Archive for the ‘TSG Course Reviews’ Category

Using a golf course guide to select a course to play…

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Finding a Golf Course Guide and a new golf course to play;

Whether played as a hobby or preparing for a competition using a Golf Course Guide is paramount to getting the most from your golf day.

In addition, while golf is without a doubt one of the most entertaining sports in the world, a day out can be ruined by playing a course that is either to hard or to easy to play – depending on your ability.

Golfers can be enjoyed by all age groups with endless courses options availble to all in the UK.

However, we also need to keep in mind that selecting the best golf course to play, suiting your skills and playing standards can be tricky. 

Do you start on a flat course, a short course or a Par 3 course? This is especially important when you are starting out. 

So,  what factors should you examine when choosing a golf course in your area to play?  

Golf Course Guide - Vilamoura

 

Golf Course Guide – Golf course deisgn and layout?

Many courses have been engineered around specific levels of skill and ability e.g.  holes with a par three, four or five will naturally be more challenging.

The same holds true in regards to any course hazards present, such as water and bunkers (sandtraps).

Check both the Par (and yardage) of the course and consider the ‘Slope Rating’ – the difficulty factor of the course.

The course you play can make a huge impact on both your scoring and your enjoyment. 

An ideal way to help in golf course selection is also by reading course reviews found in a relaible and recognised and golf course guide to see what your fellow golf lovers have to say.

Or navigate to the website of the course in question, as this generally provides a detailed overview of its physical layout, as well as information on green fees and food options.

Golf Course Guide - Crowborough Beacon GC

Golf Course Guide – Membership feees, Green Fees and other golfing expenses?

Golf can be a rather expensive sport.

This is why appreciating what Golf Club Annual Membership fees you will be required to pay, is another logical recommendation beofre choosing which course to play (or indeed join).

These tend to be paid on a yearly basis although some courses may allow you to increase the amount of the initial deposit in order to reduce future premiums.

However, the game in the UK is slowing moving more towards a ‘Pay & Play’ model. i.e You are a day visitor and you only have to pay for you single round on the day.

Let us also not fail to mention the cost of equipment such as clubs, balls and shoes.

A good set of clubs could cost you as £1,000 ($1500) and there is no doubt that this could eat into a tight budget.

But anyone starting out would be better advised to buy a second hand set before spending big.

This is why it is wise to ask if an anuual golf club membership also comes with a member discount card for use in the club Proshop.

Golf Course Guide - Brocket-Hall-Classic-Shot

Golf Course Guide – The Social Side?

Golf is a very social sport (hence the existence of this website golfing community!) and it is often quite easy to make friends while on the fairways and greens. 

However, some courses and clubs are more exclusive than others. and using an good up to date, golf course guide will also cover this side of the game.

Try to join a club/course that caters to individuals much like yourself. 

It is also prudent to study the local online forums before joining (see golf course guide customer reviews advice above) in order to better determine which venue is the most relevant for you. 

Professional golfers require years to master their skills and while you might not ever wish to ascend to this level, there are still many other considerations to consider when selecting the most appropriate course. 

Not only will its physical characteristics determine your overall experience, but the atmoshphere and the greeting received goes a long way to determining your overall enjoyment.

Above all, always remember to have fun while playing!

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By Ian Mullins

 

Now read – Why golfers carry 14 clubs in their bag >>

Golfing in Vilamoura – Part Two…

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalIn the first of our two articles on ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’, we talked about our visits to The Laguna and The Millennium.

In this second of our two ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’ articles, now read about our visit to the world-renowned Vale do Lobo’s The Royal and The Ocean courses...

 


Golfing in Vilamoura – Vale Do Lobo – The Clubhouse…

You know on your way into the resort that you are approaching one of Europe’s premier golf destinations.
On arrival at The Clubhouse, pleasant and friendly staff immediately showed us to the Golf reception – an area that gives you an indication of your experience for the day.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalThat is where we met Daniel who has worked at the resort for 12 years.

