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ISSUE 252 | MARCH 2016

COMPLIMENTARY COPY TWITTER @GOLFNEWSMAG WEB GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE: MASTERS PREVIEW JORDAN SPIETH LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN ANDY SULLIVAN SARAH STIRK NEW GOLF BALLS WIN A SKYCADDIE GPS


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GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

BY

NICK BAYLY

GOLF MEMBERSHIP ALL EYES ON AUGUSTA C ourse managers must dread watching the Masters. While for golfers the year’s first major signals the awakening of a new season, and the prospect of warm spring days and longer evenings enticing us out on to the course, for the world-weary greenkeeper it spells nothing but trouble from members with unrealistic expectations. It’s as predictable as an Aston Villa defeat that golfers tuning into the coverage from Augusta will return to their clubs the following week and question why their course isn’t quite so picture perfect. With the stimp running at 12, and fairways smoother than a baby’s bottom, comparing conditions to the Masters’ venue with almost any other course in the UK at this time of the year is just not a fair fight.

It’s long been known that the ground staff at Augusta dye the ponds blue to hide the algae, and spray the grass green to disguise the occasional lack of spring growth, but these are not steps that most course managers can take when they are looking to smarten up their courses – especially after the grim winter we’ve just had. So please don’t give your hard-working greenstaff any lip about why your course isn’t up to Tour-standard conditions in April. By all means have a go if there are molehills in the middle of the 12th green, or if there’s a fallen tree on the fairway between your ball and the flag, but the quality, or otherwise, of the sward is usually down to Mother Nature at this time of year, not human intervention. On the flip side, I would encourage course managers to open up better lines of communication with both members and visiting golfers, posting regular updates about course conditions on club websites and social media channels explaining why things are the way they are, and what members – and visitors – can expect in the future. It goes without saying that it has been a tough winter for golfers and golf clubs alike in the UK, with many clubs having to shut up shop for short periods after heavy rains, while buggy and trolley bans have been commonplace

up and down the country in order to protect the courses for peak playing periods. Patience has been tested, but hopefully it will be rewarded in the coming months, when golfers discover that popular routes around the tees and greens haven’t been irretrievably damaged by wheels churning up the mud. ‘BIG THREE’? GIVE ME A BREAK I rarely have to look too hard to find reasons to get excited about the season’s first major, but next month’s 80th renewal of the Masters seems to be more hotly anticipated than others in recent memory. Perhaps it’s the seven-month hiatus between the last major that always makes the Masters seem so special, but it really does seem like a lifetime since Jason Day prevailed in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits last August, and I for one can’t wait for the action to begin on April 7. While all the talk over the winter has been of ‘The Big Three’, the season’s majors are unlikely to be divvied up so neatly between Mssrs Spieth, Day and McIlroy. While it provides good copy to talk up such rivalries – despite the fact that the three players in question seem like good mates, or at the very least on polite speaking terms – such an exalted description of the current state of world golf is far too premature. To put these players onto some sort of elevated platform rather belittles the achievements of dozens of players who have achieved far more within the game. But as professional golf struggles to gain headlines over more popular, faster-moving sports, it serves us better to give the impression that it is dominated by a hatful of cool kids kitted out in slim fit white chinos, than it does a coach load of old buffers wearing billowy slacks. Thankfully, for someone who is at the wrong end of 40, and still feels like a contender, golf is still a game where middle-agers can earn a good living. Step forward Adam Scott (35), Brandt Snedeker (35), Justin Rose (35), Sergio Garcia (36), Bubba Watson (37), Henrik Stenson (39), Zach Johnson (40), Phil Mickelson (45) and, of course, good ‘ol Jim Furyk (45 going on 65) – all of whom are inside the world’s top 20. Amid all the hooplah about golf being down with the kids, I hate to be the one to shatter the illusion, but it is essentially as uncool as it ever was – and long may it continue to be so. Being cool is, and always will be, overrated. It’s also heartening to know that experience still counts for something.

Front Cover Photo: Getty Images

Maple House, The Spinney, Hove, BN3 6QT TEL: 01273 381794 EMAIL: info@golfnews.co.uk WEBSITE: www.golfnews.co.uk FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @golfnewsmag MANAGING DIRECTOR Matt Nicholson matt@golfnews.co.uk EDITOR Nick Bayly editor@golfnews.co.uk ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Richard Maunder richard@golfnews.co.uk ART DIRECTOR Darren Kirk darren-kirk@btconnect.com PRODUCTION Kath Perry ads@golfnews.co.uk

FOR ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT Richard Maunder richard@golfnews.co.uk or 07843 566907 PHOTOGRAPHY Getty Images, Angus Murray PUBLISHED BY BlueGreen Media REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS Jeremy Ellwood, Sarah Stirk, Paul Mahoney, Clive Agran, Ross McGowan, Alistair Tait. © Copyright 2016. No part of this publication may be copied, photocopied or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in anyway or means, either by recording or otherwise, without permission of the publishers in writing.

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[6]

MARCH 2016 | NEWS

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[8]

MARCH 2016 | NEWS

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

NEW SUMMER DATE FOR PARTRIDGE FLIES HIGH AT CINQUE PORTS Richard Partridge retained Kent Golf Union’s Robin Young Trophy after bagging 37 points at Royal Cinque Ports on February 25. The Wildernesse player, who has a plus-one handicap, finished four points clear of Mark Singfield (Littlestone) and Richard Punyer (Chestfield).

FRILFORD HANDS OVER £13K TO CHARITY Representatives of Frilford Health Golf Club handed over a cheque for £13,448 to local young persons’ charity Abingdon Bridge following a year of fundraising at the Oxfordshire-based club. One of the most successful events saw the club’s bar staff raise over £2,000 during a 15-hour, 108hole golfing marathon. The club’s outgoing captain Trevor Wood joined ladies’ outgoing captain Carol Chapman to hand the money to the charity, which offers free advice and counselling for people aged 13 to 25.

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LONDON GOLF SHOW T

his year’s London Golf Show at Bluewater Retail Park in Kent is moving from its traditional autumn date to a new date in late August. The annual consumer show, which moved to the Glow Exhibition Centre at Bluewater in Kent in 2014, will be held from August 26-28. Last year’s show attracted almost 15,000 people to the three-day event, with the new venue at Britain’s busiest shopping and leisure destination once again proving a big hit with golfers and their families alike. Simon Jones, managing director of show organiser’s The Golf Show Group, said: “We are thrilled to confirm a 2016 date for the London Golf Show with Bluewater. Land Securities, Bluewater’s owners, have been looking to redevelop the Glow facility. Fitting around their development plans was crucial for us to sustain the show. By moving the show forwards, we are able to remain in the Glow halls that have seen two very successful shows. The new date positions us exactly one month before the Ryder Cup. With interest in golf spiking around such events, we are delighted to host the show at such an exciting time on the golfing calendar.”

The London Golf Show brings together the biggest and best names in golf, from the UK and around the world, ranging from equipment, clothing and accessories, to coaching, competitions and golf holiday destinations. This year will also feature a dedicated ‘Golf Club Showcase’, which enables local golf clubs to present themselves to wide range of golfers in the South East. Visitors to the show will also be able to enjoy a wide choice of refreshments, with over 55 bars, cafés and restaurants all in close proximity to the venue, which also boasts its own dedicated dining plaza. For tickets and more details visit www.londongolfshow.com.

WRIGHT SIGNS WITH DRAGON DEN’S MANAGEMENT FIRM

Two new adventure golf courses are set to open in Stevenage Leisure Park in Hertfordshire this summer. Adventure Leisure Ltd has announced its latest site will feature two 18-hole adventure golf courses, including Mr Mulligan’s Lost World, and be a flagship venue for the company's brand. The venue, which opens in July, will feature a fully-licenced bar and separate party areas for evening entertainment.

STOKE PARK ON COURSE TO RE-OPEN ‘COLT NINE’

MOOR PARK LADIES SUPPORT AIR AMBULANCE The ladies golf team at Moor Park Golf Club in Hertfordshire has donated £6,000 to the Herts Air Ambulance, following a year-long series of charity events. The ladies organised events including raffles, Christmas card donations and a rock concert that raised £1,000. Ladies captain Jan Lansdowne said: “I wanted to support a charity that was relevant to the membership of the golf club and it just had to be Herts Air Ambulance. Many of our members were surprised to hear that it relied on the generosity of the public to keep flying. We all felt it was a very worthwhile cause.”

NEW DRIVING RANGE TO OPEN IN DEVIZES A Wiltshire farmer is to open a new driving range on part of his land as a way of boosting his income. The Sleight Valley Driving Range near Devizes will open at the end of the April, and will offer 12 covered bays – five of which will feature automatic tees – and a fully landscaped, floodlit range. Facilities at the range, which is being built by farmer Steve Oram, will also include a café.

CAMPBELL ON TOP AT HIGHATE Ian Campbell defied freezing conditions to triumph at Highgate Golf Club in the latest Middlesex PGA Pro Medal. The Cheshunt Park professional fired a one-under-par round of 68 to edge out James Ruebotham (Welwyn Garden City). Ruebotham had also finished second in the two previous Pro Medals in the winter series. He shot 67 at Stanmore, but was beaten by Glen Portelli’s stunning 64, and then had to settle for the runner’s up spot again at Hendon, where PGA in England (East) captain Matt Deal recorded a 'home' win with a five-under par 65.

■ DARREN WRIGHT

H

ampshire tour pro Darren Wright has signed with a management company chaired by former Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis, as he begins his first season on the Challenge Tour. The 27 year old from Waterlooville, who is attached to Golf At Goodwood, earned his promotion to the Challenge Tour after a fine season on the EuroPro Tour last term, and starts his campaign in Kenya on March 17. Wright has signed up with sports management agency MB Partners – who have businessman Theo Paphitis as chairman and former F1 racing driver Mark Blundell as chief executive. And Wright is hopeful their expertise can open a few doors for

him ahead of an important season. He said: “There are several reasons to be with a management company. One is that they do all of your bookings, so you don’t need to worry about organising your travel and schedule. The other things are that they might be able to get me into a couple of extra tournaments and find me some sponsorship, which is my main issue at the moment. They have got a lot of contacts, and they might be able to find the right company.” Wright, who finished second in the 2015 EuroPro Tour money list, added: “I know this is going to be a big season for me, so to have that extra bit of support will be really useful.”

T

he renovation of the bunkers on all 27 holes at Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel in Buckinghamshire has continued over the winter, with the nine holes on the Colt Course expected to be back in play next month. The club is hosting a special event for members for the re-launch of the new-look layout, which was originally designed by Harry Colt in 1908. The nine-hole loop, which bears his name, has been closed for the winter while it underwent extensive renovation of its bunkers. Every trap on the front nine has been completely rebuilt, with the inclusion of new liners and new sand.

The course will officially re-open on April 22 with an 18-hole tournament for members, followed by a launch evening, when director of golf Stuart Collier will host a presentation on the changes to the course. The golf club currently has a limited number of vacancies for seven-day annual memberships, with the price held for 2016 at £3,500. Laid out across 300 acres of mid-19th century Capability Brown parkland, the 27-hole, Colt-designed course is one of the country’s leading parkland layouts, with its picturesque seventh hole, providing the inspiration for the original 16th at Augusta, home of the US Masters.

LETCHWORTH’S LOTTERY WINDFALL FUNDS NEW ACADEMY PROJECT

L

etchworth Golf Club in Hertfordshire is among 148 local sports projects to secure a share of £9 million of National Lottery funding from Sport England's Inspired Facilities fund. The club has received £63,432 of National Lottery funding to equip its new par-three academy course and 300-yard driving range, which is located next to club’s 18-hole course. The equipment purchased with lottery funding will include all-weather practice bays, range ball dispensing and collection equipment, safety pathways, and on-course furniture and accessories. Due to be completed in July, the new practice area will feature a fullycontoured practice range and a top quality six-hole par three course, which will be built around a 500m2 pond. The club, which first opened in 1905, is offering an academy membership will allow access to the new practice facilities plus the practice putting green,

without extra charge. Letchworth’s president, Malcolm Plumbley, said: "We are delighted to have secured this investment, which means we can push on with preparation of our new academy facilities knowing that they will be the very best for miles around. Not only will this give us a great opportunity to introduce people to the game of golf, but also to become a centre of excellence for those who wish to be the very best they can be."


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[10] MARCH 2016 | NEWS

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

BECKENHAM PLACE PARK COURSE TO CLOSE SHORTLIST FOR GOLFMARK AWARD ANNOUNCED

Erewash Valley in Derbyshire, Hinckley in Leicestershire, and Penrith in Cumbria have been shortlisted for the 2016 GolfMark Club of the Year award, supported by Cobra Puma Golf. The winner of the England Golf award will be announced in April, when representatives of the GolfMark Club of the Year will receive a trophy and a prize from the sponsors.

B

SNOOK WINS SOUTH WEST STEWARD AWARD

Wareham Golf Club’s Fiona Snook has been recognised as the Fuller’s London Pride Steward of the Year for the South West region after being in the job for just 18 months. Snook, who is a qualified chef, received her trophy at the annual presentation lunch at The Counting House in London: “I’m a newbie at the club and I’m so pleased to reach the final. Wareham is such a friendly club and everyone mucks in – you’re quite likely to see our president on a lawn mower!”

MOOR PARK MAN TAKES OVER HERTS PRESIDENCY

Robin Colborne from Moor Park Golf Club has been elected as president of the Hertfordshire Golf Union following an AGM held at the club on February 24. A member of the HGU Executive since 2009, recently as championship committee chairman, Colborne is also a past captain and director of Moor Park and is a leading county golf referee.

FRILFORD TO HOST ‘EVENING WITH EDDIE’

European Tour star Eddie Pepperell will be hosting his now regular annual Q&A event at Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxfordshire on March 17. The 25 year old from Abingdon, who is attached to the club, will answer questions for audience members during the evening event.

WENTWORTH TO SOFTEN WEST COURSE

W

entworth’s West Course is to undergo a significant remodelling that will make it more playable for a wider range of players. The renovation project, which is to be carried out immediately after this year’s BMW PGA Championship in late May, will include cutting the number of bunkers from 88 to 65, and reducing the height of the bunkers that remain to make them slightly easier to escape from. The works, which will be carried out by Ernie Els’s design company, will also involve the complete remodelling of the greens on the 8th, 11th, 14th, 15th and 16th holes, as well as the reseeding of all 18 putting surfaces. Tees on the third, 10th and 18th holes will be rebuilt and modernised, while there will be fairway drainage improvement work across eight holes, and the irrigation system will also be upgraded and the roadway network resurfaced throughout. In a return to Harry Colt’s traditional vision for the West Course, heath and woodland enhancement work will take place, and there will also be a comprehensive planting scheme, adding native plants and trees across the course. Els, who was involved with the last major changes to the West Course in 2009, said: “I am delighted to be continuing my 25-year relationship with the West Course at Wentworth, and am extremely excited to be involved in implementing the renovations, which we believe will considerably enhance the reputation and playability of the course. These changes will include the remodelling of several greens to the benefit of all levels of player.” The improvements form part of the commitment by the club’s new owners to invest £20 million by the end of 2018, with the vision of making Wentworth the world’s premier private golf and country club. Discussions with leading golf course architect firms about renovations to the East and Edinburgh courses are currently taking place, while work on the clubhouse’s new interiors are scheduled to begin this autumn.

eckenham Place Park Golf Course in Bromley is set to close by the end of the year in order to make way for new leisure facilities at the 250acre site in South East London. Bromley Borough Council has applied for a £5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop the historic park, which is the biggest open space in the borough. Councillors have agreed that if the bid is successful, the golf course should be closed by the end of the year to make way for new leisure activities. The decision to shut the 108-year old course has been met with anger by campaign group Save the Beckenham 18. Elaine Storey, spokeswoman for the group, said: “I’ve lived in Beckenham all my life and I’ve been in that park all my life, I learned to play golf there. If the council had conducted a proper consultation – if they had asked 5,000 people and they had suggested they wanted the golf course to shut – I’d accept it, but this has been based on 62 people – it’s so flawed. That’s what made me so angry – they haven’t carried out a proper consultation. We had a petition of 6,000 protesting it; they had 900 letters of complaint. We’re not going to give up.” But a council spokesman defended the decision, saying: “Lewisham Council doesn’t have the power to arrest the national trend of declining use of golf courses. We have tried over a long period to make golf work within this park, and we have offered the course to the market on more than one occasion without success. Beckenham Place Park desperately needs investment in its listed buildings and other facilities.”

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NEWS | MARCH 2016

WALLACE BAGS FIRST PRO WIN

R

ising Hertfordshire star Matt Wallace is celebrating winning his first professional tournament. Wallace, who is a member at Moor Park Golf Club, capped a superb run of form on the Alps Tour by clinching victory in the Dreamland Pyramids Open in Cairo on February 23. His eight-under-par total in Egypt gave him a oneshot win and a €5,000 first prize. Wallace, who lives in Pinner, said: "It's obviously a huge deal for me to get my first win as a pro. It's been a long time coming. I've been out on the Alps Tour for four years and been in the final group numerous times, but not been able to get the job done. To get the win feels amazing." Wallace believes his past experience in contention helped him and a calmer demeanor on the golf course paid off in Egypt. The 25 year old said: "I felt a lot calmer this time. I've learnt a

■ MATT WALLACE lot over the last couple of years and it definitely felt a lot easier for me over the last few weeks.” Wallace changed his coach after missing out at European Tour final qualifying at the end of last year. His results this season have been exceptional, seeing him finish second and third immediately prior to the win. He said: "After Qualifying School I changed my coach because I felt I had lost a few tournaments because of my technique. I went to Egypt at the

start of this year feeling prepared after some good practice in Dubai. It's definitely the best I've played in my career." The win puts him second in the Alps Tour Order of Merit, with the top-five at the end of the season earning a place on the Challenge Tour. Wallace has already secured a place in the field for the Red Sea Egyptian Challenge in April and also hopes to get an invitation to the Kenya Open next month. "I feel like I can definitely compete on the Challenge Tour and I'm ready to step up to that level." Wallace is close friends with Moor Park's Callum Shinkwin, who is currently playing in Australia, and believes his friend's rise to the European Tour can act as inspiration. He said: "I practise all the time with him and hopefully I can get to where he is and Moor Park can have two players on the European Tour. I have played with him for seven or eight years and he is a really good player, so I knew he would reach the European Tour. It has been a bit more difficult for me, but hopefully this win can give me the confidence and belief to push on.”

TOP COACH WOODROFFE TAKES ROOT AT THE OAKS

F

ormer PGA South Region coach of the year Jon Woodroffe is easing back in his role at the World of Golf in New Malden in order to develop The Oaks Golf Centre in Carshalton into ‘a finishing school for beginners’. Speaking about the new project, which began this month, Woodroffe said: “We are having tremendous success at the World of Golf with our free Learn to Play Golf package of six one-hour lessons, getting around 1,200 more people every year into the game. But what we lacked was a suitably beginner-friendly course of our own to take the people we had been teaching on the range, out onto a golf course. “The Oaks has got exactly what we need, with a good 18-hole course, a ninehole, par-three course, and a 16-bay driving range. It’s the perfect place to develop beginners into golfers, and fulfil the World of Golf’s idea to take complete beginners all the way to accomplished golfers in a seamless journey.” Gary Clements, a former colleague of Woodroffe’s at the Central London Golf Centre, is joining The Oaks with a remit to focus on developing junior talent. Woodroffe is extremely excited about the liaison between the two venues. “I’ve never had an opportunity quite like this one, so it’s very exciting for me to try and build on all the years of successful experience of getting thousands of people into golf, and take the whole thing up a level at The Oaks.”

WOODMAN CUTS DOWN RIVALS AT LONDON CLUB Guy Woodman shot a 70 around London Golf Club’s International course to claim his second victory in the PGA South Winter Series, supported by Titleist & FootJoy. Starting on the 10th, Woodman fired four birdies during his two-under par round to take the top prize of £500, after finishing one shot ahead of Richard Wallis (Canterbury).

GREGORY GOES CLOSE IN SPANISH AMATEUR Hampshire’s Scott Gregory finished runner-up in the Spanish Men’s Amateur Championship, after succumbing to British Amateur champion Romain Langasque in the final at Real Club de Golf Seville. The 21 year old from Corhampton lost 9&8 to the talented Frenchman, but was delighted to have reached his first international match play final after qualifying in 11th place from the stroke play rounds. Gregory, who is a member of England’s A squad, beat Sussex’s Marco Penge in the opening round of the match play stages, and after two more convincing wins, beat Ireland’s John Ross Galbraith 4&3 in the semi-final.

PLACE AMONG THE PROS FOR WEST ESSEX WINNER One lucky junior will get to tee up with some of the PGA in England (East) region’s leading players during the London Open at West Essex Golf Club. The venue is set to host the Weston Holmes plc Order of Merit event on June 15-16, with the winner of the club’s London Junior Golf Open Championship eligible to join established pros from the region and take their place in the field. The event is open to all juniors under the age of 18 with an official handicap.

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BIRDIE Coffee & Bacon Roll, 18 Holes of Golf, Golfers Lunch £44.00 PER PLAYER

EAGLE Coffee & Bacon Roll, 18 Holes of Golf 2 Course Lunch £49.50 PER PLAYER

ALBATROSS Coffee & Bacon Roll, 9 Holes of Golf, Golfers Lunch or Full English Breakfast, 18 Holes of Golf, 3 Course Dinner £79.50 PER PLAYER THE MASTERS Coffee & Bacon Roll, 18 Holes of Golf, Golfers Lunch or Full English Breakfast 18 Holes of Golf, 3 Course Dinner £82.50 PER PLAYER


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

[12] MARCH 2016 | NEWS

FORMER KEANE FRONTMAN TO HEADLINE BMW PGA CHAMPS A

lthough the stars of the daytime show at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth are always the professional golfers competing for one of the European Tour’s flagship prizes, the supporting acts for the off-course evening activities are also looking pretty strong this year, with Tom Chaplin, former lead singer of chart-topping band Keane, booked to add a further dash of glamour to an already star-studded event. The showpiece tournament, which takes place from May 26-29, will once again kick off with a Pro-Am on May 25, where celebrities from stage, screen and the world of sport will join forces with the European Tour’s top talent over 18 holes on the West Course. But the party really gets started over the weekend, with Saturday night’s entertainment featuring a live set from super-group Mike and the Mechanics, while Sunday’s headline act is Tom Chaplin, who is looking to forward to bring the curtain down on the week’s festivities by joining up with his band to rock the crowds. Chaplin, who is a keen golfer, said: “I’ve always loved playing in the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am, so I’m really excited that this year I’ll be performing there too. Being able to watch world-class golfers up close is an amazing experience, and you learn so much from being alongside them for 18 holes. I’ll definitely be back in my comfort zone on the Sunday night though, and we’ll be looking to sign off a fantastic week in style with a great performance.” Jamie Birkmyre, Championship Director of the BMW PGA Championship, said: “Tom is one of the most talented singer-songwriters in the country and

■ TOM CHAPLIN WILL BE PLAYING AND SINGING AT WENTWORTH his hits with Keane are instantly recognisable. The BMW PGA Championship has become the perfect mix of golf and live music. Tickets are selling fast, so I would urge people to visit the website or call the hotline as soon as possible to guarantee being there.” Advance tickets for May 29 are available now at £45. Advance tickets are also available for the other three tournament days, the Tuesday practice day and the Celebrity Pro-Am. To book, visit www.europeantour.com/ tickets or call 01344 840550.

ASHDOWN TO HOST ENGLISH BOYS OPEN

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oyal Ashdown Forest Golf Club in East Sussex has been chosen to host this year’s English Boys’ Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship. The prestigious tournament, which is open to boys under the age of 16, will be played over three days from July 12–14, with a practice day held on July 11. Past winners of the event include Justin Rose and Edoardo Molinari, while last year’s tournament at Wallasey Golf Club resulted in a three-way tie between Sussex’s Charlie Strickland, Spaniard Ignacio Puente and Toby Briggs from Norfolk. Championship administrator Katy Fairweather

of England Golf, said: “The awarding of this event to Royal Asdown Forest is in recognition of the quality of the course and its facilities.” Club captain Trevor Rudd said: ‘It is a great honour for Ashdown to be selected as host, and shows the high regard the course and club are held in. We hope that the event will be very well supported, as golf enthusiasts will have a chance to watch the stars of tomorrow in action.”

POULTER FEELS THE LYNX EFFECT

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ertfordshire PGA professional Danny Poulter has joined British-based equipment company Lynx Golf as one its brand ambassadors. Poulter, who is the older brother of Ryder Cup star Ian, is being backed by the brand as he embarks on a bid to gain a full European Tour card, which narrowly eluded his grasp 15 years ago. His ambition to reach Qualifying School in 2017 begins this year in the PGA East region, where he's competing in Order of Merit tournaments, and mini tour events, as well as selected events on the EuroPro and Challenge Tour. The 42 year old is currently head professional at iPlayGolf, a new indoor centre in Newport Pagnell, has been fitted with a new set of Lynx clubs at the company’s state-of-the-art fitting centre in Weybridge. This season will see him playing with a Lynx Parallax driver and Tour Blade irons. Welcoming Poulter alongside its existing ambassadors, including Dame Laura Davies and Nick Dougherty, Lynx Golf UK’s co-owner, Stephanie Zinser, said: "We're delighted to be helping Danny to fulfil his ambitions. He's a very good golfer who put aspirations of a Tour career on hold and dedicated himself to being a well-respected PGA Professional and coach in order to bring up a young family. He has the game and the determination to make it to Tour Qualifying School and we hope he goes on to great things." At such a relatively late stage in his career, Poulter knows that gaining a European Tour ranking will not be easy. But having spent over 20 years working successfully in all parts of the golf industry, he is still determined to tee it up on tour. "I can't thank everyone at Lynx Golf enough for their support,” said Poulter. "I'm playing better golf now than I was 10 or 12 years ago. I'm more mature, and I think that although I had the ability and the game first time round I just wasn't grown up enough to make it on tour."

NEW OPERATOR FOR

WINDMILL HILL

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he management of Windmill Hill Golf Course in Buckinghamshire has been handed over to a private leisure management company after the local council found it no longer had the budget to operate the facility. Milton Keynes Council has passed on the management of the Bletchley-based club to 1Life Leisure Management Solutions as part of a ten-year deal that will result in significant investment in the club, which boasts an 18-hole course originally designed by Sir Henry Cotton, a driving range and a modern clubhouse. Windmill Hill ran into financial difficulties after seeing its membership fall from 600 to just over 100 over the last decade, with the number of rounds played halving in that time. The club ran into further problems when its clubhouse burnt down in 2007, but that has since been replaced with a modern building. 1Life, which has also taken over the management of five other council-run leisure facilities in the area, has outlined a series of investments in the club, including the conversion of a boxing gym in the clubhouse into a state-of-the-art gym, and upgrades to the food and beverage areas. “The new gym will have brand new electronic circuit equipment which is simple to use and provides effective total body training for all types of users,” said a 1Life spokeswoman. “With some upgrades to the food and beverage areas, 1Life will build on the already busy and growing events and functions.”


