Archive for the ‘Monthly Newsletter’ Category

Oldest Golf Club in Asia….

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Oldest Golf Club in Asia - royal-calcutta-golf-clubThere more than 40,000 golf clubs established across the world but which is the oldest Golf Club in Asia?

TSG member Scottish Bob is an amateur golf historian who also collects golf scorecards from around the world wanted to know.

In a series of articles about the oldest golf clubs around the world here’s what he found out…

Which is the Oldest Golf Club in Asia?

Golf Clubs were well established and being played in both Scotland and England in the 1700’s with golf clubs like St Andrews, Royal Blackheath, Royal Perth & Musselburgh just to mention a few.

However, golf was also being established by the British on different continents all over the British Empire.

Asia is the largest continent with 48 countries and covers about 9 percent of the Earth’s surface and also is the most populated.

I know that at least 45 of those countries have golf courses and just maybe it might be more.

Which is the Oldest Golf Club in Asia – The Answer?

 

Which is the Oldest Golf Club in Asia?

I believe that there are over 300 golf courses in India and a large amount are run by the Military.

The East India Company who were the British government’s administrative & military authority in the 17th& 18th centuries decided to set up an administrative centre in Calcutta, and many of the British gentlemen who were based there loved their golf.

After a short period of time, they decided to create their own golf course and named it the Calcutta Golf Club which was located close the Calcutta airport. In 1910 the course was relocated to its present location at Tollygunge.

The club was meant for the use, exclusively by the gentlemen.

However, ladies were very reluctantly admitted to the club in 1886. The committee voted 43 for and 13 against and on the condition, the ladies be allowed to use the course in the mornings only.

Following a visit by King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, the golf club was granted Royal Status and named The Royal Calcutta Golf Club, which is fondly known today, by the locals as “The Royal”.

The club is oldest Golf Club in India and the oldest Golf Club in Asia.

Til next time…

Scottish Bob

Scottish Bob - Bob Davies

 

 

 


N.B. To any golf historians reading this I apologise for any mistakes that I may have made, I have tried to ensure sure that my facts about the history were correct at the time of going to press.

 

The Social Golfer Monthly Newsletters…

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The Social Golfer Monthly Newsletter v2

Welcome to The Social Golfer Monthly Newsletters…. plus catch up on the latest developments on the website.or look back at TSG history…

In addition, you can look back at The Social Golfer Monthly Newsletters history, find out who won what and who played who….

 xxx


Have you signed up to The Social Golfer Monthly Newsletters?

Rest assured, this is not a vehicle for us to send you unsolicited promotional offers like some sites but a great coffee time update on all site goings on and the winner of TSG monthly leaderboard along with tips and advice from our own PGA Pro contributors!

Click the link below then tick “Send me the The Social Golfer monthly newsletters” (N.B. You can unsubscribe at any time!)

Ps. Got a story you’d like us to feature? Fancy having a go at writing something yourself? We’re always keen to hear from TSG members. Send us your stories to theteam@thesocialgolfer.com

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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!

 

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

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Joining a Golf Club – Getting Started…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joining a Golf Club – My first game…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Paul Houghton

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

Grading Lake balls…

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Premier Lake Balls

Following on from our article on how they retrieve lake balls early in 2016, we now asked Scott Phillips at Premier Lake Balls, the process of grading lake balls once they have been retrieved and arrive at the cleaning factory…

Grading Lake Balls…

Based on customer feedback and with our own experience of over 20 years in the golf ball industry, Scott and his team, now sell golf balls online in three grades.

In the early days, we were happy to retail a bag of retrieved lake balls as one lot and were not overly concerned about the different brands and conditions. However, as the industry matured, more and more customers were being specific in their requests, resulting in us reviewing the way we approach the grading lake balls process.”

“As such we set about grading the golf balls in quality and then by brand.”

“By offering golf balls in a Pearl\A mix it meant we were able to pass on substantial value to the customer.”

