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|Clive Agran's proposal was that the winner of the Masters be exempted from qualifying in the usual way for Dale Hill's biggest tournament, the Summer Cup. (Courtesy of Dale Hill G.C.)|
I have a little confession to make. No, I've never knowingly cheated, dreamed of playing mixed foursomes with Elin Woods, deliberately stepped on an opponent's ball in the thick rough, laughed out loud at what Ian Poulter was wearing, cheered at the Ryder Cup when an American has hit into water, sneezed mid-way through an opponent's backswing or parked at my club in the space reserved for the captain. What I did do, however, was write what some might regard as a rather cheeky letter to Hootie Johnson suggesting that Augusta National might care to be twinned with my own delightful club here in England, Dale Hill.
This was no schoolboy prank as it was only four years ago that I put it to Hootie that our two clubs were, in a sense, already inextricably bound together by history. You see, Ian Woosnam, who of course captured the U.S. Masters in 1991, designed the second course at Dale Hill, which now proudly bears his name. This, I reckoned, provided a sufficiently firm foundation upon which we could build an intimate and fruitful relationship.
To further strengthen this important historical bond, I suggested that we should develop a little reciprocity. My proposal was that the winner of the Masters be exempted from qualifying in the usual way for Dale Hill's biggest tournament, the Summer Cup (a scratch competition ordinarily restricted to those who have won either a medal or Stableford competition in the previous 12 months).
To even things up, as it were, I suggested that the Summer Cup winner should then be invited to play in the following year's Masters. Given that, unlike the other competitors, he would be at something of a disadvantage in not being familiar with our course, I thought it unlikely that the reigning Masters champion would add the Summer Cup to his list of triumphs. However, in that unlikely event, we could perhaps raffle the Masters' slot and put the proceeds towards the repair of the trolley shed.
The second part of my imaginative proposal was to give both sets of members courtesy of the course at the other club. In this way, Augusta National members visiting England could play Dale Hill for nothing (possibly combining it with a shopping trip to nearby Tunbridge Wells), and any of our members, finding themselves at a loose end in Georgia, could have a whack round Augusta National. As I recall, my letter to Hootie finished off with a warning that his members might find our greens a little quick.
If I may anticipate your question - no, Mr. Johnson did not reply. Perhaps he was concerned that some of his members - less progressive, perhaps, than he - might not embrace the idea with enthusiasm. It's possible that Tunbridge Wells isn't that well known over in the States and maybe Georgians aren't aware of the first-class shopping facilities and excellent multi-storey car park that are such appealing features of the town.
Anyway, my hope that Hootie would invite me out there some time early in April so that we could discuss my interesting proposal on a veranda around the back of the clubhouse, or in the log cabin, whilst sniffing the scent-laden air and glugging a glass or two of Jack Daniels came to nought. Ah well, golf is full of disappointments.
March 13, 2007
Although in his 60s, with a handicap of 15 and lifetime earnings comfortably below $100, Clive Agran nevertheless still believes he can win a major. Arguably England's most gifted golf writer, when not dreaming of glory he's scouring the globe simultaneously searching for lost balls and great golf courses. Follow Clive on Twitter at @cliveagran.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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