View From the Spire: Alex Hay 1933 – 2011

Alex Hay, a PGA professional for more than half a century, former Ryder Cup referee and celebrated TV commentator, died peacefully this morning following a short illness. He was 78.

Hay was born in Edinburgh in 1933 and joined Ben Sayers as an apprentice clubmaker before becoming an assistant at Potters Bar.
 
He qualified as a PGA professional in 1952 and had spells at East Herts, Dunham Forest and Ashridge golf clubs before moving to Woburn in 1977. Initially, the head PGA professional there, he became its managing director.
 
Hay also wrote several books on the techniques of the swing and played a key role in the drawings used in the PGA’s training manual.
 
However, it was his role as a commentator for the BBC from 1978 to 2004 that he is best known. He co-presented all the major tournaments with Peter Alliss and the pair were renowned for their wit, rapport, feeling and deep knowledge of the game.
 
Hay, who passed away with his family by his side, leaves a wife Ann, and two sons, Graham and David.

Spain Prepares for Ballesteros Funeral

The funeral of golfing legend Seve Ballesteros will take place today (Wednesday) in his home village of Pedrena, Cantabria in Spain.

The ceremony will be at the San Pedro parish church at 1200 BST.

Seve Ballesteros

Image courtesy of Action Images

Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance are among a few of golf’s biggest names that are expected to attend.

Ballesteros died aged 54 in the early hours of Saturday morning after a long battle with cancer.

“Seve will be cremated at a ceremony that will be as intimate as possible and at a place that nobody will know,” said the Ballesteros family.

“That was his express wish. His ashes will remain at his estate, at his home in Pedrena.”

Seve’s brother Baldomero Ballesteros was quoted as saying:

“The funeral rites will be as simple as those for any neighbour from the village. He was born here and here he will remain.”

Miguel Angel Revilla, head of the local Cantabria government, said the region will observe three days of official mourning.

At the Players Championship in Florida this week, the Spanish flag will fly in honour of Ballesteros until Sunday.

Normally, the previous year’s winner has his national flag flying over the Circle of Champions but the South African flag marking Tim Clark’s victory last May has been replaced.

Such was his legend across the sporting fraternity but his passing has been marked across the world, with silences being held at the European Tour’s Spanish Open, the Barcelona – Madrid game, the Madrid Open Tennis Championships and at the Wells Fargo Championship in America over the weekend.

Seve Ballesteros – memorial for “spiritual leader”

Tributes continued to pour in for five-time major champion, Seve Ballesteros. But with the Seve Trophy recently renamed the “Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros” many believe there should be a more high-profile reminder of European golf’s best-loved character.

Padraig Harrington proposed Ballesteros’s silhouette replacing that of Harry Vardon on the European Tour’s official logo and the idea soon gathered pace.

Rory McIlroy and his manager, Chubby Chandler, were just two who signalled their intention to support the campaign after being contacted on Twitter. “I’m not sure who is on our logo for the European Tour, but I’d certainly back putting Seve on it,” said Harringon.

The conviction was only strengthened by Colin Montgomerie’s words on Radio 5 Live yesterday morning. “Seve completely changed the face of European golf,” said the Scot. “He is the reason why it is in the enviable position it is today. Prize money has gone through the roof because of one man. The Ryder Cup is the international event it is because of one man. There is a huge amount to thank that one man for.”

Ballesteros’s funeral will be held in his hometown of Pedrena in northern Spain on Wednesday as part of a regional three days of mourning in Cantabria. A players’ service will also be held that day at Sawgrass ahead of the TPC Championships.

View From the Spire: Seve Ballesteros 1957 – 2011

It was a sad day for sport yesterday as the Ballesteros family announced the passing of five time major winner, and golfs most charismatic legend, Severiano Ballesteros.

The Spaniard, who was 54, passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning after a protracted battle with cancer. The battle prevented  Seve from attending the 125th Celebrations of the Open Championship at St Andrews which also included the launch of the Seve Academy – the worlds leading golf improvement platform.

His health also prevented him from physically attending the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor late in 2010 but Seve was still involved and was instrumental in inspiring the team to victory by video phone and was a key crucial member of the back room staff that brought the Samual Ryder trophy back to the Europeans.

Ballesteros, who claimed 87 titles over his career, won the Open in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and became the first European to win the Augusta Masters in 1980, repeating the feat in 1983.

