Tuesday, 27 March 2018

I'm back!!!!!!

So much has gone on over the last 18 months, far too much to mention and go into detail about, however, I will be posting again very soon so you can follow my golfing exploits from my competition and social rounds at Coventry Golf Club and also on my many golfing travels around the country with the Golf Monthly Forum crew.

I will back date some reviews from my trips to some amazing golf courses, such as St Mellion, Cleveland, Sunningdale (Old & New), New Zealand, Littlestone, Hankley Common, Swinley Forest & Turnberry, just to mention a few, but there are many more courses I've visited for the first time over the last 18 months.

I also lost a good golfing friend, which is when I stopped writing, so I will briefly touch on that and share some of the memories we had playing together around the country in various competitions and of course the annual Help for Heroes Charity Day of which he, Rick Garg founded.

Stay tuned, there's so much to look back on, and it might get a bit bumpy at times, so hold on to your seats!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

A brief summary.....

A very good morning to all my followers, Oh, and it's been brought to my attention I have a few curtain twitchers looking in now from my club at Coventry, so, good morning to you all as well ;-)

Firstly I apologise for the lack of up-to-date posts, everything has been a little hectic of late with playing, practice, lessons and some work, yes I do go to work at times between all my golfing exploits.

Since my last post I played in an Open at Beau Desert, a real favorite course of mine.  I needed the help of my playing partners on 2 (two) occasions to look for my ball with a couple of loose drives but I still managed to complete the round with the same ball, and belive me, around Beau Desert I'll take that as a huge positive.

Nowhere near the prizes but a very enjoyable experience as always and a great test for me with all the changes I'm still going through.

My June Medal saw me level par (73) which again was a huge result for my confidence with all the changes I'm trying to master, the 6 (six) doubles or worse are what are destroying my cards currently, luckily I got 2 decent birdies to go with only 3 gross pars which helped bring down my score, but I've really got to manage my game a little better to be consistently under a gross 90 if I truly want to address my handicap.

The following day I played in an Open at Melton Mowbray, I hadn't played the course before but I was in good company with friends from Woodhall Spa and Beedles lake, both very good golfers, of which 1 (Gary from Beedles L:ake) has just broken his course record, well done mate.

Some blind drives and tricky approaches and the greens were OK but a bit slow, unfortunately the fairways could have done with a shave though, it was frustrating at times when you perfectly struck your ball down the fairway only for it to roll up to a clump of grass!  Anyway, again nowhere near the prizes but a very enjoyable day and we all came away with a large Pork Pie, I suppose you can't complain when it's only £15.00.

The Beaton Cup is somewhat of a 2-day affair with a dinner before the match on the Friday night where bidding (auction) is carried out on all the players in the competition, I'd never come across or heard of this before and it was great fun.  There are some serious organised syndicates which I found out quite early on as I went to sit at a table with some weekend playing partners only to be told that I couldn't sit with them as their syndicate were all sitting together, so I sat on a table on my own nearby where some other members then joined me and we formed our own, on the night syndicate and the auction duly started.

You could tell that some had put far more thought into this event than it being just a bit of fun, afterall, I soon realised there could be some serious money to be won.  It was quite strange sitting there having people bid on you when your name came out, but with just playing to handicap the week before I think that helped me raise a respectable figure otherwise it could have been quite embarrassing!

Saturday came, it wasn't a heavy night of drinking at the dinner/auction even though I was sat with a few lads that are known for a good drink ;-), so, I felt quietly confident of putting a decent round together.  The nett result was I played to buffer (75 par 73), I was 12 over at the turn with 3 decent regulation pars but managed to pull some shots back on the tougher back 9 with 4 good pars, 3 of them on the belt on our 12th, 13th & 14th holes, it's just these doubles again that are destroying me, if I can just get them down to single bogeys this handicap will tumble as I'm averaging 6-7 gross pars a round, woulda-coulda-shoulda!

The results were in and the Beaton Cup was tied, 1 of the lads sat at my/our syndicate table and 1 of my regular weekend playing partners on the table I was moved off! There was a small air of skullduggery as the competition result showed our man as winning but as they both had the same score we appreciated that the main cup and honour couldn't go to countback so they had to play another round for the outright winner to be crowned, however, as far as the auction was concerned, we did pick the outright winner on the day and he went on to win the play-off, but we had to share our winnings who technically came 2nd on both counts!

Anyway, a great bit of fun and more importantly for me, 2 back-to-back buffers in medal rounds so I'm starting to get to grips with the changes.

I've got to sign off now as I'm getting ready for my 3-day trip to Gainsborough, further updates on July & August will follow when I get back which will include a trip to Forest Pines, a trip McDonald's Portal, some more weekend competitions, Woodhall Spa Open (Hotchkin) and this trip to Gainsborough, so, until then, keep 'em straight....

Sunday, 29 May 2016

The sun is back, the shorts & legs are out, lets play golf...

Just a little catch-up for my followers, not a great deal has been going on due to some work getting in the way and with so many golfing outings coming up, it's that kind of time when it's important to build up the brownie points at home as those golfing trips and away days are about to come about thick and fast!
I'm still working on and trying to introduce the changes my assistant Pro has shown me and they are definitely starting to pay dividends, in that, I no longer cut or fade the ball which on my course can be very destructive, well it's equally destructive if you hook it too much also but hey, I just don't like the fade come slice shot shape and so it's almost gone from my game now, although I wouldn't mind having it back on demand for those left to right doglegs, but we can't have everything.
 Two weekend strokeplay competitions have seen me me pick up another couple of 0.1's so I've got a shot back as I now sit on 17.5 (18), I'm not overly concerned as I constantly hear that you should only play to your handicap or better 33% of the time, so with only 5 comps under my belt since my 3 shot cut, I'm confident of a couple of cuts before the season is finished, and if they trigger an ESR (extended score reduction) then getting down to 15 or lower is a real target and that's without putting too much pressure on myself to achieve.
Only played 1 B-team match which was away to Olton, it's a great course in the suburbs of Solihull and all the rumours of selling up for housing, is, well rubbish! The course was in excellent condition and the food and company as always was superb.  I played very well, in fact I finished below handicap with a nett 70 and even though I came out the traps flying with a series of pars, I was 3 down from the off!  I'm starting to feel the wrath of the higher handicapper, although technically I'm still one myself, but giving shots away to 24 handicappers and then watching them have a purple day where my pars barely got a half and rarely won a hole, well it's strange, frustrating and funny combined now being on the other side of this situation, which I used to enjoy myself.
I just played in a 3-man team Texas Scramble with my normal weekly playing partners, were a good mix of handicaps ranging from 7 to myself at 18, 5 drives each and 3 wild and we had 8 shots.  We were having a very steady round, bagging birdies and pars until we had our 1 and only bogey on the 15th leaving us with a very respectable finishing score of a nett 61 points.  Back to the clubhouse for the banter and deconstruction of the round over a few beers and then the captain picks up the microphone and announces the results, "in 4th place with 60.8 points" Noooooo, we missed out by 0.2 points, just 1 putt, or that bloody single bogey on the 15th, Arghhhhhhh!

The usual suspects whom we never see at weekends in Medals or Stableford competitions took the spoils with a nett 56 points! I'm not bitter ;-)
I'm entertaining a friend today who is visiting my course for the first time as it's going to be our home course in the League of Dubai Matchplay Pairs Competition and he needs to familiarise himself with it, it's playing great and looking fantastic so hopefully he will be suitably impressed, he will be joining me in our Sunday morning sweep/roll-up.
Then it's off to play at Beau Desert in an Open on the Bank Holiday Monday, it was funny on Friday when my wife asked what we were doing together over the Bank Holiday weekend, I explained my golfing arrangements and then asked "what was she doing", it didn't go down too well and I got "the look"!


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Highs & Lows but it's all coming together..

It's been nearly a month since our first medal in April that rewarded me with my 1st cut (3 shots) of the season, playing 3 shots lower and no longer receiving a shot on every hole, never mind 2, certainly makes you think a bit more, so, quite a bit has happened, and not happened since then!

