For BBC’s Newsnight viewers, it’s an unexpected pleasure – and to be honest, a welcome relief – to find that after some economic, EU or City heavyweights, government ministers or their shadows etc. have been interviewed or more likely ripped apart by Mr. ‘Don’t mess with me’ Paxman, you suddenly find you’re watching something about golf, writes Charles de Haan
A few weeks ago Newsnight’s production team decided the new ruling over anchoring long putters to the body – belly putting – was the kind of news that deserved an airing alongside its usual fare about the European economic situation, international crises or the latest UK government initiative.
The BBC Newsnight team needed renowned experts to demonstrate and explain what all the fuss was about, and lo and behold they found PGA member and Head Professional at Royal St. Georges GC Justen Fiddler, and club secretary Tim Checketts.
In front of the Newsnight cameras the pair made an error-free foray onto live television to explain to the viewers all about this critical situation in the world of golf.
Justen takes up the tale: “Possibly because we were the nearest Open Championship course, or perhaps because Royal St. Georges’ Tim Checketts answered the ‘phone, we found ourselves racing up to the BBC Newsnight studios in Regent Street on Tuesday evening to tell viewers all about the impact of Rule 14 (1) B.
“As we all know – don’t we? – it’s about redefining the stroke not banning the long handled putter, and how it’s no longer allowed to anchor it to the body, or belly putting as it’s better known.
“Considering Paxman’s reputation I think we did well to come away unscathed. Tim did a brilliant job of coming across in a very calm and relaxed manner, while I managed to demonstrate that belly putting isn’t as easy as some players make it look.
“We had both chatted with Paxman before the programme went on air, and it’s fair to say that while he’s had a couple of lessons, golf’s not exactly his game – that’s cricket, by the way – as he’s not particularly fond of playing in cold, wet weather. But his son plays at Huntercombe, so there’s hope yet!
“Going to the BBC studios, getting the guest speaker treatment and seeing what it’s like behind the scenes was terrific. We both found that going on live television is one of those genuinely unique experiences that we’ll never forget. It only really dawned on me what it really meant as we were travelling up there, and that there’s no room for error on live television.
“Nonetheless, we’ve had lots of good feedback from members of the club, PGA colleagues and friends, and being in the rare position of showing we actually knew a lot more than Paxman about something will always bring a smile to my face when I think about it!”
Royal St. Georges GC www.royalstgeorges.com