Archive for the ‘TSG Course Reviews’ Category

Gaudet Luce Golf Club – TSG Review…

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Gaude Luce Golf ClubGaudet Luce Golf club (pronounced Gore-day Loose) is set in a very nice part of rural Worcestershire.

Located on the edge of Droitwich Spa, the club is very easy to locate as it is only 5mins from the M5 and has named signs from the town centre.

Worcester is only 20mins away, and Birmingham about 40mins.

As a new TSG Club Partner, we sent TSGer Andy King to check out the course and share with his fellow TSGers, his view on the course.

Over to you Andy…


Gaudet Luce Golf Club – The Clubhouse & Shop…

It is thought Gaudet Luce is Latin for something like ‘Rejoiceful Light‘ as we were told by the Company Director whos family has always owned this course since its start in the late 90’s.

I personally love a golf course you drive through part of to get to the clubhouse, you get a little taster, and Gaudet Luce doesn’t disappoint.

Gaude Luce Golf Club 2

The car park is big but there are several other businesses onsite, so parking might be a problem at certain times.  We had no issue, and probably will be fine most times….

The course and clubhouse are relatively new, established in 1995. So, as you’d expect, the clubhouse is very modern, clean and tidy.

However, their trophy cabinet in the welcoming and comfortable bar, is as impressive as you’d find in a club a hundred years old.  #

 

All staff, bar, shop, and just generally were friendly and helpful (not only to us, but we noticed they stopped to chat, and were as helpful as they could be to members we saw onsite as well ).

We had some food and drinks after, which were very nice and reasonably priced, the bar area although good, if it was used to cater to a large society might get a bit cramped, 30 or so would be fine but hey may have other areas for larger groups.

The Pro shop is not huge but is well stocked, and recently incorporates the retail company, American Golf, so you know what you’re going to have on offer.

Speaking to the shop staff about the course was informative about 150yrd markers etc, however, the weather lately had been so good, there was nothing for them to warn us about by the way of wet or muddy parts.

There’s a teaching school available with details on the Gaudet Luce Golf Club website.

 


Gaudet Luce Golf Club – The Courses…

Gaude Luce Golf Club 2

There are two courses, the 9 hole Par 3 ‘Hazdor’ course which looked very nice and is used for a quick round, practice, and lessons etc by members and guests.

However, the absolute star of the show is the full 18 hole ‘Phoenix’ course.

Off the Whites, it is 6053yrds Par 70.  Yellows  5869yrds Par 70. Reds 5392yrds Par 73

This may not seem to be ‘long’ by modern standards, but if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game, you may go home shaking your head.

However, you WILL want to come back for another go…frankly, it’s a stunner!

A beautiful Parkland course that’s got the balance just right.  Not too daunting for high handicappers, not too easy for low handicappers.

The condition in early May was excellent.

Good quality Tee boxes with lovely features like box hedge surround, fairways that were springy and lush, just the right amount, and Greens that were true and a good speed.

There is some water to negotiate, but again, it’s not too much. Everything was high quality.

It is quite tree lined (especially the front 9), but not too punishing, and the trees etc. frame the course beautifully.

It is a course of two halves, the front nine being tight in places but shorter.

The back nine more open but longer and with more water and some slopes to contend with.

From the first nice wide downhill tee, although OOB down the right, the course unfolds in front of you, with all holes offering something different.

The 2nd being a gentle downhill Par 3, but watch out for the pin placement.

However, the tricky 4th demonstrates the ‘short/tight’ idea though.  At only 263 yards from the yellows this Par 4 seems easy…it’s not.

With an entrance to the green through the eye of a needle, you need to be pinpoint accurate.

The 353 yard, 7th is quite straightforward…IF you get a good intimidating drive away.

Quite a carry over water to the fairway will worry some.  The Par 5, 8th will get the grey matter going, calculating distances over ( or not ) brooks, and around ( or NOT ) ponds to a very very shallow green.

The more open back nine starts with a great Par 3, but straight away, you see the water coming into play.

The downhill 11th is also worthy of a special mention, as again the view sweeping down is fabulous.