I've played in 3 (three) B-team matches winning 2 of them, so yes, I've now lost my unbeaten record playing for my B-team since February 2015!  That loss was hard fought but it was the first time I found myself on the other side of the fence playing against 2 x 19 handicap players so I was giving shots away, the boot was firmly on the other foot and it was tough as pars weren't good enough to win holes and birdies at times became halves! As always though they were great company and there was plenty of banter, especially when 1 of them, an ex-club captain fell into our pond on the 14th as he didn't want to take a drop, what dedication as he took his shot gingerly standing on the reed beds only to fall backwards, it was a shame I was the closest and had to run to his aid, otherwise the camera would have been out in a shot and he'd have become famous across all social media sites ;-)

I've had a lesson with my assistant Pro Sam Dodds as a fade come slice had crept into my game and I didn't like it, we played 6 holes and he observed me for the first 3 and then deconstructed me on the 12th tee, he made some adjustments to my swing and when I got them as he wanted, they became effortless and long but more importantly, they were either straight or a nice draw.  We played on and a few more tips followed in keeping the ball low when under branches which is very useful around a treelined tight course like mine, also some 3/4 shots into greens by clubbing up which I've used to great effect since that lesson.  It's still all work in progress but I'm getting there, a change in your swing at the start of the season is a little frightening, but if I want to play better within myself and reduce this handicap more, I've got to put the work and practice in and make the changes.

I've then had 3 strokeplay Medal comps and 1 Stableford, the April Medal being only 2 days after my lesson, not great timing but with competitions now in full flow there was never going to be an ideal time, as such it wasn't unusual for my results in these comps to have suffered due to me being in a position of change, but like they say, it's got to get worse before it gets better, so although I'm disappointed with those results and scores, there were lots of positives I could take from them and I'm confident it will all come together soon, however, the nett result is I've gone up 0.3, luckily 1 of the Medals became a non-qualifier.

I then went away with a group of guys from the club for a 2-day tour to Seacroft in Skegness, what a great trip and an even better course. As we arrived the wind was already up on this testing links course, a full breakfast after a few hours driving and it was off to the 1st tee. I really came out of the traps flying with a nice par on the 1st to settle me down, especially as I was playing with people I've only seen around the club and not played with before, unfortunately that par was quickly followed by a blob (no score) on a tough 2nd hole with a very small raised green, but then I got another par on the 3rd and a pattern was starting to emerge!  I turned with 19 points with 2 non scoring holes so was playing well, especially with all my swing changes and thoughts coupled with a tough links course with no room for errors.  The back 9 wasn't as good, I only recorded 12 points with another 2 non scoring holes, I really couldn't get to grips with the par 3's, the wind was tricky to navigate, the greens small and OOB or wispy grass just yards from any landing areas, I need to learn how to compress the ball or launch it lower with confidence and keep it from sailing off in the wind, 31 points on a new course in tricky conditions wasn't a poor show by any stretch and generally I was pleased, but as always, it could have been better!

The 2nd day the weather at the start was more favourable, I wasn't as quick out the traps due to a very late night, or should I say early morning session, not ideal but I was easily lead, or knobbled, 1 of the 2 ;-)  I certainly displayed nothing like I did on the first day, it was a struggle, but an enjoyable struggle, well it was until we stood on the raised tee on the 18th and the weather just unloaded on us, a force 10 gale hit us with hail and rain, I felt like I was being shot blasted, you couldn't look up into it, it was painful!  It was only 398 yards and I took Driver, 4w, another 4w then an 8i into the green, a 2-putt followed for a single point, what an experience!

I've also just played another round in my Foursomes Matchplay knockout, we have now reached the semi-finals and are awaiting to see who we may play next.  I've got a very good steady partner off 7 who if I can put in a good position with my tee shots, he comfortably puts me on the green for birdie putts or we come away with a minimum par, we've played some good opposition up to now but there are some serious contenders to come..

I just recently lost my singles matchplay 2nd round knockout 3&1, I went 3 down in the first 3 holes to two birdies, I then fought back with 2 nice pars in regulation for two wins on the 4th & 5th but missed a great opportunity on the 6th to go all square, it then seesawed back & forth but I never got better than being 1-down, I think if I could have got all square at any time it may have affected him, but it wasn't to be and I'll never know!  I actually played the best I had since all my changes, only 2 slight offish drives, 1 being a bit hooky on the 2nd blocking me out and 1 high but straight on the 12th leaving a very long approach shot in, otherwise I drove the ball well, made some excellent pars, my chipping and putting as always is solid, so, how did I lose?  I shot 4 under handicap for a nett 69 (par 73) but my opposition was also on song and rarely got into trouble, whereas, although I got into the odd bunker or missed a green in regulation, I scrambled well but just that 1 extra shot meant I had to go for too many long single putts, a very good match, obviously disappointed to have played so well and lost, but I must take the positives forward though.

There's still plenty of time this season to make an impact on my handicap, lots of various competitions to enter, so I'm very hopeful of more cuts to come, especially as my swing changes are becoming more consistent, so watch this space....

Thank you for reading.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

1st cut of the season

At the start of April we held our first stroke play competition called The American Cup, it was the first time we played from our back tees since well before Christmas and on a full course along with our 5 new greens now all in play.  Due to the deluge of wet weather that not only we have experienced personally as a golf club here at Coventry Golf Club, but golf clubs up and down the whole country have been suffering, the course was going to play very long and tough with very little roll on the fairways, then add to that a stiff cold, damp wind and it was going to be a testing day for some, especially on some of our long par 4's where it was going to take a very good, long second shot into the greens.

So, I took a deep breathe after a few practice swings and watched the group before us march off in a formation similar to the Red Arrows, one off to the left, one to the right, and one down the middle, I stepped up to the 1st tee and I looked down the fairway with my heart pumping, the season was starting, will my practice and hard work over the winter fall into place, oh my, it looked a long way even though we were only about another 30 yards further back, I really need to get my first drive away cleanly!

Just as I had been doing in my last few rounds where a naughty fade/slice has crept into my game, I drove off to the right which with the tees now much further back brings the tree's and pond into play on the right which is where we drive over and through off the 7th tee, a lucky bounce off a high branch ensued leaving me a 4 iron to punch low back down the fairway under some overhanging branches and leaving me a chance to reach the green in 3, which I did, and a with a nice steady 2-putt I got my par and was up and running.

A bogey on the 2nd due to not finding the fairway again but this time pulling my drive left in an attempt to draw the ball around the dogleg saw me blocked out from the green, I took my medicine and chipped out but at a decent angle so I could find the green with my 3rd shot, which I did, another 2-putt for bogey.

A nice regulation par on our 3rd which is so different off the back tees, but, I then had a wobble on our index 2 4th hole, my drive was nicely up the middle but a little over confidence due to a steady start saw me go for the green with a big 4 iron, in a moment of madness and forcing the shot I topped into the fairway bunker immediately to my left, I got out OK but then with my 4th I shot got under the ball with my wedge due to the soft ground and came up short and straight into greenside bunker! again I got out OK and a 2-putt put an ugly 7 on my card!

Time to put that hole behind me and concentrate on only what was in front of me now, a couple of bogeys on the next 2 holes and then a nice par on the 7th and then another couple of bogeys saw me turn with a gross 44 (par 35)  which was 1 under handicap in some tough conditions and on a course playing very long, so I was in good shape, but our back 9 is much tougher.

A great start to my back 9 with a par on the 10th and the spring in my step had returned, but it was very short lived, a huge snap hook on the 11th tee saw my ball wet, my 3rd off the tee saw me block long into the trees on the dogleg, I then got greedy and tried to punch a low shot through a gap, and failed! I then chipped out sideways, found the green with my 6th shot and a 2-putt then put an even worse 8 on my card!!

It was a lonely walk through the trees to the 12th tee, I had a little word with myself but I didn't want what had just happened to ruin the rest of my round, even though I knew there were some tough holes to come, I have the shots and know the game is in their, let's get back on track and finish strong, I was saying to myself.

A bogey on the 12th after a decent drive but I missed the green with my approach just to the right, quite close to the pond on what must be my clubs feature hole, a delicate chip and another 2-putt and after a horror show on the last hole, a bogey was accepted.

