Archive for the ‘Clubs/Courses’ Category

Short plays long game to win TSG MatchPlay at Pine Ridge Golf Club…

Monday, November 12th, 2018

The Social golfer matchPlay Final Video at Pine Ridge 28.10.2018TheSocialGolfer.com, the online golf club and social golf network website, held its sixth TSG MatchPlay Championship Final (Sponsored by Crown Golf) at their flagship course Pine Ridge Golf Club in Surrey, on Sunday 28th October 2018…

The TSG MatchPlay Championship ran similarly to an FA Cup style knockout with participants arranging each round of matches at a course of their choice.

With clubs in the Crown Golf offering preferential green fees at its venues including Hampton Court GC, Chesfield Downs GC, throughout the summer for TSG members.


The Social Golfer MatchPlay Final 2018 at Pine Ridge Golf Club…

The finalists Dave Short (Essex) and Ollie McCormack (London) both worked their way through a field of 64 to secure their place at Pine Ridge, having played six matches across the year.

In addition, the two losing Semi-finalists Brigitte Lockwood (London) and Andy King (Kent) competed in the third-place play-off.

TSG Matchplay Champion 2018 - Dave ShortThe final began with Short (11 Handicap) going 3up after three holes, meaning veteran TSG match-player McCormack (10 Handicap) had a mountain to climb to get the game back.

After a valiant effort, McCormack pegged two holes back only to lose them again by the turn.

However, with gritty determination, McCormack clawed his way back to all square on the 18th green with his final putt forcing a sudden death play-off…

The pair then played the first hole again, twice, before Short holed out for a Par to clinch victory!

Meanwhile, the third-place trophy went to Kent TSGer Andy King, who’s game was settled on the 17th.

The Social Golfer MatchPlay Final 2018 at Pine Ridge Golf Club – what they said…

Mentally exhausted from the battle, Short, commenting on his win said Many thanks to The Social Golfer for all the time and energy they put into organising this competition.”

“The online platform is a fantastic concept and I have met so many golfers and played so many courses, that I would otherwise have never visited.”

He went on to say…

“This is such an honour. Well done to the Pine Ridge staff and greenkeepers for making it such a great day. And of course, commiserations to Ollie, who really pushed me all the way. I am over the moon!”


For more information contact us at theteam@thesocialgolfer.com OR call 01277 200 207

By Ian Mullins

Crown Golf News – Greenkeepers Off to TPC Sawgrass…

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Crown Golf News - TPC Sawgrass.png v2Every now and again we hear about a fantastic ‘good news’ golfing story and this time its the turn of the UK’s best Greenkeepers and it’s also TSG partner Crown Golf News...

TPC Sawgrass GC is in the southeastern United States located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

It is the HQ for the PGA America and annually hosts The Players Championships.

Each year BIGGA members can apply for the opportunity of a lifetime, joining the golf course maintenance team at TPC Sawgrass.

Greenkeepers from around the world get the chance to be part of ‘The Players’ backroom team and BIGGA (The British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association) has revealed the first two members who have been selected to take part in the John Deere TPC Sawgrass Volunteer Programme for 2019.

In total, six BIGGA members will be selected to take part in the event, with one selected from each of BIGGA’s five regions and a sixth being selected from the ranks of international members.

Following the final day’s play, before heading home, the greenkeepers will get the opportunity to hit the 17th hole’s famous island green.

Each of the members underwent a rigorous application process, consisting of an online application, submission of a short video and an interview with BIGGA and John Deere representatives.

But why is this Crown Golf News?

Crown Golf News – Greenkeepers Off to TPC Sawgrass…

One BIGGA member selected from over 5,000 applicants, is Andy Copeland (above left) from Chesfield Downs in Hertfordshire.

Andy recently had an up-close look at course preparations for another massive tournament, being invited along with other greenkeepers to visit Le Golf National ahead of the Ryder Cup.

Andy will be out there volunteering for the full duration of the tournament helping to set up the golf course for play.

Since his arrival in June 2016 to Chesfield Downs GC, the course has seen vast improvements under his leadership of the course conditions.

And the Greens that have been quoted as ‘Best in the Area’ with nothing but positive comments coming from all that play the course.

Andy has created a team around him that share his passion and are striving for the same goals as Andy sets himself.