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[14] MARCH 2016 | NEWS

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

READ HELPS TAKE KENT GOLF ACADEMY TO THE NEXT LEVEL TORRANCE TO HOST STOKE PARK DIABETES PRO-AM

MOOR PARK LAYS ON FREE EASTER COACHING WEEKEND

Sam Torrance is to host the annual JDRF Pro-Am at Stoke Park Country Club on June 29. The Ryder Cup legend will head a field of top professionals and enthusiastic amateurs at the annual event, which raises money for those suffering from Type 1 diabetes. To book a team, which costs £1,500 for three players, who will be matched up with a professional from the PGA (South) region, call 01224 248677 or email ckennedy@jdrf.org.uk.

LAW BOUND FOR FIRST US MAJOR English women’s amateur champion Bronte Law is one of six top amateurs who have been invited to play in the first major of the season. The 20 year old from Cheshire, who finished 33rd on her debut in last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, will tee it up alongside world number one Leona Maguire from Ireland at the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club, California, from March 28-April 3. Law, who has represented England since she was 14 and played in two Curtis Cup teams, is currently studying at UCLA in California.

BOWER ON FIRE IN SOUTH AFRICA

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GA Professional Jude Read has joined Ashford-based Kent Golf Academy to assist in expanding the services already offered by Director of Golf Howard Bonaccorsi. Barely two years since the academy opened, the fullyequipped teaching studio has become very popular, and Bonaccorsi needed some additional experience to cope with the demand. Read was very pleased to be on board, as he explained: “I’ve been teaching using outdoors facilities for many years, but weather and winter always caused problems leading to cancellations. Being warm and weatherproof, the indoor studio is the perfect solution to the unpredictable British weather.” He added: “The academy has two teaching bays fitted out with all the latest launch monitor equipment, such as a

■ JUDE READ

GC2+HMT and Skytrak, along with Cswing video analysis and the SAM Putting Lab. "In addition to the excellent indoor facilities, we have an outside all-weather chipping, bunker and putting area, so we have everything needed to improve someone’s game, irrespective of the weather. “The main advantage we have is that we’re able to be very flexible about the times people want to book lessons. This really

suits golfers who are working throughout the day, and want to pop in either before or after work for a lesson, or to discuss custom fitting.” Based at the same location, Kent Golf Academy is run in conjunction with the corporate golf day provider Unique Golf Events, and The Kent Golf Tour, a 10 event amateur golf tournament for players of all abilities run by events director Gemma Woodcock. Read and Bonaccorsi are also offering the academy’s coaching and practice facilities for other PGA Professionals to use. “With the academy open and unaffected by the weather,” said Read, “we are able to offer our colleagues the chance to use our exclusive facilities at available times throughout the whole year.” For more details visit www. kentgolfacademy.com.

oor Park Golf Club in Hertfordshire is offering free group lessons for all golfers over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend of March 25-28. The club’s First Degree Golf Academy will be offering free lessons for adults thinking about taking up the game for the first time, and also for children aged between 4 and 10. There will also be a limited number of free individual lessons for more experienced players looking to brush up on their current game. All equipment will be provided, along with free refreshments, and supervised activities for children during the adult group session. Rob Darwin, PGA Professional at First Degree, said: “Golf is a fantastic sport for all ages, and we are looking forward to welcoming new and existing players over the weekend. The relaxed atmosphere over the Open Weekend is a perfect way to enjoy the game with family and friends.” Group classes will take place between 11am-12.15pm and again from 3pm-4.15 pm. Individual lessons will take place throughout the day. Places must be booked in advance. For further information and to book call 01923 774113, email info@ firstdegreegolfacademy.co.uk, or visit www.firstdegreegolfacademy.co.uk.

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England’s Jamie Bower scored his second win in South Africa, with a hot putter giving him a three-stroke victory in the Southern Cape Open at Mossel Bay. The 22 year old beat par in each of the four rounds, finishing on 12 under par to take the trophy. Last month saw Bower win the North Gauteng Open at Irene Golf Club, while he also finished third in the African Amateur at Leopard Creek.

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GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

NEWS | MARCH 2016

[15]

EDDIE BANKS ON PILATES TO KEEP HIS PEPPER UP

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uropean Tour star Eddie Pepperell has taken up pilates as part of a new health drive he hopes will get him through a European Tour season injuryfree for the first time. The 25-year-old Abingdon pro spent a two-month winter break making changes to his lifestyle in response to a back injury, which hampered the final weeks of the 2015 season. “With the injury I played four fewer events,” he said. “The season was better than the one before, but the injury cost me at the end. My body just didn’t feel right – I felt like I had no stamina and strength in my body. “I have taken my health and fitness seriously before, but now I want to do so even more. My training has changed; I’ve started doing Pilates to build the core fitness. There’s also nutrition, and I have seen somebody on the health front. I wanted to improve my lifestyle to make sure I feel really good in my body for the whole year. I have never done that before.” After playing all three events on the Desert Swing – Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai – and then a further event in Malaysia, Pepperell is taking another short break before resuming his schedule. Having finishes 49th in the 2015 Race to Dubai rankings, Pepperell believes that better driving will

HOUSES TO PAY FOR WHITSTABLE’S NEW CLUBHOUSE

R&A AND LGU AGREE MERGER

The R&A and the Ladies’ Golf Union are to proceed with a merger that will see the organisation of the men’s and women’s amateur golf brought under one roof for the first time in the history of the game. Staff from both organisations will be integrated to implement the new governance structure. The LGU’s championships and international matches will run as normal this year, with the existing LGU team managing those events. The business operations of the LGU will be brought into the R&A from January 1, 2017.

STOKES STRIKES A BLOW FOR WOMEN AT FULWELL ■ EDDIE PEPPERELL IS FOCUSING ON KEEPING FIT FOR THE NEW SEASON be the key to improving his results this season, as well as staying healthy. “I think I’m on the cusp of moving up a level,“ he said. “The rest of my game is good enough; the driving needs to be better. That’s my big challenge for the season. If I can find consistency off the tee I will have a load of top-ten finishes.” Pepperell has already had one top-ten finish this season, at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South

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lans to build three new houses at Whitstable and Seasalter Golf Club in Kent have been given the green light by local planners. The money raised from the sale of the new homes will be used to build a brand new clubhouse at the 105-year-old club. Malcolm Kent, speaking on behalf of the golf club, told the city council’s planning committee that new facilities were needed to attract a new generation of members. He said: “The new clubhouse will be slightly bigger than the existing one and the facilities will be much better. We don’t have the funds to build this clubhouse, and the land could not be used as part of the golf course because of its

Africa last November. The result was made surprising by the fact his girlfriend, Jen Rhodes, carried the bag all week, deputising for regular caddy Jamie Herbert. Pepperell said: “Jamie has four kids, so I told him to have some time off to spend with them and Jen would caddy for me. There were some funny moments, but it was a nice experience to be out there. She eventually got the hang of raking the bunkers – I went in quite a lot of them.”

proximity to residential houses. It is surplus to the club’s requirements and has not been used for any significant purpose for many years. This development is considered vital if the club and course is to survive in what is currently a difficult period for golf clubs.” The plans were given the go ahead by a margin of 7-4 in the planning committee vote. Councillor Rosemary Doyle said the club’s future outweighed the requirement for open spaces in the town. “It may be protected open space, but if the golf club closed it may not be open space at all,” she said. “It may then go the same way as Herne Bay Golf Club, which has now been completely overtaken by housing.”

Fulwell Golf Club in Middlesex has appointed a female club captain for the first time in its 111-year history. Carol Stokes, who joined the club 17 years ago, has pledged to spend her year in office raising money for the Otakar Kraus Music Trust in Twickenham, as well as breaking down a few gender barriers. “I’m very proud to be the first lady to captain the club,” she said. “I never thought it would happen, but we have finally got equality at our club. I would like to get a lot more people playing in the mixed events and get more people playing here in general. Women don’t tend to play all that much with the men here, and I want to get more women involved.”

GOODWOOD TO HOST ACADEMY WEEKEND

Golf At Goodwood in West Sussex is offering free taster sessions and a host of family-friendly activities at an Academy Open Weekend on April 2-3. Running from 10am-5pm on both days, the event will include Tri-Golf, tutored coaching sessions and family competitions with a range of prizes. There will also be chance to meet many of Goodwood’s ambassador players, while resident conditioning coach Steve Gent will be on hand to offer health and fitness guidance. To book a free 30-minute lesson, visit www.goodwood.com.

MONDAY M ADNESS from £87.50 per person

Includes coffee and bacon roll, one round on the High Course and a three course meal. Phone 01923 721653 to book. Offer available only on Mondays (excluding bank holidays) and subject to availability. Minimum groups of 12. Moor Park Golf Club, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire WD3 1QN enquiries@moorparkgc.co.uk www.moorparkgc.co.uk


[16] MARCH 2016 | NEWS

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

PRINCE’S TO HOST OPEN FINAL QUALIFYING P rince’s Golf Club in Kent is one of four new UK venues to be selected to host final qualifying events for the Open Championship from 2018. The historic links at Sandwich has been chosen along with Hollinwell in Nottinghamshire, the Renaissance Club in East Lothian, and St Annes Old Links in Lancashire to stage these important tournaments from 2018 until 2021. The new venues cover the length and breadth of Britain and are designed to make the qualifying events more accessible for a wider number of players. The new courses will replace the current venues – Woburn, Royal Cinque Ports, Gailes Links and Hillside – where this year there will be 12 places in total available from a starting field of 288 players. Although it has become harder to qualifier for The Open through final qualifying in recent years,

■ IAN WOOSNAM PLAYING IN FINAL QUALIFYING AT PRINCE'S IN 2003

due to a lowering of the number of qualifiers to just three from each venue, it has still proved a worthy test, with last year seeing Irish amateur Paul Dunne leading the field at St Andrews after the third round, while Walker Cup player American Jordan Niebrugge also came through qualifying and went on to finish tied sixth and win the Silver Medal as the leading amateur. Gene Sarazen famously won the Claret Jug at Prince’s when it hosted The Open in 1932. The course has also been joint host of the Amateur Championship on two occasions, and will do so again in 2017. It hosted the Curtis Cup in 1956 and the 2006 Ladies' British Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship, and this year it will host the St Andrews Trophy and the Jacques Leglise Trophy – two of the most important boys’ international amateur team events.

■ LEFT: WINING PRO-AM TEAM JAMES DAVIES, COLIN AMYES, PAUL DAVIES AND DAVE THOMAS

■ BELOW: SCOTTSDALE WINNERS JAMES HEATH AND JAMES ABLETT WITH TOURNAMENT ORGANISER ALISON HOOPER

JONES TAKES OVER GOLF FOUNDATION PRESIDENCY

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ALL SQUARE AS PRO-AM CLIMAX MIRRORS PHOENIX OPEN

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he 16th staging of the popular Scottsdale Classic Pro-Am served up an exciting finish to match the conclusion of the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open a few days earlier, with James Heath and James Ablett doing a fair impression of Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler’s titanic tussle over the closing holes at TPC Scottsdale. After four rounds of top quality desert golf at FireRock, We-Ko-Pa, SunRidge Canyon and Kierland, former European Tour player Heath caught current South Region No.1 Ablett with a final round 67 – assisted by a holein-one. But unlike the PGA Tour, the pair had to share the title, as there is no provision for a play-off on the Pro-Am Tour. Amazingly, Heath’s ace at Scottsdale was one of three achieved during the week, with amateurs Denis Bowden and Simon Hanley bagging theirs at Firerock Country Club and SunRidge Canyon respectively. Once again, the action-packed Pro-Am offered competitors the chance to attend the Saturday’s play at the Phoenix Open, which this year attracted a record one-day attendance for a golf event of 201,000. A staggering 618,000 fans passed through the gates during the week, while several Pro-

Am competitors were lucky enough watch from SkyBox hospitality units at the iconic par-three 16th hole. TPC Scottsdale was somewhat quieter three days later, when the majority of the competitors played a challenge day over the immaculate course, which was presented in tournament condition, with the grandstands still in place. Former European Tour player Ollie Farr tied for victory with Rob Humphrey on 34 points, while all the players raved about the experience, particularly entering ‘The Coliseum’ via the tunnel at the 16th. The Pro-Am also included a challenge day at Grayhawk Golf Club’s Talon Course, which was won by Farr and Jamie Harris, who tied with 42 points. Some competitors also played in The Scottsdale Cup, a Ryder Cup-style match played against the members of Desert Highlands – one of Arizona’s most prestigious private clubs. However, once again the American team proved too strong, as they cruised to a 4-2 victory. In the Pro-Am Team event, the lead changed hands throughout the week, but a superb final round of 16 under par secured a popular victory for Jamie Davies and his team from Mile End Golf Club in Shropshire.

Society Society days days in in style... style...by bythe thesea! sea! To celebrate the opening of our new £1.7m clubhouse we To celebrate the opening of our new £1.7m clubhouse we are offering some great Society and Golf Day packages. are offering some great Society and Golf Day packages. PAR PAR ■ Full English Breakfast + Coffee

■ 18■holes Full English Breakfast + Coffee ■ 18 £24.00 ppholes (Midweek) £24.00 pp (Midweek) £27.00 pp (Weekend & Bank Hols) £27.00 pp (Weekend & Bank Hols)

EAGLE EAGLE ■ Full English Breakfast + Coffee

Full English Breakfast + Coffee ■ 18■Holes ■ 18 Holes ■ Selection from Society lunch menu ■ Selection from Society lunch menu £31.00 pp (Midweek) £31.00 pp (Midweek) £34.00 pp (Weekend & Bank Hols) £34.00 pp (Weekend & Bank Hols) All society packages can be tailored to meet your own specifipackages cations. Minimum people. All society can be 12 tailored to meet Please callown the specifications. Pro Shop on 01323 890139. your Minimum 12 people. Please call the Pro Shop on 01323 890139.

BIRDIE ■ Coffee BIRDIE & Bacon Roll

■ 18■Holes Coffee & Bacon Roll ■ 18 Holes ■ Selection from Society lunch menu ■ Selection from Society lunch menu £28.00 pp (Midweek) £28.00 pp (Midweek) £31.00 pp (Weekend & Bank Hols) £31.00 pp (Weekend & Bank Hols)

ALBATROSS ALBATROSS ■ Coffee & Bacon Roll

■ Coffee ■ 9/18 holes & Bacon Roll ■ 9/18 holes ■ Selection from Society lunch menu Selection from Society lunch menu ■ 18■holes ■ 18 holes ■ Selection from Society dinner menu ■ Selection from Society dinner menu £44.50. pp (Midweek) £44.50. pp (Midweek) £47.50 pp (Weekend & Bank Hols) £47.50 pp (Weekend & Bank Hols)

he Golf Foundation has appointed PGA chief executive Sandy Jones as its next president. The 70-year-old Scotsman takes on the new role on April 1, and succeeds Colin Montgomerie as president of the charity which aims to raise awareness of golf among young people. Since 2011, the Golf Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme has given a first introduction to golf to more than 2.5 million young people across the UK. Higher numbers of club junior members are being created each year through this strategy, which at all times aims to offer children the ‘Skills for Life’ benefits associated with the game. It is hoped that Jones’s influence will help the charity maintain this positive momentum at club and community level to reach ambitious targets from now until 2018. Jones, who cut his teeth as a golf administrator as secretary of the Scottish PGA before moving to the national at The Belfry, said: “The Golf Foundation is all about helping the next generation of young players, so if I can help the team through my experience in the game I’ll be delighted. Among the Golf Foundation’s aims are to encourage 50,000 youngsters through the gates of a golf club in 2018, ultimately creating 10,000 new regular players and 5,000 affiliated junior members. Last month saw the PGA deliver a big boost to the Golf Foundation’s coffers with a £50,000 donation.

BOBOO KONKON WO AT A T 12501 FWOFRO2R012 20 6016 P5RIPCRI EC S!ES!

WINT WARMEERR

The View at Seaford Head Golf Course Breakfast offers more than just or occasions. lunch golfing

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Available for weddings, 18and holes parties business meetings. It really £20.00 pp is the place to hold any (Midweek) function. With over 100 £24.00 pp possible(Weekend covers for & large groups Bank and Hols) a smaller separate room for a more Minimum 4 personal gathering. people. Must

be booked CALL 01323 890139 in advance.

FOR MORE DETAILS. Available from 1 Nov- 29 Feb 2016

Seaford Head Golf Course Southdown Road, Seaford, BN25 4JS Seaford Head Golf Club Southdown Tel:Road, 01323Seaford, 890139 BN25 4JS www.seaofrdheadgolfcourse.co.uk Tel: 01323 890139 www.seafordheadgolfclub.co.uk


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

DALE HILL TO HOST BRITISH SPEEDGOLF OPEN

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he members at Dale Hill Golf Club in East Sussex like to adhere to the etiquette on pace of play, but even the quickest of its players does not come close to managing 18 holes in under 40 minutes – even with the help of a buggy. But that’s the kind of time that competitors in this year’s British Open Speed Golf Championships will have to set if they are to carry off this year’s title, which takes place at the Ticehurst-based club on August 14. The current British Speedgolf champion is Rob Hogan, who shot a five-over-par 77 in just 34 minutes when winning the title at Boars Head Golf Centre in Crowborough in 2014. Adding the shots taken to the time it took him to complete the course gave Hogan, who is also the current world champion, a combined Speedgolf score of 111.04. Last year saw the introduction of a dedicated women’s category, and the 2016 event will also offer a team competition for the first time, based on an alternate shot format.

NEWS | MARCH 2016

EAST SUSSEX TO HOST TILLMAN TROPHY

SONNING SUBMITS HOUSING PLANS

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his year’s renewal of the Tillman Trophy, widely recognised as one of the premier amateur events in the country, is returning to East Sussex National from July 12-14. The prestigious tournament, which was first held in 1980, has previously been staged at Wentworth, Woodhall Spa, Princes, Moor Park and Royal St Georges. Played over 72 holes, the final round takes place on East Sussex’s renowned East course, where two previous European Opens have been held, and which will be sure to offer a good test to aspiring amateurs. Any male amateur with a handicap of scratch

[17]

or better interested in taking part should apply before June 10. Entry forms can be downloaded at wwwsurreygolf.org. The Uckfield-based club is also hosting some of the country’s best up-and-coming new professionals later in the season, with the staging of a EuroPro Tour event from August 1719. The 54-hole tournament carries a prize fund of £46,735, with £10,000 going to the winner.

onning Golf Club in Reading has submitted plans to build 17 barn-style houses on its grounds in to help boost profits and attract more golf following a decline in membership. The plans have been submitted to Wokingham Borough Council to build the estate in a redundant section of the club. A spokesman for the developer said: “Most golf clubs have sought to diversify their income by becoming venues for community and family functions, and Sonning is no exception. "The proposal is for a courtyard of houses centred around a single large manse as a centre point, which will provide a shell for four apartments, with two short terraces of houses to the front of the site, providing a total of four flats and 13 houses.”

Come and enjoy a fantastic day of golf at one of our four courses . . .

● CHICHESTER GOLF CLUB

■ SPEEDGOLF CHAMPION ROB HOGAN

Dale Hill’s general manager Carl Rundgren is delighted that the club, which boasts two 18-hole courses, will be hosting the blue riband event of the speeded up version of the game. “Speedgolf is an exciting version of our great game, and one which gets the heart racing and takes the sport to new limits and away from its traditionally staid image,” he said. And with pace of play being such a hot topic in golf, Pam Painter, co-founder of British Speedgolf, believes many regular golfers could learn a lot from this faster-paced alternative. “The challenge in Speedgolf is balancing your running pace with your capacity to accurately play your shots to get the lowest combined score possible. Speedgolf addresses ‘pace of play’ head on, with its more athletic format; it attracts both golfers and runners, as well as those who seek a fresh fitness challenge. Whilst it is more physically demanding than the traditional game, providing a good work out, it is also a lot of fun.” Competitor registration for the British Open Speed Golf Championships is now open. To register, or to find out where other Speedgolf events are taking place throughout the UK this summer, email pam@britishspeedgolf.co.uk or visit www. britishspeedgolf.co.uk.

● HILL BARN GOLF CLUB

CONTACT: JO AYLING IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT ANY OF OUR THREE VENUES TEL: 01243 536666 EMAIL: JO.AYLING@CHICHESTERGOLF.COM TO ENTER PLEASE GO TO: MAPLELEAFGOLF.CO.UK/GOLF-SOCIETY-DAY/

● HORTON PARK GOLF CLUB

REGISTER BEFORE 15TH APRIL 2016 TO BE IN WITH A CHANCE OF WINNING


[18] MARCH 2016 | COURSE REVIEW

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

COURSE REVIEW

CLUBHOUSE On-going investment in both its golf course and clubhouse, and an enlightened attitude to inclusivity, is ensuring that WINDLESHAM GOLF is staying several steps ahead of the competition

LEADER

■ THE OPENING HOLE REQUIRES A TESTING APPROACH OVER WATER


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

COURSE REVIEW | MARCH 2016

out’ and ‘private’ signs. The owner’s commitment to continued investment has paid dividends in these competitive times, with the comfortable clubhouse and its stylish restaurant creating a home from home where members are justifiably proud to bring guests, not just for a game of golf, but for lunch, dinner, and a wide variety of social events. Capable of hosting up to 120 diners, the restaurant has proved a huge hit with members, offering the kind of dining experience that few clubhouse kitchens could ever hope to replicate. First impressions are vital in any hospitality experience, and Windlesham’s impressive glass atrium entrance serves to offer a welcoming glimpse of what lies inside, before opening out into the spacious main bar and lounge area, where huge sliding windows make the transition from course to clubhouse almost seamless. The golf shop, which has always

on accuracy and good course management, as well as improving traffic management around the greens. This is seen to good effect on the par-five 18th hole, where new back and forward tees, and the addition of five new bunkers, has created the kind of thrilling finale that a course of this quality deserves. The course is always presented in excellent condition, with hand-cut greens, tees and approaches, and neatly striped fairways showing an extremely well cared-for layout, where attention to detail is paramount. While a further investment programme in drainage has taken place over the most recent and challenging winter, future plans in the pipeline for the course include the construction of a buggy path around the entire course, so that golfers can use buggies and power trolleys all year around – a luxury that few courses are able to offer these days. Southern Golf's approach when designing Windlesham was to develop

■ THE CLUBHOUSE FEATURES STYLISH AND MODERN INTERIORS

E

ver since it opened, Windlesham Golf has always sought to go the extra mile to make its members feel that they are part of a family. Of course, it’s rather an extended family, where not everyone is a brother, sister, long-lost uncle or mad aunt, but it’s a family nonetheless. That same attitude is also extended to visitors and guests, which ensures that playing the course or visiting the clubhouse is something of ‘an experience’, rather than just a run-ofthe-mill outing. It is a philosophy that has served the privately-owned, Surrey-based club well over the last two decades, and explains why it continues to retain a large and loyal membership, as well as attracting a steady flow of new members, visiting golfers, golf days and corporate events, while other clubs have experienced a significant drop off. Windlesham’s success story is based on a commitment to continuous improvement, with a refusal to rest on any laurels, however hard they’ve been earned. The Surrey venue has been a hive of activity in recent years, with numerous improvements to the 6,650-yard championship course, while the spacious and contemporary clubhouse is now almost unrecognisable from the one that welcomed the very first members and guests. Windlesham has survived and positively thrived over recent years, and now takes pride in being one of the most successful – and accessible – golf clubs in an area of Surrey that is more generally known for its ‘keep

■ THE SPACIOUS AND WELL-STOCKED PRO SHOP

been one of Windlesham’s selling points, occupies a generous space at the front of the building overlooking the course, with plenty of space for all the latest equipment and clothing ranges, as well as an impressive custom studio where equipment can be tweaked to custom-fit personal specifications. Other areas enjoying an upgrade include the club’s golf academy, where PGA Head Professional Lee Mucklow, Advanced PGA Fellow Jeremy Bennett, and senior PGA instructors Richard Bishton and Ben Ross offer a wide range of tuition packages, from weekend roll-ups to one-on-one sessions using state-of-the-art swing analysis technology. Used by many Surrey County teams and a number of tour pros, the practice facilities benefit from all-weather Huxley winter tees, ensuring perfect practice conditions throughout the year. Also the subject of considerable investment has been the Southern Golf parkland design, which continues to thrive under the management of Alastair Higgs. He and his team have skillfully implemented many of the improvements outlined in a rolling 10-year course management plan undertaken by architects Hawtree Ltd. This has included a total bunker renovation programme, which has resulted in these hazards being more visible from the tees and from the fairway; the construction of new tees, the introduction of run-offs around several greens, and the re-shaping of a number of fairways – all of which has served to place more of an emphasis

a course that ‘excites and tests all standards of golfer’, with gentle slopes and streams forming the main difficulties for all players. That very much remains true today, and it’s definitely a challenging course to play, with the two loops of nine testing out all the shot-making skills in the bag, as well as forcing golfers to engage their golfing brains off virtually every tee. Length ¬has never been the course’s main defence – although it is plenty long enough – because it requires skillful shot placement to score well here. The majority of holes include a ditch and/or water to be negotiated at some point, with lay ups off the tee, or daring shots to the greens required to go for birdies. The size of the USGA-specification greens makes them slightly easier to hit, but can also leave massive putts across undulating slopes. All in all, it’s an entertaining course that gets better the more you play it. The club has attracted plenty of interest among the local golfing community, with a significant number of new members joining the club since the clubhouse project was completed – including a significant number of women. While member retention has been impressive, evidence suggests that this club has got its product right both on and off the golf course. The rumblings at a famous nearby club in recent months has also resulted in a surge of interest, with many being pleasantly surprised at the quality of facilities on offer for a fraction of the cost. The core values of the owners are

[19]

clearly defined around courtesy, trust and respect, integrity and enjoyment and the family-owned club have made a clear and firm commitment to the long-term development of the club for the benefit of the membership with the core values underpinning the framework to enable this. Members remain at the heart of the club’s existence, and they enjoy priority use on the course, with mornings exclusively blocked out for members' tee times (up to 11am weekdays and noon at weekends). In addition, the club has an online booking facility, with bookings available up to 14 days in advance for members. The club has always had a wellbalanced blend of genders and age groups, and enjoys a growing family membership category, but like almost all venues it is keen to see more young girls take up the game – and stay with it. To that end, it runs a club-funded scholarship programme based on merit and achievement, and have recently joined forces with England Golf to run a pilot scheme to grow the game through the 'This Girl Golfs' campaign. There are currently over junior 30 girls playing within the club and the junior scholarship programme at Windlesham is widely recognised as being one of the best in the area. European Tour Professionals Paul McGinley and Anthony Wall have presented at the last two scholarship Award evenings and Paul McGinley also made comment live on Sky Sports that ‘Windlesham has an excellent junior programme and it's great to see the investment in time and energies towards growing the game of golf’. Last year saw Windlesham win the coveted GolfMark Club of the Year award, the highest national honour bestowed by England Golf, which recognises the club’s outstanding commitment to recruitment and retention of members, sustainability, coaching as well as ensuring safety of juniors while in the care the club. After receiving the award the club's general manager, Stewart Judd, commented: "This is a fantastic achievement for the entire club and the GolfMark has helped us put procedures in place, helped us grow our membership and helped us develop a sustainable business.” As you’d expect from a club that reflects the spirit of the age, Windlesham maintains a free flow of information with its members, and operates a constantly-updated website, a very active presence a cross social media channels, publishes regular newsletters on golf course developments, and hosts regular meetings and forums to discuss future plans for the club. A tablet and mobile app also offers a more interactive experience for golfers, including fly-by videos of holes, GPS measuring, digital scoring, tee time bookings, and live weather links. These are just some of the reasons why Windlesham remains ahead of the game – and will continue to do so for many years to come. If you’re interested joining Windlesham, or would like a tour of the facilities, call general manager Stewart Judd directly on 01276 452220 or email stewart.judd@ windleshamgolf.com. For more information visit www.windleshamgolf.com.


