Archive for the ‘Clubs/Courses’ Category

The Open Championship 2020 returns to Kent…

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

The Open Championship 2020Its official, The Open Championship 2020 will be played at Royal St George’s Golf Club…

In the build-up to the 149th staging of The Open Championship 2020, the golfing world will turn its attention on Royal St George’s – also known simply as Sandwich – as well as the many other fine golf courses in Kent, putting the county in the media spotlight.

The Open Championship – Royal St George’s…

The Open Championship 2020 sees the competition return to the county after an absence of nine years; its last staging, also at Sandwich, was in 2011 when it was won by former Ryder Cup captain, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland.

Royal St George’s, recognised as one of the top 10 golf courses in England, remains the only course in southern England to feature on The Open Championship roster.

Royal St George’s is honoured to be chosen to host The Open Championship once again and it will be a fantastic opportunity to show the world what a tremendous golf offering Kent has in terms of top quality courses, excellent accommodation and a range of historic and cultural off-course attractions,” commented Tim Checketts, Secretary at Royal St George’s.

The Open Championship has a longstanding association with Kent. When it returns in three years time, it will mark the 18th time that the county has hosted the tournament.

Indeed 2020 will be the 15th occasion that Royal St George’s has staged the event, with the first time dating back to 1894.

Neighbouring Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club, another of England’s most revered championship links, was the venue for The Open in 1909 and 1920 whilst Prince’s Golf Club, adjacent to Sandwich, hosted the tournament in 1932 when it was won by Gene Sarazen.

The east coast of the county is also the location of another championship links gem at Littlestone and the challenging clifftop course at North Foreland, both of which have hosted Final Open Qualifying events for The Open Championship as recently as 2011.

The Open Championship 2020  – Other Kent Courses…

Kent also has an abundance of highly-regarded inland courses such as the two downland layouts at London Golf Club that were designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus.

In Edenbridge, Hever Castle Golf Club offers 27 holes in picturesque parkland, with its very own ‘Amen Corner’ from the 11th to the 13th of the championship course made up of the King’s and Queen’s nines.

Not far away in Lenham, an exquisite nine holes at Leeds Castle Golf Club overlooks what is said to be ‘the loveliest castle in the world’.

In addition, Pentland Golf’s downland courses at Boughton and Etchinghill are built on typical Kent terrain.

Boughton, near Canterbury, has taken advantage of the county’s naturally undulating landscape whilst with Etchinghill, close to Folkestone has been expertly carved out of the hillside overlooking the Elham Valley.

Golf in Kent is a partnership set up between Visit Kent and some of the county’s leading golf clubs and hotel providers to promote the county as one of England’s premier golfing destinations.

Known as ‘a golfer’s paradise in the Garden of England’, Kent offers a wide variety of golf breaks which are easily accessible from the international airports of London and from Europe via Eurotunnel le Shuttle and the ferry port of Dover.

For more about Golf in Kent and its partners, go to www.golfinkent.co.uk

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The Majors Part2 – The US Masters…

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

the US Masters In the second in our series of articles on golf’s Major events, this time we turn our attention to the second oldest event in the golfing diary – The US Masters!

Every year we get excited about the upcoming golfing calendar with some enthusiasm.

Each year there are different players in contention and no one golf tournament is ever the same!

The ‘Grand Slam’ events in golf include:

– The US Masters (Augusta National) April

– The US Open (Various) June

– The OPEN (Various) July

– The PGA Championship (Various) August

This is then now complemented but The Olympics every four years (from 2016) with the host city supplying the venue.


The US Masters…

the US Masters Universally seen as the curtain opener to the golfing season, The US Masters began in 1934 and is the only Major that is always at the same venue each year – the glorious Augusta National in the US southern state of Georgia.

The idea for Augusta National was the brainchild of Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones. Jones wanted to build a golf course after his retirement from the game. He sought advice from Roberts, who went on to become the Chairman of the club.

He sought advice from Roberts, who went on to become the Chairman of the club.

They found a piece of land in Augusta of which Jones is reported to have said: “Perfect! And to think this ground has been lying here all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course upon it!”

The land had been an indigo plantation in the early nineteenth century and a plant nursery since 1857. Jones hired Alister MacKenzie to help design the course, and work began in 1931.

The course formally opened in 1933, but sadly MacKenzie died before the first Masters Tournament was played.

However, MacKenzie was also the architect of other famous courses such as; Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne. (see South Moor GC)

The Championship is full of history and abides by some long-standing traditions….

Since 1949, a green jacket has been awarded to the champion, who must return it to the clubhouse one year after his victory.

Although it remains his personal property and is stored with other champions’ jackets in a specially designated cloakroom.

In most instances, only a first-time and currently reigning champion may remove his jacket from the club grounds.

A golfer who wins the event multiple times uses the same green jacket awarded upon his initial win (unless he needs to be re-fitted with a new jacket).the US Masters

The Champions Dinner, inaugurated by Ben Hogan in 1952, is held on the Tuesday before each tournament and is open only to past champions and certain board members of the Augusta National Golf Club.

Beginning in 1963, legendary golfers, usually past champions, have hit an honorary tee shot on the morning of the first round to commence play.

However, this honour was given up to the BIG three in Arnie, Jack and Gary but sadly this is no longer possible following the death of Mr.Palmer in 2016.

Other that have had the privilege of this honour include Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson.

Finally, the newest event at The US Masters is probably the best loved – The Par 3 Championship started in 1960, but it’s no indication of who will win the main event…. the winner of this Par 3 contest has never won the main event!