In 2019 The Players Championship will return to its former March date, necessitated by the shift of the PGA Championship from August to May.

Crown Golf News – Greenkeepers Off to TPC Sawgrass – and we know some others going…

However, with another link to The Social Golfer, head greenkeeper at Cleethorpes Golf Club (and Event Director at this year’s TSG Charity British Inclusive Golf) Matthew Shaul (above right) has also been selected to take part.

TSGers also wish both well…

#GoodLuckGuys


By Ian Mullins

For more Crown Golf NewsClick Here

Paul Houghton – Disabled Golfer & TSGer sues Brentwood Council…

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Paul Houghton on buggy

TSGer Paul Houghton and his case against Brentwood Borough Council for discrimination on account of him not being allowed to use his buggy at Hartswood Golf Club have now been taken on by top lawyer Chris Fry…

The BBC interviewed Paul on 3rd September 2018 and all the major news organisations have picked up on the story we first highlighted in 2016…

Dec 2016 – Discrimination-in-Golf…

Paul joined The Social Golfer in 2014 and has been an active and welcomed member ever since.

In 2017, The Social Golfer sponsored Paul and fellow disabled golfer Roger Hurcombe, helping them to fund their competitive golf.

Here’s what the BBC wrote about Paul Houghton’s case….

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Golfer Paul Houghton who is disabled and who uses a prosthetic leg is suing a local council for refusing to let him play on its course using a buggy.

Paul Houghton’s right leg was amputated in 2000 after he was affected by a lethal tissue-eating bacteria.

Mr Houghton learned to walk again – and golf became an important part of life but he still also uses crutches and a wheelchair.

He claims Brentwood Council in Essex discriminated against him but the council is defending the legal action.

Paul is lucky to be alive.

In November 2000, while working as a roofer, he knelt in contaminated water and contracted the deadly flesh-eating bug necrotizing fasciitis. It consumes muscle and body tissue at a rate of 0.75in (2cm) an hour.

“The surgeon told me he had to operate immediately,” Paul told the BBC.

“He said that he had no choice but to continue cutting until he was certain he had removed all the infected tissue.

“I had just two hours to prepare myself for an operation that at best I would survive with a leg missing, but at worst I would not survive at all.”

His right leg was amputated above the knee, and he received the last rites in hospital.

In all he had five operations, some for skin grafts because his amputation was very rushed and the perfect stump could not be formed.

Paul could not continue to work as a roofer and his business was wound up.

Paul Houghton – Disabled Golfer – Represented England…

He requalified and now works for Chelmsford Council as its access officer in building control.

He learned to walk with a prosthetic limb and switches between it, wheelchairs and crutches.

However, overuse of the crutches causes shoulder injuries, while the prosthetic leg can cause pressure sores that are difficult to cure.

Paul has represented England at disability golf 13 times, with a handicap of 14, and has played on courses across Europe.

Because of his disability, he needs a buggy in order to play an 18-hole course.

In August 2016, Paul had booked to play a round with a friend at Hartswood Golf Course in Essex.

It is owned and operated by Brentwood Council.

Paul Houghton sues Brentwood Council - Hartswood Golf club

On his way to the first tee, he claims he was told he would not be allowed on to the course without a letter from his doctor justifying the medical need for a buggy.

If he obtained such a letter he was told he would be given a certificate allowing him to use his buggy.

Paul Houghton – Disabled Golfer – What he said…

“I was gobsmacked he told the BBC.

“I’ve played over 100 courses around England, I’ve played all around the world and I’ve not been treated in this way before.”

Paul says he explained that he had his own insurance, a European Disabled Golf Association card, and a medical exemption, but the club insisted that he needed a letter from a doctor to justify the use of a buggy.

It sends the message that disabled people aren’t welcome, that we are not part of society, not included, but are segregated and can’t join in a sport that’s accessible to everybody, because we need to use other equipment to play the game,” Paul says.

In his legal claim, Paul argues that by refusing to allow him to use a buggy without a doctor’s letter, the council discriminated against him because of his inability to walk around the golf course.

In effect, he claims the council was applying a policy that indirectly discriminates against all disabled people who need a buggy to play golf.

Brentwood Council denies any discrimination and is defending the legal action.

The council said it was “committed to ensuring safe access for everyone to all its facilities” and would issue a full statement when legal action had concluded.

