Archive for the ‘Clubs/Courses’ Category

Golfing in South Africa – The Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland)…

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

Golf in south Africa - Eswatini Kingdon - The Social GolferWhile searching the countries around the world that play golf, TSG regular columnist Scottish Bob took at another look at Golfing in South Africa and came across a country called The Kingdom of Eswatini!


As TSGers who read my golf articles know, I am always on the hunt for rare and exclusive places to play golf.

Now I have to admit I had not heard of this country under that name, so I decided to look a little bit deeper into its origin…

Golfing in South Africa – The Kingdom of Eswatini…

Up until April the 19th 2018 the country was formally known as Swaziland, however, King Mswati III decided that he would change the name of his country to The Kingdom of Eswatini.

In fact, unlike a lot of other countries around the world that completely changed their name, he named Eswatini in their spoken native name for “Swaziland.”

Of course, I then recognised the country in question.

Eswantini has a population of just under 1.5 million people as of 2019, it is approximately  17,364 sq kilometres and no larger than 200km from North to East & 130 across from East to West.

It is the smallest country in Africa as well as the Southern Hemisphere, I believe that it is also the last monarchy in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, while being a small country it has a very diverse and wide variety of landscapes, from the mountains along the border with Mozambique to the Savannah’s of the North East and the rain forest to the North West.

The Capital of Eswatini is Mbabane.

It is the largest city in the country with a population of just under 95,000 people in 2010.

Golf was first played in Mbabane in about 1923, the golf course had no prepared fairways, the veld grass was kept short and the greens were made of stamped earth as were the golfing tees.

The course still existed into the early thirties until the outbreak of the 2nd world war.

Interest in golf was revived in Mbabane following the 1939/45 war and the re-opening of the main club in 1947, to which the United Kingdom Government donated 3000.00 rand.

A subcommittee was formed to construct a golf course of which Bob Rankin (R.I.P.) and many other members contributed their time and passion for the love of golf.

The golf course took 18 months to finish with many members of the community helping out in many ways.

The 9 hole golf course was opened in 1949 which, I believe, is the oldest golf club in The Kingdom of Eswantini.

Meanwhile, several rivers also run through this beautiful country including the Great Usutu River and there are quite a few wildlife reserves & big game parks.

these have a wide variety of flora, fauna and of course, there are the Lions, Elephants, Hippos and the endangered Black-faced Rhino.

Golfing in south Africa - Eswatini Kingdon - The Social Golfer

It is also known that there are 507 bird species in the country of Eswatini.

Needless to say, I think we might be more interested in the golfing birdies.

And there is always someone wanting to “hog the greens”

Golfing in South Africa – The Kingdom of Eswatini – The Golf Clubs…

I knew a little bit about the varying options of Golfing in South Africa and I had heard of the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel Golf Club, founded in 1965.

This epic 18 hole par 72 sprawls out onto the dramatic slopes of the Lebombo Range.

An 800 kilometre stretch of narrow mountainous highland, before curving gracefully down into the lush valley where the Swazi Sun Hotels are set in the Ezulwini Valley (Valley of Heaven).

The first 9 holes of this spectacular golf course are comparatively level, however, the back 9 holes take full advantage of the imposing mountainous terrain.

There are many challenging features on this course including glossy lakes, rustic gullies and wickedly sited bunkers dot the landscape.

One of which is so deep that they had to incorporate railway sleeper steps.

Nkonyeni Lodge & Golf Estate is another one of those spectacular golfing experiences you can only dream about, set in 1200 hectares of the African bush and overlooking the Great Usutu river and surrounded by mountains.

The 18 hole championship course, with the spectacular Golden Eagle Links Course and the Bush-veld Course, are in absolutely pristine condition.

Thus making your round of golf an absolute pleasure with their very own game reserve right at your doorstep.

Golfing in south Africa - Eswatini Kingdon - The Social Golfer

There are many more fantastic golf courses in this wonderful & very diverse country including The Big Bend Golf Club, The Simunye Country Club, The Mananga Golf Club, The Manzini Golf Club, The Usutu Forest Golf Club, The Ubombo Country Club… and I could go on.

I never realised when starting this small article just how many beautiful & exciting golf courses there were and this also applies to the wildlife game reserves.

I had always thought of Kenya, South Africa & Tanzania as the haven for those, however, I can now add The Kingdom of Eswatini to that list.

I would like especially to thank Dorrie & Martin Litschka and their many friends from other Golf Clubs in Eswatini for supplying me with information on the area.

In addition, there’s a special mention to the personnel of the Mbabane Golf Club & The Nkonyeni Lodge & Golf Estate.

These clubs were very kind in helping me with a lot of local knowledge, which helped me in many ways to find out more about the country and its surrounds but a lot about this new fledgeling country itself.

Ngiyabonga & Salani Kahle (Thank you & Goodbye!).

Til next time from Scottish Bob

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

 

 

 

 

 

 


More From Bob…

Unique Golf Courses of the World – Kilimanjaro Golf…

The Open 2019 – Will American’s continue to dominate…

Friday, June 28th, 2019

Brooks Koepka - the Open 2019 - The Social GolferWith only a few weeks until The Open 2019, we look at the continued domination of Golf Majors by the Americans and discuss if the trend is set to continue into this year’s tournament…


Looking ahead to The Open 2019 – The stats…

When Gary Woodland birdied the 18th at Pebble Beach a few weeks ago he did more than secure his first career major.

Woodland’s lengthy putt brought all four men’s majors back into American hands.

It’s a quite unusual spell of dominance from the US players which hasn’t been repeated for several decades.

A victory for an American at The Open 2019 Championship in July will make history but will it happen?

Not since 1982 have all four men’s golf majors in a calendar year been won by players from the same country.