He went on to say….”Once we had established the criteria, we were able to provide a much better service and greater value to the golfer. These packs offer superb savings and will allow you to save a few quid extra for the most important hole on the course, the 19th!”

“However if you prefer a ball in as new condition our Pearl packs cater for that need. Likewise, if you lose a few and do not mind a scuff or two our A grade are an ideal selection”

Grading Lake Balls – Pearl…

Premier Lake Balls using this grading for new golf balls with no marks, they will be shiny in appearance although some balls may have a logo or ink spot. Ideal for the serious golfer!

Grading Lake BallsGrading Lake Balls – Pearl / A Mixed Packs…

These balls will consist of golf balls like new and golf balls with minor marking, small surface scratches. Every golf ball placed in these packs could be played in competition golf.

The A grade golf balls will look how a new ball looks after 6-9 holes.

N.B. Based on the experience of handling 30-40,000 balls a week, all these packs will have at least 50% Pearl, that % goes higher on balls with harder covers that do not scuff as easy as tour calibre balls.

Harder balls will have over 75% Pearl in most packs

Grading Lake Balls – A Grade Balls…

These packs will contain golf balls that have a scuff\mark.

Once you play 9-12 holes with a new ball it will start to show signs off abuse.

These balls are ideal for golfers who lose a few balls or anyone looking for friendly game \ summer night balls.

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So there you have it, grading lake balls is more detailed than we thought.

However, buying used Lake Balls via a respected retailer such as Premier Lake Balls, will not only save you money at a time of economic uncertainty but it could also save the planet.

Thanks Scott, who knew!

——————————————————-

By Ian Mullins

Finally, for an exclusive TSG  discount (courtesy of Premier Lake Balls) – Click Here

Essex Golfer makes it back to back major victories at TSG Masters 2016…

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

TSG Masters 2016 - Steve Slater.jpg 2

TheSocialGolfer.com, the online social networking community for golfers celebrated its 3rd annual TSG Masters Championship at Warley Park Golf Club on 23rd April 2016…

30+ Golfers from all over the South East of England gathered at the Essex-based club, all hoping to be TSG Masters 2016 Champion golfer.

The TSG Masters 2016 – How they qualified…

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 new to it.

The field ranging from 6 handicappers to 30 (men and women) played the Childerditch and the Warley ’1 to 9′ loop, two very different layouts offering their own challenges.

The latter including the superb 17th Par 3 signature hole across the water.

The TSG Masters 2016 – The Winners…

The event was won by Essex based golfer (Harlow) Steve Slater, who also won the TSG OPEN at Bletchingley GC (Surrey) in July 2015.

Slater is the first TSG golfer to hold two Major titles at the same time on the popular website.

After 18 holes, Slater scored a hard earned 32 Pts off his 17-handicap but still needed to rely on the count-back to seal victory. Michael Moos 2nd (Herts – 32 Pts) and 3rd Brian Scott (Essex – 31 Pts).

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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 included popular ‘TSGer’ Denis Conway (Middlesex) with Slater also collecting the ‘Nearest Pin in Two’ and Moos also adding the Par 3 Trophy to his haul.

TSG Masters 2016The TSG Masters 2016 – What they said…

We’ll leave the final words to our new TSG Masters Champion: What a way to start my golfing year and I can’t quite believe I now hold two TSG Major Trophies. I’d like to thank all the TSG team and the Warley Park staff for putting on a great day. Winning is always a pleasure but to beat some of the great golfers from The Social Golfer twice in the same calendar year is a dream. I look forward to coming back and defending the Trophy next year!”

Kevin Smith, Director of Golf at the venue said:“We were delighted to host the TSG Masters 2016 event for the third consecutive year. It’s like we’re becoming the Augusta of TSG! The TSG members are always very respectful to us and our members and they are always fun to have around. We welcome events like this at the course and look forward to having them back again in 2016!”

WATCH VIDEO NOW!

 

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….

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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.