Paul Houghton – Disabled Golfer – Lawyer’s view…

Paul Houghton’s solicitor, Chris Fry from the firm Fry Law, said: “This case is more than just about making a service more accessible; it’s a reminder of the importance of the benefits which sport brings to social inclusion, together with physical and mental health.”

“This is especially important for people with a range of disabilities, and not least mobility impairments.”

“A simple adjustment in this case will benefit Paul, and thousands of others in a multitude of ways.”

In its “Buggy Use Policy”, England Golf, the governing body of amateur golf, says it “wishes to encourage the participation in golf of all players regardless of disabilities”.

This, it says, is in accordance with its obligations under the Equality Act.

Cae Menai-Davis, co-founder of the Golf Trust, a charity that works with disabled groups to make golf more inclusive, commented: “Golf is a sport for everyone.”

“Making it difficult for a disabled golfer to use a buggy isn’t just bad policy, it is bad business.”

“There is a huge untapped group of people with learning and physical disabilities that want to play the game and will benefit hugely from it.”


Paul with trophies

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Just some of the new outlets that have covered Paul Houghton in the last 24 hours…

The BBC

The Times

The Sun

The Telegraph

The Independent

The Week

The Daily Mail

The Metro

Epping Guardian

 

The Social Golfer OPEN 2018 – The Winners…

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

The Social Golfer OPEN 2018 ChampionshipOnce again, The Social Golfer online golf club and golf community gathered from all over the UK and with some players flying in from Africa for the 8th The Social Golfer OPEN 2018 (sponsored by Golf News and Golf Escapes).

First held in 2010, this year’s event was held at North Downs Golf Club in South London…

 


The Social Golfer OPEN Championship…

Despite the driest British Summer in 60 years, the heavens decided that it was 29th July that the dry spell was to end.

And didn’t we know about it!

However, this didn’t stop 64 golfers battling 30mph winds, squalling rain and, at times only 200 yards visibility.

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 British Inclusive Golf.

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 Social Golfer OPEN

The Social Golfer OPEN Championship – The Day…

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 and 2 x Nearest Pins.

The Golf News Guest Trophy, Charity Auction and Raffle also on offer.

This year, the event also hosted an indoor ‘Nearest Pin’ competition on North Downs golf simulator, with the winner receiving 2 nights half board at the Isla Canela Golf Hotel in Spain courtesy of Golf Escapes.

 


The Social Golfer OPEN Championship –  The Winners…

This year’s Men’s winner was Peter Hammond (Hampshire) with 37 Pts and the Women’s winner was Anna Guss (West London & Poland) with 29 Pts. Full results as follows:

The Social Golfer OPEN Men’s Trophy (Halliwell Cup) …

1st – Peter Hammond – 37 Pts (Won on countback)

2nd – Roger Hurcombe – 37 Pts (British Inclusive Golf)

3rd – Speedy Miller – 34 Pts

 

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The Social Golfer OPEN Women’s Trophy…

1st – Anna Guss – 29 Pts (Won on countback)

2nd – Judy Lilley – 29 Pts

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The Social Golfer OPEN

Golf News Guest Trophy…

1st – Jay Penfold (British Inclusive Golf)

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Other winners included…

  • NP (3rd hole) – Michael Hanley
  • NP(9th Hole) – Paul Langford
  • NP in 2(11th hole) – Ian Smith
  • Straightest Drive(18th hole) – Judy Lilley
  • Nearest to the Sim Pin(sponsored by Golf Escapes) winning a 2-day golfing trip to Spain – Tony Moss
  • Yellow Ball Team Winners– Ian Halliwell, Roger Hurcombe, Gary Wilson, Mark Reeves
  • Trevor Sandford Trophy – Chip in Birdie – Steve Hunt
  • Outstanding Contribution to TSG Award– Brigitte Lockwood

 


The Social Golfer OPEN

The Social Golfer OPEN Championship – The Charity…

As with all good golf society days, there is often a secondary purpose.

This year’s championship was no exception.

The Social Golfer have always been big advocates in supporting disability golf and this year the members raised over £1200 for British Inclusive Golf.

These monies will go towards helping young kids with autism and other mental and physical disabilities through the game of golf.