Craig Stadler, Raymond Floyd, and two Tom Watson titles secured American dominance that year.

The game is very different over 35 years later but it seems as if the US superiority has returned.

It caps an unusual run of wins which was continued by 35-year-old Gary Woodland who secured his first major.

It was an impressive final round for Woodland.

The Kansas-born golfer hadn’t made the top ten of a major championship prior to his weekend at Pebble Beach.

A second-round 65 gave him the lead over his rivals which held out until Sunday morning.

Englishman Justin Rose teed off in second-place with PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka not too far behind.

Koepka birdied four of the first five holes to go joint-second with Rose at -11.

The 12th proved an important hole with Koepka failing to take advantage of Woodland’s bogey and remaining one behind.

The eventual winner survived this mid-round stumble to push clear of the pack with a birdie on 14.

A lengthy cross-green pitch gave him confidence on 17 before Woodland sealed the win on the final hole.

“Once the putt on 18 went in, I let it come out of me, it’s special to win here at Pebble Beach

“I probably feel more nervous now than I was all day today”

“I really felt good all week”.

We’ve been preparing for this, we’ve worked hard”

“It’s obviously uncomfortable to be in the lead at a major, but I am trying to enjoy being uncomfortable! I tried to enjoy the pressure and really thrived on it”.

“Rosey’s a good buddy, so playing with him helped me. And Koepka, what he’s done lately is unbelievable. He got off to a hot start, and I was just trying to keep that cushion”

Woodland is right about Koepka.

His countryman has been on an incredible run of results in majors lately.

Koepka has won the last two US Open Championships.

The last man to do that was Curtis Strange back in the 1980s and a time of American dominance.

Some things remain the same as we enter another round of US superiority in men’s majors, with 9 of the last 11 men’s major titles have been won by Americans.

Koepka has four of them but the variety is impressive.

Woodland joined Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, and Tiger Woods in that list of recent winners.

Francesco Molinari’s 2018 Open win and Sergio Garcia’s success in the 2017 Masters at Augusta National were the sole successes for the rest of the world.

Gary Woodland - the Open 2019 - The Social GolferLooking ahead to The Open 2019 – The Favourites…

But will that continue in July?

The tour heads to the United Kingdom and the Open 2019 Championship in July.

The 148th edition of the tournament will take place at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

Taking into account the above, its no surprise that Koepka is the early favourite to lift the Claret Jug at 15/2 on Betway as of 25 June.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy is in second at 9/1 and cannot be counted out on home soil.

The recent major winners will continue to threaten.

Tiger Woods cannot be dismissed after his US Masters victory but the American dominance goes beyond that.

Seven of the top ten ranked men’s golfers are American with Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele joining their countrymen.

The pair turned pro this decade but both are already challenging the leaderboard.

Schauffele looks on the cusp of his first major with three top-five finishes in his last five.

The 148th Open 2019 Championship will be as fiercely contested as ever.

Recent history suggests the Claret Jug is heading back across the Atlantic with a spell of real American dominance.

Nine of the last 11 men’s majors have been won by golfers from the United States.

Gary Woodland will want to add to his victory on Pebble Beach but he faces a tough field dominated by countrymen.

Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods, and Dustin Johnson won’t be far behind, as will Rory McIlroy on home soil.

If this continues then the Americans should have a decent Ryder Cup team next year!


By Ian Mullins

 

Pebble Beach Golf Club – US Open 2019…

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Pebble Beach Golf Club - The Social GolferToday the third of 2019’s Golf’s major begins, with this year seeing the tournament return to Pebble Beach Golf Club for the first time since 2010.

Back then Tiger was about to enter the wilderness and it was Graeme McDowell who ended the week victorious!

However, let us take a closer look at the club and the course!

Pebble Beach Golf Club – The History…

Universally heralded as one of the finest and premier Public Course in the US.

Pebble Beach has hosted the US Open event on five previous occasions.

Previous winners include…

2010 – Graeme McDowell

2000 – Tiger Woods

1992 – Tom Kite

1982 – Tom Watson

1972 – Jack Nicklaus


However, here’s what the Pebble Beach Golf Club website said about its own history…

Pebble Beach Golf Club – The 20th Century…

February 1919 – In the early part of the 20th century, Samuel F.B. Morse is challenged with making the Pebble Beach area an attractive real estate investment in order to find a buyer.

He decides to create a one-of-a-kind golf course with unsurpassed beauty and an element of difficulty that will always be challenging.

Morse utilizes the extraordinary talent and vision of two great amateurs, Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, to design the course, and Pebble Beach Golf Club officially opens on February 22 1919.

Making 2019 its 100th birthday!

December 1926 – Del Monte hosts the 1926 Monterey Peninsula Open on Pebble Beach Golf Links, putting up a $5,000 purse and attracting most of the top golfers—professionals and amateurs (However, we’re not sure if there were any high handicappers involved!)

Harry “Light Horse” Cooper of Texas wins with a 72-hole score of 293, five over par.

September 1929 – Pebble Beach hosts its first “Major”: the U.S. Amateur.

Field favourite Bobby Jones ties for medalist honours but loses his first 18-hole match.

Minnesota’s Jimmy Johnston beats the field with a 4 & 3 win in the final 36-hole match against Oscar Willing.

August 1935 – In the heart of the Depression, Pebble Beach Golf Club hosts the California State Open after a long hiatus.

Pebble Beach head professional Cam Puget wins the event on his home course, pocketing the $300 first place money.

Pebble Beach hosts the event again in 1936 and 1948.

September 1940 – The USGA returns to Pebble Beach for the 1940 U.S. Women’s Amateur, which is won by defending champion Betty Jameson.

The USGA also schedules the 1942 U.S.

Men’s Amateur for Pebble Beach Golf Links, but it was cancelled due to World War II.

