Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Scotland win the World Cup of Golf

Had to find a really big Scottish flag to make up for the fact that Scotland's win at Mission Hills in China almost passsed me by. I saw none of the live action and had to rely on Lewin Mair's report in Monday's Telegraph.
Huge congrats to Monty and Marc Waren for a great performance and a three-hole play off in which both of them played some fantastic shots.
Thanks too to the provider of this photo taken at a Scottish festival in the U.S. and posted on Fickr. (And to Blogger for sorting out the photo upload probem - at last!)

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Golf in a Cold Climate

Thanks to Golf Girl (how does she find time to make TV shows?) for alerting me to the news that Paul Creamer has won her first tournament using a pink ball. I have to say I have always had some deep-seated doubt as to the performance of a girly coloured ball, though I'm sure any underperformance on my part is actually caused by the deficiencies of my swing.
Meanwhile I have to report on a great contest this side of the pond. Last week two of the regular (and most vociferous) members of Golf Monthly Forum met face to face on a golf course near Edinburgh. Even that sounds brave to me (new take on internet dating?) but hearing that the temperature was minus 2, I take my hat off to the boys in question. I have been there (east of Scotland, I mean) and know how cold that feels.
As to my segue from the above, it's tenuous, but at the risk of being lewd, I'd like to suggest that at Craigielaw, blue was the colour. (Correct me if I'm wrong!)

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Weird and wonderful

On the Golf Monthly Forum members' blog, there's a fascinating account by David Paul of a golf course laid out on an Australian opal field. With the first tee in located in the back of a pick-up truck, and the ambient temperature 30C on a cool day, this is clearly a case of, 'golf, but not as we know it'. It did make me think of some of the strange couses reported in Preferred Lies and how there must be all kinds of places where people play golf in unusual circumstances (I mean unusual in the design or location of the course, rather than in any temporary situation like the sea of mud we endured 'at home' last winter).
Having asked members of the Forum for their ideas on must-see (if not must-play) course, here's a quick guide to some courses that sound either weird or wonderful, or in some cases both, and are all closer to home than Glengarry.
Starting with Scotland, there are several votes for Cullen Golf Club on the Moray Firth. Here's a short quote from their site, 'The unbridled thrill of the course lies in its par 3s. A quartet of short holes from the 11th to the 14th is the highlight of back nine and each features Cullen’s signature landmark - the 80ft. Boar Crag.The 12th and 13th are the most exiting, playingdirectly over this rusty red colossus, which completely blocks the greens from view'. Add views of dolphins and local cullen skink soup and that sounds well worth a visit.
Shiskine on Arran has been mentioned before but also gets a vote for its views and unusual 12 holes - not a bad idea for anyone short of time, a true 'hidden gem' of golf. And with its remote location it's unlikely to ever get overrun by tourists.
The only English course mentioned so far is Church Stretton, but it's on my list to visit if only because it's close to one of our regular routes to North Wales. Par 3's again put this one on the map. Miss the green and the ball might return to your feet - but judging by the photos, the views might be worth the pain.
Talking of Wales, I've had several reports of Nefyn on a spur of land on the Lleyn peninsula as being a must-play experience, with a particularly spectacular back nine. A final vote goes to Llanymynech , favourite of Ian Woosnam, and one of the few inland courses to figure in this mini gazetteer of golf.
Sadly I have played none of these, and some are probably off my map for a while, but so as to have a course from Ireland, I'm going to nominate Glenmalure in County Wicklow. Its hidden in a small valley and is pretty hard to find, but we spent a week there two summers ago. Our first round was a bit of a shock as the entire course is on the side of a hill and the slopes are very steep. Probably not particularly difficult or long by most standards, but plenty of blind hits over gorse bushes and greens that you reach only to see the ball disappear down the hill on the other side. Its saving grace, like most of the courses mentioned here, is that if the golf is bad, you can always look at the view.
I'm going to leave the round-up of weird and wonderful there for now, but I I'm sure there are more places I'll add in the future.
Finally, thanks to everyone on Golf Monthly Forum who sent in suggestions.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Leeches and larks

A great week in the media following the Daily Telegraph's snippet of golfing news (on its front page no less), reporting that many clubs are being swamped by older members. These are described as 'leeches' for playing a disproportionate number of rounds in relation to their subs. Such was the response to this, that the paper followed next day with a whole page spread, mostly occupied by rabble rouser Tom Cox but also carrying comments from Mike Harris (editor of Golf Monthly) and a glamorous lady golfer I didn't recognise (but hey, at least they had one).
I always thought that reduced subs were only offered to members who played off-peak (e.g. week days only) but apparently in some clubs they get a discount on a full membership, and those with long service may become honorary members. It seems to me that if clubs are losing out financially because more seniors are playing, they would be right to rejig their subscription categories.
Still, the argument is still raging, with another article in today's Telegraph from Martin Johnson (More power to old men of the tee) and Golf Monthly forum members split over whether seniors are the salt of the earth (and reliable repairers of pitch marks) or annoying course-hogs who would be better employed holding up in the queue in the post-office.
What larks. And if this whole thing was engineered by the Telgraph in order to brighten up a no-news week, I applaud them for shoving politics and finance out of the way in favour of something really important ;)
It has also been a great opportunity to point out some of the really bad behaviour that takes place on the course, whether it's old fogeyism or plain bad manners. But for the record, here's the article in 'Golf Club Secretary' that started it all (it's actually about demographics!)

