Archive for the ‘Etiquette’ Category

Discrimination in Golf – Game takes huge step back….

Monday, December 12th, 2016

discrimination in golfWe know golf is always some years behind the rest of the world in its moral outlook maybe it should have been no surprise, when I recently experienced a TRULY AWFUL SHOW OF IGNORANCE by my local council toward Paul Houghton – Disabled golfer.

Having got to know some disabled golfers pretty well over the last few years, we stupidly thought discrimination in golf was a thing of past….

Discrimination in Golf  – Setting the scene…

Now and Paul and myself play a couple of times a year together, so was very pleased when he agreed to play at my local municipal course (which is one of the best in the South East).

Having extolled the values of this super little course to Paul many times, he may have brought a little too much expectation with him on the day.

However, I had no idea what was about to unfold.

Here’s our story in Paul’s own words with some excerpts from the letter he sent to the local council officer (N.B. Real names and places have been replaced) …


discrimination in golfDiscrimination in Golf  –  The Story….

Dear Sir or Madam, 

I was invited to play golf at your municipal course by a resident of your borough.This is his local course but he is not a member.

On a Saturday in August, we arrived to play at the allotted tee time that we had booked. I introduced myself in the Pro shop and paid for my round.

I was told to present my chit to the starter in his hut.

As I left the Pro shop the man behind the counter ‘Dave’, followed me out and told me that I would not be allowed onto the golf course using my Electrokart.

A little surprised I asked why this was, as I possess my own public liability insurance for the vehicle and possess an EDGA tour card (European Disabled Golf Association) for which I had to have a medical for through England Golf.

‘Dave’ was very quick to reply, stating that without proper paperwork, he could only take ‘my word for it’ that I am disabled.

I replied asking “Could he not except the fact that my leg is missing as proof?”

“No, the Council say I must have the proper paperwork before we let you on the course”.

You won’t be surprised that my initial response is not printable.

Slightly rattled by my determination to not back down and slightly panicked by the thought a lawsuit was already winging its way to his employers….

‘Dave’ quickly scanned the council website (not the Golf Course website – which has no information!) and stated that all the information was available online.

Now the paragraph on the council site is less than clear but does state that a letter must be obtained from the players ‘Doctor’ to justify the use of a buggy. 

As I am an above knee amputee it seems pretty damn obvious of my impairment (my leg also make a tinny sound when you smack your driver against it) but ‘Dave’ stated that it was a ‘Council’ ruling and I would still not be allowed on the course without the proper documents.

(This document would take a matter of weeks to obtain and a Doctor would charge for the letter!).

He also indicated that I would be required to cross a road, which cuts through the course which can be dangerous, but surely that is the same for all golfers?

So how is this all helping golf to be seen a progressive, accessible sport for all?

At this stage, I thought it right to mention to ‘Dave’ that my day job is actually working as a Disability Officer for the neighbouring council and that I know the disability laws inside out.

At which point the blood drained from ‘Dave’s face! (Sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned this at the start of the debate!)

The local council concerned needs to impact assess their procedure in this respect, in line with their Duties towards the Equality Act 2010.

What I experienced on that Saturday in August was gross ignorance as to attitudes towards disability, the situation was handled very poorly and much of my day was ruined. 

As a keen golfer, I have played all over Europe and have never been refused onto a course other when weather conditions inhibit it due to safety. 

To say I was stunned is an understatement. 

My playing partner and host were more shocked, not to mention embarrassed on his and my behalf!

To avoid any more stress for all parties, I decided to cut my losses and asked for my money back, ‘Dave’ retorted that ‘he’ was not discriminating against me.

When I said this was ‘blatant’ discrimination, he said you are only saying that because of ‘that’ pointing to my prosthetic leg”. 

Yours Sincerely….

 

Paul Houghton


discrimination in golfDiscrimination in Golf  – Our View…

You couldn’t make it up, could you!

Discrimination in any walk of life is unacceptable and discrimination in golf turns our stomachs just as much…..

Shortly after receiving his email and letter, Paul quickly received the council’s response……they offered him a free round of golf and have asked if could help them review their wording on their website – hang on, isn’t that your job!

As all TSG members know, we promote equally and diversity, so to hear and experience a day in the life of a disabled golfer ourselves was a shock, to say the least.

Sadly, after four months, Paul is still yet to receive any kind of response or justification from the council as to how they plan to prevent this issue in the future.