January 1947 – The Bing Crosby National Pro-Am golf tournament is played for the first time at Pebble Beach (after being played for six years at Rancho Santa Fe before World War II).

September 1947 – The U.S. Amateur returns to Pebble Beach and is won by Skee Riegel.

September 1948 – The U.S. Women’s Amateur returns to Pebble Beach. It is won by Grace Lenczyk.

April 1950 – Among the first of the tournaments of the newly formed LPGA is the Weathervane Transcontinental Women’s Open, which is won by Babe Zaharias at Pebble Beach in 1950.

It returns in 1951 and is won by Patty Berg.

Pebble Beach Golf Club - The Social Golfer v2

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January 1958 – For the first time, television covers the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am.

Bing Crosby hosts the broadcast of the final round live from the 18th green.

September 1961 – Pebble Beach again hosts the U.S. Amateur, attracting one of the top international showings to date, as it follows just weeks after the Walker Cup is held in Seattle.

Jack Nicklaus sees Pebble Beach Golf Links for the first time and decides he likes it—defeating Dudley Wysong 8 & 6 in the final match.

June 1972 – Pebble Beach Golf Links hosts its first U.S. Open golf championship.

After defeating Johnny Miller in the 1972 Crosby, Jack Nicklaus returns to Pebble Beach and wins the U.S.

Open by 3 strokes with a 2-over par 290.

August 1977 – The Company hosts its first PGA Championship tournament. Lanny Wadkins wins on the third hole of sudden death.

June 1982 – The U.S. Open is held at Pebble Beach Golf Links for the second time.

It features the battle between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus and the most talked about shot in golf.

Watson needs birdie to win but completely misses the 17th green.

To accomplish his mission, he sinks his legendary chip shot. He also birdies 18 and defeats Nicklaus by two strokes with a 6-under par 282.

January 1986 – The Crosby Clambake becomes the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament.

November 1988 -The 2nd Annual Nabisco Golf Championships—which in 1991 became The Tour Championship—brings the top 30 golfers to Pebble Beach.

A rain-delayed final round ends with Curtis Strange and Tom Kite tied; Strange wins on the second playoff hole and becomes the first golfer to win more than $1,000,000 (lifetime) on the PGA Tour.

June 1992 – Pebble Beach Resorts hosts the U.S. Open for the third time.

Under brutal winds, Tom Kite shoots an incredible par round and wins his first major with a 3-under 285.

November 1998 – Pebble Beach Company constructs the new 5th hole of Pebble Beach Golf Links, as designed by Jack Nicklaus.

August 1999 – The 99th U.S. Amateur Championship becomes the ninth USGA championship held on Pebble Beach Golf Links and the first to also use Spyglass Hill for the medal-qualifying rounds.

In the final, Tennessee’s David Gossett defeats South Korea’s Sung Yoon Kim 9 and 8.

Pebble Beach Golf Club – The 21st Century…

June 2000 – The U.S. Open returns for the 100th playing of the championship.

Tiger Woods captures the trophy, besting his nearest competitor by 15 strokes and tying the lowest 72-hole score ever in the national championship.

July 2001Golf Digest ranks Pebble Beach Golf Links as the No. 1 Golf Course in America—the first time a public course has been so honoured.

June 2010 – The U.S. Open Championship returns for the fifth time to Pebble Beach Golf Club.

Furthermore, a number of course enhancements—all under the direction of legendary Arnold Palmer—are completed to strengthen player appreciation, heighten the challenge and exceed guest and championship expectations.

In a championship where a score of par is the most meaningful, the then 30-year-old McDowell posts an even-par 284 for the 72 holes.

He becomes the first European winner since England’s Tony Jacklin in 1970.

Pebble Beach Golf Club – The Future…

Regardless of who comes out top this weekend, you can be sure Pebble Beach Golf Club will continue to be at the forefront of world golf with future events including a first U.S. Women’s Open in 2023.

In addition, it will host a seventh U.S. Open in 2027.

Furthermore, every February, the PGA Tour visits for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a tradition that began in 1947.

 


Pebble Beach Golf Club US Open – Who’s your money on…

As with previous TSG articles on Golf’s majors, it’s always good to see who the favourites are and this year we have Tiger back in the mix!

Whilst his odds are much improved since his win at The Masters and given he has won here before, it could be argued he should be the favourite.

However, the betting at the time of going to press is as follows…

  • Johnson, Dustin – 7/1
  • McIlroy, Rory – 8/1
  • Koepka, Brooks – 10/1
  • Woods, Tiger – 11/1
  • Cantlay, Patrick – 18/1
  • Fowler, Rickie – 20/1
  • Spieth, Jordan – 20/1
  • Rose, Justin – 25/1
  • Schauffele, Xander – 25/1
  • Thomas, Justin – 25/1

Obviously, these odds are pre-tournament but there are many providers of live betting odds too, just search Google.

In the meantime, we look forward to watching the field compete on some of the best greens in the world!

UK TV coverage is available via Sky Sports.

Enjoy!


By Ian Mullins

 

Golf Participation in the UK in 2019 – Who’s to blame…

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer 5Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – Who’s to blame?

As many people have reported over the last few years, golf in the UK has seen a decline both in rounds played and in membership.

So, is the game in terminal decline or is there a renaissance around the corner?

Here, Ian Mullins (Managing Director of The Social Golfer) gives us his view…


Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – The stats…

Golf participation has been declining since its last heyday in the 1990s when you couldn’t move for new golf clubs being built at a rapid rate. But let’s look at the stats in the cold light of day…

There are approx. 3.9m* golfers in the UK and approx. 1.3m of those belong to a golf club.

This means 2.6m people that play the game DON’T belong to a golf club.

