Archive for the ‘Clubs/Courses’ Category

Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – TSG Review…

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 4Having planted my ball on the 7th green at Peeble Beach (at the TSG Open Championship on a simulator!), the next thing I know I’ve won a golfing trip to Sicily courtesy of Golf Escapes and Il Picciolo Golf Resort.

And having added a few dates to our trip, here’s my review for my fellow Social Golfer members to enjoy….

By Paul Houghton


Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – location and accommodation, Facilities…

Il Picciolo Golf Resort in the centre of the Mediterranean island of Sicily is situated roughly 50 miles from Catania Airport.

The hotel is over half way up Mount Etna the scenery is spectacular.

The transfer cost is 120 Euros (one way) and takes 50+ minutes.

The hotel and course itself were built in 1989 but sadly the outside of the hotel reflects this and is badly in need of refurbishment.

On arrival you approach a rather dated reception, where details are taken, language is not a barrier but no help with luggage was offered?

Sadly, the first thing to note is the hotel is not overly disabled friendly, some steps are not accompanied with handrails.  However, the rooms are of a good size with on suite bathroom facilities.

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 5

They are clean and the chambermaid service is very good.  Towels and shower gel etc changed every day. The room boasts Sky television and a mini bar.  Only four coat hangers per person encourage you to travel light, but there’s plenty of space for clothing and storage is available.

The restaurant was very spacious but a little dark, the staff were courteous but surely on occasion.

The three-course evening meal costs 29 Euros and was very good, most of the time.  The Saturday evening buffet was superb, only the last night did I feel the food was of a poor standard.  The breakfast layout is bland but of good quality.

The service during breakfast seemed more relaxed.  I fell one evening slipping on a discarded cucumber slice and the staff were very quick to act, cleaning up the debris, but alas did not follow up to ask if this disabled man was injured, so we felt could have been handled better.

The hotel catered for coach parties which stayed one or two nights at the hotel, staff seemed more attentive towards them than the longer staying cliental.

The cocktail bar was run by a very efficient member of staff for most of our stay (7 nights) but when she was not on duty, she was replaced by staff who obviously did not enjoy the role.

The drinks were not cheap at £7 for a G & T, we were never offered a complimentary appetiser even though it was part of our deal?! As far as entertainment goes it karaoke style.

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - SicilyOne evening a singer sang along to backing tracks until midnight (about 5 hours), alas she was the only entertainment of the week and whilst it was ok, New York New York wears a bit thin after a while!

The spa was very tranquil and ticked many boxes as to treatments.

The staff there were helpful and made it a very enjoyable experience.  Information on the few trips (3) offered was sparse, no leaflets were offered.  A trip up Etna was offered for £100 but no meal made it seem very expensive.  Getting a taxi return to Taormina was over a £100 it was 30 minutes away.

Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – The staff…

To be brutally honest, overall, the staff communication was a problem the whole week.

There was a power cut one day, no explanation was offered to the guests and we only got into our room by seeking help from a cleaner?

The resort manager (Guy) did make an effort to discuss how our experience was going, he was very friendly and chatted whenever we saw him (he was English) but surprisingly, no other staff engaged to that level, instead, they saved their conversation for Italian guests

Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – The Golf Course…

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 2

The Clubhouse is situated a few hundred yards from the hotel.  Your round can be booked through the hotel, but buggies have to be paid for at the club. The Pro at the club is friendly and his staff are very helpful.

The office doubles with helicopter rides up Etna, so they are not only focussed with the golfers. A spacious locker room is accompanied by shower facilities.  There are drinks machines for refreshments and confectionary.

There had been a fire in the kitchens, so no other food was available at the golf club which was a little disappointing.

However, the Practise facilities are VERY good, a driving range, practice bunker with plenty of sand in it, a dedicated chipping green and practice putting green.  I was given free practise balls – refreshing as that wouldn’t happen in the UK.

A round of golf is not cheap at 85 Euros buggies are 45 Euros.  The course is nicely set out with some challenging holes but the clover (just off the fairways) is four inches long and thick.

 

Lost balls are inevitable as the fairways are no more than 20 paces.  I felt this was too penial, looking for balls becomes a bit of a chore when you’ve hit a good shot.

It’s a shame as the course has some dramatic holes, but its let down by unkept rough, clover, daisies and very poor signage. A stroke saver is essential for 5 Euros. The slope index does give the average golfer two shots, but it’s the looking for balls that effects your game. #

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 3

This is a very undulating course so if you’re going to walk be prepared, the temperature can fluctuate 10 or 12 degrees while you are out there. A fair bit of work needs to address these issues to bring the course up to its best.

However, one thing I will always remember is the scenic backdrop, the views of Mount Etna are spectacular…. and would make me return just to view again.

In summary, Il Picciolo Golf Resort could be an exceptional course but it really needs a lot of work on it to get it above a 3 out of 5 rating.

Would I revisit Il Picciolo?  Probably not until I see improvement in the course, its nowhere near the standard of courses for the same money in Spain or Portugal.

I think its pricing its self out of the market of the average golfer if it wants to attract the better player a lot of work needs to be done to compete with the Algarve etc.

