Wednesday 18 September 2019

A Ruddy good read

An eye for detail: Pat Ruddy
An eye for detail: Pat Ruddy

Renaissance man Pat Ruddy has not let his fifth new hip stop him in his tracks and produced a new book that every serious golf lover should have in their collection.

The irrepressible commander-in-chief of The European Club in Co Wicklow has penned "Holes In My Head" in which he muses over the first 50 years of his design career and "a lifetime dreaming golf holes."

His view that golf is "more difficult than chess" is backed up with the factoid that after their first moves, chess players are faced with over 400 options for their second move.

"After two moves each the players are faced with what could be described as 72,084 bunkers, and after three moves each of their problems explodes to 9-million-plus possibilities... Which raises the question: How much more difficult is golf?"

He muses on the debate of the "big course" versus the "small", comparing them to pianos "....domestic, grand and bellowing organ", adding that "the player doesn't have to extract the full potential from the grand piano every time. But there is excitement knowing what can be done."

The distance debate is given due attention with the affable Ruddy pointing out that with championship players now living in the 60s on courses measuring 7,400 yards, "it may not be too long before they plunge into the 50s with regularity."

He's not an advocate of length for everyone, just the select few and those who wish to play The European Club at its fullest extent - 7,490 yards - can play the grand piano to their heart's content, if they are brave enough.

Now that it almost touches 7,500 yards, The European Club belongs in the heavyweight division according to Ruddy's new pugilistic designation for courses when examining the various Top-100 lists compiled by the golf magazines.

No fewer than 146 courses are ranked by GOLF magazine and Golf Digest, and they include 49 heavyweights of 7,200-plus yards or more; 37 middleweights of between 7,000 and 7,199 yards; 26 welterweights of 6,800 to 6,999 yards; and 38 lightweights of below 6,800 yards.

In short, he believes the bigger the course, the greater the possibility of offering multiple challenges to golfers of all shapes and sizes from the tiger to the rabbit.

Any course in the 6,800-yard range must be a design masterpiece to continue impressing the raters.

Knowing the man, he has many more holes in his head that will keep golfers amused for generations to come.

But those he's already built - at Brittas Bay and beyond - are a testament to his love of a game that makes chess look like child's play.

Buy the book, or better still, drop in to see him at The European Club.

What better way is there to spend a day than play golf all day at Brittas Bay and then sit down for apple pie and ice cream to leaf through a copy of the latest offering by one of Ireland's most entertaining golfing brains.

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