Another Par 3 at 12 shows a very popular hole that has DANGER written all over it.

I’ll say little about the monster that is the 14th (421yrds mostly uphill par 4 at ‘only’ stroke index 13. Ouch !!!)

ALL of the Par 3 holes stood out as special, but my favourite hole was the 17th.  Off the yellow tee, a 502yrd Par 5, that the 2nd half is STEEPLY uphill to a platform green.

However after all that effort, turn around and look back down the hole….the view will take your breath away (even if you might need a buggy to be ABLE to breathe after that climb!).

The course is easy to find your way around, as most tees are within sight of the previous green, and where they weren’t, there were good signs showing the way.

There ARE birdies out there to be had, but you need to play carefully to benefit.  A real thinkers course!


Gaude Luce Golf Club 4

Gaudet Luce Golf Club – Other stuff…

Practise facilities are also very well catered for.  A good full range, practise putting areas and the helpful shop Pro’s all there to prepare you for your round.  Lessons are available, and the club seems very well set up for societies etc.

In fact, the clubs website is one of the most detailed I have ever seen.

From their price range to play and other offers onsite, like FootGolf, membership, and group golf days ( even to the opening and closing times of the kitchen, and online menu’s!!).

There also looks like a lot going on away from the golf.

With special offer meal deals, and entertainment galore.  I would seriously look into membership here…if only it wasn’t nearly 200miles from home !!

Coming from the London area, I thought the cost was very good value for money, even at the weekend.

Two of my group came from about 1hrs drive away and were already thinking of it as a great venue for their society to come to because of the cost and the quality of the ‘Phoenix’. Visit – Gaude Luce Golf Club – TSG Club Partner Offers

 


Gaudet Luce Golf Club – Conclusion…

All in all, Gaudet Luce is a fantastic club and course making us feel very welcome and is a delight to play.

A real gem, well worth a trip. Really struggling to think of ANYTHING to criticise.

Yes, some may argue you can hear the M5 most of the way around, but personally, it’s not too loud and I managed to ‘blot’ that out after a few holes.

I would highly recommend this course to any local people, or, like me, a visitor from further away. You’ll love it.

TSG Verdict: 4.5 out of 5!

By Andy King


Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – TSG Review…

 

 

Unique Golf Courses of the World – Christmas Island…

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

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


Christmas Island, Australia (Indian Ocean)…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till Next Time…

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

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Scottish Bob Davies


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

Unique Golf Courses – Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club …

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club

Following on from Scottish Bob’s blog series on the Oldest Golf Courses of the World by continent in 2017, Bob now turns his attention to some of the lesser known courses around the world, this time its the turn of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club…


Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club –  Golfing China…

This magnificent golf course set in the bottom of a valley which faces the famous Snow Dragon Mountains which stands at 18,360 feet in the Yunnan Province of China.

The course was designed by renowned golf course architects Robin Nelson & Neil Hawthorn.

This 18 hole par 72 golf course was opened in 2001 and is the longest regulation golf course in the world, measuring 8548 yards from the pro tees & earning themselves a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Situated at a height of over 10,000 feet above sea level making it the highest golf course in China and the second highest in the world after La Paz in Bolivia standing at 10,964 feet.

However, when playing Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club, at this height, the ball is known to travel 20 percent further due to the thinness of the mountain air.

The front nine of this golf course has a Scottish feel to it, while the back nine is undulating and mountainous, the back nine couldn’t be more contrasting.

The two sets of nine have completely different characteristics, with the Par 5, 5th hole, standing at 711 yards which is the longest par 5 in the world (Seriously!!).

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club – The Locals …

The caddies are from the Local “Naxi” people who have lived in the area for generations and who wear their traditional costumes.

And no matter where you are playing your shot from you will have spectacular views of the snow -capped mountains.

The 13 peaks of the Snow -covered and sometimes fog-enlaced mountain resembles a Jade Dragon, lying in the clouds, hence the name “Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club”.

In addition, this is also the Southern Most Glacier in the Northern Hemisphere, the mountain range stretches for 22 miles and has a width of 13 miles.