Paul is considering legal action but that requires a lot of self-motivation – something he would probably prefer to channel through his golf!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH ALL YOUR GOLFING FRIENDS AND LET’S STOP THIS IGNORANCE NOW!

For more information on Golf for all, visit England Golf’s Equally and Diversity page.

By Ian Mullins


Footnote: Paul lost his leg suddenly sixteen years ago in a work accident whereby his leg was amputated above the knee. However, being the gritty character that he is, Paul decided to take up golf.

He later joined the Disabled Golf Association and has now represented his country 12 times, playing of a respectable handicap of 16. He works hard to promote understanding and empathy for disability and hates any form of discrimination in golf!

 

Sharing a Golf Buggy – Confessions of a Golf Addict Pt 3

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Sharing a Golf Buggy

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

Playing golf socially with friends can be a pleasing experience, add a bit of competition and it makes the experience even more enthralling. Sharing a Golf Buggy with unknown opposition is an entirely different matter!

Sharing a Golf Buggy– It all started with such good intentions…

I’ve now been playing golf for a couple of years just monthly, in the society about ten times a year.

My handicap has stuck at the agreed 32 mark; I’m not really competing at events but still thoroughly enjoying my new past time. The golf shop in Chelmsford market (sadly no longer there) is a source for new or second-hand equipment.

I’ve now secured a set of graphite Mizuno TZoid clubs, a mix and match group of woods and rescues, with a broom handle putter.

John the proprietor of the golf shop spots my enthusiasm and tries to assist in me acquiring all the right gear.  The putter is his idea, he also states that Henry Cotton had all his clubs the same length something I should consider?

This we did, I traded in the Mizuno’s (after a few rounds) for a set of Callaway Hawk Eyes which he fitted to all the same length other than the sand and gap wedge. So it was me who inspired Bryson Dechambeau!

Anyhow now clad in my new golfing attire and with the newly fitted clubs I arrived at Burnham Golf Club fit for purpose or so I think.

I’m drawn in a group of golfers who were playing off circa 15, so quite handy players.

On chatting to one of the players, we discuss why I should have taken an iron on the tee at a par three instead of the rescue, which I have hit too long.

It becomes apparent very quickly that I have no idea how far I hit the ball with each club; in fact I am focusing so much on hitting the damn ball, that direction is irrelevant.

The respect I have been offered by the society for playing on one leg has waned; quite rightly they think I should be improving from the handicap they gave me.

A bit disenchanted I finish the round in a lowly 14th, 3rd from last.

One of the group approaches me in the car park, his father is disabled and plays golf regularly.

He says “Paul my old Dad has his own golf buggy and plays regularly“… “I’m sure you would improve if you had a buggy and contemplated joining a club?”

I thought carefully at what has been said…do I take the plunge and join a club, how much would all this cost?

Firstly I would need to purchase a buggy and perhaps take a few lessons?

I have never had any natural ability at sport, I’ve always had to work hard to achieve anything involving games.

I’ve played chess for Essex a game my father taught me at an early age, I studied openings out of chess books, played both Nigel Short and Murray Warren both chess grand masters, but my claim to fame was beating Terry Marsh the fighting fireman.

Terry retired as unbeaten Welterweight world champion and was also a very good chess player.

As usual, I digress, nevertheless the pep talk from these society members kick-started me into action, I know now that I  want to be as good a golfer as I can!

Sharing a Golf BuggySharing a Golf Buggy – Who are you…

So a quick trip onto ebay reveals a single seat golf buggy for sale in Kent, with a few days I am its new owner.

Golf buggies for older or disabled players are as important as the clubs in your bag.  In fact, a lot of us cannot play the game without the blasted things.

Sharing a double buggy can be an interesting experience, and one I do regularly… my reasoning for getting my own single seat machine follows…

The Pro’s:  It allows two of you the bliss of being together for 4 or more hours. (Great if you both get on) even better if you hit the ball in the same direction. It can keep the rain off, save you energy; keep you cool and can make for quick golf.  They also allow you to carry loads of refreshments, and stacks of golf balls.

The Cons: They can be expensive to hire and you may be forced to sit next to somebody you don’t like for four or more hours also the driver maybe so bad that you cannot concentrate on your golf for fear of drowning in the lake the driver did not know existed until you careered towards it, or fear being crushed as you assume the wall of death position, while circumnavigating the side of a bunker while your buggy partner attempts to re-enact the Indianapolis 500.

