Thursday, 24 January 2008

A dark and stormy day

It's not easy being a golf blogger right now; the skies are grey and the courses are boggy or closed, and try as I might I can't get excited by who said what in the Monty/Nick saga. There may be events taking place in glorious sun on the other side of the world, but frankly, am I bovvered?
But here's a story to gladden any winter golfer's heart.
Last week , four doughty Golf Monthly Forum members took on four GM staff in what turned out to be an epic encounter on a windswept (and apparently deserted) Jubilee Course at St. Andrews. Now that's what I call golf!
Reports suggest it was a great match generously sprinkled with birdies, and the result was a fair but memorable draw. Since the staff team had some inmpressively low handicaps, I think that's a moral victory to the forum lads, who may have been a bit more acclimatised to East Coast conditions, but could you play like this in front of an official photographer?

Please note these pictures belong to Golf Monthly and should not be reproduced, transmitted etc etc ... you know the score (i.e. hands off, you blagging bloggers!)
The full match report will be in April's Golf Monthly (next but one issue, which just happens to be the one where a certain blogger is also appearing in print!) and I'm ordering my copy now, but meanwhile a big thank you to Mike Harris the editor for letting me give you a sneak preview here.
Well done, boys, and roll on the next event on the GM challenge tour!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Inspiration, perspiration and mud

Despite a deep-seated and entirely pagan attachment to the festival of New Year (or Ne'er Day as it's known in Scotland) I rarely make resolutions as such, but that's not to say it isn't a good time to make a few plans and set a few targets (especially as the weather is too foul to play much actual golf). If, like me, you're in search of inspiration, look no further than the career of Richard Johnson, documented in today's Telegraph. At 35, Richard has finally got himself a tour card in the U.S. despite previous attempts getting him no further than a job in the fast-food restaurant outside August National. When David Duval, an old college friend, dropped in for a burger, Richard decided he was in the wrong job, and got 'back on the bike' for another go. Let's hope the season sees him established on the tour and not dropping out yet again.
Persistence and determination doesn't always pay, but as any aspiring golfer (or writer knows) you won't get far without it. Tim Henman has always been a hero of mine not just for his scholboy charm (?) but for the fact that as a teenager he wasn't regarded as the most talented player of his age-group. He simply wanted it more and worked harder as a result. On the days I lack inspiration of any kind, it actually comforts me to think persipration might get me there anyway!
Meanwhile, what music do you use to practise or play golf to? Golf Girl alerts me to Ian Poulter's favourite tunes, listed on the PGA website, and I have found that getting a tune fixed in your head can keep evil swing-thoughts and general mental melt-down at bay.
On Wednesday, on what I knew would be my only round of the week, I started out in an evil temper (not entirely golf-related, but it soon got that way). While trying to think of somethng other than my flunked approach shot on the fourth, Kirsty MacColl's version of the old Kinks hit 'Days', (heard on the radio the day before) drifted into my head and stayed there for quite some time. Things didn't improve straight away, but I gradually relaxed and eventually made some pars, and my final score was 90, well within my handicap. Not bad for a bad (and muddy) day.
Of course if music doesn't do it for you, Golf in London reports that swing -thoughts are best kept countered by 'naughty thoughts'. Golf in a state of (sexual) arousal is someting I admit I haven't tried. But then mud wrestling never really was my thing.
If anyone fancies a musical nostalgia trip, here's Ray Davies doing the original 'Days'.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Good golf gift

We all know about the bad ones, so here's one I liked. It's a print by Mark Denman called 'The Golfers'. This image doesn't do it justice but it shows a typical (if crowded!) golfing scene and around the margin (you definitely can't see this) is a hand-written account of the conversations that might be taking place e.g 'Side wind my foot! There was more wind out of that badger's bottom on the tenth!'
It's advertised as 'humorous' but it's also very easy on the eye, not in a 'cartoon' style at all. I'm look forward to having it framed and on the wall, and thanks to Mark for letting me use the digital image.

As soon as it was unwrapped, I was immediately reminded of Dartmouth Golf and Country Club, which has a similar landscape and clubhouse. Mark now lives in Dartmouth so maybe that's no coincidence. I'd like to say it's one of my favourite courses, but in Feb 2006 I had a three very bad rounds there. Maybe the picture will tempt us to have another go in better weather.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

R&A Rules (again)

The R&A, as you probably know, update the Rules of Golf every four years and have just published the new version. Granted it's never going to be book of the month, but it has an innovation that makes a lot of sense to me, namely a 'Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf ' that takes up less than 10 pages and precedes the 150 or so pages of full rules and appendices.
Apparently the 'Quick Guide' was available previously as a separate sheet, but putting it all together seems like a good move. As well as making it easier to find out basic information on the course, the Quick Guide would be an ideal introduction for beginners, as it covers all the main eventualities and is brief enough to be manageable.
So if you are harbouring a reluctance to get to grips with what's allowed and what's not, or what the penalties are for various infringements, here's a list of the rules in the Quick Guide.
  • Before and during the round (how many clubs, giving advice)
  • On the tee
  • Playing the ball
  • On the putting green
  • Ball at rest moved
  • Ball in motion deflected or stopped
  • Lifting, dropping and placing the ball
  • Ball assisting or interfering with play
  • Loose impediments
  • Movable obstructions
  • Immovable obstructions & abnormal ground conditions (with diagram!)
  • Water Hazards
  • Ball lost or out of bounds
  • Ball unplayable

Every section also directs the reader to the full version of the rule, should it be needed. And the book itself is free. We got one with Golf Monthly, but you'll also find them in golf clubs and pro shops.

Let's face it, there's no excuse for not getting to grips, though I have a tiny complaint. The type used for the main text is pale grey. I'm sitting here under a reading light to see it comfortably, so you may need your specs with you on the course! And as the book says, 'Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it. If you can't do either, play fair.'

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