TSG Verdict – 3 out of 5 stars

 

 

Unique Golf Courses of the World – Christmas Island…

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

Christmas Island Golf CourseFollowing on from Scottish Bob’s blog series on the Oldest Golf Courses of the World by continent in 2017, Bob now turns his attention to some of the lesser known courses around the world, this time its the turn of Christmas Island, Australia (Indian Ocean)…


Christmas Island, Australia (Indian Ocean)…

We have all heard the saying “All your Christmas’s come at once” but this can be true while playing golf on Australia’s most northern golf course!

Situated just 2,600 km, North, North-West of Perth, Western Australia and is Australia’s jewel in the beautiful Indian ocean.

Golf on Christmas Island golf is amazing, the course sits on top a volcanic seamount, pushed up by the volcanic eruptions many millions of years ago.

It is a 18 hole par 64 layout, with fully grassed fairways & greens and it is set on an eastern, gently sloping plateau.

The course is bordered by the Indian Ocean on the east and tropical rainforest jungle to the west.

The golf course was first established by Mr Jack Pettigrew in 1955, who many years earlier had cleared the area while being held prisoner by the invading Japanese forces.

The club is run entirely by volunteers and the course ideally located to catch the south-east trade winds.

Christmas Island Golf Course v2Christmas Island, Australia (Indian Ocean) – Thr rules…

The beautiful Clubhouse is perfectly placed overlooking the golf course and Indian Ocean, and according to one of the members, men are NOT allowed on the course on a Wednesday afternoon… and the women are NOT allowed on the course on a Friday afternoon.

If this rule is disobeyed the offending male/female will have to pay for the drinks.

While playing your round of golf, the flora & fauna will amaze you, as will the abundance of Frigate birds & Fruit bats and ‘Abbotts Booby’s’ nesting in the tall trees nearby. NO, it’s not what you are thinking, these are real birds.

However, at certain times of the year, you will come across the “infamous Red Crabs” or the largest land crab, “The Robber Crab”. This unique and endemic species has resulted in local rule concerning the crabs “pinching your balls”.

And at times, the golf course can be a sea of red, with tens of thousands of crabs making their way to the Ocean. During the months of November through to early January, the red crabs migrate from the jungle to the ocean to mate and spawn their eggs.

Breeding is usually synchronized island wide and it is estimated that there are around 40-50 million crabs around the island in total.

No, you can’t have “Chilli Mud Crab” as you can’t eat them, there are a further 14 different species of crabs on the island.

Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary (a shipping Vessel which was owned by The East India Company) named the island when his ship passed it on Christmas Day 1643. So now you know!

Till Next Time…

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

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Scottish Bob Davies


Other Unique Golf Course articles from around the world – courtesy of Bob…

The Social Golfer Golf Partner Offers…

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

The Social Golfer PRO member Partner OffersDid you know, that you receive a FREE ROUND of golf courtesy of CROWN GOLF (worth up to £35) when you renew or upgrade to a TSG PRO account for £29.98 in 2018-2019* + many other Golf Partner Offers.

Did you also know that ALL TSGers, can take advantage of discounts on Golf Balls, Insurance, Trophies and Travel – See below

More TSG Golf Partner Offers…

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Top Tips for Golf Holidays£25 off every booking… 

As an Official Partner of TSG every member qualifies for an exclusive £25 off every booking with Golf Escapes …

N.B. You MUST mention this at the time of booking! (T&C’s apply) 

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Trophies & Medals is the UK’s leading Trophy specialist – Visit Trophies & Medals

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Crown Golf & The Social Golfer renew partnership …

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Crown Golf & The Social GolferThe Online Golf Club & Golf Society, The Social Golfer have confirmed that Crown Golf will be its official site sponsor for a third year running….


Crown Golf (the UK’s leading Golf Club Operator) and The Social Golfer (TSG) have built an effective and commercial partnership over the last few years which has resulted in driving over £10K of Green Fees to the group in 2017!

Crown Golf & The Social Golfer – The new deal…

This year’s agreement sees an addition to their effective partnership, with 2018 seeing ALL TSG PRO account holders receiving a FREE round of golf at Crown Courses (T&C’s apply) as part of their annual £29.98 membership fee*.

Furthermore, Crown Golf will also replace The Altonwood Group as the Official Sponsor of the TSG MatchPlay Championship that runs throughout the summer months, with the final held at Pine Ridge Golf Club.

Crown Golf & The Social Golfer – Shared History…

The two brands first partnered in 2016 and as a result, Crown Golf saw over 350 rounds booked at Crown Courses by TSGers (their members) that year.

The renewed partnership will include sponsorship of Blogs, Emails, Newsletter Promotions, Advertising and reciprocal Social Media promotions and website linking.

In the last 12 months, The Social Golfer team continue to provide its unique platform for its members, with over 1000 events being organised via the site with more than 5K+ rounds played on the site.

In addition, the site network now holds over 5K Course reviews generated by its members. The online golf community also has over 5K registered users in the UK and 10k+ worldwide.

The agreement negotiated between Crown Golf Group Director of Sales & Marketing, Nikki Blacker and TSG Managing Director, Ian Mullins and will run throughout 2018.

Commenting on the deal, Blacker said “We have thoroughly enjoyed developing this partnership with The Social Golfer over the last few years and its rewarding to see the agreement working on both a commercial and branding perspective.”