[20] MARCH 2016 | COLUMN

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

A stop-start beginning to the season, and a serious bout of man flu, have Ross looking to quickly find his form ahead of some big events in Europe

THE PERILS OF WINNING your tour card via qualifying school were brought sharply into focus for me this month. After missing out on all three events on the Desert Swing, my European Tour status qualified me for the Tshwane Open in South Africa and the Perth International in Australia, but not the Malaysian Open – which would have been an ideal pit stop between the two venues. Thankfully I’ve been a regular on the Sunshine Tour over the last few years, so I was able to keep my competitive hand in by playing in a couple of events in South Africa, which was something of a bonus during what can be quite lean times for those of us lower down the pecking order. My first professional event was on the Sunshine Tour back in 2007 at Sun City, and I’ve been going back there regularly ever since – which is handy given how many tour events are held in South Africa now. I won the Zambian Open last year, so have quite a high ranking on the tour, which qualified me for this month’s Investec Cup, the Sunshine Tour’s equivalent of the FedEx Cup’s Tour Championship. Whenever I’m over there for any length of time I often stay at the same guesthouse in Johannesburg, a place called Villa Simone, which feels like a home from home for me now. I know the owners well, and it’s much nicer and more welcoming than staying in a

I KNEW I NEEDED A TOPTHREE FINISH AT WORST TO GET INTO THE INVESTEC CUP, SO TO DO THAT UNDER PRESSURE WAS GREAT FOR MY CONFIDENCE

faceless international hotel. After a quiet January spent practising in Dubai, I played in the Tshwane Open in midFebruary, where unfortunately I missed the cut by four shots, after shooting rounds of 74 and 73. I felt like I played ok, but the course at Pretoria is well above sea level, so the ball was flying a lot further than it normally does, which made it harder to judge distances, especially on approach shots. I doubled the 18th on both rounds with shots that just flew the green, which really cost me.

After a week off practising around Johannesburg, I then played in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt, where I managed to string four decent rounds together and finish third, two shots behind the winner, George Coetzee. It was a strong field, with the likes of George, Brandon Stone and Darren Fichardt in the line up, and I was really pleased with my final round 66, which included eight birdies. I knew I needed a top-three finish at worst to get into the Investec Cup, so to do that under

pressure was great for my confidence. I really love the Montagu course at Fancourt. It’s very linksy, and often windy, and requires a bit more imagination to score well – which kind of suits my game. I’m beginning to find a bit more balance in my swing, and my timing is much improved – all of which comes from just playing. I’m not one to find my swing out on the range, so tournament play is what fires up my game. After missing out on Malaysia, I had a 12-hour flight over to Australia to play in

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GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

the Perth Invitational. It’s a long – and costly – place to go for potentially two rounds, and so it proved. After arriving on Tuesday afternoon, I felt fine, and was OK after my practice rounds on Wednesday, but when I woke up on Thursday for the first round, I could hardly get out of bed. I had a full-on dose of man flu and was in no fit state to play. Having gone all that way I had to give it my best shot, but rounds of 76 and 73 were about as good as the way I felt, and it was no surprise to get the weekend off. It’s tough at the best of times for those of us coping with new courses, different climates, and the change in conditions, to compete at these types of event, but it’s hard to underestimate just how much long-haul travel takes it out on you. It shows how important taking care of your health is, getting enough rest, and taking the right vitamins and supplements. It’s certainly something I’m going to have to consider more carefully going forward, as you need to be feeling your best if you’re going to compete out here. I was actually too ill to fly back on the Saturday, so waited until Sunday before returning to JoBurg and a few days of muchneeded recuperation. I’ve no doubt that the flight was where I caught the bug, but it’s just part and parcel of being on tour. It was frustrating, but you have to just move on. As things stand, I’m unlikely to get into the Indian Open, where I’m currently 11th reserve, so my next European Tour event is looking like the Spanish Open at Valderamma in April. It’s a little bit frustrating to have so few opportunities, but it’s often hard to get a look in at co-sanctioned events. It’s also a Ryder Cup year, so there are a few more prominent players popping up at tournaments than usual, and there seem to be an awful lot of players on medical exemptions this season and guys playing from the career money list, which also eats into the spots available. I’m where I am for a reason, but my game is in good shape, and I’m just looking for the opportunities to show it.

NEWS | MARCH 2016

VAN OUTEN JOINS CAST FOR CELEBRITY CUP

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ctress Denise van Outen will add a splash of glamour to proceedings when she makes her debut in this year’s Celebrity Cup, which is once again being held at the Celtic Manor, from July 9-10. The 41-year-old former Big Breakfast presenter only took up golf a few years ago, but is a selfconfessed addict and hits the fairways as often as her busy television and stage career will allow. Van Outen said: “I absolutely love playing golf and I’m really looking forward to playing in the Celebrity Cup. It sounds a bit nerve-wracking, standing on the first tee representing England

F

MCDONNELL JOINS GOODWOOD COACHING TEAM ormer Tour professional Chris McDonnell has been appointed to the role of academy manager at Golf At Goodwood in West Sussex. McDonnell, who won the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship in 2014, has spent the last two years working at Royal Golf Club in Bahrain, but was enticed back the UK to take over the exciting role at Goodwood, where he will be heading up a team of three PGA Professionals and two PGA assistants. The 33 year old, who started out his career at Hexham Golf Club, has already outlined plans to build on the strong coaching programme already on offer at Goodwood. “There are two excellent golfers courses at Goodwood which cater for beginners to experts, but my focus is off the courses, and on the academy and teaching facilities,” he said. “For example, on the 30-bay all-weather range has some covered teaching bays, and these will be turned into VIP teaching studios. We have invested in the latest radar technology in Trackman, and this will add to the fantastic customer experience we offer at the academy.” He added: “Goodwood is the ideal place for beginners to learn the game, with a six-hole academy course that enables development onto the full 18-hole course. Our Get into Golf program is a very affordable way of taking up the game without a huge commitmen,t and allows a person to progress at their own pace.” As well has having responsibility for the career development of the three PGA Professionals at the Sussex facility, including Christian Fogden and Craig Gardner, McDonnell is also keen to keep is own game in competitive shape. “Having experienced the life of a tour professional, I’m very keen to continue developing my own game and compete in the PGA Order of Merit events and major pro-ams in the south region,” he said. "The south region is as strong as the north, so I know it will be tough to break through down here, but I’m aiming to make the PGA Cup team in 2017, and to get into the PGA Play-Offs again.”

Kingswood Golf & Country Club Summer Golf Breaks 2016 1 NIGHT BED & BREAKFAST 2 ROUNDS OF GOLF

From

£125.00 per person* (1st April to 31st October 2016)

*Pricing is based on 2 people sharing a twin or double room. Single person supplements will be added to the booking at a later date if applicable

FOXHILLS FLIES THE FLAG AT INDUSTRY ‘OSCARS'

with so many people watching, but my captain, Mike Tindall, has reassured me that it’s all good fun. Hopefully I won’t let the team down.” As well as skipper and former Rugby World Cup winner Tindall, van Outen will be joined in the England team by TV and radio personality Zoe Hardman, and Good Morning Britain anchorman Ben Shephard. Comic Rob Brydon returns to captain Wales, as the hosts seek to defend the trophy they won in such thrilling fashion last summer. More star names will be announced shortly to compete in teams of six representing England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the tournament, which this year is being sponsored by Bulmers.

F

From

oxhills Club & Resort in Surrey has been rewarded for its consistently high service levels at the annual 59club awards, regarded by many as the ‘Oscars' of the golf service industry. The awards are designed to reward the top golf venues across all business elements - sales, service, operations, retail, food and beverage, and management - while 59club's industry benchmark, the Gold and Silver Flags, recognise the finest membership clubs and commercial venues. Foxhills received a coveted ‘Silver Flag' for a consistent series of outstanding assessments in 59club's regular mystery shopper calls and visits. PGA Professional Simon Wordsworth, chief executive at 59club, said: "Congratulations to the team at Foxhills who do a fabulous job, day in, day out, as shown by their performance in our mystery shopper tests. This ‘flag' is richly deserved and illustrates a long-term commitment to standards of excellence." In total, 18 awards were presented at a ceremony held at the Forest of Arden, while 20 golf venues saw their commitment to continued quality recognised with the award of a prestigious ‘flag'.

SUMMER SPECIAL

2 NIGHTS BED & BREAKFAST 3 ROUNDS OF GOLF

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Call 01737 832188 or email sales@kingswood-golf.co.uk Kingswood G&CC, Sandy Lane, Kingswood, Surrey, KT20 6NE Full T&C’s available on enquiry

[21]


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

[22]

Back Yourself With

Golflutter If the idea of playing in a nationwide competition and having the chance to win money based on your own ability sounds appealing, then Golflutter is for you

A quick guide to

Golflutter 1. REGISTER

3. PLACE YOUR BETS

Create your account, by entering your name, date of birth, contact details, home club and handicap (if you have one). Golfers without official handicaps will be issued a Golflutter handicap, which will be adjusted after 3 rounds, with a maximum handicap of 20.

There are six different bets on offer, all of which are placed on ‘Hidden Holes’ which are chosen at random by the app, and are therefore not known to the player. Full handicaps apply. The stake is always £5.

2. DEPOSIT FUNDS

For Example

Each player gets a ‘cash wallet’ in which funds are used for putting on bets and receiving winnings. These funds can be transferred back to your VISA credit/debit card.

BET 4 Total net score of one under par or better for 4 holes. BET 6 Total net score of one under par or better for 6 holes. BET 9 Total net score of one under par or better for 9 holes. BET BIRDIE Score a nett birdie or better for ONE of 4 holes. BET EAGLE Score a nett eagle or better for ONE of 6 holes. BET PAIRS Score a net birdie or better on any pair of four pairs of holes.

If you place your £5 on Bet 4, and shoot a one under par total or better, using your full handicap, on the four holes chosen at random, you are a winner.

4. PICK UP YOUR WINNINGS Winnings will be automatically distributed to your online ‘cash wallet’ within 24 hours of completion of the day’s play after scores are verified.

For more details of how to play,

visit www.golflutter.com or download the free golflutter app onto your smartphone, search for golflutter in your app store Available on

App Store Available on

Android

RULES & REGULATIONS Each bets cost £5. All bets must be placed before the game starts. The game begins by pressing ‘start’ on the app. Gross scores for each hole must be entered via the app, during or immediately after your round, on the same day of the game. All the Rules of Golf must be strictly adhered to. No cheating or colluding will be tolerated. Bets can be placed on any 18-hole golf course in the UK. Golflutter users must be 18 or older and live in the UK.


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

NEWS | FEBRUARY 2016

[23]

HARRINGTON WINS IN MOROCCO MATCHPLAY TITLE – BUT IT’S NOT PADRAIG!

P

adraig Harrington's elder brother was one of the winners at the grand final of the 2015 Morocco Matchplay. Four-handicapper Columb Harrington, and his partner Kaye Mater (pictured right), both members at Buckingham Golf Club, emerged victorious in the mixed pairs final. They were joined on the winners' rostrum by pairs' winners John Hennessy and Peter Smart from Pyrford Golf Club in Surrey. Also celebrating was singles winner Peter Jones, 66, a 13-handicapper from Downshire Golf Complex in Wokingham, and senior pairs' winners Phil Bermingham and Alan Russell, who both play at Fulwell Golf Club in Middlesex. The grand final of all four competitions – the qualifying rounds for which began early last summer – was played at the five-star Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa hotel, in an event powered by scoring software system HowDidIDo, and sponsored by the Moroccan National Tourist Office. In addition to individual trophies, each winner received a free year's membership at Mogador, a generous offer of which they can avail themselves by utilising easyJet's twice weekly flights to Essaouira. All 32 finalists were treated to complimentary return flights to Morocco, and five nights' accommodation at the Mogador Golf & Spa hotel. Harrington, who is six years older than his triple-major

CHIPSTEAD LAUNCHES MASTERS’ GREEN FEE OFFER

C

hipstead Golf Club in Surrey is celebrating the beginning of a new golfing season by offering a heavily discounted green fee on the Sunday of the US Masters and the following Sunday.

winning brother, summed up the feelings of the competitors when he said: "Great people, great fun, and the whole thing was very well organised. It's been a fabulous experience and we've had a great time."

Visitors to the Croydon-based club on Sunday, April 10 and Sunday, April 17 will have the opportunity to play the 18-hole course for just £10, representing a significant saving off the normal weekend rate of £37.50. Visitors will also have the opportunity to experience a full tour of the club and discover the benefits of membership. Chipstead’s director of golf, Gary Torbett, said: “All golfers get excited when the Masters comes around, so it seems to be the perfect time for us to hold our annual open weekends. The course at Chipstead has seen many changes over the winter months, under the guidance of our new course manager Sam Bethell, and I’m confident that with some decent weather the course will be in great condition for all those who attend.” He added: “Our open events have been hugely successful in our quest to introduce new members to the club. Our membership costs are extremely competitive and there will be some great membership and green fee offers available on both days.” Start times must be pre-booked with the professional shop. To make a booking, call 01737 554939, or for more details visit www.chipsteadgolf.co.uk.

3 MONTHS’ ALL INCLUSIVE GOLF MEMBERSHIP FOR JUST £239 GOLF MEMBERSHIP INCLUDES:

• UNLIMITED GOLF ON THE 18 AND 9 HOLE COURSES 7 DAYS A WEEK • UNLIMITED USE OF THE PITCH AND PUTT COURSE • DISCOUNTED DRIVING RANGE • DISCOUNTED ADMISSIONS AT OUR LEISURE CENTRES • FREE PARKING AT LULLINGSTONE PARK GOLF COURSE • ONLINE TEE TIME BOOKINGS

GOLF JUICE TV SET TO RETURN TO SKY THIS SUMMER

T&Cs apply: offer valid 01/04/16 – 30/09/16, not in conjunction with any other offer, dress code applies on the 18 hole course, booking is advised on the 18 hole course to avoid disappointment.

L

ondon-based media company Grey Pocket has expanded its portfolio following the purchase of Juice Media, which produces Golf Juice TV. With 18 scheduled broadcasts starting from July on Sky Sports, Golf Juice TV is a weekly magazine show filmed in front of a live audience. Presented by Jimmy Bullard, Zoe Hardman and DJ Spoony, it will feature all the latest news and views from the world of golf, alongside guests from sport, music and entertainment. Juice Media’s Rab Makki and Chris Sweetnam have both joined Grey Pocket, and with over 20 years’ of experience, including 18 years at Channel 4, bring a wealth of industry expertise to their respective roles as head of media production and marketing manager. Speaking about his new role, Makki said: ‘I am delighted to be working with Grey Pocket and expanding Grey Pocket Media. I envisage this being one of the most challenging and fulfilling roles I’ve taken on professionally, and I’m certainly looking forward to getting involved. We’re also excited to be working with Sky Sports. For many years golf has been crying out for something that not only engages the avid golfer, but appeals to non-golf fans across the spectrum. No matter what your level of interest or even if you have none at all, Golf Juice will look to entertain, inspire, inform and engage.”

A GREAT SUMMER OF GOLF

01959 533793 | lpgc@sencio.org.uk Parkgate Road, Chelsfield, Kent, BR6 7PX

www.lullingstonegolfcourse.co.uk LEISURE CENTRES INCLUDE EDENBRIDGE LEISURE CENTRE, SEVENOAKS LEISURE CENTRE AND WHITE OAK (SWANLEY) LEISURE CENTRE.

■ ZOE HARDMAN WILL BE ONE OF GOLF JUICE TV'S PRESENTERS


[24] MARCH 2016 | NEWS

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

BIRCHWOOD TEES UP

FOR £5M TRANSFORMATION ■ BGL OPERATIONS DIRECTOR GUY RIGGOTT

B

irchwood Park Golf Centre in Kent is set to benefit from a wide range of new leisure facilities, following the unveiling of a £5 million investment project by owners Burhill Golf & Leisure. The Wilmington-based venue is to be transformed over the next 12 months, with the addition of a new indoor swimming pool, spa and fitness centre turning the club into a venue that will appeal to wider range of leisure users of all ages. Also in the pipeline are three aerobics studios, new changing facilities, a larger on-site shop, a new entrance lobby and reception, and an extended café bar and grill. To reflect the expanded range of facilities, the centre will be rebranded as Birchwood Park

Golf and Country Club once the renovations are complete. Boasting an 18-hole course and a 9-hole academy course, Birchwood Park is one of 10 golf venues and 22 courses operated by Surreybased Burhill Golf and Leisure, which is making the investment. Operations director at Burhill Golf and Leisure, Guy Riggott, thinks the new-look club will be popular with both existing members and new faces alike. “We hope that by transforming Birchwood Park, we can create a golf and country club that provides fantastic facilities for members and guests to enjoy, and that the changes will generate a lot of interest in the surrounding area,” he said. Riggott, who joined BGL in 2014 following

CHIPSTEAD GOLF CLUB

■ ARTIST'S IMPRESSION OF THE NEW-LOOK CLUB

spells at Crown Golf, Esporta Group and De Vere, is convinced that facilities that make golf clubs more inclusive and family friendly are the key to their continued success. He said: “The vision at BGL Golf is to offer great destinations for every golf and leisure occasion. Changing the name to ‘country club’ is a statement of intent about the type of place we want Birchwood to be. While golf will always be the main focus of what is offered here, we want to be a broader church and give more people more reasons to enjoy the new club – whether that be golfers, gym users or those eating in our restaurants and bars.” Riggott added: “Our aim is to create a premium facility to be embraced by all. Emphasis is now on golf, fitness and wellbeing, so we wanted to use the investment to further promote healthy living to the local community.” Work began on the project last month, with the fitness suite and studios expected to be complete by August, and the full redevelopment open for use in early 2017.

OPEN TO ALL

Invite you to attend their

OPEN DAYS

Due to take place on Sunday 10th & Sunday 17th April 2016

GREEN FEE PRICE FOR BOTH DAYS £10 Reserve your place now by calling 01737 554939

Pay and Play Great Golf

Weekday from £11pp | Weekend from £15pp

UNBEATABLE MEMBERSHIP OFFERS AND GREEN FEE PACKAGES WILL BE AVAILABLE ON BOTH DAYS Call Gary or Nic to book your spot now on

01737 554939

or email: directorofgolf@chipsteadgolf.co.uk

Society Packages - From £18pp Flexi Membership - Just £340 Season Tickets - From £620 Prices as of 1st April 2016

Challenging 18 Hole Course Online Bookings Lessons with PGA Professionals Golf Society Days Membership and Season Tickets Function Room Hire Licensed Bar and Restaurant 9 Hole Academy & Driving Range one mile away

www.thesouthbuckinghamshire.co.uk 01753 643332 GolfEnquiries@southbucks.gov.uk The South Buckinghamshire, Park Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, SL2 4PJ The South Buckinghamshire Golf Academy, Stoke Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, SL2 4LN


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

NEWS | MARCH 2016 [25]

HORAN TAKES NEW DIRECTION WITH GOLF AGENCY

‘GIRLS' GOLF ROCKS’ CAMPAIGN EXTENDS COUNTY REACH

A

campaign to get more girls into golf has been launched across nine counties in the UK. The ‘Girls Golf Rocks’ initiative, which is led by England Golf, is focused on attracting beginner girls to get a taste of the game, get active and play alongside friends. Girl golfers from county squads have been asked to act as ambassadors to share their enjoyment and inspire other girls, aged five to 18. The campaign was successfully trialled in Essex last year and attracted 90 girls to try the game. Of those, 40 went on to take a four-week coaching course; 30 played in the par three competition and six became golf club members. Girls Golf Rocks will continue in Essex, but will also start up in nine other counties, including Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Durham and Cheshire. In each county there will be free taster sessions at local clubs, supported by the squad players. These will be followed by four-week structured coaching programmes provided by PGA professionals at each of the clubs, where the county girl players will mentor the newcomers. All the girls who complete the coaching programme will be fitted with a free 7-iron to help them continue to play. The finale will be a fun par-three competition in each county, when new young golfers can enjoy playing alongside their mentors. Visit www.getintogolf.org/ggr

CORHAMPTON TEES UP 125TH CELEBRATIONS

T

he 125-year anniversary celebrations at Corhampton Golf Club in Hampshire are being seen as an opportunity to attract a new generation to the game. The club, which was founded in 1891, has a host of events lined up from the end of May to the beginning of July to commemorate its historic birthday. According to Peter Andrews, a member of the committee tasked with organising the quasquicentennial celebrations, the Corhampton Junior Open on July 3 is as important as any in the calendar of events planned for the year. “Juniors day is about bringing in local kids who have probably never played the game before and

giving them an introduction,” said Andrews. “We will be putting a bit of fun in to it, teaching them trick shots and that sort of thing. We should all be involved with young people playing the sport and we want to encourage them.” He added: “We are doing a lot for the junior game and we are bringing some of our younger guys and girls into the core of the club. Fortunately, the average age of the club is getting younger.” The club’s investment in youth paid off in 2013 when Neil Raymond, a golfer who rose through the ranks at Corhampton, turned professional. The club also currently boasts one of the country’s leading amateurs, Scott Gregory, who is a member of Hampshire’s first team and England’s A squad.

WEST IS BEST AT THE BERKSHIRE

W

illiam West shot a three-under-par 68 to win his first professional event in the 2015-2016 PGA South Winter Series, supported by Titleist & FootJoy. The fifth tournament in the 2015-2016 series saw largely ideal conditions for winter golf as a large field fought it out around The Berkshire’s Blue course, but it was West who made the most of the opportunities, shooting five birdies and one double bogey to win by two shots from Mark Palmer, Martin Woodbridge and Kevin O’Connell. West, who is an assistant professional at Castiglion del Bosco, an exclusive private members' club in Tuscany, picked up £500 for first prize, as well as a ball, glove and shoe contract from Titleist & FootJoy.

HARLEYFORD GOLF CLUB Jewel on the Thames

■ WILLIAM WEST

O

ne Direction star Niall Horan has reportedly put his solo music career on hold in order to focus on setting up a new golf player management agency. The 22-year-old singer is a keen golfer, and was last seen playing alongside friend and fellow countryman Rory McIlroy at the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am, as well as caddying for him during the par-three tournament at the Masters. But now the Irish popstar is hoping to turn his passion into profit after joining forces with One Direction’s management company Modest to set up Modest Golf Management. Horan has reportedly taken on Mark McDonnell, a former account manager at golf equipment company TaylorMade, to help him set up the new venture, which will set out to find and nurture the best new British and Irish players. A source close to the One Direction star said: “It’s well known Niall loves golf and has been learning from the best out on tour with Rory. Now he wants to discover exciting new players and give them his backing. Mark is an absolute legend in the industry and will help him with endorsement. It’s early days, but he’s committed.”

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THE FOLLEY PACKAGE

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& COFFEE, BACON ROLLSUMMER 18 HOLES SOCIETY SPECIAL& HOT MEAL BACON ROLL 18 HOLES &£40 LIGHT LUNCH MON (AFTER 11AM) £30& COFFEE, TUES-THURS FRI-SUN £45 MON (AFTER 11AM) £30 • TUES-THURS £40 • FRI-SUN £45

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MON (AFTER 11AM) £15 WED (OVER 60’S, AFTER 9.30AM) £17.50 WEEKDAYS (AFTER 1PM) £17.50 WEEKENDS (AFTER 1PM) £22.5 To book please contact the Professional Shop on

01372 741867 or email stuartwalker@epsomgolfclub.co.uk Open Weekend tee times are limited and must be pre-booked. More Society & Group packages available. Group bookings are for 8 or more players. EPSOM GOLF CLUB Longdown Lane South, Epsom, Surrey KT17 4JR

www.epsomgolfclub.co.uk


[26] MARCH 2016 | THOMAS PIETERS

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

FLY AWAY

PIETERS After winning twice last season, big-hitting Belgian THOMAS PIETERS is looking a lively outsider for a Ryder Cup spot. Nick Bayly recounts the rise and rise of the European Tour’s tallest player PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES

T

hey make ‘em big in Belgium. Maybe it’s the mussels, the strong beer, or the waffles that add such stature, but whatever Thomas Pieters was fed on when he was growing up – probably not the beer – it certainly seems to have raised him considerably above the median height for golfers. At just over 6ft 5in in his spikes, Pieters is vying for the Tallest Player On Tour title with Bristolian giant Chris Wood, and is fully three inches taller than Belgium’s most successful ever player, Nicolas Colsearts. Many statistics related to Pieters include impressive numbers – not just his shoe size and inside leg measurement. His clubhead speed with a driver is a distinctly rapid 120mph, while his average distance off the tee is an impressive 304 yards. Last year, he was

ranked 240th in the world. Now he is 61st. In 2014, his rookie season on tour, he finished 83rd in the Race to Dubai. Last season he was 29th. Pieters’s rise has been nothing short of meteoric. Just 12 months ago, the gangly kid from Antwerp was just one of a promising crop of talented players emerging from mainland Europe. By mid-September, he had made his mark on the European Tour not once but twice, winning successive events at the Czech Masters and the KLM Open. Just 18 months into his professional career, and it wasn’t a surprise to find his name cropping up in conversations about the 2016 Ryder Cup. Rewind several years, and it’s easy to see why Pieters was being talked about in such lofty circles. After representing his country at all levels on the amateur circuit, Pieters, like many top European players before him, took up a college golf scholarship in America.