 


 The Social Golfer OPEN The Social Golfer OPEN Championship – What they said…

Speaking to Golf News after the event here’s what some of the attendees said about the day…

On behalf of British Inclusive Golf, may I thank you and The Social Golfer community at the TSG 2018 Open, for the warm welcome we received and of course the considerable financial support through the funds raised on our behalf.”

“We are totally overwhelmed by the level of support! All our guys had a marvellous time despite the inclement weather and many new friendships were forged.”  Ian Halliwell – Chairman – British Inclusive Golf

Ian Mullins, Event Director of The Social Golfer OPEN saidBeing 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 and Golf Deals Group for putting up over £1k’s worth of prizes. “

“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!

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The Social Golfer OPEN

The Social Golfer OPEN

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The Social Golfer OPEN

 

 

 

 

 

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By Ian Mullins

Read about TSG OPEN 2017 Championship – Click Here

Thorpeness Golf Club – TSG Review…

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Thorpeness Golf Club & Hotel v1Thorpeness Golf Club is set on the Suffolk coast, a few miles south of Southwold and is most famous for its unique landmark, the ‘House in the Clouds’. Located just off the A12, it is within easy reach of Ipswich and Lowestoft.

We sent TSG course reviewer Ian Mullins to check out the course and share with his fellow TSGers, his view on the set-up….


Thorpeness Golf Club – The Hotel, Clubhouse & Shop…

The entrance to Thorpeness Golf Club & Hotel is welcoming and the long drive up to the main hotel gives you a real sense of anticipation that you are about to have a good day.

The Clubhouse and hotel are combined meaning that you are likely to encounter walkers, runners, cyclists, as well as those the favour the little white ball.

However, whilst the hotel is modern, light and airy (as you would expect) once you enter the bar area you get a sense of the club’s history.

The idea for the golf club was first conceived in 1910 by the Scottish Barrister Stuart Ogilvie but the first world war postponed the building of the course until James Braid was invited to design the layout in 1922.

Widley accepted as one of the great golf course architects he went on to design over 200 golf courses in the UK.

By July 1922 ten holes were finished, with the remaining 8 completed in 1923.

Some of the trophies on display in the bar area are the oldest in British golf club history, including the ‘silver Frigate’, a replica ship cast in the purest silver.

The Pro-shop is situated by the putting green and we were welcomed with a big smile (some clubs could learn from this!) from Senior Club Professional Christine Langford.

Thorpeness Golf Club & Hotel v4Christine is from good pedigree, having turned professional in 1976 to pursue a career as a tournament player, she was one of the first players to qualify to play on the US LPGA Tour she is a founder member of the Ladies European Tour where she won 5 tournaments.

With over 40 years working in her sport Christine has been recognised by the PGA twice, once by being awarded Advanced Fellow status and earlier this year she was made an Honorary Life Member of the Association.

Membership starts from as little as £51.50 a year for juniors, with Adult membership around the £1200 mark. Special concessions are in place for Seniors over 80 too.

Thorpeness is not the cheapest course to play for visitors BUT it is good value.

Rates for 18 holes is £60 before 12pm, £40 after 12pm with twilight rates also available.  The Shop is stocked with all the usual bits and pieces and their embroidered club wear is very smart.

All the staff were friendly and very laid back (we are in Suffolk) and whilst I do object to being asked to pay £14 for breakfast (in the main hotel), a simple bacon roll can be bought at the bar for much much less.

Thorpeness Golf Club – The ‘House in the Clouds’…

Arguably, Thorpeness Golf club is most well-known and quirky landmark – The House in the Clouds.

Thorpeness Golf Club & Hotel v2

Originally a water tower, it was built in 1923 to receive water pumped from Thorpeness Windmill and was designed to improve the looks of the water tower, disguising its tank with the appearance of a weatherboarded building more in keeping with Thorpeness’s mock-Tudor and Jacobean style village.

The original capacity of the water tank was 50,000 imperial gallons (230,000 l) but during the Second World War, the House in the Clouds was hit by gunfire from anti-aircraft guns based at Thorpeness.

In 1977 the water tower was made redundant by a mains water supply to the village, and additional living space was created. In 1979 the main water tank was removed to fully convert the building into a house.

The building currently has five bedrooms and three bathrooms; it contains a total of 85 steps from top to bottom and is around 70 ft high and can be rented out by anyone

Thorpeness Golf Club – The Course…

As mentioned above, designed and built by James Braid, the course is an interesting mix of heathland, linkland, parkland and woodland.