 

 

Golfing in Spain…

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Like all golf trips, it starts with one of your golfing buddies suggesting it’s time you went away for a few days without the family. It then quickly moves to everyone saying which courses they would like to play and in which countries….

Golfing in Spain mapThe next step is that one of you has to stop talking and actually go online and do the research, but where do you start?

Despite the growth of new golfing destinations in the world such as Turkey, Morocco and some of the Central European countries such as Bulgaria, Slovenia and more lately Poland, Spain remains one of the most popular destinations for Brits to head for.

Golfing in Spain – The Stats…

The favourable exchange rate has helped in recent years to make it competitive against the ‘new kids on the block’ but it is the lure of some great golf courses that really keeps the punters coming back year after year.

Whilst cost is obviously a key driver on destination selection, we are looking for more than just a holiday. As one UK operator said: “90% are looking for a deal, 10% are looking for experience” (Courtesy of IAGTO Report 2013)

Since 2012 Spain has remained the no.1 destination for UK golfers and whilst the banks are now running many of the courses (following the crash of 2008), why do so many golfers return year after year?

One reason is the guaranteed weather, however, just as important is the variation of courses you can play.

Be your preference a desert course with testing winds or rock-lined fairways with great views or perhaps a flat bunker-ridden style layout that asks you to consider every shot.

 

Golfing in Spain – Mar Menor Golf Resort…

Mar Menor Golf Resort intercontinental-murcia

Mar Menor Golf Resort intercontinental-murcia

Having decided with my fellow explorer that it was a combination of all three of the above we wanted, we settled on spending four days at Mar Menor Golf Resort – part of the IRM Nike golf (formerly Polaris World).

The quality of golf courses came highly recommended, as did the hotel group hospitality and amenities.

The group hosts six golf courses, all ‘Jack Nicklaus’ designed, although only one was actually designed by the great man himself.

The courses include El Valle (Tournament Course) La Torre (Challenge Course), Saurines (Desert Course), Hacienda Riquelme (Championship Course), Alhama (Signature Course) and Mar Menor (Residential Course).

We decided to position ourselves at the Mar Menor Golf Resort (on the Costa Calida) itself and use this as our base to plot our attack on the Spanish fairways……

N.B.  It is quite common if there are less than four people playing in your group, that you will be partnered with other people. This speeds up play and can be good fun. So if you just want to be alone with your best golfing pals, ensure you only travel in groups of four.

Golfing in Spain – The Courses…

 

Alhama

Cost: Public = 80 Euros / Residents = 52 Euros

Alhama Golf CourseAs stated above, this course is seen as the ‘jewel in the crown’ within the group. It is situated an hours’ drive from Mar Menor but is easy to find, thanks to the great directions given to us by the Pro-shop.

At first, you are slightly disorientated on arrival as the course is within the walls of the residential area, however once this hurdle was navigated, you then arrive at an unassuming car park that leads to The Clubhouse.

Wow! You know you are a course that has not only been designed by Mr.Nicklaus but that it has been sculptured beautifully into the landscape. I can only imagine how many hours the green keepers spend attending to all the tee boxes alone.

The course is long (6500+ metres) but don’t be put off, most of the fairways are wide and forgiving but watch out for the wind. The course is built in a valley are when it blows, it really blows.

The Clubhouse is modern but small and doesn’t match the surrounding but I believe this is a temporary structure and will be replaced by one much grander in style, just like the rest in the group. There is a fantastic open air range to hone your game before heading out.

The first three or four holes are a delight, undulating fairways, bunker-ridden par 3’s but once you get past these, the course starts to stretch out (don’t think I hit a short iron into a  green until the back nine!).

Whilst the fairways are brown and barren (it is Spain), there is a good combination of left and right aligned holes. These contrast the greens are rich dark green and firm (i.e. very difficult to land your ball on).

Of course, most have plenty of breaks and borrows, so don’t expect to leave without at least some 3-Putts on your card.

Realistically this course is built for low handicappers (10 and below), so don’t be disappointed if you struggle to score well. Just enjoy the course, and the views and enjoy it in the manner in which ‘Jack’ would want you to.

