[ VIEWPOINT ] TOUR TALES & TRUE

Grant Dodd
tee the ‘name’ purposefully, and in a voice just loud enough to be heard, turned to his caddie and queried, “Who are the choppers we’re playing with today?” The intended slight wasn’t lost on my colleague, nor forgotten with the passage of time. While hardly being endemic, other more subtle forms of gamesmanship have long been employed. A cough on the backswing, the crossing of legs as the club is taken away, even leaving the green before one’s playing partner has putted out are techniques that have been attributed to various individuals. Hardly hanging offences, but nonetheless at odds with the strictly observed protocols of the game. Perhaps the most memorable incident I encountered was one year at European Tour School. It was back in the day when there were only two stages, and to make it to final stage you had to finish in the top 10 in stage one. There was a huge amount of pressure to perform, and with 100 competitors in the field, only your very best sufficed that week. Going into the final round I was in the top 10, but well aware that a solid day’s work would be needed to advance. I was also aware that I was drawn with a player who held a reputation for being a little ‘variable’ in character. This was recognised in my pre-round journal, with a note to be “prepared for anything”. It proved to be positively prescient. After putting out on the par-5 fifth green for birdie, my third of the round, the player approached me aggressively. “When you were fixing that pitch mark, I heard your putter rattling. I think it has a joining screw in it, and that you are using an illegal putter,” he proclaimed. At another time I might have laughed, but given what was at stake, and the fact that I had already prepared for such shenanigans, I merely answered in the contrary and went on with my business. In fact, I fed off the antagonism, and used it as a positive to ignite the round further. The remainder of the round was, shall we say, ‘interesting’, but it ended on the highest note. I shot well under par for the round, and advanced to the final stage in Spain. And the guy in question? He missed qualifying by a shot. It wasn’t my way of doing things, but an appropriate commiseration, Warnie style, possibly wouldn’t have been out of order under the circumstances.

A gentleman’s game

South African cricketer Daryll Cullinan learned only too well the effects of sledging.

To ask Grant a question, e-mail us at golfdig@ newsmagazines.com.au

“What colour was the couch, Daryll?” was just one of the famous ‘verbals’ attributed to the inimitable S.K. Warne during the course of his storied career. This gem was allegedly used during an inquisition of perhaps his most famous ‘bunny’, South African Daryll Cullinan. Cullinan had an outstanding record as a batsman for his country, the glaring exception being his form against Warne, where he threw aside all semblance of technique and gave a world-class impression of a deer caught in the headlights. Word filtered out at one point that he had consulted a psychologist to help him deal with the challenge of facing the world’s best leg spinner. Like manna from heaven for someone skilled in the art of mental disintegration, this association was bought into play by the ever-combative Aussie the moment Cullinan arrived at the crease. Unlike cricket, sledging and mind games between competitors have rarely been seen as a part of golf. That’s not to say they haven’t existed, but perhaps because of the culture that surrounds the sport they have never been celebrated as a part of golf folklore. Just after I turned pro in 1993, I was playing a practice round with a well-established exempt player who had been a legitimate contender on the Australian Tour for more than a decade. He told of being drawn with a big name in the final round of the Australian Open a number of years earlier. As he walked onto the

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/ may 2011

HAMISH BLAIR/GETTY IMAGES

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