On many occasions, I have considered leaping out away from the runaway death trap while the driver (talking on his mobile phone) hairs toward certain doom, utterly oblivious of the 200-foot drop he is driving towards!

Attracting the attention of a golf buggy driver is not an easy affair.

I was introduced to ‘Steve’ at the club house, he seemed a decent enough chap and was to be my buggy companion for the day, although I did notice he was chain smoking.  Anyhow we were out in the fresh air.

Steve apologised just before we set off, that he was a cricket nut and would need to listen to the test match (through headphones) on his Walkman.

Sharing a Golf BuggySharing a Golf Buggy – Check their credentials…

What he also failed to tell me was he did not have a driving licence!

Off we set with clouds of smoking billowing from the exhaust of the machine and from my playing partner Rothmans Super King size cigarette as we back-fired our way down the first fairway. (From the air we must have looked like a damaged Battleship in the attack on Pearl harbour).

Conversation was impossible amongst the smoke and noise from the engine, which was as fine-tuned as a dumper truck.

That we found our balls was a miracle, the suspension on this bone cruncher, had nigh shattered my eye sockets, my vision was so blurred by the smoke and the lurching ride made me feel dizzy it was like getting off a fairground ride.

I went to select my club, bang went the exhaust Steve was off in clouds of smoke like a dragster as Santa Pod, Steve!!

The two walking players in this four ball looked over in disgust at the commotion we were making.

Steve had played his shot, while being unplugged I managed to attract his attention by wildly waving my arms like a demented Morris dancer.

Steve realising that I was stranded clubless, fired up the ‘Mad Max’ sound alike buggy and proceeded to deafen this part of Essex.

Through smoke, petrol fumes and the smell of nicotine, I tried to play a good round, it was like playing golf during the Battle of Waterloo.

Steve was so engrossed in his cricket, he was not conscious of the commotion we were causing.  “100 for two he barked, Cooke’s got a half century”.

I just managed to pull my head in a Steve drove us through a Hawthorn bush, it spines tearing at the fragile fibreglass structure.

Out came the sandwiches followed by a flask,…”Tea?” bellowed Steve, who was all of a foot away.

Is this what sharing a golf buggy is about?

He proceeded to continue driving the bone shaking brute sloshing tea from a thermos cup, clutching an egg sandwich in the other hand; his mouth was still puffing on the near dog-ended grout!

FFS Steve!” I screamed you’re going to kill us, he had the look of ‘possessed demon’ in his eyes.

We had arrived at the next hole. “Cooke’s got 75 now” he muttered as he left the buggy parked half way up an elevated tee on a 1 in 2 camber.  I scaled out of the cabin more like a mountaineer than a golfer!

My nerves shattered from this eventful game I succumbed to just getting around the course intact without the need of medical attention.

All thoughts of a good golf score were long gone.  Just as I started to relax as we puffed along yet another fairway … I felt a stinging sensation on my chest!

Looking down I thought I was going to see the tell-tale sign of a black and yellow insect, but to my horror I saw smoke coming from my shirt I was on fire!!

Stop the kart!” I hollered while trying to put out the flame that was now coming from my shirt, Steve looked across and grinned removing the now dead fag from his teeth, “Cooke’s got his hundred”.

“I’m on fire you fecking idiot!” I tore his ear-piece from his right ear… pouring water over the coin size hole in my shirt, the smell of singed chest hair hit my nostrils.

It was hot ember from Steve’s now dogend fag that had been the culprit.  I leapt from the buggy as soon as we came to a standstill rolling on the ground like an agitated puppy.

After the carnage had be dealt with, and tempers had subsided (Steve apologised and promised to buy me a new shirt) he went to get back in the cart and replace his ear plugs; I put my arm across his chest …. “Steve, I’m driving!”

Sharing a Golf Buggy – The next step…

Next month, I finally join a golf club and am confronted with rules and golf etiquette!

—————————————————————————————————————–

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

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

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I needed a different challenge…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“OK how about we try you off 32!”

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

Paul Houghton - EDGA - TheSocialGolfer.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Houghton - EDGA 2015

Paul Houghton – EDGA 2015

My Golf Obsession – Back at the Clubhouse…

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

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

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

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

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

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

My golf obsession had begun!