■ PIETERS WITH LAST SEASON'S DUTCH OPEN TROPHY


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

THOMAS PIETERS | MARCH 2016

[27]

Thomas Pieters

WHAT’S IN THE BAG DRIVER:

CALLAWAY XR 16 (9 DEG)

FAIRWAY WOODS: CALLAWAY XR 3 (13) HYBRID:

CALLAWAY APEX (20)

IRONS:

CALLAWAY MB 1 (3-9)

WEDGES:

CALLAWAY MACK DADDY (48, 54, 58)

PUTTER:

ODYSSEY PROTOTYPE BLACK

THOMAS HAS GOT ALL THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE MODERN PLAYER. HE SWINGS THE CLUB BEAUTIFULLY, HITS IT HARD, HAS A GOOD PHYSIQUE, LONG LEVERS, AND SEEMS TO HAVE THE HUNGER TO GO WITH IT. HE IS ABLE TO TAKE A COURSE APART BECAUSE OF HIS PURE LENGTH, WHICH IS A MASSIVE BONUS

While playing for University of Illinois, he won everything there was to win, including casting aside some chap called Jordan Spieth, and the world’s top-ranked amateur, Patrick Cantlay, en route to victory in the 2013 NCAA Division Championship. Courted by all the top player management companies – he eventually plumped for Excel Sports, which looks after Tiger – he brought forward his plans to turn pro by a full 12 months and headed off to the European Tour’s qualifying school at the end of 2013. Approaching the exercise with the fearless attitude of youth, he blitzed his way through three qualifying tournaments, before finishing 20th in the final six-round slog at PGA Cataluyna to earn his full European Tour card for 2014. Rather than going all out for victories, Pieters focused more conservatively on keeping his card in his rookie season, and did

so with four top-15s, including a runner-up finish in the Spanish Open at PGA Catalunya, where he lost a play-off against battlehardened campaigner Miguel Angel Jimenez. Although initially annoyed at not bagging a win during his first year on tour, Pieters showed plenty of maturity by taking the positives from the defeat and chalking it up as a learning experience. “Just after that losing the play-off I was furious with myself for letting the opportunity to win slip through my fingers,” says Pieters, whose first language is Flemish, but who is a fluent English speaker following his three years in America. “But an hour or so later, once I’d calmed down, those negative thoughts faded away, and I thought of the good things I had learned. I watched really closely the way Miguel Ángel handled himself, especially in the way he approached the final round and the play-off. He always stuck to his game plan, never rushed things,

and just waited for his chance. I took it all in, and tried to apply it to my own game." Pieters’s only other disappointment from his impressive rookie season was coming up short in the qualification for the Race to Dubai Final Series, where he finished 23 places outside of the top-60 mark required to win a start in the season-ending run of tournaments. Fired up to not miss the party again in 2015, Pieters raced out of the blocks, making the cut in eight of his first 10 events, including a fourth-placed finished in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, and had all but sewn up his card for 2016 as early as the beginning of May. With his job for next year safe, Pieters relaxed into playing his best golf in the summer, smashing his way around the Albatross Course at the Czech Masters to capture his first title with a 20-under-par total that included four consecutive rounds in the 60s. While some players would have had a few beers, sat back and celebrated after their first win, or perhaps even had a week off, Pieters marched on to the KLM Open in Holland and proceeded to shoot another four rounds in the 60s – including a third round 62 – to capture his second win in successive weeks. Thirty-nine-under-par for 72 holes, Pieters had announced his arrival on tour in no uncertain fashion. Able to crank it out huge distances – his longest drive has been measured at a towering 410 yards – it would be easy to pass him off as just another in a line of big-hitting youngsters, but he also possesses a lightness of touch that most taller players find hard to master. Pieters is coached by Pete Cowen, who first met the youngster on a training camp in Belgium, where the 13 year old immediately caught his eye. "Pure talent, that's what I see in Thomas,” Cowen says. "I see hundreds of kids who can hit a golf ball, but I see very few who can play golf. Thomas always could hit it, and Mike Small (his college coach at Illinois) did a great job of turning him into a player. “Thomas has got all the attributes of the modern player. He swings the club beautifully, hits it hard, has a good physique, long levers, and seems to have the hunger to go with it. He is able to take a course apart because of his pure length, which is a massive bonus.” Cowan adds: “It also helps that he is built like an athlete and he trains like an athlete. He was always the kid who if I said throw a tennis ball against that wall for half an hour would still be doing it an hour later. He does the drills in the room, too. Recently, he told me he was 86th in the world, and I said to him, 'where do you want to be with your golf?',

and he said '85 places higher'. He's a bit like Henrik Stenson, in that he's got a good sense of humour. He doesn't mind somebody taking the mickey out of him. He is not too serious about himself. I've said to him: ‘Thomas, you've got to remember that I had Henrik at the same age as you are now, and you are more talented than Henrik was then'.” It is high praise indeed from someone who has coached many top players, but Pieters is not one to let such comments go to his head. Grounded by the support of his close-knit family, he is unprepossessing and without a hint of cockiness. While Pieters’s height has been a bonus on the golf course, away from it has proved a costly business, as with such long legs he is unable to sit in economy seats when flying long haul. “The constant traveling is obviously one of the most negative things about life on tour. There’s a serious lack of legroom on planes, so I have to fly business class for long distances. It costs a lot of money, but I consider it as an investment. Otherwise I arrive in a terrible state, and not ready to play my best golf.” Apart from his height, Pieters’ only other issue as a professional golfer is his hayfever, a debilitating condition that effects him most in Europe, where tests have revealed he is allergic to a wide range of grasses, trees and bushes. Wearing sunglasses has little effect, and he often plays tournaments with tears streaming down his cheeks. Although content to continue building his experience on the European Tour, as his world ranking creeps towards the top 50, he concedes that his long-term future may well lie on the PGA Tour in America. "I really like the lifestyle in the States," says Pieters. "I lived there for three years and made a lot of friends. I speak the language, so much so that I even think and dream in English. Ideally, I would like to be a world player, and have a schedule that allows me to play the two tours, but for now I need to concentrate on winning more events in Europe and see where that takes me.” It’s currently taking him in one direction – closer to that all-important top 50, which will lead to majors, WGC events, and a freedom to play wherever he chooses. With a secondplaced finish behind Rickie Fowler in Abu Dhabi last month, his season is already up and running, and as things currently stand, he is agonisingly close to earning an automatic spot in the Masters. But should he fall short, you can bet that it won’t be too long before Thomas Pieters will be mixing it in the major leagues. Thankfully, he has a head for heights.


[28] MARCH 2016 | NEWS

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

MOOR PARK PICKS UP INVESTORS IN PEOPLE AWARD

Moor Park Golf Club in Hertfordshire has been accredited with the Investors in People bronze award. The nationally-recognised award, which sets the criteria for personnel management, saw the club judged on more than 65 different working practices, with some of the club’s 75-plus staff chosen at random by external assessors for interviews to understand their role and view of working at Moor Park. Commenting on the award, club chairman Douglas Paterson said: “Our staff are our greatest asset, and this award shows the management’s dedication to our employees and our own vision to work with our teams to achieve set goals, empowering staff and recognising their hard work.”

GOUGH RETURNS TO THE WEALD Andy Gough, the former head greenkeeper at The Weald of Kent, has returned to the Headcorn-based club following a two-year period away. Gough left his position at the club in 2014 in order to follow his fiancée out to Australia, where he kept his hand in by working at a golf club. However, now married, he is returning to the familiar territory at The Weald, and will be joining the club from April 4, to help prepare the 18-hole parkland course for the busy season ahead.

INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB TEES UP SCHEDULE OF CHAMPIONSHIP VENUES

A

new ‘virtual’ golf club aimed at providing competitive opportunities for amateur golfers at some of the top championship courses in the South East has been launched. The International Golf Club London (ICG London) is open to all golfers, regardless of handicap or club status, and offers members and guests the opportunity to enter weekly competitive tournaments at premier golfing venues around London and the South East at preferential rates. Venues already featuring on the schedule include renowned championship courses such as The Grove, Moor Park, The Addington, Essendon Country Club, The Drift, Walton Heath, and both

■ SUNNINGDALE IS ONE THE FLAGSHIP VENUES FOR THE INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB LONDON'S SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

ST MELLION TEES UP 40TH ANNIVERSARY PRO-AM

St Mellion Resort in Cornwall is marking its 40th anniversary by hosting a special Pro-Am tournament on July 12. Leading PGA Professionals from the region will be taking part in the event, which invites teams of three amateurs to join in the festivities at a cost of £295 per team. The club hosted six Benson & Hedges Championships, the PGA Cup, and the Women’s’ British Open, since it opened in 1976, with Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and José Maria Olazabal being among tournament winners.

■ PGA PROFESSIONAL JAMES JANKOWSKI

courses at Sunningdale. For an annual fee of £170 – or £85 for those who sign up before May 5 – members are able to payand-play up to twice a week on both weekends and weekdays, and can invite guests to join them in experiencing an array of top courses in the South East. The International Golf Club will operated along the same lines as a traditional golf society, but with many added benefits, including professionally-run event days, access to online booking, local pick-up service from nearby transport links, allocation of an IGC London handicap, and the opportunity to attend free coaching clinics. “IGC London offers something for everyone,

especially the nomadic golfer who doesn’t want to be tied to one course,” explained IGC London’s joint director, PGA professional James Jankowski. “It’s a great opportunity to play competitive golf at a variety of the best courses in the UK, and we’ve been working hard with the venues to deliver real value for our members.” Peter Phillips, co-founder and joint director of IGC London drew inspiration for the venture when he was introduced to a similar concept while working in Belgium. “In Belgium, there were a huge number of golfers who wanted to play, but didn’t know where or how to gain access to the clubs in the region. I see this as true in the UK as well – there are a vast number of golfers who don’t want membership at one club, but want to be able

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Based on 2 sharing. Full details on The Players Club website.


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

NEWS | MARCH 2016 [29]

ROCK ROLLS OUT ACADEMY AT SILVERMERE

E

uropean Tour professional Robert Rock is expanding his portfolio of golf academies with the opening of a new centre at Silvermere Golf & Leisure in Surrey next month. The popular Cobham-based venue, which already boasts some of the best practice facilities in the region, will officially launch the new Robert Rock Academy during the Masters weekend of April 7-9. The academy will operate along the same lines as the one already open at Kings Hill Golf Club in Kent, and is aimed at golfers who are looking to take their game to the highest level. The academy’s lead coach will be former European Tour player Chris Gane, who has been a PGA Professional for nearly 20 years. Gane has played for over 330 events on the European Tour and Challenge Tour, winning twice on the latter with multiple top tens on the European Tour. Now a regular competitor on the PGA South region, he combines his active playing career with his

SCRUM DOWN WITH ZINZAN FOR HARLEYFORD’S MAYOR’S CUP academy coaching. The academy will be holding three initial coaching days on April 7-9, which Rock will be attending personally, coaching clients on an individual basis. Places are strictly limited and offered on a first come, first served basis. The price per session, which includes a two-hour private lesson with Robert, and a follow up one-hour lesson with Chris, costs £445. The package also includes breakfast, lunch or dinner (depending on the time of the lesson), and a goody bag provided by TaylorMade and Wolsey. A standard session, which also includes video, GC2 and HMT analysis, will cost £100. To make a booking email robertrockacademy@ silvermere-golf.co.uk or call 07779 237203.

EPSOM CELEBRATES FOUNDERS’ DAY

E to experience a diverse range of courses. IGC London offers that within a social environment, where you’re able to meet and play with like-minded people on a regular basis. It’s something that I think golfers in the UK will benefit from hugely.” Members not only receive preferential rates on event days, but have access to year-round benefits, such as concessional green fees at several courses and discounts at various retail outlets. Pre-season events begin on March 26 at The Grove in Watford, with the full season launching on May 5 at Sandy Lodge in Northwood. For more information and details of how to join, visit www.igclondon.co.uk

psom Golf Club took a step back in time to the Edwardian era last month, when it held a hickory golf tournament to commemorate the club’s official founders’ day. Instigated to celebrate the Surrey club’s 125th anniversary back in 2014, the hickory tournament is now an annual event, which has grown in popularity with the members year on year. Epsom’s Director of Golf, Stuart Walker, dressed in plus fours and using hickory-shafted clubs, pitted himself against the testing Downs course, and played with club president David Barrows,

men’s captain Tony Filbin, and ladies’ captain Diana Balsdon. ”Despite some challenging conditions, just over 80 golfers headed out, some dressed up, some didn't, but they all had to use some of my hickory clubs throughout their round,” said Walker. “It was great fun trying to adjust my swing to match the flex of the shafts, however chipping, putting and distance control was a challenge to say the least.” He added: “I managed to nurdle my ball around in a respectable 83 shots using my old-fashioned clubs, although the best score over the weekend using modern equipment was a

TRADITIONS GOLF COURSE Book a Society Golf Day from only £20.00

New Zealand rugby legend Zinzan Brooke will be among the star guests at the mayor of Marlow’s annual charity golf day being held at Harleyford Golf Club in Buckinghamshire next month. The 51-year-old retired All Blacks star will join a number of teams at the club, which will be battling it out for the coveted Mayor’s Cup on April 19. Players are invited to bid for an opportunity to play on the rugby star’s team and the winning three bids will also land a place on his table for dinner after the game. For details visit www.harleyfordgolf.co.uk.

ANYONE FOR A BACON ROLL? Golfers at Epping Golf Club in Essex were seen hamming it up earlier this month after a rogue pig escaped from her pen at a nearby farm and trotted onto golf course. ‘Handsome’ Betty was discovered wandering the fairways on March 10, but was quickly captured by her owner before causing any harm to the golf course or herself.

CITY SWINGERS TO OPEN IN MAY

nett 67 scored by the dapperlydressed Cameron Morris.” The club is hosting its annual open weekend, where prospective members can come and try out the facilities, on April 23-24. Green fees for advance bookings only will cost just £10, while the weekend will feature a host of competitions, where the top prize is a free three-month membership worth £200. For bookings, call the pro shop on 01372 741867.

A pop-up crazy golf course in east London that was visited by over 90,000 people last year is opening at new venue in central London this spring.The Shoreditch-based Swingers has found a new home in a 16,000 sq ft subterranean site in the Brown’s Building at the foot of the Gherkin in the city’s Square Mile. Due to open on May 27, it will incorporate two nine-hole crazy golf courses, four bars, and three street food stalls. A focal point of the space will be a two-storey 1920s-themed clubhouse, complete with trophies on the walls and a gin terrace that overlooks the golfing action. The venue will open daily from midday until late and will be free to enter, although tickets for golf will cost £13 in advance or £15 on the door. For advance bookings, visit www.swingersldn.com.

SUMMER GOLF SOCIETIES!

Join your golfing friends and swing into summer with our fantastic society golf packages on the Kingfisher from just £20pp.

Throughout 2015 we have transformed the golf club with the following improvements ◆ Brand New Fleet of Machinery ◆ Drainage Issues addressed ◆ Bunker Renovations ◆ Greens Program installed

◆ Irrigation Overhaul ◆ New Proshop ◆ Kitchen Re-opened

Our summer society packages include 18 holes of glorious golf, delicious bacon baps and 2 for 1 vouchers for all society members to return and play again! Valid from 1st April to 31st October 2016

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Come and see the improvements for yourself! Traditions Golf Course, Pyrford Road, Pyrford, Surrey GU22 8UE Email: pro@traditionsgolf.co.uk Tel: 01932 350 355 Web: www.traditionsgolf.co.uk

Mannings Heath, an Exclusive Golf Club, Hammerpond Road, Mannings Heath, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 6PG


[30] MARCH 2016 | JORDAN SPEITH

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

LOOKING AFTER

NO.1

As he builds up to the defense of his Masters title, JORDAN SPIETH talks about the pressures of being world No.1, playing a global schedule, and his thoughts on the upcoming Ryder Cup PHOTOS BY GETTY IMAGES


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

JORDAN SPEITH | MARCH 2016

H

ow do you feel like you’re coping with the pressures of being world No.1 and the expectations and added responsibilities that seem to come with the position? It's certainly been interesting, but I think if you ask any of the guys in the world’s top five or 10, it's kind of a similar thing in terms of the impact you have around other people, other players and tournaments. Obviously, having your name at the top of the ranking just adds to that level of expectation, and I'm starting to see that. My tweets tend to get re-tweeted a lot more, and often appear on TV or wherever, which didn’t happen 12 months ago, so that’s one change. I also get recognised a lot more when I’m out and about, but I’ve also got to meet a lot of interesting people and done a lot of different things, which has been great. As far as responsibilities go, I don't think it changes from anything that I've already done. There’s a lot more media and public interest; more being nice to people, smiling, and generally being available. I don't think that I have to go out of my way to change how I am or what I'm doing. I think being No.1 shouldn't change who you are, for better or worse. Do you feel like you have a target on your back every time you tee it up these days? Not at all. There are guys out there playing whom I’ve looked up to my whole life and who have achieved far more than I’ve done, so there’s no sense at all that I’m the guy that everyone has to beat each week. I’m not going to dwell on what’s happened in the past; I’m just hungry to try and keep it going and win more tournaments. I understand that it doesn't happen overnight. It's a marathon, not a sprint. But I'm willing to put in the time and go through the process. There are going to be good weeks and off-weeks, I understand that. But as long as I can get just a little bit better each year, then the results will come.

THERE ARE GUYS OUT THERE PLAYING WHOM I’VE LOOKED UP TO MY WHOLE LIFE AND WHO HAVE ACHIEVED FAR MORE THAN I’VE DONE, SO THERE’S NO SENSE AT ALL THAT I’M THE GUY THAT EVERYONE HAS TO BEAT EACH WEEK

After your incredible win in Hawaii, you seem like you’ve gone a little off the boil. Is that a fair assessment, or is it just a question of building up slowly towards the big events? I think that the three tournaments immediately after winning in Hawaii, I almost played as if I was going to be able to shoot 30 under par every week. I approached those rounds like I should shoot six or seven under par every time. Subsequently I got frustrated when I missed a fairway or a green, and it certainly affected my overall attitude and my decisionmaking. I made a really poor job of playing each course on its merits and mapping out my game plan. The bad news is that I've been more negative on the golf course in the last few weeks than I have been in a long time, but the good news is that I was aware of it and have plenty of time to figure out how to turn it around. How much has good preparation been responsible for your success? I'm not sure. It's been said a lot of times that the harder you work, the luckier you get. I don't think I'm the hardest worker out there. I mean, I work very hard at what I do, but I don't believe that I put in necessarily the most hours – we’ll leave that to Vijay [Singh]. But I have my way of doing things to get the right amount of time on the course; the right amount of time on the range, the putting green, the chipping green; and then the right amount of rest. And all of that needs to be done, even when you're not necessarily moving around physically like you are in a sport like tennis or basketball. You're not getting beat up like that. But playing professional golf requires a lot of rest and rehab, even during tournament weeks. I think that I have the right balance, and I think I proved last year that I could go through a whole season and stay in contention in the biggest events. What areas of your game do you think you’ve improved over the last 12 months? I wouldn’t necessarily pick on anything specific, but I think I’ve become more consistent. I also think that I’ve got a confidence that allows me to hit the shots that I want to hit when the pressure is really on. To be able to stand up and really focus on a specific shot, whether it's with a driver or an iron – that's definitely improved when the pressure is on. Which areas would you like to improve on? After sitting down with my coach and looking at last season’s stats, my wedge play needs to get better. I need to be hitting it closer to the hole from 60 to 140 yards and in, which would take some pressure off my long putting. My wedge play was average last season, so there’s

[31]

certainly room for improvement there. You’ve been on a bit of world tour over the last six months. How have you been coping with all the travelling and how important is it that you’re seen as world player rather than just a PGA Tour player now that you’re No.1? It’s been a bit tiring, but it’s also been a lot of fun. I got to see Korea for the first time, went back to Shanghai, went over to Australia again and saw Melbourne and Sydney, then back to the Bahamas and then Hawaii, then Abu Dhabi and then Singapore, and then back to kind of the regular schedule that I've been on the last couple of years. It’s all been about taking opportunities. Last season I wanted more breaks, but now I want to go out and see places that I’ve never seen before, on and off the course. I definitely see myself as a world player going forward. You visited Augusta in December for an early sighter. What was it like to go back there for the first time since your win, and how excited did it make you feel for your defence of the Masters? Yeah, I went up there with my dad and my old caddie, Jay. It was 75 degrees – so perfect golfing weather. Tee to green, the course plays quite a bit harder at that time of year, and the ball doesn’t fly as far, but the pin positions weren’t quite as tough as they are during the Masters, so it was very playable. It was just beautiful. Two things stick in my mind about the visit – the first was going into the clubhouse and seeing the Masters trophy and finding my name on it. Few people know that the trophy just sits there in the centre of the room when you walk into the main clubhouse. So to walk right in there and see my name etched on the trophy was really cool. Then, to even top that, walking into the new champion's locker room with my dad, and seeing my name alongside Arnold Palmer’s was also pretty awesome. So those two things really motivated me to want to experience that feeling again. You said at the end of last year that out of all the majors the next one you would like to win is the Masters. What is it about the tournament that elevates it over the other majors? It was the next one! But no, I believe it's the best tournament in the world. No disrespect to any other event, but I absolutely love Augusta – it’s my favourite golf course in the world. It's just an easy week – the roars, the echoes, the memories, the history from watching it growing up, being on the same golf course year in, year out just adds to the history of the tournament, and makes you want to be a part of it. Which would you rather win this year, an Olympic gold medal or a major championship? Thankfully we get to have a go at both, so it’s not an either/or situation. But if I hadn’t already won a major, I would probably still say a major. But having won two, I would argue that a gold medal would be very, very special for me personally. To be honest, I think it’ll take ten or 20 years before we can work out how significant a gold medal will be for golf. The way I look at it right now, I look at them as equal, just because to say that you’ve won an Olympic gold for your country is pretty special. But it's perhaps too early to tell how they will end up being compared to the majors. How much are you looking forward to September’s Ryder Cup matches and how do you think the US team is shaping up? The Ryder Cup is huge goal this year for me, and to play a part in getting a win for the team. We are tired of hearing about changes that need to be made. We are tired of hearing about the past. And we're ready to believe in a new kind of a younger, hungrier team going forward. It looks like it's going to be a younger-than-average team than what we've had in the past, but I think that’s a strength, rather than a weakness. There's less scar tissue there. Rickie [Fowler] has been on two losing teams, and I’ve been on one, but we’ve got a lot of young, fiery players who have good success in different team environments going back to their amateur and junior days. We have a lot of momentum with us at this point in time. It's still a long way until Hazeltine, but if we can continue what we've been doing over this past year in young American golf, we're going to get in that team room and be pretty excited about who is next to us. How much did it hurt losing at Gleneagles and was it any way helpful in building your hunger for a win? Not very helpful at all – I'd rather just win every time. I was hungry enough before – I didn't need to be any hungrier. We had heard enough about our losses. If we go in there with the attitude that it’s a completely clean slate, I think we’ll be just fine.


[32] MARCH 2016 | FEATURE

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

STORY BEHIND THE PIC GREG NORMAN • MASTERS TOURNAMENT, AUGUSTA • APRIL 14, 1996

FALDO, EVER THE MACHINE, GROUND OUT PAR, BIRDIE, PAR, PAR OVER THE OPENING FOUR HOLES, BUT THEN DRAINED A 20-FOOT PUTT FOR BIRDIE ON THE SIXTH TO REDUCE THE DEFICIT TO THREE. GAME ON

FOR SOMEONE who won 90 tournaments, it must be a source of irritation to Greg Norman that he is often remembered as a player who was, shall we say, a little flakey under pressure. The Great White Shark held the lead nine times going into the final round of a major, but only twice, at The Open in 1986 and again in 1993, did he emerge the champion. Despite this glaringly weak link in his armour, Norman was still regarded as the man to beat whenever he teed it up for well over a decade from the mid-1980s. And he was certainly regarded as one of the favourites at the 1996 Masters, with the then 41-year-old Australian arriving at Augusta on the back of three PGA Tour wins and with a firm grip on the No.1 spot in the world rankings. He more than lived up to his star billing when opening up with a course-record-equalling 63, and then added a second round 69 to hold a four-shot lead over Nick Faldo. England’s great hope had endured an uncomfortable opening two rounds in the company of big-hitting John Daly, who was out-driving him by up to 100 yards, but a third round 73 was enough to set up a final round duel with Norman, whose steady 71 on the third day extended his lead to six shots. With Phil Mickelson a further shot back, and the rest of field treading water, Norman’s march to a third major victory, and a first green jacket, seemed assured. Faldo arrived uncharacteristically late to the course on Sunday, but despite a somewhat hurried preparation, looked calm as he stood on the first tee beside Norman, who, it was later revealed, had been suffering from a sore back. A snap hook from the Australian on the opening tee shot resulted in a bogey, and was an early sign of what lay in store. Faldo, ever the machine, ground out par, birdie, par, par over the opening four holes, but then drained a 20-foot putt for birdie on the sixth to reduce the deficit to three. Game on. Norman, visibly tensing, started taking ages over what would normallyhave been considered routine approach shots, and then, in a nerve-shredding stretch from the 10th to the 12th, unravelled in spectacular fashion. Heavy with an uphill chip on the

10th, he missed a ten-footer for par for bogey, reducing his lead to just one. Then, at the par-4 11th, Norman reached the green in regulation, before shaving the lip with a 12-foot birdie effort. Worse was still to come, as the returning three-footer also stayed out. The lead was now gone. After he had found Rae’s Creek on the short 12th on Saturday, no-one believed Norman would make the same mistake again, but after seeing Faldo hit his tee shot pin-high left, Norman took out his 7-iron ran and watched in horror as his ball landed on the edge of the slope, gripped for a second, and then gently slide back into the creek. Double bogey. Faldo two-up. After matching birdies at the 13th, Norman looked to be recovering his poise, while the galleries attempted to lift the spirits of a player who now appeared to be playing the role of underdog. If a sign that it really wasn’t to be Norman’s day was required, it came at the 15th, where a chip for eagle slipped inches past the hole. Norman sunk to his knees in quiet desperation, while a deep groan from the crowd signalled that even they had given up hope. A hook into the water on the par-three 16th added insult to the Australian’s injury, and the contest was over, with Faldo four clear. Two holes later, Welwyn’s finest closed out with a final birdie for a five-under-par 67, while Norman, a broken man, signed for a shocking 78. From six behind, Faldo had won his third green jacket by an emphatic five strokes. Years later, Norman admitted that after the defeat he returned home to Australia, where he went to the beach, lay down on the sand, and wept, as the reality of what he had failed to achieve began to sink in. Three years later, Norman had a chance to banish the Masters’ demons when he held a one-shot lead over José Maria Olazabal going into the back nine on Sunday, but once again the bogeymen came back to haunt him, with dropped shots at 12, 14 and 15 seeing him return home without the title – and he never challenged for Augusta glory again.

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NEWS | MARCH 2016

[33]

ENTRIES OPEN FOR OCEANICO WORLD KIDS' CHAMPIONSHIP Entries are now open for the Oceânico World Kids Golf Championship, which is taking place at Amendoeira in Portugal this summer. The three-round stroke play event runs from July 25-29, with rounds played on the Algarve-based resort’s Faldo and O’Connor Jnr courses. There are five age categories, and handicaps can range from positive numbers to 36 in the junior divisions. Tournament fees are €230 for U10s or €270 for other categories. For more details visit www.oceanicogolf.com.

■ TRILBY TOUR KENT CHAMPION, NICK FRANCIS, LEFT, WITH LAST YEAR’S REGIONAL WINNER SCOTT WOOLFORD

TRILBY TOUR TEES OFF AT TUDOR PARK

T

udor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club will be this year’s launch pad for the William Hunt Trilby Tour. The Maidstone-based venue will be hosting the Kent regional championships on May 19, marking the start of a series of regional heats around the country. Each regional championship will be broadcast on Sky Sports, and the Trilby Tour is now officially the largest amateur golf television series in the UK and Europe. The pre-qualifying rounds for the Kent regional championship take place at Tudor Park on April 2 and May 7, and the deadline for entries is March 20 and April 24 respectively. New for this year, Tudor Park, designed by Donald Steel, will be giving a place in the Kent regional championship to both the winner and the runner up in each of the pre-qualifying events. The competition is open to any male golfer aged over 18 who holds a current handicap of 18 or better. The cost for each pre-qualifier is £30 per person, inclusive of tea/coffee and bacon rolls on arrival, 18 holes, and prizes for the top four placing and nearest the pins. The format of the day is individual Stableford. For more information or to book, call 01622 739412 or email mhrs.tdmgs.golf@marriotthotels.com

CHISLEHURST BECKONS FOR GOLFING BROTHERS

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MOLLIN BREAKS NEW GROUND AT ROYAL JERSEY

olfing brothers are invited to take part in the Brothers' Amateur Foursomes Open, which is once again being hosted by Chislehurst Golf Club in South East London from June 9-10. The unique tournament, which is now in its 38th year, attracts pairs of brothers from all over the country, with many returning year after year. The tournament is played over two days, beginning with an 18-hole qualifying foursomes Stableford played on the first morning. The top eight qualifying pairs then move into the quarter-finals of the match play knockout for the Brothers' Open Trophies, with the next eight pairs qualifying for the Plate. Non-qualifiers play in a Stableford greensomes event on the first afternoon, followed by a Stableford foursomes competition the following morning, while the semi-finals proceed around them ahead of both finals on the Friday afternoon. The competition rules require that all competitors must be members of a club with an active handicap. Halfbrothers and stepbrothers are ineligible, and the maximum handicap is 28. The entry fee of £120 per pair includes all golf, coffee and bacon rolls on arrival and a buffet at prize giving following the finals. One courtesy practice round is also available on either the preceding Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon. All competitors will be able to enjoy a new-look Chislehurst, as the 120-year-old club continues with its bunker renovation programme, while new drainage works and new course furniture has smartened up the course’s appearance. For entry forms for the Brothers' Open, or further enquiries, call Mark Hickson on 0208 4672782 or email thesecretary@chislehurstgolfclub.co.uk.

