Archive for the ‘Competitions’ Category

EDGA Portuguese Open 2015…

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

As TSGers know, we always keen to help promote disabled golf whenever we can and this year is no exception. We asked TSGer Paul Houghton to send us his report…

EDGA Portuguese Open 2015

                  EDGA Portuguese Open 2015

The EDGA Portuguese Open 2015 – The venue…

Venue: Vila Sol Golf Club, Pestana, Portugal (17th – 19th November 2015)

Playing in my first official EDGA event, I’ve now been back a few days and have had time to digest  the experience overall and below is a summary of my experience.

There were about forty players in attendance some with partners. Most were together in their nationalities, especially the French which is understandable under the circumstances. (This was a week after the attacks in Paris).

I had arrived on the same flight as Andy Gardiner (Top British disabled player, he plays off a handicap of 4) and Will Hennessey (fellow hacker!). We were met and picked up from the Airport and transported to the hotel by Manon and Tony & Sue Bennett (EDGA Officials), who were both friendly and could not have been more helpful from the moment we arrived.

We checked in and rooms were excellent and all had balconies. There were swimming pools inside and out, and spa treatments were available (if you wanted them), I could tell I was going to be comfortable here!

There were also games rooms and plenty of places to relax as you prepare for the event and the food was fantastic all round. Everything was laid on and ran like clockwork….

The Clubhouse itself is fully accessible (although not that big), the staff are friendly, the beer and food is fantastic and very reasonable. The terrace beside the 18th Fairway is a great place to watch and eat lunch though balls to often come over the netting as Karen (my good lady) witnessed. (Will Hennessey also hit a lady while sky-ing his approach shot – tut tut!).

Paul Houghton - EDGA - TheSocialGolfer.com

Paul Houghton – EDGA – TheSocialGolfer.com

The Clubhouse is located only about 300 yards from the hotel ( I did carry my clubs to the golf club) but I need not have. You could pick up a buggy and drive back or the hotel would arrange to have you brought to the club.

In short, I really like EDGA…No complaints at all as to the running of the event. I had to undertake a medical, but that was done with dignity and very professionally handled.

The EDGA Portuguese Open 2015 – Practice, Practice, Practice…

A practice round was booked for Wednesday but managed to sneak in a bit of a practice on Tuesday evening too. It was a hot 22 degrees, which my body did struggle to come to terms with. I think you need more than one day to acclimatize especially if you are not playing golfers from the same country.

However, let’s not start getting in the excuses just yet….

I was very impressed to see ‘Ping‘ were set up with two professionals on the practice ground they were very helpful and very supportive towards the British players. They Offered tips and trials on …all their equipment but more on Ping another time…

I was down to go out just after 11.00am, when I got to the tee it appeared people had just gone off with their friends. It did not bother me as I jumped in with Will Hennessey and Mike Lincoln (Will’s Irish and Mike is a fellow Brit).

The first hole at Vila Sol is a brute even after you have hit a decent drive and because it’s a 400 yard par four you tend to try and kill it off the tee.

Anyhow, the three of us had great fun. I bought some balls half way round off a local lad £10 for 8 Pro V’s. I’d already lost four (!); I only contrived to lose two more over the next three days!

We went round in a little over four hours the three of us not having a clue where we were going.

I shot 95 so was happy having an eight on the first, I birdied the fourth so was looking forward to breaking 90 in the first round. Mike struggled a bit but went on to play really well in the actual tournament.

The EDGA Portuguese Open 2015 – The tournament…

Paul Houghton - EDGA 2015

Teeing Off at  EDGA 2015

My tee time for 1st round was at 10.30am a nice time I thought I was drawn against a Dutch Para-Golfer (Wheelchair user) lovely guy who had a Dutch golf referee as his caddy, I was not offered a caddy.

As a para-golfer, Jürgen was fast but still took three times as long as me. Sitting in the buggy in the hot sunshine I nearly dropped off to sleep – not great prep for being competitive!

All in all, I had a terrible round I hit so many trees, Jürgen nicknamed me the ‘Lumberjack’! By the 16th I wanted to walk in…..the greens had been cut in the morning and were super-fast. this meant we were out on the course 5+ hours, ridiculous given the group in front finished 3 holes in front of us. I shot 104 but did not care I just wanted a beer!

The organisers were sympathetic as to slow play but what can they do Para-       golfers cannot play any quicker? Jürgen had a poor round as well. I went back on the practice ground after the lager and fell in love with the Ping G30…again! (Did the beer change things?)

I had a restless night before the final day. I had finished very near the back of the field shooting 104 which was my worse round of 2015, the course was tough with a Slope Rating of 130 so all of us got 3 shots, but I let the slow play and narrow fairways get the better of me.

Sadly, in addition, my stump had swollen up overnight to the size of a watermelon, so I had to dose myself up with Ibuprofen my tee time was 8.00 am, with a one-handed Frenchman ‘Axel’.

Worse still, the Ping team had left the night before so I had to sort my alinement out by myself!

Andy and Will were not lighting the place up either so there was very little camaraderie amongst the Brits. Perhaps we weren’t playing as a team enough…..The French, Dutch, Swedes all drank, ate and practiced together!