Meanwhile, according to data from Statista (the statistics portal regarding golf participation in England from 2007 to 2016), the conclusion is that, as of September 2016, approx. 1.1 million adults in England play golf on a monthly basis.

Since 2007, the number of golf players has thus been decreasing from about 1.5m players. This makes a decrease of about 27 per cent over eight years.

The biennial survey (by Sports Marketing Surveys) tries to paint a very positive picture for golf club membership in England, declaring since the 2016 survey, that club membership numbers on average, are up by 24 members.

In 2016, the average number was 460, in 2018 that was up to 484.

However, that doesn’t take into account the number of golf clubs that have closed, so it’s hardly a trend.Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer

Meanwhile, you don’t need statistics to know many of the golf clubs I know, are empty after 12 noon on a weekend.

And I’m not on my own: www.telegraph.co.uk/golf/2018/09/25/golf-needs-modernised-halt-steady-decline-experts-have-say/

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – What’s changed…

Well, of course, no one can deny that there has been a seismic shift in our lifestyle and habits in the last 20 years.

Life is no longer lived in our local community and people are much keener to venture out and have new experiences.

However, Golf clubs have not only failed to move with the times, but some have even gone backwards.

Coupled with the ‘Global financial meltdown’ in 2008, it has become harder and harder for golfers to justify £1k a year in membership fees and that’s before they’ve even hit a ball.

Furthermore, clubs (and England Golf) have blindly and stubbornly failed to address the sexist and racist attitudes that still exist in many of these white middle-class fiefdoms.

And the professional game hardly covers itself in glory.

Yes, that’s right, despite having a black golfer at the helm of our professional game for over 20 years, how many of you can name another black golfer on the tour?

Vijay? (Asian), Tony Finau? (Asian). Steve Curry – yes!

But where is the BAME (Black, Asian or Minority Ethic) golfer from the UK? Sadly, in this respect, once again our governing bodies have failed us!

Coupled with the fact that in 2018, Georgia Hall won The Open Women’s Championship and yet no one outside of golf in the UK would know who she is.

So, while all other forms of sport have addressed the issues (or at least tried), Golf has at best ignored the change in attitudes.

As such, Golf Clubs are not seen as diverse places. On the contrary, that is deemed as unwelcoming and inaccessible by many.

Lastly, golf is still an expensive game to take up – e.g. A set of clubs, shoes, bags etc, start from £500.

Then I need to pay every time I play. Yet, I can buy a bike for £500 and be on the road, for free, within a few minutes.

Yet, to compete fairly, the industry says I HAVE to join a ‘bricks & mortar’ golf club to track my handicap.

Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer 2

A typical golf club committee in 2019!

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – They just don’t get it…

I presented The Social Golfer concept to a panel of England Golf bigwigs back in 2014.

I am still in disbelief that the response to our innovative approach to making golf accessible was only met with mild interest, not to mention a little arrogance.

Why don’t you have more members I was asked?

“I’m sorry, we’ve just built a platform of 6,500 members (now over 10K) in over 140 countries without any help from anyone and with our own money… I thought we’d done pretty well.” 

The response I wanted to give would have been “What the hell have any of you done!”

But experience told me it would not be a professional response, after all, we’re here to make friends not enemies.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to leave the room, and, if anything, it made me more determined that we could, and would, do it without them.

So, despite issuing a brief to find commercial partners to help them ‘grow the game’, they finally settled on a partnership with Your Golf Travel.

Surely, they take people AWAY from the UK to play golf, rather than encourage people to take up the game in the UK?

In addition, given this was 2014, I was shocked to be introduced to a self-serving, blazer-wearing, back slapping brigade of executives.

Who shockingly, even 10 years after the invention of Facebook (now 15 years), couldn’t see the changing world around them. But they are not the only ones…

Oh no, their friends in the marketing department were busy pretending to the world they were forward-thinking when they commissioned a new ad campaign to promote the game aimed almost solely on increasing golf participation in the UK.

Just because you invest in a marketing campaign using diverse characters, doesn’t mean they will be welcomed with open arms.

Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer

This message is not effective unless it is backed up by action!

When the lumberjack shirt or pink leather jacket wearing Millennials turn up at a club, he or she is more likely to be sent away with a book of rules on golf attire.

How will this increase Golf participation in the UK?

My point is, the left arm doesn’t know what the right arm is doing – or if it’s even connected to the same body!

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – The Media…

And another thing, (now you’ve got me started), why oh why is golf not being supported by terrestrial TV?

If Tiger’s Wood’s win at Augusta last weekend told us anything, it’s that golfers, and even non-golfers, will watch if the game if accessible.

So why do they keep doing deals with SKY TV, when they could be promoting golf to the next generation via the BBC or even ITV or Channel Four.

Why is there not even so much as a ‘highlights show’ of the European Tour on a Monday night?

That would keep the game ‘front of mind’ and encourage new audiences to find the game.

I have no doubts that this Easter weekend will see many kids pretending to be Tiger in their back garden, just like I pretended to be Seve in 1978, but I suspect few will make it to a course or range.

Furthermore, I have given up counting the number of times I have contacted a golf club to discuss them hosting one of our Major events (70 people + green fees) and often, I never even get my calls returned.

In short, having spent 25 years in the Advertising and Marketing industry before taking the helm at The Social Golfer, that’s nearly 9 years in the sector, I am still in shock at the lack of professionalism in the golf industry.

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – What else has changed?

Well, whether the R&A or England Golf acknowledge it or not, the world has moved on around them.

We are now competing for consumers’ time against a whole plethora of other sports and pastimes.

Yes, traditional sports like football and cricket are still played but now there are others, like Basketball, NFL and Gaming (yes, I’m talking Sony Playstations), and then there’s Box Sets, Netflix and Experience days – think Adventure Golf – which is the modern-day equivalent of the Crazy Golf courses, I remember for my day trips to the seaside as a kid.