Something not unusual among the staff here, as we find out.
In fact, many of the staff have been here for over 10 years which suggests it’s a well-run place.
On sharing a coffee in the Players lounge, Dan explains to us that the whole resort, including the two-courses, is roughly the size of Monaco.
Having worked in marketing for some 25+ years, I conclude (given the audience they wish to attract) this is a superb way to promote themselves. Especially if you want to appeal to the European golfers with a high disposable income.
Looking out from the lounge, we have a beautiful view of both the Putting Green and the Grandstand, which gives the place a very grand feel.
However, this theme continues as we take a tour of the facilities.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

They have it all covered here including a Private lounge for members, a Spa, an 8-bay driving bay (which is due for a refurb), a gym, snooker area and a yoga studio.
All surrounded by beautiful shady areas, cobbled paths, an outside bar area, scenic views across the sea – somewhere we return to after our round.
The changing room is large, trendy and immaculately clean, as you would expect from a high-end resort.
Dan goes on to tell me that whilst the membership is not cheap at 5,000 euros a year, there are a good 200+ members.
Both the corporate members and tourist day-trippers keep the place very busy.
If you’re going to visit Vale do Lobo, make sure you make a full day of it, enjoy the surroundings, the ambience and the friendly staff.
Give your self plenty of time to enjoy the views – and I haven’t even mentioned the golf yet…

Golfing in Vilamoura – Vale Do Lobo –  The Courses –  The Royal Course…

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

So, I guess all golfers with a number of years of playing under their belt have a ‘bucket list’ of courses they want to play.

Having heard about the famous 16th, Par 3, from many friends, ‘The Royal’ was one golf course I’ve wanted to play for a while.

However, to focus solely on this hole would do the rest of the course a disservice.
The course starts with some very straight but pretty holes, enclosed by whitewashed villas and I immediately felt at home and encouraged by what was to come.
The fairways are clean, soft and well maintained as you would expect and it’s a pleasure to be playing on firm fairways again (we really do have to put up with a lot back in ‘Blightly’ with its wet, damp and cold conditions) and I feel I will save a few shots today because of it! (I didn’t!)
The course is very walkable, despite some big inclines and declines, but there’s always a shady area close by under which to cool down.
The stand out hole on the front nine is definitely the 7th hole – 140 yards, 130 yards carry over water (see below) to a slightly sloping green.
Despite a pretty ropey scorecard up to this point, I just make it over and scramble a par, so I am happy!
This is quickly followed by another carry over water on the 150 yards, Par 3, ninth hole. Alas, here I was not so lucky. Splosh!
Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalSo, on to the back nine. More picturesque and with a more varied hole layout, the course now gets more interesting.
I won’t talk about each hole but I will say it’s beautiful, pretty tree-lined fairways and immaculate greens all run quickly.
And as we approach the sea and the Par 3, 16th signature hole, you really do feel you’re playing Millionaire’s golf!
At this point I must commend the club, as they run a ten-minute tee system, meaning we saw hardly any other golfers until the 17th hole.
If I had any criticism with the course at all, I would say some of the tee boxes could be flatter in places… but now I am picking ‘holes’.
This is both a well managed and beautifully presented golf resort, and they couldn’t have been more courteous to us.
I will definitely return here.

18 holes – Cost = Approx 100 euros


Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

Golfing in Vilamoura – The Courses – Vale Do Lobo – Ocean Course…

Now sadly, this is when I turn to my fellow TSGers for their feedback on the second (and less well-known) course, The Ocean, as I had to head for the airport.

The Ocean Course is composed of the two original 9-hole golf courses designed by Sir Henry Cotton.

The Course features undulating fairways which run alongside a nature reserve, before leading gently down to the shores of the Atlantic.

Its stand out holes are two very testing and spectacular Par 4s – the 11th and the 14th, as well as the Par 3 15th which runs alongside the beach.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalBeing much newer, this course is more of a challenge, as everyone we spoke to told us… it is a very ‘technical’ course to play.
I took this to mean longer, more bunkers, more wind and faster greens and they were right.
However, both the team reported back having enjoyed another sunny day on the fairways and in the bar (see picture) and having enjoyed the course hugely.
The good news is, I know I will be returning to the area again soon, so I will make the effort to revisit this Mecca of golf.