Oh yes, and its narrow! I was warned before teeing off (on an immaculately presented first tee box) I would lose golf balls at this course and with my game, I didn’t disappoint them.

However, don’t be afraid, if you play this course conservatively and straight, it can be beaten.

The course is 6,421 yards but feels much less as most holes as on flat ground but watch out for the bunkers, they are all perfectly placed to catch your ball.

I played here at the height of the dry summer of 2018, so we got plenty of ‘run’ but I suspect the course can turn on you in Winter.

All the Greens were what you would expect from a Top 100 golf courses (no.83) and with every hole presenting a different challenge from the last, it requires playing a few times before you will score well.

However, golf isn’t supposed to be easy and there is a real sense of authenticity to this layout.

The stand-out holes as I recall:

Thorpeness Golf Club & Hotel v3

7th – Par 3, 139 yards over water to sloping green

9th – Par 4, 469 yards, dog-leg left to raised green

15th – Par 4, 405 yards dog-leg left to flat protected green

18th – Par 4, 408 yards, dog-leg right finishing under ‘House in the Clouds’

 

All in all, Thorpeness Golf Club is a pretty and welcoming club and course and is a delight to play.

I would highly recommend this course to any local people, or, like me from further afield (or in my case, only the neighbouring county of Essex).

A pretty course full of fauna and mature parkland and I can’t think of anything to criticise.

Thorpeness Golf Club – And Finally…

Christine explained that they were very keen on providing golf and hotel packages for all standards of player, whilst also catering to Mixed Couples, Women’s Golf and Juniors.

More information can be found on their website.

TSG Verdict: 4.5 out of 5!

Thorpeness Golf Club & Hotel v5

 

 

 


By Ian Mullins

More Course Reviews from The Social Golfer

Unique Golf Courses of the World – Kilimanjaro Golf…

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate

In a continuation of his series on Unique Golf Courses of the world TSG contributor – Scottish Bob – now turns his attention to some of the lesser known courses around the world, this time it’s the turn of Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate

As I have stated before, it never seems to amaze me the never-ending list of spectacular golf clubs & courses around the world, each one of them have their very own characteristics & uniqueness about them.

And this stunning golf club is worthy of joining that list…


Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate – The Course…

The first 18 hole par 72 Championship golf course was built in Tanzania on the east coast of The African Continent by the world-renowned golf course designer, David Jones.

It opened in 2003, with the man himself a Kenyan Open Golf Champion, and a former Irish National Golf Coach.

The course is 1400 metres above sea level and is set in 1000 acres of the African bush near the small town of Usa River which is only a 30-minute drive from Kilimanjaro airport.Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate v4

The Championship course has been designed to benefit golfers of different skill levels, from the championship level of approximately 6,500 metres to a gentler 5,400 metres.

The Clubhouse sits slightly higher, meaning you can look down and enjoy the stunning’s views of Mount Kilimanjaro while golfers are practising their golf shots. The golf course is unique, in that each hole blends effortlessly into the natural surrounds of the local terrain.

In addition, the individuality of the landscape with its own indigenous plants, native grasses and trees make this a wonderful experience for any golfer.

The Greens are large with very subtle changes in elevation, and each hole demands thought with bunkers strategically placed to allow golfers a fair shot at the fairways & greens. The 11th through to the 13th holes share a beautiful lake running the length of these holes.

However, on the 18th hole, you have a risk versus reward shot, which requires a bold shot onto the wonderful island green, and what a way to finish your round of golf.

Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate – The Scenery & Wildlife…

After you have had a relaxing rest, you might have been giving a lot of thought about the beautiful and stunning snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro that you have been seeing on your round of golf.

You might even have considered ticking another box on your “Bucket list” by just maybe… having a go at climbing the highest free-standing mountain in the world!

Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate v3

As well as being the highest mountain on the African Continent (It currently stands at a height of 5892 metres) and it is also the fourth highest mountain in the world. Nearby Mt Meru can also be seen in the distance at a height of 4566 metres.

Nevertheless, if you are too exhausted after your round of golf to consider the climb, you could always relax in this beautiful Estate with a cold drink in your hand, and maybe try some of the local Tanzanian food or try some other exotic African cuisine.