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Golf: writing and playing

The weather is still being kind to golfers at least in this area and I've played more golf in the dry since September than over the summer. Have to say things have been coming good too. On Friday MOH and I won the final of the club doubles matchplay competition. Well, to be honest MOH did most of the work, since I failed to hole some tempting putts and probably contributed to dragging it out until the eighteenth. We were also helped by the fact that one of our opponents was having a bad day on the golf course . Still, a win is a win, especially since MOH and I have managed only second in other comps this year. We decided to play again yesterday to enjoy a round with the pressure off, and I celebrated with an eighty five, my best round by a long chalk!
Meanwhile feel I have been neglecting the world of golf and golf blogs as I'm writing an article for Golf Monthly's Club House Chat feature. (That's as well as writing my new novel - and keeping an eye on my other website). Glad to say my 1100 words are now being polished up and normal service should be resumed soon.
Golf Monthly Forum is also discussing a Society Day or Weekend and we've indicated we're up for it. Can't decide if this will be totally scary or a blast. Hopefully both. If only I could be sure of hitting eighty five again!

Filton (Germans and careful drivers welcome)

On Wednesday we had a day out at Filton Golf Club. We've lived or worked close to Filton all our married lives but have never seen the course, never mind played it. In fact I always wondered how they managed to tuck a golf course in between the BAe airfield and the housing estate, but it's there all right and we had a fine autumn day to see it; maybe not the most scenic course in the area, but with some fine views towards what I guess is Henbury.
By some trick of fate I had to tee off first with not only my clubmates looking on but also several of the local greenkeeping staff. Bit of a relief , then, when I got it off straight down the middle (and not many people saw the hash I made of the rest of the hole!) Despite playing steadily I only turned in 29 points, but I cheered up when I discovered they were enough for second place.
Filton has a reputation for being a bit fussy and hit the headlines not so long ago when a rule was found banning Germans. I have to say we saw little of this, although there was a nasty moment when we thought we might be banned for driving around the car-park the wrong way. Otherwise the hospitality (and particularly the steak pie) were more than adequate, though some of the signing could have been better (that includes the car-park).

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Rose saves best for last

Without Sky it's hard keeping track, but it looks like Justin Rose has just won the Volvo Masters after a really exciting last day finishing with a three-way play-off. I'm pleased for Rose who has advanced by leaps and bounds this year without taking a big title, so this should make up for all the near misses. He also tops the European tour Order of Merit, not the biggest prize in golf, but better than a kick in the pants. Harrington was pipped at the post, having dropped to third place behind Rose and Els. It's a pity that the first few days at Valderrama were overshadowed by Monty's criticism of Els and others for staying away, but I doubt that Justin Rose will be worrying about them tonight. A good end to the European season, and Harrington can console himself with the biggest prize of the year.

Fashion Round-up

Since it's source of constant frustration that golf clothing for women is usually expensive and rarely stylish, I rushed off to check out Death to Argyle (catchy brand name!) as recommended recently by Golf Girl, but my excitement was short-lived, as the range is limited and I don't know that I want my polos with playing cards on (Queen of Clubs, get it?)
Our local golf range shop stocks a good selection, but prices for basic items like polo shirts strike me as over the top and I usually confine myself to the sale rail or head for a chain store. But even if we've been playing in glorious sunshine this week, winter is on its way and so is Christmas, so for all golfing girlies or even men-folk with golfers to buy for, here are my recommendations!
On the high street I find the best bet is Debenhams Maine collection. Although not strictly golf wear, there's a good range of sporty tops and trousers that are smarter than keep-fit or 'slouching' clothes. Right now there are long sleeved tops suitable for autumn or spring, not bad for £16, and I've also found some stretch trousers for £25 that feel smart enough to wear off the course and fit really well. Here are the pics, or of course you can see for yourself at Debenhams.

If you want something more obviously lady golfer, JRB and Daily Sports have good ranges that cost less than some of the more traditional golf 'fashion houses'. Both are stocked by Sport a la Mode where there's a good selection of brands, though some of the knitwear comes with the usual taste warning. Do I like these 'half-zip tops', or are they in the Death to Argyle category? Think the jury's still out!

Another name I didn't know is Moose clothing. Ladygolfer has several items on sale at the moment, though they are mostly summer range. I particularly like this one for £10, though I'm a bit worried about the headless woman!

Well, that completes my pre-Christmas round-up of golfing wear that doesn't make me cringe. Please let me know if you have other suggestions.

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