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History was made at Royal Jersey Golf Club last month following the appointment of its first female PGA professional in its 138-year history. Alex Mollin, a former Titleist Assistant of the Year, joined the club’s six strong team as a full-time teaching professional. Royal Jersey enjoys a strong reputation for coaching, and boasts an impressive range of facilities, including Flightscope and Trackman launch monitors, as well as a K Vest and SAM Putt Lab.

FOOTGOLFERS HAVE HIGH HOPES FOR EUROS The UK squad for the inaugural European Footgolf Team Championship, which is being held in France from April 15-17, features a strong South East contingent. The eight-man team travelling to Deauville includes three players from Kent, Steve Baker (West Kingsdown), Karl May (Chatham) and Dan Spice (Pembury). The UK’s opponents will be Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Slovakia, Hungary, and France.

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[34] MARCH 2016 | COMPETITION

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

WIN A SKYCADDIE TOUCH GPS!

GolfNews has teamed up with market leading golf GPS company SKYCADDIE to offer one lucky reader the chance win its flagship product – the Skycaddie Touch, which has a retail price of £279.95.

Backed by SkyCaddie’s on-foot mapping accuracy guarantee, the Touch is the most advanced and accurate GPS distance-measuring device ever produced by the company, which pioneered the category over a decade ago. The wealth of ground-mapped information provided instantly by SkyCaddie Touch – up to 40 pre-defined target points per hole – gives serious golfers both speed and performance advantages over laser users, with zero blind spots. Pre-loaded with 35,000 exclusive error-corrected SkyCaddie course maps, the feature-packed Touch offers touchscreen, glove-friendly navigation with a high-resolution, sunlight-readable, glare-resistant colour HD display. Dynamic RangeVue and Interactive HoleVue with seven levels of precision zoom enable golfers to

examine TrueGround yardages throughout the hole, while IntelliGreen Pro gives comprehensive, dynamic green information from any angle of attack. It also displays distances to key contours on each green, helping golfers to target a specific area even more accurately. If the pin is on an upper shelf at the back of the green, for example, SkyCaddie Touch owners can see where the slope begins, and can club accordingly. Golfers can connect via Bluetooth to the free SkyGolf 360 App for instant real-time high-resolution course updates, including new OnDemand HD features, plus instant upload of scores and statistics, including Stableford scoring and separate putting scoring. Other handy features include AutoStart, which automatically finds the golf course, and goes straight to a display of the first hole – without any buttons needing to be pressed.

For more details about SkyCaddie’s complete range golf GPS products, visit www.skycaddie.co.uk.

TO ENTER: To be in with a chance of winning a SkyCaddie Touch, simply answer the question below correctly and email your name, address, which club/driving range you picked up your copy from and contact telephone number to info@golfnews.co.uk, using ‘SkyCaddie Competition’ in the subject line. The closing date for entries is April 20th, 2016. No alternative cash prize is offered. QUESTION: HOW MANY ERROR-CORRECTED SKYCADDIE COURSE MAPS ARE PRE-LOADED ONTO THE TOUCH?

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GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

PROMOTION | MARCH 2016

[35]

RAISE THE STAKES WITH

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If the idea of winning a stack of cash based on your own performances appeals, then Golflutter, a brand new betting app aimed at amateur golfers, should be your next digital download

B

etting on the outcome of events over which you have absolutely no control is where it all goes wrong for most gamblers. This blindingly obvious, but often overlooked fact, is part of the reason why David Morgan set up Golflutter, a brand new concept in golf betting, which puts you, the golfer, at the very centre of the bet. Rather than backing Rory or Jordan putting together four good rounds at Augusta, Golflutter offers you the chance to bet on yourself. Not to the win the Masters, of course – we can but dream – but to beat a series of more realistic challenges that you set yourself at your home club, or wherever or whoever you happen to be playing that day. So, if your fourball all place a bet on Golflutter on the same day, there’s a chance that you’ll all come away as winners, rather than just one of you. Morgan launched Golflutter as way of allowing golfers to be in control of their own financial success, rather than trusting their money to the whims of another. “From my experience, I know that golfers love to have a bet, whether it be for a couple of beers or a few pounds," he says. “But sometimes you get matched up with partners who don’t like playing for money, and although they are utterly entitled to do that, it can mean that some of the competitive fun of golf gets lost. The premise behind the Golflutter app is that it allows potentially thousands of like-minded golfers who may want a bet on themselves to have a secure and regulated place where they can do just that." Like the Tote’s Jackpot and Placepot in horseracing, golfers’ bets – which are set at £5 – are placed in a pool, with the number of those who successfully complete a variety of challenges (see side bar) be that to bag a certain number of nett birdies or play a certain number of holes below par, taking a proportionate share of the pot. Another bonus is that Golflutter is can be used by club members and non-members alike, because if you don’t already have an official handicap the app provides one by keeping a record of the first three rounds that you play and then keeps the lowest round of the three as your handicap for the game. There’s a highest handicap limit of 20 to weed out any potential bandits, while most significantly the app itself picks the holes for each challenge completely at random so that the potential for, shall we say, ‘slips of the pencil’ are avoided. Golflutter has all of the UK’s 2,580-odd 18hole courses registered on its system (9-hole courses aren’t included for obvious reasons) with golfer’s smartphone GPS software allowing the app to track that golfers are where they say there are when the commence a competition round. “With all the doom and gloom surrounding golf at the moment, the game could do with a bit of fun, and I think Golflutter does just that. It adds a bit of spice and excitement to any game, whether you're playing with your friends, in a society, or on your own against the rest of the world as it were,” concludes Morgan. For more details, visit www.golfflutter.com, or download the free Golflutter app from your App Store.

L

eading putter brand Odyssey has opened a new state-of-the-art putting performance centre at Callaway Golf’s European headquarters in Surrey. The new centre in Chessington will give golfers a high-tech putter-fitting experience previously only enjoyed by Tour pros, as well as offering full access to the complete Odyssey product line. Marrying data collected from two putting analysis systems – the SAM PuttLab, which uses ultrasound measurements and 3D imagery to track the putting stroke – and Quintic, a highspeed biomechanical video analysis software – Odyssey fitting experts will be able to scientifically fit a customer to a putter like never before. Each one-to-one fitting session, which can only be booked through

approved Odyssey retailers, lasts up to 90 minutes and will offer golfers the opportunity to benchmark the performance of Odyssey putters, including the latest O-Works and White Hot RX product lines, as well as the new Toe Up range. Neil Howie, president and managing director of Callaway EMEA, said: “To now have an Odyssey European Performance Centre sitting alongside the existing Callaway centre will allow us to give our customers a complete custom-fit experience throughout the entire bag. Odyssey putters have secured more wins on Tour than any other putter brand in the last 10 years, and we are delighted that we can now provide all Odyssey customers the same level of fitting experience that our Tour players get.”

A custom-fitting session at Odyssey’s Performance Centre in Chessington must be booked through an Odyssey stockist. To find your nearest one, visit www.odysseygolf. com and click on ‘find a store’.

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[36] MARCH 2016 | LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

“ I’M HUNGRY TO WIN MORE MAJORS” After running Bubba Watson close at the Masters in 2012, and finishing second in both the US Open and The Open last year, LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN has some unfinished business in the majors, and is gunning to add a Green Jacket to his Claret Jug

O

nce you’ve won one major, is the only goal you have to win more of them? For me, the goal is to keep on improving, and hopefully improvements bring tournament victories, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, majors. These days, all the top players try to get their games to peak for the big tournaments, but it’s not an exact science. You try to sharpen things up and keep yourself fresh, but it’s really a bonus if you come into a major championship feeling like you’re in top form. I still feel like I need to move up a level; to improve my consistency in the big events; but I'm moving in the right direction. I don’t set myself anything specific as far as goals are concerned – I just want to be in contention in the big events more often. I'm always working on improving some parts of my game. I felt like I made a big step last year by getting everything sorted with my body. I’m feeling fit and healthy again, and it’s now just a question of getting down to golf and working hard. I had a taste of a second major last year at the US Open [he finished second], and that really got me hungry to win a few more. You've clearly had your share of fitness challenges in recent years. How’s your health at the moment? I don't know where to start. I’ve had loads of injury issues – mostly lower back and neck troubles. Back in 2005, I got some whiplash in my neck when I fell off a rubber ring while being towed behind a speedboat, and then in 2010 I tore some ligaments in my ankle when out hunting. My lower back feels good now, but it’s something I have to manage. I feel like I’m getting stronger, and I’m generally happy with where I’m at physically. I'm certainly feeling 100 times better than I did two years ago, and I’m able to put in more work on the range and on the putting green, which you need to do in order to be on top of your game. You must have been delighted to get a victory under your belt at the Perth International last month? Did you feel like a win was on the way?

It had been two years since my last win, and it was beginning to prey on my mind a bit, so it was a massive boost to my confidence to get over the line in Perth. I had a good lead going into the final round, so it was a question of not doing anything stupid, and just keeping my head in front, which I managed to do. I hit 51 out of 54 greens in regulation in the first three rounds, which gave me lots of birdie chances, so I was really pleased with my overall game, and it was a great start in my build up towards the Masters. How are planning your Masters' assault? You definitely need to be playing well going into the Masters. You can’t just turn up and expect to find something. There are so many great players out there now that you need to really be on your game to have a chance of getting into contention. I feel like I’m a bit better prepared this time, and I feel quite confident about the week, although there’s a lot of golf to be played between now and then.

particularly pleased with the way I fought back in the PGA at Chambers Bay. After shooting 77 on the opening round I could easily have given up and gone home on Friday, but I kept on going and played some really good golf over the next three days. I fought all the way, but it just wasn’t quite enough. You experimented with looking at the hole rather than the ball on certain putts last year. Is this something we’re going to see more of this season? It’s something that my putting coach and I had been working on. I tried it for the first time at the US Open – the first one was early in the first round, and I hit the worst putt that you can probably imagine. And then I just kept on doing it, and got more and more confident with it. I didn’t do it every time, but it worked on a lot of clutch putts. It's not a set thing I do on every putt; it's a feel thing, really. I'll do it on some putts and not on others.

What are your recollection of the Masters in 2012, and that play-off against Bubba Watson? I remember that I played really well all week. The albatross on the fifth hole in the final round really got me thinking that it was going to be my tournament. The adrenaline was really pumping, and it took me five or six holes to settle down after that. I had a run of four birdies on the back nine to get into contention. I don’t think I could have hit two better putts in the play-off, but Bubba just pulled out that miracle hook shot from the trees on the 10th that won the tournament. I don’t think I lost the tournament, but sometimes someone comes along and beats you. Of course, it was disappointing, but I don’t feel like I left anything behind.

South African golf looks to be in a very healthy state at the moment, with lots of tournaments and lots of young players coming through. It's great to see two young South African winners already this season with Haydn [Porteous] and Branden [Stone], so yeah, I think golf is very healthy at the moment in South Africa. I'm starting to call them youngsters, which makes me feel very old. Branden's son called me ‘Uncle’ when I saw him last month; I looked at him and said, ‘I don't think I'm there quite yet!’ Branden grew up in a place very near to me, and he has a similar game. He loves playing in windy conditions and he’s a solid ball striker. But it's great to see these guys coming through, and it’s great to be able to support tournaments in South Africa whenever I can.

How pleasing was it for you to be back in contention in the majors again last season? It’s strange how quickly you sort of forget how to play when you get in the situation of having a chance to win a major. The last time I felt that was in 2012, so it was nice being in that spot again. There was a lot of pressure and interest in me at St Andrews, coming back as the last winner there, so I was really pleased with how I coped with all that, although it was disappointing to come up short in the play-off. I was

What are your thoughts on representing South Africa at the Olympics? To represent your country is obviously one of the biggest honours that a sportsperson can have, and I'm really looking forward to it. I think not quite knowing what to expect makes it more exciting. It’s going to be a new experience for all of us. Having said that, I’d still prefer to win another major rather than an Olympic gold. It’s more about the history around the majors that nothing else can come close to bettering.


[38] MARCH 2016 | ANDY SULLIVAN

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

T

here are plenty of stories of struggling tour pros who have endured a series of ‘normal’ jobs before striking gold on the professional golf tour, from Simon Khan’s days as an Essex taxi driver, to Lee Slattery’s shifts in a men’s clothing shop in Southport, and all manner of making-ends-meet employment in between. Having a rubbish first job is a rite of passage for legions of today’s top pros, many of whom left school at 16 to focus on their playing careers. And it is a fear of returning to those low paid jobs that often drives them on to become good enough at golf that they need never have to go back to those days of delivering post, driving minicabs or, as was the case with Andy Sullivan, stacking shelves in his local supermarket. Currently ranked 30th in the world, and all but nailed on for a spot in Darren Clarke’s starting 12 at Hazeltine in September, it’s hard to believe that that the 28-year-old Midlander spent the best part of two years doing the early morning shift at Asda in Nuneaton. “If you ask them, they’ll probably say I was only there for about six months, because I was asleep in the changing room half the time,” Sullivan jokes. “I had to go in at five in the morning and finish at 10, so I could play golf, so a few times I turned up with a bit of a hangover, seeing as I had to work from Thursday to Sunday.” But those tough times between 2009 and 2011 proved to be the making of Sullivan, who looks back on those days every time he begins to think about complaining about the comfortable life he has made for himself and his family following his rapid rise up the rankings over the last four years. Sullivan had even more reason to recall his shelfstacking days when an envelope bearing a Georgia postmark dropped on his doormat at home last December. Inside was a letter inviting him to play in the 2016 Masters – the realisation of a boyhood dream. “As soon as I saw the Augusta stamp on it, I thought to myself ‘I know what this is’,” says Sullivan, who secured his invitation on the basis of his lofty world ranking at the end of the 2015 season. "I was like a kid at Christmas opening it," he adds. Sullivan’s journey from supermarket shop floor to the brink of making his debut in the most famous golf tournament in the world is one to warm the coldest of hearts. Inspired to take up golf after watching fellow Midlander Lee Westwood when he was at the very top of his game, Sullivan enjoyed a solid amateur career, winning numerous club and county events, before going

THE

SMILING ASSASSIN

After winning three tournaments and over €2 million in 2015, ANDY SULLIVAN is arguably one of the hottest players on tour. But who is he and why does he always look so happy? WORDS BY NICK BAYLY PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES


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ANDY SULLIVAN | MARCH 2016 [39]

■ ANDY SULLIVAN PROUDLY HOLDS HIS INVITATION TO THE MASTERS

on to international success with wins in Argentina, Australia, and the Scottish Amateur. Controversially overlooked by England selectors for many international events, he made the decision to turn pro at the relatively late age of 24 – but not before finishing off his amateur career by playing a leading role in GB&I’s Walker Cup victory at Royal Aberdeen in 2011. At the end of that year he earned a debut campaign on the European Tour having finished third at qualifying school, but was back there again in 2012 after coming 145th in the Race to Dubai. Ever the fighter, Sullivan battled back to take third in the six-round marathon, and was determined to do better in 2013. He certainly improved, and clung onto his card by finishing 98th in the money list, although a win still seemed a long way off. The following year, 2014, saw Sullivan grab his best finish, third in the KLM Open in Holland, where he stole the headlines when winning a trip to space after bagging a hole-in-one. In typically understated fashion, Sullivan admitted that he ‘wasn’t a good flyer’ and would have preferred the more traditional prize of a new car – a far more practical gift for a tour pro than a trip to the stratosphere. Spaceman or not, Sullivan’s career has since enjoyed a meteoric rise in the last 15 months, with three tournament victories – South African Open, JoBurg Open and Portuguese Masters – in a 10-month stretch from January to October that took him from 150th in the world rankings to 47th. After missing the cut in his first major, the US Open at Chambers Bay, by a single shot, he rounded off last year by pushing Rory McIlroy to the wire in the DP World Championship in Dubai, bagging second-place prize money of €820,000 to take his season’s earnings to well over €2m, and gaining him eighth place in the money list. This season has seen him start where he left off, finishing second in last month’s Dubai Desert Classic to add €200,000 to a Ryder Cup points tally that currently puts him in second place behind McIlroy and almost guarantee him a place in the European team at Hazeltine. A gutsy player, with a hugely competitive edge, Sullivan put in a solid performance in January’s EurAsia Cup – which is widely regarded as warmup match for the Ryder Cup – where he showed Clarke that he is very much a man for the team format by winning a maximum three points from his matches, beating Thongchai Jaidee 4&3 in the singles, and combining with Shane Lowry to win both his foursomes and fourballs. Asked whether the Ryder Cup is looming large on his radar, Sullivan is typically coy about his chances. “It is definitely a goal of mine, but there's a lot of good players that are not in the rankings yet that will be pushing hard to get in it. So I know that I've got to keep my foot to the gas and try to keep pushing on. Hopefully come September, I won't have to have to wait for that phone call to hear Darren saying that I’m not in. If I just keep improving, and try to keep my feet on the ground, I'll give myself the best chance of making the team.” While happy to potter around with his mates at Nuneaton Golf Club, when he’s not racking up cash on the European Tour, Sullivan’s new high world ranking has elicted offers to expand his horizons, and last month saw him make an eagerly-awaited debut on the PGA Tour, when he teed it up at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles. After answering a few questions to local media about who he was and what he was doing there, Sullivan fired three rounds of 71 and a final 75 to finish 68th – representing a solid,

IT'S HARD NOT TO SMILE; I'M LIVING MY DREAMS AND I'M JUST ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT

if unspectacular, start to his Stateside career, as he prepares to launch his first assault on Augusta next month. A stocky figure with an uncomplicated golf swing, Sullivan is coached by 50-yearold Jamie Gough, a respected teacher who also looks after a host of tour players, including Miguel Angel Jimenez, Greg Havret, Peter Lawrie and Richard Sterne. A natural drawer of the ball, Sullivan has been working with Gough on developing a controlled fade to help him target pins tucked on the right-hand side of greens. The lessons have paid off handsomely, and with a deft chipping touch and a confident putting stroke, Sullivan looks very much like the consummate pro, or he would do, if it weren’t for the fact that he looks like he’s enjoying himself way too much. Sullivan stands out from the crowd of identikit tour pros by playing golf with a smile on his face. It’s a happygo-lucky mentality that he’s even managed to turn into a brand of sorts, with his legion of fans from Nuneaton – including his devoted parents – regularly turning up at tournaments wearing those smiley T-shirts that were all the rage at raves during the 1980s. He’s even had a new logo created with the initial ‘AS’ underlined by a swooshlike smile. Eat your heart out Ian James Poulter. Asked about his upbeat demeanor on the golf course, Sullivan says: “I just love playing golf, and doing it for a living is something I dreamt about ever since I was a little boy. So to be doing what I'm doing is incredible. It's just hard not to smile; I'm living my dreams and I'm just enjoying every moment.” With that kind of attitude, matched with a steely temperament, the likeable Sullivan looks destined for greater things. And while most players would be happy to win three tournaments in their entire career, let alone in 10 months, Sullivan’s appetite for success grows bigger every day. “I don't want to finish my career and think I only had three wins,” he says. ”I want more than that; I want to finish up there in the majors and have a chance of winning them. The way my career has developed over the last four years, from amateur to pro, has been very gradual – little steps at a time. I was never going to be the guy that went out there and made an instant impact. It was always going to be small stepping stones. So, hopefully I’ll keep on going, and I’ll keep on taking those steps." Watch out world, Sulli’s on the march. It might be a slow march, but it looks like he’ll get there in the end.


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■ AUGUSTA NATIONAL'S PAR-3 16TH HOLE IS A POPULAR SPOT TO WATCH THE DRAMA UNFOLD

JOSTLING FOR THE

JACKET

Next month’s MASTERS TOURNAMENT will see Jordan Spieth arrive at Augusta as the clear favourite to defend the title he won so impressively 12 months ago, but ‘Big Three’ rivals Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, and two-time champion Bubba Watson, may also have something to say about the outcome of the season’s first major WORDS BY NICK BAYLY PHOTOS BY GETTY IMAGES

T

he Masters is always special. The first quarter of the so-called ‘Impregnable Quadrilateral’ is the only one played at the same venue, Augusta National, and with it comes a history that outweighs all other major venues – perhaps with the exception of the Home of Golf, St Andrews. But this year, the 80th playing of what America loves to call the game's ‘rite of spring’, amidst the newly flowering azaleas and dogwoods, promises to be even more arresting than usual. While professional golf has seen numerous changing of the guards over the years – from Sarazen and Snead to Nicklaus and Player, from Faldo and Lyle to Woods and Watson – it always seems that the next generation is the one that holds the most excitement for fans, and that’s certainly the case with the crop of youngsters currently leading the world rankings. For the first time since the rankings began, the top four slots are occupied by players in their 20s. At the top of the tree is Jordan Spieth, who also happens to be the youngest, and, at just 22, literally has the world at his feet. Hot on his heels is the 28-year-old Australian Jason Day, almost a senior citizen in these youthful times, but freshened up considerably by his first major triumph at last season's major finale, the US PGA Championship. Close in third is 26-year-old Rory McIlroy, who has already chalked up four wins from 28 major appearances, although a green jacket remains one particularly cherished item of clothing that he’s missing from his Swoosh-filled wardrobe. Rickie Fowler, with four wins on tour in the last 10 months, is keen to become part of a ‘Big Four’, but the 27-year-old Californian is still seen as having something to prove at the very highest level, despite bagging four top-five finishes in his last eight majors. Perhaps the biggest challenge to these fearless four comes in the shape of two-time Masters' champion Bubba Watson, who recently usurped Fowler to the world No.4 spot on the back of his win in last month’s Northern Trust Open. The mercurial lefthander is prone to blowing hot and cold, but when he’s hot – as he was at Augusta in 2012, and again in 2014– he’s on fire. At 37, Watson is not the spring chicken that he once was, but with age and responsibilities comes maturity, and the unpredictable Floridian will be hard to keep out of the frame over his beloved Augusta, where he is capable of reducing most of the par fours – and the odd par five – into a drive and a pitch. But it will be Spieth who will justifiably arrive as the bookie’s favourite following his 18-underpar demolition of just over 12 months ago. After his opening rounds of 64 and 66, the rest of the field was left to play for second place over the weekend, turning what should have been an enthralling battle into a triumphal parade. It would be hard to imagine such a scenario repeating itself, but if Spieth turns up with his putting boots strapped on again, it just might. McIlroy has yet to get his head in front this year, but


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

80TH MASTERS | MARCH 2016

[41]

■ BUILT ON A FORMER PLANT NURSERY, AUGUSTA NATIONAL IS A VERY DIFFERENT COURSE TO THE ONE THAT FIRST OPENED IN 1933

■ BUBBA WATSON IS HOTLY TIPPED TO WIN A THIRD GREEN JACKET

MASTERS BETTING (PADDY POWER AS OF 15/3/16):

5 Spieth; 7 McIlroy; 9 Day; 12 B Watson, Scott; 14 Fowler; 18 D Johnson; 20 Mickelson; 22 Rose; 33 Stenson, Reed, Matsuyama; 40 Snedeker, Kopeka, Grace, Oosthuizen; 50 Walker, Schwartzel, Casey, Woods; 55 Garcia; 60 Kuchar 100 Mahan, Holmes, Z Johnson, Poulter. For complete list of odds see www.paddypower.com.

MASTERS ON TV Sky Sports will be showing live coverage from Augusta for all four days. Starting from 7pm for the first three rounds (April 7-9), and from 6pm for the final round (April 10). The broadcast will be shared between Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 4. The BBC will be showing highlights of the opening two rounds on BBC2, with live coverage on Saturday and Sunday from 8pm on the same channel.

barring a missed cut in the Honda Classic, has shown that he is back to full fitness, although perhaps not quite yet firing on all cylinders. The world No.3 has publicly spoken about building his entire season around the majors, so it’s no surprise to find him just off the pace in his limited outings to date – but there’s a genuine sense that he has another gear to change up to when the situation dictates. Although Augusta hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds – his form figures currently read 20, cut, 15, 40, 25, 8, 4 – there’s a definite upward curve to his performances that will give his supporters plenty of hope that he can complete the grand slam of major titles at the second time of asking. McIlroy aside, British hopes lie with last year’s distant runner up, Justin Rose, who has had a relatively quiet start to the season, and perhaps 28-year-old Danny Willett, who is playing some of the best golf of his life, but who only has one Masters outing to his name – last year’s tied 38th – while the imminent arrival of his first child may also scupper his chances. Masters' newcomers Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick will do well to make the weekend on a course that rewards experience just as much it does raw talent. It might pay to side with proven performers, such as 2013 champion Adam Scott, fresh from his victories at the Honda Classic and WGC Cadillac Championship; 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel – also a dual winner this season – or old stager Phil Mickelson (2004, 2006, 2010) who always seems to have an extra spring in his step whenever he lumbers out onto Augusta’s lush fairways. At 42, the years may be catching up with him, but the mercurial leftie still knows how to win around there. Tiger Woods’s participation in the season’s opening major remains in doubt – although the four-time champion recently posted a video of himself hitting irons on a simulator, so who knows where he is on his road to recovery following his most recent back operation. As ever, his camp has kept a tight lid on issuing any formal comeback dates, and we probably won’t know until a few days before April 8 whether he’ll be in the line up or not. One player who will definitely be making his final appearance at Augusta is two-time champion Tom Watson, who, following an emotional farewell to the Open at St Andrews last year, said that he would be bowing out of major championship golf at Augusta. The 66 year old, who won the green jacket in 1977 and 1981, will be one of the three honorary starters on the Thursday. There won’t be a dry eye in the house when he walks off the 18th green on Friday. Also helping on the interest front this year is the fact that the course is slowly but surely being restored to the fascinating strategic test it once was before former club chairman Hootie Johnson decided that the introduction of semi-rough, more trees and back tees located somewhere near to downtown Augusta were somehow a good idea. This policy produced cautious winners like Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman, who, through no fault of their own, turned the final round into a snooze-fest of pars. With today’s bombers capable of racking up eagles on demand at 13 and 15, the back nine on Sunday once again has the capacity to crackle with excitement. This year promises more of the same, with no ‘official’ changes to the layout having been taken place over the last 12 months, although that’s not to say keen-eyed viewers won't notice the odd blade of grass out of place. Regardless, we’ll all be tuning into the coverage with a mixture of nervous tension and more than a hint of jealousy, as the players step out onto the most famous, yet all too rarely played, golf course in the world.