This beautiful place is not just for golfer’s, but with an abundance of different plant species on show and wildlife.

No matter what part of the Snow Capped Mountain you visit, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club is a truly unique place.

Till Next Time…

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scottish Bob’ Davies

More articles from Bob… Golfing in The Antartica …

 

TSG Interview – Paul Armitage at Le Golf National…

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

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

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

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

Paul Armitage was talking to Ian Mullins for TheSocialGolfer.com

 


 

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

 

 

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review …

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An unforgettable experience…m

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Out of 5!

My recommendation is to go, and go now!

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

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

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review by Brigitte Lockwood


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oldest Golf Club in Australia…

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Oldest Golf Club in Australia - Ratho Golf ClubIn the last in our series of the World’s Oldest Golf Clubs, this time we turn to Bob’s new home i.e.  the oldest golf club in Australia?

The Oldest Golf Club in Australia…

The continent of Australia is the smallest continent by land mass but the 6th largest country in the world and consists of 6 states, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, & Tasmania, and the Northern Territory, all with their own unique and beautiful golf courses and of course local history.

However, in order to locate the oldest club, we have to travel to Tasmania…In the very early 1800’s, the new colony was then called Van Diemen’s Land and was being colonised and good farmland was being sought, especially by the Scots English, Welsh & the Irish farmers.

The Reid family was one of many famil that set sail from Scotland on the ship “The Castle Forbes”, in search for a better life and future for his family.

After being granted land on the Upper Clyde River north of Hobart in The Highland Wilderness, they and other Scottish families that had travelled with them from East Scotland, settled in a small village called Bothwell and thus in 1822 Ratho Farm was established.

Four generations of the Reid family worked and improved The Ratho farm and golf links until 1932 when Alexander III, sold the farm to another Scottish Businessman named Alexander Stenhouse, who bought the farm for the security of his granddaughters.

After the death of their grandfather Richard & Mary Ramsey, they took over the farm in 1982 and the Ramsay family have continued to upgrade the farm right up until today.

The Oldest Golf Club in Australia – The course…

The Ratho Golf Links is a unique course, as it has sheep that graze on the playing area that keep the grass nice and short, & fences are put up to stop the sheep grazing on the ‘square’ greens, there is also a unique statue of old Tom Morris carved out of a tree stump with a chainsaw.

Many of the Scottish settlers also built golf courses in the surrounding area and one of those golf courses was Bothwell Golf Club. Greg Ramsay and his family have done an excellent job in bringing the Ratho Farm Golf Links into the 21 century.

Not only can you play a round of golf on Australia’s oldest golf course but you can also go Fly fishing on the River Clyde that runs through the property, as well as staying overnight in cottages built by the convicts.

Scottish Bob

N.B. Finally, as a footnote to this series of articles, my wife and I had the pleasure in staying overnight at Ratho Farm Golf Links in one of the small cottages built by the convicts in the 1800s.

After playing the course with hickory golf sticks, after a great meal in the evening and whilst sitting outside our cottage with a cold beer, we watched the River Clyde flow by, the peace and tranquillity was so amazing.

What an unbelievable experience having walked and played golf where so many had played before me, and for which I thank Greg Ramsay and his family for making us so welcome!

OLDEST GOLF CLUB in Antartica…

Golfing in Northern Ireland…

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Golfing in Northern IrelandThere are numerous destinations around the world to visit and play golf but closer to home, have you ever consider golfing in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland may be famed for its championship links golf but it also possesses glorious parkland courses.

Beyond capital Belfast’s five parkland beauties there’s a wealth of inland courses for golfers to play throughout the region.

Some of them are at golf resorts where the fairways are just steps away from your room, while others are unsung jewels just waiting to be discovered by visitors.

Golfing in Northern Ireland – The Resorts…

There are three main golfing resorts in Northern Ireland, all of them offering extensive golf facilities as well as accommodation, bars, restaurants, recreational activities – and full-service spas with massage treatments, to help ease those aching muscles after a round or prepare the body for the next golfing foray.