TSG verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

 

El Valle

Cost: Public = 80 Euros / Residents = 52 Euros

El Valle Golf CourseAs you walk to the first, you immediately know you will enjoy the day. The vast wide fairway (with strategically placed bunkers) is beautiful with a mountainous backdrop that wouldn’t look out of place in the Arizona desert. The tee boxes again were very good and well tended to and cleared marked for all levels of golfer.

As we made our way around we commented on how well the course was designed and that every hole provides you with a different challenge. Ranging from short-ish Par 4 to tempt you to expansive 450 m+ Par 5’s, this course has something for everyone.

The course twists and turns with slight inclines and drops that won’t leave you out of breath. However, there are plenty of bunkers for you to find (on one hole we counted 10) so you will need to think your way around here.

So to the signature hole: It does take a little effort to walk to the elevated 11th tee, that gives you a panoramic view for miles around. However, once you’ve taken in the view, you’re then faced with teeing off over rocks and on to the fairway 50ft below, where bunker will catch a wayward shot – brilliant!

The greens here were very good. Not too firm that you can’t land on them but quick enough to get you thinking. All were true. Whilst water is not the main feature here, the back nine does require plotting your way around some pretty and challenging water but this all adds to the variety of holes.

Finishing the day back on the patio area, we enjoyed some great service, good food and a refreshing drink, whilst we discussed the ups (there were no downs) of both the course and its layout.  We will definitely be returning to this course again.

TSG verdict: 5 out of 5 stars

Mar Menor

Cost: Public = 80 Euros / Residents = 52 Euros

Mar Menor Golf CourseWe saved this course for the final day giving us plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the clubhouse, situated in the main Inter-Continental Hotel building.

The staff were all very friendly and the service excellent.

After meeting with Chris Ahern (Commercial Director), he quickly gave us a tour of the facilities and gave us some pointers on how to enjoy the course.

The atmosphere here is very different to the other course and it has much more of a ’local club’ feel about it.

The first tee situated less than a few yards from the clubhouse and offers you a simple Par 4 start but note the fairway doesn’t start for 150 yards, but don’t worry, the sandy fairway is plenty good enough to play from.

The course then meanders around three or four loops, each returning to the main Clubhouse.

The course is flat and has a layout that nicely rotates between Par 3’, 4’s and 5’s. This means you could play it again and again without getting bored.

Upon reaching the back nine, water comes into play on holes 11, 12 and 13 circling a very pleasant reed-lined lake.

Tricky if you tend to fade the ball as all holes are left to right but equally challenging to those that draw the ball, as each hole is also flanked by apartments.

Having navigated these holes, you then return to a parkland style finish with the 18th positioning you back at the main clubhouse.

The only negative we could aim at this course is that it looks a little tired in places but that comes from the fact that is the most played course in the group.

However, this course is much shorter than the others and suits all levels of player. The food in the clubhouse is very good and the club-sandwich is to die for! All in all, we liked this course and we would happily return.

TSG verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

 

Golfing in Spain – The Accommodation…

Mar Menor VillaThe Villas here have been designed by the prestigious architect Melvin Villarroel and they are based on his concept of “Architecture of the Vacío“.

This is the principle of where architecture and nature meet in a ’comprehensive design’ converging  great garden areas with ‘exuberant’ vegetation in which the main hotel swimming pool takes pride of place.

It’s excellent communication a few minutes drive from the best beaches of Murcia and close to natural landscapes and tourist routes, make this a special place for rest and leisure.

Staying in a privately hired villa rather than in the main hotel, these properties are available to rent either on short or long lets.

They all come in various shapes and sizes but are all clean, modern and packed with everything you would expect, including air conditioning, dishwasher, patio furniture and some have their own private pool.

The resort boasts three restaurants and an ‘Irish’ pub (full of golfing memorabilia) with a big screen, that normally shows golf. So you have plenty of choices to eat and the main Clubhouse bar also attracts many golfers back in the evenings.