This can be done while watching the abundance of African wildlife that is roaming around the bush and scrub surrounding the course, from the graceful Gazelles, Dik Dik, Duiker and some of the smaller wild cats including the Civet, the African Cerval, Jackals, and the very elusive Aardvarks!

With the larger animals like Wildebeest, Zebras Kudu’s also to be seen in the Wildlife Estate, not to mention the plethora of wild native birdlife of which their are just too many to mention.

This amazing & unique golfing experience and much more can be had in just one place …“The Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate”.

Til next time

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Scottish Bob” Davies.


Unique Golf Courses of the World – Christmas Island…

 

The Social Golfer Par 3 Championship 2018…

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

The Social Golfer - Par 3 Championship 2018 Slater wins TSG PAR 3 Championship and takes 3rd TSG Major title… and now only requires one more for the TSG Slam!

Once again members of The Social Golfer (Online Golf Club & Golf Society) gathered from all over the South East of England to meet and compete at Kent-based Pedham Place Academy on Saturday 9th June 2018, all hoping to be this year’s TSG Par 3 Championship golfer….


The Social Golfer – Par 3 Championship…

The unique event is played over 27 holes, with the top six players going through to an 18th hole shoot-out!

More than 30 members of the popular online golf club signed up to the day, making for an exciting competition with…..

  • Mark Tucknott (Essex),
  • Gary Cartlidge (Surrey),
  • Mark Crane (Kent),
  • Steve Slater (Essex),
  • Chris Ford (Hertfordshire),
  • Mike Sleeman (London)

Each finalist had two balls to win their place in the Grand Final, with the two players nearest to the pin on the 18th Green qualifying!

The Social Golfer - Par 3 Championship 2018 v4

With only one hitting the green it took a third ball from 5 of the 6 before settling on two finalists Steve Slater (former TSG Masters and TSG Open Champion) and first-time TSG major finalist Mike Sleeman (London).

The Social Golfer – Par 3 Championship – The Winners…

The field ranging from 12 handicappers to 28 and the course (one of the best Par 3 in the South of England) proved to make for a hugely enjoyable contest with Mr Steve Slater winning through!

Other prizes on the day included Wooden Spoon – Ruth Brand, Guest Prize – Val Hammond, NP1 – Peter Hammond, NP2 – Paul Houghton, NP3 – Peter Hammond, NP4 – Chris Ford and Quiz Winner – Peter Hammond

 


The Social Golfer - Par 3 Championship 2018 v4

The Social Golfer – Par 3 Championship – What they said…

Speaking after the event Ian Mullins, Managing Director of The Social Golfer said;

“ Once again members joined in with our innovative shoot-out format giving an average golfer the taste of what it’s like to play sudden death. I still can’t believe how nervous some of them looked as they stood on the tee.”

“However, I thoroughly enjoy watching grown men turn into jelly.”

“Well done to Steve, I have no doubts his sights are now set on becoming the TSG MatchPlay champion next!”

“Many thanks to Pedham Place and Tim Milford and his team for once again looking after us so well!”

The Social Golfer - Par 3 Championship 2018 v4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read about our TSG Masters 2018 winner…

Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – TSG Review…

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 4Having planted my ball on the 7th green at Peeble Beach (at the TSG Open Championship on a simulator!), the next thing I know I’ve won a golfing trip to Sicily courtesy of Golf Escapes and Il Picciolo Golf Resort.

And having added a few dates to our trip, here’s my review for my fellow Social Golfer members to enjoy….

By Paul Houghton


Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – location and accommodation, Facilities…

Il Picciolo Golf Resort in the centre of the Mediterranean island of Sicily is situated roughly 50 miles from Catania Airport.

The hotel is over half way up Mount Etna the scenery is spectacular.

The transfer cost is 120 Euros (one way) and takes 50+ minutes.

The hotel and course itself were built in 1989 but sadly the outside of the hotel reflects this and is badly in need of refurbishment.

On arrival you approach a rather dated reception, where details are taken, language is not a barrier but no help with luggage was offered?

Sadly, the first thing to note is the hotel is not overly disabled friendly, some steps are not accompanied with handrails.  However, the rooms are of a good size with on suite bathroom facilities.

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 5

They are clean and the chambermaid service is very good.  Towels and shower gel etc changed every day. The room boasts Sky television and a mini bar.  Only four coat hangers per person encourage you to travel light, but there’s plenty of space for clothing and storage is available.