So here I was, at the EDGA Portuguese Open 2015. I teed off into the winter sun, down the middle hit a good second shot, my approach on the first was online but we never found the ball? The sun was so low you could barely see the green. So with a ‘drop’, I scored 7 after 2 putting!

I lost my drive left into water on the second and was already facing a nightmare. My opponent had had a 5 and a par when we walked to the stroke index 1, the third. I scored a double bogey on this monster uphill par four on all three rounds; my opponent took nine (9)!

Anyhow, a scrambled a half decent 47 going out birdie-ing the 8th – a 530-yard par 5. We had already been out on the course well over two hours my opponents caddy kept apologising for how long her player took. He lasered every shot from the tee to the green, it drove me mad….

However, as he became tired and his game suffered more than mine. I shot 48 back nine, not good but after 5 and a quarter hours I was like a walking dead zombie…..

I finished 13th and 25th out of a field of 35 overall – so respectable but no silverware!

The EDGA Portuguese Open 2015 – The Politics…

After the first round, I chatted to some of the other players and spoke at length with EDGA President –  Tony Bennett. I was also amazed to hear that Jamie Blair (England Golf, Disabled CEO) had flown out to watch the first day, spoken with some of the British players but not to me?!

Paul Houghton - EDGA 2015

Paul Houghton – EDGA 2015

As there were only four of us, I think he should have made more effort, anyhow he was gone by the Wednesday evening. As an aside, I also subsequently found out that the Dutch team were paid 500 Euros to attend with a brand new shirt for each day,… the French had the same.

So why does golf’s British governing board want to help us in this way? N.B. And these were much bigger teams of players?! They give EDGA money each year, which goes toward supporting the event but out of the 40 odd players only 4 of them were Brits!

There is also already an agreed agenda on what impairments can take part, it does not look to me that anything other than physical impairment will be considered for these events. #discuss

To be honest playing alongside wheelchair users does not work for me as an amputee, a time system has to be considered. Some players want penalties for slow play administered, five hours plus in sweltering temperatures has to be addressed as amputees our body temperature climbs and fatigue kicks in.

I am trying to devise a way of combating slow play. This has to be achieved, EDGA will be looking at it seriously. I believe that penalties for groups taking more than 4 hours 30 minutes must come in.

So, hopefully,  you’re now getting the flavour of the event, you’ll appreciate a two ball over 5 hours!

EDGA have volunteer marshals on every third hole, the marshals may be given the power to effect penalties – it’s some we have to consider for larger events.

For the next event I believe the DGA should try to enter more players, many DGA players would qualify if they were willing to undertake the medical scrutiny, certainly something to consider for some.

I know Mr.Bennett is passionate in developing a strong British contingent but right now I think like the other countries have the tournament as they want it; there are no plans as yet to have a UK EDGA tournament, although Tony intimated he wanted more players from the DGA (Disabled Golf Association) attending events.

The good news is that Sergio Garcia is now EDGA’s Patron – which will help raise the profile of these events!

In December 2015,  the International Golf Federation has been excepted by the International Paralympic Committee – so it looks as though golf will be a Paralympic sport.

Pro’s – Great golf course, top players, superb hotel, good food… the weather!

Con’s –  very few British players, not a course for high handicappers, slow play.

The EDGA Portuguese Open 2015 – The finale…

The Gala evening was spectacular with an opera singer and harpist. The EDGA Portuguese Open 2015 gala evening was very professional a great occasion and a chance to mix with your fellow competitors. There were great speakers from all the winners. Andy Gardiner finished best of the Brits coming 7th. 

Manuel De Los Santos won the event in a playoff from Mathieu Cauneau. 

So would I enter again? Absolutely, the Portuguese EDGA Open 2015 was a great experience!

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N.B ALL disabled golfers receive a FREE membership to TheSocialGolfer.com, if you are a disabled golfer and wish to join, please contact theteam@thesocialgolfer.com for details.

Thesocialgolfer.com 2016 tournament news…

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Thesocialgolfer.com 2016 Tournament News: Dates & times for your dairy…

Thesocialgolfer.com 2016 tournament newsTSG MatchPlay 2016: (sponsored by The Altonwood Group):

Our 2015 event went all the way to the wire, with the final being contesting on the green of the 18th hole. John Barber finished our victor.

Once again there will be spaces available for 64 TSGers to fight it out in a monthly knock-out competition beginning in April running through to September.

This year’s Grand Final will take place at the testing and picturesque Woldingham GC in South London on Sunday 25th September.

Register here for the TSG MatchPlay 2016

Thesocialgolfer.com 2016 tournament news

The TSG Masters 2016:

We recently posted this event on the games calendar, and after the qualifiers have been contacted a ballot will take place to find the final attendees.

Please note there is only room for 32 places on this day – so please be quick to sign up for the ballot.

The venue will once again be Warley Park in Essex and will take place on Saturday 23rd April.

Register here for the TSG Masters 2016

Thesocialgolfer.com 2016 tournament newsTSG Par 3 Championship 2016:

Having established this event in 2015, we will once again be hosting this competition at the Pedham Place, Par 3 Academy course. There is room for 36 places on this day and it is ONLY open to TSG PRO members.