Back to back regulation pars followed on the par 5 13th with the river running alongside the fairway and tucking up quite close to the green and then another par on our Si1 14th hole with a great drive up level with the bunker on the dogleg and then a strong 4 wood into the green, what a feeling that was, especially with what had happened only 3 holes back.  I had a little wry smile to myself, and my playing partners, both very low single handicap players smiled and I could see that they were pleased for me, so, it was now to what I believe statistically is our toughest hole and the toughest of our par 3's, it's a very unassuming 200 yard plus hole, but it can break you, but a bogey it was and if offered that on the tee I'd snap your arm off for it, another bogey on the uphill par 5 16th hole into wind that looked like a runway it was that long, but again a decent drive and then two (2) big 4 woods saw me just on the green in regulation but my first and only 3-putt meant I came away with a bogey.

I knew in my head I pulled a good fistful of shots back and the 8 on the 11th was now a distant memory, I found the green on our long par 3 17th hole and a par was in the bag, so now it was a spirited walk to the 18th tee, with the clubhouse on the horizon I knew all I had to do was stay out of trouble and out of the treelined tight fairway, if you offered me a bogey now I'd have taken it, I'm not sure why as I only went and parred it in regulation, a great drive up to the 150 yard marker which off the back stones I didn't think I'd make, this left an uphill approach to a middle flag so I clubbed up to a 6 iron to stay away and carry the greenside bunkers and hit it so sweet it landed softly at the back of the green, another 2-putt and a great par to finish on.

What a rollercoaster round, a nervy start, an early wobble then a horror show on the 11th, but with 5 pars on the back 9 alone which saw me only 3 over gross with the 11th taken out, it was the best I'd played our back 9 since joining only 12 months ago.  A nett 68 (par 73) saw me take 2nd place in our opening stroke-play competition, a cut of 2.9 shots followed due to the 2 poor holes being reduced to nett double bogeys for handicap purposes and The Year of the Fish is well and truly underway.  

I can't wait for some decent dry weather and firm fairways, I believe I have so much more under the bonnet and hopefully a few wins will come my way this season, although 2nd place and a cut for the opening stroke-play competition is a great start.

I've booked a lesson to tighten up my drives and I'm getting on the practice ground to work on some different chipping options due to the soft ground and sliding under the ball too much at times.

Thank you for reading and following this seasons journey everyone, that's another 2.9 shots closer Homer ;-)


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Playing for my club's B-team

When I joined Coventry Golf Club in February last year (2015), I joined the club's B-team, it's a great way to meet new members and play some excellent local courses for less than you can with your County Card and usually with a great meal thrown in too.  Last season I only got to play 5 matches before I injured myself and was then out of action for the whole season, however, I never lost a match and was unbeaten up until that time.

Our B-team is now underway for 2016 with the traditional start against our Coggs (Seniors).  It's always a great day and although it can be seen as a bit of a fun, it's very competitive as the bragging rights are extremely important to both teams.

So, early this month we played against the Coggs and duly lost the day 4-1, we also lost this match last season but not by such a large margin, although I did win my own match last year and came 2nd overall in the stableford points, again this season I was the only person to win my match!

Our first competitive match was against Ladbrook Park last week, my opponents were not dissimilar in handicaps but as soon as the lad off 20 bombed his drive down the first fairway probably 50 yards further than I've ever been even with my Sunday best, I knew it was going to be a tough day!  It soon became apparent that even though he had a huge drive in his locker, his short game didn't match up to it, but his partner came in very well when he was out of the hole, they continued to dovetail very well and it was everything to hang on to their shirt tails.

As we approached the turn I found myself 3-down and the young lad seemed to grow in confidence, we halved 10 & 11 but then I parred 12, 13 & 14 in regulation and got the match back to all square, it was during those holes I noticed the young lad wobble, he played very well off the front foot but he didn't cope very well with being pegged back and started to spray his drives and took on too many hero shots putting himself out of the holes quite quickly.

The tough 15th long par 3 beckoned, I was just right of the green pin high and chipped down to 3ft from the pin and marked my ball, the young opponent was short behind the fairway bunker and chipped down left of the pin but it rolled away 20ft away from the flag, my partner was 6ft from the pin in 2 but had a shot and the other opponent was out of the hole already, so it was the young lad to putt first and he drained it, such was their delight after being pegged back for the last 3 holes, we suddenly out of the blue witnessed an American style premature celebration of jumping up & down, high fives and over the top scenes of jubilation, did they not realise that my partner was still putting for the hole and had 2 shots for the half from only 6 feet? So, a half it was, and they seemed suitably pleased to stop the rot, although I'm not sure what the scenes would have been like had that been a winning putt for the match, I think we had disturbed a Hornets nest ;-)

Anyway, it was a decent match with good company as always and we finished all square with the match halved, after chasing the game for the first 11 holes I was very relieved not to have lost it, but we unfortunately lost the match against their club 3.5 - 2.5.

My 2nd B-team match to date was away to Leamington & County on Thursday, this course has had some substantial changes to it since last season so it was a little confusing as the walks from green to tee were a little strange at times.  Anyway, I was back paired with my usual partner from last season and whom I'd played with in the recent Greensomes competition.

Well to say I'd sliced my first tee shot would be kind, it was way right, but luckily there was a decent gap in the trees to punch my 5 iron down and I duly found the fairway and was comfortably back in play. I secured the half and my partner, Pete secured the win, 1-up and a good start.  A new par 3 next playing 175 yards into a slight breeze, I found the green with my 4 iron and we were suddenly 2-up after a nice par.

My driving off to the right returned a few times during the match but I recovered very well, my long irons really did get me back into play, so well that on the 6th which is a steep uphill drive which then turns into a left to right downhill dogleg to a well protected green, I drove to the right leaving myself 173 yards out the rough but I could just see the green, I composed myself and struck a great 4 iron to 6 inches from the pin for a birdie, what a feeling that strike was!  We went onto to win the match 6&5 shaking hands on the 13th :D

Looking forward to my next B-team match against Maxstoke on Tuesday and hopefully keep my unbeaten record  of 8/8 going for as long as possible, am I the Ian Poulter of Coventry in Matchplay ;-)

With my stroke play match on Saturday off the back tees for the first time and in testing rainy conditions and shooting a great nett 68 (par 73), I could be reporting playing in the A-team next season ;-)  #Dreamer

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Club Matches.......

Over the past few weeks I've played in some of the club's early matches that traditionally kick-start our season, the first being a Foursomes Medal where the top 16 pairs go forward to the knockout rounds.  I was kindly asked to partner a very steady and great striker of the ball 7 handicapper, and I duly accepted, we were allocated 13 shots between us and so off we set.

Dave, my partner, told me just to play my own game and not to worry about him, although easy to say, you can't help be conscious of putting your single figure playing partner in the trees or in a bunker, so at times I didn't take on some of the long approach shots into the green, and although I think I did play my own game for most of the round which surprisingly meant I only put him into the trees once, although his drive did leave me in an awkward position to be fair, but then again I should and would have normally chipped out onto the fairway, but I didn't, but hey, if I had of chipped out I wouldn't have seen a club throw and kicking of the golf bag when he didn't get out first time and the ball rebounded off a large Oak deeper back into the woods!

so overall I think I contributed well and we played well together and comfortably qualified with a Nett 70.5, which if not for a couple of silly throwaway shots I believe we could have troubled the winners with their Nett 65.

The following week was a Greensomes, my B-team partner of last season asked me to play so we teamed up again, we were unbeaten last season in our first 5 B-team matches with him before I injured myself, so, we knew each other well, got on and played well off each other, so, in the back of my mind I fancied ourselves and was up for this as I knew I was currently playing very well.  The 2 opponents in our 4-ball came second in the foursomes the week before and straight away as they both drove the ball very well and split the fairway, you could see and sense they were good together and had played together for some years, in fact, it turned out that 1 (one) of them had been at the club for 59 years!

We had 17 shots allocated and our opponents had 13.4, so I was keeping track of the scores in my head and using them as a barometer knowing we had to be inside 3 shots of them to win, or at least, beat them!