As well as online betting, casino websites and other 21st century distractions to amuse us.

Meanwhile, I can book a flight to Australia on my smartphone from the comfort of my sofa, yet at some golf clubs, I have to phone the club landline to book a tee time.

In addition, we are now living in the ‘Review Culture’, whereby many will not purchase anything before consulting other people’s views and experiences.

As such, it would seem no one has the expertise to lead golf out of the doldrums, and very few clubs have a clue about marketing.

Ask them what their current R.O.I (Return On Investment) is, or what the value of retweet versus an online banner campaign is and watch the bead of sweat appear on their forehead.

All I hear from golf club managers and industry figures (who should know better) is that it’s all about ‘social media’ these days.

Well, relying on a 22-year old with no experience in media, promotion or PR (except posting stuff on their Instagram feed), does not make them an expert in marketing.

As someone who has spent over £100m for my clients (including Emirates Airlines, the London Golf Show and others), if you think Social Media is the answer to your membership woes – you’re 15 years behind the curve.

I suspect most of them wouldn’t even know what a paid-for campaign on Facebook even looked like!

Golf participation in the UK in 2019 – So what’s the answer?

Firstly, the ‘powers that be’ need to put their egos and job titles to one side, and look at the game from the consumers’ point of view.

– Modern consumers want Choice, Experience, Value and Respect. Period.

– They don’t want gimmicks, they want equality and accessibility.

– Golf clubs need to relax dress codes and start treating visitors as customers, not interlopers

– They should invest in good photography before they invest in a new graduate with plenty of opinions but no experience.

– They need to up their game in terms of customer service

– The game MUST be on Terrestrial TV, reaching new audiences rather than preaching to the converted

Furthermore, a ‘Like’ is not ‘Engagement’.

Golf participation in the uk, The Social Golfer 4

A link to the club website from a like-minded golf website (a backlink), written in language consumers understand (not just the golf Pros) is much more valuable to your marketing.

And if you think a so-called ‘Social Media Influencer’ wearing ‘Jazzy’ leggings are going to save the game, you are deluded.

Yes, they might encourage a few, but it’s hardly a game changer.

Sadly, it seems to me that golf is so desperate that they’ll jump on any bandwagon that comes along, rather than taking a planned and rational approach to growing the game.

In my humble opinion, in the next 20 years, golf will move almost completely away from the membership model and be solely reliant on ‘Pay & Players’.

Which is when many golf clubs will be held to ransom by their lack of good course and service reviews.

The industry will become more akin to the restaurant industry too, whereby reviews on Trip Advisor make or break them.

Meanwhile, the clubs that recognise this shift in lifestyles and attitudes will thrive and prosper.

However, in the meantime, here at The Social Golfer we will continue to be a challenger to the traditional golf model.

Even if it’s only a small token effort to increase golf participation in the  UK, we’re doing something to provide an innovative and useful platform for golfers to enjoy their sport.

We are democratising the game, and we hope others follow!


By Ian Mullins

*Source: TGI

The Social Golfer is an Online Golf Club with over 5K golfers in the UK and over 10K worldwide.

Over 1,000 events and games were arranged by our members in 2018.

The site has over 4K Golf Club and course reviews and over 25K scorecard submissions.

Visit us at www.thesocialgolfer.com

Mongolian Golf (you couldn’t make it up!)…

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Mongolian Golf v3 - The Social GolferThis story is not only about our great game of golf and golf courses around the world and more specifically, Mongolian Golf!

However, it’s also about the two young men, Anthony Millet (English) and Patrick Colquhoun (Scottish) who both wanted to do something different.

As such, they set about trying to help others less fortunate and make a difference to lives on the other side of the world…


Mongolian Golf – You want to do what?

Anthony & Patrick decided to form a team and enter the 2015 Mongol Rally.

This rally first started in 2004 with just 6 teams, & by 2015 the rally had grown to 250 teams with between 2-4 people in each team.

The Rally starts in London and ends in Mongolia, and covering over 11,000 miles over mountains, desserts, & the Steppes of Europe & Asia.

The car that the two young men were driving in the rally was a 1986 Porsche 944, which they bought from a scrap yard for just $7000.

They proceeded to ensure that the car would meet the rigorous obstacles and very rough terrain, not to mention the difficulties they would have to overcome through the numerous border crossings.

Note: There is no backup system if you happen to break down you have to use your own initiative to rectify any problems that occur.

The whole idea of entering the rally was to raise money for their chosen charity which was The St Georges School in Ethiopia.

This had a huge impact on changing the lives of the local children at St Georges School for the better.

Anthony & Patrick had decided before they left that they would both have a bit of fun on the way by playing a round of golf in every one of the 17 countries on their route.

Mongolian Golf – Turkmeni-where?

Mongolian Golf v2 - The Social Golfer

However, after arriving in Turkmenistan and already knowing that there was no golf course there, the two men set about finding a good location to build a 9 hole course.

They found a very suitable spot called Derweze, which is also home to the infamous “Door to Hell” Gas crater and it is about 69 metres in diameter and 30 metres deep and it has been burning for over 40 years.

This live gas crater came about in 1971 when this natural gas field collapsed into a very large cavern which was venting a large amount of gas, the geologists decided to set the gas alight to try and stop the spread of the methane gas, and they thought that it would burn out in a couple of weeks.

However, it has been burning ever since and the locals gave it the name “Doors to Hell”.

Anthony & Patrick set about building their 9 hole golf course, making sure that four of the holes skirted near the dangerous gas crater.

The ground as you could imagine was very hard & rough and eventually after making their “Brown” greens and the holes they put in the flags that they had brought from home.

