Friday, 26 October 2007

Oh Happy Day!

Yesterday, that was, when on a dull and chilly afternoon, MOH and I took to the course rather later than usual and played a round of nice uncomplicated golf. Maybe it was being back on home turf (after Bryn Meadows) or maybe I was just due for some luck, but despite a poor start (first drive into the ditch requiring penalty drop) I started to get a good feeling about my game. This was confirmed by a birdie on the 9th and an unexpected chip in for par on the 12th. To cut a long story short, despite two more drops from a lake, I still shot my best round ever.
How did this happen? Well apart from the requisite amount of good fortune, I'd say it was due to some uncharacteristically good putting. Which just goes to show, it can be done. Anyway, great to get a good round in before winter sets in.

The Dredge connection

Played two rounds last weekend at Bryn Meadows near Caerphilly. Great weather and a nice course, though wet rough was pretty punishing. It turns out that BM is the 'home' course of Bradley Dredge, as evidenced by a kind of scroll in the bar with a list of his achievements. On the other side of the bar was a framed newspaper cutting explaining how the course had been developed from a pig farm - maybe not as big a selling point as the Dredge connection!

Here's another Dredge connection. The Welsh pro writes an occasional blog for Golf Monthly who have invited me to write one of their 'Clubhouse Chat' pages on my experiences as a woman playing golf. I think it's great they have asked, since like all the mainstream golf magazines it seems to be aimed at a male readership. I looked back through six months of back issues and didn't find a letter from anyone identifiably female (unless I am doing 'Jackie' in July a disservice!) Not sure if that means there are no women reading, or if those that do simply aren't moved to write in, maybe dissuaded by the general lack of any page featuring women or women's golf! Anyway, if I can come up with the goods, maybe that's all set to change, so three cheers for the editor. I'll let you know when I get into print!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Trophies, do we need them?

Roll on the club prize-giving evening. I think I'm in line for a moment of glory. I came second in a Stableford earlier in the season and on Thursday afternoon we won our doubles semi-final, which I reckon means we get at least second prize! I shall steel myself for an evening of soggy sausage rolls and public acclaim, accompanied by MOH (my doubles partner and winner of a few prizes of his own).
BUT, yes, there is always a but, I'm not looking forward to bringing home the 'trophies'. In our 'unpretentious' (i.e. unprestigious) club, these are usually shared from year to year amongst the same group of players, i.e. MOH already has quite a collection and I'm already struggling to find house room for them. Take a look below at our 7 tawdry looking 'silver' cups (c.2004), two relatively tasteful plaques (2006) and an assortment of memorabilia brought home from society days, all jostling for space on the bookcase.
I'd be interested to know how other golfers - and club committees - deal with this issue. I suppose in bigger clubs a permanent trophy would be engraved or names added to a roll of honour. Maybe we should go that way. Personally I'd rather have a box of balls or a voucher from the pro shop than add to our current collection!

Hugh Grant - where have I been?

It's no good, I must keep up with society gossip. As it is I nearly missed the furore (or stushie as they say in Scotland) over Hugh Grant. Just when I was discussing the elegance of his swing on Golf Monthly Forum, he was living it up in St. Andrews with a bunch of students half his age which resulted, surprise surprise, in his being 'outed' on Facebook.
Still, while this kind of behaviour might explain why Shuggie (as Principal's Nose likes to call him) doesn't seem to hang on to any of his up-market girl friends for long, I hardly think it's a scandal. And who would blame the students for landing a bit of a coup? I imagine it's the most exciting thing to have happened there since Wills and Kate moved on. Of course in my day it was never like this. The biggest excitement I recall from my student days was the chip shop on South Street burning down. Those were the days!
Anyway, I am indebted to golf girl for bringing this to my attention all the way from New England and directing me to more pics in the Daily Mail.
And where was I when all this was going on? (On the golf course, actually.)

Sunday, 14 October 2007

World Masters: the big men of golf

As Ernie Els and Angel Cabrera battle it out at Wentworth, the BBC is struggling to fill in the gaps between shots. Let's face it they've been there all day with only one match to cover. As the players trudge up the fairway there are no other matches to cut to. Peter Aliss, as we know, can witter for Britain and Ken Brown is keeping him company by interviewing tongue-tied junior spectators, but there's only so much 'Swingmaster' analysis I can take. As for comparing a golf swing to a rugby kick - er- patriotism apart, I don't think so! I suppose I should be sympathetic. On a pleasant autumn day I certainly wouldn't turn down Maureen Madill's job, but I'm beginning to wish Ernie would just get it over with. Oops, Angel's hooked one. Maybe I won't have to wait much longer!
Thanks to Mike Davis for posting the photo on Flickr with a Creative Commons licence.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

The serious nature of golf

Following on from the addiction problem, there’s a discussion this week on the Golf Monthly forum on taking golf too seriously. I argue that golf just is serious, more so than other sports. I'm not sure why this is, except that it’s such a self-absorbed activity to hit a ball from a standing start and then have to hit it again from wherever it lands (which is quite probably the place you least wanted it to be!) No matter how laid back we try to be, a bad shot gets us down. It’s hard to get over it, even more so a bad hole, and as for a bad round … need I go on? We have only ourselves to 'blame' (however much we try to think of someone or something else!) and we need a lot of mental resilience to cope with the pressure.
But all is not lost. Hitting the ball takes up only a fraction of the time we’re out there; we are not alone, there’s someone to talk to, and plenty to see in terms of wildlife and scenery. The secret is to look up between shots, take notice and enjoy, especially this month with winter golf approaching. This photo was taken last February, but I can report that this morning the mist was beginning to fall …

Conforming Drivers: is yours legal?