On the turn we had used up less than half our allocation of shots so I knew we were in good shape, but a double on 16th (we started on the 7th), a bogey on the 17th & 18th saw us slip behind quite quickly against our opponents.  We battled on and although we were both playing well, our opponents were draining long putts for pars and the odd birdie which was slowly killing us off,  the 1st & 2nd were both double bogies after finding bunkers and that saw us drop too many shots in quick succession, however, I then played some great approach shots on 3, 4 & 5 after taking my partners drives which gave us the opportunity to par those holes and bring us back into contention, unfortunately we bogied the 6th, our last hole against their par, which again was a huge 30ft putt, so it wasn't good enough on the day for us but overall we put in a decent shift and finished with a credible Nett 68 against our opponents, who went on to win the day's competition with a respectable Nett 65.4.

I know I previously reported I didn't like these kind of formats, it's very difficult to get into any kind of rhythm or tempo when taking alternate shots, you can find that you're not putting or chipping for ages but then suddenly are required to do so at a critical time, so, it's a very testing format but on these 2 occasions, I really enjoyed them.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Roll up, Roll up, The Year of the Fish (#YOTF) is throwing down his marker

Friday Roll-up

Well what a week of golf that was, it started last Friday in my clubs roll-up, 17 holes were open, which after all the rain we had endured midweek coupled with the work that had been undertaken on the course, getting 17 holes open  was an excellent achievement by our greens staff at Coventry Golf Club.

The balls went in the bag to create the 4-balls and order of play and then they went into the air to pair off for the matchplay teams, the losers of which pay for the others food & drink when we get back to the clubhouse.

As soon as I drove my first ball, which I was a little apprehensive and anxious about after struggling the week before, I knew as I watched it fire down the fairway with just a nice little bit of draw I was going to have a good round, oh how that first drive takes away the pressures immediately when you catch it right and have struggled previously.

It really is hard to understand what creeps into our rounds at times when only a few days before you've visited parts of the golf course never to be explored before by humans only then to drive your ball perfectly finding fairways for fun, anyway, a solid 8 pars and 1 birdie followed with a few unlucky bobbles and lip outs which could have made the round even more memorable but to finish on a very respectable 39 points from the 17 holes open was very pleasing and enough to take all the spoils.

Saturday Roll-up

Well when things are going well there's nothing better than jumping back on the horse as quick as possible, so it was straight back to play in my regular Saturday roll-up, once again we had 17 holes open and our 5 new greens were now in play also, and once again I drilled my first drive right down the left-hand side of the fairway, it really is key to me I think getting that first drive away cleanly, it really sets me up mentally as once again a solid 6 pars and 2 birdies followed for 38 points from 17 holes, so a degree of consistency is creeping into my last 2 rounds, but I must cut out the average 2 non-scoring holes per round I experience, they can be very destructive at times and without them my scores would be much much better.

Course management on those holes when I'm blocked out from seeing the green or a little further back than I'd like on a dogleg is the key I think, taking my medicine as they say and don't try anything daft which results in just getting into more trouble or not being in a position to make a score, easy words for all of us but at the time we convince ourselves we can make that shot, but how many times do we really pull it off?

Sunday Roll-up

So, with the blessing of my good lady wife I hit the club again for my third round on the bounce and entered the well attended Sunday morning roll-up, an excellent mix of low single handicap players up to the odd Cat4 where all in attendance.  There's quite a few members in this roll-up that I haven't met or played with in my 12 months at the club, so these roll-ups are an excellent way to meet new people, especially for me as being still a relatively new member.  The balls went into a hat and I was paired with Chris, a 6 handicapper that I'd spoken to before but not had the pleasure to play with or alongside, our opposition pairing was Simon another 6 handicapper whom I'd never seen before and Mark, who I had played with a couple of times and was off 10, so I was in good company and off we went to the 10th to tee off.

Our 10th off the yellows is a tough long par 4 hole, so starting with a par really got my juices going, especially after the 2 recent good rounds I'd just had, the banter started immediately as with a shot Chris and I went 1-up immediately coming out the traps all guns firing. Unfortunately we only had 6 holes open on the back 9 which I duly parred 5 of them and double bogied the other, so I turned on 17 points, 2 over gross and yet only 2-up on the match, Simon & Mark were really hanging on to our shirt tails needing birdies to half the holes I was parring, it was becoming a great battle!

Off to the 1st tee now to start the front 9, again another tough par 4 hole off the yellows and my double bogey on it brought me back to earth a little after finding a fairway bunker taking on too big a 2nd shot, a little word with myself whilst the banter was growing as Simon & Mark could sense a chink in my armour, but I reacted by parring 5 of the remaining 8 holes which was too much for them to contend with, so I totted up 22 points on the front to add to my 17 on the back for a 39 points total from only 15 holes, 8 over gross and 10 pars bagged & tagged, and when I think I missed 3 very good birdie opportunities from around 4ft, it could have been even better!

What a great day, I really didn't mind buying the bowls of chips out of my winnings and to be fair to everyone, they were all pleased for me as they know I'm working hard to get my handicap down this season.

2016 is really going to be the #YOTF and this handicap of 20 (19.9) is going to take a real bashing this season ;-)


Sunday, 6 March 2016

Fore Right....!

Well after returning from a cold and wet south coast not a lot had gone on other than struggling with a bad dose of Man Flu all last week that meant I had to pull out of a competition run by Tee Tours at Little Aston Golf Club on Wednesday, which in the end was abandoned after around 10 holes due to severe weather conditions!

So, next up at my club was the Captain's Challenge, a fully cooked breakfast followed by a pairs betterball (BB) competition in aid of the captains charity (Myton Hospice) with the Captain and Vice Captain playing together on this occasion, as such I had asked the captains usual playing partner the week before and whom I'd played with many times in the roll-ups if he'd like to partner me, which he duly accepted.

Saturday dawned and it had snowed quite heavily in the night, so at 07.45 I telephoned the course information line and I wasn't surprised to hear that the course was closed, this was followed up with a Twitter message from the assistant Pro of the day, as such the wife then attempted to get me to go shopping with her, but I was having none of that!

But then 15 minutes later I picked up another Tweet, the course was staying closed but the comp was still going ahead at the arranged 12.30 shotgun start, the course information line message was changed, but how many would have heard the first message?

So, off I trudged for my cooked breakfast at 10.30 followed up with some chipping on the practice area and a few balls in the nets and all seemed good.

20 minutes before the shotgun start, which for me was on the 1st tee as I was in the Captains and VC's group, my partner still hadn't been seen, a quick phone call revealed he had listened to the course information line before it had been changed and then made other arrangements and was no longer available!  A quick scout around the club and 1 of the juniors had arrived to practice and he was happy to stand in at short notice and partner me.  A quick introduction on the 1st tee uncovered he was only 14 years old, represented the club at County level and played off 5, rumblings of my potential banditry and his natural ability soon had a few look upon us as favorites!

Well everyone boomed their drives down the fairway but I decided to slice mine right over towards the 7th tee and pond, luckily getting a bounce back out with a solid knock off a tree but still only a low 5 iron punch shot out under the branches over to the left side of the fairway was available to me, which I duly sliced again with my 3rd shot and my trusty 4w a couple of hundred yards down the right side again! A decent chip onto the front of the green and my putt just missed and ran past a couple of feet and with no shots for my young Cat 1 partner, we started our round with a solitary 1 point.

Well I'm not going to give you all a blow by blow encounter because it would be too painful, but I will say I've never shouted Fore Right so many times and I've never been to so many areas of the righthand side of the course before since joining over a year ago, I don't know what has happened or what has changed or crept in, but I'd have paid money to see me duck hook a tee shot, the first fairway I found was the 9th with my mini-driver, and that was only on by a whisker, and I think that was the only fairway I found all day, which when you look at my current stats being 62% fairways found, you just can't get your head around it, but by god did I scramble well when needed, so much so I was on the card 6 times on the front 9 for us to turn 4 under with 22 points!