———————————————————————-

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

Confessions of a Golf Addict…

Sunday, May 15th, 2016
Paul Houghton - EDGA - TheSocialGolfer.com

Paul Houghton – EDGA – TheSocialGolfer.com

Hi all,

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

I came to the game late in life re-starting after a 12 year sabbatical and post the rather unusual sport of Amputee Football, where’s he going with this I hear you say…well stick around, it’s going to get a lot weirder I can assure you…..

I first came across The Social Golfer when I met Ian (Mr Mullins) at Stoke By Nayland golf Club in Suffolk at a Pro-Am golf tournament that we were both playing in a few years ago.

Anyone who knows Ian won’t be surprised to hear that by the end of the round I had joined the Social Golfer, and in return, I had bent Ian’s ear about the wacky world of Disability Golf.

I made him laugh with a few of my stories and having stayed in touch Ian suggested I write a blog on TSG after a curry one evening, and share with you all a few of my golfing moments.

Golf Addict – I should have said NO…

Some of the names and places have been changed to protect the living; the dead will be rightfully named and shamed.

My first introduction to our wonderful game was through my then brother in law.  I was in my early thirties, Trevor (Clever) was a few years younger …we were both in the Construction business, myself a roofer, Trevor a decorator.

As a young man, my aspirations had been as a cricketer, I even took a job as a Milkman so as to play for Unigate who had a superb cricket team.

My claim to fame is that I faced up to the Wivenhoe Express AKA Neil Foster  England fast bowler and Derek Pringle also a great cricketer … anyhow I digress.

After failing to meet the heady standards set in cricket by Essex in the late 1970’s motorcycles became my only sport of choice until…Clever Trevor remarked at a family occasion that now in our 30’s we should start playing the more sedate game of golf!

It’s probably at this point that I should mention that CT has serious anger management issues.  (i.e TV & DVD player thrown down the garden when his football team lose, type of issues).

Anyhow CT had a friend who had a friend who knew a bloke in a pub who was selling new golf clubs, nudge-nudge wink-wink say no more.

The princely sum of £80 secured me a state of the art set of Slazenger XTC irons SW to 3.  Add three ‘prehistoric’ woods and a bull’s eye putter I was fit to go.

Golf Addict – My first time…

Our first few rounds were torrid affairs at Aquatels in Basildon, this was a nine hole course that accompanied a huge fishing lake, the course was permanently water-logged in fact it was golfing’s answer to the Somme battlefield  (to my knowledge the course no longer exists…but the lake is still there).

I’d also been given a golf book by Beverly Lewis that helped me to grasp the fundamentals of the grip and stance.

After a few sterling efforts hacking around in the mud at Aquatels after Sunday lunch TC and I agreed we needed a more upmarket challenge.

Golf is importantGolf Addict – Getting a taste for it…

So, after more talk, we upgraded to Belfairs Park, still a municipal course but well established and regarded by all a proper golf course. To give you a clue to when this was… Greg Norman was ‘the man’ at this time, having won the open that year (he had also just launched the Tiger Shark brand).

On arrival at Belfair’s CT not only was kitted out head to foot in Greg Norman apparel, including white pressed slacks, he had also purchased the Tiger Shark (no slice) driver for the best part of a home mortgage deposit.

Belfair’s was to be the ‘Tiger Sharks’ inaugural outing.

CT looked magnificent on the Tee, swathed in his newly purchased attire, his white shoes blanched to the condition of a sailor’s cap on the Royal yacht.

Out came the Titleist Balata Tour golf ball, (the Balata golf ball was the Pro V1 of the day, hideously expensive its life span was 3 holes if you were lucky!)

CT recoiled the Tiger Shark with an over-swing that John Daly would have been proud of.

The impact of clubhead and ball was like the crack of a lap-dancers garter.  CT’s follow through left him completely off balance, he lurching sideways almost doing a complete pirouette.

The ball launched into the air at such a rate it was hard to focus on its trajectory, I glimpsed it just as it veered sharp right and then we heard the unerring sound of a golf ball striking a very solid piece of wood.

Belfair’s has a ‘Cathedral like effect’ on sound, voices and golf ball connections are somehow amplified to a much greater degree than normal, it’s the trees of course and CT had hit a big one.

CT looked at me for hopeful assurance that his ball was safely in play, not wanting to encourage any false hope; I just mumbled something about ‘not being sure’ and probably best you take another one.

Somehow composing himself CT delved into his bag a produced another immaculate Balata, straightening his White Shark cap, placed his provisional ammunition on a tee peg…a slight waggle at address and then back came the gleaming silver no slice club.