Just 20 minutes from Belfast, and only 10 minutes from Belfast International Airport, the Hilton Belfast Templepatrick Golf & Country Club incorporates a 129-room four-star hotel and a par-72 golf course that stretches to over 7,000 yards.

Designed by former European Tour pros David Jones and David Feherty, it opened in 1999 and challenges golfers with a mix of lakes and mature trees. Other golf facilities include a floodlit driving range, short game practice area and two practice putting greens.

The resort also has a spa and health club, both of which were refurbished in 2014.

Located on a 600-acre peninsula between Lower Lough Erne and Castle Hume Lough in the Fermanagh Lakelands, Lough Erne Resort comprises a five-star hotel and the Faldo Championship Course – six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo’s first design in Ireland – that opened in 2009, as well as a second 18-hole course, the Castle Hume.

The resort also has a golf academy featuring a private golf studio equipped with video and ball-tracking analysis.
Lough Erne Resort opened in 2010 and has 120 rooms, suites and loughside lodges.

Its Thai Spa offers a dual treatment room ideal for couples, with treatments including a two-hour Golfers Tonic massage.

The resort’s Catalina Restaurant is named after the World War II flying boats that were based on Lough Erne.

Lough Erne Resort welcomed world leaders including Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and David Cameron when it hosted the G8 summit in 2013.

The Roe Park Resort lies in the beautiful surroundings of the Roe Valley Country Park. It is just a short drive from 2019 Open Championship venue Royal Portrush and other top links layouts as well as the Causeway Coast’s world-class visitor attractions, among them the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The 18-hole parkland course gives golfers views of the Sperrin Mountains and Lough Foyle from elevated holes. Its par-3 6th hole recently underwent extensive work including a new two-tier green as part of £1 million renovations to the course. Facilities also include an academy
and high-tech indoor teaching studio.

Formerly a stately country house dating to 1729, Roe Park Resort’s four-star hotel opened in 1995 and offers 118 rooms and suites, two restaurants, including its restored 18th century Coach House, and a spa that is a teaching academy for Elemis. The resort offers a Couples Escape package that includes dinner, bed and breakfast plus a mud skin treatment for two followed by a couples massage.

Although not connected, Galgorm Resort & Spa is close by for those playing golf at Galgorm Castle Golf Club and it features a new riverside Thermal Village. A couples package includes bubbly and truffles on arrival, use of the Thermal Village and a Deluxe Duo treatment, with optional four-course meal and a cocktail or glass of wine. The resort was the host hotel for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
in 2017, played at Portstewart Golf Club.

Golfing in Northern IrelandGolfing in Northern Ireland – Other clubs in the Area…

Galgorm Castle Golf Club is laid-out through mature wooded grounds in the heart of the 220-acre Galgorm Castle Estate, alongside its 17th-century castle.

It stages the annual Northern Ireland Open, part of the European Tour’s Challenge Tour.

More than 40,000 people watched the free-to-enter the tournament in 2017, a record for the tour.

A new Fun Golf Area at Galgorm is aimed at families and features a six-hole pitch and putt course and the Himalayas putting green, a scaled replica of the famous St Andrews attraction.

Among Northern Ireland’s best-kept golfing secrets, Kilkeel Golf Club is a picturesque parkland layout at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in the far south-west that has played host to qualifiers for the British Amateur and Senior British Open events.

When golfing in Northern Ireland, the region also boasts several centenarians outside of Belfast.

They include: Massereene Golf Club, established in 1895 and offering a challenging course on the shore of Lough Neagh; Newtownstewart Golf Club, founded in 1914 and laid out through venerable oaks and beech trees in the Baronscourt Estate, home of the Duke of Abercorn; Tandragee Golf Club, dating back to 1911 on the Duke of Manchester’s Estate with bunkers including some resembling America’s Great Lakes that were designed by the Cincinnati-born Duchess of Manchester; and Omagh Golf Club, which was extended from a nine-hole course built in 1910 to 18 holes in 1983.

Other gems include County Down golf clubs Rockmount, St Patrick’s, Warrenpoint, Edenmore and 36-hole Clandeboye, County Antrim’s Lisburn Golf Club and Country Tyrone’s Dungannon Golf Club.