18 holes – Cost = Approx. 100 euros


 

By Ian Mullins

Missed Part 1 of our article on ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’ – see below

Golfing in Vilamoura – Part One…

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

In the first of two articles under the heading of ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’, we visited the renowned Algarve region of Portugal for four days.

We visited four golf courses including the world-famous, Vale de Lobo and two other local courses, The Laguna and The Millenium.


Golfing in Vilamoura – Getting There:

As with all golf In The Algarve, you will probably be flying using either one of the low-cost airlines or via BA or a Portuguese airline.

My travel partners flew with EasyJet without any hassle, while I was charged £55 by Ryanair for not printing my boarding pass and not checking-in more than two hours prior to my flight. Seriously!

However, my mood quickly lifted when I arrived at Faro airport.

As I was golfing in Vilamoura for the first time, I decided to try Uber rather than a traditional transfer service. 

Having been quoted 36 euros for a pick-up and drive to Vilamoura, I was very impressed to only pay 21 Euros and Jose was so helpful and polite.

For the four day trip, we never paid more than 4 euros to get anywhere in the area.

 


Golfing in Vilamoura – Accommodation/Room:

Laguna Resort apartments are walking distance from The Dom Pedro courses Including The Laguna, The Millennium and The Victoria (which was host to the Portuguese Masters in Autumn of 2019.)

Often on a golf trip, your priority is to pay as little as possible for your accommodation in order to afford more golf.

However, we couldn’t have been more impressed with our apartment chosen by golf specialist and TSG travel partner – Golf Escapes.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the layout and decor, twin balcony and two bathrooms, made this as good an apartment as I’ve had the pleasure of staying in, anywhere.

On a golf course or not….including Rocco Forte 5star golf complex in Sicily!

 


Golfing in Vilamoura – Laguna Clubhouse:

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

Having caught the early flight from Stansted, not wanting to waste any time, we headed for the Laguna resort which is home to the above mentioned, Millennium and Laguna courses.

The clubhouse and shop are large and clean and the changing rooms, while not as stunning as Vale De Lobo (see next month’s March newsletter for review), is still a step up from your average UK Clubhouse.

There is a large patio area overlooking four holes and they offer both reasonably priced and very tasty sandwiches as well as a full a la Carte menu.

As you know, with any club in Spain or Portugal, there is always a senior golf pro on hand to chat to, who can tell you the history of the place.

And it was here I met ‘Joaquin’, who was quick to ask where we were from and how long we were staying. He shared his stories of playing in the UK in his early years.

He was also keen to show me some of his vintage golf magazine from the ’80s.

I think Senhor Catarina would have happily talked all day but alas, I was due on the tee in 3 mins.

As much as I wanted to chat more, I really wanted to play.

However, I didn’t miss the opportunity to tell him about The Social Golfer Family but I fear the concept did not translate well.

The younger (much younger) staff member listening to our conversation, got it immediately “ah, so it’s like Tinder for golfers”, “not quite” I quickly retorted…but he had a point!!

 


Golfing in Vilamoura – The Courses – Millennium:

We opted to play the newest course, The Millennium, on our first day.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalWe had been advised it was flat and a good way to break yourself into a four-day tour.

Wow! I loved this course. With gentle undulation, playable fairways and although narrow for many courses in the Algarve, it was more forgiving than most of England’s courses.

This is the newer of the two courses – it was immaculate.

Dry fairways, fine grass, a plethora of shady areas and not a single pitch mark to be found on any green until the 17th hole.

The greenkeepers should be warmly applauded for preparing this course so well.

Note, the greens here are ‘lightning-fast’, so be prepared to three-putt a lot until you’ve been here a few days.

My only criticism would be that some of the tee boxes are not entirely flat, so place your tee peg wisely.

That said, each hole is very different and you would have to play this track many times before you got bored.

We teed off at 2pm (walking) and were finished by 6pm (sunset in February).

I will definitely return here.

18 holes – Cost = 71 euros


Golfing in Vilamoura – The Courses – Laguna:

On returning to The Clubhouse on day two, we choose to play late morning at 11am on Laguna.