Crown Golf - Pine Ridge - The Social Golfer

Crown Golf & The Social Golfer – What they said…

“Ian has created a unique platform for nomadic golfers and we couldn’t be happier to renew our sponsorship. We can only see this partnership growing and their network continuing to provide us with a great platform on which to engage with this audience.”

Mullins went on to say “We were delighted that Nikki and her team has committed to working with us for another year. It’s also incredibly refreshing to work with a group that both understand what we are trying to create with our platform and one that is fun to work with.”

“We believe this renewed sponsorship will provide our members the opportunity to sample some of the great courses Crown has to offer and at some fantastic rates!”

 


*Increase from £24.99 to £29.98 on 1st April 2018

For more information, please contact: theteam@thesocialgolfer.com

 

Chateau Des Vigiers is better than ever…

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Chateau des Vigiers Golf ClubOne of France’s leading golf resorts Chateau des Vigiers has prepared for the country’s first Ryder Cup year by making a wide range of improvements…


Chateau des Vigiers – The Resort…

Chateau des Vigiers, the 27-hole golf resort in the heart of the Dordogne wine region of south-west France, now promises ‘visiting golfers’ an even better experience.

With upgraded golf & leisure facilities, renovated bedrooms, and a sumptuous new wine cellar in the chateau’s Michelin Star restaurant, “Les Fresques”.

Known as ‘Petit Versailles’, the resort’s 16th-century chateau forms an enchanting backdrop when you check into one of the hotel’s 65 four-star rooms.

And if you’re a golfer you will find new-look changing rooms, a much more comprehensive pro shop and upgraded golf buggy tracks this season, as well as improved bunkers out on the golf course.

The latest Callaway and Titleist golf equipment is now available to test and buy from the Chateau des Vigiers pro shop, with the 2018 range of FootJoy golf shoes plus golf apparel from Under Armour, Adidas, Glenmuir, Rohnisch and Brax all on show.

Chateau des Vigiers Golf ClubChateau des Vigiers Golf Club – Property…

For those looking for a more permanent ‘home away from home’ in beautiful south-west France, Chateau des Vigiers also now has five brand-new golf homes for sale overlooking the 7th and 8th greens, each individually-designed by French architect Didier Griffoul.

The one, two and three-bedroom properties come complete with their own golf buggy, and give owners direct access both to 27 holes of French resort golf and to the estate’s many facilities, right on the doorstep.

If you are seeking to relax as well as play golf, the newly-renovated Spa at Chateau des Vigiers will reopen in May 2018 with a new hydrotherapy pool.

Three new treatment rooms and a new team of beauticians on hand with the 2018 range of Sothys Paris beauty products.

Chateau des Vigiers Golf Club – What They Said…

2018 is a significant year for golf in France, with the eyes of the world upon us when The Ryder Cup visits our country this September, and we are expecting to welcome record numbers of golfers to our wonderful facility.” said Niels Koetsier, Managing Director at Chateau des Vigiers.

Our goal is to end 2018 ranked well inside Europe’s Top 50 golf resorts, and among the top five places to stay & play golf in France.”

“Our enchanting location, our beautiful accommodation, our gourmet dining and of course our majestic golf course and chateau all make Chateau des Vigiers a unique experience, and these recent improvements will make your memories even more magical.”

Director of Golf Matthew Storm said: “Alongside the other golf facility improvements which we have made over the winter, we have also recently invested in our greenkeeping team. “

“As a result, all 27 holes will be in stunning condition for the new season. Our greens, tees and fairways offer truly wonderful playing surfaces, and golfers will find one of France’s best-maintained golf courses when they come here in 2018.”

New shareholders took a controlling interest in Chateau des Vigiers in July 2017, and have already spent in excess of one million Euros on improvements.

The resort is now under new management, headed by Niels Koetsier who took over as the resort’s new Managing Director, also in July 2017.


Visit www.vigiers.com to book your next trip to Chateau des Vigiers, or call the resort on +33 (0)553 61 5000.

 

Ends.

TSG Interview – Paul Armitage at Le Golf National…

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Paul Armitage - General Manager at Le Golf National, ParisFollowing our round on L’ Albatros we sat down with Englishmen, Paul Armitage (General Manager of Le Golf National) to discuss his vision for the course and his excitement at being one of the few people in golf to experience, and deliver, the greatest show on earth this September…


Afternoon Paul and thank you for giving up your time for The Social Golfer. Firstly, you don’t need me to tell you, but I think the course playing  superbly. 

The Ryder Cup layout not only provides the event with a natural amphitheater, but I have no doubt that it will also prove a hit with the spectators too. There’s a real sense of theatre about the viewing positions, which will generate a superb atmosphere.

So, what’s an Englishmen doing in Paris running a Ryder up venue, how did you get here and what has been your greatest challenge since taking over the helm in 2014?

“Well, I was born and bred in Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire and whilst I was an avid golfer, I was never good enough to think about being a golf professional and I never wanted to be an assistant pro.

So, I went to Northumbria University and studied international business finance. This included a year in France as part of the Erasmus program, meaning I discovered continental Europe at an early age.

Meanwhile, I was there, I was volunteering at a local golf course at the kid’s school and was later asked if I would be interested taking care of the competitions and events….