They used the roof of their car which was named “Shirley” to tee-off, four of the holes had to clear the gas-crater and they never tried to retrieve their lost balls which might have been “Hot Dots” and if there weren’t, they certainly are now.

Anthony and Patrick have left their hand-built 9-hole golf course intact so that any of the many visitors to the location can play a round of golf in what must be an amazing & unique experience.

Shortly after their game of golf their car (called “Shirley”) caught fire and was totally destroyed.

Mongolian Golf v1 - The Social Golfer

They both lost a lot of their personal equipment and belongings including their beloved golf clubs, it was a sad effort to their epic adventure as they could not continue to the finish.

However, to their credit, the two men raised over £26k pounds for their chosen charity.  “Well Done Lads!”

Ok, so it’s not really an article on Mongolian Golf but I would like to take the time to thank both Anthony & Patrick for their help and co-operation in helping me to write about this unique golfing experience.

Anthony designed their own golf club scorecards and he was kind enough to send me one of them which has taken a special place in my collection.

As a footnote, Anthony and his wife have now moved to Australia and live in Sydney.

Til next time TSGers…

 

‘Scottish Bob Davies’

 

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

 

 

 

 


Read other stories by Scottish Bob including the March 2019 article on golf in Singapore

Golf in The City: Golf Singapore…

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Golf in the city - Golf Singapore - The Social Golfer v3

In a new series of articles, this month sees Scottish Bob turns his attention to explore golf in the city with the first focus on the south-east Asian in ‘Golf Singapore!’

Over to Bob…


Golf Singapore – The City…

So in a change to the usual focus on just one golf club per feature, I am starting this collection with the beautiful country (and city) of Singapore.

Singapore  is made up of a number of islands with the city being the largest island in the country as well as being the capital

There are a few of the smaller islands including Sentosa, Palau, Ubin, Palua Semakau, Sisters island plus few more.

All these islands can all be reached from the mainland by boat or ferry.

Golf has had a big influence in Singapore for over one hundred years starting with the founding of the Singapore Golf Club on the 17th of June 1891, and many clubs were formed shortly after.

However, while researching this article, I came across some interesting facts and figures which made me think…

Singapore Island is approx. 721sq kilometres and whilst land is at a premium.

The City now has 19 golf courses, including some of the most beautiful and interesting courses you could wish to play.

Most of these golf courses are approx. just around half an hour’s drive from one another.

The changing face of golf in Singapore could affect other golf clubs in towns & cities around the world too.

With a population of just under six and a half million people, there are approx only 36k golfers in the country which is less than 1% of the population.

Golf in the city - Golf Singapore - RafflesThis beautiful city of Singapore is a bustling & exciting city to live in.

Golf Singapore – The Clubs…

Unfortunately the Jurong Country Club which was founded in the early 70s was the first to close its doors on 31st of December 2016.

Alas, with over 40 years of history and fond memories, this beautiful Country Club was renowned for its hospitality and friendliness to all who came to play golf there.

The Raffles Country Club which only opened in 1988 and was one of Singapore’s oldest clubs, closed on 31 July 2018 soon due to the new High-Speed rail link project between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

This project has seen the acquisition of the entire Raffles Country Club.

However, I am glad to say that the Famous Raffles Hotel which was established in 1887 by Armenian Hoteliers, the Sarkies Brothers, and named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles the founder of Singapore is still operating.

New refurbished, the hotel will reopen sometime in 2019 after major renovations, needless to say, you will still be able to enjoy the famous Singapore Sling which is widely regarded as the national drink of the country.

The drink was created by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915, and I must admit I had the pleasure of indulging myself with one in 2011 and most enjoyable it was.

Rumours have it that by 2021 The Keppel Golf club with over 100 years of golfing history may also be gone.

But with other golf clubs like The Beautiful Tanah Merah Country Club and The Singapore Golf & Country Club also due to lose some of their prime lands, its a tough time for golf in Singapore.

Golf in The City –  The Future…

It is sad to say that both time and people’s attitudes are changing.

Some of the people are no longer in favour of the sport being played by an exclusive group, using so much land.

And sadly, while I am sorry to see the closure of these wonderful golf courses, I fully understand the reason why it had to happen.

There are still quite a good number of beautiful & prestigious golf courses open for business in Singapore though.

These include Sentosa Islands Serapong Course, which was ranked at 79th among the World’s greatest golf courses by Golf Digest 2018.

There is also The Singapore Island golf clubs “New Course”, The Laguna Nationals “Masters” & “Championships” courses.

The golf course – I was going to feature in this article –  The Changi Golf Course with plenty of its own history is only 5 kilometres from the infamous Changi Prison.

The institution still remains open today and would be well known to many allied soldiers, but that will require a whole new article!

that is a story for another day.

I hate to say it but Its “Bye Bye Birdie” from me and sorry to say from many of these golf courses.


Til Next Time…

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

Scottish Bob
Read more articles by Scottish Bob…

Golfing in New Zealand >>

Begin playing golf – FIVE reasons to start in 2019…

Friday, March 8th, 2019

begin playing golfGolf is one of the oldest sports out there, yet a ton of people have a hard time with it because of the steep learning curve but why should you begin playing golf?

However, you can’t just pick up a set of clubs, head out on the course and shoot ‘Par’ on the day.

But there are some important upsides to the practice of golf.

So, for all of you out there who are looking into doing something different this summer, golf might just be the solution for you.

Here are five reasons why you begin playing golf in 2019:

Begin playing golf – 1. The great outdoors…

One of the major perks of golfing is enjoying the scenery and the sun beaming down on the luscious grass.

This winter was rough on everyone and there is no better way to fully take in the gorgeous weather than going out there.

Even on a bad day on the fairways, you can rejoice in the fact that you are breathing in some fresh air while taking in the best that mother nature has to offer.