The date for our TSG flagship event will be Saturday 18th June. Last Year’s winner Brian Scott will no doubt be back to defend his title.

Register here for the TSG Par 3 Championship 2016

TSG OPEN Golf Day Championship 2016: (In aid of winner’s charity)

Thesocialgolfer.com 2016 tournament newsNow in it’s sixth year, we are currently looking at the possibility of moving this comp to a new venue this year. In the short term, we can’t tell you much but we are provisionally looking at weekend of 23/24th or  30/31th July.

THE TSG ‘OPEN’ competition, all TSGers and their guests are welcome to compete on the day. As well fighting it out for the Halliwell Cup, there is a guest trophy to be won and plenty of prizes.

More information to follow.

Can’t wait this long to play – post you own game here…

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Posted by Ian Mullins

The Home of the Ryder Cup…

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Ever wonder how and where the Ryder Cup came to into being. The home of the Ryder Cup is none other than Verulam Golf Club, St.Albans, where Samuel Ryder played…

The Home of the Ryder Cup…

It’s a little-known fact but the official home of the Ryder Cup is not St.Andrews, The Belfry or any other well-known clubs in the UK. But it is at the club where Samuel Ryder was a member along with his coach Abe Micthell.

It was as captain in 1926 that Ryder presented ‘a cup’ to promote matches between the USA and Great Britain. It is of course, a matter of history that the cup was named after this great man.

His first stint as Club captain was actually in 1911. the course was originally designed as a 9 hole course by civil engineer Earnest Phillips. However, six years later James Braid extended the course to 18 holes.

Other members at the course included members of the “Great Triumvirate” including John Henry Taylor and Harry Vardon. While Ryder’s coach Abe Micthell and Henry Cotton also enjoyed the course.

Samuel Ryder & Abe Mitchell

Samuel Ryder & Abe Mitchell

Inside the Home of the Ryder Cup…

It’s refreshing that when you enter the clubhouse, you could be forgiven for not knowing where you are?! The way the club present this history is very understated and I can’t help feeling if this were America, this would be a shrine to the sport we all love.

However, once you look beyond the old style decor, you soon notice little references, like the portrait of Ryder, The named Ryder Cup room, the back and white images on the walls but most inspiringly, a copy of the actually agreement drawn up by Ryder and his associates, outlining how this international competition should be played!

The Home of The Ryder Cup – The Trophy Cabinet…

There are two other key points to note as you walk around, there is an ‘almost’ replica trophy of the world famous cup sitting behind the glass cabinet… is it the Ryder Cup? It looked like The Ryder Cup? No, it’s a similar design, that was given to Abe Micthell as a thank you from Samuel Ryder.

Which brings as to one of the rare facts, that most are unaware of…. who is the figure that sits on the top of The Ryder Cup?

Mr.Samuel Ryder himself? No, it is Abe Mitchell, his coach.

The Home of The Ryder Cup – The course & members…

Unfortunately, on visiting the club, I did not get to play as I was there for a meeting but I was superbly greeted by ex-captain Geoff, who could have been more courteous and welcoming. He was very keen to share the history of the club and was quick to ask me to be his guest for a game, next time I am in the area.

I will take Geoff up on this offer and judging by how well looked after the 1st tee box was, I am looking forward to stretching my legs around this hidden gem.

I’ll leave the final comment to one of the TSGers who played there earlier in 21015…

“I decided to have a crack at Veralum after working out that it’s the closest course to me, located in the chalk belt just north of London… which means it ought to drain better than my local courses. Unfortunately, the first time I played here, it was below freezing and the ground was completely solid, so it wasn’t possible to test the drainage theory. Anything that landed on a green bounced 30 feet into the air and off the back. Quite entertaining but not good golf.

The course was interesting enough though for me to go back a week later and it’s a really attractive course, with no duff holes and a couple of really standout features (such as the chasm on the 15th). There are two ranges, a chipping area and a practice green.

The staff are the friendliest I’ve ever encountered at a golf club. The bacon baguettes are amazing, the bread is still warm from the oven. The Pro and his staff were in the bar chatting to us after the game and the members we met were all very smiley and welcoming. The total opposite to some clubs, where their first reaction to visitors is to check for dress code infractions first and ask questions later. At £20 a round this is great value. Oh, and the Ryder Cup was born here!Steve Rawlinson – Jan 2015

You see, this really is the Home of The Ryder Cup!

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By Ian Mullins

Win six months membership to Crown Golf + Callaway XR 3-wood….

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015
membership to Crown Golf

Win six-month membership to Crown Golf

Once again we are letting you know about a fantastic competition and your opportunity to win a six-month golf membership to Crown Golf AND win a brand new Callaway XR 3-wood in August!

Membership to Crown Golf…

The membership at Crown Golf comes with a number of benefits which you can find on their website. These include free golf at 22 other clubs, discounted global golf breaks and there is zero cost to Junior golf membership for kids.

Crown Golf operate a variety of golf clubs across nine counties, displaying some of the best clubhouses, facilities and driving ranges not to mention over thirty-two golf courses.