Golfing in Northern Ireland

Golfing in Northern Ireland – The seaside courses…

Several excellent seaside courses lie in the shadows of renowned venues.

Just around the coast from the celebrated Royal County Down, the short but spectacular Ardglass Golf Club links hugs the rocky shore and cliffs, with several holes offering views across the bay to Coney Island.

Golfers can enjoy the craic after their round in the bar of the oldest clubhouse in the world, originally built as a castle over 600 years ago and with cannons pointing out over the fairways just in front.

Kirkistown Castle Golf Club, on the Ards Peninsula, is the closest links course to Belfast and was designed by legendary architect James Braid, while Ballycastle Golf Club, a mix of parkland and links, lies opposite Rathlin Island on the Causeway Coast alongside the ruins of 500-year-old Bonamargy Friary.

Cairndhu Golf Club is a parkland course with several holes right by the sea, its signature, par-3 2nd hole ending in a green perched on a rocky headland.

However, few courses can match the historic connection enjoyed by Foyle Golf Centre, on the outskirts of Derry below the Donegal Hills.

Its championship parkland course is named after aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

She made an emergency landing at the end of her historic flight in 1932 on what is now the 6th green of the Earhart Course.

Whatever your preference, golfing in Northern Ireland is a hit!


By Ian Mullins

Golf Events in Ireland…

How to write a good golf club review…

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

how to write a golf club reviewAs the way we consume media and buy products and services changes, it is now becoming commonplace for internet users to leave a golf club review for other consumers.

So much so, that 78% of consumers now say they DO NOT make a purchase before doing research. We asked Ian Mullins (MD of TheSocialGolfer.com), what makes for a good review?

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When writing a golf club review it is important that you are both object and fair in your judging criteria.

In addition, it is important that your review is not based on the quality of the golf you played on the day but on the club and course itself.

There are four main criteria that we at the socialgolfer.com believe you should consider in your testimonial and here are some suggestions of the topics you should cover in your golf club reviews

Clubhouse & Catering – Was the course easy to find? What is the history and provenance of the club? Is the Clubhouse clean and welcoming? Were the staff friendly? Was the food to your satisfaction? How were you treated by the staff in the Proshop? Were the changing facilities clean and tidy?

Quality of the Course – Describe the layout of the course e.g. Parkland, Woodland, Links? What condition were the tee boxes, the fairways? Were the Greens well maintained? Was there good signage between the holes? Was there a particularly memorable hole you liked?

Practice Facilities – Were there designated areas for Putting, Chipping etc. Was there a range? Do they offer tuition packages? Were the Pro’s on hand to advise you about the set-up and course? Is there information on club and course available?

Value For Money – Give an account of the cost of your round. Did you take advantage of any offers? Was the overall experience matched by the Green Fee? Were you treated as a welcome visitor or an interloper?

how to write a golf club reviewAs we look ahead, like many other industries, golf club and golf centres around the UK and beyond, will have to start taking notice of their visitors, as well as their members.

Leaving a golf club review after you have visited a course, not only allows you to remember your experience before returning to the club again but this is also a valuable service for your fellow golfing “nomads”.

Finally, as golf courses become more and more reliant on visitors rather than members, we believe this will force all golf clubs to improve their service for all.

So next time you sit down to write a golf club review, either on thesocialgolfer.com or rival golf platform, think about who else may be reading it, and what information you would like to know, before booking a tee time.

#goodluck


By Ian Mullins

The Social Golfer Website Review – Ladies have their say…

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Ruth Brand - The Social Golfer Website Review

The online golf club The Social Golfer (TSG) has been growing steadily since its official launch back in 2010 and much of that is down to the continued support we have from our lady golfers.

However, as a pro-active promoter of women’s golf, we asked long term TSG member Ruth Brand for her comments regarding her TSG experience since joining our community.

N.B. These are Ruth’s words, not ours….!!


The Social Golfer Website Review – Why TSG?

As a keen (obsessed) golfer and having arrived back in the UK from living overseas for 12 years, I was looking to find a local golf club, which wasn’t very expensive.