You can opt for the fast cart ride to make your round a short and sweet one. But you can also go the healthy way and march the length of the course to admire your surroundings.

Begin playing golf – 2. Perfect for a healthy lifestyle…

But there are more than visual benefits to walking the course.

You also get a great deal of physical activity when you choose to go cartless for your 18 holes.

The average golfer will walk a total of 6 miles (9.6 kilometres!!) when they decide to leave the cart at the clubhouse.

But for our cart friends, do not despair, you can also get a good workout from using your explosive hip movement when striking the ball.

An 18-hole round will take 4-5 hours, but it will also become a great way to get some decent active time for your body and your mind.

begin playing golfBegin playing golf – 3. Fun for the whole family…

When you begin playing golf, one of the greatest perks of golf is that it can be played by everyone.

Golfers of all ages are welcome to most golf clubs allowing for a superb family activity on weekends.

Most of all getting started early is the key to becoming successful in golf. Starting early with the family will ensure a prosperous development through the years.

Best of all, you can find some pre-owned golf clubs in order to set up everyone’s equipment for a reasonable budget.

Begin playing golf – 4. Top of the chain equipment…

Talking about golf equipment, one of the greatest perks of golf is to use the newest and keep up to date with the most revolutionary technologies.

Technologies like adjustment weights twist face and the speed injected face have all revolutionized the sport in the last few years.

These innovations were created with the idea of helping golfers get into the game and make better contact on the ball.

It is the perfect time for you to get into the sport and take advantage of the best clubs in the world.

Begin playing golf – 5. Stay safe…

One of the most underrated advantages of golf is the conservation of the mind and the body.

Most physical team sports will expose the body to head trauma and possible severe physical injuries.

But golf will almost entirely shelter you from those dangers.

Of course, injuries are not entirely avoidable.

But if you make sure to stretch out properly, as you should always do before going out on the field, you will most likely never experience any pain from the sport.

As for head trauma, simply make sure to look out while you are on the course and open your ears to the “FORE!” calls of other golfers.

Finally, the only real enemy you’ll have on the course will be the sun.

Make sure to apply a good amount of sunscreen before heading out for the weekly round.

Begin playing golf – And finally…

Hopefully, this has convinced you to pick up the great sport that is golf.

It is the ultimate sport for the summer as you get to enjoy the beautiful weather.

You can also keep the legs fresh while walking around on the course.

Moreover, it is a great opportunity to bring the whole family together for an afternoon activity.

Finally, you get to benefit from the best engineering in the world while having the peace of mind that you are not slowly grinding your health away.

 

By Ian Mullins

Crown Golf ONE SHOT Competition…

Friday, February 15th, 2019

Crown Golf - ONE SHOTCrown Golf One Shot – APRIL 2019!

One 40ft Putt, One Chance, One FREE Years Membership to Crown Golf!

The Crown Golf One Shot event on Saturday 13th April 2019, for any golfer and non-golfer of all ages to attend and try out.

You only get one shot and one chance!

For a day of competition, food, sunshine and great activities it’s not worth missing out on…

You’ll have the chance to win a one-year FREE membership and the GDPs (Golf Development Professionals) will be running complimentary golf clinics as well as family activities for those new to the game.

Crown Golf One Shot – Why Golf?

What can get better than this?

No other sport can bring people together so quickly.

Crown Golf One Shot - The Social Golfer

It’s a natural talent, you can play as an individual or in a team.

And you get to see the great outdoors and every game is a new adventure!

It’s very good for both your mental and physical health and such a great sport to be a part of.

It’s a great social activity and a great way of getting people together…

So why don’t you get into golf by winning yourself a FREE one-year membership and seeing this all for yourself?

Crown Golf One Shot – Meet your local Crown Golf Team…

As well as running the Crown Golf One Shot event in the day, all the clubs will be holding different activities on the day such as Beat The Pro, junior 15ft putt,  longest drive competition, junior coaching and other outdoor games.

In addition, depending on the crown golf course you visit, many special guests will be attending and more.Crown Golf One Shot - The Social Golfer

This is a great chance to get to know the amazing, welcoming and friendly team who work there.

You’ll get to see the club itself and see how it’s unique from the rest and you get the chance to meet any potential new golfers.

We would love to see everyone down there family and friends getting involved in such a great event at the cost of nothing.

From a range of 20 wonderful clubs in a wide variety of locations, there is no excuse of not being too far away.

It’s a lovely day out and a perfect way of finding out a new talent you didn’t know you had.

Bringing people together couldn’t get any better than this!

By Emily Latham


More Blogs from TSG – 5 top reasons to try golf in 2019…

Golfing in New Zealand…

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

In his series of Unique Golf Courses of the World, this month Scottish Bob turns his sights on Golfing in New Zealand!

Over to Bob…


Golfing in New Zealand – The Course…

Kia ora tatau & Nau Mai to Aotearoa” (that’s hello to everyone & welcome to the land of the Long White Cloud)

Today there are approximately 390 golf courses in New Zealand which puts it second in the world for golf courses per capita, from a population of only 4 million.

Only Scotland with approximately 543 golf courses per capita of around 5 million has more courses.

Golf has been played in New Zealand since 1871 when the Otago Golf Club was formed with many golf clubs forming shortly after.

However, I would like to bring what I myself would call, a unique golf course which was founded in 1906 and it is The Rotorua Golf Club and the Arikikapakapa course.

Rotorua-golf-Club-view-from-above

This means ‘The Gentle Sound of Plopping Mud’!

The Rotorua Golf Club is the only Geothermal golf course in New Zealand.

The Rotorua Golf Club and the Arikikapakapa course…

The course has 18 holes and is a par 70, each hole is played over and around both dormant and very active thermal areas.

This provides each golfer with a great variety and a very challenging round of golf.