Packed with diversity, the Crown Golf Group boast seven pay and play clubs, sixteen membership clubs and one of the finest golf courses in the country, St Mellion International Resort in Cornwall.

So how do you win a membership to Crown Golf?

It’s easy, all you have to do is fill in the web form on the Crown Golf website and you will automatically be entered into the prize draw.

So, whether you would like the 3-wood for yourself or to use it as a gift or prize, it is a superb piece of equipment and was recently awarded 5-stars by Golf Digest for performance, the only 3-wood to achieve full marks!

membership to crown golf

 

 

 

Other benefits with membership to Crown Golf?

– Periodic ‘member only’ offers on club branded items, stroke-saving devices, electric trolleys, clubs, bags and balls.

– Free Golf Insurance with their preferred partner, Carrick Neill. Applicable to 5 and 7 day named memberships.

– Members get 40% off rack rate green fees when playing in a golf day at another Crown Golf Club

– Members guests with a reduced green fee when playing at the member’s ‘home’ course.( Varies by club)

– Receive members discount rate on buggies

– Get 10% off casually purchased items when paying with Membership Card with credit on, at ‘home’ club

– Advanced booking window for members and an online tee booking service

– Member clubs, work with local businesses to secure local partner discounts and special offers for our members.

+ All Crown golf courses offer beautiful surroundings for weddings, parties, conferences and any private function.

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Organising a charity golf day – Ten Top Tips…

Sunday, July 26th, 2015
Organising a charity golf day

Organising a charity golf day…

So you’ve taken on the responsibility for organising a charity golf day and now you need some advice on how to make it run smoothly, it’s fun and at the end of the day, ensures it raises funds for the chosen charity…

We’ll having attended and arranged many days ourselves, here our top ten tips for organising a charity golf day or a society golfing day!

1. Organising a charity golf day – The Venue…

Arguably the most important decision you will make. The venue should be chosen based on the quality of the course and the green fee/meal cost but also on the location and reachability of your guests.

Whilst most golfers (and some non-golfers) will happily give up their day to attend your event, it’s unlikely that they will want to drive more than an hour, so bear this in mind when choosing the venue.

2. Organising a charity golf day – The Handicap System…

Again, a very important decision some will choose to follow the strict CONGU handicap system (which is only available to golf club members) OR you may wish to accept those with an online golf handicap certificate, like those provided by TSG.

Alternatively, if you are looking to run a simple ‘fun’ day, then you will have to accept handicaps based on trust. However, bear in mind if you choose the latter, then you may hear the odd ‘Bandit’ shout from some of your attendees on the day.

Organising a charity golf day

Organising a charity golf day

3. Organising a charity golf day – The Planning…

Ultimately, your focus has to be on your guests and those attending. Everything you do on the day goes toward the overall experience. Given that there are normally only a few winners of silverware at the event, it’s important to ensure everyone feels included.

It’s the little touches that will make your day stand out above others, so make sure you plan properly! Here are a couple of things to consider:

The Costs: Consider the amount of money you wish to raise and then work back from there. Make sure your calculation takes into account the cost to your guests and not just yours(!). Think about how far you are making guest’s drive (this is all part of their expenses). Check the cost of playing at the course on a normal day. Take into account the meal bill and of course, consider negotiating with the club.

However, don’t be greedy when setting the attendance fee. Too many people when organising a charity golf day, forget that they have to provide value as they are not only giving up their cash to support you but also their time.

All too often we hear of golf days being over-priced e.g. £70-80 (sometimes £90+) when the standard green fee is £20. A good guide is to make £10-15 per green fee going to the charity. However, we see no reason why you can’t make a day work at £45-50.

The Format: There are many options to choose from including standard Stableford format, Texas Scramble, Team Comp. Putting Comp. and a fun way to keep the group chatting is a Yellow Ball comp.

It is worth contemplating playing your golfers of a 3/4 Handicap or 7/8’s. This can be seen as a controversial move but one that is adopted my many organisers, as it levels the playing field and stops the ‘Trophy Hunters’, who ‘claim’ to play off 28 (but are really much better) from spoiling the day.

Finally, if you are playing team games and have a spare team of only 2 or 3. You can work around this by taking an average of the 2 or 3 players performance and that score represents the 3rd or 4th player in the team.

The Trophies: Will there be one winner or multiple winners? Will there be a separate Ladies comp? Consider adding a Straightest Drive (Longest Drive comp. often excludes many from winning), Nearest Pins, Nearest Pin in Two (second shot), a Secret Six Holes (unmarked on the cards), Beat the Pro and many more.

The Four-balls: Arguably the most important decision you will make is who plays with whom. Ensure you have an even spread of playing levels in each four-balls but also consider the personalities.

It’s no fun if you are a quiet player, if your playing partners are a noisy and chatty bunch – it just won’t work. Equally, it’s important that your day is not ‘cliquey’. So don’t just puts mates with mates.

The Fund-Raising: There are many ways to increase your fund-raising outside of the days entry fee. It could be that gathering gifts and prizes to hold a raffle. Perhaps, you can ‘sell’ Mulligan Vouchers for £5 a time to be used on the day. It may also be an opportunity for a local business to add their name to things by way of a cash injection by way of sponsorship in return for some marketing around the event.

