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ISSUE 208 | MARCH 2012

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INTRODUCING

IRON

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PROGRESSIVE DESIGN The progressive set design of the i20 Iron allows for high-launching long irons and penetrating short irons. This enables the golfer to execute even the most demanding shots and ultimately get the most from their game. The multi-metal composition aids overall performance, helping golfers to hit precise yardages.

For more information visit PING.com

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06/02/2012 15:25

Glenn Ralph P6 | Sir Henry Cooper P8 | Fitting Centre Opens P10 | Peter Alliss P25 | Pro-Am series P28 | Course to be cut in half P38


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PACKAGE • English Breakfast Muffin with Tea / Coffee

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• 18 Holes of Golf on International Course • Soup at Halfway House • Traditional Kentish Main Meal • Inclusive of Range Balls and use of Practice Facilities Available Monday – Thursday from 1st November to 31st March subject to availability. Must be booked in advance. To book, please contact the club on 01474 879899. E: golf@londongolf.co.uk | W: www.londongolf.co.uk London Golf Club, Stansted Lane, Ash, KENT TN15 7EH


March 2012 / Issue 208

/ 05

Read the UK’s no.1 golf paper online at www.golfnews.co.uk

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Golf News, The Studio, 14 Deanway, Hove, East Sussex BN3 6DG. Tel: 01273 556377. email: info@golfnews.co.uk. Website: www.golfnews.co.uk Managing Director Matt Nicholson matt@golfnews.co.uk Editor Nick Bayly editor@golfnews.co.uk Advertising Production Kath Perry ads@golfnews.co.uk

Design www.71degrees.com Photography Kevin Murray (kevinmurraygolfphotography.com) Action Images, James Cheadle Published by BlueGreen Media

Contributors Paul Mahoney, Clive Agran, Ewen Murray, Denis Pugh, Alistair Tait, Luke Donald

INTRODUCING

IRON

Follow us on: Twitter@golfnewsmag

PROGRESSIVE DESIGN The progressive set design of the i20 Iron allows for high-launching long irons and penetrating short irons. This enables the golfer to execute even the most demanding shots and ultimately get the most from their game. The multi-metal composition aids overall performance, helping golfers to hit precise yardages.

open events 2012

For more information visit PING.com

© Copyright Golf News 2012. 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.

Glenn Ralph P6 | SiR henRy CoopeR P8 | FittinG CentRe openS P10 | peteR alliSS P25 | pRo-am SeRieS P28 | CouRSe to be Cut in halF P38

Editor’sview

Friday 11th May

Wednesday 6th June

Closing Date: 25th March

Closing Date: 22nd April

Closing Date:13th May

• Mixed Open • 18 Holes • Greensomes • Shotgun start

• 36 Holes Better Ball

Pavilion Punchbowl

email: editor@golfnews.co.uk

Roll up for a booking can just turn up and play on a sunny Saturday morning? I can’t see why knowing that you’ve got a confirmed start time would be in any way harmful to the smooth running of the club or, indeed, your life. It must be better than arriving at your club at 7.30am on a Saturday, only to find that 14 four-balls have formed an unofficial roll up, and you’re left with the option of either joining the back of the queue, or teeing off at 6.30am if you want to get a weekend game in. But it needn’t be like that. Online booking systems have transformed the process of securing tee times for both members and visitors, avoiding the unseemly scramble to the first tee and opening up many clubs to a much wider audience. They are also flexible enough to allow both casual play and designated tee times to operate, so it’s a ‘win, win’ if ever there was one.

Where do you stand in the Great Tee Time Debate? Do you play at a club where you are required to roll up and take your chances, or are you a member at one that operates a booking system, and you arrive five minutes before your slot, safe in the knowledge that this is your time? Both systems have their pros and cons, but I have to say that I’m more in favour of the latter, as it leaves no room for disappointment or delay. My reasoning is thus. Golf, as we all know, takes quite a long time to play. So anything that unnecessarily adds to that length of time – before you’ve even started – is sheer idiocy. Given that the average club has between 500-800 members, and that conceivably 150 of these might what to play on a Saturday morning, it is clear that supply outstrips demand. So why do so many golfers think they

Wednesday 11th April

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06 /

March 2012 / Issue 208

There’s Links at the end of the tunnel

South East clubs on drought alert Hayling Golf Links Limited Country Membership - Be a country member of one the truly great links courses in the South East. Hayling Golf Club is even more accessible to country membership with the opening of the new Hindhead tunnel on the A3. The journey from Surrey, Berkshire and South London will only take a short while.

Just think, being a member of a great links course is now a real possibility. With the 50 mile restriction anywhere North of Guildford allows you to join Hayling Golf Club.

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Golf clubs across the region are bracing themselves for another summer of potential water shortages following official warnings of drought conditions being prevalent across large parts of the South East. An emergency ‘drought summit’ was called last month by the government’s land resources agency, Defra, which highlighted the perilous state of the UK’s water reserves. Water companies in affected areas are expected to file for emergency drought orders and drought permits that will impose restrictions on water use. While households may well see the return of hosepipe bans, many farmers and businesses have already suffered restrictions and are likely to face more, with licences to draw water from rivers and underground sources altered in recent months to reflect the new scarcity. Defra’s secretary, Caroline Spelman, said: “We have had the second dry winter in a row. I think that it is more likely that the public water supply will

be affected, unless we have substantial rainfall between now and the summer.” The effects on golf courses are all too obvious, with many clubs seeing their fairways turn brown during hot spells in recent years, and what water they had being used to keep the greens in playable condition. The technical manager of an agri-business has warned that golf courses will be first in the firing line if water restrictions are imposed this year. “The availability of water to golf courses is going to be turned off long before supplies to homes are cut,” said Syngenta’s Dr Simon Watson. “For course managers there is the very real prospect of water restrictions on irrigation resources. Many courses have already had restrictions imposed on existing abstraction licenses that would normally now be filling reservoirs ready for the summer.” Golf clubs have expressed concern as to what the extent of any restrictions may be. “A lot of golf clubs who don’t have their own