The back 9 started and carried on much the same as I found myself on various fairways, but not the ones I was supposed to be on!  It wasn't all bad though, I hit a few good straight-ish drives which were unlucky to be slightly blocked out on some of our left to right dogleg holes but I was still far too cosy to the right hand side of the first cut and semi rough.  I only came in on 1 hole on the back 6 holes we had open which was another scrambled par on our par 3 15th hole, I thought I'd struck what was now my untrusty 4w quite well down the long 194 yard par 3 only to see it land on the high bank immediately after the greenside bunker on the right, a nice chip and single putt for par ensued, there wasn't much for me to get excited about so I treated myself  to a slightly restrained fist pump ;-)

Anyway, we finished 4 under with 34 points, I felt exhausted and thoroughly beaten up, it was a pleasure to play alongside such a young talented natural player who weighed next to nothing and yet drove the ball a country mile, I'm not sure what he'd say about me as we didn't get the opportunity to walk together very much :-(

Our 34 points in the conditions presented to us I thought was pretty decent, until the announcements started with "in 3rd place and on countback with 37 points!", I don't think we even made the top 10, and they have the audacity to call me a bandit ;-)

I think a lesson and some range practice is called for, that was incredibly wild for me off the tee, only some decent chips kept me in it and sane, and after watching some of my wild high slices you can give me a duck hook anyday of the week ;-)  How on earth can you win the 3-Club Challenge 2 weeks prior with 3 under and then play like that?

Oh, and how I got around with the same ball with what I put it through begs belief, I think I'll retire it, it had an even tougher day than me ;-)

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Royal St George's (Day 2)

Well after a tough but great day on Royal Cinque Ports (RCP) yesterday and sitting up late supping a few jars, it was off to Royal St George's Golf Club (RSG), a course I had heard so much about and was quite excited and yet equally anxious to play.

I left my hotel on the seafront at Deal and was suitably informed to drive through RCP and I'd come to RSG, so how did I end up at the Prince's Golf Club then! A quick u-turn and a drive through a private housing estate where I noticed a security hut just before the golf club, with no barrier down I just drove straight past without stopping, only to notice a man waving at me in my rear view mirror, which I found out afterwards wanted £4 for a toll, sorry chap, no time to stop and no camera's, so no £4 tax off me was going to be gleaned.    

Now slightly on the back foot I got my golf gear together and met everyone in the bar area for a quick coffee, apparently there were bacon butties but I didn't see any so missed out on those.  A quick return to the car as I wanted my thermals and suddenly couldn't find my car keys! I backtracked to the bar, the locker room, back to the car, they were nowhere to be found, I then went over to my golf bag near the clubhouse and found them sitting on the carpark floor, no time now to change anymore into my warmer thermals so it was shoes on and get to the practice putting green with my heart pumping and feeling a little flustered, time to settle down before going to the 1st tee.

There was some minor banter being had on the 1st tee, as should be expected at these meets, we all want to play well individually but were all there to enjoy ourselves and have the craic as well, talk of baby draws, power fades and duck hooks seemed to be the current hot topic, so I duly obliged with a duck hook of sorts, and although I was over on the far left on my own but still just on the edge of the fairway, I had actually drove mine further than those hitting it straighter with better looking shaped shots!

I hit a decent 2nd shot with my trusty 4w but it hugged the left hand side and took a little while to find on the high bank overlooking the green, but that was only because I hit it 30 yards further than I'd thought! Anyway, my chip onto the green released to the other side, a 2-putt ensued and I was off and running with a bogey start and 2 points on the card.

For some reason 5 seemed to become a favorite number, as that was what I scored on the first 5 holes for level handicap and 10 points, so not all bad playing bogey golf on an amazing grown up course with huge undulating fairways and greens to match, couple that with not knowing where I was driving to or knowing what was in front of me most of the time, I was more than hanging on in there.  I picked up a nice par on the 8th in regulation and I was still level handicap and even more surprising, I still had the same ball, so things were going well, but then it was the dreaded 9th!

What is it with me and the 9th holes, so many times I have a good score going and then mess up and don't return a score on the 9th, I think I must be thinking too much and getting ahead of myself before actually getting to the turn, but whatever it is, I've got to cut it out as once again the 9th cost me.  I actually hit a great drive and was in perfect position, I could see a couple of fairways bunkers on the steep incline up to a raised green and after a very nice par on the 8th, overconfidence got a grip of me and instead of laying up over the bunkers but short of the green with an easy iron, I  tried to force my 4w and went for it and found a pot bunker with my scuffed shot, and although I got out first time but with no distance achieved, a short iron to the green and then a 3-putt recorded a Nil Pois and stayed on 16 points at the turn.

Came out the traps well again on the 10th with another great regulation par and I just lipped out for the same on the 11th, the 12th took its toll but I scrambled a point but then I had a huge wobble on the 13th!  I didn't know where to drive to, the course planner said the right of the lodge in the distance with a draw but I just didn't feel comfortable lining up to that and the duck hook returned as I tried to force my drive over the grassy mounds to an unseen fairway in the distance,  all body and no arms it was as ugly as sin and felt awful and I deserved to lose my first and only ball of the round, the 13th was definitely an unlucky hole and number for me as I suitably blobbed the hole.

I battled with the 14th even though I hit a great drive in anger right down the left side of the fairway well away from the OOB which hugged the full length of the right hand side of the hole and then I followed that up with another great 4w over the ditch leaving me only 120 yards to the pin, so how on earth did I come off with 1 point on this great par 5?  I chunked my wedge then chunked my sand wedge and eventually got on the green for 5 leaving a 2-putt for a scabby point, that's how!

It was everything to keep my head from dropping, especially as I hit my next drive into the cabbage on the index 1 par 4 15th, digging it out with only an 8 or 9 iron but then I blitzed my 4w and thought it was going to make it to the green, unfortunately I didn't see the long slit bunker protecting it and as I walked up to it I found my ball was pretty close to the deep faced front lip, a bit of encouragement was offered from a playing partner and I not only got out, but I got it up and well onto the green 30 yards ahead, a great scramble after a very poor tee shot and finding a bunker and I came out of it unscathed.

That felt so good I then found the green with a lovely iron shot just missing the birdie putt on the nice par 3 16th hole, another good drive and regulation par followed on the 17th and suddenly I was back in the hunt, the 18th now beckoned and unusual for me I cut my drive to the far right, it was sat a little bit scruffy in the cut down stubbly straw but I managed to get my 4w on it just short of the bunkers leaving it 90 yards from the pin, a nice gap wedge up and over the deep faced bunker in front of me to 3ft of the pin and I was suddenly putting for my 3rd straight par run-in, unfortunately as the adrenalin was pumping I just lipped out but it was still a great finish to what is an amazing course and I can't wait to go back next year with a little bit more knowledge to what I had on this visit. I finished the back 9 with 17 points giving me 33 points for my round, 1 lost ball and 2 blobs, a huge improvement on the day before at RCP but on a much tougher and demanding course, well chuffed.

Back into the clubhouse for a shower in the best facilities (showers) I've ever been in and that followed the best seafood starter and then carvery I've also had at any golf club, although The Berkshire runs it's close.

With the food over it was time for the winners and sinners to be announced, and I only went and won, I honestly thought some of the lads who are quite steady and have played the course before would have put a good score together, so I was really surprised to have won, but it was a battle at times but a battle I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thanks everyone, it was, emotional :D

The #YOTF is up and running ;-)

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Royal Cinque Ports, Day 1

Two days of links golf was booked on the Kent coast some time ago with the guys off the Golf Monthly forum and I had been looking forward to it for some time, especially with so many courses being closed all over the winter, including my own, due obviously to the adverse wet weather conditions, so what better way to blow the cobwebs away than 2-days of links golf on 2 prestigious south coast golf courses, Royal Cinque Ports being the first port of call.

Up at 5am on a Monday morning for a 6am start leaving what I thought was going to be plenty of time for the 3-3.5hr drive where a full English breakfast was waiting for me at 11am followed by a 12.20 tee time so lots of time to relax, but oh no, our great motorway systems were racked & stacked down the M40, M25 and then the M20, the driving rain and spray made the journey extremely stressful and added a further hour meaning I arrived some 4.5hrs later and a little ruffled around the edges.

