Alistair's opinion of carts.
Alistair Tait Interview
By Kickntrue on 4/29/08
Golfweek's Alistair Tait was kind enough to take a phone call from me a couple weeks ago and answer a couple questions about his views on golf from his side of the pond (he's British). He talks about his favorite golfers, how technology is making golf too easy and why golf is faster in Great Britain.

What is the biggest difference between golf in the US and golf in the UK and Europe in general?
Well golf in Great Britain and the United States is separated by a small piece of cardboard called a scorecard. Over here[UK] we hardly ever use a scorecard, unless it's a competition. We play match play all the time. In the States you have to turn a score in every time for handicapping purposes. We don't have to do that. I ask your handicap and I give mine. We figure out the strokes and off we go. Most of the time when I play I never have a scorecard in my hand. Even if four players go out- we play 4 ball better ball. That's the big difference and it's a pretty huge difference.

Which way do you prefer? Golf in the US or golf in GB?
I like both. I like playing over here because it's faster and the reason I think it's faster is because we aren't so preoccupied with score. Since in the US you have to turn in a card- you have guys who are holing out for 7 or 8. In Great Britain we're on to the next tee once someone's won the hole. We also play a lot of Stableford. In Stableford once you can't score on a hole you pick up and move on and that makes things much faster. The thing I love about playing in the States is that the conditions are fantastic. Golf in the Great Britain is a bit more rugged. In the US- the greens are so manicured it can be scary. I find the short game to be much more challenging in the US. One thing I can't stand about the US is being forced into a golf cart. I use golf as needed exercise.

What are your opinions on the way technology plays a role in golf now and in the future?
I could see a time where there would need to be a split between the professional and amateur game. It won't happen, but I can see a good reason for that. You have guys on the PGA Tour hitting it 340-350, just outrageous distances. A lot of the golf courses had to be redesigned or lengthened to accommodate that- just look what they've done at Augusta.

Technology can be a great thing for amateur golfers because you can hit one on the toe and it's still going to go down the middle of the fairway, but I think it's made the game too easy for the very, very elite players. The game has become easier than it should be for the best players and it could become a drawback.

I think when metal woods came into play it's when the USGA and R & A said, "uh-oh", but they didn't put their foot down and stamp it out then. I think that's led to where we are now. You can't turn the clock back. All you can do is to draw a line like they are talking about with the square grooves issue.

Who are your favorite golfers?
Ian Poulter is great for the game. I think Mickelson is great for the game too, especially in the way he signs autographs. When it comes to signing autographs Phil Mickelson will stand and do it for ages. He'll sign for every kid that's there. Payne Stewart was great at that too. Ernie Els, too. He's just the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet.

What about the idea people have of Phil Mickelson being fake?
A couple of years ago at the end of an event I was covering I wanted to talk to Phil about golf in the Olympics. Phil did interviews with national tv media, radio, newspaper, local television then a press conference with writers. I waited and didn't think he'd take the time to talk to me. I ended up waiting another 25 minutes after that and politely asked if he'd give me a moment. He stood and talked to me for 5 minutes and gave me everything I could've wanted.

Right next to us was a group of kids, maybe 50 or 60 of them. I walked back to the media center and came back 45 minutes later and Phil was still signing autographs. Now if that's phony then fine- I'll take it because to those children that was a huge thing. I think he's fantastic.

What is something you see because of your profession and permissions as a writer that the average golfer may not know?
I don't think you realize how good they are. You watch them on tv playing golf courses, take Doral for instance- and I've played Doral, it's a brute from the members tees. These guys play even further tees and just make it look so easy, even with the equipment it's impressive. I'm an 8 handicapper and Tiger Woods is probably a plus ten (+ 10). There is just such a huge leap between even the best amateur golfers and the really elite players.

Alistair was really great. While his answers were awesome it was the details not in the typed interview that make him a unique voice and great ambassador for golf. He spent time asking about oobgolf and what it does. I asked him for 10 minutes and he didn't stop until we talked for well over 25. Check out Alistair's article archive HERE.

[ comments ]
falcon50driver says:
Everyone who talks about Phil says the same thing, He is very personable. As reported earlier on this site, I met him and his wife in an elevator in Dallas and he took the time to detail a par 3 shot, that I had commented on, in a way that made me feel like a good friend that he wanted to share the moment with.
kenjab says:
I had no idea that match play was the way most in England play casually. I can certainly see how it would make pace of play generally quicker. But he says that in Britain "I ask your handicap and I give mine. We figure out the strokes and off we go." But how do you know your handicap if you play match play w/out a scorecard all the time?
Kickntrue says:
Good question kenjab. Alistair did say that they have a once a month stoke play event at their club that everyone plays in. That would be enough to have a handicap pretty quickly.
falcon50driver says:
I got paired up with some folks from England while playing in Puerto Vallarta. They had another method of keeping score. They asked my handicap and used Stableford points I think. It worked out pretty well for me but I don't remember much about how it worked.
moreegolfer says:
Most competitions at my club in Australia are stableford points. It means if you are have a crappy day then you can pick up and move onto the next hole without holding your group and everyone behind up while you hole out for 7 on a par 3.
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