Pain-racked Ralph Surrey veteran Glenn Ralph is looking forward to taking part in this year’s European Senior Tour schedule after winning back his place on the over 50s tour following a tense finish to the 2012 Qualifying School in Portugal last month. The 56-year-old from Camberley earned his conditional card after finishing in seventh place at Pestana Golf Resort, where a final round 73 over the Vale da Pinta course saw him edge into one of the coveted top 18 places. Ralph didn’t enjoy the best of seasons in 2011, finishing 54th in the order of merit, with €33,000 in prize money. It was a far cry from the dizzy heights of 2009, where he won the Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior

supply of water will be in a muddle,” said Basil Todd, owner of Wensum Valley Golf Club in Norfolk. “If they stopped us using water then the greens at every golf club in the county would dry up. We cannot let that happen. But I have got lakes and ponds here, and I have an abstraction license and a borehole. If they withdrew those licenses it would give me a problem. We are going to put a storage area in to catch all the roof water. That will be 100,000 gallons, but that is only enough to water the course for a couple of days.” Dr Watson stated that using available irrigation water more efficiently will be essential for course managers to maintain high quality playing surfaces this summer. “An effective water conservation programme will be imperative, and possibly extended across wider areas of the course than has been considered in previous seasons,” he advised. “Courses that may have got by with heavy watering schedules in the past, will now need to look at better management of resources.”

regains Se

Glenn Ralph

Open and finished fourth in the money list. But Ralph has had a tough time since his victory two years ago – his first pro win of any kind in a 35-year career – as he was diagnosed with type two diabetes last summer, while struggling with arthritis in his ankle as a result of a break two years ago, and has had to play while dosed up on a variety of pain-killing pills.

“I’ve got used to managing the diabetes with medication, but it has taken a while to come to terms with it,” Ralph admitted. “I broke my ankle a couple of years ago in Mauritius and basically have to have the ankle cracked every day before I go and play. It’s no problem, it just needs to be manipulated a bit before I go out, but after that it is all fine.’’ A less painful solution to


March 2012 / Issue 208

/ 07

Outrage Hiluta reigns in Spain at Taylor’s US Open exclusion Talented teenager Lauren Taylor has had her place in this summer’s US Women’s Open withdrawn after organisers admitted to making a clerical error. The 17-year-old from Hampshire believed she had earned her place in the major after winning the British Open Amateur Championship last summer, which traditionally offers the champion a spot in the US Open. However, the United States Golf Association has admitted that it made a mistake in offering the place to Taylor, and it should have been awarded to 2012 British Amateur winner, and not last year’s champion. Taylor, who won the 2011 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award, played in the Women’s British Open last year and represented Europe in the Junior Solheim Cup. She is ranked 17th in the world amateur rankings and has recently been signed by Baylor College in Texas, on a sports-based scholarship.

The Spanish Amateur Championship remained in English hands for the third successive year after Essex’s rising star Jack Hiluta took the title following a 36-hole match play final at Alcanada. The 22-year-old from Chelmsford, who is currently on a golf scholarship at Alabama University in America, maintained England’s recent monopoly of the event when beating Germany’s Marcel Schneider 4&3 in the final. He added to the recent success of Hampshire’s Sam Hutsby (2009), Matt Haines from Kent, who beat Tommy Fleetwood in the 2010 final, and Somerset’s Laurie Canter, who lifted the title last year after defeating Stiggy Hodgson. Hiluta, who was ninth seed after the 36-hole stroke play qualifying, beat Spain’s Toni Ferrer 3&2 in round one, then put out fellow Englishman Ashley Chesters 3 &1 to reach the quarter finals. A 2&1 win over Frenchman Kenny Subregis booked a semi-final place, where Hiluta edged past Dutchman Daan Huizing by one hole. In the final, Hiluta found himself behind after three holes, but he regained it by the turn and was two-up at lunch. He increased that on the opening hole of the afternoon and although Schneider pegged him back to one-up with nine to play, a birdie-three at the 32nd hole put the Essex man four-up and the title was secured at the next, which they halved in par fours.

More space for Chipping at Norton

Society and Corporate Golf Days Start from £39.50 per person At Dale Hill Golf Club in East Sussex

Lauren Taylor won a BBC Sports award in December

Senior card the problem came with a diagnosis from Bernhard Langer’s personal physician when Ralph played with him in a pro-am in South Africa last year. “After about nine holes the doctor turned to me and said ‘When did you break your ankle?’ I couldn’t believe he knew just by looking at me. He explained how everyone who breaks a bone will inevitably develop arthritis, but that these new tablets are designed to create a layer of cushion between the joints and can help stave it off, so I have been taking the pills since then and the ankle feels fine.” The first event on the 2012 Senior European Tour is scheduled for May 4, although a venue has yet to be announced.