CT’s neck muscles stood out like huge tree roots his face reddened from the disappointment of his first attempt.

Boom the metal headed club thundered into the small white object, the Balata soared into the sky almost leaving a vapour trail, CT’s finish was even less controlled than before completely losing his balance as the expensive driver slipped from his grasp.

The Balata was almost out of sight when it veered sharp left and ricocheted off what sounded like three maybe four trees.

By this time a small gathering had approached the first tee, CT gathered himself enough to utter those famous golfing word’s ‘That will be OK’? I managed to duff a drive 100-yards down the fairway, we were off.

During the round though there was some collateral damage.  The ‘no slice’ driver was hurled into oblivion on numerous occasions I retrieved it twice but the third time I think it stayed up in a tree 60 or so feet up.

The putter CT had so lovely admired just a few hours earlier on the practice putting green, received the snapping across the knee treatment.

A dozen Balata balls disappeared over the first 9 holes; my ‘Ultra’s’ were also diminishing fast. We managed to make it round and into the 19th hole.

The language had been pretty fruity at times and CT’s perfect attire now adorned the battle stains of too many visits into the rough.

My Golf ObsessionGolf Addict – I can take it or leave it (honestly)…

CT and I shared a few more rounds but I never really got the bug for this game, golf with CT was like being in with the opposing supporters at a football match, you just never knew when it would kick off.

I put my clubs at the back of the garage; they did not see the light of day again for a dozen years or so until I was badgered into giving this wonderful game another try, more on that next time.

Through the grapevine, I hear that CT still plays this beautiful game maybe our paths will cross again someday?

Maybe time and age has soothed CT’s rage??

I often smile when I see a guy on the tee kitted out in the latest Calvin Green fashion with the latest driver in hand and brand spanking new Pro V1 perched on the tee, in my head I hear a voice saying go on CT smash it down the middle!

Golf Addict – Getting Hooked…

Next month, I’ll tell you how this innocent start to my golfing career became an obsession….

——————————————-

Paul Houghton is a member of The Social Golfer and at Riverhall Hall Golf Centre where he plays off 17.

He’s is a member of the Disabled Golf Association and European Disabled Golf Association; he has represented England nine times in tournaments.

 

 

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

Pro Tips – Chip like Seve…

Saturday, July 18th, 2015
Chip like Seve

The set-up…

Your driving well, your fairway play is coming on but your short game needs help? It’s time to improve the game from 150 yards and in and learn here how to ‘Chip like Seve‘… are you lacking that magical touch around the greens?

Let’s look at the basics of chipping along with something 90% of golfers do. (and I’ve seen this in some very low handicap players I’ve taught!)

Chip like Seve – The Grip…

– As normal (refer to “Pro tips – Summer golf” for a refresher)

– Hold half way down the grip to give more control and feel to the shot

Chip like Seve – Stance, Ball Position, and Posture…

– Firstly – make sure you do this in the order set out here

– Stance width will be approx. 1 foot apart and I’d like you to pull your left foot back a couple of inches – as shown right

– Position the ball opposite your sternum

– Now lean slightly to your left with your upper body – once you have moved, the ball should now be just behind your sternum – as shown below. This will allow us to make a slightly downward blow onto the ball giving you that crisp, spinning chip.

Chip like Seve – Swing Technique…

Chip like Seve

Swing technique…

When we chip the ball we want a consistent strike and consistent loft. Both of these help to judge distances as if you get these the same every time, all you have to do is vary the length of your swing to hit the ball different distances.

A big fault I see when I give a chipping lesson is the golfer will try to help the ball into the air, destroying the strike and giving very inconsistent loft. In the finish and through impact you will see the club get ahead of the hands – as shown right

Often this is because the golfer is trying to use the hands and wrists to control the distance of the shot. Not only does this make it incredibly difficult to strike the ball consistently and create consistent loft, but also makes it very hard to get a consistent speed through impact.

This happens, as our hands have fast twitching muscle fibres which are difficult to control – especially under pressure!

Chip like Seve – Feeling it….

I’d like you to feel like the shaft of the club moves in line with the sternum as you swing the club back. To give an example I’m going to use Luke Donald – sure you will agree – not a bad chipper!!

Luke Donald Chippin

Luke Donald Chipping…

See how the hands and sternum are pointing parallel to each other.

This shows the body is more in control of the swing and allows him from here to keep the hands very passive and let the chest turn the club through the shot.