Golfing in Spain – The Costs…

Mar Menor Villa 2

We hired a Villa privately on the main road into the resort with two bedrooms (sleeps up to 6) into the resort for £250 (four days) but this may vary depending on the time or year and availability.

Hotel/Apartment bookings can be made via the main hotel website but 2016/17 guide prices* are as follows:

 

2 bed (sleeps up to four)

LOW season (Nov 1st  – 14th Feb, 1st May – 15th July, Sept)

Mar Menor Villa 3

7 Nights + 5 rounds of golf = Euros 303

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2 bed (sleeps up to four)

SHOULDER season (Oct, 15th Feb – 30th April)

7 Nights + 5 rounds of golf = Euros 348

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*rates shown are purely illustrative and will vary.

Mar Menor Villa 4

Bookings can be made direct from at the following website and many others:

http://www.golf-marmenor.com (Ask for Steve McGraw – very helpful chap)

http://golfregiondemurcia.com/en/index.html

https://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/mar-menor-golf-resort

https://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/rentals/spain/mar-menor-golf-resort

Alternatively, you can book breaks via the main hotel sites:

http://www.intercontinental.com/hotels

http://theresidences.marmenorresort.com

Golfing in Spain – Other costs…

Flights to San Javier (Murcia) or Alicante can be booked at all the usual low-cost airlines from as little as £80 (book early) and Car hire was less than £50 for four days.

Just remember to get your CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) cover before you leave, as they will try to charge you another £50+ at the terminal, despite it only costing £8 online.

For information regarding the golf you can visit:

http://golf.marmenorresort.com/en/golf

Or contact Chris Ahern direct on cahern@irmgolfexperience.com

Golfing in Spain – The final say…

We spent four great days in the region enjoying both the golf and the food, and having previously visited a number of the courses in the area (including La Manga, La Finca and Las Ramblas), we can highly recommend this group of courses if you’re golfing in Spain anytime soon.

They will provide any golfer with plenty of challenges and enjoyment… and you are ‘almost’ guaranteed good weather!

Alhama Golf Club 2

By Ian Mullins

US Masters 2016 – TSG Tips Fowler, Mickleson & Rose…

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016
US Masters 2016 - Green Jacket

US Masters 2016 – Green Jacket

Come Thursday, April 7th 2016 we’ll all be sitting down to watch the now infamous ceremonial tee shots of the US Masters 2016.

As the world’s best golfers begin their way down the first fairway at Augusta (assuming they hit the opening hole fairway that is) all the competing players will be looking to don the famous Green Jacket at the end of the tournament …

In 2015 Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer kick-started one of the most remarkable performances from a young man Augusta National has ever seen.

A man who has since projected himself to the top of the world, reaching peaks that can only be compared to the two most successful players in history; Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

The new wonder kid of golf now has seven titles on the PGA Tour, and has finished in the top ten, 34 times in the past 3 years; let’s not forget he has only played in 79!

That young man was Mr.Jordan Spieth.

After winning by 4 shots last year we know that Spieth will be battling whoever decides to turn up for the first Major of the year with his best golf.

However, the last few weeks, we have witnessed some issues with his swing, inconsistency and those putts have not been dropping.

Therefore, Jordan Spieth, may not be passing the US Masters 2016 title and green jacket back to himself this April.

US Masters 2016 – TSG Predictions…

So who is going to win? We asked TSG blogger, Craig Murray on his favorites for the US Masters 2016…

US Masters 2016 - Mickleson

US Masters 2016 – Mickleson

Phil Mickleson?

One of the sport’s most loved players of all time has found his mojo!

After ditching Butch Harmon in the autumn, Phil has hired a new swing coach in Andrew Getson. A fairly unknown character in the world of golf, Getson’s first few months have supplied big Phil with some superb results.

Slumping to his lowest overall world golf ranking (OWR) since 1995 last year, Phil has already knocked up a 2nd, 3rd and 11th spot in just 4 starts this calendar year.