The geothermal uniqueness of this golf course has earned it, an international reputation which you should not miss if you are golfing in New Zealand.

Whilst playing this golf course there are a number of bubbling hot mud pools & hot steam vents that are to be avoided, especially on the left of the 9th green.

In addition, there is a strange sulphur mound on the right side of the same green.

This unique golf hole was featured on a New Zealand stamp and has been written about by my many golf writers from around the world.

However, there is a Monster geothermal crater which guards the left side of the 14th hole and descending into the crater hole is forbidden.

This hole has also become the signature hole of  the Rotorua Golf Club

Among many of the other holes here, are the 14th 15th & 16th which are played alongside & across a lake.

Apart from the added danger of water, on a cold & chilly winters morning watching the steam rise from the lake into the air is something special to behold.

There is also no room for wayward shots on these three holes also known as “Amen Corner” by the locals where so many matches are won & lost by the smallest of errors.

The unique pumice ground of this golf course allows for rapid drainage even after heavy rainfall, where the course and greens recover in only a few minutes making it very rare for golfers to lose any time playing their game of golf.

The entire golf course was rebuilt in 1996 with new bunkers and undulating greens, there are four tees on every hole.

Red, Yellow, White, & Blue, to test the abilities of each & every golfer.

That’s it for now, more next month…

E Noho Ra & Whai I te ra pai

(Farewell & have a good day in Maori).

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

 

 

 

 

 

Scottish ‘Bob’ Davies

 


N.B. Facts & figures are as reliable at the time of writing.

More Unique Golf Course of The World From Bob…

Best Winter Golf Events…

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

Best Winter Golf Events v1 Finding the Best Winter Golf Events in the world to play can be a difficult exercise. Furthermore, as winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, many golfers put their golf bags and clubs away until spring.

However, there are many intrepid golfers around the world who find the winter months a challenge and like to participate in the snow and ice!

Best Winter Golf Events – The History…

According to historians, there was a short game in Holland called “Kolf” which was played on frozen canals and ponds around the 17th century.

It is also rumoured that a form of snow golf was played in Scotland around the same time.

In 1892 the renowned English Author & Poet Rudyard Kipling (famous for the Jungle Book stories) married American lady, Carolyn Balestier.

They both later settled in Brattleboro, Vermont, in America with Kipling’s very good friend Sir Arthur Conon Doyle joining them.

Kipling who lived a great deal of his life in India was not a great lover of the hot temperatures, however, he revelled in the cooler climate.

One cold winter’s day in a snow-covered paddock Kipling was seen to be hitting something with a white birch branch, this became a very familiar site for the local people around the area.

One day he came out dressed in black boots, knee-high socks, green knicker- like pants, a red plaid cap, carrying a bag with a few mixed clubs in it.

He then proceeded to make a small mound out of the snow and placed his red ball(he had painted)on the top of the mound and thus winter golf was invented (#Discuss).

Best Winter Golf Events v2

 

Best Winter Golf Events – The Courses…

The Chivas Snow golf Championship took place in January 2007 in St Moritz, with the victorious Ryder Cup winner Sam Torrance, winning the Chivas Snow Golf Championship.

Not to be outdone, in March of 2010, the famous French Champagne House of Boerl & Kroff held the 1st Boerl & Kroff  Snow Golf Cup in Gstaad in Switzerland.

The Drambuie Ice Golf Championship was first held in Greenland in 1997 and was the brainchild of Mr Arnie Neiman, who asked Mr Rolf Henning-Jenson to design an 18 hole golf course.

So began a great golfing experience with golfers from all over the world coming to participate in this unique frozen golf tournament.

The Megeve BMW Winter Golf Cup was a crazy idea created by an avid and passionate golf enthusiast by the name of Philippe Guilhem in 2000.

This tournament has been now running for 18 years, set in the Mont D’Arbois Domain, which belongs to the Rothchild’s family.

Phlippe Guilhem was also involved with the famous Swiss watch designer Vacheron Constantin in organizing “The Vacheron Constantin Snow Golf Cup” which was held in St Moritz Switzerland.

However, something a little bit riskier and dangerous, there is also The Snow Golf Championship held on The Aletsch Glacier on the Jungfrau Mountain in the Swiss Alps.

You tee-off at an altitude of 3465 metres with many Swiss sporting personalities taking part in this truly unique tournament.

 

Best Winter Golf Events v3Best Winter Golf Events – And there’s more…

These are just some of the best winter golf events in the world I have found and there are many more Snow Golf Tournaments and Championships taking place.

In places like Argentina, Austria, Germany, Italy, Canada, America, Sweden, Finland as well as the UK.

A great many of these tournaments are arranged to raise funds for needy charities all around the world.

One of my favourite Tournaments was The 2010 Utukkuu Snow Golf Challenge which was held in Anchorage, Alaska, Canada.

The great sum of $36,500 was raised by the local people for the Aqqaluk Trust, which preserves the culture, language, and dignity of the local Inupiat people.

While there are so many more I could mention, I will finish with the Rockwell Police Department in Texas, who organise The Santa Snow Flight Golf. 

Here, they fly in Santa to play golf in the snow!

All of the money that is raised by these great people is used to buy toys for the underprivileged children in the local area.

These, along with many related snow & ice golf stories, are just a small sample of work (and kindness) that is carried out by golfing fraternities all over the world.

But unfortunately, so often we never get to hear about their fantastic achievements and the people who run them.

 

Best Winter Golf Events – And Finally…

I would like to wish all the staff & readers everywhere of The Social Golfer a VERY Merry Christmas and a wonderful and safe 2019.

And I would love to hear from anyone about any snow golf tournaments held in the UK.

Email me at justus96@bigpond.com

Til next time

“Scottish (Santa) Bob” 

 

More articles from Scottish Bob… Christmas-island