Saturday, 28 July 2007

We played the course (the course won!)

As you can see, Bowood Park (North Cornwall) is an undulating parkland course with a variety of holes, none of which seems particularly daunting at first sight, despite which we consistently failed to knock up any kind of a decent score! In retrospect it was longer and harder than our home course, and like it said in the club blurb, ‘rewards good shots and punishes bad,’ and so punished I certainly was.
Despite my recurrent blobs it was still good to get away for a few days, though on Wednesday we spent most of the day sheltering at the nearby Eden Project. (Definitely worth a visit, though maybe not on a wet day in the school holidays!)
But getting back to the golf break, what puzzled us was why Bowood Park, apart from our first night (when we coincided with an annual charity event) was practically deserted. Even in view of the weather it seems odd that a hotel with a good golf course and in a great location couldn’t drum up a bit more business in the middle of summer. Would we go back? Well, I think they could do with a style makeover (mock-Victorian meets Ikea didn’t quite work) and provide a bit more choice on the dinner menu. In that case I’d risk the grave-like silence of the dining room. I might even take a few friends along to liven things up!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Goddess takes a break

Still mulling over all the great golf at Carnoustie, but it's time to pack my golf bag, wash bag and an array of handbags for a three day golf break in Cornwall.
I confess I'm also checking out the indoor attractions (just in case).

Back at the weekend - weather permitting!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Harrington wins (dinner guests lose out)

I reckon I did well to get a meal on the table tonight despite having one eye on the closing stages at Carnoustie. I think I had a premonition yesterday that Garcia would remain the nearly man, but not how close he would come to proving me wrong, or how long it would take for the whole thing to be over! As it was, as Romero stuffed his ball Out of Bounds I was stuffing the chicken, and as Padraig went in the burn (twice) I was chopping some pretty irregular carrots (in fact, I was lucky to get away with my fingers intact). Luckily, our Sunday dinner guests are also golfers and didn’t mind waiting for the end of the play-off for the meal to be on the table.
Fair result? Well, IMO each of the contenders had already lost the tournament, Harrington with his double bogey and Garcia when he missed the putt. I’m not surprised Harrington made the best recovery; he had won his reprieve, and throughout the play-off he had a look of grim determination.
A truly memorable last day, though maybe the chicken is best forgotten. I hope to remain Goddess of the Green, if not the Cuisine!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Open Predictions?

Can't resist passing on the pre-Open predictions from Don't Cost Nothing that none of the following can win the Open: - Scott, Cabrera, Mickelson, Singh, Garcia - whereas Woods, Donald, Rose Furyk and Els all could.
You can see where he's coming from. A few days ago I might have said the same, but I wonder if he'll have a change of heart over Garcia before Sunday - or will Garcia himself make that unneccessary?
With Woods languishing (though far from beaten) and Els in contention, it's looking wide open right now.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

A tiring day and a rant

I’m feeling a bit sore today in more ways than one. Yesterday I played a match-play singles competition and won (hooray!) but only after two extra play-off holes (groan!) which left me aching like an old warhorse. As a result, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to get up at crack of dawn to play a monthly Stableford today, but the weather for once was totally gorgeous so it felt like a good idea. I didn’t do particularly well, but nor was it a disaster, and I did have the satisfaction of getting a bit of sun on my horribly un-golf-chick-like legs. (Though I have spared you a photo of same.)
I also got down for five on the eighteenth (a testing par 4 with a lake lurking close by) which, considering how weary I was feeling, was cause for a small celebration.
What took the edge off my fragile confidence was one of my playing partners (a gentleman of more mature years than me) immediately lecturing me on the deficiencies of my swing. Well, I have no illusions about its imperfections, but hey, I have recently clipped three shots off my handicap and this guy has one of the worst swings I have ever seen (and I have seen a few), practically falling over every time he hits off the tee. I also saw him take at least two air shots and as far as I can remember he only hit farther than me once or twice in the entire round.
As I was indebted to them for having me along at all, I had to smile sweetly during his no-doubt well-meaning observations, but I’m hoping this rant will get it out of my system. I’d hate to find his words of wisdom taking over my swing thoughts next time out!
Meanwhile I am treating myself to a lager and preparing to have a quick snooze (oops), I mean watch the golf from Carnoustie. That should take the edge off my pain, mental and physical. (Though it won't do much for the legs.)