I did that job for three years, very happily, developing the turnover, membership programme, when a very exclusive private members club approached me to work for them.

However, as I was only 27, I was really far too young to take it through the change that was needed at that golf course.

As an Englishman, the Continentals assume you know everything about Golf, which of course you don’t but I coped and four years later we had created a Challenge Tour event and many high-end business events.

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

This then became a golf events agency, which turned into a marketing agency.

Later I worked for Le Club Golf, which is a network of 130 clubs (in France there is 700+ golf club with 50% of these belonging to a commercial group).

I was then asked to join the team at Le Golf National.  I started in August 2014 (after the bidding process) – the flagship venue for the French Golf Federation.”

What an opportunity, so what has been the Paul Armitage strategy at putting Le Golf National at the heart of the French Golf network?

“It’s been a creative process but ultimately, we can sum this up in a four-letter word. It’s not the one that you’re thinking of…. It’s LOVE!

It’s been about instilling this in all the staff minds and the visiting public. (Yes, Le Golf National is a PUBLIC course! – Ed.).

We concluded that we must put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and demonstrate to visitors, how much we LOVE the venue too

This follows through from the marketing staff through to the greenkeepers. The current Greenkeeping team is headed up by hugely talented and young man from Spain, who was working there for Jack Nicklaus design.

He also spent long periods in America. He is very passionate about the course and I think he’s brought 15 centimeters of extra sand on both fairways and greens.

We were very good from tee to green before 2014, but you wouldn’t recognize this place compared to today and that Is a credit to the team.”

So as a Public course, what is the business model?

Le Golf National - L' Albatros, Paris - Ryder Cup 2018 v2“When I started there was little difference on price across our three courses, so we immediately invested in L’Albatros (now circa 120 euros), which appealed to a higher end audience with the L’ Aigle (now circa 60 euros) providing visitors with a  more affordable green fee option.

This has allowed us to raise the quality of the flagship course hugely.

Previously the course has hosted more than 20 French Opens, meaning we are top of mind for French visitors but The Ryder Cup will allow us to reach golfers from further afield e.g. the UK.

In addition, the venue will be host to the 2024 Paris Olympics meaning there is a legacy for the course beyond September”

How and why was Le Golf National chosen as this year’s host venue and can you describe the course to potential visitors?

“Well one of the things going for us was the course was both established and proven in hosting big European tour events.

In addition, it’s also a good reward risk or reward golf course meaning that it is much loved by the European tour players, a big help when convincing the ‘powers that be’ to choose us.

Our well-earned reputation was also underpinned by the support from the French government and the French Golf Federation.

There was immediate state support ensuring the event was also secure and credible and not a financial risk.

In addition, all French golfers were part of a crowd-funding project whereby every golfer paid a levy on their membership fee to the tune of 3 euros per year.

Some of these funds were also channeled into the next generation of French academy golfers. The final reason is the proximity to Paris.

This will be the first Ryder Cup to be played in a capital city, meaning transport links, accommodation, are already in place”

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

So, if you had to sum of Le Golf National in one sentence what would you say and how much does it cost to be a member and what level of golfer do I need to be to play here?

“I want Le Golf National to be the MOST exclusive public golf course in the world!”

“We don’t have any members. We have a small number of subscribers who buy different Flexi memberships from around. 200 euros a month.

However, you have a handicap of 28 or below to play L’Albatros” (very reasonable! Ed.) Whilst it’s unfair to compare any golf course to another, we see Bethpage Golf Club as who we can aspire to be.

Bethpage is publicly owned by the Public Parks Council in New York. So, they’re very similar to us.”

Let’s talk about the competition, what are you really looking forward to most and what has been your most memorable moment so far?

“You know, I haven’t thought about this one. Hmmm…Of course, I am really looking forward to welcoming all the players on the first day.

However, I am very excited, about the first day when we will host the BIGGEST ever grandstand on the first tee in the history of the event but there is so much to do between now and then.

I guess the proudest moment of my career to date was to be asked to MC at the ‘One Year to Go’ event and Gala Dinner – a very proud moment indeed!

But now I think about it, I think there are many moments already which would have been amazing. It’s really a massive honour to do this job. I’m not joking.

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

You know, I don’t do it for free obviously, but it is an achievement in life that you look back on with huge pride.

What’s the best so far? Maybe working with the 800 kids in a match between Thomas Bjorn and Jim Furyk.

They didn’t actually play with a Captain of the USA and European teams, but they followed the youngsters in buggies with microphones, interviews, that was fun!

I am also looking forward to seeing how the teams react, The US team have got a young and friendly generation coming up who were changing things a bit American golf and they have built close relationships with each other than before.

Like our guys (European Team) 10, 15 years ago when Rose, Poulter, Westwood, and Rory were coming through, we were a team”.

The feeling we get from Bjorn and Furyk is there will be a friendlier atmosphere at this year’s cup but who is going to win?        

“Hmmm…. I’m going to send that one back to you. You must ask them that. It’s not for me to say. All I can say is they will both want to win!

I don’t mean to suggest that anyone will be unfriendly, but they are both wonderful people and highly motivated.”

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

And finally? What is your message to TSGers who want to come and play L’Albatros?

“Please come! We welcome all golfers to visit and enjoy a great experience. Play both a Ryder Cup AND the 2024 Olympic Games golf course.

