Archive for June, 2016

Golfing in the Algarve turns 50…

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

golfing in the algarveThe Algarve – Europe’s number one golf destination – has reported a record-breaking start to its golden year of golf, marking 50 years of golfing in the Algarve, since the birth of the game in the sunshine region.

Golfing in the Algarve turns 50 – Europe’s number 1 Golf Destination…

It’s hard to imagine the Algarve without thinking of golf, yet golf wasn’t born on this sunshine coastal area until 1966 when Henry Cotton first laid out the Championship course at Penina.

Fast-forward half a century and our alluring region has not only become one of Europe’s premier holiday spots, but also an award-winning golf destination.

With a staggering 40+ courses/layouts that can be played all-year-round, it’s no wonder the Algarve draws hundreds of thousands of golfers to its fairways each year.

The Algarve is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal, and more than half of its courses decorate the 150-mile coastline, which also boasts spectacular beaches, picturesque rocky coves, quaint fishing villages and a rich cultural heritage.

Golfing in the Algarve turns 50 – The stats…

The southern Portuguese coastline boasts 43 fabulous courses and fresh from celebrating its record year in 2015 when more than 1.2m rounds were played.

However, there was more good news with the release of results for the first four months of 2016 showing a huge increase of 17 per cent.

Figures for January to April showed more than 458,000 rounds of golf played – a staggering 68,000 more than the same period last year.

In real terms, that is more than 563 extra rounds played per day, as golfers flocked to the fairways.

Golf in Portugals' Algarve turns 50

Golf in the Algarve turns 50 – what they said…

Maria Manuel Delgado e Silva, ATA golf product manager, said: “What an amazing start to our landmark year for golf! As they say with a good wine or cheese – one gets better with age – and these results give us confidence that the Algarve continues to grow in popularity, attracting golfers from around the world”

“It has been a fantastic team effort from the thousands of people who work so hard and have shown such dedication throughout the Algarve’s golf industry.

“We believe we provide the best blend of golf, accommodation and hospitality, combined with climate, access and value for everyone.”

He added, “We would like to thank all golfers who have already visited and we are ready to extend a warm welcome to many more guests as our golden year continues.”

It’s a significant milestone for the region and it’s also fitting that the cream of European golf will be welcomed in October for the 10th edition of the Portugal Masters.

Thinking of golfing in the Algarve? Portugal is the perfect destination for golfers of all ages and abilities, with something to suit every taste and budget.

For more information visit: www.visitgolfalgarve.com or www.visitgolfalgarve50years.com

————————–

Associação Turismo do Algarve (Algarve Tourism Association) is the official entity, appointed by the Portuguese Tourism Board, responsible for defining strategies and to promote golfing in the Algarve abroad.

ATA is a non-profitable association, a joint-venture between the public and private sector.

Mark Crossfield to host London Golf Show 2016…

Monday, June 20th, 2016
Mark Crossfield

                                Mark Crossfield

YouTube sensation Mark Crossfield, whose golf coaching videos have received more than 90 million views, will host August’s London Golf Show and will give away six free lessons every day via his social media channels.

Mark Crossfield – Background…

Crossfield is one of social media’s most popular golfing figures, with almost 200,000 followers on YouTube, in excess of 34,000 Twitter devotees, and nearly 60,000 Facebook ‘likes’.

He is also one of the presenters of the new Sky Sports show Golf Juice. His videos cover coaching, equipment and course reviews, all delivered in his individual – often irreverent – style.

And he will be joined at the show by PGA professional Matt Lockey, who also enjoys a substantial following on social media, where he’s better known as ‘Coach Lockey‘.

The duo often work together to produce YouTube videos and will be reunited once more to entertain visitors at the show.

Mark Crossfield – Meet the man/men…

London Golf Show

                     London Golf Show 2015

Six lucky show visitors will, each day, win the chance to have a 30-minute lesson with Crossfield and Lockey, which will be recorded and shown on the former’s YouTube channel.

Mark Crossfield, who has been coaching golf for more than 20 years, will also host the daily ‘Innovations in Golf’ section on stage, which focuses on gadgets and equipment new to the market.

Welcoming Crossfield to the show, Events Director Simon Jones said: “Mark is the epitome of the social media star: somebody with excellent knowledge to impart, in an engaging way, on a specialist subject.”