If you have some special prizes, consider holding an auction. However, don’t let either of these events take up too much time. 20 minutes is a good guide or people will lose interest.

Organising a charity golf day

Planning ahead…

4. Organising a charity golf day – The Day…

Registration: Welcome the guests with a designated area/table where you can confirm their arrival distribute the scorecards (it is often a nice if you have already marked the shots to be given to each player before hand).

The Gifts: Water (if it’s a hot day), give out some tees, a ball marker, maybe a pitch repairer, perhaps a sleeve of golf balls?

The Tee Time Schedule: Print out a copy of the four-ball groupings for displaying on the club wall. This will prevent constant questions from everyone on with whom and at what time they are teeing off. Leaving you to concentrate on the registration

The Briefing: Prepare a welcome speech and ensure that you have checked any local rules at the golf club hosting the venue. Also inform the players of timings, meals times and if raising money, consider preparing a video to let attendees know where the funds will be going.

Marshalling: It is advisable to discuss the marshalling of the players while they are on the course. Arrange for a buggy from the club so you can follow your golfers as they go around the course.

‘Speed of play’ is always a massive issue when organising a charity golf day and make it clear to everyone how to prevent slow play.

Photography: If you have the time when marshalling, take the opportunity to photograph your guests (perhaps even take video). Once back at the clubhouse you can then show the images on a TV screen while the players are enjoying a post-round drink and meal.

This also provides a great talking point and can create a nice buzz among the golfers.

5. Organising a charity golf day – The Scoring…

If you have more than 30 players attending your day, ensuring you have enough time to do it. You can enrol the help of the club pro or a good trick is to only ask for cards with scores of 30 pts and above.

This will cut down the time you spend checking scorecards and give you more time to concentrate on the winners and any count-back calculations.

Organising a charity golf day

Prize Giving

6. Organising a charity golf day – Prize giving…

Assuming you have picked your trophies and medals for the display table, look to add some additional prizes to the display. It’s always nice to win silverware but a few sleeves of golf balls, golf towels and gloves here and there add to the rewards for winners. Perhaps also add a guest trophy.

Make it clear that you will be asking the winners to come up one by one and try not to announce the scoring until after you’ve announced the winner. It would be a good time to hand the camera to an able lieutenant at this point, so you can present the awards.

Caution: If you are spending big money of the main trophies, think about having a smaller version made for the winner to keep. That way they don’t have to take the main trophy home, meaning it never gets lost, broken or worse unreturned!

7. Organising a charity golf day – Looking after the guests…

Let’s not forget, we all like be spoiled and catered for. So ensure your guests know where you are at all times and most of all take time to talk to them. A little conversation from the organiser can give a ‘personal’ touch to proceedings and makes the guests feel cared for and welcome.

8. Organising a charity golf day – Thank yous…

All the prizes have been given out, the meals finished, the raffle and auctions are over. Make sure you close the day by either asking one of your winners to make a speech, on behalf of the attendees OR summarise the day yourself by making a thank you to all those involved in gathering prizes, scoring cards, bar staff and greenkeepers.

You may wish to return to the club in future years and it’s just good manners anyway.

Organising a charity golf day

After the day…

9. Organising a charity golf day – After the day…

It’s no surprise that in the age of digital technology at the fingertips of most us, everyone likes to see photos of themselves playing. So consider distributing the best of these by email after the day, giving you another chance to thank everyone for coming.

It also a nice opportunity for you to explain where some of the funds you have raised will be going, this maintains momentum and a feel good factor for organising a charity golf  day in future years.

10. Organising a charity golf day – Enjoy it!

Finally, don’t let it become a chore. At the end of the day, if everything runs smoothly you will be feeling proud of your efforts and humbled by having watched so many golfers having a good time.

However, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you can do it all yourself. Don’t be afraid of recruiting volunteers, even if just for the auction and raffles.

Raising monies for charity can be both rewarding and fun, so enjoy it!

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Looking for prizes for your own charity golf day? Contact theteam@thesocialgolfer.com and we will happily donate TSG Pro membership’s prizes to your charity golf day!

By Ian Mullins

The Open Championship 2015: What Can Fans Expect?

Thursday, June 25th, 2015
The Open Championship 2015 - 18th_Green_and_Clubhouse St.Andrews

18th Green at St.Andrews

The Open Championship 2015 is just under a month away and things are already beginning to heat up with pundits, players and fans all clamouring to get ready for golfing’s oldest tradition.

Taking place at the venerable St Andrews Old Course between the 12th and 19th of July is the 144th Open Championship.

If you’ve not yet got up to speed on the prior goings on surrounding the Championship, here’s all of the hottest news you need to know….

The Course….

Alongside iconic features such as the 700 year old Swilcan Bridge, Hell Bunker and Road Hole Bunker, players and their fans will likely be anticipating the rather tough ground of which the course is so known for, plus the rather tempestuous Gaelic weather!

Of course, the mere fact that this year’s Championship is being held at St. Andrews should be eliciting glee within golf lovers’ hearts, as nothing short of thrilling should be expected of a round at the spiritual home of the game.