The US Masters – Qualifying…

The Masters has the smallest field of the major championships with around 100 players.

Unlike other majors, there are no alternates or qualifying tournaments.

It is an invitational event, with invitations largely issued on an automatic basis to players who meet published criteria.

The top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are all invited.

Past champions are always eligible, but since 2002 the Augusta National Golf Club has discouraged them from continuing to participate at an advanced age….

Who is eligible for that all important invitation…

– Masters Tournament Champions (lifetime)

– US. Open champions(five years)

– The Open champions(five years)

– PGA champions(five years)

– Winners of the Players Championship (three years)

– The Current US Amateur champion and runner-up

– Current British Amateur champion

– Current Asia-Pacific Amateur champion

– Current US Mid-Amateur champion

– Current Latin America Amateur champion

– The first 12 players, including ties, in the previous year’s Masters Tournament

– The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year’s U.S. Open

– The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year’s Open Championship

– The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year’s PGA Championship

– Winners of PGA Tour & playoff events that award a full-point allocation for the FedEx Cup

– Those qualifying for the previous year’s Tour Championship(top 30 in FedEx Cup)

– The 50 leaders on the Final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year

– The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published a week prior to the Tournament

– Most of the top current players will meet the criteria of multiple categories for an invitation.

– The US Masters Committee, at its discretion, can also invite any golfer not otherwise qualified.

The US Masters – Previous Winners…

the US Masters The first winner of the Masters Tournament was Horton Smith in 1934. He repeated his win in 1936.

The player with the most Masters victories is Jack Nicklaus, who won six times between 1963 and 1986.

Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have each won four, and Jimmy Demaret, Gary Player, Sam Snead, Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson have three titles to their name.

Player also became the tournament’s first overseas winner with his first victory in 1961.

Other notable winners include Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ben Crenshaw, José María Olazábal and Bubba Watson, who have all won the Masters twice

The US Masters – Who’s our tip for 2017…

It’s very difficult to predict the outcome of these events.

We all remember Jordan Speith’s now infamous collapse in 2016 allowing Brit Danny Willett to come up on the inside and steal the day.

As with many sports, modern technology now allows us to make a bet on our favourite players, even once the tournament has started.

However, if you are thinking of getting in on the action this year be sure you are using as respected and established company….

You can also now gamble on who finishes last, who takes the most putts across the week and even on who’s scores the most birdies but one of the recent innovations in picking the winner of The Major Championship is LIVE betting. E.g.  Betting on Live Golf Events*

* Bet responsibly (like the ad says, When The Fun Stops, STOP!)

There’s are plenty of reputable betting companies available on which to place a bet but ensure you are only using a recognised bookmaker who is also regulated by the UK Gambling Commission.

The US Masters – Our favourites…

US Masters GolfAs we write this article we are still some weeks away from the US Masters, so its probably too early to predict our winner but this year could be a vintage year.

Tiger is back, Rory wants to add this Major to his portfolio, Henrik Stenson is hungry for more Majors but as last year showed it could be anyone.

Maybe we should look to Official World Golf Ranking for inspiration….

1 1 Jason Day AUS 10.60
2 2 Rory McIlroy NIR 9.59
3 3 Dustin Johnson USA 9.19
4 4 Henrik Stenson SWE 8.42
5 5 Jordan Spieth USA 8.19
6 6 Hideki Matsuyama JPN 7.95
7 7 Adam Scott AUS 6.34
8 12 Justin Thomas USA 5.78
9 8 Patrick Reed USA 5.40
10 9 Alex Noren SWE 5.24

But, that’s about it for our tips!

The US Masters – And finally…

With the US Masters no longer just one of Golf’s big events but also one of Sport’s great annual spectacles, and as such we will again be parked in front of the TV come 6th April….and we can’t wait!


By Ian Mullins

 

Joining a Golf Club – Confessions of a Golf Addict Pt 4….

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Joining a golf clubLet me introduce myself, my name is Paul and I’m a golf addict!

So at this stage, I have been playing golf for roughly for three years, my ‘Society handicap’ was 25 (before I knew about The Social Golfer) and I still wanted to improve.

Fuelled with the comments made to me by other society golfers (that I have to play more) I decided it was time to be joining a golf club….

Now this is a big commitment as golf took up only about 10 days a year…not only was there the financial implications but also the commitment to playing the game every weekend. “My club would be a great place for you to start Paul” says one of my social buddies. 

They have a special offer on, of 18 months for the price of 12”  So I join, seconded by the fella that has recommended me the club.

Joining a Golf Club – Getting Started…

Off I go to meet the Secretary at the club. Now this club has/had no buggies so I have to buy my own. 

This is another financial outlay and getting the right machine to fit in my car is not an easy task.

Anyhow I find a machine for sale on e-bay; I put in an offer and win the thing! At the weekend I shoot over to Kent to pick the item up.

The machine is only a couple of months old and looks brand new, the guy selling the buggy only used it to watch his grandson playing he was not even a golfer.

He shows me how to dismantle the machine and I load it up in my Land Rover. 

Off I go, back to Essex with my newly acquired golf transport. On getting it home I reassemble it.This takes about 15 minutes and park the buggy in my garage.

I’d seen other buggy owners leave their machines complete using ramps to load and unload their ride-on’s. So back to ebay… I purchase a sturdy pair of ramps, that look as if they were built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel…they weigh a ton.