Chipping Norton is to build a new threehole academy and 14- bay driving range

Chipping Norton Golf Club in Oxfordshire has applied for planning permission to build a new golf course and driving range, which will be shaped using landfill. The club hopes to build a three-hole par three course, a 14-bay driving range, a practice green, a car parking facility and a new pro shop on a section of disused land that the club owns. The club will also build relationships with local schools to encourage juniors to play on the new course. The development follows the recent revelation that Westbury Golf Club in Wiltshire is to double the size of its course using ‘imported inert soils surplus to requirements from construction sites in the region’. As the waste material

is so expensive to dispose of, and there is pressure to reduce waste going to landfill, organisations will pay for golf clubs to use it. “In order to shape the new golf course, engineering soils will need to be brought to the course by lorries,” explained a spokesman for Keltbray Golf Environmental, which will construct the facility. “The materials are fully compliant with the Environment Agency. Dust suppression measures will be used, and the works will not disrupt the usual running of the 18-hole course, while on-site road sweepers will ensure minimal disruption to local routes.” West Oxfordshire District Council will make a decision on the planning application shortly.

Contact the golf office on 01580 201800 Email: golf@dalehill.co.uk Dale Hill Hotel & Golf Club Ticehurst, Wadhurst, East Sussex, TN5 7DQ www.dalehill.co.uk


08 /

March 2012 / Issue 208

Shire Series tribute to

News in Brief Srixon backs Juniors Srixon/Cleveland has agreed to support the Junior league for the next three years by contributing the prizes for our Finals Day. In exchange, it has been given the title of the league, which will now be known as the Srixon Junior 4somes League for the duration of the agreement.

BletchinglEy charity day Golfers are being invited to take part in a charity golf day being held at Bletchingley Golf Club in Surrey on May 14, to help raise funds for a range of local and national charities, including The Children’s Trust. The Caterham Rotary Club’s Charity Golf Day invites teams of four to take part in an 18-hole Stableford competition (£240 per four ball or £60 for individual players), to include bacon rolls and coffee on arrival and a two-course lunch following the round. For entry forms email David Monk at monk461@btinternet. com or call 01883 341109.

London Club unveils new Cooper tribute The London Golf Club has paid a fitting tribute to the late Sir Henry Cooper by unveiling a specially-commissioned portrait of the boxing legend at an intimate evening attended members, family, and friends. The stunning portrait, which was painted by renowned artist André DeMoller, enjoys a grandstand view from above the fireplace in the newly-named Henry Cooper Room, formerly known as the Club Room. During a special unveiling ceremony held in February, the artist spoke of the challenge of capturing the essence and soft manner of Sir Henry in his work, while Sir Henry’s sons, Henry and John, were particularly overwhelmed by the portrait’s likeness to their late father, and the way in which DeMoller effectively captured his light-hearted nature.

Play in the Garden of England this Summer Three great courses to choose from

The Pentland Society Summer Offer  (April - September)

UK golfers can now pay their own tribute to Seve Ballesteros, and raise money for his Foundation, in a new year-long series of amateur golf events to be hosted at his only UK- designed golf course. Taking place at The Shire in North London, the Shire Series starts in June and will feature six qualifying tournaments with a final, featuring winners and runners-up, to take place on October 12 – Spain’s national day. The Shire is donating at least £20 from all entry fees, plus proceeds from all other fundraising activity, to the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, which works in partnership The events will raise funds for Seve’s foundation

with Cancer Research UK to raise money for vital brain cancer research. The schedule of events includes a Men’s and Women’s Scratch Open (June 11), a mixed Stableford

competition (June 19), Family Open (August 31), Corporate Cup (Sept 26), Final (Oct 12) and Junior Open (Oct 30). Seve’s nephew and manager, Ivan Ballesteros, said: “Seve was determined for his Foundation to raise money to help others in his position. I am very happy the Seve Ballesteros Foundation is benefitting from The Shire Series as it will help us to achieve this, and I’d like to thank them for their support.” The Shire’s Ceri Menai Davis, said: “Almost everyone is affected by cancer in some way, and we were all deeply touched here by what Seve went through, as many of us were lucky enough to meet

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March 2012 / Issue 208

/ 09

to Seve

the great man during his visits here. The Shire Series has been created in that spirit, and enables any golfer – no matter what his or her experience or age – to compete on equal terms on his spectacular Masters Course here at The Shire London.” The Shire London celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, and donations from The Shire Series will be boosted by other events at the club, including members’ events, as the club seeks to raise the maximum amount of money for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, its official charity. Full details on how to enter any of the events, visit www.theshireseries.com, or call 020 8441 7649.

While the Queen Elizabeth II is preparing for a summer of festivities in London to mark her 60th year on the throne, a group of golfing royalty is preparing to do likewise on the Isle of Wight. Golfers on the small isle, which boasts eight golf courses, have joined forces to commemorate The Royal Isle of Wight Golf Club, which was founded in 1882, but sadly closed 50 years ago, in 1962. The captain of Shanklin & Sandown Golf Club, David Woodhouse, came up with the idea of hosting the Royal Isle of Wight Golf Club Trophy to mark the 50th anniversary of the club’s demise, and has invited representatives from the 37 clubs boasting the ‘Royal’ title to take part in a special tournament, which is scheduled for August 10..

Isle be there for the Royal summer party! The Royal Isle of Wight Golf Club was located at St Helen’s Duver and was believed to one of Britain’s first golf courses. The club was responsible for much of the development of the modern game, at one point challenging the pre-eminence of St

News in Brief

celebrities such as David Niven played the course in its heyday. Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, who was Governor of the Isle of Wight for many years, was a president of the club until her death in 1940. At its height, the club boasted 11 Internationals and one of its members, Horace Rawlins, was the first winner of the US Open in 1895. The club closed in 1962, since when it has been managed by the National Trust as an open space. The day’s golf will end with a formal dinner at Shanklin & Sandown which will be attended by the Queen’s representative, the Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, and Lord Griffiths, a past captain of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.

