Fast and fascinating facts

Mike Wilson
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Fast and fascinating facts

Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and Tom Lehman share a laugh

  1. Keeping watch
  • Despite luxury watchmakers being amongst the most prolific sponsors of elite golf and golfers, only a tiny proportion of stars actually wear their sponsored watches during play.
  • Rolex, Omega, Hublot and are all prolific sponsors of both tournaments and players, the Rolex Series the most prestigious part of the European Tour, Omega the long-term backer of the Dubai Desert Classic and the European Masters.

 

  • The ‘Big 3,’ Palmer, Player and Nicklaus were all Rolex ambassadors, benefiting from a groundbreaking deal brokered by super-agent Mark H. McCormack with the Swiss luxury watch brand, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson following in their footsteps.
  • Meanwhile, in the rival Omega camp, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Michelle Wie and Dustin Johnson fronting Hublot’s golf programme.
  • Amongst the leading players, only Mickelson routinely plays with his Rolex watch on his wrist, as does another iconic left-hander, Bubba Watson, the two-time Masters champion regularly sporting his US$525,000 Richard Mille luxury timepiece on and off the course.
  • But, come the business end of a tournament and the prize giving ceremony, watch out for the champion-elect swiftly rummaging in his golf bag for their sponsored wristwatch, just in time for the prize presentation and photo opportunities.
  • Interestingly, for many years, Rolex enjoyed exclusive rights to the Ryder Cup, that was until the PGA of America broke ranks and signed a deal with arch rivals Omega, meaning each brand enjoys exclusivity when the event is staged on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
  • Meanwhile, Omega holds the ‘Crown jewels,’ as the Official Timekeeper to the Olympic Games, which it has done exclusively since 1932, thus becoming the Official Timekeeper to the Olympic Golf tournament in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the men’s gold medal ironically won by Hublot ambassador Justin Rose.

 

  1. Glove Puppets

 

  • Throughout the world of golf, amateur and professional, golfers, male and female, high, medium and low handicap players are to be seen removing their golf glove as they approach the putting surface on each hole.
  • The origins of this universal idiosyncrasy is thought to date back to the early 1960s when golf was gaining in popularity on the back of the ‘Big 3,’ Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player as the game became a TV staple watched by millions.
  • The rationale behind wearing a golf glove – in itself, a relatively modern innovation – is to prevent the club slipping in the grip on impact, but many believe touch and feel on the putting green is improved with bare hands.
  • The most common proponent of removing glove before putting was the late, great Arnold Palmer, tucking it into his hip pocket, a process deemed to be, ‘Cool,’ a routine copied by millions over the years.
  • Ironically, Arnie’s arch rival Jack Nicklaus went in the opposite direction, one of the few top players, male or female, to prefer putting with his golf glove remaining on.

 

  • Strangely, five-time ‘Major’ winner Phil Mickelson has even tried improving his putting by wearing a golf glove on each hand, making it a full house of no glove, two gloves and gloved right hand on the green wielding the ‘Flat stick,’ yet he does not feature in the Top-10 all-time best putters on the PGA TOUR.
  • PGA & Champions Tour star Freddy Couples is one of the few professionals to eschew the wearing of a golf glove, saying, “”Personally, I don’t know how people play golf with a glove,” adding, “Put them on and they’re on skin tight [so] I don’t know how you hold onto the club.”
  • But, even more bizarrely, the 1992 Masters champion – who has won 62 titles in a stellar 40-year pro career playing bare-knuckled – has his own way of ensuring his golf grip is secure; he applies super glue to the fingers and thumb on his left hand to prevent the club from slipping, whilst at the same time avoiding the need to wear a golf glove.

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