And hopefully, you will fall in LOVE with Le Golf National too”.

Paul Armitage was talking to Ian Mullins for TheSocialGolfer.com

 


 

Our TSG Verdict: We couldn’t have been welcomed more by the staff and team at Le Golf National – our thanks to everyone there – we wish Paul Armitage and all his team well for September. We’ll all be glued to our screens cheering you, and European Team on to victory!

 

 

Crown Golf Membership – Love Golf, This February …

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Crown Golf - Love Golf This FebruaryWith romance in the air this month, it got us thinking about all the reasons there are to love golf this February and our Crown Golf Membership ….

Now call us biased, but there is just so much about this wonderful sport to be enjoyed, it seems impossible to narrow it down to a few key reasons.

We’ve done our best though, and come up with five, fact-based (see, we can be impartial) reasons people get into golf, and stay in golf!


Crown Golf Membership – Love Golf – 1

It varies (No game is the same!) – If you’re an avid Golfer, you’ve probably heard it more times than you can count, that same old question ‘Don’t you get bored playing the same course all the time’?

Simply put, the answer is ‘no’! That’s because, even though the course may be the same, the conditions on the day, the people you play with and your own particular golf will be completely different.

No game is the same. Not only that but if you do like a change of scenery, there are https://www.thesocialgolfer.com/ViewOffers.aspx?type=tsgpartnerclubsbeautiful golf courses at your disposal all around the country. Plus, a golf course is certainly more beautiful than a football pitch!

Crown Golf Membership – 2…

It’s steeped in tradition – Yep, in a world now full of contactless payments and self-driving cars, a round of golf is almost like taking a short time-out from the hustle and bustle.

Not only that, it’s a sport which requires certain etiquettes and respect, helping it teach us good manners and patience towards one another. There is something delightfully old-fashioned about this, which is another reason we love golf,  it’s a sport that requires a certain etiquette

Crown Golf Membership – Love Golf – 3…

It’s good for you! – No, you may not look at the average golfer and think ‘athlete’, however, there is a lot to be said for the effects Golf can have on overall health and wellness.

Being in beautiful surroundings and enjoying the fresh air can make you feel so much better mentally. It’s a time to forget about all other stresses in life and simply focus on the game.

Plus, according to ‘golf-monthly’, on average a golfer will walk over 6 miles during the course of an 18-hole round. With that kind of cardio, you’ll more than earn that post-round pint.

Crown Golf Membership – 4…. 

It’s social – You’ll rarely find a lonely Golfer. One of the greatest things about Golf often starts with the Clubhouse.

Crown Golf Membership - Love Golf This FebruaryYes, predominantly this is a place to socialise but more importantly, it’s a place where keen golfers can find playing partners who also love golf.

Regardless of age or ability, you’ll find a challenger who will bring out your competitive side, or simply help you to refine your skills. More serious?

You’ll also be able to sign-up to any club competitions in the clubhouse which will help take your game to the next level.

Crown Golf Membership – 5…

It’s a lifestyle – Meeting up with friends, old and new, Enjoying a great sport and be able to make yourself at home in a Clubhouse are just a few reasons people everywhere remain members of their Golf Clubs.

You don’t just love golf, you love the lifestyle and opportunities it provides.

The ability to travel and visit other courses, to constantly improve and challenge yourself and the access to fantastic facilities in the Clubhouses make Golf far more than just a sport.


 

Looking for another reason to love Golf? Currently, anyone who joins a Crown Golf Club before the end of February, receives a custom Putter fitting and a free Putter worth up to £80*.

Perfect for those who are wanting to get started, get back into the game or simply refresh their skills. Get in touch with a team at a club local to you and unlock your love of golf. *Or up to £80 towards a putter of choice.

To book a tee time today call… 0330 365 1818

 


Crown Golf is an Official Partner of The Social Golfer

 

 

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review …

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

It’s 2018 and that means The Ryder Cup year! As some of you may have read on the TSG Facebook newsfeed, we recently took up the invite to visit Le Golf National – the host venue in Paris. Here’s our special report from Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review…

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – The Club…

Although only built in 1990, Le Golf National is a much more established than its age suggests.  Designed by architects Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge.

It is located in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, southwest of central Paris, just 10k from the world-renowned Palace of Versailles, and only 4 hours drive from Calais.

However, Le Golf National differs from any other Ryder Cup venue in that it is a Public course. This means that there is no ‘club’ as such, and no ‘members’, only Pay & Players. The course is also unique in the sense that it is owned by the French Golf Federation (FFG).

In September 1985 the President – Claude Roger Cartier – with his committee approved the creation and development of a “National Golf” venue and it was quickly completed and opened by the French Minister for Sports by R. Bambuck in October 1990.

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – The Team …

The management team is small but effective and is headed up by Englishman Paul Armitage (who has been at the club since 2014).

Paul, who along with his very dedicated team has – over the last four years – put ‘LOVE’ at the heart of everything they do onsite, and its clear this strategy is paying off as everyone you meet including shop personnel bar staff are full of enthusiasm for the club (not always the case in the UK!)

This means it now rates among the best in the world. In addition, the course boasts an incredibly committed team of greenkeepers and advisors from the European Tour (preparing the track for Sept) but high praise was given to Spanish born Head Greenkeeper Alejandro Reyes, who at only 33 years old is the youngest person to ever prepare a Ryder Cup course.

