More madcap miscellany from the world of golf

Mike Wilson

8th June 1927: Practice for Eves Ladies' Scottish Foursomes at Machrihanish. The remote golf course at Machrihanish was designed by Scottish golfer 'Old' Tom Morris and was officially founded by a group of eight friends on 11th March 1876. (Photo by E. Bacon/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Mike Wilson

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  1. Ladies First
  • The first ever recorded formal golf tournament solely for women was staged at the oldest golf course in the world, the Musselburgh Links in East Lothian; it was held on 9th January 1811, just over half-a-century after the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews held its inaugural competition, for men only in 1754.
  • However, whilst the Open Championship was founded in 1860 and took place at the venerable Musselburgh Links on six occasions in the late 19th century, going on to become the centrepiece of world golf, it took almost another 100 years before the Women’s British Open was formed in 1976.
  1. The Golf Coast
  • The historic Musselburgh Links, where many believe it all began, is the most westerly of a collection of no fewer than 18 golf courses that follow the coastline of East Lothian in Scotland, the second most intensive concentration of golf courses along a single stretch of coastline after the Kingdom of Fife.
  • That’s why East Lothian is known as ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast,’ with several star-studded links layouts hugging the shoreline of the Firth of Forth, amongst them Muirfield, an Open Championship venue and a host of other Open qualifying courses including Gullane and North Berwick, both towering examples of links golf at its very best.
  • In addition, relatively recent links additions include Craigielaw , Archerfield and the Renaissance Club, home to the Scottish Open, whilst the undoubted ‘hidden gem’ on Scotland’s Golf Coast is Kilspindie Golf Club, a tight, challenging and delightful 18-hole links course, which dates back to 1850 and host the World Hickory Open.
  1. Mexican Wave
  • Golf is generally an individual sport, played most commonly in twos and fours, but ahead of the 2011 PGA TOUR event, the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the local community set up a charity challenge to enter the Guinness Book of World Records by staging the largest tee-off in the history of the game.
  • Organised by Golf PARa Todos [meaning Golf FORE Everyone] at the El Camaleón Golf Course, in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, on 23 January 2011, the record was broken when 1,153 teed-up raising tens of thousands of dollars for charity.
  1. Space Race
  • It is widely recognised that the first golf shot ever struck in space was by Apollo 14 astronaut and 8-handicap golfer Alan Shepard, hitting a six-iron far into the lunar distance and beyond on 6th February 1971.
  • But golf’s association with outer space didn’t end there; on 23rd February 2003, 32-years-later, Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin from Russia)­ assisted by American Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria ­teed-off during a six-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Element 21 Golf (Canada) is said to have paid an undisclosed sum for the stunt, which was permitted by the Russian space agency as a means of raising cash.
  • NASA estimated that the ball would orbit for three days before burning up in the atmosphere ­a distance of 2.02 million km (1.26 million miles), the Russians put their more conservative estimate at 740 million km (460 million miles).
  1. Collectors’ Items 
  • Most golfers will be aware than the maximum number of golf clubs permissible in a player’s bag in a competitive round is 14, although ex-Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam paid a heavy price – several thousands of pounds – when he was found to have had an additional and illegal club in his bag when leading the field at the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
  • But that’s nothing in comparison with golf mad restaurateur Robert Lantsoght from Malaga in Spain, who has a collection of 4,393 individual golf clubs, thought to be a world record.
  • Based on the golf-mad Costa del Sol, Robert has been collecting since 1992 and displays each and every golf club in his collection in his restaurant, Casa Roberto, which he opened in 1968.
  • He began collecting when he received a golf bag with a complete set of golf clubs in 1992 and he continues to update the collection on a weekly basis.
  • Amongst the collection are thought to be several golf clubs previously owned and used by the late, great Seve Ballestreros, who famously captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory not far along the road from Casa Roberto at Valderrama in 1997.

6. Little & Large

  • The largest bunker in the world, nicknamed ‘Hell’s Half Acre,’ because of its sheer size is to be found – or better still, avoided – on the 585-yard 7th hole of the Pine Valley Course in New Jersey, USA.
  • Meanwhile, one of the smallest bunkers in world golf is also arguably the most unique; one of the three sand traps guarding the 6th green at Riviera Country Club, a tiny, deep pot bunker is actually embedded into the middle of the putting surface itself, making it the hole on the PGA TOUR that sees more four-putts than any other.
  • However, at the 2011 Volvo Golf Champions event on the European Tour, there was just so much sand on the Royal Golf Club Montgomerie Course in Bahrain that officials were required to bring in a local rule deeming all bunkers be treated in the same way as, ‘Waste areas,’ which were identical to and undistinguishable from the course’s many sand traps.

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