He went on to sayIn just a few short years, his ever-expanding fan base has enabled him to become an established part of the modern golf media landscape and a ‘golf guru’ to the digital generationHis unique, enthusiastic style will enhance the event and add another interactive level to the show.

Mark Crossfield added: “I love golf shows. I love the excitement and the buzz about them, and the enthusiasm for the sport that visitors generate. So I was delighted to be asked to work with the guys from the London Golf Show.”

He addedIt will give me the opportunity to meet some of the many people who watch us on YouTube and to give a few lessons to show visitors. Also, and this is a great one for me because I love playing with gadgets. I’ll also be presenting the ‘Innovations in Golf’ section, which will highlight some of the great new ideas in the game – and also some of the wackiest. I can’t wait to get started.

London Golf Show 2016 – August 26-28th…

London Golf Show 2016

Launched in 2005, the London Golf Show is the UK’s longest-running consumer golf show and was designed to appeal to golfers – and potential golfers – of all ages and abilities.

With myriad interactive stands – including Nearest-the-Pin, Long-drive and Long-Putt contests; free PGA tuition; a massive indoor driving range featuring the majority of golf’s best-known club brands; custom fitting; club testing; trick-shot displays; simulators; the latest golf gadgets; extensive retail; and the opportunity to win everything from a packet of tees to an exotic golf holiday, it is the ultimate day out for any golf enthusiast.

London Golf Show – Purchasing Tickets…

Tickets to the London Golf Show, which takes place at Glow, Bluewater, in Kent are FREE for accompanied under-16s, and also for lady golfers, until August 25th.

Book your tickets before the 31st July and get them for the discount rate of just £7.50!

Entry will cost £15 on the door.

The London Golf Show takes place at Glow, Bluewater, in Kent, from August 26-28, 2016.

Tickets can be purchased from www.londongolfshow.com/buy-tickets

———————————————————-

For information on the show or on Mark Crossfield on Twitter at @4golfonline, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AskGolfGuru.

For further information please contact Dave Bowers (dave@theazaleagroup.com) or Andy Barwell (andy@theazaleagroup.com) at the Azalea Group on +44 (0) 1730 711920.

My Golf Obsession – Confessions of a Golf Addict Pt 2…

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

Paul Houghton - My Golf ObsessionLet me introduce myself, my name is Paul and I’m a golf addict!

My Golf Obsession – When did my golf addiction really start?

Someone once said, “The key is to learn from failures and then keep going!”

Well back in the late 90’s Scuba diving was my thing. I loved nothing more than hauling on a dry suit and submerging myself into the murky waters of Stoney Cove or Gildenborough water.

In the summer, I’d brave the Channel and other exotic destinations….

As life does it throws you a curve ball. I picked up an infection at work, (remember I was a roofer) the long and the short of it was I was diagnosed with Necrotising Fasciitis (the Flesh eating Bug).

However, after what I like to refer to as ‘my lost weekend’ I emerged from hospital minus 5 stones in weight… and my right leg above the knee.

What’s all this golf to do with golf you say? Bear with me….

Paul Houghton - My Golf ObsessionMy Golf Obsession – What I did next…

After my amputation, I did return to scuba diving but it’s a tough sport with two legs, let alone one. I did do a three and a half mile charity swim for McMillan but my love of this adventure had waned somewhat.

I needed a different challenge…

Enter Amputee Football. This started but I met the England national team amputee goalkeeper (as you do), he  only had one arm!

He put me in touch with the Southend United Amputee Football team manager and I was part of this circus for three years.

Amputee football is seen as too dangerous to be included as a Paralympic sport, so right up my street.

Over the next  three years; I rose to the heady heights of Chairman of the club but again life made some changes and it was time to move on….

Paul Houghton - My Golf ObsessionMy Golf Obsession – You look like a golfer!

A colleague of mine at work used to shout out; “You look like a golfer!” every time I limped past his desk.

He was recruiting for the Council’s golf society. “How can I play golf I’d answer?

Plenty of one-legged golfers out there he’d retort“.

This went on for some time, one day he made his usual demand; I stopped looked him in the eye, and said, “OK, put me down for your next event“.  It turned out to be Manor of Groves, Hertfordshire.

Now, ‘time’ had moved on in golf club technology, the Slazenger XTC’s were no longer state of the art equipment.

In fact, when I dug them out from the back of the garage, they were not exactly in what you would call in tip top condition either.