The grounds, which cover 139 hectares, were originally flat and bare having been used as agricultural land since Louis XIV and the Château de Versailles when it was one of the areas where wheat was farmed.

Constructed to give a ‘stadium like’ feel to events and in time for the 1991 Open de France, The Albatros course has been their near-permanent home for the past 25 years.

In the wind and rain of the first day of the aforementioned first Open de France played on The Albatros, Nick Faldo deemed his score of 71 “Tough but fair”.

The Open de France had found its home. Other players from the European Tour also voiced their approval, mentioning The Albatros as one of their favourite courses.

In addition, to the flagship championship course, there is also The Aigle which was opened in September 1991, preceded by the 9 hole, Birdie Academy Course a few months before.

The venue has recently undergone a €7 million renovation programme to transform this national golf centre. The Championship Albatros course is now a globally recognised course with slick greens and vast undulating fairways dotted with large and small water hazards and innumerable links-style bunkers.

The course is consistently ranked in the World’s Top 100 Courses and Europe’s Top 10 by Golf World (UK) magazine.

We spent a long time chatting with GM – Paul Armitage – while in Paris and he shared much of his vision for the club.

This included an insight into the future of French Golf and while all eyes are focused on The Ryder Cup in 2018, it’s worth noting that Paul and his team have been successful at bidding to be the host venue for the Paris Olympics too.

Meaning, not only is there a legacy planned for the course but Le Golf National is also now home to the next generation of French golfers – with many young players to see as you make your way around the campus. More from Paul in the TSG February newsletter.

 Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – L’ Albatros…

An unforgettable experience…m

As you walk to the 1st Tee, you can sense, you can feel, you can hear the crowd: you realise that The Albatros is the perfect battlefield for one of the greatest duels in Sport.

The spectacular landscape has been created 30 years ago and recently remodelled. You cannot believe that it was constructed on old farmland.

It took more than 1k+ truckloads of rubble from Paris, tons of sand has been laid on the fairways and clever use of rainwater to create majestic lakes, ponds & streams.

Only the best sand has been used for this top European course, home of the French Open since 1991 and a favourite of the European players.

There is a lot of wildlife, from birds of prey to fish, frogs & butterflies, rabbits and many other wild creatures. The Albatros is a public course, so anyone with a minimum 28 handicap may venture and face the challenges ahead.  The experience will be with you for the rest of your life.

Every hole is well conceived, extremely aesthetically presented. At this time of the year, the landscape is bare, so the scenery feels delicate, imagine a very “dainty” ink/pen drawing. Obviously the Spring, Summer & Autumn will be a lot greener. A super space for the avid photographer with a suitable lens & eye for beauty.

We played the course on the 10th of January 2018, after 42 consecutive days of rain, the condition of the course is absolutely immaculate, from Tee boxes (choice of 5 colours), to the large & sweeping & undulating fairways, carpet-like feel, to the slick & well-shaped greens.

All with the very subtle slopes towards the water hazards, to the softest and driest sand I have ever played from and were always nicely raked.

However, don’t venture off the fairways, as the rough will punish you! Many other golf courses in the Paris region were closed due to the wetness but The Albatros stood stoically.

All the paths are tarmac, the signage is good, lovely course planner endorsed by the Greenkeeper at each hole, a ball washer & towel, and bin.

Le Golf National - Ryder Cup Course ReviewThe walk is not too strenuous but there are elevations as we are playing a Links type course.  We did not have much wind on the day but any wind will alter your thinking.

The pins position can be tricky, I believe the 1st hole will have nine pin positions, while the green is sloping towards a large lake, that will come into play on the 2nd hole as well.

There is a toilet at the end of the 6th hole which also serves the golfers need when coming down the 13th,  a water fountain is also located at this point.

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – Stand Out Holes…

It is very hard to pick my favourite holes as they all have a special attraction & challenge, the last 4 holes provide the most beautiful layout, water everywhere & bunkers! But here are our selected four holes:

HOLE 1 – Par 4, I was so excited to be at Le Golf National’s Albatros Course, that the 1st hole stole the show & set the tone of what to come, I got a good score too: a dogleg right, slightly downhill, wide fairway narrowing to the green with large expanse of water on the left.  The pin position can be tricky as the green slopes towards the water.

HOLE 7 – Par 4, This was Ian’s favourite hole. The 2nd hardest hole on the course, it begins with an uphill drive to a plateau, leaving a long iron shot over ‘moguls’ to a very well protected and sloping green – this hole could be a real a card-wrecker!

HOLE 13 – Par 4,  A downhill dogleg right, leftish to the green, with a fairly long carry to the fairway sloping to a water hazard on the right, a lake preceding the green.  Must be very pretty in the Springtime with all the foliage on the trees surrounding the approach.

HOLE 16 – Par 3, One of the 4 stunning final holes, short but water on the right and three large bunkers guarding the approach to the green. The day we played I had to shout Fore! as my lovely shot went towards one of the bunkers, lovingly attended by one of the greenkeepers, who kindly allowed me to take a free drop… I was very apologetic, who wants to injure such a great team!

The final four holes provide the most beautiful layout, creating an incredible finish: The 15th & 18th greens are islands.