The Players…

BMW Wentworth

BMW Wentworth – Rory McIlroy

All eyes this year will be on the ever-excellent Rory McIlroy who, alongside being touted by bookmakers to be the winner of this year’s event, will be looking to defend his -17 2014 win at Royal Liverpool, although a number of other contenders could perhaps steal the coveted trophy.

Jordan Spieth is currently experiencing a period of great golfing prowess having just added the US OPEN title to his Masters title at Augusta this year.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Walker, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose and Patrick Reed are all similarly playing at the standard one might expect from the victor, standards that are, once again, reflected in the odds.

The Open Championship 2015 also sees veteran Open winner at St.Andrews Tiger Woods playing in the event, however with the fallen star’s recent, rather terrible, record, it’s hard to see how the once poster boy of the golfing world could ascend once again.

However, to take a wider look at the ‘runners and riders’ in this year’s competition visit Coral to get the odds on the open and take the plunge; this competition could go any which way!

The Open Championship 2015….

Tom Watson - Ryder Cup Captain 2014

Tom Watson –  Getty Images

One of the more emotional events taking place this year will be the departure of five-times champion Tom Watson, who will be playing his final open at St Andrews.

Watson was interviewed as saying, “I feel maybe a little bit melancholy but the memories of all the years playing in the Open will make it pretty happy. I’ve had a wonderful experience playing here in the Open for these last 40 years… I want to walk across the Swilcan Bridge on the Sunday, that’s my goal, and anything else will be gravy”.

Let’s all cross our fingers and hope that the 65-year-old veteran will get a chance to show off some of his exceptional talents at The Open Championship 2015, given that four out of his five Open wins were on the Old Course.

Golfing’s best event is only a month away, but if you want to book yourself some last-minute packages or tickets, head over to standrews2015open.com, or theopen.com.

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By Ian Mullins

Disabled golfer wins TSG Masters at Warley Park GC…

Thursday, May 14th, 2015
Disabled golfer wins TSG Masters at Warley Park, Essex

The TSG Masters at Warley Park, Essex

TheSocialGolfer.com, celebrated its 2nd annual TSG Masters Championship (in association with GolfGear247.co.uk) at Warley Park Golf Club on 3rd May 2015…..

Golfers from all over the South East of England and from as far away as Lancashire gathered at the Essex based club, all hoping to be TSG Masters Champion golfer…

How they qualified for The TSG Masters?

The members of the online social network had all qualified via a number of different means, some via the website’s monthly leaderboard, some via other TSG Major events with the remaining spaces snapped up via the ballot and/or by special invitation with no one wishing to miss out on the first TSG ‘Major’ of the year.

This made for an exciting competition and while some TSGers were familiar with the course layout, most were totally alien to it. The field ranging from 11 handicappers to 27, played the Childerditch and the Warley ’10 to 18′ loop, two very different layouts offering their own challenges, the latter including the superb 18th Par 3 signature hole.

Disabled golfer wins TSG Masters at Warley Park, Essex

TheSocialGolfer.com Masters

Disabled golfer wins TSG Masters…

The event was won by well known disabled golfer Richard Saunders, who has been a great advocate of the site since its ‘official’ launch in 2010.  After 18 holes, Saunders (based in Essex) scored a fantastic 44 Pts off his 20 handicap with Judy Lilley 2nd (Kent – 39 Pts) and 3rd Tuan Nguyen (Kent – 35 Pts).

There was also some fun to be had with 2 x Nearest Pins and a ‘Straightest Drive’ keeping the day alive for those that were not troubling the leaderboard and a Par 3 Competition to add to the drama on the day. Other winners on the day included popular ‘TSGers’, Lee Benson (Herts), Paul Thorne (Essex), Matt Sutton (Kent) with Richard Saunders adding the Par 3 trophy to his haul.

However, we’ll leave the final words to our new TSG Masters Champion…

Disabled golfer wins TSG Masters at Warley Park, Essex

Richard Saunders – TSG Masters Champion 2015

This is the second TSG Masters that I have attended and I thoroughly enjoyed the event… It’s a great opportunity for the members of the TSG to get together and enjoy the camaraderie that exists between them. I would like to thank Warley Park Golf Club and their members for allowing us to play in what is a very tight and demanding golf course – where straight drives and correct club selection is most important to small undulating greens. I had one of those days were everything went right. The Social Golfer continues to raise the profile for disabled golfers in conjunction with BALASA, the national disabled golfing charity and the funds they raise helps BALASA members to have buggies at their National Championships, their support is very much appreciated.” 

Kevin Smith, Director of Golf at the venue said – “We were delighted to host the TSG Masters event for the second consecutive year. The TSG members are always very respectful to us and our members and they always compliment us on the condition and layout of the course. We are even more pleased a disabled golfer wins TSG Masters this year. We are equally delighted to be on the roster for their events and look forward to them returning to the club again 2016!”

THE PHOTOS

By Ian Mullins

The Social Golfer wins GOLD Award at Essex Digital Awards…

Friday, May 1st, 2015

It was a balmy spring evening at Colchester United Football Stadium, where the great and the good from Media and Marketing throughout Essex and the South East gathered for an evening of entertainment and networking….

