May 15th, 2016
Yesterday's Golf News Today #4
27 Years Ago: Ian Woosnam brings down the Berlin Wall
Words: Tim Southwell Photography: Getty Images
Yesterday’s Golf News Today: When golf enters the Twilight Zone.
25 years ago: World Number 3 Ian Woosnam's Berlin visit has surprising results...
Ian Woosnam unwittingly brings down the Berlin Wall after an Urban Golf exhibition match in East Berlin goes terribly wrong. Woosie, ‘doing his bit for world peace’, was hitting 9-irons from the rooftop of the Welsh Embassy on the communist side of the wall, onto a green on the other side of the Wall.
The green was situated in a square next to the West Berlin McDonalds and the idea was that this would demonstrate the international reach and healing powers of golf, and bring a bitterly divided part of the world ‘that one step closer’ to love, peace and harmony.
All was going well. The punters on the Eastern side marvelled at how such a diminutive figure as Little Woosie could generate such power and accuracy. On the western side of the wall, crowds amassed to see whether the Welsh dynamo could get the hole in one he promised.
His first three shots drew cheers as two finished within 10 feet and the other was caught in his hat by a local to prevent it going through the McDonalds window. But it was Woosie’s fourth effort that proved instrumental in what happened next. In an attempt to produce a low draw in order to counter the high winds, Woosie double crossed himself and produced a vicious shank which dislodged a brick in the wall.
There was an eery hush as the people on the eastern side realised what had happened. Woosie had created a hole big enough to see into the other side. The Berlin Wall was known on the Eastern side as the 'Anti Fascist Protective Wall' (implying that all NATO countries and particularly West Germany were equal to fascists). On the Western side it was known as the 'Wall Of Shame' in that it restricted freedom of movement. Either way, it had stood for 28 long years.
A 25-year-old woman, Gretchen Block, approached the opening and gingerly pulled out a similarly dislodged brick. Then another, and then another. Suddenly the crowds on the western side were confronted with the startled, curious faces of five German communists peering into their world.
The tension and shock was palpable. Then, as if it was all being choreographed by Steven Spielberg, 27-year-old Wolfgang Heigert approached the wall and, on his way, picked up a white rose from a decorative flower display.
The world held its breath as Wolfgang held out the flower to Gretchen, venturing his hand through the hole in the wall. Some of the other east Berliners looking through the wall flinched and took a step back thinking it was all some kind of West Berliner ’trick’.
Gretchen did not flinch and, after accepting the flower with a beaming smile, the two embraced, launched an started kissing passionately.
The crowds on each side cheered and quickly flocked to the wall and started pulling bricks one by one from the ‘shield of democracy’. The police joined in too and soon there were people jumping through from one side to the other like some berserk game of international hop scotch.
Woosie saw his chance and dashed through one of the gaps and straight into the McDonalds where he ordered a Big Mac meal large (strawberry shake), a Filet O' Fish and an apple turnover.
As he wolfed down his Big Mac, Woosie was asked by a reporter whether this had been a deliberate ploy by the Welshman?
“At the end of the day,” spluttered Woosie through meat and lettuce compromised lips, “you’ve just got to give something back. If – in some small way – have made a contribution to world peace, then so be it. I’ll leave it to others, the historians, to assess my contribution in the years to come.”
McDonalds were so thrilled with Woosie's contribution to opening up the Eastern Block for trade, they made him an honorary Ronald McDonald and he has made several official appearances for the food giants since, earning the Welshman millions in sponsorship fees and V.I.P. card giving him unlimited McDonalds for life.