Shanklin & Sandown

Andrews as the source of the authoritative rules of the game, and even forcing changes in some of the St Andrews rules. The club boasted strong royal connections, with members including Edward VII and several European princes and monarchs, while

Gaunt goes for gold European Tour professional Daniel Gaunt came out on top in the first of the Jamega Pro Golf Tour Winter Series events held at The Bedford Golf Club. Gaunt won the day with a six-under par 66, to beat Dan Brooks and Dane Bairstow by a single shot, and hold off a field that also included former Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst.

Righting a wrong In last month’s profile of Adam Gee, we incorrectly named Martin Rathbone as the head professional at Coombe Wood Golf Club in Surrey. Martin is, in fact, one of the club’s two assistant professionals, and Phil Wright is the head professional. Phil has over 30 years’ experience as a professional golfer, playing tournament golf, and coaching on both European Tour and European Ladies Tour. To book a lesson with Phil, please email phil.wright@coombewoodgolf. com or call 020 8942 6764.

EuroPro under orders at Lingfield Although more familiar to having horses racing around its famous all-weather track, Lingfield Park will be filled with thoroughbreds of the golfing kind in May, when the golf club once again plays host to the PGA EuroPro Tour. The tour, which has proved a stepping stone to bigger things for many of the game’s best players, including Surrey’s Ross Fisher, will be rolling into Lingfield Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club on May 1 for a Pro-Am, followed by three days of pro-only action from May 2-4. Last year saw Middlesex rookie Luke Goddard (left) fire rounds of 68, 66 and 70 to bag the first win of his professional career – and the £10,000 prize – at the Lingfield Park Championship, and this year promises an equally enthralling contest around the challenging 6,487-yard parkland layout. There are still places available for teams to enter the Pro-Am, while all golfers are invited to come and watch the action for free on tournament days. For more details, call 01342 830917.

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10 /

March 2012 / Issue 208

MyTime buys Orpington Orpington Golf Centre in Kent has been sold by Britain’s largest golf club operator to a rival company. The 53-hole complex, which comprises four golf courses, as well as a teaching academy, was put up for sale nearly two years ago by Crown Golf, which owns 30 golf clubs in the UK. It has been bought by Mytime Active, which now runs eleven golf clubs in the UK, for an undisclosed sum. In 2010, Orpington was one of eight clubs Crown Golf was looking to sell, and it is believed the other seven are still on the market. Stephen Lewis, CEO of Crown Golf, commented: “I would like to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to all the Orpington Golf Centre staff for their hard work and diligence during the sale process and wish them every success under the new ownership. I would also like to thank all our customers for their loyalty during our period of ownership and to wish them continued enjoyment of Orpington Golf Centre under the new ownership of Mytime Active.” Mytime Active’s chief executive Steve Price said: “Orpington will be a great addition to our growing range of golf courses and will complement those we already manage. As a social enterprise we are committed to improving quality and value, and we’re looking forward to meeting customers to discuss potential future improvements.“ Crown Golf bought Orpington in 2005 following its acquisition of American Golf. The club was founded in the 1970s. 

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New g golfers Golfers may soon have to find some new terminology to describe the surfaces they putt on after a group of agricultural scientists at the University of East Anglia succeeded in creating a new strain of drought-resistant grass whose colour is more blue than green. With global warming in the northern hemisphere giving long-term concerns about the sustainability of irrigating golf courses during periods of dry weather, the scientists at the Norwich-based agro-chemical research unit have created a new fescue/bent grass hybrid that, when combined with a soluable protoplasmic enzyme solution, is able to withstand extended periods without water. The only downside of this breakthrough discovery is that the naturally-occuring enzymes used to enhance resistance to drought creates a blue tinge to its appearance, meaning that traditional greens would be

Get ‘Tour fit’ at Burhill Golfers in the south east looking to get the best out of their game, and test out some of the best equipment in the business, should make a beeline for Burhill Golf Club in Surrey, where top brand Mizuno has recently opened a new state-of-the-art National Fitting Centre. The new centre, which is adjacent to the club’s existing driving range, is kitted out with the very latest in custom-fitting technology, including TrackMan – which tracks the flight of the ball using radar – and Mizuno’s own Swing DNA shaft fitting system, which takes clubfitting to a whole new level. Graeme Gorrie, Marketing Manager of Mizuno Golf UK, said: “What Mizuno has developed at Burhill Golf Club is the very pinnacle of the club-fitting process. The technology available at the National Fitting Centre will, in just three swings, find every golfer’s perfect shaft, which in turn allows them to be fitted with their very own set of customised, bespoke clubs in a quick and impressively The new Mizuno custom-fitting bay offers a tour-level experience

straightforward fitting session.” Gorrie, a long-time Mizuno fitter, added: “What was once a time-consuming and inaccurate process is now one that is immediate, consistent and widely available. Mizuno’s Swing DNA technology is nothing short of outstanding and we urge golfers wanting to perfect their game to visit the National Fitting Centre at Burhill Golf Club, or alternatively one of Mizuno’s 400 custom-fitting centres around the UK.”             The spacious indoor centre, which looks out over the range, is also packed with

Mizuno’s entire range of clubs, including the new MP 650 series of drivers and woods, and the complete range of MP and JPX irons, as well as Fli-Hi hybrids and MP wedges. The fitting cart allows heads and shafts to be interchanged, so that golfers can find their perfect model, as well as the perfect specifications. The fitting centre is headed up by Mark Yonwin and Nicholas Johnson, two of Mizuno’s most experienced custom-fitting specialists with over 30 years of golfing knowledge between them. The centre has already been used by Luke Donald and other European Tour stars such as Chris Wood and Gary Orr, who uses Burhill as a training base. To book a custom-fitting session at Burhill, which costs £50, visit www.mizunoeurope. com and follow the links, where golfers can also find their nearest Swing DNA custom fitting centre from over 400 located across the UK.