AND despite stiff competition The Social Golfer competed with websites from across all genres and won the Gold Award accolade in the SPORT & ENTERTAINMENT category!!

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The Social Golfer wins Gold Award at Essex Digital Awards

The Social Golfer wins Gold Award at Essex Digital Awards

What are the Essex Digital Awards…

Now in their second year, the Essex Digital Awards(EDAs) look to reward innovation and progressive thinking by businesses across the county.

Previous winners span several industries and range from individuals to national companies, but all have at the core of their entry a desire to use digital media as a means to achieve greater things for their business.

The EDA’s are backed by a range of Essex-based companies including Volvo Colchester, Freelance SEO Essex, Essex Chambers of Commerce and Northcliffe Newspapers’, Essex Chronicle.

What is The Social Golfer?

Since its official launch in 2010, the community focused website (run by Essex based Marketing Consultant – Ian Mullins) has firmly established itself as one of the most used golfing websites in the south east and the UK.

The fast growing online golfing community is a place where you can make new friends, join local golf games, run local golf societies and local golf groups, join in chat and forum discussions, track your scores, establish a Handicap (using both UK calculation and USGA calculation formats) and study your progress using our unique game analysis tools.

You can also download your own official TSG Handicap Certificate (UK or USGA).

The Social Golfer system allows you to track your golf handicap after every game and lets you compare your golf stats with your golfing friends/buddies/mates and compete in our monthly TSG league table.

You can also upload your golfing photographs, share golf videos and catch up on BBC Golf News feeds for free and take advantage of our member green fee offers.

In addition, TheSocialGolfer.com lets you locate, read, review and rate over 25,000 local and worldwide golf courses and gather golf club information free of charge; such as green fees, scorecard details, Google maps and contact numbers!

The site currently has over 4,500 registered users in the UK and 8,500+ worldwide.

Essex Digital Awards - Gold Winners

Essex Digital Awards – Gold Winners

The Social Golfer wins Gold Award….Why?

The site has grown steadily over the five years since its official launch and reached its first million hits within a calendar year in 2014…

– Awarded Microsoft Bizspark ‘Start-up of the day’ in 2010

– The site was in profit in its second year and now has ambitions to become the biggest golf club in the UK even though it doesn’t own a golf course

– The site is currently generating approx. 80-100k page impressions a month and continues to grow with 32% of site traffic coming from new visitors

– It has over 1600+ Twitter followers and the Facebook page has 450+ Likes

– The site’s Twitter page is in the Top25 influencers for golf on Twitter

– In 2014, the site moved approx 900,000 places in the global ranking from the 1.8 millionth most visited websites to 900,278. In addition, its UK ranking has moved from 129,824 in Dec 2013 to 42,581 in Dec 2014

The Social Golfer wins Gold Award….how?

In this five year period, The TSG team have also established partnerships with many major local, national and international brands including, Your Golf Travel, London and Manchester Golf Shows, GolfPunk Magazine, Alamo Car Hire, Online Tee Times, Trophies&Medals.com and with over 22 clubs in Essex and the surrounding counties. They include: Woolston Manor GC, Warley Park GC and South Essex GC

In March 2014, the site was short-listed to be an official England Golf partner.

In the summer of 2014, the site launched its first ‘above the line’ marketing campaign on talkSPORT (London) and talkSPORT.com and Ian himself has written articles and featured in Essex Golfer Magazine and on local Essex Radio promoting golf a a sport and the website.

The team also recently agreed a deal with Group M (The largest advertising agency network in the world owned by Sir Martin Sorrell) to supply advertising inventory to their clients which include Direct Line, RBS and Sony in 2015.

Global Advertisers that have supported the site to date include Emirates, BA, AMEX, Nike, BMW.

In March 2015, The Social Golfer was short-listed as a finalist in the Essex Digital Awards

Essex Digital Awards - Gold Winners

Essex Digital Awards – Robin Bailey interviews Ian Mullins

The Social Golfer wins Gold Award….What they said?

“We are very proud to receive this award, as we were not only competing against other sports sites but those from the world of entertainment. It has been a long road from very humble beginnings but with over 900+ events organised on the site in 2014 and the community is gaining real momentum. It’s always nice to be recognised for your efforts, especially by your peers but the accolades in this case go to the development team and the members themselves. They’re the ones that make the site what it is!” – Ian Mullins, Managing Director – TheSocialGolfer.com

I love my golf and I can understand why TheSocialGolfer.com were a clear winner in this category. The judges must have been impressed by how the team had developed both an active and loyal community that would rival any ‘Bricks and Mortar’ golf club – and in the space of only five years.  TSG seem to be showing the way for the future of golf and for online communities of any genre.  Ian and his team have certainly got a handle on how the internet can grow a business like theirs.”  – Awards compere and Veteran BBC TV & Radio, European Tour Weekly and Golfing World presenter Robin Bailey.

