On the Fairways with Bill Tait

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Well this has been a busy week of golf, it must be the weather.

Over at Turnberry in the Sunday medal Andrew Huxtable came in with the winning score of (4)71 followed by Roddy Gardner (9)72 and John Broadfoot (5)73.

Meanwhile at the Girvan course the gents section of the club played the Finnies Foursome competition for a trophy put up by Finnie’s sports shop in Ayr who also used to present the winners with sports shirts etc.

However, the Finnies are no longer with us and the shop has closed down but the Girvan Golf Club is still pleased to remember them in playing annually for their trophy. This year the formidable team of James Baillie and Malcolm Swan came in with nett 59.4 to win followed by Andy MacFarlane and Ken Smith on 60.4, Jim Lafferty and Jack Galloway on 61.

On Sunday 29th. March the Girvan gents will compete for the magnificent RNLI Shield with the winner taking home a miniature shield to adorn his mantelpiece. All donations go to the RNLI so it is hoped to have a good turnout.


Jack Nicklaus commenting on his game ‘During the seventies, I wasn’t a good striker of the ball at all.

Oh yes, I won a lot of tournaments.’ Just shows that you can win playing badly as Lee Trevino on the same subject in 1979 commented ‘Good golf isn’t a matter of hitting great shots. It’s finding a way to make your bad ones not so bad. If I hadn’t learned to do that, you’d be thinking Trevino is Italian’


The weather is certainly improving but I did notice recently on passing a golf course up north on a Saturday morning at 9.20am that there was not a soul to be seen. I would have assumed that there would have been a queue of players waiting to play from at least 8am.

What better way to start a weekend than with an early round of golf followed by watching Ayr United win their match. But as will be explained later not everything falls into place as it should.

Let us just think back on some of the founding fathers of this princely game of ours and reflect on how well they did to bring golf to be the popular sport that it has become. Willie Park Snr. was born in 1833 son of a farmer and learned to play with a whittled stick. He could drive the ball prodigious distances and with the same club sink some wonderful putts. The first staging of the Open Championship, as it has now become known, was in 1860 at Prestwick for which the prize was the Challenge Belt, made of red Moroccan leather by Edinburgh silversmiths James and Walter Marshall. A replica of this belt was presented to Louis Oosthuizen on winning the 150th. anniversary Open at St. Andrews in 2010.

The original belt was expected to be won by Old Tom Morris who was the favourite, but of the eight professional caddies who entered this tournament to be contested in one day over three rounds of the twelve hole Prestwick course Willie Park senior was the winner by two strokes.

It is interesting to note that the caddies were given the day off to play in the competition after which they returned to caddying for their amateur employers. Old Tom Morris had to wait until 1861 to win the Open and that was the year that amateurs were allowed to enter the competition. Old Tom Morris had one flaw and that was his putting to which his son once chided that his dad would be a better player if the hole was a yard closer. This was one thing that Willie Park excelled at and in the first nine Opens he won three times, finished runner up four times and was never worse that fourth.

Willie’s son Willie jnr. was Open champion in 1887 and 1889, then devoted his time to club making and became the first commercial course designer with the old course at Sunningdale being one of his accomplishments.

But like his father Willie snr. he believed that ‘A man who can putt is a match for anyone’ and unlike their old adversary Old Tom Morris, Willie Park, father and son had the philosophy that you must never leave the ball short of the hole.

Both Old and Young Tom Morris are very well known figures in golf history, but we must not overlook Willie Park senior and junior who also greatly contributed to the early years of golf.

*FOOTBALL. Last Saturday I intermittently heard reports on the radio of Ayr United’s match with Morton and was delighted to hear that Ayr was leading by one goal. I could not believe it when I turned on the TV that night to see that Ayr had lost the game by two goals to one with Morton scoring in the 90th. and 92nd minutes. How can that possibly happen to a professional team who when the game is approaching full time and are in the lead, not put up the shutters and close the game down. So very disappointing, but if that is the best they can do then division two here we come.