March 2012 / Issue 208

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grass strain leaves s feeling blue Got those golfin’ blues: Could this be the future colour for greens?

turned into ‘blues’. Dr Hans Sarkov, who is part of the team that has been working on this project for the last six years, said: “Although we’re a long way off from this new type of grass being made available for commercial use, our early research findings in

Golfers looking to take their game to the next level could benefit greatly by taking a trip to Etchinghill Golf Club in Kent, home to one of the most talented coaches currently working in the game. The Folkestone-based club’s head professional, Steve Mitchell, is quietly carving out a big name for himself in amateur and professional coaching circles, having worked with a host of young players since turning professional in 2004. A qualified PGA instructor, Mitchell has coached both the Kent Girls and Kent County Boys U18 squads to success, and last year took over as lead coach for the County Men’s first team side, as well as coaching the County Ladies side. More recently, he has been awarded a position with the English Golf Union as a coach in their AASE development programme for 16-18 year olds in the South East. In the professional game, Mitchell also worked with long-term friend Tom Sherreard with his preparation before the 2008

laboratory and field trials have shown that this new strain of fescue, avrilus foolus, could well be a long-term solution of water shortages for the leisure community. “It will not be suitable for farming use, but for those who need grass to play on, rather than for agricultural

purposes, it could provide a very real alternative.” To test out their theories, the UEA scientists have begun field trials on a speciallymade one-hole golf hole close to the campus, where the new blue fescue has been overseeded into the existing green grasses. Dr Sarkov continued: “The outdoor trials are still in the early stages, but we are pleased with how the blue grasses have come through. Despite having only had two inches of rain in the last two months, and with no artificial watering, they are growing strong and healthy roots.” He added: “The only problem for golfers is whether traditional white golf balls will show up as clearly against a blue background. But it’s something they may have to get used to if we continue to suffer such dry winters in the years ahead.”

Mitchell coaching at last year’s Open

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Mitchell makes the best get better! British Open at Birkdale, where he finished 19th, and also helped Tudor Park’s Andy Smith during The Open at Royal St George’s last year. As well as his extremely successful coaching career, Mitchell is an integral part of a very professional team at the Pentland Golf-owned Etchinghill, where he coaches under the P Golf Coaching brand, which has three other centres in Kent. With specialist fitting equipment for Ping clubs, Mitchell and his team can assist golfers of all abilities in the quest to find

the best possible equipment for them. “Ping has a fantastic range of clubs, with their newest G20 and I20 ranges already proving to be their best clubs ever, creating longer, straighter shots with unbelievable forgiveness,” says Mitchell. “It is vital that golfers should get fitted for their clubs in order to get the most out of their game.” For more information on coaching and custom fitting, email stevem@pentlandgolf. co.uk or call the club on 01303 863863.

Seniors saved from subs hike Forthcoming legislation that would have prevented golf clubs throughout the UK providing discounts for senior members has been shelved. The age part of the Equality Act 2010, which would have forced golf clubs to charge full memberships for senior citizens, was due to begin this April, but the Equality and Human Rights Commission has ruled that this will now not be brought in for the ‘foreseeable future’. Many golf clubs offer reduced fees for older members, with both the discount and the age at which it starts determined by the club. While the decision has been supported by industry insiders, some have stated that the current pricing system is unsustainable.

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The organisers of a new tournament on the European Senior Tour are seeking a sponsor to help support what is one of only a handful of tour events due to be staged in the UK this year. Heythrop Park Hotel & Golf Resort in Oxfordshire has put in a bid to host the British Senior Masters at its 7,100-yard Bainbridge Course for the next three years. However, the club’s management is keen to find a corporate backer who will benefit from the exposure that such a prestigious tournament will bring to the region. Staging the tournament would be a major coup for

March 2012 / Issue 208

Heythrop seeks sponsor for Senior Masters the Chipping Norton-based club, which has spent over £50 million developing the championship course and

the adjoining 197-bedroom Crowne Plaza Hotel, which opened last year. Heythrop Park’s championship course,

which was designed by Tom Mackenzie, only opened in 2009, but has already won plaudits from players and the

golfing media for the quality and condition of its layout, which encircles the majestic Heythrop Park mansion in over 300 acres of mature parkland. The resort has had to apply for special permission to stage tournament golf because it breaks a condition set out by planners when the course was first approved in 2004 Initially it was decided the golf course could not be used for competitions that are open to the public as spectators, however this has since been overturned, giving the green light to stage professional tournaments. The British Senior Masters, which is expected to attract

the cream of European Senior Tour players, is scheduled to be staged during the first week of October, but is dependent on a headline sponsor coming in to share the costs of putting on the event. David Griffin, director of golf operations at Heythrop Park said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us, but there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. The European Senior Tour is going through a golden era, with lots of household names joining every year, and I’m confident that a tournament would attract a large crowd, as well as a significant television audience.”