The restaurant was very spacious but a little dark, the staff were courteous but surely on occasion.

The three-course evening meal costs 29 Euros and was very good, most of the time.  The Saturday evening buffet was superb, only the last night did I feel the food was of a poor standard.  The breakfast layout is bland but of good quality.

The service during breakfast seemed more relaxed.  I fell one evening slipping on a discarded cucumber slice and the staff were very quick to act, cleaning up the debris, but alas did not follow up to ask if this disabled man was injured, so we felt could have been handled better.

The hotel catered for coach parties which stayed one or two nights at the hotel, staff seemed more attentive towards them than the longer staying cliental.

The cocktail bar was run by a very efficient member of staff for most of our stay (7 nights) but when she was not on duty, she was replaced by staff who obviously did not enjoy the role.

The drinks were not cheap at £7 for a G & T, we were never offered a complimentary appetiser even though it was part of our deal?! As far as entertainment goes it karaoke style.

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - SicilyOne evening a singer sang along to backing tracks until midnight (about 5 hours), alas she was the only entertainment of the week and whilst it was ok, New York New York wears a bit thin after a while!

The spa was very tranquil and ticked many boxes as to treatments.

The staff there were helpful and made it a very enjoyable experience.  Information on the few trips (3) offered was sparse, no leaflets were offered.  A trip up Etna was offered for £100 but no meal made it seem very expensive.  Getting a taxi return to Taormina was over a £100 it was 30 minutes away.

Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – The staff…

To be brutally honest, overall, the staff communication was a problem the whole week.

There was a power cut one day, no explanation was offered to the guests and we only got into our room by seeking help from a cleaner?

The resort manager (Guy) did make an effort to discuss how our experience was going, he was very friendly and chatted whenever we saw him (he was English) but surprisingly, no other staff engaged to that level, instead, they saved their conversation for Italian guests

Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – The Golf Course…

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 2

The Clubhouse is situated a few hundred yards from the hotel.  Your round can be booked through the hotel, but buggies have to be paid for at the club. The Pro at the club is friendly and his staff are very helpful.

The office doubles with helicopter rides up Etna, so they are not only focussed with the golfers. A spacious locker room is accompanied by shower facilities.  There are drinks machines for refreshments and confectionary.

There had been a fire in the kitchens, so no other food was available at the golf club which was a little disappointing.

However, the Practise facilities are VERY good, a driving range, practice bunker with plenty of sand in it, a dedicated chipping green and practice putting green.  I was given free practise balls – refreshing as that wouldn’t happen in the UK.

A round of golf is not cheap at 85 Euros buggies are 45 Euros.  The course is nicely set out with some challenging holes but the clover (just off the fairways) is four inches long and thick.

 

Lost balls are inevitable as the fairways are no more than 20 paces.  I felt this was too penial, looking for balls becomes a bit of a chore when you’ve hit a good shot.

It’s a shame as the course has some dramatic holes, but its let down by unkept rough, clover, daisies and very poor signage. A stroke saver is essential for 5 Euros. The slope index does give the average golfer two shots, but it’s the looking for balls that effects your game. #

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 3

This is a very undulating course so if you’re going to walk be prepared, the temperature can fluctuate 10 or 12 degrees while you are out there. A fair bit of work needs to address these issues to bring the course up to its best.

However, one thing I will always remember is the scenic backdrop, the views of Mount Etna are spectacular…. and would make me return just to view again.

In summary, Il Picciolo Golf Resort could be an exceptional course but it really needs a lot of work on it to get it above a 3 out of 5 rating.

Would I revisit Il Picciolo?  Probably not until I see improvement in the course, its nowhere near the standard of courses for the same money in Spain or Portugal.

I think its pricing its self out of the market of the average golfer if it wants to attract the better player a lot of work needs to be done to compete with the Algarve etc.

TSG Verdict – 3 out of 5 stars

 

 

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…

The Social Golfer Golf Partner Offers…

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

The Social Golfer PRO member Partner OffersDid you know, that you receive a FREE ROUND of golf courtesy of CROWN GOLF (worth up to £35) when you renew or upgrade to a TSG PRO account for £29.98 in 2018-2019* + many other Golf Partner Offers.

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More TSG Golf Partner Offers…

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