The temperature was 19c, there was a cool breeze, but the strong sunshine still meant the need for sunscreen.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

Yet by 3.30pm I was pulling on a light jumper e.g perfect golf weather.

This course, despite being less distance on the card than the Millennium and with shorter distances between holes, it’s less forgiving, so took 40 minutes more to play.

One thing I do like here is the club’s insistence on how long you should take to go round. Something many clubs in the UK should adopt.

I know this a constant bone of contention all around the world but IMHO, it’s just considerate and good manners to keep up the pace of play.

If you’re holding up the groups behind, let them through.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

 

But back to the golf…

The Laguna (as the name suggests) is the ‘water’ course. I think it comes into play on at least seven holes, maybe more.

Beautiful open fairways, well-maintained greens (again, very few ‘pitch marks’ to be found here).

Whilst I didn’t find the greens quite as quick as the previous day, they were true.

Six one-putts on the front nine suggested I was getting the pace of the greens after a good night’s sleep.

18 holes – Cost = 85 euros

 


Food:

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalYou are never going to be short of choice for beautifully prepared, fresh and fragrant food in Portugal with seafood and steak in abundance.

One of the favourite places we visited was the Akvavit at Vilamoura Marina, run by a lovely Swedish lady.

Joining in with the theme, I was convinced to try the Rydberg steak, the dish is made up of cubed fillet steak, sautéed potato, in a bay leaf and onions sauce, with a raw egg yolk in the middle, yum.

Complimented with a light and sofa red wine from the Duora region.

However, the TSG best chef award goes to ‘O Jacatino’

This is a Portuguese family restaurant we frequented on our last evening, where you can sample home-cooked traditional Portuguese favourite, Cataplana (seafood stew).

While my travel partners enjoy this, I had the softest steak I’d tasted in ten years.

 


Six one-putts on the front nine suggested I was getting the pace of the greens after a good night’s sleep.

The Locals:

Having played golf in more than 12 countries now…

As such, I would probably say the Portuguese are up there with the best when it comes to making golfers feel welcome. 

They have both a gentle but passionate manner and are good-humoured.

They really do know how to do customer service too and we were made very welcome by everyone.

Especially the staff at The Laguna resort, who couldn’t do enough to help us enjoy our stay.

 


And Finally:

Is the Algarve still one of the most popular and tranquil places to play golf? Oh yes!

Is it expensive? Absolutely!

Will I be back for more, of course… I’m already thinking about where to play next year!

TSG VERDICT = 4.5 stars

 


By Ian Mullins

Look out for part 2 of our ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’ series in the TSG March Newsletter, including a review of both courses at Vale De Lobo…

NOW READ ABOUT THE BEST GOLF COURSES IN SPAIN>>

 

Golf in Australia…

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Golf in Austrailia - Yarrawonga-Mulwala Golf Resort - The Social Golfer v2For the last couple of years or so of being a member of The Social Golfer and writing about all the beautiful & interesting golf clubs and golf courses around the world, I thought I would tell you a little more about Golf in Australia…

More specifically my own club here in New South Wales!


My wife Judy and I recently relocated from Melbourne to Yarrawonga in Victoria because the warmer climate suits us both, and since Judy has relatives and family living here, it made settling in that much easier.

I knew that for me the best way to make new friends would be to get involved with some sort of sport whether it be football, cricket, fishing or golf and I decided on playing golf…

Unlike a lot of Scotsman, I don’t drink whiskey and I never touched a golf club until I was 55 years old.

I played golf with a social golf club on the North East Coast of New South Wales for 10 years, however, it was only a very small golf course with a par 31.

But, on reaching our new home, I decided it was time for me to ‘take’ the game more seriously, so I joined the Yarrawonga-Mulwala Golf Resort, which is just over the border in neighbouring New South Wales.

Golf In Australia – The Region…

Since 1886 the Yarrawonga golfers had graduated from a 3-hole course in the centre of town, to a 9 hole course laid out around the local racecourse.

Latterly, it was relocated to the site of an old dairy farm in Mulwala.

Here it has been now for the last 90 years, and just like cream rising to the top, so has this beautiful golf resort.