Prize fund rise for popular Woburn event

The on-going success of the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters, one of the longest running events on the European Senior Tour, has been underlined by an increase in the tournament’s prize fund for its 12th edition at Woburn Golf Club, which takes place from August 31-September 2. The three-day tournament has habitually attracted crowds of over 20,000 in recent years, and its popularity has led to prize money increasing by £15,000 to £300,000, with the 2012 champion receiving a first prize of £45,000. Woburn Golf Club’s unbroken run of staging 11 consecutive Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters is second only to Bad Ragaz Golf Club, host venue of the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open, as the longest standing on the current Senior Tour schedule. During this time the event has developed into one of the leading tournaments on the Senior Tour, attracting many of the top players, as well as large galleries. Last year saw Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit (pictured above) take the title over the Duke’s Course, holding off the challenge of former Ryder Cup players Gordon Brand Jnr and Barry Lane and former European Tour champion Roger Chapman, who all tied for second place. Andy Stubbs, managing director of the European Senior Tour, said: “We are extremely grateful to Travis Perkins and Woburn for the long-term support of this event and the popularity of this tournament has allowed us to collectively increase the prize money for a second year in a row. Woburn is a first-class venue which has attracted some of our biggest crowds and we have had some magnificent champions over the years.” Travis Perkins is currently in year two of a second three-year term as title sponsor, having first backed the tournament in 2008. It previously sponsored the Wentworth Senior Masters from 2002-2005. Recent winners include the Senior Tour’s most successful player Carl Mason, (2006 and 2007), Zimbabwean Tony Johnstone (2009) and former Ryder Cup players Gordon J Brand (2008) and Des Smyth (2010).

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March 2012 / Issue 208

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Tudor Park hits the mark! Two clubs in the South East are celebrating after being placed in the 2012 GolfMark Club of the Year Awards. The awards, introduced four years ago by the English Golf Union and English Women’s Golf Association, recognise clubs that have made an outstanding and innovative contribution to junior and beginner golf. Marriott Tudor Park Golf & Country Club in Kent and Addington Court Golf Club in Surrey were both awarded runner-up prizes in the nationwide competition, with the overall title going to Bawburgh Golf Club, near Norwich.

 Presenting the award, Ian Barrett, marketing manager for award sponsors Cobra Puma Golf, said: “We delighted to help recognise the outstanding efforts of those who have worked so hard to win these awards. Our approach to golf is about making the game more inclusive and fun for golfers of all abilities, attitudes and styles, all of these clubs echo this by enhancing golf participation within their communities. Cobra Puma Golf is proud to continue its support for GolfMark as a leader in the development of beginner-friendly facilities.”

‘Big Weekend’ back at new-look Horton Park Visitors to Horton Park Golf Club’s popular Big Weekend later this month can expect a very different experience, following the completion of a substantial redevelopment programme at the Epsom-based venue over the winter. The club, which has been owned by Maple Leaf Golf since 2009, has benefitted from a £500,000 facelift, which has included extending the 18-hole course by 800 yards to take it up to just over 6,000 yards, installing new irrigation on the Par 3 course, enlarging the tees, and investing in a new fleet of machinery. The layout of the 18-hole course has also been modified to improve the opening holes, which now provide an excellent test, especially the new 500-yard third hole from its elevated tee. The clubhouse has also received a significant makeover, with new carpet and a full redecoration throughout, while outdoors a new patio extension provides more space for entertaining. The pro shop has also been refurbished, with all the latest equipment from all the major brands on sale at competitive prices, as well as a first-class custom fitting service. Representatives from both TaylorMade and Ping will be attending the Big Weekend event, which this year takes place on March 31-April 1, giving members and visitors the opportunity to try out all the new facilities, as well as receive free tuition and expert advice on their equipment, and take part in a range of fun-filled activities, exhibition matches and competitions. The new-look driving range, which has been fitted out with five new target greens and new range balls, will be sure to come in for heavy use over the weekend, as golfers seek to test out new equipment and their new swings. To register for the Big Weekend and to receive a free goodie bag worth over £100, visit www.hortonparkgolf.com.

Tom tees it up with top teenager

A club golfer from Surrey enjoyed an allexpenses paid trip last month to play alongside Italian superstar Matteo Manassero after winning a competition organised by HowDidiDo Media and Golf in Abu Dhabi. Tom Allen, 28, from Surbiton, won a trip to play in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship Pro-Am with the 18-year-old Manassero, who became the youngest golfer to win a European Tour event when he secured victory in the 2010 Castelló Masters Costa Azahar aged just 17. Allen, a two-handicapper who plays his golf at Hampton Court Palace, was the first name pulled out in a prize draw and won return flights with Etihad Airways; three nights’ accommodation at the world-renowned Emirates Palace hotel; two VIP hospitality passes to tournament, and a spot in the pro-am competition. Allen said: “It really was the trip of a lifetime for any golfer. I had to read the congratulatory email several times before it sank in, and I can still scarcely believe I was playing with Matteo in such a fabulous setting. It was an amazing opportunity, and I am hugely grateful to HowDidiDo for offering such an incredible prize. It was an absolute joy to play alongside Matteo. He’s unbelievably talented for someone so young, and it was a real privilege just to walk the same fairways as him.”