My then driveway was on a slope, I wait for my ex to go shopping then reverse the Land Rover in position, the rake of the slope is shortened by the ramps and I feel confident that the machine will almost roll unaided into the boot with ease.

I line up the wheels of the contraption and free wheel the buggy onto the ramps.

Creaks emerge from the ramps but they are so sturdy, I have nothing to worry about but what I had not anticipated was the weight of the buggy and the tyres gripping the ramps jagged surface. So I try and push the buggy, no joy though, the brute is stuck.

I have a light bulb moment, why do I not just turn the machine on and use the motors to locate the buggy in the boot.

I switch on the device turn the throttle and the buggy shoots forward wheels spinning up the ramp, the tyres are gripping like no tomorrow, the ramps start to shift and I am hanging onto the throttle for dear life.

The buggy lurches from the ramps precariously perched with two wheels in the boot, the others, one spinning furiously in mid-air one still on the ramp, I let go of the throttle and try to heave the machine the last three feet.

Crash one ramp hits the concrete, I am now the only thing hold the buggy up, I lose my footing (did I mention I only have one leg!) and the other remaining ramp gives way, we all fall to the floor. 

I am now pinned to the concrete driveway by a ramp and the buggy which is on top of the ramp; I am half under the car and can’t move an inch.

I try to bench press the machine but it slides further on top of me, I can’t reach my phone which is in my pocket…I am facing death by golf buggy on my own drive! 

There is no one in the house, help I shout weakly, half humiliated by the embarrassment but now also now starting to panic. 

“Help!” much louder this time, I hear footsteps. My neighbour’s (who had been washing his car) face appears grinning above the wreckage that is pinning me to the floor, ‘do you need a hand old chap’ yes I squeak I’m getting crushed.

After a few brief grunts and groans I am free from the carnage and thanking my neighbour profusely for saving my life.

After a few more dry runs, I mastered the buggy into the boot without any more mishaps and set off to my new Golf club the day after.

Joining a Golf Club – My first game…

joining a golf clubOn joining the golf club, I was told that the Saturday swindle would be a good way to introduce myself. 

So I pitch up at 7.30 am on a chilly October morning.  There are about a dozen or so men milling around in the car park. 

I introduce myself, balls are placed in a hat and drawn, and I am allocated a four-ball.

On reintroducing me to my playing partners, one announces ‘I’ve already said good morning to you once’ another says ‘do you work for the council?“Yes!” I retort. Are they going to build an F****** Mosque in Chelmsford?” he asks

Is this what people discuss on the course these days?… I think to myself!

I must confess, the round was not my best but after a few holes, I settled down and showed my partners that a one legged player could actually hit the ball.

On arrival at the 18th I was starting to feel a little more confident. I drove the ball just off the fairway but still in reach of the green that was about 160 yards away.

Grabbing my 6 iron, I fancied the approach shot. I lined up feeling one good blow would allow a possible par on the last; I had not got one yet.

Swoosh… I smashed into the ball which set off straight but then reared right, tuening into an almighty slice.

The ball clattered onto the club house roof and disappeared down the other side. “That’s OB” a member indicated, so I played a provisional (this time straight) but nowhere near the green.

I set off to retrieve my ball which when I got in the car park sat in the Lady captains parking bay next to her car. 

As I approached she got out of her car. ‘Well that shot was a bit wayward wasn’t it’ ‘yes’ I sliced it ‘never mind’ she replied bending down picking up the ball and offering it to me, I was still sat in my buggy.

I reached out to take the ball…but she held onto it with the grip of a steeple jack, I looked into her face which had been smiling, it now turned to thunder. 

She let go of the ball and announced ‘and don’t drive your buggy over the tee next time!’ to my horror I had done just that, in haste to fetch my ball. I returned to my provisional ball and promptly took an 8.

A game under my belt and only two more cards to go I would have my CONGU handicap…god help me I was now a Club Member….and clearly had some way to go before I had endeared myself to “the committee”.

By Paul Houghton

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Paul Houghton is a member at Riverhall Hall Golf Centre where he plays off 15 (on TSG). He’s also a member of the Disabled Golf Association and European Disabled Golf Association; he has represented England nine times in tournaments.

Golfing in Sicily …

Monday, November 7th, 2016

golfing-in-sicily-verdura-resortFirst thing that gets mentioned when people think of Sicily is the Mafia, quickly followed by the movie The Godfather, aka Al Pacino and Marlon Brando… however, when it comes to golfing in Sicily, all the talk is about the Verdura Resort!

And for those that have visited this ancient Mediterranean island, the discussion refers to beautiful coastlines, a temperate climate and the passionate locals – who’s love of fresh food and excellent wines are second to none.

Golfing in Sicily – The Location…

The infamous island of Sicily is found just off the South West coast of Italy’s mainland.

At its closest point it is less than 10 miles, however, the locals see themselves as very different from their mainland cousins.

Famous for its volcano (Etna), the rock that stands tall in the heart of the Mediterranean. The resort is located on the southern coast of Sicily between Agrigento and the fishing city of Sciacca, a 80-minute drive from Trapani and Palermo airports.

Golfing in Sicily – The Resort‎

Since opening in 2009, Verdura Resort, a Rocco Forte hotel has quickly established itself amongst Europe’s premier contemporary luxury golf and lifestyle destinations.

The resort is set in 230 hectares of stunning landscape with 1.8km of private coastline, and offers golfing guests and families a very modern five-star experience.

golfing-in-sicily-verdura-resort-7Verdura features 203 rooms and suites, all with sea view, and is built with the golfer in mind.