Below we can see the finish position where the sternum, club, and hands are all pointing in the same direction. No flip, just a swing controlled from the chest!

Chip like Seve –  And finally…

– Feel the sternum move the club shaft back and through, and FEEL as though they stay in line through out.

So there you have it, get down the range and add some ‘Seve Magic’ to your game!

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By Andy Clissold – TSG Head PRO

Pro Tips – Summer Golf…

Sunday, May 17th, 2015
The Golf Grip

The Golf Grip

With the golf season now underway and the days getting longer, now is the time to start thinking about how you are going to prepare for your Summer Golf…

A great way to get back into the swing of things and get the rust off is to start with the basics. So lets go through them, along with some things you can do at the range to nail those shots….

Summer Golf – The Grip

Firstly, place your left hand (for a right handed golfer) near the top of the club. Let the club run diagonally across the fingers from the middle of your index finger, through to just above the little finger – as demonstrated above.

Summer Golf - The Golf Grip

The Golf Grip

N.B. Be careful not to let the club run into the palm!! Then wrap the hand round the club, and we should see 2 knuckles showing – as pictured right.

With the right hand, place this in the fingers, again at a slight diagonal and wrap the hand around the club. We should see the “V” formed by the right index finger and thumb point to the right ear.

Now – here’s the choice for you. Either interlock the index finger on the left hand, with the little finger on the right hand. Or let the little finger of the right hand rest on the index finger of the left hand…

Summer Golf – The Stance & Ball Position…

Summer Golf - Ball Position

Summer Golf – Ball Position

Stance should be shoulder with. If down the range, face the mirror and check how wide your stance is.This will help to give a good leg action in the swing and maintain balance.

For an iron, place the ball just on the left side of your sternum – as shown below. For a driver, place the ball in line with your left pec.

Again when down the range, have a look in the mirror to make sure your ball position is perfect to stripe it!

Summer Golf – The Posture…

This is one of the most important parts of the set up for me as I see so many poor golf shots come from poor posture. So make sure you nail this one!

Firstly, get the above three points good then, stand bolt upright with both your arms straight and the hands around waist high. The club should be parallel to the ground – as shown below.

Summer Golf - The Posture

Summer Golf – The Posture

From here keep your back straight (very important) and bend from the hips till the club touches the floor. Imagine your belly button is pointing more towards the floor. Now put a touch of knee flex in. Be careful with this bit – the knees should be bent but the thighs should still feel “lively”.

A checkpoint to get the correct amount of knee bend is to have the knees over the middle on your feet – as shown right. N.B. This isn’t an absolute checkpoint as it will depend on your height and leg length but will certainly most of you a good guide.

Summer Golf –  The Alignment…

I see many swing faults again develop from poor alignment and poor alignment often results in offline shots (and not always the direction you are aiming!) So firstly get the face of the club pointing where you want the ball to finish.

Next you want to get your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders parallel left of this (as above). A good routine to get this good is when you do the posture routine (above) when you stand bolt upright, start with your feet together and point your feet at the ball. Now imagine a straight line across your toes and step your feet along this line. Hey presto! Your alignment is perfect!

Summer Golf – Putting this into practice…

Now that is a lot of information to take in all at once but re-read this a few times until it sinks in. And next time you go to the range, just concentrate on a maximum two of these at a time (i.e. grip and stance).

Each time you go to the range. Three practice sessions through the month and the basics should be feeling comfortable and natural and you’ll be enjoying your Summer Golf even more this year and who knows it may even improve your nerves on the first tee!

#Good Luck

By Andy Clissold

TheSocialGolfer.com – My Story…

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

We asked you the members to share your TSG (TheSocialGolfer.com) stories with us. Here it’s the turn of Richard Adinolfi to tell us about his TSG experience. Richard joined TSG in December 2013.

TheSocialGolfer.com – My Story…

TheSocialGolfer.com - My story by Richard Adinolfi

TheSocialGolfer.com – My Story by Richard Adinolfi

TheSocialGolfer.com means more to me than just playing golf. It started as therapy of sort and developed into an addiction.

In December 2013 I lost my father and I needed a release from the moment. I decided to throw myself into playing golf. Four hours of fresh air and a stroll in the countryside would take my mind of events.

The problem was I had nobody to play with.

My friends were spread far and wide over London and I had little interest in joining a club. My experiences of playing private clubs as a visitor were never good enough for me to part with hard earned cash.

I was a member of another golfing community website but could not find anyone to play with, until someone on that very site suggested The Social Golfer.