[42] MARCH 2016 | TOUR NEWS

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GREAT SCOTT UPSTAGES TRUMP TO WIN SHOOTOUT AT DORAL A

dam Scott bagged his second PGA Tour title in as many weeks, after outstaying his rivals in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral. Any chance that the resort’s owner, Donald Trump, had of grabbing the headlines were thankfully stolen following a dramatic Sunday afternoon’s play, which saw Rory McIlroy start the final round with a three-shot lead, before finishing with three players in front of him, after a disappointing 74. Riding high after his win at the previous week’s Honda Classic, 35-year-old Scott showed that his switch to the short putter has proved to be a masterstroke, with his 13th tour win coming on the back of a hot run that has his form figures reading 2-1-1 for his last three tournaments. Despite recording two double bogeys, shanking a bunker shot, and flirting with a water hazard on the 72nd hole, Scott claimed the trophy after sinking a six-foot putt on the

final hole for a 69 and a total of 12 under par to beat another hot player, Bubba Watson, by a single stroke. Laying any fears to rest that giving up the anchored broomhandle putter that he won the Masters with would be the end of his career, Scott holed out all 18 putts that he faced from 10 feet and in on the final day. “It was ugly and good, all in 18 holes,” said Scott. "After the troubles at 3 and 5, it could all have slipped away and I could have shot 80, so I’m pleased with how I was able to regroup my thoughts and come back strong. Sometimes winning isn’t pretty.” McIlroy, whose final round included three bogeys, said: “That’s two out of the last three weeks that I’ve put myself into a good position to win a tournament and not got the job done. I’ve got a couple of events left to try to get that win before going to Augusta, and I’m hopefully going to get it.”

Bubba Watson, Danny Willett and Phil Mickelson all held a share of the lead at one point during the final round, but none of them were able to resist Scott’s back-nine charge of

32, which included four birdies. Willett had to make do with a share of third place with McIlroy after a closing 69, one shot ahead of Mickelson.

WOODS OFFERS 'NO TIMETABLE' FOR RETURN

DALY SET TO SHAKE UP SENIOR CIRCUIT

HARRINGTON IN FRAME FOR RYDER CUP ROLE

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T

P

PAUL LAWRIE MATCH PLAY SWITCHES TO ARCHERFIELD This year’s Paul Lawrie Match Play is to be held at Archerfield Links in Scotland. The 64-man knockout matchplay event was originally due to be held at Murcar Links, which staged the inaugural event in 2015, but the organiser has announced a change of host, with Archerfield’s Fidra Links course being the preferred venue. The tournament takes place from August 4-7, and carries a prize fund of €1 million. Archerfield Links is also hosting the Scottish Senior Open from August 18-21.

OOSTHUIZEN ON FIRE IN OZ Louis Oosthuizen eased to a one-shot victory in the Perth International at Lake Karrinyup in Australia. The 33-year-old world took a threeshot lead into the final day, and shot 71 to finish on 16 under par, one shot ahead of Frenchman Alexander Levy, who fired a closing 66. It was the eighth European Tour win for the 2010 Open Champion, who also became was the fifth South African to win this season, following victories by Charl Schwartzel (twice), Brandon Grace, Branden Stone and Haydn Porteous.

BOHN SUFFERS HEART ATTACK PGA Tour player Jason Bohn was rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack during the second round of the Honda Classic in Florida on February 27. The 42-year-old American, who is a two-time PGA Tour winner and currently ranked 71st in the world, called for a doctor after experiencing chest pains after putting out at the 18th hole at PGA National. He was taken by ambulance to a medical centre in nearby Palm Beach Gardens, where he underwent emergency surgery to unblock what was described as a ‘99 per cent blockage’ in his left anterior artery.

VALDERAMMA TO HOST SPANISH OPEN FOR FIRST TIME Next month will see Valderrama, venue of the 1997 Ryder Cup, host the 90th Spanish Open for the very first time. The tournament, which takes place from April 14-17, is being hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation and carries a prize fund of €2 million.

iger Woods’s comeback remains on indefinite hold after the 14-time major winner posted an update on his website which said that he had ‘no timetable for a return to competitive golf’. A week after he posted a video on social media showing him practiscing on a simulator, Woods played down any speculation that a return to tournament play was imminent. He wrote: “I am starting to feel a lot better. I have been chipping and putting at home, and recently started hitting 9-irons. My short game feels pretty sharp. The big thing right now is trying to get stronger and more flexible. Sitting out as long as I did, some weakening has occurred, and I have a lot of work ahead of me.” He added: “While there is no timetable on my return to competitive golf, I want to play this game at the highest level again. In order to do that, I have to get healthy.”

he traditionally staid world of seniors' professional golf is about to get a shot in the arm with the arrival of John Daly on the over 50’s circuit. The controversy-seeking dual major champion is set to make his debut on the Champions Tour at May’s Insperity Invitational in Texas. Many thought that Daly, who had a reputation for high living, would do well to reach his 50th birthday, which is on April 28, but the former wild child has curbed his drinking days, and is generally seen clutching a can of Diet Coke on tour. Playing mostly on sponsor exemptions for the past few years, Daly’s last PGA Tour victory came at the 2004 Buick Invitational, and since 2005 he has posted only three top-10 finishes, although he did win a PGA of Europe-sanctioned event in Turkey in 2014. Daly played in last month’s Qatar Masters on the European Tour, where he shot rounds of 79 and 74 to miss the cut by 10 shots.

SINGING FOR YOUR SUPPER

N

o, the Spice Girls have not reformed– it’s just another one of those toe-curling PR stunts that players are required to endure in order to promote tournaments sponsors. This one required four top women players – (l-r) Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko, Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng – to form a rather awkward-looking girl band to help big up the HSBC Women’s Champions event in Singapore. They were asked to knock out a karaoke rendition of Take That’s Rule the World, but given the excrutiating circumstances, they might have been better off singing How Did It Come To This?, a little known track off the lads' ’The Circus' album.

adraig Harrington has been asked to be one of Darren Clarke’s vice captains for September’s Ryder Cup. A veteran of six Ryder Cups between 1999 and 2010, and widely regarded as a future Ryder Cup captain, the 44-year-old Irishman has yet to be involved in an administrative role, but has revealed that he has been approached by Clarke with a view to taking on one of five potential vice-captain’s positions for the matches at Hazletine. "If I'm not in the team then I would love to be there as part of Darren's backroom team, and I've talked with him so I will be there one way or another," revealed Harrington. "And as much I would like to play in both the Ryder Cup and the Olympics, they're real long shots, so I wouldn't be putting any money on making the team." Clarke has yet to confirm his full roster of support staff.


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

PROMOTIONAL FEATURE | MARCH 2016 [43]

SOFTLY, SOFTLY

Srixon, the UK's top-selling two-piece golf ball brand, has launched two new models – the super-low compression UltiSoft, and the next generation AD333 Tour, both of which focus on delivering soft feel and uncompromising distance for a wide range of players

SRIXON ULTISOFT: SOFT ON FEEL, LONG ON DISTANCE Ever since it launched the AD333 back in 2008, Srixon has dominated the competitive two-piece sector of the golf ball market, thanks to its use of cutting edge technologies and innovative design. While the AD333 continues to be the UK golfers’ favourite two-piece model, Srixon’s R&D experts have spent the last two years working on a completely new category of two-piece ball that is specifically designed to help golfers with lower swings speeds. Step forward – or should that be roll forward – the Srixon UltiSoft – a brand new ball that takes the super-low compression category to a whole new level of softness. Srixon’s engineering team left no stone unturned in its search to ensure every single element of the UltiSoft’s manufacturing process and material configuration was fine-tuned to meet a very demanding set of performance criteria, as Ben Davis, Srixon’s European brand manager, explains. "We really wanted to take our time to ensure we produced a golf ball that would help golfers with low to mid swing speeds, but are still looking for the ultimate in soft feel," said Davis. "I have no doubt that we have achieved this, as UltiSoft features more advanced performance compared to rival brands in terms of distance, control and feel.” He added: "Our proprietary Energetic Gradient Growth core technology allows us to make a ball with lower compression that feels softer, but still maintains maximum initial velocity. Generally speaking, low compression means low initial velocity; however, improvements to our E.G.G. technology have made

SRIXON AD333 TOUR: TOUR-LEVEL PERFORMANCE FOR CLUB-LEVEL SWING SPEEDS

it possible to maintain repulsion and lower compression at the same time, ensuring neither feel nor distance is compromised." Davis also claims the new ball is the company's softest ever Srixon ball. "UltiSoft delivers a lightness of touch like never before, thanks to an innovative soft core that produces softer feel on all shots, from tee to green, and maximises energy transfer for that all important distance." In addition to the innovative EGG core technology, the UltiSoft’s successful balance of soft feel and extreme distance has been achieved through the use of a new dimple configuration – which suppress air resistance in flight to produce strong trajectory against wind – and the introduction of new thin, soft cover structure made of a blend of two resin compound materials, Rabalon HR+ and Panatetra, which enhances feel and short game control.

ULTISOFT DELIVERS A LIGHTNESS OF TOUCH LIKE NEVER BEFORE, THANKS TO AN INNOVATIVE SOFT CORE THAT PRODUCES SOFTER FEEL ON ALL SHOTS, FROM TEE TO GREEN, AND MAXIMISES ENERGY TRANSFER FOR THAT ALL IMPORTANT DISTANCE

The AD333 Tour takes all of the properties that made the AD333 ball such a standout success, but adds in an inner mantle layer to create a high performance three-piece ball that offers an winning combination of distance, control and feel. The latest version of the AD333 Tour has been designed specially for golfers that don't posses tour-level swing speeds, but still demand the precision of a tour-level golf ball. The main differences between the new AD333 Tour and its predecessor is a softer compression that creates a higher launch and lower spin, which ultimately delivers longer distance on all shots. A new Energetic Gradient Growth (E.G.G.) Core, which has softer compression by five points, also achieves higher launch angle, lower spin, longer distance and an incredibly soft feel. With a firm outer layer that softens towards the centre, the E.G.G. core is precisely cured at different temperatures to achieve stiffness variation within a single material component. Unlike some other multi-piece golf balls that jump from one stiffness to the next, Srixon's E.G.G. balls provide greater long-term durability and consistent power distribution. Second generation SpinSkin technology – that also features on the premium Z-Star range – and a super-soft, super-thin urethane cover also combine to create more advanced short game performance around the greens. Designed to improve greenside spin without sacrificing distance and tee to green control, the new SpinSkin coating increases frictional force by 18% and overall softness by 21% compared to the previous model, resulting in unmatched greenside performance. Finally, a next generation 324 dimple pattern improves the aerodynamics of the ball, with more enhanced surface area and less drag leading to a more penetrating flight

For more information on Srixon’s entire golf ball range, and to find the best ball for your game via on an online fitting test, visit www.srixon.co.uk.

and longer drives. The AD333 Tour also stands out further from the crowd thanks to its pure white colour, which guarantees fantastic visibility against cloudy skies and in the rough. "The AD333 Tour is an absolutely fantastic ball that features advanced-performance technology which improves short game control and feel as well as distance," said Davis. "This ball is perfect for golfers who demand the precision of a tour-level ball, but don't necessarily have the swing speed of a tour pro. Our testing shows that golfers who have a swing speed of around 80 mph with the driver gain distance hitting the AD333 Tour over the Z Star. Conversely, testing has shown that players with driver swing speeds of around 90mph would gain more distance with the Z-Star, while those with speeds in excess of 105mph would be better suited to the Z Star XV. For short game, the AD333 Tour will feel slightly softer and spin more around the greens, based on it slower compression and new cover technology.” So there you have it, two new balls for two very different types of player that demand the same thing – soft feel, spin and uncompromising distance. Which one will you choose?


[44] MARCH 2016 | PRO SHOP

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

POWAKADDY FREEWAY

£429.99-£679.99, POWAKADDY.CO.UK

GOLFBUDDY CT2 GPS £129.99, GPSGOLFBUDDY.EU Measuring just 2.2 x 1.7 inches, the CT2 is GolfBuddy’s smallest ever GPS device and is slim enough to slip into a pocket, as well as clip onto a towel ring, belt or golf bag. It comes with 38,000 pre-loaded courses and is packed with features, including distances to front/centre/back of the green; distances to hazards; dynamic green view with pin placement; a digital scorecard; automatic course/hole recognition, clock, GPS tracking and an odometer. Its battery offers up to 18 hours continuous use, and it is available in white/blue or white/green.

Push trolley specialist BIG MAX’s new AutoFold trolley does what it says on the tin by folding down flat in one simple movement. Its three wheels also automatically fold under the body of the cart, leaving the whole unit ready to fit into a car boot with room for a full golf bag on top. Other handy features include an organiser panel with secure storage compartment, and two bases for holding accessories, such as an umbrella or a GPS unit. There is also a footbrake and a height-adjustable handle. It is available in white, white/cobalt, black/red or black, which complement Big Max’s waterproof Aqua bag range.

PRO SHOP

GEAR

£239, BIGMAXGOLF.COM

GUIDE

BIG MAX AUTOFOLD FF TROLLEY

PowaKaddy has unveiled a series upgrades to its line up of Freeway power trolleys, with the top-of-therange FW7S and FW7S EBS (Electronic Braking System) models fitted with a new 3.5-inch full colour digital screen, which shows how much battery power is left, as well as providing automatic distance function for setting the trolley off at distances between 5-50 yards; speed, distance, clock timer and a new calorie counter function. It also offers an anti-tamper security pin lock and a USB port for charging smart phones and GPS devices. Other features include a new set of sports wheels, and a new rear diffuser that comes in brushed silver and carbon graphite, while yellow highlights have been introduced to the frame, handle, bag supports and wheels. The motor has also been upgraded to 230 watts to give it more power, while all models are offered with wireless Plug ‘n’ Play technology, with a range of slim-fit standard lead acid batteries or longer-lasting lithium batteries.

FOOTJOY VERSALUX £140, FOOTJOY.CO.UK The spikeless Versalux is ideal for those golfers looking for a seamless footwear transition from car park to golf course to clubhouse and back again. Boasting calfskin leather uppers, it features a cork covered fit-bed, leather linings, and a suede inner-heel. The spikeless outsole is made from hear-wearing rubber, making it ideal for use on and off the golf course. Fully waterproof, it is available in 23 different size and width options, and comes in brown, black, chalky black and chalky white, with tonal laces.

PING G SERIES HYBRID £180, PING.COM

TAYLORMADE M2 IRONS £699/£599, TAYLORMADEGOLF.COM Touted as its longest iron ever, the M2 replaces the AeroBurner and RSi 1 irons as TaylorMade’s go-to game improvement iron. Boasting a 360-degree undercut cavity, a speed pocket and inverted cone technology, the most significant innovation is a new fluted hosel, which allows 3g of weight to be redistributed lower and deeper in the clubhead to raise the launch angle. Lofts have been strengthened by 1.5 degrees, which lowers spin for added distance, while a new-look badge featuring multi-material struts helps manage sound and feel and dampens vibration.

Ping’s new G series hybrids feature the Turbulator crown technology found in the G30 woods, and the latest G Series woods, which is designed to increase clubhead speed through improved aerodynamics. Although the effect is less pronounced in such a small head, the turbulators create a cohesive cosmetic look across the G range, while the four fins on the crown also serve as a useful alignment aid to help centre the ball on the clubface. Paint lines on the centre of the clubface have also been removed to create a more pronounced hitting zone. The face, which is made from high strength Carpenter 455 steel, features a rougher surface for higher friction and reduced spin, while a cascading sole design enables the face to flex more at impact for increased ball speeds. Launching the ball high, yet with a powerful, forward trajectory, the stainless steel face gives it the sound of an iron at impact, while offering the distance and forgiveness of a traditional hybrid. It is available in five lofts (17°, 19°, 22°, 26° and 30°) with Ping Alta 70 shafts (SR, R, S, X) or the Tour 90 (R, S, X).


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

PRO SHOP | MARCH 2016 [45]

XXIO9 DRIVER

TITLEIST SCOTTY CAMERON SELECT

£499.99, XXIOSTORE.CO.UK

£320, TITLEIST.CO.UK The key feature of the new XXIO 9 driver is Dual Speed Technology, which combines an ultra lightweight, high balance point shaft with a heavy clubhead. This combination creates more centrifugal force in the downswing, and more kinetic energy at impact, resulting in faster swing speeds and greater distances. A new cup face design provides a 10% larger effective hitting area than the previous XXIO model for added forgiveness, while weight has been repositioned further back in the clubhead to improve launch angles, while also lowering spin rate – the key to longer distance. A matching set of fairway woods (3, 5, 7 – £399) and hybrids (17, 19, 21, 23, 25 – £219.99) are also available.

The latest putters to emerge from Scotty Cameron’s California design studio feature an inlayed face insert that wraps around the sole to make it nearly invisible at address. The milled insert is connected to the main body of the head with a vibration dampening material, which combines to produce responsive feel with plenty of feedback. The seven models in the range include traditional heel-toe weighted Newport blades, as well as Cameron’s more angular Newport Notchback design, mid-mallet Newport styles (M1 and M2), and a counterbalanced Notchback, which features an extra 50g in the head offset by a 50g weight plug in the grip to enhance stability.

TITLEIST 4UP STAND BAG £175, TITLEIST.CO.UK Titleist’s new 4UP is designed to meet the needs of the serious bag carrier who doesn’t want to be weighed down by excess features, but still demands plenty of comfort when shouldering their clubs around the course. Weighing less than 4lbs, the fully waterproof bag features three-way, full-length club dividers; dual padded shoulder straps; an active recoil stand with sturdy aluminium legs; four seam-sealed zippered pockets, and three handles around the top cuff. It is available in black/red or grey/ ice blue with full Titleist branding

tried + tested CALLAWAY XR 16 DRIVER | £279, CALLAWAYGOLF.COM Callaway’s XR range has always been about creating speed and distance in a straightforward package to suit a wide range of players from tour pros to high handicappers. With fewer bells and whistles than its premium Great Big Bertha, the new XR 16 is a stripped-down sports car of a driver that is billed as ‘Forgiveness Meets Fast’. Callaway has always been at the cutting edge of R&D, but has gone one stage further with the XR 16 by working in close conjunction with aerodynamics experts at aircraft manufacturers Boeing to create a clubhead that moves through the air very much like the wing of an aeroplane, and launches the ball faster and further than previously possible.

PING TR 1966 PUTTER £135, PING.COM Ping has unveiled two new Anser putters to mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of the original model designed by Karsten Solheim back in 1966. The new TR 1966 Anser and Anser 2 were created using 3D scans of the original models to analyse the contours and radius details that were shaped into the initial designs with the help of a mill and hand files. The Anser, which has a bronze PVD finish, includes a slot in the sole and will appeal to players who prefer no alignment aids at address, a more rounded heel and toe, and a slightly thicker top line. The Anser 2 has a stainless steel blast finish, and features a single white alignment line on the flange. Its heel and toe contours are less rounded than those of the Anser, and its top rail is narrower. Both models feature Ping’s True-Roll face technology, which comprises a precision-milled face design that provides improved ball-speed consistency.

By using a state-of-the-art wind tunnel, and computer modeling techniques that are not available to the golf industry, Boeing’s engineers discovered that a series of ‘trip steps’ located at specific points on the crown significantly reduce drag and pressure around the clubhead, which, when translated to the driving range, resulted in increased swing speeds of 1mph. There are several other new elements that improve performance, including an increased footprint, which has been stretched to create a lower and deeper centre of gravity, improve forgiveness and raise trajectory, and a face that is also 20% thinner and 9g lighter than its predecessor, making it easier to swing faster and gain yardage without any increased effort. Out on the golf course, the XR 16 not only looks fast, but feels fast too, with the lightweight aerodynamic head cutting through the air to deliver impressive yardages. The ball flight is high, but without any suggestion of ballooning, instead offering a straight, powerful arc with no dramatic drop-off. An adjustable hosel allows loft angles to be played around with to suit personal preference, and although there is a degree of workability, the XR 16 seems best designed to simply hit it long and straight. The XR 16 is available in 9°, 10.5° and 13.5° models, and comes with a Fujikura Speeder Evolution 565 graphite shaft.


[46] MARCH 2016 | PRO SHOP

GEAR

GUIDE

PRO SHOP

ECCO CASUAL HYBRID £100-£110, ECCO.COM Eccco has added some new colour options to its popular Casual Hybrid range. Available in sneaker and classic brogue styles, the expanded range includes new models in Marine Blue/White, Titanium/White, True Navy, White, and Picante. All the new models feature all the same technological benefits which make the Casual Hybrid ideal for wearing on and off the golf course, as well as offering high levels of traction. The key to the Casual Hybrids’ on-course performance is the E-DTS outsole, which features molded traction bars made from durable TPU that provide hundreds of angles for superb grip. These combine with a highly flexible cushioned midsole; a locked-in heel section, and a roomier toe section, which allows the foot to move naturally to offer better balance and in-shoe comfort. Each shoe also includes a leather inlay sole that can be removed for width customisation.

EQUIPMENT

NEWS NIKE SINKS ITS TEETH INTO TIGHTS GOLFERS WHO LOVE the feel of a Long John on a cold winter’s round should have no issue with Nike’s latest launch into the world of athletically-styled golf attire – the Hyperwarm Tight. Popular with runners, gym bunnies and rock climbers, these nowhere-to-hide compressions skins are designed to provide a locked-in feel that supports leg muscles, as well as keeping the wearer warm. “Tights are good for recovery,” stated Nike Golf staff player Brooks Koepka. “We train so hard on and off the golf course that I think it will help us stay on the Tour for a little longer by keeping our bodies fresh for years down the road.” Made with a high-stretch fabric that helps keep athletes dry, Nike’s game-changing man tights are also claimed to offer more psychological benefits. "I absolutely love wearing the tights when I practise and workout,” said PGA Tour player Scott Pinckney. “I feel more athletic and my legs always feel better after I practise when I wear them.” Suits you, Scott, suits you.

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

GOLFBUDDY LD2 £199, GPSGOLFBUDDY.EU GolfBuddy’s new LD2 GPS watch has been designed specifically for the fashion-conscious female golfer. Elegant and lightweight, it offers a range of feminine design touches, including a row of Swarovski crystal studs above and below the face, and a rich alligator grain leather strap. A thin body, stainless steel crown button and bezel, and a premium mineral lens, complete the stylish look. Preloaded with over 38,000 courses, it offers distances to front/ centre/back of the green, alongside distances to all hazards, while GolfBuddy's automatic recognition system immediately picks up which course and hole you're playing. A built-in odometer mean the LD2 can double up as a health band, while a lithium-ion battery provides eight hours' use in GPS mode and up to one year in watch mode.

UNDER ARMOUR STRIKESKIN £20, UNDERAMOUR.COM With polo shirts and outerwear flying off pro shop shelves, following the success of the brand’s poster boy, Jordan Spieth, Under Armour has expanded its product range of accessories to include gloves, and soon-to-be launched golf shoes. The glove range includes three models, led by the StrikeSkin Tour (£20), which features specially-tanned cabretta leather and built-in closure tabs. The most popular model, however, looks set to be the Strikeskin Camo (£25), which comes in a range of three bold camouflage colours, while those looking for a more hard-wearing design should opt for the CoolSwitch, a synthetic model which features an exclusive coating that works on the inside of the glove to move heat away from the skin, thus cooling hands in even the hottest conditions.

BENTLEY ROLLS OUT GOLF RANGE FIRST IT WAS FERRARI, then it was Williams, and now we have Bentley. Yes, the motoring industry is well and truly muscling in on the increasingly competitive market for high-end golf equipment. Bentley Golf is launching a comprehensive collection of clubs and accessories this spring, with the hardwear range comprising a driver, fairway wood, utility iron, hybrid, two sets of irons, wedges and a putter. Inspired by the bespoke craftsmanship that goes into each Bentley produced in Crewe, the clubs are hand forged in Japan, and will mirror some of the design features that can be found on its cars. “Bentley Golf seemed like a natural fit to us,” said Bentley Golf designer Peter Lord. “A large majority of Bentley owners play golf, and why wouldn’t they want golf equipment that’s the equal to their cars. There is a distinct lack of high end, hand-crafted, and precision golf equipment. We believe we now have this with the Bentley Golf line and of course it’s not only for Bentley owners, but anyone wanting something extra special.” As well as featuring custom-made heads, the clubs come with premium shafts and traditional leather grips with embossed metal medallions featuring the famous Bentley logo. Not surprisingly, these clubs aren’t cheap, with individual wedges costing from £395, the driver £599, while a set of forged irons will set you back £2,500. A full range of accessories, including golf balls, umbrellas, luggage, bags and caps, will also be part of the collection. Looking for a Bentley ball marker? That’ll be £69.99. For more details visit www.bentleygolf.com.

BUBBA PUTS TRUST IN G/FORE GLOVE BUBBA WATSON was given a helping hand during his recent victory in the Northern Trust Open success, donning a G/Fore glove for the final two rounds. The two-time Masters champion had signed a deal to wear the handmade Italian gloves from the Masters onwards, but the 37-year-old Floridian was so taken with them that he chose to wear one during the latter stage of the action at Riviera Country Club in California, where he saw off a late run from Adam Scott to secure the $1.2m championship. “It’s the best quality leather I’ve ever put on my hand,” said Watson. “They also offer the best fit and the best feel. I’ve got skinny hands, but these fit just perfectly.” As well as premium gloves and shoes, G/FORE launched its first clothing range last autumn, with more to follow in the spring. G/Fore gloves are available in a variety of bright colours, and can be ordered from online retailer www.trendygolf.com.