Golfers can enjoy the two 18-hole championship courses and a nine-hole par-three course, all designed by world-renowned golf architect Kyle Phillips and playable all-year-round.

Verdura was the host venue for the European Tour’s 2012 Sicilian Open and its three links-style layouts have been built to the highest specifications.

The resort’s Par 72 East Course is ranked as one of the finest in continental Europe.

While the West Course (also Par 72) provides the ideal complement and features one of the most memorable finishes anywhere in the world, with the final four holes set alongside the Mediterranean.

The courses are also supported by an on resort golf academy.

There is even a Par 3 course which is more than a good test, even for the seasoned Pro.

Verdura’s other sports facilities include six tennis courts; a 60m two-tiered infinity pool; numerous watersports, one football pitch,  fully-equipped gym and a collection of running trails through olive and lemon groves.

golfing-in-sicily-verdura-resortThe resort’s award-winning 4,000sqm SPA complex includes 11 treatment rooms, gym, yoga studio, a 25-metre indoor lap pool, four outdoor Thalassotherapy pools, a double-height steam room, male and female saunas and a SPA bar for healthy alternatives.

Guests can sample an authentic taste of traditional Sicily with an array of dishes at one of the resort’s four restaurants and five bars – with  fresh, organic produce sourced straight from Verdura’s own garden.

I enjoyed beautifully cooked steaks and marinated Tuna salads, all with the lashings of Olive Oil made on site.

You can even have Sicilian cooking lessons, which I did and managed to surprise my playing partners and even myself with a fine attempt at the local pasta dish – Pasta Alla Norma!

Verdura Resort has received widespread international recognition and won numerous awards since opening.

Among its most recent honours, it was ranked fourth in Golf World’s inaugural list of the ‘Top 100 Golf Resorts in Continental Europe’ and named by Golf Digest as a recipient of an ‘Editors’ Choice Award’ for Best International Resorts 2016.

Golfing in Sicily – The Accommodation…

Verdura Resort fuses strong, modernist, environmentally-sensitive architecture with design that is firmly rooted in Sicilian culture and inspired by this superb setting.

In keeping with the raw, rugged scenery beyond the property, the architect, Flavio Albanese of Vicenza and Palermo, applied minimalist, contemporary lines to the construction of Verdura‟s accommodation, spa, restaurants and outdoor entertainment arena.

In fact, one of the things you first notice is how low rise everything is.

Rooms are generous and simply designed and each room is self-contained in such a way that you would be forgiven if you thought you were the only people staying.

On numerous occasions we remarked on the peace and quiet to be found around the resort. This is complimented by the common use of bgolfing-in-sicily-verdura-resortikes by all the visitors, thus keeping down noise.

Each room has a private terrace with views of both the sea and the golf courses, the orange, lemon and olive groves, to the mountains in the distance.

In addition, Verdura Resort has green credentials at the heart of its design.

In 2014, in collaboration with the Botany Department of Palermo University, they committed to the creation and naturalization of wetlands, which are a stopping point for migratory birds and nestling waterfowl.

The project entailed the re-naturalization of the land by restoring over 70,000 native Sicilian plants and scrubs species

The East Course – 6200yards – Par 72…

The first tee on the East course is a 360 yard dog-legged Par 4 right with bunkers positioned on either side of the fairway at the turn.

By all means take on the pin with a high fade leaving you a short iron in to the raised green but over cook it and you’ll find yourself heading back to the tee. This hole sets the tone for the rest of your round.

golfing-in-sicily-verdura-resortThe front nine is mostly flat‎ but their are many undulations and protected greens that mean accuracy (not length) and  patience is required to score well.

The signature holes going out are the challenging 450 yard Par 4 with a tee required to clear water and your second needing to avoid the 30 yard turfed gully protecting the raised green  over looking the sea.

This quickly followed by the Par 3 6th, a 110 yard hole with the green surround by the pebbled beach of the ‎south Sicily coastline.

A flat circular green rewards the brave but you will find this a tough if a sea breeze is prevailing.

Finally, I’ll tip my cap to the Par 4 7th but only as a piece of unashamed self-indulgence, as this hole produced the greatest golf shot of my golf life.

A 175-yard end shot into a protected green, one bounce and in the cup for my maiden Eagle! (sorry Ed.)

The beginning of the back nine almost  mirrors the starting hole only this time it’s a dog-leg par 4 and your turning left. Following this, the course opens up.

Expansive fairways, soft sand filled bunkers,  a challenging Par 3’s (200+ yards uphill) but more chances to get a few pars on your card.

Holes 13, 14 and 15 lined by orange trees and sumptuous fairways all test the mid handicapper but once again it’s the 125 yard Par 3‎ where a Mediterranean sea backdrop stays in the memory.

The 17th and 18th also fail to disappoint. The penultimate,  a 400 yard Par 4, framed by roughly terrained hilltop shadowing the green.

The last, a 430 yard Par 4 that suggests a low fade but don’t cut it or you’ll be in the deep blue. The course finishes back at the rusty orange fort like clubhouse with a wide a sloping green that is asking to be birdied.

A comfortable and relaxed four hour round, a beautiful sunset, followed by some excellent local pasta. Bellissimo!

The West course – 6750 yards – Par 72…

Here you start your round by heading away from the shore inland.

The 1st hole is a 495 yard Par 5 that slowly bears left for your approach shot.

The green has a gentle incline moving from front to back meaning you can’t leave it short or you’ll be making bogey.