I had the privilege to accompany Monsieur Mullins on this two-day tour of this extraordinary scene at the Golf National.

There is a nice atmosphere in this very well managed golf venue (there are 2 other courses, The Aigle 18 holes, and The Oiselet, a 9 Academy course), a very large open-air driving range, putting greens, a Clubhouse modernly furnished with bar for drinks & food.

A dedicated team, who understand what a golf course & surroundings need to be like, how to create an image, how to treat its visiting golfers, one can feel it is managed with “LOVE” (see above).

Extremely warm, friendly & relaxed welcome in the chic Pro shop/Reception (it tops Wentworth’s), gorgeous & technical golf clothing with all the other goodies one needs for a good round, lots of the 2018 Ryder Cup memorabilia, a very artistic photo book by Claude Rodriguez that got my eye.

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – The Verdict …

5 Out of 5!

My recommendation is to go, and go now!

You will have a very enjoyable experience on one of the Top 10 European golf courses, L’ Albatros will make history in the 2018 golfing world as its only the second time ever the event has been held outside of Great Britain.

For me, it was a proud moment to be on my home ground, I felt spoilt, I hope from the bottom of my heart that many “Social Golfers” will embrace the opportunity to play The Albatros course before end of August (or from October) and remember, if you need a native speaker, think of me….

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review by Brigitte Lockwood


Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – How To Get There with Golf Escapes…

Le Golf National Golf PackagesTSG official travel partner Golf Escapes can provide not only the accommodation and tee times at Le Golf National but all the help you will need in booking your Eurotunnel shuttle.

We used these experts to make our booking and it couldn’t have been easier.  Whether you want to play the course OR attend the event itself, Golf escapes can help.

Here are a few tips to remember when traveling to Le Golf National…

1. Le Shuttle Folkestone – arrive 45 minutes before departure to ensure a smooth experience.

2. Don’t forget the one hour time difference if you are planning to play golf on your arrival day.

3. Once you are in France, remember to drive on the right (this may sound obvious but…)

4. Know your obligations when driving in France e.g. warning triangles & high visibility jackets are a legal requirement. As are headlights reflectors, roadside recovery, a spare headlight bulb, your logbook and a copy of your insurance.

Finally, note, the course itself only closes just under a month before the big occasion.

For further details email us at info@golf-escapes.com , Click Here or CALL a member of the team on 01342 811 777

 Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – Find more TSG reviews here…

Macdonald Hotels – Golf World Top 100 Golf Resorts …

Friday, December 8th, 2017
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts

One of the UK’s  leading networks of golf venues, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, has further reinforced its status as Golf World magazine publishes its first ranking of the Top 100 Golf Resorts in the Uk & Ireland …

The UK’s largest independent hotel group saw all five of its golf resorts feature within the new list, which was compiled by an international panel of experts who considered the quality of a venue’s golf course(s), accommodation, amenities and setting to establish the standings.

European Challenge Tour venue, Macdonald Aviemore Resort, located in the Highlands of Scotland, which underwent a £1 million investment programme to develop its new clubhouse in 2013, was the highest ranked Macdonald venue, finishing 23rd in the inaugural classification.

Macdonald Hotels & Resorts – The accolades…

– Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa, Cheshire, was ranked 53rd

– Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, Golf & Spa, Peebles, was 64th

– Macdonald Hill Valley Hotel, Golf & Spa, Shropshire, was 73rd

– Macdonald Linden Hall Golf & Country Club, Northumberland finished 86th

Macdonald Hotels & Resorts – What they said…

Keith Pickard, Group Director of Golf, Leisure & Spa at Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, said: “Our prominence in this influential Golf World listing is the ideal endorsement of the significant investment we have completed over the last four years to further enhance the quality of our golf resorts and ensure we are able to meet the exacting demands of today’s modern golfer.”

The success in the Top 100 ranking follows an investment programme, which included a course renovation project across the five venues and the refurbishment of the hotels as part of a wider £10 million project in 2015, designed to further enhance playing conditions and customer experience.

Commenting on the 2018 rankings, Golf World’s Top 100 Editor, Chris Bertram, said:“The UK undoubtedly has some of the best golf resorts in the world and this inaugural list, which was compiled by a panel of Golf World readers, aims to provide a definitive classification. The five Macdonald Hotels & Resorts golf venues all offer golfers the opportunity to play consistently good and varied courses, as well as provide a number of accommodation options designed to ensure a first-class golf break.”

Macdonald Hotels

Macdonald Aviemore Resort, home of the Spey Valley championship course, was the highest ranked Macdonald venue in the inaugural Golf World Top 100 Golf Resorts in the UK and Ireland, finishing 23rd in the classification
Macdonald Hotels
All five Macdonald Hotels & Resorts’ venues were included in Golf World magazine’s ranking of the Top 100 Golf Resorts in the UK and Ireland

 

 

Macdonald Hotels & Resorts – More information…

– Established in 1990 by Donald Macdonald and colleagues, over the past 25 years Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has successfully expanded from its beginnings in Aberdeenshire to become the UK’s largest privately owned hotel group.

– Operating 55 hotels throughout the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, the group continues to invest and now employs over 4,000 staff and operates in excess of 4,500 hotel rooms.

– Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is proud of its promise to serve only the finest and freshest produce, with flavoursome dishes always prepared from whole raw ingredients.

– A forward-thinking, environmentally responsible hotel group, through its ‘Room 20’ programme led by internal ‘green teams’, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts continues to focus on achieving ambitious, self-imposed energy saving targets.

– This unwavering commitment to achieving the highest quality standards in every aspect of the business has seen Macdonald Hotels & Resorts receive numerous prestigious accolades.

– This has included named 2012-2013 AA Eco-Hotel Group of the Year, receiving the MIDAS award for the Best Breakfast 2011/12, a 2012 Good Egg Award by Compassion for World Farming, the National Customer Service Awards for Leisure and Tourism and the coveted 2013 Carbon Trust Standard.


How to calculate your Golf Handicap…

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

How to calculate your golf handicap?There a number of ways to calculate your golf handicap either via a recognised CONGU® Club handicap OR alternatively, golfers can use an Online Golf Handicap Tracking Platform such as the one offered by The Social Golfer.

However, be aware that Online Golf Handicap calculations are NOT approved by CONGU® (The Council of National Golf Unions).

But how do you calculate your golf handicap?

How to calculate your Golf Handicap – CONGU®*…

One of the unique things about golf is that unlike many sports, golf has a handicapping system that allo

ws players of varying abilities, to play against one another in a fair and equal manner.

In short, your golf handicap is….. the number of shots you would expect to take when playing a round of golf compared to a player who has no handicap e.g. someone whose handicap is 0.

This is not as difficult as you might think if you take a short time to understand the CONGU® system.

If you are a member of a club that is affiliated to one of the ‘Home Unions’ (ie, the governing body for golf in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales), then you are eligible to have a CONGU® handicap.

To get your first OFFICIAL handicap you will need to complete 54 holes of golf (this may be any combination of 18- and 9-holes*) with your card marked by someone who understands the Rules of Golf. (e.g. The Club Manager, Club Pro, Club captain, a committee member or another member).

Once your rounds are completed the ‘handicap committee’ will consider the scores you have made and, taking into account any previous golfing experience you may have had as well as any other sporting achievements, will ‘award’ you a handicap.

Then, every time you play in a qualifying competition your handicap may go up or down.

How to calculate your Golf Handicap – HANDICAP CATEGORIES*…

How to calculate your golf handicap?

Handicaps are divided into different bands – called categories.

Depending on which category you are in, the amount your handicap can go down varies.

Also, the amount you can play over your handicap (called buffer zone) varies before your handicap increases.

Category 1

Golf Handicaps of 5 or less

Buffer Zone = 0 to 1 shot

Adjustment factor = 0.1

Category 2

Golf Handicaps of 6 to 12 inclusive

Buffer Zone = 0 to 2 shots

Adjustment factor = 0.2

Category 3

Golf Handicaps of 13 to 20 inclusive

Buffer Zone = 0 to 3 shots

Adjustment factor = 0.3

Category 4

Golf Handicaps of 21 to 28 inclusive

Buffer Zone = 0 to 4 shots

Adjustment factor = 0.4

Category 5 (N.B. This category is for Women Only – they can have a Handicap fo Up to 36)

Golf Handicaps of 29 to 36 inclusive

Buffer Zone = 0 to 5 shots

Adjustment factor = 0.5

N.B. Everyone’s handicap is calculated to 1 decimal place but their playing handicap is the nearest whole number.

E.g. David’s exact handicap is 22.1 and his playing handicap is 22. Sue’s exact handicap is 10.5 so her playing handicap is 11. 3

How to calculate your golf handicap?How to calculate your Golf Handicap – Other things to know…

If you play ‘below’ your handicap, your handicap will be reduced by a certain decimal point for every shot under (see categories above).

However, if you play above your handicap (i.e. more than your expected GROSS Score, your handicap will be increased by 0.1.

You are allowed some leeway (this is your buffer zone – see categories above for different buffer zones), but once you are above your buffer zone, your handicap goes up.

The Good news is that no-one is expected to be able to play to their handicap for every round.

There is some flexibility: if you play within your buffer zone your handicap will not alter.

Under CONGU® rules, every time you compete in a competition you should return your card.

This is firstly so the competition organiser knows that you have played in the competition and secondly because the organiser may want to check your marker’s score which is on your card.

It is against the spirit of the game to put your poor scorecard in your pocket and drive home.

As already noted, it is your responsibility to play off the correct handicap. If you believe you have played under your handicap you must calculate your new handicap before playing in another competition.

Finally, when moving between handicap categories, the calculation gets a bit more complicated.

However, this is when The Social Golfer Handicap System** comes into its own. Just add your scores after every round and let our Handicap calculating system do the rest.

Once you have added your scores, TSG PRO account holders can then print off a copy of their TSG Handicap Certificate.

So there you have it, no more arguments on the first tee about who’s playing of what handicap!

 


By Ian Mullins

* source via www.congu.co.uk

**While The Social Golfer Handicap system is calculated using the similar formula as CONGU®, it is paramount that golfers know that no online handicap system is sanctioned by CONGU® and can therefore not be used in official club competitions. However, Online Golf Handicap Certificates are widely accepted as a ‘proof of playing’ standard by most clubs for casual play.