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March 2012 / Issue 208

Visitors to GolfLive will be treated to three days of on-course demonstrations, challenges and interaction with the greats of the game, as well as chance to try and buy new equipment

THE GREATEST SHOW Clear your diary for May 18-20 and get yourself down to The London Golf Club for what promises to be the most golfing fun you can have with and without a club in your hands. Get ready for Golf Live 2012 The Balearic island of Ibiza may have a reputation as a clubbing Mecca, but north Kent is bidding to steal that title when Golf Live comes to town from May 18-20. And while ravers might be disappointed, swingers will have plenty to get excited about. As part of the three-day extravaganza, all the major golf club manufacturers will be at the London Golf Club, giving amateur golfers the best opportunity to see new equipment in 2012. Organisers are billing the experience as the biggest equipment demo event of the year, and with a specially-constructed 30-bay driving range among the attractions, it is easy to see why. Event director James Goode said: “Since launching Golf Live we’ve always strived to create unique opportunities for golfers within every element of the event, and now we have that for club testing. There will be nowhere else in the UK this year where golfers can gather to test the latest clubs from all

the big brands. It’s a fantastic chance to see what is on offer, try something new and, if you like it, buy it and take it away with you.” Among the manufacturers on offer are TaylorMade, Cleveland/Srixon, Wilson, Callaway, Cobra/Puma, Yonex and Mizuno, with each showcasing its very latest wares. Thousands of clubs will be onsite, and they are all sure to be fully put through their paces with 15,000 visitors expected to attend over the three days. And the manufacturers are looking forward to it just as much as the visitors. Nick Robbie, head of consumer marketing for TaylorMade, said: “Our new range of drivers and fairway woods has received a great reception from the golf industry, and Golf Live is the ideal place for us to promote them to a wider golfing audience. Not only will golfers have the chance to experience what it’s like to play with our clubs, but they can also get fitted on the spot, while their feedback will be invaluable to us in our continued commitment to developing new golf club technology.”

TaylorMade has taken golf club adjustability to a new level this year with the launch of its R11S driver – which features an updated, adjustable sole plate and the ability to alter the loft of the club – and the driver and RocketBallz fairway woods are already the number one products on the European Tour. As well as having the chance to test drive these, golfers can also enjoy an experience usually reserved for the top professionals, courtesy of the company’s massive custom-fitting truck. The 10-metre long behemoth will be at the London Golf Club for the duration of Golf Live, allowing TaylorMade to offer a full custom-fit service to anyone visiting its three driving range bays. Wilson and Cleveland/Srixon will also be bringing their tour trucks, with the latter offering a unique guided experience explaining the exact benefits to be gained from the customfit process. Throughout the days, visitors will be able to enjoy guided tours of Cleveland/Srixon’s truck, with the manufacturer’s experts giving an insight

into not only how the clubs are made, but how that can improve a player’s performance, and why the company’s Tour stars, such as Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley, choose their own unique specifications. Goode commented: “Having the Tour trucks in situ for the three days is a huge boost for the event. All golfers want to get better, and custom-fitting is a proven way for players to get the most out of their game. Anyone coming to Golf Live will have an unrivalled opportunity to see how this process works from not just one, but three of the biggest manufacturers in golf.” Cleveland/Srixon will also have a dedicated short-game zone, where golfers can trial its range of renowned wedges with a variety chipping challenges. And that will not be the only specialist area as, in addition to five driving range bays, Callaway will be running the Odyssey Putting Green to showcase its award-winning putters. However, Golf Live isn’t just about the big-hitting brands, and those


March 2012 / Issue 208

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HOW on grass! visiting will be able to see a host of specialist manufacturers. STX Putters will be exhibiting its wares on the main putting green alongside Dave Hicks Golf, while the driving range will be home to Archer Golf, a company taking golf club customisation to the next level by offering an unrivalled amount of options for iron clubheads, replicating the exact process Tour players get. It will not just be clubs being fitted at the showpiece event, as no.1 ball brand Titleist will be on hand throughout the three days, matching golfers to its various ball models. Golf ball fitting is becoming increasingly popular, as more and more players realise different balls react in different ways to individuals’

swings, with variations in distance, spin and compression. Titleist is able to demonstrate to golfers which ball is best for them on the level it most counts, scoring, and how it will help improve their cards. With a 30-bay driving range, three tour trucks, two putting greens, one short-game area, and all of the major equipment manufacturers, Golf Live is undoubtedly the place to go for anyone looking to improve what’s in their golf bag, but that is by no means the only reason to visit the show. A host of golf’s finest exponents will be on show, including stars of both the ladies and men’s European Tours – and those in attendance will have the opportunity to meet and

Visitors can watch and learn from a cast list of tour stars

learn from them. Event ambassador Colin Montgomerie is returning for the third year, while South African golfing legend Gary Player will be alongside him heading an all-star line-up. Paul Casey, Oliver Fisher, and Rhys Davies are among the other men’s talent on show, while winning Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas will also be in attendance, along with Ladies European Tour stars Melissa Reid, Carly Booth and Henni Zuel. The golfing greats will be taking in all the show has to offer, meeting and greeting fans, and teaching them their top tips in skills clinics throughout the day. It is even possible to play a couple of holes against the Tour stars, as part of a limited number of hospitality packages available featuring seven holes on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage course – and even the world’s best golfers can’t wait for the May event. Player said: “The world of golf is evolving all the time, and I’m delighted to have been asked to be a part of Golf Live. I love coming to the UK, and to have the opportunity to interact with the crowd is very exciting.” Nicholas echoed his sentiments, saying: “Golf Live is a fantastic event. More and more women are getting involved in golf, and shows like this can only serve to benefit the long-term future of the ladies’ game. It’s great that more lady professionals are involved this year, and I can’t wait to see the girls showing off their skills against some of