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

PRO SHOP | MARCH 2016

THE GEAR EFFECT

PRODUCT REVIEW

MOTORING IN THE FAST LANE

Inside The Bags Of Winners On Tour

After a lifetime spent lugging his clubs on his back and dragging a push trolley, Matt Nicholson finally succumbed to the joys of power trolley golf, courtesy of MOTOCADDY’S M1 PRO

A

fter over 30 years manfully spent carrying a stand bag, and occasionally using a pull trolley, my aching shoulders told me that the time was right to invest in a power trolley. Friends who have been using them for years have been banging on at me for ages to join the powered generation, so it was with a feeling of relief, mixed with a hint of sadness, that I bowed to pressure and made enquiries about moving into the electric age. My playing partners use a mixture of power trolley brands, but one was particularly taken with his Motocaddy M1 Pro, so after a quick trial with his around the car park, and finding little wrong with it, I decided to take the plunge and buy one online. After just a few clicks through Motocaddy’s website I’d placed the order, and less than three days later a large box arrived containing my new three-wheel transport. Among the features and benefits of the M1

was its ability to fold down to a very compact size. I don’t have much room in my boot, so getting a trolley that could have a bag placed on top of it was essential, and the M1 does just that thanks to a front wheel that folds in on itself – which makes it 40% narrower than when it is in use. It took a few attempts to get to grips with the order in which you have to it fold down, but it soon became second nature. Another user-friendly feature is the adjustable handle, which can be lowered or raised through a 30cm arc, making it much more comfortable to manoeuvre with the controls at the right level for my hands. Given the compact size and narrow wheelbase, I was slightly concerned about its overall stability, but the position of the battery tray lowers the centre of gravity, and it happily coped with all the side slopes I encountered. Another handy feature is the pop-up cradle for holding a GPS device or phone. It is

[47]

ADAM SCOTT

HONDA CLASSIC

located on the frame and has an adjustable pair of padded clamps to fit any width of device from 4.4cm up to 7.5cm. There is also a USB socket inside the cradle for charging devices from the main battery, which is a great idea. The handle houses the dial that controls the trolley's 230-watt motor. Stop and start is just a push on the dial, and then it is very easy to control the speed with your thumb up and down through the nine speed settings. An automatic distance function allows you to send the trolley 15, 30 or 45 metres on its own, but it took a few goes in open spaces to get used to how far these distance actually were, and to have the confidence to set it off. Using this function can save a lot of time during the round, even if you do have to learn to watch out for slopes and bunkers. Aside from the battery charge indicator, there are no more functions on the screen, and this makes it very easy to use and simplifies the

display. Given that I occasionally play more than 18 holes in a day, I opted for the longer-lasting 36-hole lithium battery, which although more expensive than the lead acid battery, is well worth the investment, as besides the peace of mind offered by the extended charge, it is also much lighter, and doesn’t have to be taken out of its cradle when being recharged – which is a massive bonus. The elastic bag straps kept my trolley bag securely in place, although if you buy one of Motocaddy’s own cart bags it has a slot on the bottom that locks the bag in place for an even more secure fit. All in all, the M1 Pro is a neat, uncomplicated, and well-designed power trolley that is easy to use and even easier to store. I came off the golf course after my first round with it feeling a whole lot fresher than I ever did with a stand bag or my push trolley, and the only annoyance I felt was with myself for not getting one earlier.

The Motocaddy M1 Pro is available with a black or white frame and costs £399.99 with a lead acid battery and £499 with a lithium battery. It can be ordered online at www.motocaddy.com, where details of the complete range of Motocaddy power trolleys and accessories can also be found.

DRIVER: Titleist 915D2 (9.5) FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 915F (16.5) IRONS: Titleist 716 T-MB (3), Titleist 680 MB (3-9) WEDGES: Titleist Vokey SM6 (48, 54, 60) PUTTER: Titleist Scotty Cameron Futura Rev X10 Xperimental BALL: Titleist Pro V1

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN

PERTH INTERNATIONAL DRIVER: Ping G30 LS Tec (10.5) FAIRWAY WOODS: Ping G (14.5, 18) UTILITY: Ping Crossover G-3X (19) IRONS: Ping S55 (4-PW) WEDGES: Ping Tour Gorge (54), Ping Glide (60) PUTTER: Ping Scottsdale TR Senita Counterbalanced BALL: Titleist Pro V1x

BUBBA WATSON

NORTHERN TRUST OPEN DRIVER: Ping G (9) FAIRWAY WOOD: Ping G (14.5) IRONS: Ping S55 (2-PW) WEDGES: Ping Glide SS (52, 56) Ping Glide TS (60) PUTTER: Ping Anser Milled 1 BALL: Titleist Pro V1x

MARCUS FRASER

MAYBANK CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVER: TaylorMade M1 (9.5) FAIRWAY WOODS: TaylorMade M1 (14, 19) UTILITY: TaylorMade RSi UDI (20) IRONS: TaylorMade RSi (4-9) WEDGES: TaylorMade TP MB (48), Titleist Vokey SM6 (54), TaylorMade TP xFT (58) PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot Pro V-Line BALL: TaylorMade TP X

TRACK YOUR GAME WITH SKYCADDIE LINX WHILE OFFERING all the benefits of a standard GPS watch, SkyCaddie’s new Linx GT throws in an innovative shot-tracking element and a new synchronised mobile app. With accurate yardages for over 35,000 courses provided by SkyCaddie’s TrueGound maps – each of which is exclusively created and updated on foot – the GT can also be paired wirelessly with SkyCaddie’s Mobile GPS App to provide expanded HD views of the hole being played on a smartphone. Users can tap the mobile screen to measure to any point on the hole and get information needed for lay ups, or simply pinch and zoom to reveal up to 40 referenced targets. A further feature is the built-in shot tracking system which, when combined with SkyCaddie SmartTags, allows golfers to track the club, location and distance of each shot. The golfer attaches SmartTags to each club in their bag and ‘tags’ a club to the GT watch before taking a shot. They can then see the club, location and distance of each shot overlaid on the mobile app’s HoleVue screen. An autoswing option detects when and where a swing is made, even if the user forgets to tag a shot. Each shot is synchronised in real time with the SkyGolf 360 Cloud, avoiding the need to connect to a computer after the round. The Gametracker system is currently available for use with Apple iOS apps, with Android options coming soon. It costs £269.95 for a package that also includes the club SmartTags.

VAUGHN TAYLOR

AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM DRIVER: TaylorMade R11 (9) FAIRWAY WOODS: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 (14.5, 18.5) IRONS: TaylorMade TP MB (3-9) WEDGES: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 (48, 54, 60) PUTTER: Odyssey Versa #7 90 BALL: Titleist Pro V1x

CHARL SCHWARTZEL TSHWANE OPEN

DRIVER: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (11.5) FAIRWAY WOOD: Nike Vapor Fly 3+ IRONS: Nike MM Proto (2), Nike Vapor Pro Combo (3-PW) WEDGES: Nike VR Forged (54, 60) PUTTER: Nike Method 001 BALL: Nike RZN Tour Platinum

LYDIA KO

NEW ZEALAND WOMEN'S OPEN

THE LOWDOWN ON RICKIE’S HIGH TOPS RICKIE FOWLER stole the show at last month’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship with a thrilling performance to capture his fourth win in the last 10 months, briefly taking him to No.4 in the world rankings. While there was much to admire about his play, there were also plenty of people who had things to say about his choice of attire – more specifically his elasticated three-quarter length joggers and padded high-top trainers. While not all the comments were particularly favourable, his pumped-up Puma pumps certainly made the 26 year old stand out from the crowd

even more than he usually does. Grant Knudson, Puma Golf’s head of footwear, explained the look. “Rickie expressed an interest in wearing a high-top cleated shoe that could be worn with more progressive apparel. Our design team took inspiration from an earlier Puma high-top lifestyle shoe and combined it with the TitanTour Ignite outsole. The result is a cleated performance high-top that includes both a lace and Velcro closure. The apparel team then matched this with a version of our 6 Pocket Pant that has been custom tailored to a jogger silhouette.” So now you know.

DRIVER: Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815 (9) FAIRWAY WOOD: Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815 (14) HYBRID: Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815 (20, 23, 25) IRONS: Callaway Apex Pro (5-PW) WEDGES: Callaway Mack Daddy 2 Tour Grind (54, 58) PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot Pro 2-Ball BALL: Callaway Speed Regime 3

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA PHOENIX OPEN

DRIVER: Srixon ZR-30 (9.5) FAIRWAY WOOD: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 (15) HYBRID: Honma Tour Watch TWT27 (19) IRONS: Srixon Z945 (4-PW) WEDGES: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 (52, 56, 60) PUTTER: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS BALL: Srixon Z-Star XV


[48] MARCH 2016 | BALLS

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

NEW BALLS,

PLEASE Softer, Stronger, Longer – it’s New Balls for the New Season

TITLEIST NXT TOUR

TITLEIST NXT TOUR S

£34 (FOR 12)

£34

A new dual core with a larger centre lowers driver and iron spin, while delivering fast ball speed for more distance. A thin Fusablend cover offers soft feel and shot-stopping control around the green, while a spherically-tiled 302 octahedral dimple design, with shallower edges, delivers a higher relative ball flight than the NXT Tour S, with a deeper peak trajectory.

The NXT Tour S is designed for players seeking the performance of NXT Tour, but with a softer compression feel. The introduction of a softer compression core and a softer Fusablend cover has created is the softest-feeling NXT Tour S ever. Comparatively, NXT Tour delivers longer distance with a higher flight, while NXT Tour S provides significantly softer feel.

TITLEIST VELOCITY

TITLEIST DT TRUSOFT

£24

£20

The new Velocity is designed with a larger, faster core that produces higher ball speed for more distance. The low spin construction and 328 dimples in a spherically-tiled tetrahedral design deliver a soaring, penetrating ball flight that produces long carry distance with more rollout. A thinner cover combines with the larger core to deliver more playable greenside feel.

Although 15 compression points softer than the DT SoLo that it replaces, the TruSoft manages to go further than the SoLo, while retaining spin and control. It achieves this with Titleist’s softest ever ionomer cover, and a new larger, softer core. It is available in a choice of white or yellow.

GOLF BALL BUYING GUIDE THE 8 Cs TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING BALLS CONSTRUCTION: The number of ‘pieces’ that make up a golf ball refers to the number of component parts. A two-piece ball features a core and a cover, while a three-piece ball features a core, a mantle layer and a cover. Three-piece used to be the most premium, but now most mid-price balls are three-piece, and premium balls are generally four-piece, which includes an extra mantle layer, although there are five- and even six-piece balls on the market.

CORE: While the cores of most balls used to be rubber bands, the current trend is for balls with larger,

softer cores, which have different grades of compression within them to create distance and spin qualities.

too much compression will have the reverse effect, so it’s vital to find a ball that matches your swing speed (see ‘custom-fitting’).

COMPRESSION:

CONFIGURATION (OF DIMPLES):

Compression is a measure of a golf ball’s deflection at impact. The more it compresses against the clubface, the lower the compression. Measured on a scale of 0-200, the very softest balls start at around 40, mid-range are between 70-80, and firmer tour-grade balls are between 90-100. As a general rule, the slower your swing, the more benefit you will get from a ball with a softer compression, as it will act like a trampoline to give you more distance, although

Dimples are essential to create the laminar flow that gives the golf ball lift. They are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and configurations. Most balls feature between 320-340 dimples, which serve to give the ball stability through the air.

COVER: Most premium balls used to feature surlyn covers, which although very soft, would cut


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

BALLS | MARCH 2016 [49]

SRIXON AD333 TOUR

SRIXON ULTISOFT

CALLAWAY CHROME SOFT

£36

£32

£32.99

£24.99

The new three-piece AD333 Tour launches higher and spins less than its predecessor for longer distance on all shots. This has been achieved with a new Energetic Gradient Growth core that has a firmer outer layer and a softer centre. A thinner Urethane cover increases softness by 21%, while SpinSkin technology increases friction by 18% for more spin

The softest two-piece ball Srixon has ever made, the UltiSoft has a compression of 40, which makes it very soft indeed. Combined with a soft ionomer cover and an energy gradient core, it produces softer feel on all shots, and is aimed at players with low-to-mid swing speeds looking for feel around the greens, but don’t want to compromise on driver distance or control.

Offering tour-level performance at a mid-price point, the new Chrome Soft boasts the same fourpiece construction as the original, but features a new dual speed core that promotes even faster ball speed with low driver spin, while offering higher short iron spin on all shots to the green. A soft urethane cover delivers all-round feel, while HEX dimples provide aerodynamic control.

Callaway has made soft a priority on its new Superhot 55, a three-piece, soft Surlyncover ball. With its 55 compression similar to Callaway’s Supersoft ball, it's for players who want a little more shot-making performance than Supersoft, and a more spin around the greens, primarily due to the compression and the extra mantle layer.

TAYLORMADE TOUR PREFERED

TAYLORMADE TOUR PREFERED X

TAYLORMADE PROJECT (A)

HONMA TOUR WORLD G6

£44.99

£44.99

£34.99

£56

The four-piece TP features a new inner mantle that is 65% softer than the previous model, making it feel softer, but without losing any speed or spin. It launches higher and spins more on mid and long irons than the TP X, but provides the same distance and short game spin. A soft urethane cover features low drag dimples that improve performance in the wind.

The new TP X features a five-layer construction and has a slightly firmer feeling than the standard TP, courtesy of a 87 compression against the TP’s 80. It offers a more penetrating flight and slightly less spin on mid and long iron shots, while a thicker cast urethane cover than the previous TP X model improves short-game performance.

The second generation Project (A) is a threepiece ball designed to produce more spin from 30 yards and in. It has a compression of 70 – 18 points lower than the original model – which has been achieved by dropping the core compression by 33% (to 40). This makes it feel much softer off the face and spin more on approach shots.

The Tour World G6 is the only six-piece ball currently on the market in the UK. Aimed at players with faster-than-average swing speeds, the G6’s construction sees a soft 336-dimple urethane cover placed over four different layers wrapped around a soft rubber core. It produces high spin and soft feel on mid and short irons and a strong, low spinning trajectory on long irons and woods.

PINNACLE SOFT

WILSON STAFF DX3

NIKE RZN TOUR BLACK/PLATINUM

NIKE RZN SPEED WHITE/RED

£15

£29.99

£32.99

£32.99

The softest Pinnacle ball ever, the all-new Soft combines a high-energy, very low compression core with a soft ionomer cover to provide feel with low spin for long distance. A icosahedral 322 dimple design ensures an ideal, consistent flight. It is available in white, with either black or pink numbers.

With a compression of 55, the DX3 is the softest ball on the market with a urethane cover. Soft compression balls spin less, meaning more distance on the longer shots and an aerodynamic 362 seamless dimple pattern aids efficient flight. The DX3's three-piece construction means that better players can get Tour level spin and control on and around the greens.

The RZN Tour Black is aimed at players who want to limit spin on full shots, while the Platinum targets golfers who prefer mid-spin. Both fourpiece models have a 10% larger core, which generates faster ball speeds. The core also has a lower compression for a softer feel. The urethane cover has 344 dimples, plus a further 13,558 micro dimples to promote a longer, more stable flight.

Both RZN Speed balls have a three-piece construction with an ionomer cover and lower compression core than the RZN Tour, which makes them ideal for players with moderate to slow swing speeds. The core and mantle layer are fused together to provide efficient energy transfer at impact. The Red ball carries further, while the White feels softer.

CUSTOM FITTING:

up easily. Most premium balls now offer more durable urethane covers, which are soft but far more durable, while lower-priced models tend to feature ionomer covers, which are slightly firmer, but still offer high levels of feel and are hard wearing. The cover has the most impact on the way the ball sounds off the clubface, so if you like to hear a ‘click’ off the putter, a firmer cover will give you that.

COLOUR: Premium balls used to be a milky white, which discoloured over time. These days they are a much brighter white, while bright yellow is also available in premium balls, including Srixon’s Z Star and Titleist’s NXT. These are often easier to pick up against grey skies and are more visible in gloomy conditions.

CALLAWAY SUPERHOT 55

COST: Price remains the over-riding factor in the ball buying decisions of most golfers. As ever, you get what you pay for in terms of all-round

performance, but if your swing speed is less than 90mph, spending the extra money on tour-grade balls won’t always help you hit the ball further.

Finding a ball that offers the right combination of distance, control and feel for your game is essential for peak performance. All the major brands offer online fitting services, which offer a guide to which ball within their range will suit your game best, based on your swing speed and performance requirements, so it’s worth visiting a number of different sites to see what types of ball are suggested. Then it’s just a question of giving them a spin on the course or around the practice putting green, and discovering which yields the best results. Some players have a ‘winter’ and a ‘summer’ ball, as you get less roll on wet fairways, and might need more spin in the summer when the greens are firmer. However, once you’ve found a ball that works for you, try and stick with it, as it will help improve consistency, especially around the greens.


[50] MARCH 2016 | TRAVEL

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

TRAVEL REVIEW

DUBLIN UP Matt Nicholson layers up for a bracing weekend’s golfing in DUBLIN, where the twin delights of the K Club and Royal Dublin, and a couple of nights out on the town, proved an intoxicating combination

Y

ou don’t have to be a great fan of big cities to enjoy a gentle stroll along the banks of the River Liffey and around delightful Dublin. What’s more, it’s so close to the UK you can reach it from any one of many mainland airports before you can say Michael O’Leary. But even though they charge rather a lot for carrying clubs, there’s no point in denying budget airlines are remarkably cheap. Whilst Dublin is a fascinating city, there is, of course, a lot more to life than historic sites, superb architecture, exciting nightlife and pubs serving what is widely acknowledged as the best Guinness in the world. Fortunately there’s golf, and Ireland’s capital is blessed with a plethora of truly outstanding tracks. Choosing just a couple for a brief break is every bit as challenging as hitting a four-iron to an island green and getting the ball to stop. In terms of people, Ireland is a country that can be considered significantly under-populated. But

when it comes to golf courses, it’s a very different story. Indeed, there’s almost an embarrassment of riches, and as wide a variety as you’ll find anywhere in the world. If only the weather were a little more reliable, there really would be very little reason to go anywhere else. But we’ve sensibly packed some waterproofs, and so let’s start quite close to the airport and less than five miles from the centre of town at a course that shares an island adjoining Dublin Bay with a bird sanctuary. You have to drive over a nearly 200-year-old wooden bridge to reach truly regal Royal Dublin. For those of us who sadly lack any aristocratic ancestors, the very word ‘Royal’ can be somewhat intimidating but, despite being the second oldest club in Ireland, Royal Dublin is the very antithesis of snooty and you could travel the length of the Liffey without receiving a friendlier or warmer welcome. A grand entrance leads you into an impressive oak-panelled clubhouse complete with sweeping staircase, dramatic oil paintings, vintage trophies

■ THE PAR-THREE THIRD ON THE K CLUB’S PALMER COURSE

and framed photos of the golfing greats who have played here, including Seve, Jack Nicklaus, Bernard Langer and Christy O’Connor. Christy, or ‘Himself’ as he is known around these parts, was formerly the professional here, and is evidently rightly revered as a living legend. Now 91, the man who played in 10 Ryder Cups still frequently visits the club that was the scene of some of his more notable triumphs. A room is named after him, and there’s an engraved stone out on the course by the 16th tee that commemorates his eagle, birdie, birdie finish to clinch the Irish Open here in 1966. Although you could happily spend the whole of the day soaking up the marvellous atmosphere in the comfortable clubhouse, unless it’s raining especially hard, that’s obviously not a serious option. The fact that there’s a course here at all is rather interesting. It owes its existence to Captain Bligh, he of ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ fame. To make entry into Dublin port safer for ships, Bligh recommended the building of a wall. Following its construction in

■ THE 11TH HOLE AT ROYAL DUBLIN

the early part of 19th century, a sandbank developed which gradually grew into the island upon which a course was created. After this original effort was destroyed by the military during the First World War, Harry Colt created something altogether more impressive. However, with players hitting the ball much further, it became apparent at the turn of this century that something needed to be done and renowned architect Martin Hawtree proposed some significant changes that were implemented at a cost of nearly €5m. Now over 400 yards longer than it was, the course measures 7,269 yards off the tips and is a challenge for even the biggest hitters. More importantly, it is a hugely enjoyable experience for the rest of us. Although it lacks towering dunes and really


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

TRAVEL | MARCH 2016

■ ROYAL DUBLIN’S RIPPLED FAIRWAYS OFFER A TYPICAL LINKS CHALLENGE

anything in the way of serious elevation, nevertheless the sensuous humps and hollows, gloriously springy turf, and wonderfully contoured greens provide the key ingredients that make links golf such a thrilling experience. Laid out in the classic nine-out, nineback fashion, it leads you out towards the sea and then home again. En route you’ll see ferries to-ing and fro-ing to Liverpool, the Isle of Man and Cherbourg, as well as a rich variety of seabirds, some of which you might think are pelting you with shells, but they’re merely trying to smash them so as to extract the tasty morsels within. One of the nicest things about the course is how eminently playable it is. The fairways are quite wide and the rough is not ridiculously thick. There is the old clump of trees, a fair amount of gorse and plenty of bunkers, but you shouldn’t really struggle too much or lose many balls. The 18th is a quirky hole that will ensure you leave with a wry smile. With out of bounds all the way down the right-hand side, it’s a right-angled dogleg that, unless you hit a massive drive, invites you to cut off as much of the corner with your approach as you dare. In theory it should be possible to take a boat up the Liffey to a dramatically different, but even more famous course, many miles upstream. The ‘K’ Club or, to give it its full name, the Kildare Hotel, Spa & Country Club, is one of those spectacular five-star resorts that simply exudes class

[51]

■ THOUSANDS OF GOLFERS HAVE VISITED THE K CLUB SINCE THE

2006 RYDER CUP TO CREATE THEIR OWN BIT OF GOLFING HISTORY

SENSUOUS HUMPS AND HOLLOWS, GLORIOUSLY SPRINGY TURF, AND WONDERFULLYCONTOURED GREENS PROVIDE THE KEY INGREDIENTS THAT MAKE LINKS GOLF SUCH A THRILLING EXPERIENCE and quality. At its heart lies what looks like an imposing French chateau. In fact, several handsome buildings have stood on this site, the most recent of which was a Georgian mansion. It was this that was lovingly converted into a luxury hotel in 1991. Nowadays, it stands proudly overlooking a gorgeous 550-acre estate. Although the hotel is mightily impressive, and has the feel of an exceptionally opulent country house, it is one of the two adjoining golf courses that is principally responsible for attracting the thousands who make a pilgrimage here. History is mostly what attracts them and that can be made, as is the case with Royal

Dublin, over the course of very many years. Alternatively, as with the K Club, it can be secured more or less overnight by hosting a huge event. And they don’t come any ‘huger’ than the Ryder Cup. While many thousands lined the fairways back in 2006 for the biennial transatlantic battle between Europe and the USA, tens of millions more watched the drama unfold on television. Such an experience plants a seed of desire to see for oneself where Tiger pulled his opening tee shot into a lake, where Darren Clarke chipped in to seal a win, and where Woosie sprayed Champagne over the adoring fans. Both the Palmer course, in particular, and the K Club in general. certainly don’t disappoint. An exceptionally beautiful parkland course, complete with sweeping fairways, majestic specimen trees, and a rich variety of water features that add hugely to the considerable visual appeal, it is wonderfully tranquil now that the echoes of the cheering crowds have almost died. Risk and reward are evident on every hole, which is what you would expect of a course specifically designed for the greatest match play tournament on earth. Gently undulating and very walkable, it’s no stranger to stroke play events either and the K Club will be welcoming the competitors at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. If you love great golf, food, and mixing with the locals, you can’t go wrong with Dublin.

The Royal Dublin Golf Club Green Fees: €150 (March-Oct), €75 (Nov-Feb) Web: theroyaldublingolfclub.com K Club (Palmer Course) Green Fees: €240 (May-Sept), €180 (Apr/Oct) Web: kclub.ie For full details of golf in Ireland go to: www.Ireland.com/golf


[52] MARCH 2016 | TRAVEL

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

UKTRAVELBREAKS DARTMOOR’S Golfing Delights

A

■ KINGSWOOD 5TH HOLE

Enjoy A Royal Retreat At

KINGSWOOD T

he Lodge at Kingswood Golf Club is proving a real hit with golfers visiting the popular Tadworth-based club. The attractive facility offers 18 stylish guest rooms, which are ideal for visiting groups and societies, as well as golfers travelling to take part in the numerous high profile events that the club stages on a regular basis. Featuring en suite facilities, and a chic and contemporary design, the luxury lodge offers four-star equivalent boutique hotel accommodation located in the peaceful surroundings of the Surrey countryside. The twin and double rooms feature everything you’d expect to find in a top-class hotel, including Sky TV, Wi-Fi, mini bar and espresso machines, as well as 24-hour room service. After a restful night’s sleep and a full English breakfast in the clubhouse, guests can head to the first tee of the championship golf course. Built in 1927, and designed by

legendary architect James Braid, Kingswood has benefitted from a major renovation programme that has seen the course updated to maintain its status as one of the finest courses in the region. The result is a 6,916-yard layout that is now punctuated with exciting risk and reward tee shots and daunting approaches, making the course both memorable and challenging. Located just three miles from junction 8 of the M25, Kingswood is easily accessible from all parts of south and west London and the home counties, and makes for a wonderful venue whatever the occasion. Stay-and-play packages are currently available from as little as £100pp (July 1-August 31), including two rounds of golf, overnight accommodation and breakfast, based on two people sharing a twin or double room. For details, visit www.kingswood-golf.co.uk or call 01737 832188.

s well as being home to one of the UK’s most scenic National Parks, Dartmoor is also the venue for a handful of stunning moorland golf courses, each of which enjoys its own unique and stunning setting. Exclusive Golf Breaks has put together a great value two-night, three-round package that gives golfers the chance to choose from the delightful layouts to be found at Yelverton, Tavistock, St Mellion and Bovey Castle. The Jack Nicklaus-designed St Mellion needs little introduction to the golfing public, having hosted numerous tour events over the years, while the magnificent Bovey Castle, located in Moretonhampstead, is fast gaining a reputation as a challenging tournament venue, having hosted several EuroPro Tour events in recent years. Designed to rival its

■ BOVEY CASTLE

sister courses at Gleneagles and Turnberry, the JF Abercombie-designed course at Bovey meanders through the undulating estate, with winding streams and large Dartmoor rocks adding to the challenge at every turn. Tavistock and nearby Yelverton are both classic moorland tracks, with golfers required to share the generous fairways with herds of grazing sheep and native Dartmoor ponies,

■ ST MELLION 16TH HOLE

CORNISH CREAM

exclusivegolfbreaks.com

2 NIGHTS B&B at St Mellion or Trevose 3 ROUNDS St Mellion, Perranporth & Trevose

ONLY £225 pp Dinner option: £20pp per night extra

ENGLISH RIVERA DEVON

HAMPSHIRE & SURREY CLASSICS

MID WALES

NORTH WALES

WOODHALL GOLF BREAKS

2 NIGHTS B&B at Toorak Hotel, Torquay 3 ROUNDS Churston, Torquay & Teignmouth

2 NIGHTS B&B at either: Marriott Portsmouth or Lythe Hill Hotel & Spa, Haslemere

2 NIGHTS B&B at The Metropole Hotel DAY 1 Cradoc G.C 18 holes DAY 2 Llandrindod Wells G.C 18 holes DAY 3 Builth Wells G.C 18 holes

2 NIGHTS B&B at The Royal Sportsman DAY 1 Porthmadog G.C 18 holes DAY 2 Nefyn & District G.C 18 holes DAY 3 Royal St Davids G.C 18 holes

2 NIGHTS B&B at Woodhall Spa Hotel 3 DAYS 1 x Hotchkin Course*

ONLY £199 pp

ONLY £225 pp

ONLY £249 pp

3 ROUNDS at any of these courses:

Hindhead, Stoneham, Hayling or Liphook

ONLY £199 pp

Dinner Option: £10pp per night extra

ONLY £249 pp

Weekend supplement: £10pp extra

Weekend supplement: £15pp extra

1 x Bracken Course* 1 x Seacroft GC

* Located at Woodhall

Weekend supplement: £17pp extra

To discuss your exclusive golf package call 01822 618181

We have over 15 years experience of organising golf breaks throughout the UK and Europe


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

UK TRAVEL BREAKS | MARCH 2016

[53]

JOIN THE CELEBRATIONS AT

DORNOCH T

while enjoying fine views over the stunning Devon landscape. Yelverton staged the Men’s Senior Amateur Championships in 2006, and presents a serious test of golf, although it remains playable for all skill levels providing you don’t mind chipping out from the gorse bushes and bracken from time to time. The fast-draining Dartmoor soil not only provides tight, links-style lies, and quick putting surfaces, but also ensures yearround play. There is a choice of accommodation options, including the comfortable Bedford Hotel in the historic market town of Tavistock, which has earned a reputation as a foodie’s paradise, following the launch of its Food & Drink Festival, weekly markets, and its superb range of restaurants and gastro pubs. The Apple Tree Bed & Breakfast, a Grade II Victorian house also located in Tavistock, is also a recommended venue for travelling golfers. Packages start from £225 per person, for two nights’ B&B and three rounds of golf. For bookings, visit www. exclusivegolfbreaks.com or call 01822 618181.