The forecast was never favourable, I was monitoring it for some time and at times it looked like it could have been quite scary, but although it was raining for the first 7 holes, the wind wasn't up that much and it was strangely mild, so not overly uncomfortable, although I was sporting my Galvin Green snood to match all my other GG layering system.  I must say I find the snoods an excellent bit of kit, I don't like my jackets or tops buttoned or zipped up under my chin, they rub and irritate me, so the snood is an excellent accessory with it's super soft insula material, although it seems it can be frowned upon by some (Nick) ;-)

I didn't get off the 1st tee brilliantly, although I still made the green in regulation, the greens caught me out initially being so fast even in the wet & driving rain, so I started with a 3-putt!  I then picked up a nice par and a birdie and found myself 10 points to the good in the first 4 holes and thought to myself, I could have a good day here, but then I had a minor wobble on the par 5 5th hole picking my ball up too quickly in disappointment of missing a short putt only to realise afterwards I still had a shot!  I let this get to me a little which is something I need to address and as such 2 daft bogeys followed, this wasn't all bad with shots in the bag but then I had a horror show on the par 3 8th, I got totally caught up with indecision as the flag was clearly between clubs for me and I tried to force my tee shots putting both my first and provisional balls into the cabbage never to be seen again, a lonely walk to the next tee followed and I took the time to remove some of my layers as the rain started to slow down and stop.

For those that have played RCP I just didn't get the 9th, I had the impression from the blocks I had to drive over the large bunker which looked quite close but was a decent carry in the conditions we were in, I thought the fairway was immediately behind it but it turned out there was acres of fairway to the right of it, as such with the disappointment of the previous hole firmly in my mind, I attacked my drive far too much and hooked it slightly left of the bunker into the clag, my provisional didn't fair too much better but at least I found it but it was going to be a tough ask to score after 3 off the tee and having to dig my 4th shot out the cabbage and still a long slog to go, so back to back blobs wasn't the way to finish what was a decent start to the front 9 and a miserly 13 points recorded :(

The back 9 started well much like the front with a nice par on the 10th but then I blobbed the 12th, again just getting my drive completely wrong and then forcing my usually dependable 4w off the deck into the deep folding grass slightly off the right side of the fairway for another donation to the course.  I then had a steady run in recording 16 points on the back but only the 1 blob compared to the 3 on the front, I finished with a disappointing 29 points but some of the other guys didn't fair that well, but like always, it could have been so much better.

The course was excellent, but very penal if you missed any fairways with deep folding grass either side, there were some huge undulations both on the fairways and greens, you could be happy with your drive knowing it's down the middle only to walk up to it and find it's on a steep downward lie with still 180 yards plus to go, the bunkers will always cost you a shot, deep faced pot hole style and littered everywhere, it's a great test of golf, tough but fair and certainly you need to play it a few times to know your way around it as there are quite a few blind drives and blind approaches and it's not always obvious the direction to drive your ball or which side of the fairway is then best to be on as there are no markers, get it wrong and it's not just 1 shot lost, but a lost ball also, I know, I lost 4 :(

A quick drink followed in the clubhouse along with the announcement of the winners and sinners and then it was off to book into the hotel (Kings Head) on the seafront in Deal.  A quick shower & change, a couple of pints down in the bar and then a very nice curry (Lamb Shank) followed, it was then back to the hotel and I sat up until midnight chatting and chewing the fat with a few of the guys off the forum I'd not met before which is what makes these meets around the country all the worthwhile.

Off to bed and looking forward to playing Royal St Georges the next day........

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A short summary first.....

Following my last post I visited Hayling Island Golf Club, I had heard very good things about the course and it didn't disappoint, but the wind was brutal.  I was watching from the clubhouse everyone taking drivers and 3 woods off the par 3 start which I had at only 172 yards, but once I got down to the tee I understood why as I took out my 12 degree mini-driver and gave it a good full swing, as the spin stopped my ball caught the left to right wind and started to sail towards the gorse, luckily it sat between 2 very large bright yellow gorse bushes, I chipped on, 2-putts for bogey and so the round began and pretty much followed suit all the way around, I really struggled with the wind but I loved the course, although I saw a little more of it than I would have liked!

A return trip in better conditions is a must, especially with so many blind drives and approach shots, I now know a little bit more about the course so it's not so much a case of where you'd ideally want to be, it's more a case of where you definitely don't want to be!

The weather then changed for the worse and my course was closed again for a week but then last Saturday (20th) I popped down to get some practice in prior to 2-days golf down on the Kent coast playing Royal Cinque Ports & Royal St George's which I will write about next seperately, but, once I arrived at my club I found we were having a 3-Club Challenge and our 5 new greens were now open, so no temps.

I quickly selected my 4 wood, 8 iron & putter as my chosen 3 clubs, I thought this would be best as I can get a decent length off the tee and off the fairway with my 4w, I could bump & run with my 8i when needed, I also thought I could end up with quite a few 130-150yd approach shots after a decent drive, so I was pretty happy with my overall selection.

A spare place became available in a 2-ball with my Club Captain which I quickly slotted in with to make up a 3-ball and off we went...

Not a great start returning no score on the first 2 holes but then I started to get some nice par's and a decent score started to form, I was getting off the tee really well with the 4w and with using the 8 iron all the time I was starting to get the measure of it for some stronger shots and then some 3/4 shots into the greens, so much so I only went and won the first competition of the year and after looking at the results, I was the only person to record an under nett par score winning by a clear 4 points :-)  

The #YOTF is well underway and I'm heading to the Kent coast for some links golf at 2 very prestigious courses, being Royal Cinque Ports & Royal St George's, so stay tuned ;-)

Friday, 29 January 2016

Cookin' on gas....

With a break in the weather I've now managed to get on my course for 4 rounds over the last 7 days, with today being the 4th and just like the song, it feels good.

Saturday was my first day out on a golf course since my trip to Enville Golf Club and the first round on my own Coventry Golf Club course for some weeks due to the poor weather and it being closed!  It certainly blew the cobwebs away and I found myself a little anxious at times and as you all possibly know, that feeling certainly doesn't help when playing golf and only leads to poor ball striking and extra strokes, but hey, I was out on my own golf course, who's counting, just enjoy the moment and the good company.

I was generally surprised and as such suitably pleased with my driving with both my big dog and my mini-driver on Saturday which I've started to rotate on some specific tees and it's starting to pay dividends, my chipping and putting is still by far the best part of my game but, it's that bit in the middle I've got to work on more, the long game with long irons and my fairway wood is by far the weakest part of my game, get that right and the #YOTF will be easy to achieve.

So with clearing that bit of rustiness I decided to hit the course again early for the Sunday morning roll-up, I played with 2 members I'd not played with before which is always nice and we had some good fun out there.  I didn't get off to a great start even though I drove the ball well again off the tee, I slapped a couple of 2nd shots in the wet and somewhat muddy parts of the course and as such only scored 1 point on each of the first 2 opening holes, after some nice pars and getting back on track and more importantly back to level handicap, I then hit a wild block into the trees on the 9th which resulted in a blob (no score) meaning all the hard work after a poor start and getting back level was undone in a single hole, and so I turned 2 over handicap.

The back 9 was much more positive, our 10th hole is a long par 4 and until that Sunday I'd never reached it in regulation, a good drive followed by a personal best with my 4w put me on the front of the green, the mandatory 2-putt secured my par, I then birdied the par5 13th and although I dropped the odd shot on the run in, I pulled them back on the following hole with the end of the round resulting in a 1 over handicap.

I managed to get out again on Thursday and once again the improvements in ball striking, club selection and course management all came together, so much so I was only 6 over gross on the turn and 2 of those were from a silly double bogey on our par3 5th hole which is a comfortable level par hole for me but I over thought the shot and clipped the top of a tree only to give me an impossible angle back to the green.

I'll be back on the course today (Friday) in what are currently very windy conditions, perfect practice for my trip to Hayling Island on Wednesday next week where I will be exposed to all the elements on a great coastal links course, obviously you'll all hear about that trip next week, so please look back in.