This 3 times masters champion chased Jordan to the end last season, finishing 2nd, and definitely has another major left!

If the putts drop, Phil could easily bag himself a 4th green jacket.

US Masters 2016 - Rickie Fowler

US Masters 2016 – Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler?

Once voted, ‘The most overrated golfer on tour’, this young heartthrob has found himself sitting just 3 spots away from the best player in the world.

Not a bad year for Rickie with 4 victories including the Players Championship in 2015.

Known for his eccentric clothing, he is now one of the most feared players on tour with an ‘incredible’ short game, just what Augusta asks for.

T12th in 2015 and T5th in 2014 this guy knows what is needed here and could well find his first Major. Augusta could be Orange come April 10th.

Justin Rose?

US Masters 2016 - Justin Rose

US Masters 2016 – Justin Rose

With one of the best swings on tour, one major in the bag and a solid start to the new season, Justin could be the man to follow around Augusta.

In 10 appearances at The Masters, Justin has only finished outside the top 25 twice, including a tied 2nd place last year behind Jordan Spieth.

A couple of poor putting performances have cost him a title or two this year however he has a few weeks to get this sorted.

If you are looking at following a Brit, here’s your man!

There you go, there’s the three tips for the US Masters 2016, Good luck!

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by Craig Murray

Pro Tips – Fix Your Swing…

Saturday, October 10th, 2015
Fix Your Swing 1

Fix Your Swing fig.1

Has your playing partner ever said after a bad shot, “You need to fix your swing! You’re bending your left arm!”?

Well, the good thing about this swing fault is,  it’s very easy to see! So if you heard it, there is a strong possibility you did it. (Note: This is for right handers. If you’re a lefty, it will be your right arm)

Fix Your Swing – What causes it…

The left arm bending can cause a whole host of shots, but mostly I see either a topped shot or a slice.

Why does this happen? Above Right, I’ve ‘set-up’ to the ball and bent my left arm. As you can see the club has raised and therefore, I am going to hit the top of the ball from the bottom of the club.

Great! We now know why we ‘top’ it, but how can the left arm cause a slice?

Fix Your Swing – The Set-up…

Fix Your Swing 2

Fix Your Swing fig.2

If you bend the left arm in the backswing, after a few missed shots or topped shots, your brain will react and find a way to get the club to the bottom of the ball.

The brain’s fix is to get you to dip the upper body down to the ball. When the body does this in motion, it make the shoulder plane steep and throws the club over plane.

Apologies, some technical jargon there but below you can see from a good set up, I’ve dipped the upper body.

I’ve also lost my height, and you can see the club has moved well out in front of my body. The only place to go from here is to swing across the ball.

Fix Your Swing – How do I send it straight…

Fix Your Swing 3

Fix Your Swing fig.3

The Grip…

  • Firstly ensure the grip is in the fingers of the left hand
  • Have a look at the thumb on your left hand – make sure it is “short” i.e. tucked up close – as shown right.
  • Both of these will help engage the muscles in the forearm effectively, allowing you to hold the weight of the club in the swing easier

The Swing…

  • From waist high in the swing, we need to make sure the wrists hinge (and not the elbow). A thought that works well is to feel yourself push down on the handle of the club.
  • This will push the clubhead up and cause the wrists to hinge. Pushing down on the handle engages triceps which will keep that left arm straight!
  • Fix Your Swing 4

    Fix Your Swing fig.4

    As you swing to the top, keep pushing down on the handle and turn the right shoulder behind you

The swing section today is quite detailed as failing to hinge the wrists and failing to turn will both cause the left arm to bend.

Fix Your Swing – Practice makes perfect…

Work on this, one swing at a time! Practice the wrist hinge, until you’ve got it and it feels less of a conscious thought.

Make a lot of half swings doing this, so the arm stays straight…..

Then get the shoulders turning!

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By Andy Clissold – TSG Head Pro