 which may be of interest. ’Up to this time golf has made little way in the United States.

It is occasionally played in Canada, although even there it has not assumed the importance of a regular department of sports. It is a game that demands the utmost physical development upon the part of the player as well as a considerable amount of skill, and it arouses the interest only of those who go into sport for the love of action. No man should attempt to play golf who has not got good legs to run with and good arms to throw with, as well as a modicum of brain power to direct his play’.

Whew! What will I come across next, but it all makes sense even though written in the days when America had yet to appreciate golf.

Another quote of interest is that of Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it’. That needs a little time for reflection.


With the Scottish football cup games going on all around and Ayr United not in any of them I tootled along to watch Girvan play Saltcoats last Saturday.

Considering Girvan’s record this season I was impressed by their resolution to win this game, which they could have done, but the final score of one goal each gave Girvan their first point of the season. Well done Girvan, your defense looked better than it has done so far in the games I have watched this season.

Reflecting on golfers who are of great historical influence although they never made the riches which are available to today’s golfers I came across Tommy Armour who was born in Edinburgh in 1895, educated at Fettes College and Edinburgh University.

Tommy turned to golf relatively late in life as the First World War intervened where he unfortunately lost an eye in a Tank battle and was reputed to have strangled a German soldier with his bare hands. After the conflict Tommy took up golf winning the US Open in 1927, the USPGA in 1930 and The Open in 1931 He was a very strong iron player with very strong hands as proved during the war, but his is one weakness was his putting which developed into the ‘Yips’.

When he retired from tournament golf Tommy Armour, known as the Silver Scot, became a well respected and remunerated teacher, writing several books on golf the first entitled ‘How to Play Your Best Golf All of the Time’ which was sub-titled ‘Hit the Hell Out of The Ball With Your Right Hand’ which about sums up his philosophy nicely. Tommy Armour died in 1968 but is a name that is revered throughout golf.

On thinking of Christmas presents for the fanatical golfer, I am still watching the Bobby Jones DVDs on how to play golf. One of my problems is putting and I enjoyed watching Bobby show his method which I have attempted to adopt with some success.

I must say that my putting has improved remarkably, but for how long it will continue I do not know. However in the meantime I will continue using the Bobby Jones method in the pleasure of knowing that quite a few of my putts are likely to drop into the hole. I do not know where you can get these DVDs but even if the lessons are some eighty years old with hickory shafted clubs and Haskell golf balls, they are still worth watching, particularly as each lesson is built into a story involving some comedians of a bygone age.

The lessons all go to help you get one over an opponent, which Jones’s comedians are all attempting to do in the films.