With my golf and practice being so limited due to the weather and course closures all around me since before Christmas, and what with having new clubs which need plenty of time to bed in, the improvements in all aspects of my game are starting to shine through now that I'm getting back out there, the #YOTF is definitely becoming more of a reality than a hopeful wish.  

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

A round at last......

A friend off the Golf Monthly forum contacted me as a player from his Shifnal Golf Club had dropped out of an AM AM competition run by TeeTours and duly invited me along to play at Enville Golf Club on the Highgate Championship course. I now know what it's like when my dog hears that magical word "walkies", I found it very difficult to hide my excitement, at last I was getting out to play, I had been suffering cabin fever with my own Coventry Golf Club being closed most of the last 3-weeks no doubt like many golf courses across the country suffering from all this wet weather.

So I was playing Enville on the Highgate course for the first time, not in the most ideal conditions with the heavens opening up as I pulled into the car park and it was bitterly, bitterly cold, but, I have to say, for what we've all seen and endured over the past few weeks the course was in remarkably very good condition, the greens were a little bumpy as we were the 2nd but last group out and the fairways had just been tined, but it was more than playable and more importantly, I was out there, swinging my new clubs and the conditions are the same for everyone, so, bring it on...

I've just started not getting my big dog out straight away and favouring my mini-driver for a little more accuracy at the expense of distance whilst I warm into the round, this proved dividends at Enville as I found the fairways straight from the off, it did however see me still have well over 220 yards into the greens off some very long par 4's, especially with little run on the ball in such wet and cold conditions, I just now need to stop myself reaching for the 4 iron too early as it's just not happenin', but when I did hit a couple later in the round in regulation, it's a nice feeling.

I eventually reached for my main driver after a few holes, but only when I thought I had a decent bailout area just in case it didn't perform, because as we all know, our drivers can have a mind of there own at times! But luckily I hit some really nice long drives immediately with my favoured baby draw, the couple I messed up were simply down to overconfidence, normally straight after I'd just hit a great drive on the hole before, I'd then follow that up by trying to take the skin off the ball only to see it take out 150 yards of worm casts, but they were still straight and on the fairway!    

Early in the round I found myself in some really unlucky positions just around and off the greens with debri from the overhanging trees leaving twigs and small branches lying against my ball which I couldn't move, I was surprised by some of the overhanging branches in front and over some greens, it made course knowledge very important, if you were approaching from the wrong side of the fairway you had to manufacture some low bump & run shots rather than my preferred lob it in the air style, however, I was genuinely very pleased with a good handful of up & downs with my new wedges.

I thinks it's always nice to finish with the same ball that you've started with, especially on a new course, and although I did test its resolve a few times I always managed to walk straight to it when I blocked a couple of drives, I did however get a couple of friendly rebounds back onto the fairway off the tight treelined fairways.

A very nice Enville draft beer was enjoyed afterwards along with a generous Turkey & Cranberry filling sandwich, the journey home was horrific in the driving rain but I didn't care, I got a round in at last so the twitching has eased somewhat, I just hope its not a few weeks until the next round, after all, I need to keep it going and get these clubs dialed in, because in case you hadn't heard, it's the YOTF.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Cold Turkey

First and foremost, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my followers who are reading my blog, I've had a very mixed 2015 both in my golfing exploits and personal scenarios, so, I'm quite happy to see the back of it to be honest, 2016 can only be more positive and hopefully bare more fruit, after all, it's The YOTF.

Well I know after Christmas Day it can seem that every snack and meal for days on end afterwards can include cold turkey, what I didn't think or ever bank on was that I could actually be experiencing it due to all the wet and horrendous weather we have experienced which has led to my golf course here in Coventry being closed for days during the holiday period!

With a few new golfing presents in hand to add to my bag, when was I going to get back out swinging?

So, for a few days immediately after Christmas I have been reading Ken Brown's "One Putt" book which was a present, my first impressions of it, is, that it will and should help me in my quest to drop some serious shots in 2016, because if there's one place where we all drop silly shots, it's on the putting green!  After discussing this book with a few other people and informing them of my targets for next season, I was encouraged to look at 2 other books called "Every Shot Counts" and "Golf Tough", so I went ahead and purchased them both, so I now have all 3 to read and absorb!

As you can see, I'm really serious about my 2016 golfing season and my targets, it's not just a hopeful whim without putting in the work, this is why I am very focussed already and preparing myself as best I can through the winter but without putting too much or any unnecessary pressure on myself, it's very important to me that I still enjoy myself out on the golf course, which I did yesterday when my course opened for the first time since before Christmas.

I managed to join up with 3 other members to form a 4-ball and play my first 18 holes in over 9 days, which felt more like 99 days, hence the title, Cold Turkey.

I joined up with our celebrity member Andrew Carman who's now off 1, my newly elected Vice Captain (Russ) and another long standing member, Bill, the balls went in the air, I was partnered with my VC who's off 8 and off we set.  I got off to a great start, even though I was first to drive and in such company and not having played with them before, I was so pleased to see my drive sail down the righthand side of the fairway, a deliberate easy 6 iron followed so I was short of the bunkers leaving me 110 yards to the pin, it was wet, damp and with a slight head wind so I gripped down on my 8 iron and stiffed it to 2 feet leaving me an uphill putt for par, 1-up. 

Overall I was having a very steady round, although I did knock 1 OOB (out of bounds) on our 4th (si2) the second time around with my 2nd shot, however, I was still 2 under handicap on the turn but unfortunately we found ourselves 2-down after 9 losing those holes to birdies! I didn't finish our 8th on the second loop of the front 9, I could have only got a 6/5 at best but another birdie killed us off and the hands were firmly shook.

As I've previously written, I just need to get off the tee with a better degree of consistency and stop trying to take the big dog out all the time, I also need to stop trying to make adjustments whilst in a match when it's not performing, especially as when I use my 12 degree Mini-driver it's just as long at times but far more accurate and controllable. 

So, it was great to get out on the course, although our back 9 was still closed, I'm also feeling a few aches this morning with not playing for nearly 2-weeks and piling on the Christmas pounds, and with it being quite soft underfoot, which I think takes a bit more out of you, a day's rest today will be enjoyed reading my books, but, I'm then off playing at the fantastic The Centurion Golf Club on Wednesday, which no doubt you'll read about soon.

No more Cold Turkey for me... 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Practice does pay dividends..

Well it nearly didn't happen, I read and looked at the many weather forecasts available to us all online nowadays to see if any of that unwelcomed wet stuff we have been receiving and which has closed my golf course for 2 (two) days during the week and only just about kept my front 9 (nine) holes open yesterday (Friday), was going to make an appearance.  All the forecasts were positive and they all stated no rain would show its ugly face until 11am onwards, so, I got ready early to hit the course at 8am, only then to come out my front door at 7.30m to face a wall of rain!  It was evident that it had been raining quite a lot in the night and was still falling, but hey, I was up and ready so I still drove the short distance to Coventry Golf Club.

On arrival, the Pro was just coming off the course and one of the greenkeepers was still doing a further inspection, however, the heavier rain I experienced just up the road north of the club hadn't fell on my course but it had rained through the night and with water tables so high any rain that falls at the moment just adds to that which hasn't had the opportunity to drain away, but then the news came through, were open, but still only on the front 9, but that's better than nothing.

So a few of the 8.30 rollup crew were now in attendance, a few 4-balls were quickly put together and the balls thrown in the air to decide what the pairs would be and off we went, time to put my 2 winter practice sessions to date into play.

Although were slightly forward on our yellow tee blocks, our 1st, a long 457 yard par 4 is almost impossible to reach in 2, especially with no run on the ball, but it also doesn't help when you've left the driver on the naughty step and have decided to use the ever dependable 12 degree mini-driver and then draw it a little too much into the left tree line at around 200yds, luckily I get a shot (index 6) so it's an angled chip out, a sensible short iron just short of the green staying away from the bunkers looking then to chip close enough to secure a single putt for a bogey, but it was not to be, a double bogey (6/5) start and the loss of the first hole!