The two nearby towns are separated by the Mighty Murray river which is approx 2500 Kilometres long.

It is the 3rd longest navigatable river on the planet with only the Amazon & Nile ahead of it.

The river starts in the Southern Alps of New South Wales and Victoria, it flows in a westerly direction before reaching its outlet near the town of Goolwa on the South Australian coast.

The Mighty Murray river (also the state border between N.S.W & Victoria) is approx 1880 Km long and there are approx 37 golf clubs lining the historic banks of this river.

The Yarrawonga-Mulwala Golf Resort - The Social GolferGolf In Australia – The Yarrawonga-Mulwala Golf ‘club’…

The Yarrawonga-Mulwala Golf Resort has grown to be the largest public access golf resort in Australia, boasting 45 holes.

It consists of 3 golf courses, the 9-hole Executive Course, the 18-hole Lakes course and the mighty 18-hole Murray Course.

They hold 9-hole & 18-hole competitions which are played on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

The Classic Golfers play on Fridays, The Morning Glory Golfers also play a 9-hole comp, and there is separate Competition for the ladies.

The Golf Resort also has a driving range, extra putting greens to practice on, bunkers to master getting out of.

In addition, the resort also caters to other sports with its own Tennis Courts, Croquet,  movie theatre, restaurants, bars and much much more.

I would like to mention a very special group of golfers Bill Brear, Jack Elliot, Des Miller & Jack Corboy, who all used to play golf regularly on a Friday Chicken Run Comp.

However, in their wisdom, they decided to abandon this and try and expand their group to include more golfing members.

Which they did, and the group of golfers grew very rapidly under their supervision to now include over 50 members and still growing

The group became officially known as “The Friday Classic Golfers”, however, I believe that there was another name that was bandied about for a short time being called “The Dun Rootin Golfers” which is not used much now.

I also heard a rumour that quite a few of the golfers were keen gardeners, who used to tease the roots of Rose Bushes before they were dun planting them, hence the name!

I am very fortunate to be a member of this illustrious group of senior golfers.

They play golf by the rules whilst at the same time laughing & joking with plenty of friendly banter between one another.

And most of all having a very enjoyable game of golf.

At 75 years of age, I am one of the younger members of the group and must say far behind them in their golfing skills.

The Classic Golfers are a very social group where we have B.B.Q’s every so often weather permitting.

Golf in Austrailia - Yarrawonga-Mulwala Golf Resort - The Social Golfer v3

At Christmas, we have the Christmas presentation as well as The Annual Awards night.

One of the awards which I think is very interesting was formally known as “The Order of the Skirt” and is now known as “The Belle of the Fairway”.

Winning this prestigious award entails the ”lucky or unlucky” golfer who, when teeing off must hit his golf ball PAST the ladies tee.

If he fails to do this he could & would be a contender for the title of ‘Belle of the Ball’ Award.

Unfortunately  I am in the running for this award” (I might go away for my Christmas vacation.)

Every one of The Classic Golfers including the staff of the Yarrawonga- Mulwala Golf Resort has made me more than welcome to their golf club.

This is due to two gentlemen Captain Travis of the Paradise Queen pleasure boat, who was kind enough to tell me about the Classic Golfers playing golf on Fridays.

On being introduced, Jock Healy nominated me to become a member of the Classic Golfers which was happily granted.

Golf In Australia – The Yarrawonga-Mulwala Golf Courses…

At this point, I will explain more about the course using the clubs own words…

– LAKE COURSE (18 holes)

With spectacular views across beautiful Lake Mulwala, the Lake Course has strategically placed lakes, undulating greens, 56 bunkers and is designed to test the keenest player, requiring precision around the greens to make par. 18 Holes / Par 72 / ACR 71 – 5957m – Par 72 / AWCR 73 / 5158m

MURRAY COURSE (18 holes)

The finest in Murray river golf courses and packages – Favouring the straight hitter, the popular Murray Course sits adjacent to the Murray River and meanders through towering river gums and sandy river flats where numerous lakes and lagoons are ready to swallow an errant shot. One of the most popular golf courses in all our packages. 18 Holes / Par 72 / ACR 72 -6095m – Par 72 / AWCR 73 / 5197m