The stand out holes on this course are evenly spread but the 4th hole (also a Par 5) is a delight.

golfing-in-sicily-verdura-resortFairway bunkers to the right suggest staying on the left is the sensible option and a well placed second shot (again left) should leave you with a simple putt up the apron of the green to an immense green.

However, if you’re at the front, and the pin is at the back, you could find yourself with a 40ft putt, this course clearly needs some strategy.

Quickly followed by the 5th, a very challenging Par 4 with a 30ft drop in the middle of the fairway and up again, to the raised green.

‎As you head back south, the superb 424 yard Par 4 8th will invite you take on the green but be prepared to lay up and putt your way up to the elevated green the accept the bogey, as a wayward shot will leave you in the left side bunker with 8ft face to overcome.

Go long and you could find yourself on the beach earlier in the day than you’d planned.

As the heat of the day builds and given this course can be attacked by some strong winds (it is a links course after all) it’s important to keep abreast with speed of the greens.

They can vary in pace greatly‎.

As you pass the turn‎ hole 11 offers you a chance to open your shoulders and crack your best drive down a 511 yard fairway downhill.

The right side is a wall of reeds for the first 250 yards so stay left.

Two good shots are then needed as the green stand guarded by mogul like mounds. If you make Par, you’ve done well.

As you reach the end of your round, you are then met by arguably three of the best placed finishing holes in Europe.

15, 16, 17 and 18, are all flanked by the rocky coastline, you are challenged by a two shortest Par 3’s and two longish Par 4’s – the last finishing right underneath the clubhouse terrace where many enjoying a chilled beer or more likely a cocktail will clap you in.

Verdura Resort – Other things in the area‎

golfing-in-sicily-verdura-resortGolfing in Sicily is not the only pastime and on any golfing holiday, it’s important to go beyond the fairways and in this instance there is plenty to see and do locally.

Whether it’s visiting the ancient caves (Greek Temples dating back to 12,000 BC) in Syracuse or the regional wineries, which is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon, tasting and appreciating the local vine culture.

We visited the much awarded Planeta winery in nearby Menfi, less than an hour from Verdura.

Golfing in Sicily – The Verdict…

This is truly fantastic place to visit and perfect for golfers of all levels.

If you are considering golfing in Sicily, this is a superb destination for those seeking Autumn and Winter golf (it would be wise to avoid the hot summer months as it can reach as high as 45C in July) as this is a place I would happily return to, and not just for the golf…

If someone offers to take you to the  golfing in Sicily at the Verdura Resort, to paraphrase Mr.Pacino and Mr.Brando …. it’s an offer you can’t refuse!!!!

TSG Verdict: 5 out of 5


By Ian Mullins

Italian Golf leads the way as Play & Stay destination…

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Italian golf - Marco Simone Golf & Country Club Buca

NEW EUROPEAN GOLF RANKINGS REINFORCE ITALY AS LEADING PLAY-AND-STAY DESTINATION 

The reputation of Italian Golf courses as some of Europe’s key golf tourism destinations has risen to new heights after 10 of its leading golf venues were included in an eagerly-awaited new list of the continent’s premier places to play and stay.

Of the 49 countries eligible, only 18 were represented in Golf World magazine’s inaugural ‘Top 100 Resorts in Continental Europe 2017’ rankings, with Italy providing an impressive ten per cent of the venues selected.

Italian Golf – On the up…

Boosted by the launch this spring of the new Italy Golf & More project and being selected to host the 2022 Ryder Cup, Italian golf has enjoyed a record rise in overseas bookings this year, and its growing status in the European golf travel market is reflected in the latest rankings.

The magazine’s judging panel of seven international experts marked each resort in five different categories – golf courses, accommodation, amenities, practice facilities and accessibility.

Verdura Resort in Sicily was rated highest of the Italian entries, claiming fourth place in the influential industry list, with resorts from no fewer than six different regions – Piedmont, Lombardy, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Tuscany, Sicily and Sardinia – all featuring.

And key figures in Italian golf tourism have high hopes that the country will enjoy an even bigger presence when the rankings are published again in two years’ time, with four of the 10 resorts that the magazine highlighted as just missing out on the Top 100 list also being in Italian.

Italian Golf – What they said…

Bruno Bertero, project co-ordinator for Italy Golf & More, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many of our top resorts included in the new list, and this is a further indication of the high regard that Italy is held in across Europe.

“The worldwide profile of Italian golf is bigger that it has ever been before and rankings such as this can only be positive in helping to attract more and more golfers to our shores to enjoy the many delights we have to offer.”

Featuring no fewer than 141 18-hole courses, Italy is the ideal place to combine a golfing break with the chance to experience many of its other historic, cultural and gastronomic delights.

Helped by the creation of Italy Golf & More and the Ryder Cup announcement, the number of international golfers visiting has increased by record amounts in 2016 – with a further period of growth forecast in the coming years.

Italian Golf – There’s more…

Italy Golf & More is a collaboration between 11 private sector partner regions, the Italian Golf Federation and the Ministry of Tourism (MIBACT), who have come together to embark on a seven-figure investment to increase awareness, and future golf tourism traffic, from key European markets to Italy.

The partner regions consist of Friuli Venezia Giulia – the leading partner region of the project – Lombardy, Piedmont, Lazio, Veneto, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Sicily, Marche and Umbria – who together boast 115 of Italy’s golf courses – with seven further regions falling under the investment of the Italian Golf Federation.