As with most things these days, the first place to start was with my computer.

On my internet travels, I came across The Social Golfer.

I went onto their site and read what they were all about and it was perfect (or so it seemed), and I had found what I was looking for.

I signed up there and then and paid my £25 annual membership fee.

Essentially, TSG is no different to any other golf club.

Its front door just happens to be on my PC/iPad rather than a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ club.

It’s a golf club for golfers of all levels; members post a game/tee time in their area and, if spaces are available, you join the game by clicking on the link invitation.

If any changes are made to the game or if more people join up then you are advised by email so you are always kept informed.

After returning from the game, you then enter your scorecard and keep a handicap – brilliant!

The Social Golfer Website Review – Is it safe and female friendly?Ruth Brand - TSG Masters 2017 Champion

Now, I will mention here that I am a lady of a certain age and the very thought of meeting a bunch of totally new people was a tad daunting but I bit the bullet and put my name down for my very first game at Lingfield Park in Surrey.

I arrived on a dreary Saturday morning not really quite knowing what to expect but it was very straightforward and it was where I first met Ian – the chief honcho of TSG!

Jump forward six years and I have played many courses I would never have played, met people I definitely wouldn’t have met and it is one of the best decisions I have EVER made by joining!!

The Social Golfer Website Review – Is it overly competitive or cliquey?

One of the best parts about using this website is the ‘official’ TSG competitions that Ian arranges throughout the year.

These are entered straight into my diary and family holidays have to be arranged around them!

They are fabulous days where you meet up with old friends and make new ones and there is a very relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, especially for new members

This year’s event was sponsored by Golf News and Golf Escapes and there were prizes also to be won and titles to win or retain.

However, most of the TSG events I join are no more than a friendly game of golf with other members and the best bit, there are no petty politics to be found or heard anywhere.

I will also just put it out there, that I have on many occasions been the only lady golfer playing but not once have I felt uncomfortable – we are just there to play golf.

The Social Golfer Website Review – In summary…

Ruth Brand - The Social Golfer Website Review

It really is a club for like-minded, relaxed and fun golfers, who enjoy the flexibility of playing at lots of different clubs and generally, at discounted rates.

I also know Ian is very active at encouraging more women to take up the game, so everyone is welcomed, whether you’re an experienced player or just starting out.

So for any ladies out there reading this, I urge you to go and have a look at the site, sign up and come and meet lots of lovely new people and experience golf as it should be – a truly social day out!!!


By Ruth Brand

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017…

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017 As the players arrived at Farleigh Golf Club for The Social Golfer OPEN 2017 (sponsored by Golf News and Golf Escapes), it was clear from the smiles on the popular website’s members faces this was a day they had been looking forward to.

The Social Golfer OPEN was first held in 2011, following the launch of the online golf club in 2010. The event is now in its 7th year.

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017 – The Championship…

The event is a great opportunity for TSG members to mingle and ‘be social’ with many of 5k strong UK members (10k+ worldwide) and compete for the much coveted Halliwell Cup donated by Stroke Survivor and British Inclusive Golf Ambassador, Ian Halliwell.

Furthermore, £5 from every entry fee was donated to disabled golf charities.

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017

Despite its humble beginnings, the event is now sold out every year, with 70+ golfers travelling from around London and the UK, and with some from as far afield as Botswana attending.

Golf News was very proud to be the Official Media Partner of the day, as the event included a number of golfing challenges and tests.

The day’s events comprised, an Individual 18 hole Stableford Competition (Men & Ladies), a much enjoyed ‘Yellow Ball’ team event, run concurrently with the Straightest Drive, 2 x Nearest Pins, Putting competition, The Golf News Guest Trophy, Charity Auction and Raffle also on offer.

This year, the event also hosted an indoor ‘Nearest Pin’ competition on Farleigh Golf Club’s state of the art golf simulator, with the winner receiving 3 nights half board at the Il Picciolo Etna Golf Resort & Spa, Sicily, Italy, courtesy of Golf Escapes.