Dream Trolleys

Since we haven’t given in to the temptation of a buggy (though some of the US offerings look a lot nicer than the traditional golf cart) or even a Powakaddy, it has to be said the traditional pull-along trolley can be a bit of a nighmare. The basic £20 - £30 affairs don’t last long, especially on the stony paths at our club, and have a notable tendency to collapse at the wrong moment (like in a high wind or on a steep slope and always - but always - when you’ve just duffed the last shot). I’ve been trying to persuade MOH to get something more robust, but don’t see much on the market, though the ‘Trombone’ trolley looks like it might be a possibility.

A friend has recently invested in the Klik-n-Go push trolley, a three-wheeler which has apparently won a design award, and she is delighted that her bag no longer slews around the way mine has on every trolley I’ve ever used. The new trolley also folds down pretty small, even if it looks big enough to carry me, never mind my golf bag. Since I did once have a dream in which I was strapped on to a golf trolley as it coasted down a steep path, just the sight of this new one is enough to unnerve me. I'll report back on whether the real trolley turns out to be dream or nightmare.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Cracking finish at Loch Lomond

What a a superb last day at the Scottish Open and a great run-up to Carnoustie. The weather and the golf at Loch Lomond really sparkled and made up for a drab Sunday down south. I would have been happy for either Mickelson or Havret to have won but was surprised that when it came to the play-off Mickelson's experience in big competitions failed to pay off. Well done to Havret for keeping his nerve. Good too that he doffed his hat and glasses on the eighteenth so that we could actually see his face and will recognise him when he gets his well-deserved place at The Big One.
Apart from the nail-biting climax, it was also great to see so many Brits come through, including Ian Poulter who finished at 10 under. Luke Donald, whom I recently accused of under-achieving, did even better at 11 under and only 3 strokes off the lead, and it was a great pity that he was missed from the final day T.V. sceduling.
To top it all, Ernie Els, a previous winner at Carnoustie, has suddenly regained his form. All in all, next week is a mouth-watering prospect.
Fashion foot-note? For once Ian Poulter's golf was as eyecatching as the gear, though I particularly like his more subdued Saturday outfit of blue, blue and blue. In any event, he was in the pink on Sunday in every respect.
Footnote to the footnote. Edberg's headband makes him look like a crash victim. Is there a story behind it?

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Scottish Open: Water, water everywhere ...

Oh yes, oh yes! There was always going to be someone who decided to play golf in Loch Lomond rather than at Loch Lomond, but two of them - and at once! Despite having nothing against either Westwood (top of the leader board at the time) or Thomas Bjorn, it definitely made my day to get in from a mediocre round (fifteen holes actually, thanks to a traffic jam on my way to the course) and see the two of them rolling up their trousers and paddling in a manner to more than rival our old and much-derided friend Jean Van der Veld.
Boys, boys, what were you thinking of? Presumably a place in the history books more than a sensible score, since Thomas whipped his water ball across the green and Lee splashed onto the bank, but only just. Neither made par, though Peter Aliss and the rest of us enjoyed it no end and you can already view the entire episode courtesy of the Beeb.
I'll leave you with a quote that may never before have been used in the context of tour golf:
'I grow old ...I grow old
I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.'

(T.S. Eliot, just in case you didn't know).
Happy viewing.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Looking forward to Loch Lomond

I’ve decided to take a rest until the Scottish Open gets under way. I’ve given up on the high road and the low road and am planning my TV dinners already, so thanks to Golf in London for posting the schedules as well as his predictions. I’d completely forgotten Edfors who had a great run last summer but seems to have disappeared off the radar (or mine, anyway). Something I have heard is that Ernie Els is going to use a square driver of some kind, an item even uglier than the aforementioned belly putter. Seems like a desperate measure to me. (Though on my present form this probably means he will play a blinder).
So, may the best man win (but preferably a Brit) and 'haste ye back'.

Montgomerie Wins (and size matters)

The Principal’s Nose is highly disparaging this week not just about the European Open in general but the K club in particular, but someone who’s probably impervious to any of it is Monty, who (despite my previous pessimism) chalked up a win there last week after a long drought. Good on him, I say. Naturally this will put him back in the spotlight for the big one at Carnoustie. Will he live up to it? Maybe I should say 'no', just to bring him luck. But the main thing is, he’s got that win under his belt. It may be the first of a second coming, it may be the last. Either way, it’s a win and no one can take it away from him.