With 20 airports in the UK now operating regular flights to all over Italy, the country has never been so accessible, while its warm climate and mixture of mouth-watering cuisine, fine wines, spas, history, culture and beaches make it the perfect location for a golf break.

For further information on Italian golf courses, please email info@italygolfandmore.com or download a brochure at www.italygolfandmore.com


By Peter Simm

 

 

 

Stoke Park renovations…

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Stoke Park renovationsBACK-NINE BOOST FOR STOKE PARK’S HISTORIC COURSE!

Stoke Park renovations…

Following a widely acclaimed renovation of its first nine holes last winter, Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel, in Buckinghamshire, is to follow suit on holes 10 to 18 from November.

In keeping with the work undertaken on the Colt course last winter, the scheduled refurbishment of the Alison course, comprising holes 10 to 18, will see every bunker fully renovated.

In addition, there will be new tees and an extensive reworking of the water features on holes 12 and 17, plus some cosmetic tweaks to the water hazard on 16.

The Alison will, consequently, be closed until the spring, but 18 holes will remain open throughout as members and visitors can combine the nines of the Colt (holes one to nine) and Lane Jackson (holes 19-27) courses.

Stoke Park renovations – What they said…

Stoke Park renovationsStoke Park’s director of golf, Stuart Collier, explained: “When we began the renovation last year it was always a three-year plan, with one of each of the nine holes being refurbished each winter.”

“The work on the Colt course has been a spectacular success and we’re now looking to bring the second nine holes in line with the first, both in terms of design consistency and playability.”

Additionally, we’re looking to create a truly world-class finish on holes 16 to 18, without losing the feel and aesthetic that Harry Colt was kind enough to leave us. And, in doing that, we need to also ensure the course can be played and enjoyed by golfers of all levels.

He went on to say, “We achieved that aim on the Colt nine and firmly believe we will, ultimately, attain the same high level of design aesthetic and playability on the Alison, to ensure the course is at peak condition for the 21st century golfer.”

Stoke Park renovations – What about the ‘James Bond’ hole…

Included in the Stoke Park renovations are the holes famously recorded for posterity in the 1964 James Bond classic Goldfinger – the 17th and 18th – when the eponymous ‘baddie’ was beaten by Sean Connery’s 007, in front of the clubhouse. So the legend remains!

The stunning course is laid out across 300 acres of parkland created by the celebrated Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown – the 300th anniversary of whose birth is currently being celebrated nationwide – and was designed by the equally revered golf architect Harry Colt, 1908.

Stoke Park renovations – How much is it costing…

This winter’s Stoke Park renovations, the middle section of a three-part project, is the latest instalment of a seven-figure investment in a facelift of the whole course by owners the King family.

The work begins on November 1 and the Alison course will be reopened to members on April 21, 2017.

Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel is one of just two five-AA Red Star golf clubs in England and the historic land on which it stands is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.

It was awarded the accolade of ‘Ultimate Members Club’ at the fifth annual 59Club Service Excellence Awards, held earlier this year.

The historic course played host to the PGA Matchplay in 1910 and has a thriving golf club with around 800 active members.

For more information go to www.stokepark.com

By Dave Bowers

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Golf returns to the 2016 Olympics…

Monday, August 8th, 2016

Golf returns to the 2016 OlympicsIs it really 1461 days ago since the great British public were all sitting on our sofa’s preparing for the greatest show on earth to descend upon London?

Good as it was, there was always one thing missing for the London 2012 Olympic games?

But what? Fast forward four years and we have the answer – golf returns to the 2016 Olympics!

Forget the Zika virus, forget those players not travelling to Rio, forget  the problems that have plagued the course forget the debates about whether the format should be individual or team based…

…GOLF is back on terrestrial TV and that can only be a good thing for the game!

Golf returns to the 2016 Olympics – The Dates…

It’s been over 100 years since golf last appeared in the Olympics and it was St. Louis, USA, that hosted the event that year.

This year the tournament will take place at the ‘The Rio’ course purpose built for the event in the Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood in western Rio.

The Men’s quest for gold will begin on Thu 11th and run through to the Sun 14th, much the same as all PGA/European tournaments. The Ladies quest will begin on Wed 17th and finish on Sat 20th – check TV listings for more details.

Golf returns to the 2016 Olympics – The Venue… 

Olympic golf course, Reserva de Marapendi, Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The new Olympic golf course was built by Hanse Golf Course Design, who was chosen from eight contenders to build the course.

The President of the Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016 Carlos Arthur Nuzman said: “As the 2016 Games marks the return of golf to the Olympic Games after over a century of absence, this course represents the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the sport.”

He went on to say…“It will enable Rio to host important events in the international calendar and it will be an example of sustainability and preservation of an environmentally protected area.

“This course will be an excellent facility for the practice and development of golf and will inspire millions of youth across Brazil and the globe. We look forward to welcoming the athletes and spectators to the course in 2016.”

After the games, the course will become a public facility and will be used to enhance golf’s profile within Brazil and, according to the organising committee, this would represent “one of the most important Olympic Games legacies for sport development in the country.”

Golf returns to the 2016 Olympics – Qualification…

Qualification to Rio is based on world ranking as of 11 July 2016, with a total of 60 players qualifying in each of the men’s and women’s events.

The top 15 players of each event (Men’s and Ladies) will qualify, with a maximum of four golfers allowed to enter.

Once all countries have selected their players any remaining spots will go the highest-ranked players from countries that do not already have two golfers qualified.