When the R&A decided some years ago to declare certain types of driver (or other woods) illegal, they allowed a long lead-in period for this to take effect, so that although professional tournaments have disallowed such clubs since 2005, it’s only in January 2008 that the decision becomes effective as a Rule of Golf. Bigger clubs and county Golf Unions have already implemented the rule in formal competitions, but it remains to be seen how clubs will enforce it on a day to day (or monthly comp to monthly comp) basis.
The R&A site has lists of clubs that have been officially ruled ‘conforming’ or ‘non-conforming’ and they also provide recommended wording to publicise the rule on club notices. But our club has no stewards nor an elected committee, and the shop staff are far too busy to check equipment. (Anyway, what happens when someone turns up with a club on neither the legal or illegal list?)
You could say that our competitions are informal and that no one is going to worry unduly, but I don’t know anyone out there who’s ever happy to lose, and I know how I would feel if my Saturday four ball was won by someone who’s driver I suspected of being illegal!
The same goes for all those society golf days when a group who are members of more than one club (or none at all) take to the fairways for a day of friendly rivalry. Could make for interesting times if the winner of the longest drive has to be told his favourite club is no longer allowed!
(Thanks to garthimage for posting this photo with a creative commons licence on flickr)

Friday, 5 October 2007

Addictions and Afflictions: three swings and you're out!

It's generally agreed that golf is an affliction, or possibly an addiction. According to Golf Girl it's now referred to in China (where it's really taking off) as Green Opium (though I always thought opium would be a pleasant experience, unlike the torture of a bad round), and Golf in London has also been wondering why we put ourselves through it. But aside from the major disability of playing golf, there are lots of lesser symptoms suffered by golfers. Tom Cox lists a number of the more familiar ones, like Repetitive Waggle Syndrome or Burble's Disease.
I'm definitely not guilty on the waggling front (on the principle that the longer you think about a shot the worse it usually turns out) but confess I used to give in to the odd moment of burbling, i.e. treating my partner to an in depth anaysis of exactly why my shot drifted right/pulled left/never left the ground (and how I'll avoid it next time). I was cured (I think) after a round with our club's biggest burbler when I realised just how annoying it gets.
There's one more thing I think should be added to Tom's list of Lesser-Known Golfing Diseases and that's Persistent Set-Up Syndrome. It's just about bearable when someone takes a while swishing and waggling on the tee, but when they do it on every shot (including putting) it gets a bit much to bear.
Maybe there should be new rule - three practice swings and you're out!

Secret Golfer

How did I miss the Secret golfer site? Looks like it's been around for a bit and has a refreshingly anti-establishment appeal. And I think I need to add Tom Cox, who has his blog here, to my list of golf writers (that's writers who play golf rather than golfers who write). Okay, I haven't actually read any of Tom's books, and they're obviously in a lighter vein than my current favourite Preferred Lies, but judging by Tom's blog, his latest book Bring me the Head of Sergio Garcia should be a good laugh. I'll give you my considered view when I've read it.
Secret golfer also has a link to Bunker Mentality, an off-beat golf clothing company who have some fun t-shirts (fun being a word not often associated with golf clothes!) I'm quite fancying a Queen of the Greens polo shirt, or maybe they'll take an order for Green Goddess?

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Golf is a Good Walk ..

And if you ask me, that's the end of the story. We've only twice used a buggy, most recently last week at the picturesque Alice Springs Golf Club near Usk, and although it's pretty steep in places, we've decided that if we go back there, we'll leg it. Apart from anything else these particular buggies, although fitted with the latest sat nav equipment, were under-powered to put it mildly so that even I could have walked faster up the hills. And sitting still for minutes at a time (it was a particualrly dreich and chilly day) doesn't keep you warm, no matter how many practice swings you take. But as well as the comfort and speed aspects, to me the game just has a different rhythm and feel if you're not walking from shot to shot. Andrew Greig (yes, him again!) agrees with me. He describes a round of golf as being like 'a length of knotted string'. In a buggy you only get the 'knots' and lose the pauses between shots that makes golf what it is.
Buggies are great for those who can't get around without one, but until then, I'll keep wearing out the shoe leather.
BTW, no prizes for guessing what happened when we asked Google Maps for a route to Alice Springs. Not sure how many pages the directions would have covered!

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