EXECUTIVE COURSE (9 Holes)

yarrwonga golf resort - the social golferThe shorter and picturesque Executive Course is kinder to the beginner whilst providing a worthy and enjoyable challenge for golfers of all levels in a natural parkland setting. 9 Holes / Par 33 / ACR 32 – 2248m – Par 33 / 1940m

Yarrawonga-Mulwala Golf Club caters to golfers of all abilities, from beginners and social golfers to professionals”

“Our courses have something for everyone and in order to really experience all that we have to offer, we have several packages available that allow you to have the golf resort holiday of your dreams.”

“Located alongside the Murray River, Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort is the largest of the public access golf resorts in Australia”

“Less than 3 hours drive from Melbourne, it is also an elegant alternative to Victorian golf resorts providing a luxury vacation close to home!”

I hope to play many happy rounds of golf with my new found friends at The Yarrawonga -Mulwala Golf Resort.

“Til next time “Scottish Bob” Davies

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Enjoyed this article – Now read Golf in Africa…

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

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…

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 golf event.”

“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

The Ryder Cup 2018 arrives in Paris – 25th- 30th Sept…

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Ryder Cup 2018 - The Social Golfer - Paris v7So, with less than a month to go to the biggest spectacle in the golfing calendar commences and we now know who is playing in this year’s Ryder Cup 2018 Teams (well all but one wildcard pick from USA team).

Here we take a look at the history of the competition and some other interesting facts to wow your friends with.

Ever wondered how and where The Ryder Cup came to into being? Read on…


The Ryder Cup – The History…

The home of the Ryder Cup is none other than Verulam Golf Club in St Albans, Hertfordshire where Samuel Ryder played…

It’s a little-known fact but the official home of the Ryder Cup is not St Andrews, The Belfry or any other well-known clubs in

the UK. But it is at the club where Samuel Ryder was a member along with his coach Abe Micthell.

Ryder Cup 2018 - The Social Golfer - Paris v1

Although 2018 will see the first time ‘The Ryder Cup’ has been contested on mainland Europe the origins of the tournament can be traced back to a meeting in 1921 – six years before the famous trophy was first contested.

On September 27th 1920, Golf Illustrated wrote a letter to the PGA of America suggesting that a team of US professionals should take part in the British Open with a 12-a-side international warm-up match to be played at Gleneagles.

The USA lost that weekend, but when it really counted a little over six years later in Worcester, Massachusetts, it was a runaway victory for the Stars and Stripes who secured a 9 ½ – 2 ½, victory.

However, it was as captain in 1927 that Ryder presented ‘a cup’ to promote matches between the USA and Great Britain.

It is, of course, a matter of history that the cup was named after this great man.

The home team won the first five contests, but with the competition’s resumption after the Second World War, repeated American dominance eventually led to a decision to extend the representation of “Great Britain and Ireland” to include continental Europe from 1979.

The event is jointly administered by the PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe, the latter a joint venture of the PGA European Tour, the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland, and the PGA of Europe.

The Ryder Cup 2018 – The Venue…Ryder Cup 2018 - The Social Golfer - Paris v2

Although only built in 1990, Le Golf National is a much more established than its age suggests…

Designed by architects Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge. It’s located in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, southwest of central Paris, just 10k from the world-renowned Palace of Versailles, and only 4 hours’ drive from Calais.

However, Le Golf National differs from any other Ryder Cup venue in that it is a Public course.

This means that there is no ‘club’ as such, and no ‘members’, only Pay & Players.

The course is also unique in the sense that it is owned by the French Golf Federation (FFG). In September 1985 the President – Claude Roger Cartier – with his committee approved the creation and development of a “National Golf” venue and it was quickly completed and opened by the French Minister for Sports by R. Bambuck in October 1990.

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

Paul, who along with his very dedicated team has – over the last four years – This means it now rates among the best in the world.

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

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

The venue has recently undergone a €7 million renovation programme to transform this national golf centre.