Furthermore, at least one golfer from the host nation and each geographical region (Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania) will play.

Golf returns to the 2016 Olympics – The favourites…

Unfortunately, many of the world’s best golfers are sitting out the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio due to the threat of the Zika virus, there will be a limited field for those who like a flutter  when the games get underway.

As always we have visited a number of betting sites to gauge the market, this time we have taken our lead from 888sport

Among the biggest names competing for the gold medal in men’s golf for the first time in the Olympics since 1904 is favourite Henrik Stenson of Sweden.

Stenson won the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon in Scotland last month, it was his first major victory of his career, and he now hopes to repeat the feat at the new Olympic Golf Course in Barra da Tijuca.

Stenson placed seventh at the PGA Championship last weekend and is expected to battle Sergio Garcia of Spain for the gold. Garcia is the second choice on the Rio Olympics odds and missed the cut at the PGA Championship following fifth-place in each of the previous events: the British Open and U.S. Open.

The other contenders for gold include Justin Rose of England, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar of the United States, along with Martin Kaymer of Germany.

Of those golfers, Rose, Watson and Kaymer have won majors while Reed, Fowler and Kuchar have all yet to prove themselves on major events, although maybe the Olympics will change that.

To be considered as well, reigning Masters winner Danny Willett of England.

The Olympic format will be a 72-hole individual stroke play tournament in accordance with PGA rules. A three-hole playoff will then take place if there are any ties for the first three places in order to award gold, silver and bronze medals.

Golf returns to the 2016 Olympics – TSG Prediction…

OK, we may be a tad bias, but  as golf returns to the 2016 Olympics, we think it’s going to be Justin Rose’s year – remember where you heard it first!

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By Ian Mullins

 

London Golf Show 2016 visitors in 2m+ giveaway…

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

London Golf Show 2016 - Chart HillsWith the return of the London Golf Show only a few weeks away now, the popular consumer show has teamed up with golf clubs in London’s Home Counties to give away more than £2million-worth of golf rounds to visitors of the show this August…

London Golf Show 2016 – The Offer…

Every visitor to the show – which takes place at Glow, Bluewater, in Kent, from August 26-28th – can claim nine free rounds of golf worth more than £300, simply by visiting the stands of each of nine clubs.

London Golf Show 2016 – The Clubs…

Each of the clubs – The Addington, Croydon; Bletchingly, Surrey; Chart Hills, KentCherry Lodge, Biggin Hill; Farleigh GC, Selsdon, Surrey; Surrey National, near Coulsdon; Weald of Kent, in Headcorn; Westerham, Kent; and Woldingham, near Whyteleafe – will give a FREE green fee to every visitor to their stand.

The London Golf Show 2016 – The background…

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.

They’ll be 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.

The London Golf Show’s Events Director, Simon Jones, said…

When we sat down at our initial planning meeting for the show, our first topic of conversation was how we could work together with our exhibitors to get more people playing golf – because that’s a major talking point in the golf industry currently. And we have been delighted by the response from exhibitors to our initiative to give away free round”.

Members are most likely to play at their own club, but occasional golfers – or people who may not have played for a while – are much more likely to play if it’s not going to cost them. And now they can with each show visitor able to walk away with more than £300-worth of free golf.”

“The London Golf Show is the longest-running consumer golf show in the UK – and this constitutes our best ticket offer ever. No question. It’s extraordinary value thanks to the generosity of our exhibitors.”

London Golf Show 2016 – How do I buy tickets…

Tickets to the London Golf Show 2016 are FREE for accompanied under-16s, and also for lady golfers, until August 25.

Tickets cost just £7.50 – until July 31 – for everybody else.

Entry will cost £15 on the door

www.londongolfshow.com

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/

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By Ian Mullins

Ashdown West Golf Club – TSG Review…

Monday, July 4th, 2016

Ashdown West Golf ClubIt’s always a pleasure to review new golf courses, so I felt very excited about visiting  Ashdown West Golf Club at Forest Row, East Grinstead to give it the once over.

Previously known as the West Course at  Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club, there’s a lot enjoy…

Ashdown West Golf Club – The Clubhouse/Shop…

Situated only 20 minutes from the M25, the club is very accessible from all directions and is well worth visiting!

Newer than its sister course, on paper you could be forgiven for assuming Ashdown West Golf Club is the “poor relation” to  the “Old Course” but then you would be very much mistaken.

We arrived at lunchtime and met at the West Course clubhouse, a 2004 extension to the main clubhouse, but by no means overshadowed.

A short walk upstairs led to a bar area that was pleasant and very welcoming with two  outside terraces that overlooked the 1st tee & 18th green and the range.

We ordered sandwiches from the lady at the bar (who was very nice indeed); the sandwiches were plentiful, attractive to the eye and, most important, very tasty.

If the rest of the menu reached these standards, which I’m sure they do, then, no one will be disappointed with their choices.

A quick visit to the well-stocked pro shop to collect our cards from the young Pro (they’re all younger than me these days!) a quick practice on the driving range and at the chipping area, and we were on our way.

Ashdown West Golf Club – The History…

Ashdown West Golf ClubFounded in 1888, the Old Clubhouse was built five years later and parts of it still remain remarkably unchanged today. The bestowal of the title “Royal” came in 1893 after a visit from the then Duke of Cambridge.

Very few golf clubs boast two 18-hole courses, both over 100 years old, especially those that differ as much as the Ashdown West and the Old Course.