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017

In addition to the format above, there was also a chance for TSGers to play for “A Trevor”, paying homage to a former member who recently passed away, following a brave fight with Cancer.

Trevor Sandford was the man behind “A Month of Madness on the M25’, whereby he played a different golf course at 31 different junctions of the M25’s, over 31 days in the month of August 2011 raising money for Cancer Research, following the loss of his Pairs partner to the disease. He later wrote a book about his adventure.

Well known for his constant pursuit of the ‘Chip-In-Birdie’, anyone achieving this at future official TSG events , will have their name added to The Trevor Sandford Trophy (donated by TSG members Grge Butler).

They will also receive a medal commemorating the moment, which will be known as ‘A Trevor!’ On this particular day, this was achieved by London based member Pete Mayo!

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017 – The Course…

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017Farleigh GC is part of the Foxhills Collection and is set on 350 acres in the North Surrey Downs and offers a 27 hole Championship golf holes.

Set in a valley, the course is well-known for its windy conditions and therefore every shot requires careful consideration.

The Social Golfer OPEN was played across the Yellow and Blue courses; the latter having recently seen over £1m of investment, so no surprise that the course played well.  This combination boasts a Par 72, (6,212 yards) and was designed by John Jacobs Associates.

This combination boasts a Par 72, (6,212 yards) and was designed by John Jacobs Associates.

The greens on the day were running at approx. 12 on the stimp-meter meaning3 putts were common.

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017 – The Winners…

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017This year’s Men’s winner was Roger Ireland (London) with 43 Pts, 2nd place was Greg Butler (Essex) with 41 Pts and 3rd was Phil Boyd (Kent) 37 Pts.

The Women’s Trophy was won by Judy Lilley (Royal Blackheath) with 35 Pts and 2nd place went to African based golfer, Hang Van Den Broeck (Botswana).

There was also Nearest Pin & Straightest Drive competitions. Winners included Lee Benson (Hertfordshire), Ron Woodham (Essex), Simon Lacey (Surrey), Damian Benstead (Surrey) with the Putting Competition going to Phil Boyd (Kent).

The 3-day golfing in Sicily prize was won by disabled golfer Paul Houghton, after putting his ball to within 5ft of the flag at the world famous 7th hole at Pebble Beach in the three man play-off final.

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017 – The Charities…

Paul Houghton - The Social Golfer OPEN 2017As with all good golf society days, there is often a secondary purpose.

This year’s TSG OPEN championship was no exception.

The Social Golfer have always been big advocates in supporting disability golf and this year the members raised over £1k for English Disabled Golfers, Paul Houghton (Disabled Golf Association) and Roger Hurcombe (British Inclusive Golf).

These monies will help pay for their travel expenses and buggy hire fees. In addition, both Houghton and Hurcombe will be competing at this year’s Scottish Disabled Open between 21st-24th August 2017 at St. Andrews, wearing The Social Golfer’s team colours.

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017 – What they said…

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017Speaking to Golf News after the event here’s what some of the attendees said about the day…

“I really look forward to The Social Golfer ‘Majors’ when we all meet up for a superb day. Whether the golf’s good or bad; you cannot walk away from the day without happy memories and a big smile on your face. Thank you to The Social Golfer team; you have completely changed my golfing life!”  Mark Crane (15 H’cap)

“There was definitely camaraderie out on the course and in the clubhouse today. We have made more good friends and always welcome new ones. The Social Golfer always brings us together!” Judy Lilley (20 H’cap)

“What a great day! Perhaps the best TSG Open ever. Great venue, food and company. Such a buzz about the whole day. We were all winners!” Damian Benstead (18 H’cap)

Ian Mullins, Event Director of The Social Golfer OPEN said “Being a golf day organiser can have its trials and tribulations but every year the atmosphere at our events just gets better and better. A big thanks to everyone at Golf News, Golf Escapes, RoboGolf and Golf Deals Group for putting up over £1k’s worth of prizes.”

He went on to say… “We hope to grow the event even further in the next 12 months in the hope we can broaden the appeal of the day beyond just our members and guests but include more golfers from all over the world!

The Social Golfer OPEN 2017