But they will have to do I thought. It had been roughly 12 years since I have hit a golf ball, so off to The range I went.

Paul Houghton - My Golf ObsessionMy Golf Obsession – Starting again…

Earlier I mentioned a quotation, which actually came from Sir Ranulph Fiennes. A man I deeply admire. So learning to swing a golf club with a bit missing can’t be that hard….can it?

Memories of those eventful outings with CT came flooding back.  This time around, I intended keeping the ball in play a bit more.

Life on a prosthetic leg can be kind of interesting.  The opportunity of crashing down onto terra firma is never too far away. Balance and stability are key to standing upright and keeping your remaining limbs unbroken.

Introduce the golf club, and life for the leg amputee gets slightly trickier.

I had a little over a week to nurture my swing into a competitive stroke, allowing me not  to look too foolish at the society bash.

The basic principles to hitting a golf ball on one leg are the same as with two.

Obviously over swinging is going to cause loss of balance, so having a more conservative swing with more focus on ball contact makes a lot of sense.

So with a few basic fundamentals in place I turned up at Manor of Groves anxious that I would not make a complete fool of myself.

What a day it was it was! It was a scorcher as the temperature rose into the 90’s, the other society members gathered. I knew a few from work to say hello but none you would call friends.

I was introduced to the captain, given a card “What’s your handicap?” said the secretary discreetly looking at my prosthesis which gleamed from my shorts.

I don’t have one!” I exclaimed. In the past CT and I had played off 18 but that was wishful thinking even then).

“OK how about we try you off 32!”

Seemed fair to me (although I didn’t think I could be more than 28?!).

Paul Houghton - EDGA - TheSocialGolfer.com

My Golf Obsession – It’s the leg, honest…

I was introduced to the four-ball I was playing with….

As you all know, Social golf is a great way of meeting new friends but being the new boy and being half robot does make you feel slightly apprehensive.

A suction socket on Prosthesis is sufficient in everyday life but for sporting activity and on a hot day, air expands and the stump gets sweaty.

So you tend to let out a fart like sound every time you get up from a chair especially getting out of a golf cart – what would these guys make of me?

I shared a bacon roll with my four-ball partners and made my excuses so as to collect my golf bag and get a buggy.

Thrupp off went my leg… charming the lady member of the four-ball exclaimed, my face reddened.

On the tee, I joined my colleagues, hit a scruffy shot down the fairway and took a big sigh of relief.

Thrupp went the leg; my female playing partner looked at me with disdain.

After a few holes, I was getting exceedingly hot, I had secured a few points and the two chaps I was playing with were nice enough, but the lady was a bit fierce.  She was a good player and very competitive.

On one hole she hit her ball into the rough; I thought she had given it up, so returned to my ball in front on the fairway.

She was very hot and bothered and hollered that she could still score if only she could find her ball.

I returned to help her search…Thrupp went the leg “That’s not nice” she exclaimed, “It’s very undignified“.

I can’t help it!” I offered…Thrupp! We played on.

Now this lady was very well-endowed and she was perspiring heavily. Her shirt had become very sweaty in the chest area and was becoming a bit see through.

About this time the others players arrived to help in the search. Hands on her hips she ripped into them (one of them must have stared, a bit too intently at her now semi-transparent shirt on course etiquette).

Are you looking at my chest she demanded!”  Thrupp! I tried to move uncomfortably away from the now intense debacle …only to hear her shout again “Will you stop farting, you rude man!” she screamed!

Needless to say, the rest of the round was a little tense, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Paul Houghton - EDGA 2015

Paul Houghton – EDGA 2015

My Golf Obsession – Back at the Clubhouse…

Shooting well over a 100 I was pleased to contribute a few points into the match even if I was last.

I declined the club cleaning service offered, as I feared the rust and dirt were holding the clubs together.

I left early from the meal careful only to let my stump give out a gentle ‘Thrupp’ as I got up from the table.

I saw my male playing colleagues look over smiling, my female companion was not.

Is that your leg making that noise?” someone asked…

You’ll never know I replied!” and hastily made my exit.

My golf obsession had begun!

———————————————————————-

Paul Houghton is a member at Riverhall Hall Golf Centre where he plays off 17. He’s also a member of the Disabled Golf Association and European Disabled Golf Association; he has represented England nine times in tournaments.