As to size, well, it’s nothing to do with Monty's girth (or anything more personal). I refer, of course, to his putter, which he has now replaced with a belly putter, possibly the most ungainly item in any golf bag. I must say I have never seen a regular club golfer with one of those contraptions, but the new blog at Golf for Women is right in pointing out that the putter is the club most readily thrown out by pros under pressure, and also the club most invested with superstition/reverence/disdain, depending on the last round. You’ve seen it yourself, the guy with a set of shiny new Callaways or Pings who swears by the ancient blade bequeathed by his granddad because of a good round two years ago. Like the lady says, (check out Putter Voodoo) putting is as much a matter of belief as technology.
BTW my own putter is an Odyssey White Hot, about two years old now. I think it’s a nice compromise between a traditional and a modern look and I can’t imagine giving it up for any of those frying pan models. If you want to know about the technology of all the new putters, check the putter guide on Great Value Golf.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Golfing in France

It’s the season for holidays as well as tournaments and Golf Girl prompts me to tell of my own experiences of golf a la francais. The first of these was some years ago when we stayed in a gite owned by friends in the Loire Valley. Maybe not the biggest golfing venue in the world ,but the local course at Golf de Bauge was a gem and very quiet indeed which suited us as we hadn’t been golfing long at the time. John and Ali have expanded their business at Loire Life and are now doing golf breaks, so maybe we'll give it another try soon.
Since then we have tried out Le Touquet and other courses in the Pas de Calais, but despite it’s popularity with Brits, found the area a bit disappointing. Le Touquet courses were uninspiring and Belle Dune a bit too tough for us on the day. Worst of all, all of those courses broke the Green Goddess’s most serious commandment of golf: ‘Thou shalt provide sustenance for weary golfers.’ Day after day we staggered back to the clubhouse to find the restaurant closed for the afternoon. Sacre bleu!
Would did exclude one course from the general thumbs down. Hardelot les Pins was a totally pleasant experience despite some pretty unpleasant golf on my part. I have to say we didn’t have the best of weather for the trip and only got in our last round at the Cygnes course by dint of a lucky break between rains storms of Wimbledonian intensity. The course was built on a marsh, so all in all, a watery experience.

Our friends have golfed in Brittany using Formula Golf and were really impressed: sociable atmosphere and excellent off-course catering. Somewhat perversely (and because it’s cheaper!) we’ve chosen Belgium for this year’s golfing jaunt in August. Golf? Belgium? I hear a thunderous silence. I’ll let you know if it’s deserved or not, but the pictures on look good to me.

Happy Birthday ...

... this week, to Penny, my weekend golfing buddy and all round best mate.
May she one day shake off the trammels of being a full-time wage slave and join me for more sunny days on the golf course (and may the girls be victorious yet again!)

Graeme Storm and his Mum

Until last weekend, Graeme’s rise has been far from meteoric, but I think that’s a good thing and gives hope to those of us who have to rely on perspiration than inspiration in turning in a decent round. To support his career, Graeme famously went to work in a cake factory, which is a testimony to his determination. I hope Mr Kipling sends him a something to celebrate the outcome.
On the European tour site his biography also recounts that at the Masters (which year?) ‘he and his mother became the first player/caddie combination in the tournament’s history’.
I like it! And why didn’t I think of this before? To get a ticket to a tour event I don’t have to lose twenty years and as many shots off my handicap, I just have to get my kids to be golf stars! On second thoughts, there are problems with this.
1. My kids think golf is for old people.
2. If they did change their minds about 1. and make it into the big time, would they want their mother telling them which club to use?
As if!

French Open, Scottish Open

Tournament season in sunny Europe and the Brits are off to a great start with Graeme Storm’s win in Paris. Great performances too from Monty, Ian Poulter and Simon Khan, all in the top ten. Golf Girl was there and experienced the full force of Monty’s ill-temper, although according to the Daily Telegraph Colin had calmed down by the last day and is in confident mood for the weeks ahead. ‘I can win’ he is telling us.
Colin, we know that, and no one would like you to do so more than me, but why does this ebullience worry me? I think I’d be more comfortable if he were saying ‘Let’s face it, I haven’t a cat’s chance in hell.’ Then he could give us – and himself – the kind of surprise we’re waiting for.
Meanwhile I’ve just remembered that any day now we’ll have the Scottish Open on one of the most spectacularly beautiful golf courses in the country and possibly the world. Ticket prices are a snip at £25 and I’ve have been diverted from the task in hand into investigating hotels around Loch Lomond. Fat chance, I fear. If only I’d thought of it earlier. For photos of the location I can do no better than show you those taken last year and moon about saying ‘my heart’s in the highlands.’ Golf Girl should pack her bag again and try this side of the channel. It doesn’t always rain (honest).
More photos by John1710 on Flikr or or see Monty last year on a previous post.

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