Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Old ball, new ball?

Here's a question that came up recently on Golf Monthly forum that sorts out the 'men from the boys'.
When you hit over water, do you take your usual ball, or reach into the depths of your bag for some old ball that you regard as expendable, i.e. the all too aptly named water ball?
The majority favoured the positive mentality of sticking with the usual ball, and very few owned up to 'changing down', but I have to admit I'm with the scaredy cats here. In fact on some holes, usually where the water is right in front of the tee and I'm reasonably confident of hitting over, I don't even think of changing, but there's always that pesky second. Not a long hit, but just far enough for the wind to accentuate that slice ... you can guess the rest.
In fact, thinking about it, there's water in play on a lot of our course, but there's only one hole where I habitually change the ball, so maybe I'm not such a wimp as I thought, or as I used to be.
The other disadvantage is that on those days when I sail across the water on the second to land plumb on the green, I'm stuck with the old ball for putting. Not that I think I have ever sacrificed the hole for that reason!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Monty goes West

Monty's exploits never fail to stir up comment, but where's the Principal's Nose these day? On holiday somewhere hot and sticky, I suspect, but Lewine Mair had a nice piece in theTelegraph about his desertion of Far East in favour of Florida and more points towards a Masters appearance. Ironically very few people think he's likely to do well at Augusta even if he gets there in the first place, although after his opening round at Bayhill even that's looking unlikely. More money might go on a surprise win on his home soil rather than in any U.S. major, though it's sad that any win is now seen as a surprise (to us if not to him!) A Golf Monthly Forum member recently asked if he or Sandy Lyle would be judged 'top Scottish golfer' of their generation, and although Monty in many people's eyes has done better over longer, I think in any popular vote, Lyle would win for his record in majors.
Interesting that the problem for most sportsmen of when to when to hang up the kit can be postponed almost indefinitely in golf, and for Monty the seniors tour will soon be beckoning.

Travel abroad - Excess baggage

I was contacted this week by APH (Airport Hotels and Parking) who have a verty nifty price comparison sheet of charges for carrying golf clubs by air. There are clearly huge differences in how much extra it will cost you to take your clubs abroad and not surprisingly it's the budget lines who are more likely to levy extra charges, with Easyjet and BMI asking £15 on top of the flight price, whereas BA allow you to take '14 clubs, 12 balls and a pair of shoes' within your baggage limit. As with everything else in life, I guess that you get what you pay for.

However, I think there's something that APH has missed. I've been looking closely at the Easyjet site because they're the biggest operator from our local airport and if the flight is cheap, £15 for clubs doesn't seem too bad to me. However, on their page for baggage allowance, I found that each passenger is permitted one standard piece of hand luggage and 'up to 8 pieces of checked-in hold baggage (each bag charged at £3.99 online or £8 at the airport) to a maximum combined weight of 20kg'
I read this to mean that all hold baggage is charged extra on top of the flight price. Again, £3.99 isn't the earth, but if you hadn't picked this up in advance, and your party arrives at the airport to find it owes £8 per item added to £15 for clubs, I think it might be enough to dim the pleasure of taking off into the sun.
I'm still thinking a trip abroad might be tempting, so forewarned is forearmed. If I have unjustly accused Easyjet, I shall look forward to being corrected.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Winter golf - the reality

Had a disappointment this week at St. Pierre Chepstow where we arrived to find one hole closed and several others shortened while a load of reconstruction is being done - all of which is great for the club members but a bit of a downer for visitors like us. I though they might have offered a discount on green fees, but I suppose winter rates are already cheaper than summer, on the basis that at any time in the off season (is there an off season in golf?) you 'takes your chance'. As it was they did throw in a course guide (which they will no doubt be throwing out come the summer when the changes come into effect!)
For me the biggest irritation was the reek of burned stubble on the front nine, not helped by my completely flunking the second despite an almost perfect drive - the smell if not the taste of defeat! After that things did get better for me and there was a certain interest in watching the new turf being rolled over remodelled bunkers. I particularly enjoyed the half-forgotten experience of teeing off on grass instead of the dreaded mats, not to mention parring the eighteenth - nothing like a good finish to round off the day.

All in all a pleasant day despite the disruption. It would be good to see how the course looks in sixth months time. A discount off our next visit would definitely have kept me sweet!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

New baby!

Quite a flurry of excitement this week as I got 2 new clubs. After much searching MOH had at last found me a five wood to match my Mizuno MP001 set. At almost the self-same moment I was offered a new 3 wood by the good people at Golf Monthly where my article on ladies' golf has just appeared, and I was too greedy to refuse. This one (pictured) is a Taylormade R7 CGB max (so many letters!) and as you can see looks very tasty. It feels nothing like my existing fairway woods, and I think I'm missing a bit of flex in the shaft, but it does feel good on the strike. Haven't quite decided which will stay in my bag, the old Mizuno (on which a friend already has designs) or the new Taylormade. I'm happy to report that both my new babies have blue as the main colour and blue headcovers, so neither looks out of place. (I've discovered this isn't just a girl thing, men also like matching kit!)
The main problem is that all this trying out of woods is doing nothing for my plan to improve my iron play!

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