TheManor House

& Ashbury Hotels

- The Only Sport, Craft & Spa Hotels in the UK

Summer Sizzlers

wo of Scotland’s most historic links courses have teamed up to offer an unforgettable day’s golf. Royal Dornoch Golf Club has joined forces with neighbouring Brora Golf Club, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, to offer 400 golfers the chance to play both courses on the same day for a total outlay of £125. The individual peak summer green fees are normally £130 and £59 respectively, so the offer represents a saving of £64 per person. The clubs have chosen to limit it to the first 400 players in order to tally up with the 400 years since golf was first thought to have been played in the town of Dornoch, although the club

itself wasn’t founded until 1877. The clubs have enjoyed a long and friendly relationship over the years and have now formed a partnership to present a unique way of commemorating both significant landmarks. The package includes a morning round at Brora, followed by lunch and an afternoon or early evening game at Royal Dornoch. Overnight accommodation is not included, although the Royal Golf Hotel at Royal Dornoch is ideally placed for those looking to enjoy an extended break. Bookings can be made calling 01862 810219 or by emailing bookings@royaldornoch.com.

■ ROYAL DORNOCH

FREE GOLF at

“I’ve never played such fantastic courses”

The UK’s Largest Golf Resort

Stephen W - Trip Advisor

Set in the foothills of Dartmoor National Park, Devon. The Ashbury Hotel is the ideal venue for your golf break. At least 27 holes of FREE golf with each night of stay! Pines 17th 442 yards, Par 4

Oakwood 16th 172 yards, Par 3

Beeches 5th 419 yards, Par 4

17/7/16 - 31/8/16 All breaks include: FREE UNLIMITED Golf, ½ PRICE Buggies

Kigbeare 15th 415 yards, Par 4

September Bargain Breaks: 4nts Midweek from £295pp • 3nts Weekend from 271pp

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PLUS unique Craft Centre featuring 17 tutored crafts, including Pottery, Woodwork, Glass Engraving & Hot Press Printing

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EW

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Kigbeare Pines Beeches Oakwood Ashbury 9 + Pines Front 9 Ashbury 9 + Pines Back 9 Willows

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Additional Facilities FREE to residents of our hotels

All Weather Sports Pitch & Running Track

ashburygolfhotel.com

• All prices per person • All rooms en-suite • Full board • Party discounts •


[54] MARCH 2016 | COLUMN

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

If you’re a fan of golf architect ROBERT TRENT JONES, then there’s nowhere better to go than the southern US state of ALABAMA, where arguably the greatest collection of his handiwork can be played in quick succession ■ GRAND NATIONAL, LINKS COURSE

and features massive greens, fairly generous fairways and deep greenside bunkers. The lakes on the back nine are scenic and daunting, while elevation changes ramp up the drama further. The 80-foot waterfall between the ninth and 18th green is simply spectacular.

AS A REGULAR FLIER across the Atlantic, many of my columns have focused on America. Next month, I'll be reviewing one of the most talked about recent openings, Streamsong in Florida, but right now I’m here to share with you what I believe to be one of the most underrated golfing experiences in the world – the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama. The RTJ Trail is the brainchild of Dr David Bronner, a successful businessman from Alabama, who was inspired to build a series of championship golf courses, which would stretch from one end of the state to the other. He coaxed Jones, one of the most renowned golf course architects on the planet, out of semi-retirement to undertake the project, in the hope of attracting a whole new audience of golfers to this somewhat underappreciated southern state. The original seven locations opened in 1992 and 1993, with 324 holes of world-class golf on offer. Today, the total number of holes is up to 468, spread out over 26 courses in 11 different destinations. Nowhere else will you find such a great test of golf on such a grand scale, and it’s well admired for featuring quality courses at sensible prices, which can’t always be said for some other illustrious destinations in the States. Eight of the ten RTJ courses are served by top resort hotels, making stay-and-play packages both convenient and affordable, while all the sites are easily accessible by road from Atlanta, making it a great option for a pre- or post-Masters golfing adventure. I haven’t got the space to review them all, but here are a few of the best you should definitely consider adding to your golfing bucket list.

THE SHOALS, MUSCLE SHOALS

■ THE 18TH HOLE ON THE FIGHTING JOE COURSE AT THE SHOALS

Of the two championship courses, the eastern layout is named after confederate general Joseph ‘Fighting Joe’ Wheeler. Fighting Joe is a links-style course measuring 8,092 yards off the blacks – it’s a brute of a test with a mesmerising finishing two holes. The second course, The Schoolmaster (named after President Woodrow Wilson, who was known as ‘The Schoolmaster of Politics’), is the second course at The Shoals and equally as strict. There’s great accommodation on site at the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa.

■ CAMBRIAN RIDGE

OXMOOR VALLEY, BIRMINGHAM

■ 17TH HOLE AT OXMOOR VALLEY, RIDGE COURSE

Scenic forests, meandering creeks and elevation changes are the defining features of the three courses at Oxmoor Valley, which are set among the peaks and valleys of the Southern Appalachians. The Ridge boasts tight, tree-lined fairways and huge changes in elevation, while the meticulously-landscaped 6,588yard Valley course is more open off the tee and is a less challenging walk. There’s also an excellent 18-hole parthree course, where many of holes play dramatically downhill to test your clubbing.

RENAISSANCE ROSS BRIDGE, BIRMINGHAM

■ RENAISSANCE ROSS BRIDGE RESORT

Just two miles from Oxmoor, Ross Bridge is described as ‘big and brawny, yet inviting to golfers of all skill levels'. Measuring 8,191 yards off the back tees, it’s the third longest course in the world, but thankfully there are plenty of forward options to make it more playable. The layout meanders through indigenous parklands, skirting the 262-room Renaissance Resort,

■ CAMBRIAN RIDGE

■ 18TH HOLE AT ROSS BRIDGE

CAPITOL HILL, PRATTVILLE There are three championship courses here, and the resort plays host to the LPGA’s Navistar Classic. The Senator, a traditional Scottish-style links, is the crown jewel, featuring exceptional bent grass greens and more than 160 pot bunkers, while raised mounding along the fairways gives each hole a feeling of splendid isolation. The Legislator plays in and out of pine trees and along a bluff, while the Judge skirts the glistening Alabama River, with no fewer than 14 holes located adjacent to water to keep you honest off the tee.

GRAND NATIONAL, AUBURN Claimed to be the single greatest site for a golf complex Robert Trent Jones, Sr had ever seen, 32 of the 54 holes at Grand National are built on shores of Lake Saugahatchee, with the premier course on the complex being the Links, where the par-four 18th is claimed to be the toughest finishing hole on the entire trail. The Lake course is one of the most scenic layouts on the trail, with its quartet of par threes as good as any you’ll find in the state.

CAMBRIAN RIDGE, GREENVILLE Laid out in three nine-hole loops, the brilliantly named Loblolly nine is the pick, with its gently rolling fairways, tall old-growth pines and water-fronted greens said to be somewhat reminiscent of Augusta National. The clubhouse sits at the highest point in Butler County, so you can sit back with a large iced tea – or something stronger – and take in the breathtaking views of Alabama’s Southern forestland. To find out about the latest golf holiday packages taking in courses on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, visit www.rtjgolf.com/trail


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

UK TRAVEL BREAKS | MARCH 2016 [55]

Take Away A Breakaway With

QHOTELS ■ SLAYLEY HALL 14TH HUNTING

G

olfers can enjoy a range of attractive travel benefits with QHotels in 2016, with the UK's largest golf resort operator offering free membership of its exclusive Breakaway Club to all its golf members. New and existing members have the chance to take advantage of numerous savings and offers over the coming months, with discounted breaks, money-off vouchers and food and drinks promotions all available. QHotels' Breakaway Club offers exclusive discounted packages and promotions at 26 hotels and golf resorts across the UK, including the likes of Slaley Hall, Forest Pines Hotel & Golf Resort and Oulton Hall. And, in addition to golf members having the opportunity to enjoy a wide array of rewards and packages not available anywhere else, friends and family can also join in by taking up a half-price membership

■ FOREST PINES

for just £10. The new golf membership offer is a further illustration of QHotels' long-term commitment to boosting golf participation levels across the UK following the introduction of its QFairway membership initiative last year. QFairway offers up to 50 rounds of golf from as little as £295, and provides access

across the group's championship courses. The flexible points-based membership gives golfers all the benefits of a full club membership - including the facility to hold a handicap and playing rights for club competitions - while offering discount on food and drink, shop purchases, tuition, hotel bed-and-breakfast rates. Named AA Hotel Group of the Year

in 2014/15, QHotels features a host of prestigious venues with Slaley Hall, Forest Pines, Belton Woods and Mottram Hall in its portfolio. The multi-award-winning four-star golf group offers tournament and championship-standard courses in 10 unique resort locations across England and Scotland. For more details call 0845 2411 or visit www.qhotels.co.uk/breakaway-club.

Patshull Park Golf and Resort Hotel

P a t t i n g h a m , N r Wo l v e r h a m p t o n W V 6 7 H R We are pleased to announce the following great golf offers:

■ PERRANPORTH GC

Taste The Cream Of

CORNISH GOLF B

oasting some of the finest hotels, restaurants and beaches in Britain, Cornwall has long been an attractive destination for UK holidaymakers, with its temperate climate and stunning countryside proving a winning combination. Add to that some of the most challenging and beautiful golf courses in the country, and you have all the ingredients for the perfect break. Golf Holidays Cornwall has specialised in organising golf holidays in the south west for many years, and with their local knowledge and expertise, it is able to offer keenly-priced packages and customdesigned tours that are designed to suit all budgets and skill levels. Packages for the current season include three nights at the Molesworth Arms Hotel in Wadebridge, with rounds golf at St Enodoc, Trevose, St Mellion and Perranporth from just £363 per person. Alternatively, stay three nights at the threestar Porth Veor Manor Hotel near Newquay and play Trevose, Newquay, Bude & North Cornwall, and Trethorne from £286pp.

Off the golf course, Cornwall is bursting with attractions, including pretty coastal towns such as Port Isaac, Rock and Padstow. The region’s rich culture features the inimitable Tate St Ives, displaying the very best in modern and local art, the incredible Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, while outdoor activities such as sailing, surfing, walking and horse riding are as good here as anywhere in the UK.

Two Night Golf Breaks

One Night Golf Breaks

April – October 2016

April – October 2016

For more details on these and other golf breaks to Cornwall, visit www.golfholidayscornwall.co.uk, email ian@golfholidayscornwall.co.uk or call 01883 349064.

Golf Society Days

Includes ensuite bedroom, full breakfast, three course dinner, 54 holes of golf, use of the health club and a smile!

from just £165 per person

Includes hot refreshments, full English breakfast, 18 holes of golf and friendly staff.

from £26 per person

Includes ensuite bedroom, full breakfast, three course dinner, 36 holes of golf, use of the health club and a smile!

from just £105 per person

Company Golf Days Reward your clients and treat your staff to a great day.

from just £37.50 per person

Great facilities, convenient to J3 of the M54, and only 60 minutes from Birmingham and 90 minutes from Manchester.

Look us up on Trip Advisor ■ ST ENODOC

T: 01902 700100 E: sales@patshull-park.co.uk www.patshull-park.co.uk


[56] MARCH 2016 | TRAVEL

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

LUXURY LODGINGS ON OFFER AT

■ OITAVOS DUNES 10TH AND 14TH HOLES

OITAVOS L

ocated 30 minutes west of Lisbon, on Portugal’s Estoril Coast, Oitavos is a family-owned resort set among the natural dunes of the stunning Sintra Cascais National Park. A four-time host of the Portuguese Open since its opened in 2001, its dramatic coastal location provides the backdrop to a superbly entertaining 6,300-metre, par 71 course. Designed by American architect Arthur Hills, the layout is a rare mixture of woodland and links-style golf, with the first half dozen holes played among the trees, before opening out to the more dramatic holes besides the sea, and then returning to the woods for the last two holes. The signature hole is the par-three 14th, a scary-looking 165-yard hole played across a deep storm ravine. Practice facilities include a 300m double-ended driving range, and two putting greens. The golf offering is backed up by a stylish five-star hotel set within the national park that opened in 2010. Designed with sleek lines and elegant interiors, the hotel offers 14 spacious rooms, 127 lofts, two suites and, for those looking for the ultimate escape, a one-bedroom private villa that stands apart from the resort, features its own pool, and comes with a personal butler.

Other facilities include four restaurants, three bars, an organic VOYA spa, equestrian centre, and a tennis and squash club. There’s also a surf school. For culture vultures, the cobbled streets of Cascais are a short walk along the coast, while the UNESCO World Heritage town of Sintra is a 10-minute drive from the resort. Three nights’ B&B with two rounds of golf at Oitavos Dunes costs from €555pp. For details of the latest golf packages, visit www.theoitavos.com.

PERFECT YOUR PUTTING AT PONT ROYAL

F

rance’s south east region of Provence has plenty going for it as a year-round holiday destination, with long hot summers giving way to cooler winters, while its stunning range of hilltop villages and culture-laden cities, such as Arles, Aix and Avignon, provide an irresistible attraction for generations of well-healed travellers coming to experience its uniquely relaxed Mediterranean vibe. It’s a region of heavily contrasting landscapes, and nowhere is this better reflected than in the choice of golf courses on offer. From the fiddly fairways to be found at the ultra-exclusive Royal Mougins in Cannes, to the two finely-sculpted Dave Thomas-designed layouts at Terre Blanche, and the stunning, but slightly more agricultural course to be found at Domaine de Manville – which winds its way around an active olive farm – Provence is a golfer’s paradise. One of the most revered clubs in the region

is Pont Royal, which opened for play in 1992 and enjoys the elevated status of being the only course in France designed by the late, great Seve Ballesteros. Located in the pretty town of Mallemort, in the foothills of the Alps, Pont Royal is a tight, demanding course that requires plenty of imagination and the kind of shot-making skills for which the legendary Spaniard was famous. With holes that regularly plunge and soar across a forested landscape, Pont Royal is what they call a ‘thinking man's course’. A classic example of the challenge on offer comes at the 462·yard 7th, a dramatic par four which sweeps down from the tee and then up to the left on a thrilling rollercoaster fairway; or the par-three 11th, a 200-yarder that requires an all-or-nothing shot from an elevated tee across a wooded gorge to a distant green perched on top of a rocky outcrop. With the often-present Mistral winds, some

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■ PONT ROYAL GOLF CLUB severe inclines, numerous large water hazards, and notoriously quick greens, Pont Royal is not a course for the faint-hearted, but it rewards players with stunning views, and with no two holes alike, you’ll be kept interested until you’ve holed the final putt. The relaxed clubhouse offers an excellent choice of home-cooked Provencal dishes, while a glass of chilled rosé, grown from vines just miles from the clubhouse, always goes down well after a round here, where green fees are between €62 in the low season and €78 in the summer. The club also boasts a six-hole academy course, which is ideal for

beginners, as well as those looking to sharpen up their short game. Although the golf club has no accommodation of its own, the five-star Moulin de Vernegues Hotel, Spa & Restaurant is situated just a lob wedge from the third tee, and is naturally a popular destination for golfers. A member of the Relais & Chateaux hotels collection, it’s both traditional yet modern, boasting 100 well-appointed rooms spread between a traditional old Provencal building and a more modern extension. Many feature private patios looking out over the golf course, while a fine dining restaurant, a fabulous I’Occitane spa, and a large outdoor swimming pool add to its many attractions. For more details visit www.golf-pontroyal.com. For room rates at Moulin de Vernegues, visit www.moulindevernegues.com.

GOLFBREAKS. COM JOINS FORCES WITH MONARCH TO OFFER FLIGHTINCLUSIVE HOLIDAY PACKAGES

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olfers looking for a one-stop shop for booking golf holidays and flights can now benefit from a new strategic partnership between Golfbreaks.com and Monarch Airlines. The new alliance will see Monarch become the preferred short and mid-haul partner for the golf travel company, with both companies promoting flight-inclusive golf holiday packages to customers. The new agreement will enable golfers to add Monarch flights to their bookings, with groups of eight or more enjoying a range of exclusive benefits, including no names or passport details required at the time of booking, and final confirmation of names needed just seven days prior to travel. There is also just a £25 deposit per person required to provisionally hold flights. Ian Chambers, head of marketing at Monarch, said: “The partnership closely fits our customer profile, with many of our customers being keen and regular golfers. With the addition of Lisbon to our summer 2016 programme, we have added yet another top golfing destination to our already extensive network. We offer excellent value and conveniently scheduled flights to some of the most popular golf hotspots, including; the Algarve, the Canaries, Turkey and to destinations in mainland Spain such as Alicante, Malaga and Majorca, making it easier than ever for our customers to take a break at their favourite golf resorts.”


GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

TRAVEL | MARCH 2016

[57]

ME&MYTRAVELS

GolfNews catches up with American rock legend HUEY LEWIS – minus The News – at the Pebble Beach Pro-am to find out about his favourite travel destinations. Interview by Linda Briscoe-Knight

My first holiday was to… Turtle Bay in Hawaii.

My most recent holiday was to… New Zealand – we absolutely loved it! We did three concerts there at the end of January, and had a chance to explore a bit of the country while we were there. It’s a beautiful place.

the one-over-par 73 I shot at Poppy Hills in the second round of the AT&T Pro-Am. I had my 12-year-old son on the bag and we made up 14 shots to make the cut.

My favourite golf resort is… Pebble Beach. Nothing else comes close. ■ FOUR SEASONS HOTEL IN TORONTO

My favourite golf course is… a toss up between Pebble Beach, Cypress Point and San Francisco Golf Club.

My ideal holiday fourball would include… Cindy Crawford, Barack Obama and Jordan Spieth. They’d each bring something different to the party.

My most memorable ever round was…

■ POPPY HILLS GC, PEBBLE BEACH

I always travel with…

■ SAN FRANCISCO

My most memorable holiday meal…

my golf clubs.

is at home every Thanksgiving.

The best hotel I've ever stayed in was…

I'm planning a golf trip to…

the Four Seasons in Toronto. I also recall staying at a great hotel in Germany, but its name escapes me now.

My favourite city in the world is… San Francisco.

the Masters in April. I had the good fortune play Augusta on the Monday after the tournament last year and I managed to birdie the 12th, which I’ll be dining out on for the rest of my life. As for other courses, I’d also love to go

and play Royal County Down in Ireland. Rory McIlroy says it’s fabulous, and I’ve always wanted to go to South Africa and play Leopard Creek – I hear it’s unbelievable.

My top travel tip is… wear long sleeves when travelling on planes – they can get cold with all that air-conditioning.

HHHHH

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Golf on the QD Lago & VD Lobo courses. HHHHH

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[58] MARCH 2016 | NEWS

GOLFNEWS.CO.UK

DESTINATION DAURADA FOR SPANISH GOLFING DELIGHTS

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ocated one hour south of Barcelona on the North East coast of Spain, Costa Daurada is fast becoming one of the country’s most popular golfing destinations, with an array of stunning courses and world class leisure activities. There are some truly spectacular courses in the region, including those designed by Greg Norman and legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. The 45-hole Lumine Golf Club, with two courses designed by Norman, is a true golfing haven, with magnificent views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Bonmont, designed by Jones, also has breath-taking scenery, as well as the golfing challenge to match. In addition, the region also boasts Panoramica Golf, designed by Bernhard Langer, as well as the impressive courses at Costa Dorada, La Graiera and Aigüesverds. However, it is not just the golf that is such a huge attraction to this area. The Costa Daurada has a wide-ranging portfolio in terms of what else it can offer to holidaymakers. From a cultural perspective the Roman Heritage site of Tarragona and the Cisterian Monastery of Poblet both offer rich and historical appeal, as well as being UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Highly recommended also is the ‘Modernism Route’ through the town of Reus, which is a cultural stroll where visitors can see some of the stunning facades on buildings from the Modernism era.

GOLFY CARD TEES UP GREAT SAVINGS ON EUROPEAN BREAKS

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olfers taking a golf break in Europe can now save 25% on green fees with the Golfy card. The popular discount card is accepted at more than 150 golf courses across five countries, including France and Spain, as well as 130 hotels in France. With more than 50,000 cardholders, Golfy is already established as a leading network in continental Europe. Now, with a special introductory offer, it is inviting golfers from the UK and Ireland to join and benefit from discounts on green fees, hotel stays and golf breaks, while earning loyalty ‘Yards’ for all purchases. The Golfy network features a huge choice of golf break destinations, from great value venues in northern France and

■ 10TH HOLE AT LUMINE HILLS Costa Daurada also offers cuisine of a famously high standard, with Michelin-starred restaurants providing a broad range of distinctive Mediterranean flavours. Along with award winning gastronomy, the region has six of the best wine regions in Spain, including Priorat and Cava. Costa Daurada also has particular appeal for families, with the Catalan Tourism Board recently certifying sixvillages in the area as ‘Family Destinations’. The most visited theme park in Spain, Portaventura, is also situated in the region, which as of 2017, will also boast a Ferrariland, with the highest roller coaster in Europe. In terms of accommodation, the region is hard to beat, with some spectacular hotels and resorts, many of which are dotted along an 80-mile stretch of coastline boasting pristine sandy beaches. For more details on golf holidays to the Costa Daurada region, visit www.costadauradagolf.com.

■ LE GOLF NATIONAL, PARIS

Belgium to top tournament courses, such as PGA Catalunya in Spain, and Le Golf National in Paris, home of the 2018 Ryder Cup. Alain Jeanjean, founder of Golfy, said: “For 25 years, Golfy has been saving golfers money at our growing network of courses and hotels. With a Golfy card, golfers from the UK and Ireland will be made welcome, instantly save money and earn loyalty benefits at golf courses and hotels across Europe.” All purchases within the Golfy network, including green fees, pro shop, buggy hire, golf lessons, restaurants, hotel accommodation

cardholders loyalty ‘Yards’, which can be redeemed for exclusive rewards and gifts.

and spa, earn

The Golfy Indigo Card, offering a 25% discount on green fees and 15% off accommodation, is now available for a special price of €45 (the standard cost of the card in France is €109). To buy a Golfycard, or for more details, visit www.golfy.fr.

RAISE YOUR GAME AT ALCANADA

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olfers keen to improve their game under sunny skies are being invited to head for the sunshine island of Mallorca to take advantage of an array of tuition packages at Club de Golf Alcanada this spring. The stunning venue, located in the north of Mallorca, is offering a comprehensive range of learning programmes to suit players of all ages and abilities over the coming months at its newly-rebranded Lighthouse Golf Academy, with hourly lessons, quick-fix or week-long packages all available. Run by the club’s head professional John Verhappen, beginners, improvers and experienced golfers can benefit from expert tuition in all areas of the game with Alcanada’s choice of three and five-day programmes, which include rental club hire, with prices starting from €249 per person. All sessions include the use of the latest FlightScope and Swing Catalyst technology. Sitting in a breathtaking location overlooking the Bay of Alcudia, and adjacent to the Mediterranean, Alcanada is the only course on the island next to the sea. Opened in 2003, the 7,100-yard layout blends naturally into the typical Mallorcan terrain and takes its name from an island with a lighthouse, situated just offshore, which can be seen from most of the holes. For details on the latest golf tuition and golf holiday packages, visit www.golf-alcanada.com.

GASTRO GOLF OFFERS A TASTE OF THE GOOD LIFE

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ew golf travel company Gastro Golf offers golfers with a passion for stunning courses and exceptional food, the opportunity to book their most memorable ever golfing holiday. The Cheshire-based tour operator, which is a member of IAGTO, provides golf holidays with a ‘gastronomic twist’ – combining the opportunity to play on some of the world's finest golf courses with traditional culinary and cultural experiences. Gastro Golf's tailor-made holidays are perfect for those who want to expand their overall golfing experience by sampling the best local food and wines found in destinations such as the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto in Portugal; the Costa Brava, Costa Dorada and Barcelona regions of Catalonia; as well as other golf and gastronomically-rich regions of France, Italy and Spain. Company founder John Sullivan, who has spent most of his working career in the hospitality industry, said: "Gastro Golf combines all the right ingredients for a truly memorable holiday, including personal service both here in the UK and

in the destination. Great locations, first class accommodation and the chance to relax and enjoy great golf, food, wine and traditional culture is what we are all about.” He added: "Our aim is to make our customers' golfing experiences truly memorable. We work directly with an increasing number of carefully selected regional specialists in golf tourism in each destination. This enables us to select the right accommodation, golf courses, restaurants and food and wine producers, which, when packaged together, create a truly unique golf experience. “ Gastro Golf can build any combination of golf holiday that clients require, providing off-the-shelf packages and the opportunity for guests to play in Open amateur and proam events throughout Europe. In 2016, Gastro Golf will be including a number of featured Gastro Golf Tours, some of which will include PGA professional coaching or tournaments. For more information, visit www.gastrogolf.co.uk, call 0161 612 3319, or email enquiries@gastrogolf.co.uk.


OCEAN VIEW BI R DI ES AND B O G EYS G O BET T E R W IT H AN

There’s never been a better time to enjoy the beautiful beaches, fabulous restaurants and unmatched hospitality of one of the world’s premier golf destinations. Charleston offers a unique array of accommodations for all golfers. Find more information on the properties below, as well as specialty golf packages on EnjoyCharlestonGolf.com.

WILD DUNES RESORT Find your ideal holiday accommodations at Charleston’s island resort, offering the benefits of a private resort experience with exclusive guest privileges and access to amenities. wilddunes.com

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EMBASSY SUITES HISTORIC DISTRICT

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From the water’s edge, relax in contemporary elegance. Brilliant sunsets from our Regatta Terrace. Complimentary parking & wireless internet. Breakfast buffet served daily. marriott.com/chscy

The original 19th century Citadel and on the National Register of Historic Places. Close to attractions, the Market, King Street shops & restaurants. historiccharleston. embassysuites.com

The unique 14 story round Holiday Inn Charleston Riverview, captures the spirit of Charleston and invites you to enjoy the amazing views of the Charleston cityscape & harbor. hiriverview.com

Find Great Rates at EnjoyCharlestonGolf.com


C L I M AT E . C O N T R O L L E D.

This season we introduce state of the art COOLMAX® ALL SEASON fabric technology to the Spring/Summer 2016 Men’s Collection. Fibres with a channelled surface help move moisture away from the body to keep the wearer cool and dry in warm conditions, while fibres with a hollow core provide insulation for added comfort on colder days. Tailored fit and attention to detail make these our most desirable collection to date.

+ PING, Mr.PING logo, ENGINEERED TO PLAY, SENSOR COOL, SENSOR WARM and SENSOR DRY are registered and unregistered trademarks of Karsten Manufacturing Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. COOLMAX® is a trademark of INVISTA.

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