The Championship L’Albatros course is now a globally recognised course with slick greens and vast undulating fairways dotted with large and small water hazards and innumerable links-style bunkers.

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

Ryder Cup 2018 - The Social Golfer - Paris v3The Ryder Cup 2018 – The Captains…

The Ryder Cup is a biennial men’s golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States.

The competition is contested every two years with the venue alternating between courses in the United States and Europe.

The Ryder Cup is named after the English businessman Samuel Ryder who donated the trophy – see above.

The inclusion of continental European golfers was partly prompted by the success of a new generation of Spanish golfers, led by Seve Ballesteros and Antonio Garrido.

USA – James Michael Furyk (born May 12, 1970). Furyk was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His ancestry is Czech and Polish on his mother’s side and Ukrainian and Hungarian on his father’s side.

His father, Mike, was an assistant pro at Edgmont Country Club.

His early years were spent in the Pittsburgh suburbs learning the game from his father, who was also head pro at Uniontown Country Club. In 2010, he was the Fed-Ex Champion and PGA Tour Player of The Year.

He has won one Major – the US Open in 2003. Furyk also holds the record for the lowest score in PGA Tour history with a 58 which he shot during the final round of the 2016 Traveler Championship.

Furyk played in 9 Ryder Cups as a player winning in 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008. he also played in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

Europe – Thomas Bjørn (born 18 February 1971).  Bjørn is from Denmark.

He is the most successful Danish golfer to have played the game having won fifteen tournaments worldwide on the European Tour.

Bjørn is most remembered for his collapse at The Open at Royal St. George’s in 2003 when he led by two strokes with three holes to play but took three attempts to get out of a greenside bunker on the par three 16th, handing the tournament to Ben Curtis.

In 1997 he also became the first Dane to qualify for a European Ryder Cup team.

Bjørn made the Europe team winning in 1997, 2002 and 2014. In fact, his only defeat came in 2016 not as a player but as Vice-Captain.

The Ryder Cup 2018 – The Format…

Ryder Cup 2018 - The Social Golfer - Paris v7

The Ryder Cup is a match play event, with each match worth one point. The competition format is as follows:

  • Day 1(Friday) – 4 foursomes (alternate shot) matches and 4 fourballs (better ball) matches
  • Day 2(Saturday) – 4 foursomes matches and 4 fourball matches
  • Day 3(Sunday) – 12 singles matches

On the first two days, there are 4 foursome matches and 4 fourball matches with the home captain choosing which are played in the morning and which in the afternoon.

With a total of 28 points available, 14½ points are required to win the Cup, and 14 points are required for the defending champion, Europe, to retain the Cup.

All matches are played to a maximum of 18 holes according to the current format

Ryder Cup 2018 - The Social Golfer - Paris v9The Ryder Cup 2018 – The Teams…

Anticipation has never been higher, The Ryder Cup, the most prestigious and distinguished tournament in golf, is now just a few short weeks away and this year’s event couldn’t be more hotly contested.

Experts are tipping the USA as Ryder Cup favourites this time around following their win in 2016…

Europe’s dominance over the last few decades was diminished at Hazeltine, but the return of Ian Poulter who, renowned for his passion and spectacular under-pressure performances, could give the European’s the edge.

Ryder Cup 2018 - The Social Golfer - Paris v10

Although some may argue that the inclusion of Tiger Woods in this year’s team could inspire them to back to back victories.

2016 has a lot to live up to, but you can guarantee that whatever happens a new chapter in the Cup’s glittering history will be written.

Oh, and if having a flutter is your thing, why not head over to The Ryder Cup betting guide at 888, where you can select your prefer odds of each match from the comfort of your armchair.

The Ryder Cup 2018 – How to Watch & Follow…

As with previous year’s the Ryder Cup 2018 will be broadcast on Sky Sports HD with coverage starting as early Monday the 25th.

In addition, the event will be covered by BBC Radio 5 live and of course, you can also follow the event via social media feeds such as Team Europe on Facebook…

We just can wait now!

#TeamEurope

———————————————————————————————————–

By Ian Mullins

Le Golf National – TSG Ryder Cup Course Review

 

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…