 “The Essex Digital Awards look to celebrate and inspire creative uses of the interne t…. Our judging panel were clearly impressed by The Social Golfer, scoring it highly in the face of some stiff competition. We’re excited to see where the TSG team take the idea next.” – Andy Pritchard, Director of the Essex Digital Awards

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Pro Tips – First Tee Nerves…

Monday, April 20th, 2015
First Tee Nerves

First Tee Nerves

It’s a balmy Saturday in Summer and you are about to play in your first TSG official event. How are you feeling on the first tee? Are you suffering from first tee nerves? Just want to get it away? Make sure you don’t top it?

You are not alone…

If any of these thoughts sound familiar then lets get you feeling more comfortable on the first tee. The first thing to realise is everyone feels it! If you ever get the chance to read an interview with a tour player, they will tell you they too get first tee nerves. The difference is they are trained on how to hold those nerves.

Addressing your first tee nerves…

What we are going to talk about in this blog is a really good visualisation technique to improve your confidence. It is something you can do at home, five minutes a day that will transform the way you think about your golf.

Firstly you need to get yourself relaxed, so have a few deep breaths and close your eyes.

It is important to build the picture first and uses ALL your senses; imagine the first tee, you’re walking up to the first tee, feel your legs moving, the weight of your bag, you can see your mates, hear the crunch of the gravel, smell the freshly cut grass, taste the coffee on your tongue as you take a sip.

And now on the tee…

Now you’re on the tee, as above, hear, see, feel, smell, taste everything, from you putting your bag down, getting a ball out your bag, teeing it up.

From this point, I’d like you to imagine yourself feeling confident, standing tall!

Go through your routine and picture a pure, high drive down the middle. (Be realistic with this, there is no point imagining a shot you can’t hit!).

Feel yourself being confident as you stand to the ball and feel a really good swing, hear and feel the connection with the ball. Imagine seeing your shot flying into the middle of the fairway – your friends saying “shot”….no first tee nerves here!

The more times you do this, you brain will think its real, believe it has actually happened! So when you come to do it for real, your brain believes you can hit a good shot, in fact, it won’t expect anything else.

Give it time and be patient….

First time you try this you may find it is not overly effective, but visualisation is a skill that you need to work at.

As I said, five minutes a day is all it will take and over a week or two the images will become more and more vivid and real. The more real the image, the better for helping improve your first tee nerves and building your confidence.

So FIVE minutes while you’re waiting for the bus, FIVE minutes a day not using Facebook – do some visualisation and start nailing those first tee shots!

By Andy Clissold

Mixed Matchplay Rules…

Thursday, March 12th, 2015
Mixed MatchPlay Rules

Mixed MatchPlay – Check the Rules!

Golf is a game that we can all enjoy and despite varying degrees of playing standards, ages and genders it is one of the few sports in which players can compete fairly with anyone, thanks to the handicap system.

So with the start of the TSG Mixed Matchplay tournament nearly upon us again, we thought we should explain our interpretation of the rules.

We have all debated the whys and wherefores of the CONGU Golf Handicapping system at one time or another but…

What is the ‘official’ way to score in a Mixed Matchplay Competition?

The only real difference between this any other golf match, is in this case, the two players concerned play from different tees (Mens & Ladies). These have separate Standard Scratch Scores allocated.

As such CONGU states that each set of players need to play a course from which the Standard Scratch Score (SSS) has been allocated for them…..BUT then a handicap adjustment must be applied, if the Ladies’ and Men’s SSS’s are different (see below).

It would be unfair if this difference is not accounted for and by making an alteration to the handicaps of the player playing the harder course (e.g. that with the higher SSS).

An SSS is, by definition, the score a Scratch player would be expected to return over a particular course. All handicaps are then adjusted relative to players’ performances against that score.

It may seem obvious but the Ladies’ SSS is determined against the performance of a Scratch handicap lady player and the Men’s likewise for a Scratch man.

This is best observed by watching the professional players, the best ladies cannot return scores that compare with the best men. As there is no compensation allowed in professional golf, ladies and men do not compete in mixed events for a single prize, or if they did the winner would only be a man.

Mark Crane - TSG MatchPlay Champion 2014

Mark Crane – 2014 MatchPlay Champion

Which Stroke Index should we use in Mixed MatchPlay?

There is often a debate about which Stroke Index (SI) should be used. For Stroke play it is recommended that each player uses the SI appropriate to them.

However, for Mixed Matchplay, it is recommended that SI appropriate to either the Men’s or Ladies’ course is used for both sets of players.

This should have minimal effect for two reasons:

  1. Players rarely play their best (or worst) golf on the holes where they get a shot
  2. When players don’t get a shot where they should it means they do get a shot where they shouldn’t.

Example Mixed MatchPlay Scoring…

Dave has been drawn against Sue in the third round of a mixed matchplay competition.

– Dave is a 15 handicapper (the SSS on the card is 72)

– Sue plays off 25 (the SSS on the card is 74)

In this instance Sue receives additional 2 strokes to her handicap due to difference in SSS and now receives 12 strokes in total.

N.B. The SSS should be taken from the tees the man is playing from e.g. Yellow

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So there you have it, however, in order to uphold the spirit of TSG, please ensure these rules are agreed and UNDERSTOOD before you tee off!

For further explanation of the rules, please visit the CONGU.com or England Golf.

By Ian Mullins