Ashdown West snakes its way through the heart of the Ashdown Forest that spreads for over 20 square miles in this most beautiful part of Sussex. The ‘West’ was once the longest ladies’ golf club in England.

It was originally founded as the Ashdown Forest & Tunbridge Wells Ladies Golf Club in 1889, barely six months after the formation of the main club and was only the second of its type to be formed in Great Britain, after Sunningdale Ladies.

In 1932 the course was lengthened to 18 holes, the same year that the ladies’ club was awarded Royal status in own right.

Since then it has gone through a number of alterations and now welcomes players of both sexes yet still remains of sufficient quality to be awarded Golf World magazine’s prestigious accolade as the UK’s best course under 6,000 yards.

Ashdown West Golf Club – The Course…

The 1st was a straight, tight, par 4, but a great opening hole to look at.

The fairway and green were in great condition (all them are at West Ashdown Golf Club), even though the previous day had seen torrential downpours; you wouldn’t even have known there had been any rain here.

The first six holes include the only Par 5 on the course which crosses a road mainly used walkers and some cars.

However, as there were not many golfers out this afternoon, I guess that the dog walkers know this and take advantage of the fact.  Whilst unusual and slightly distracting, it is public land so don’t let it  put you off your game.

If you can accept you will see others as you make your way, then you’re in for a real treat for the rest of the round.

The next six holes were tough, even though you are hitting only short irons.

There are no run-up areas to the raised greens from the fairways, meaning no pitch and runs allowed here but instead having to land directly onto the greens.

This was because of having very bumpy, rough, natural raised areas just in front of the greens which compensated for not having a single bunker on the course.

Yes, I’ll say it again – NOT A SINGLE BUNKER ON THE COURSE!

Strange, you may think, but it made the play no less challenging at all.

Included in this six was the 240 yard par 3 eleventh hole. I defy any mid to high handicapper to get down in three shots, What A Hole!!

The last six holes are a real joy, beautiful views, sweeping tree lined fairways and wonderfully true but tricky greens, there was even some water to avoid.

My most memorable shot of the day came at the 14th (index 1), a 450-yard par 4 right to left dogleg. Now, I can’t draw the ball, but I can certainly fade it (some say Slice), with great regularity…

I took on the trees to the left, with my driver and managed to clear them with that familiar shape on the shot.

Only problem was, I couldn’t see the end result; a ramble down the fairway allayed all my fears as, there it was, in the middle of the fairway, oh happy days!

There’s a beautiful downhill par 3 at the 16th which is only 122 yards, but still very tricky. It’s a dream hole to have a hole in one, you look down on the green with a brook just short, and giant oaks and pines for a backdrop.

It’s a dream hole to have a hole in one, you look down on the green with a brook just short, and giant oaks and pines for a backdrop.

You finish on the par 4, 435 yard 18th which has two streams running across the second half of the fairway, even if you have a great drive, take these on at your peril.

You may end up in them, AS I DID!!

Ashdown West Golf ClubAshdown West Golf Club – The Verdict…

This is a fantastic short course in great condition that will test your game to the max…

However, why should this game always be easy?

The beautiful scenery at West Ashdown Golf Club alone is enough just to pay the green fee and, if you play at the right time, you could be going round for just £20 on a lovely Summer’s afternoon with hardly anyone out there to spoil your game.

I will be back many more times in the very near future!

TSG Verdict: 4 out of 5


By Mark Crane

The Social Golfer Polo Shirts – ON SALE…

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

The Social Golfer Polo Shirt It’s always nice to look stylish these days on the fairways and now you have the opportunity to model the TSG team colours yourself by purchasing one of The Social Golfer Polo Shirts …

The Social Golfer Polo Shirt – The Design…

After receiving many samples from lots of different Polo shirt companies, we were clear on the look and feel of the shirts we wanted.

We had five key criteria;

    – Good quality breathable material

    – Comfort and design

    – Affordability

    – Appeal to both sexes

    – Availability in The Social Golfer brand colours

The shirt we have chosen and are all 100% cotton and comes in two variations for men and women

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The Social Golfer Polo Shirt – Our Selection…

– Super long chunky placket details with matching buttons

– Contrast piping detail on collar, cuff and placket

– Twin needle hem provides added strength to the garment and improves durability

– Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) Certified Production

– Fabric: 96% Cotton, 4% Elastane stretch micro pique.

– Weight: 200 gsm

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The Social Golfer Polo Shirt – Costs/Ordering…

– Single Shirt with Embroidered TSG Logo – Left Breast

– We have sourced a very reputable provider of branded merchandise

Cost = £25 (including free delivery)

PLEASE NOTE: In order to keep costs down, will we ONLY be making orders on a bi-monthly basis OR when we reach the minimum order of TEN shirts.

NEXT ORDER BEING PLACED –  Feb 2017

Unfortunately, due to the nature of embroidery, once the shirt has been made up, the shirt cannot be sold again, so please be very careful when choosing the sizing.

However, there is a quality guarantee and if you are not satisfied with your order, you have 14 days in which to return the product. Contact us on 01277 – 200207

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The Social Golfer Polo Shirt – Sizing…

 

TSG Polo shirt sizing MEN

The Social Golfer Polo Shirt - Mens

 

 

 

 

TSG Polo shirt sizing LADIES

 The Social Golfer Polo Shirt - Ladies

xxx

 

 

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The Social Golfer Polo Shirt – How do I buy one…

That’s the easy bit.

Just click on any of the following links and pay using a credit card/ debit card or via PayPal account via the PayPal gateway.

So what you waiting for….