He also enjoyed a successful Ryder Cup career as both player and captain – playing in eight Ryder Cups and winning 20 points from 37 matches before guiding Europe to victory over the United States at Valderrama in 1997.

But it was his daring and flamboyant style that made Ballesteros special, transforming the image of golf and bringing a whole new audience to the sport. BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter said: “No golfer did more to popularise the game in Europe than Seve Ballesteros.

“He was a fighter – feisty, skilful, cheeky and loveable. When Seve was in a good mood the world was happy. He played a fearless, exciting and charismatic brand of the game. It thrilled sport fans all over the world.” Peter Alliss BBC golf commentator

“It’s a sad day,” world number one Lee Westwood said on Twitter. “Lost an inspiration, genius, role-model, hero and friend. Seve made European golf what it is today. RIP Seve.”

Seve Ballesteros 1957 - 2011, RIPImages courtesy of Action Images

Ryder Cup Madrid Bid: Letter from Seve Ballesteros

Click here to support Seve’s Madrid Bid.

The Beauty of Technology

Tiger Woods delivers best performance of 2010 after a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach without a coach!

Woods, who no longer has a coach after Hank Haney resigned, is in no rush to appoint a new one.  Woods who struggled with his game at the Memorial has been using video technology to iron out his faults says “that’s the beauty of technology…. there’s no need for a coach!”

Tigers ex-coach, Butch Harmon, believes he is reverting back towards the swing that won him most of his 14 Major trophies and as a consequence is definitely hitting the ball straighter.

Technology when used correctly can be a great help to golfers of all abilities.  Video software such as Vertex’s Coaching Studio allows you to see your swing and chart any changes that are made.  Flightscope in their latest software release have included a new club analysis screen allowing you to see all of your clubs details at impact.

Of course all of this technology is only of any use if you understand and know what to do with the information.  The chances are if you are not a professional or single figure handicap you may find interpreting the results somewhat of a challenge.  

Althought if this is the case you, keep your eyes on this blog as we will soon be able to allow you to take advantage of the latest technology available using your home camera, digital camera or smart phone. 

We will shortly announce the launch of the Seve Ballesteros Academy where you will be able to capture your swing in a number of ways and upload it to the Seve Ballesteros Academy (www.seveacademy.com).  Here users will have the chance to view, compare or have it sent away for analysis by Seve approved professionals who then send it back to you with instructions and exercises that help you to improve.

Seve inspires a new generation

Golfing legend and Optimal partner, Seve Ballesteros, yesterday delivered an inspirational speech to this year’s European Ryder Cup Team.

Despite being unable to accept captain Colin Montgomerie’s invitation to speak to the team in person, Seve addressed the team as a whole and spoke at length about his many Ryder Cup experiences over the years.

Skipper Montgomerie said “The whole team spoke to Seve for about 10 minutes and that was very motivational, very passionate and also very sad to hear him, to hear the way he is… but it was a real inspiration, especially for the rookies in the team, to speak to Seve and have Seve speak to them.”

 Seve Inspires a New Generation

He went on to say: “We were just honoured to have him, have his presence in the room. It’s always nice to not ever feel that Seve is forgotten by us or by European golf in any way, shape or form.”

“It definitely bonds a team, if it needed bonding, together, very close, when Seve, our legend, speaks to us.”

Seve Ballesteros has become entwined with the magic of the Ryder Cup. As a mainstay in the European side throughout the 80’s and 90’s, he scored 20 points out of 37 matches against the United States; his partnership with fellow Spaniard José María Olazábal being the most successful in the history of the competition.

While Seve was a member of European sides that won the Ryder Cup in 1985,1987, 1989 and 1995, the pinnacle of his career in the competition came in 1997, when he captained the winning European side at Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande, Spain.

Seve recently launched the Seve Ballesteros Golf Academy. The Academy is a unique golf coaching platform, developed by Edinburgh-based Optimal Analysis Solutions, allowing users to interactively learn the characteristic, instinctive “Natural” play, made famous by the five-time major winner.

The Academy will provide a unique online and mobile phone offering and become a key part of a golfer’s personal tuition. Through the academy, Seve hopes to raise significant funds for his foundation, which aims to progress the battle against brain cancer and help golfers from under-privileged backgrounds.

So, join Seve now! – Learn, improve, share and enjoy – and all for a great cause