Sam Torrance helps to relaunch refurbished Cambridge Golf and Conference Centre
AUTHOR AA Milne once said: “Golf is so popular simply because it is the best game in the world at which to be bad.”
It’s a description that many a would-be Seve Ballesteros will recognise.
Most of us amateur golfers seem to build up quite an intimate knowledge of those dreaded bunkers, the rough and water hazards while pursuing that elusive par-round in what is possibly the most frustrating sport ever invented.
For golfing legends such as Sam Torrance, who visited the newly re-launched Cambridge Golf and Conference Centre in Hemingford Abbots on Friday, the game looks easy.
Not once have I seen him strike the ground on the tee shot and send the ball just a few millimetres from its starting point.
But the 57-year-old grew up living and breathing golf. His father, Bob, who until a few days ago had been the long-serving coach of Irish golf star Padraig Harrington, was the club professional at Rossendale Golf Club near Manchester, and from the age of five Sam was out on the course swinging clubs.
“I just lived on the golf course and got totally fascinated by it,” he told The Hunts Post. “I played quite a bit, but when we moved back to Largs in Scotland I spent 24 hours a day on the golf course.”
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Hours of practice and dedication led Sam to become one of the greatest golfers of the 20th century, chalking up an incredible 43 professional wins. He was a member of the Ryder Cup team a total of eight times, and in 1985 sank the winning putt in the competition to deprive the Americans of the coveted trophy after a run of 28 years.
“To be a good golfer you have to have a good teacher – my father was one of the best teachers in the world,” he added. “He was one of my best assets and having someone who loves you to teach you was fantastic.”
But it’s not all about natural talent. A lot of hard work is needed for any golfer to improve – it’s really not for the work-shy.
“It’s a very frustrating game so you have to be prepared to put in the practice,” Sam said.
Now on the senior tour and playing in about 20 tournaments a year, the Scotsman said that the recent shake-up of the golf world, through the absence of the currently off-form Tiger Woods, had diminished the game.
Woods, he said, had the potential to be “the greatest player that ever lived,” and, if he didn’t succeed in that, he would definitely be the “second greatest”.
“Golf is less without Woods in my book, but it has allowed the emergence of new talent like Luke Donald who’s currently number one in the world. Golf is so great to watch at the moment because there’s such a wealth of talent around – and most of it European.”
Sam’s visit to Cambridgeshire was arranged to help with the re-launch the newly refurbished Cambridge Golf and Conference Centre, recently overhauled by new-owner, PGA golf professional John Andrew.
He has spent �125,000 on the venue in a bid to attract youngsters into the game.
Mr Andrew, who owns Golf Direct and the John Letters golf club manufacturer, told The Hunts Post: “Youngsters are the future of golf so it’s important to get them into the game at an early age. We have a pathway approach here called Tri-Golf where youngsters learn to use plastic clubs with big heads and soft balls and then progress onto harder balls through several stages.”
He added that the new-look facility with the golf academy, car parking for 250 cars, four conference rooms, bar, restaurant and home to golf retailer Golf Direct, was designed to be a place where the whole family could come and relax, practise golf and nurture future talent.
The finale for Friday’s re-launch was an evening with Sam Torrance, which took place in one of the conference rooms and raised over �7,000 for the Seve Foundation – the charity set up by Seve Ballesteros in 2009 for research into brain cancer – the disease that claimed his life earlier this year.