APRIL 16, 2012
To me, amateur golf is the heartbeat
of the game, but the little known, unsung
form of golf known as foursomes, or
Scotch foursomes, is absolutely terrific. I
love foursomes golf. You should try it. Tee
off at 9 am, come down the 18th at 11:45,
quick drink in the clubhouse and home for
lunch by 1 pm. On a crisp winter’s morn-
ing, what could be better?
Foursomes is largely an undiscovered
pleasure. Many golfers have played it only
occasionally and some not at all. Even in
Britain, it is not seen much in summer.
Long days, hard fairways, leisurely drinks
as the sun sets. Everyone seems to have
more time. They want to hit every shot.
The trouble with foursomes, someone
once said, “is there isn’t enough hitting.”
A game of singles with an old friend
can be enchanting. You talk as you change
your shoes in the clubhouse. You talk as
you walk to the first tee. You talk after
hitting your drives. You even talk to one
another when you’re both in the rough
looking for the ball belonging to one of
you. Get the right singles partner, one who
can keep in time with your pace and your
standard of golf, and you are in for a treat.
The name of John Paramor, my favou-
rite singles partner, may mean something
to you because he is the outstanding ref-
eree on the European Tour. He carries his
clubs in a pencil bag slung over one burly
shoulder, which is always a good sign.
He has the enviable skill of being able to
watch and mark the balls of all his playing
partners as well as his own. “Go on a bit,
John,” he’ll say. “It’s just on the edge of
that dark patch of grass to the left of that
pine tree.” And, of course, he knows the
rules inside out.
Do they play at approximately the same
speed? Do they speak the same language,
literally and metaphorically? Do they use
the same make of ball?
The best foursomes partnership I
have ever seen was Seve Ballesteros and
Jose Maria Olazabal, the two Spaniards.
Starting at the 1987 Ryder Cup in the US,
Olazabal’s first, the Spaniards won both
foursomes in 1987 and 1991 and won one
and halved one in 1989. Including the 1993
match, they lost only once in seven four-
The worst partnership was Phil Mick-
elson and Tiger Woods in the 2004 Ryder
Cup. Hal Sutton, the US captain, thought
that the power and touch of the two
Americans, at that time Nos. 1 and 2 in
the world, would be unbeatable. He went
for the shock and awe factor, seemingly
forgetting that they were not the best of
friends and had little chemistry together.
Having been beaten by Colin Montgomerie
and Padraig Harrington in the morning
fourballs, they were sent out again in the
afternoon foursomes, as if Sutton could
not believe his eyes.
“They couldn’t fail twice,” the US cap-
They did. It was the greatest captaincy
error I have seen in Ryder Cup.
One of golf’s disadvantages is the
length of time it takes. Forgo your four-
balls. Have a go at foursomes. You will be
surprised by how quickly you get round
and how much fun you have. You won’t
regret it. I promise you. l
Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros
excelled in Ryder Cup foursomes.
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