This unfortunately continued for most of the first 9 holes and we returned to the 1st for our second lap 3-down.  I was really struggling off the tee, you constantly hear the saying "drive for show, putt for dough", well I don't agree, if you don't get off the tee with any degree of consistency it doesn't matter how good your short game is, your on the back foot, and when the opposition has a fist full of shots each and they're both playing off my partner, the pressure was on me to step up and use my shots in reply, but chipping out from treelines doesn't help!

But then, on our 2nd which was effectively our 11th for the round, a small adjustment was made, I relaxed, I committed more and Boom, it was back, a huge drive with a controlled baby draw around the dogleg leaving me a clear view and short iron into the green, back to 2-down, and so the fightback began as I started to drive the ball well and although not always getting to the green in regulation, my short game practice with my wedges really came into their own setting me up for a few easy gimmies.

Unfortunately just as my partner and I could smell blood to turn this match completely around and on it's head one of the other guys in the opposition pairing slipped and jarred his knee halfway up our 6th (15th hole), which we won also, he didn't take part on the par 3 7th which the 3 of us all parred for a half as he was struggling to walk, so we all decided to come in even though we felt we could have won the last 2 holes, it was the honourable thing to do.

So, in conclusion, my wedges and short game just about kept me in the game for the front 9, the amount of scrambling for a half here and there to keep us in touch felt exhausting at times as my driving was very poor, but then when the drives returned and I started to find the fairways, those drives coupled with my dependable short game brought me back into the match, and there was nothing to say we couldn't have gone on and won it, in fact, we both felt comfortable in that thought if it hadn't been for an injury.

So my practice with my new wedges and time on the putting green paid dividends, and my practice for the coming weeks will now be at the range with my driver and mini-driver, if I don't drive for show, I won't win any dough, let's see how a few range sessions work out, if they don't, it might mean I need a lesson to highlight what's happening as my driving has been pretty good of late, so something has changed and I need to identify it, quickly.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Winter practice begins....

In association with my declared, 2016, The Year of the Fish announcement and although I clearly stated in my, Put up or shut up blog post that I didn't like practicing, I actually went out and did some on Monday afternoon, and even more bizarrely, I really enjoyed it! although I wasn't overly impressed with the critique I received by some on the Golf Monthly forum when I posted up a video of me chipping, banter they say, hmm, I beg to differ!

Anyway, irrelevant of how my style looks to the curtain twitchers and purists, it is very effective and as the saying goes, "if it ain't broke....." and anyway, how many handicap club golfers have textbook swings, not many me thinks!

So, I spent just under an hour on the putting green, I have to be honest and say that this was the hardest of the practice exercises I did that afternoon to hold my concentration, I need to research a little more and find some various, but interesting and different drills to help me keep focussed I think!

I'm generally satisfied with my putting, although I did notice that I was far more confident and successful with much longer putts with various breaks in them than those straight forward  3-4 footers that are a must sink, the overthinking that can go into those are frightening and it's here where I need to improve and put the work and practice in, I think I will try a 4ft clock method that I've seen Peter Finch do in a video.

I then moved to the chipping area with a 2 pin green, although again this is an area in my game that I am very comfortable and confident with, I can't afford to take the foot off the pedal with what I believe is a critical part of my game, that's because I don't hit as many greens in regulation (GIR) as I'd like, so I really rely on my chipping to get me close enough to single putt saving pars, well that's the idea anyway.

However, I've just taken delivery of some new wedges, I stayed with Mizuno and upgraded from my MP-T4's to the new Blue S5's.


 I started chipping initially from 25 yards with my sand wedge which is 56/10 (56 degrees with 10 degree of bounce), I'm very comfortable with this wedge but in the current soft conditions I found that when they landed slightly short due to not having much green to work with and a forward pin position, my ball would check and stop too quickly, so, I then started to chip with my 52/09 with much better results, so mission accomplished.  I then moved to the longer chipping practice area we have at Coventry Golf Club and increased my chipping distances slowly out to 50 yards and again, I came away very happy.

With my course closed today I'm going to take advantage of hopefully a very quiet practice area and work on my short game irons, mainly my 7, 8 & 9, these are critical I think for me to not only find the green from anywhere inside 140 yards, but hopefully also find the area of the green to help me secure more single putts, if I can improve this side of my short game over the winter to match my current chipping and putting stats, I'll be in very good shape for my 2016 quest of The year of the Fish.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

SkyCaddie mappers do it in all weathers.....

For those that don't know me through the various golf forums or social media sites I frequent, I also work for SkyCaddie as a course mapper and I look after the Midlands & Central England area, covering the B, CV, DY, LE, NN, ST, WS & WV postcodes, and believe me, there's a lot of golf courses within those areas!

A glamorous job I hear you say, well not exactly, yes I get to walk around some great golf courses in my area and see some real hidden gems tucked away, but unfortunately you don't get the time to play them as you need to update the changes they've made and move on to the next golf course in that area, but you do get to take note of those courses and hopefully arrange to return and play them, and to be honest, there's been a good few just lately and some right on my doorstep that I hadn't really come across before.

Being a SkyCaddie Ambassador isn't a full time position, although throughout the year I keep in touch with all the golf clubs throughout my area by following them through social media sites, reading their own club websites along with email subscriptions and around this time of the year I will telephone my contacts for course updates as I'm always on the lookout for changes that clubs are making or proposing to make to their course, and dependent on when they make and complete those changes will depend on how quickly I can update them by walking their course, as only we do!

Most golf clubs will have a winter programme of changes for their course, so my busiest time as a ground mapper will be between January & April, this is where the glamour side of being a SkyCaddie mapper is found wanting, I will be out in all weathers during this period, I will be walking and mapping changes in pouring rain, freezing cold icy conditions and even snow, as long as it's not too deep!

Personally I like to have all the updates that I am aware of for my area completed by the end of March so every player using a SkyCaddie GPS will hopefully have a fully updated device with all the changes not only for their own course, but all the courses across the country updated which we have been made aware of, these could be courses they are visiting as a club team player, a local society outing or even golfing holiday, either way, our team of UK mappers will endeavour to have all golf course changes completed by May so you can all enjoy your golfing season with a GPS device that we keep upto date ourselves without the reliance or dependency of any third party which will only use aerial imagery!

As a golfer (loose term), when I'm walking and mapping a golf course and I come to a new hazard, lets say a bunker that now has a fairway run-off of 6 yards into it and a large mound immediately after it, I will mark the hazard where a ball can come to rest before rolling into the bunker and I will also mark the carry distance so the ball cannot roll back into the hazard, this is something aerial imagery cannot define from the sky, it will only see and measure, as best it can, the actual outline of the bunker, this in my opinion is where SkyCaddie and it's team of mappers really sets itself apart from all the other providers, what's the use of knowing that a stream is 175 yards away if the banks of it and fairway rolls into it at 160 yards and needs a carry of 195 yards even though it's only 10 yards wide!

Ground mapping is essential if you want and demand accuracy, that is something only a SkyCaddie mapper like myself can deliver for SkyCaddie members, no other GPS brand can boast the same!

Anyway, I don't want this to turn into a sales pitch, that's not my objective or position, but I will say I get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing whatever measurement I see on my device on any course I'm playing, and I play all over the country in opens and forum meets, I know it will be accurate and up to date and I can take my next shot with total confidence, I'll probably duff it 50 yards but that's another story for later.

I will announce in a few months all the golf courses I have already updated (walked) for 2016 and I will highlight any that I think are standout courses and worth a look at, this time last year I updated Longcliffe Golf Course in Leicestershire and I promised myself I would go back and play it in the summer, unfortunately due to injury and missing most of the golfing season I didn't get to do that, but I must say I was very impressed with the course, it had some lovely holes and was very well presented, so that course will be added to any more I come across this term to play later in the year.

So, when you see a lonely figure walking around your course with a satellite protruding from his backpack in horrendous weather or in the remote chance it's a nice sunny day, don't panic, we're not looking to build houses, although it does get a few members biting when we say that, it will just be me or one of my fellow SkyCaddie ground mappers updating your course, please pop over and say hello, or better still, a nice hot drink when I get in is always well received.

If your club has made or is planning on any changes to it's course, then please let me know, thank you.

Edit: 5th February 2016, unfortunately I have now resigned my position at SkyCaddie for personal reasons.