I took a look and saw frequent games being posted in the Essex area so I signed up.

Truth be told, I was not really expecting much but thought it was worth a shot (excuse the pun).

TheSocialGolfer.com – My Story (What happened next?)…

Hesitantly, I attended my first Epping Bandit game in January 2014 at Toot Hill Golf Club. I was immediately made to be feel welcome, despite having to sit across from Howard Davis at breakfast. Not a pleasant sight for anyone but one of which I have become accustomed.

The first few games I played were about getting to know the people I was playing alongside and enjoying playing golf on a regular basis. However, what was first a decision to get out and get fresh air and a bit of exercise quickly turned into a need to improve my game as much as possible. I signed up for as many games as I could at as many different courses as possible.

I had initially given myself a modest 24 handicap but wanted to bring this down as much as possible. Unfortunately an attitude, not shared by many but that is a discussion for another day!!!

Without The Social Golfer I would probably still be sitting at home watching golf on TV thinking “I wish I played more golf”, whereas now, I sit at home watching golf thinking “If I can just cut my handicap by a few more strokes, I’ll be as good as Tiger”….

The Social Golfer was there when I needed it. It is one of my first ports of call when I turn on the computer in the morning just hoping for those magic emails that say “a new game has been posted in your area”.

I sit here now in front of my computer having played 60 times in just over a year at 40 different courses. My handicap has come down from 24 to 16. I have travelled to France and Spain with the Epping Bandits, learnt some valuable Yiddish and have met many people whom I now consider friends.

I owe all of that to The Social Golfer!

 

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

 

Get a Golf Handicap Certificate with TSG …

Sunday, February 1st, 2015
xxx

ESTABLISHING A GOLF HANDICAP CERTIFICATE …

When you first take up the game of golf, you quickly find that one of the first things ‘other’ golfers ask you is “What’s your Golf Handicap?”

Of course, if you’ve only just taken up the game, the chances are you won’t have one, but that’s where TSG can help …

TSG Golf Handicap Certificate

TSG Golf Handicap Certificate

How does it work …

We have worked hard to establish a tried and tested formula on the site, in order that golfers of any standard can calculate their golf handicap with very little effort….

The TSG Handicap Tracker allows you to enter in your scorecard after every round (hole by hole). After taking into account the course layout, the course SSS (Standard Scratch Score) and your existing Golf Handicap – this starts at 28 for men and 36 for women.

It will then deduce what your new handicap is, after every round.

The TSG Handicap Certificate can be found (and printed) under the My Handicap Menu tab on the main Members page.

Is the TSG Handicap Certificate  accepted at golf clubs?

This certificate is widely accepted by golf clubs and golf courses all over the world and at the time of going to press, we have never heard of anyone having been refused entry with it.

Of course, our certificate is not authenticated by CONGU. This is because The Social Golfer does not own a golf course, but otherwise the certificate is calculated using the same calculation.

Tracking Your Game …

The TSG Handicap Tracker can not only produce you a Golf Handicap Certificate once you have entered in your scores, the TSG system will also allow you to track you scores over time AND allow you to compare your stats with your friends and your fellow TSGers.

Keep a track of your Putts, Bunkers, Lost balls and much more.

All of your stats are recordable and with gentle analysis, this will help to understand which parts of your game need improvement and which area of your game is taking shape.

Many TSGers now use this system to keep their entire golfing history all in one place.

We have continued to update the system with new improvements and sections and will continue to respond to all requests from our members on how to improve it.

However, if you’re looking for an affordable and accurate way of tracking you golf handicap, look no further than TSG.

TSG Golf Handicap Tracker

TSG Golf Handicap Tracker

Is it accurate?

Well, that’s open to debate! We believe adamantly that a TSG Golf Handicap Certificate is actually MORE accurate and reflective of your playing standard than a standard CONGU club handicap.

Why? Well the TSG system lets you enter in a score EVERY time you play.

In addition, whilst many of our members are club members, almost all will tell you that their TSG Handicap is lower than the one provided by their club and therefore more ‘in tune’ with their playing ability.

Of course, the TSG certificate is not accepted in club competitions but it is accepted at ALL TSG events and even some well known amateur tours.

How much does it cost?

The TSG Golf Handicap Certificate and Handicap Tracking is included in the TSG annual PRO membership subscription fee of £24.99.

Start tracking your Golf Handicap today…

By Ian Mullins