GOLF Nailcote's Short Course Proving Long on History and Star Names; GED Scott Looks Forward to an Influx of European Tour Talent at an Unlikely Midland Venue Next Month
Scott, Ged, The Birmingham Post (England)
Back in 1933, when the 20th century golfing world was young and the sport was still essentially a holiday pastime, Torquay's Palace Hotel hit upon an attractive way to tempt the game's greats down to the English Riviera.
Torquay, while a seaside resort, is not exactly known as a home of traditional links golf. But, in its grounds, the hotel possessed a celebrated short golf course containing nine par-three holes and so the British Professional Short Course Championships were formed.
It was only six years after the first Ryder Cup had been staged in the United States and two of the victorious team who, in June, had won back the trophy from the Americans at Southport & Ainsdale, to level the series at 2-2, also made it to Torquay that October.
They were Alf Padgham who, three years later, was to win The Open at Royal Liverpool and Percy Alliss, possibly best known for spawning an even more famous son.
Other Open champions, like Ted Ray, Harry Vardon, J H Taylor and Alex Herd also graced that inaugural line-up, as did the great three-times Open champion Henry Cotton in later years.
Understandably, the event became something of a success, surviving the war years only to be swallowed up by the increasingly hectic schedule which top British professionals had begun to face by 1973.
'Pitch and putt' courses continued to flourish in Britain though, mostly as a seaside resort attraction. And after a gap of 25 years, in a leafy Warwickshire backwater, the British Professional Short Course Championship was reborn.
Nailcote Hall, near Berkswell, was the stage. Its owner, local entrepreneur, Villa fan, and keen golf nut Rick Cressman, had the brainchild of bringing it back to life round the course he had developed as part of a sport and leisure complex at the old refurbished Tudor manor.
A strong field of Midlanders was put together for the relaunch, a surprisingly tough two-day 36-hole event won by Wolverhampton's Peter Baker.
Now, a year on, with eight of the nine holes remodelled - and boasting a total length just 42 yards shorter than Augusta's famous par-three course, the annual curtain-raiser for the US Masters - Nailcote Hall is ready to once again host the tournament on June 17.
More importantly, in a year when the Midlands golf scene has seen the British Masters depart the Forest of Arden to return to Woburn and leave the area without a main tour event, Nailcote Hall's two-day event is happy to fill the gap. …