South Moor Golf Club – Augusta of the North…

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

South Moor Golf ClubThere have been many famous golf course designers who have made a name for themselves around the world but are there any more celebrated than South Moor Golf Club designer, Dr Alister MacKenzie?

He is probably most well known for being the designer of Augusta (home of the US Masters), Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne.

However, not so much is known of South Moor Golf Club in County Durham, England.

South Moor Golf Club – The Architect…

Nicknamed “The Course Doctor“, Alister MacKenzie was born in Yorkshire to Scottish parents in 1870.

He studied at Cambridge and Leeds Universities with degrees in Chemistry, Medicine and Science, joining his father’s medical practice in Leeds.

Away from work, he was an active member of the Leeds Golf Club. He went on to serve in the Boer War 1900-01.

After WWI he joined the Royal Engineers as Second Lieutenant in order to teach camouflage techniques at the Army Camouflage School in London.

Dr Alister MacKenzieHe later took up medicine again but then abandoned his medical practice in favour of golf course architecture.

His decision to do this was in part down to his strong conviction that golf had very real benefits for patients, and he was quoted as saying…

How frequently have I, with great difficulty, persuaded patients who were never off my doorstep to take up golf, and how rarely, if ever, have I seen them in my consulting rooms again!

He then emigrated to the United States and nine years after his work in County Durham, his fabulous Augusta creation staged its first Masters.

He died in January 1934 in California, the year the US Masters was inaugurated.

South Moor Golf Club – The Club…

Over the years the club has always been extremely well supported but in 2015, the club decided is was time to promote this little known gem to a wider audience.

The club originally started life as a miners only National Coal Board golf club in 1923.

MacKenzie was a friend of Basil Sadler, managing director of Holmside & South Moor Collieries and MacKenzie started work on the course two years after its opening to redesign its layout and his work is the bedrock of the course today.

Following the redesign, the club adopted the club motto ‘nil nisi optimum‘, roughly translated from the Latin meaning Nothing but the Best!”.

In 2011 The Daily Express portrayed the “Made by MacKenzie” stamp on our course when South Moor hosted the England Boys Open, the McGregor Trophy.

South Moor Golf Club – The Course…

South Moor Golf ClubThe layout of the course is as good as any the TSG team have played in recently. Each and every hole is different and you can certainly see where some of the Augusta layout was born.

The course starts with a simple Par 3, but don’t assume it’s an easy start. The green has more breaks and borrows than you can see.

Once away, the course meanders through parkland and undulating fairways but none of the inclines will leave you gasping for breath.

However, you will get to enjoy some great views across the Durham countryside.

All of the fairways are beautifully cut and the remains of the originally ploughed fields the fairways were built on just add to the attraction of the course.

Credit should go to the greenkeepers, who clearly love the course. All the tee boxes were immaculate and the yellow gorse (in full bloom on our visit) make the place a delight to walk around.

So, to the stand-out holes. The 4th is a challenging Par 4, dog-leg left finishing to a tiny green protected by bunkers – a real treat to play. The 7th is a perfectly straight downhill Par 4,  but you will need a measured shot to ensure you hold the green.

South Moor Golf Club

The 10th is again a testing downhill hole which requires a conservative drive (in fact most holes do), allowing you top plan your second and third shots to the green, over a ditch and a bunker protected green.

However, could there be a better finishing hole?

A 450 yards right to left terrain, your second shot to the green in front of the clubhouse will either win you the match or have you heading for the bar to drown your sorrows.

Finally, we mention the Par 3’s, as everyone requires a different club! Ranging between 140 yards and 180 yards, you will enjoy every one.

Did we like the course? No, we LOVED it!

In addition, all the staff were incredibly welcoming and all the members we met were very keen to know what we thought of the course.

Which tells you, just how much they do!

TSG Verdict: 5 out of 5

South Moor Golf Club

South Moor Golf Club

South Moor Golf Club – Where to stay…

If you require accommodation in the area, look no further than  Hill Top View Guest House in Meadowfield.

As good as any 5-star hotel we’ve stayed in and very reasonably priced rooms from £55 per night.

South Moor Golf Club – And finally…

Not many of us will ever get the chance to play at The Augusta National but if you want to get a flavour of what it’s like, you could do a lot worse than heading to County Durham.

Visit South Moor Golf Club, you will not be disappointed!

—————————————————————————————————–

For more information on South Moor Golf Club, the history and green fees information, visit the club website or contact the club direct on 01207 283 525.

By Ian Mullins