Golf Gazette/Jay Dempsey: It’s about the game, not the nationality

There seems to be concern in some circles that unless an American holds the top spot in the world golf rankings, or has won a recent major tournament, all is not well for golf in the US of A. What’s the big deal?

Currently, the four top-ranked golfers in the world are from England (two), Germany and Northern Ireland. And the last seven major championships have been won by players from Northern Ireland (three), South Africa (two), Germany and South Korea.

Personally, I like just about every golfer who competes each week on tour. There are a few exceptions, but not many. It’s fun rooting for the home team, but come on. Watching anyone from any country with a great golf swing is a treat.

The game of golf began centuries ago on shores far from America. We’ve been around a pinch over 200 years and don’t have our coats off yet when it comes to golf. It’s O.K. if the red, white and blue is not always number one. Especially in golf.

I’m as patriotic as the next person and lucky to be an American, but when I see great golf being played I don’t give a hoot what country the golfer is from.

FYI, the United States, with 312 million people, comprises less than 5 percent of the world’s population. That’s 1/20th. (Not bad from a guy who had to take geometry three times before passing.)

So, going strictly by the numbers, the United States should have one player in the top 20. We currently have eight players in the top 20. That’s pretty impressive.

We all wake up to the same sun and go to sleep looking at the same moon. Believe it or not, we’re all connected. And as sports fans we should appreciate great athletes and athletic performances, regardless of what country is on their birth certificate.

Now, I certainly can’t explain how tiny Northern Ireland, with a population of 1.8 million, has produced the winners of the past three major golf championships in Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke. But being Irish, my money is on the Guinness.

TEE TIMES Island’s End Golf & Country Club in Greenport was the site of a Metropolitan PGA Junior Golf event held on July 7. Some of the area’s top young golfers play a summer tour at different courses as part of a developmental program for players ages 12 to 18.

Local players at the Island’s End event included Catherine Brabazon, Jay Card, Richard Corazzini, William Fujita, William Gildersleeve, Liam Martin, John Mavellia and Brad Tyler. These youngsters impressed the heck out of me. Not only do they all have text-book golf swings, but every one of them showed tremendous class and poise beyond their years. You could see the respect they have for the game of golf and also the mutual respect they have for each other.

The New York State Open Championship was held July 19-21 at Bethpage Black. Local participants tackling the always difficult 7,321-yard course were Nick Bova from Friar’s Head, Ed Burfeindt from Island’s End and Connor Monaghan from North Fork Country Club.

19TH HOLE Legendary golfer Sam Snead had a wonderfully fluid, natural and graceful swing. Professional golfer John Schlee put it best, saying, “Watching Sam Snead practice golf is like watching fish practice swimming.”

From Sam Snead: “If people gripped a knife and fork as poorly as they grip a golf club, they’d starve to death.”

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