the top players from the men’s game.” Goode added: “Every year we’ve been impressed with the quality of talent we’ve attracted to Golf Live, but 2012 is shaping up to be the best yet. Gary Player is quite simply one of the greatest golfers to have ever graced a fairway – and that’s before you even begin to talk about Paul Casey and all the other fantastic stars who will be attending.” As well as picking up hints and tips in the clinics with the big-name players, visitors can benefit from the knowledge of European Tour coach Pete Cowen, and a variety of chances for free oneto-one tuition around the show. Fully qualified PGA professionals will be on hand to ensure everyone’s swing is in top-notch condition, and juniors can take advantage of free tuition from the golf schools of current world number three Lee Westwood and reigning Open champion Darren Clarke. For more experienced youngsters, the British Junior Golf Tour will be on hand to showcase its tour arrangements, and signing up golfing talent for its 2012 tournaments, while those new to the game can enjoy free taster sessions from the Golf Foundation. In addition, visitors can discover the hottest golfing destinations, latest fairway fashions, cutting-edge gameimprovement gadgets and gizmos, and everything else golf-related. All in all, it adds up to an unmissable three days of golfing action, so we look forward to seeing you there!

Tickets cost just £20 for adults, and U18s can get free entry if they register in advance on Golf Live’s website. For more information or to buy tickets call 0871 230 7130 or visit www.golfliveevent.com.


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March 2012 / Issue 208

Although Hever Castle has stood unmoved and virtually unchanged for over for over 600 years, its adjoining golf club is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the modern golfer, as Nick Bayly discovered on a recent visit Hever Castle Golf Club has long enjoyed a fine reputation for the quality of the design and presentation of its golf courses, and the superb hospitality on offer in its stylish clubhouse. However, the owner has never been content to rest on its laurels, and has continued to plough financial resources, manpower, and creativity into making sure it constantly improves its offering to the golfing community. This has manifested itself in the publication of an annual ‘masterplan’ that outlines the programme of investments planned to keep the club moving forward, and maintaining its position as one of the top facilities in the region. The masterplan is distributed among the membership and the staff, so that everyone at the club, from the greenkeeper and the head chef to the five-day member and the club captain, is aware of

what is going to be happening in the months ahead. The detailed document reveals areas for future improvements to both the golf course and the clubhouse. In recent seasons, these have included a path renovation programme, improved drainage and aeration, new course signage and furniture, a new starter’s hut, new course machinery, upgraded tees, tree planting, bunker maintenance, a new automatic ball dispensing machine and new balls on the range, free WiFi in the clubhouse, refurbished changing rooms, and the list goes on. This year sees the arrival of a covered bays and a new artificial tee surface for the driving range, tee levelling improvements, and the beginning a five-year plan to improve the quality of the greens, working alongside experts from the Sports Turf Research Institute. It all points to a club that is moving forwards and investing in its key asset – the course, which in Hever’s case is a 27-hole layout, comprising the Kings, Queens and the Princes. The first two nines combine to create the championship course, while the Princes can be combined with either to create an equally challenging 18-hole round. The quality of the golf on offer is, and always has been, Hever’s biggest selling point. ‘A fair test’ is perhaps the best description of the challenge on offer here as, although it is sometimes talked of as being one of the toughest courses in Kent, it still rewards good play, and doesn’t unfairly penalise less-than-perfect shots. Having hosted the Kent PGA Championship and Kent Open on numerous occasions since opening in 1992, the Kings and Queens combine to produce a championship course of over 7,000 yards that will test the best and inspire the rest. Some would argue that length is its greatest defence, but that would be to ignore the copious

Grand plans at Hever

amount of water, numerous astutelyplaced bunkers, small greens, and some narrow tree-lined fairways that place a real emphasis on accuracy. Having said that, it does open out in places, and there are plenty of opportunities to open the shoulders without being overly punished, especially on the front nine. While much of the talk in the clubhouse will be about how you negotiated the notorious 644-yard 17th, few clubs can boast such an array of stunning holes, with the short third and sixth holes, both of which are played over water being early highlights. Later on, it’s the trio of stunning holes from the 11th to the 13th that stand out, not only for its beauty, but its difficulty, with carries over and beside water to small, well-protected targets. Not surprisingly, nearly all society and corporate days that come to Hever choose to make a proper day of it, warming up on the 2,784-yard Princes nine-hole loop in the morning, before setting themselves up to tackle the Kings and Queens after lunch. With mid-week green fees costing only £40 for the championship course (£50 at weekends), and 27-hole summer season packages from £64.50 for coffee and bacon rolls, lunch and a two-course dinner, Hever has always proved an attractive venue for societies and green fee players alike. The club has an online booking system, which allows members and visitors to pre-book tee times, while those guests that choose to pre-pay at the same time will enjoy a £10 saving

off the standard green fee. Although a proprietary-owned club, Hever is operated along the lines of a private club, with its members given priority when it comes to accessing the courses and the numerous additional benefits that go above and beyond those available at most other clubs. For example, members are given priority tee times seven days a week, restricting visitors to play after 10.30am during the week, and after midday at weekends. It also operates an advanced booking system to allow specific tee times to be reserved 14 days in advance for members and great care is taken to ensure that societies and corporate events do not impact on the members’ ability to play at peak times. There are a number of attractive benefits for new and existing full sevenday members, including two free junior memberships for the children of adult members; complimentary range balls for the driving range and short game area; free green vouchers for up to three guests, and a member’s discount card with savings in the bar and pro shop. Members can also access the club’s website to download exclusive vouchers for savings on specific club events. It all adds up to a healthy haul, and makes the current seven- and five-day membership (£1,415/£1,010) seem something of a bargain. The club also offers three levels of intermediate membership for younger golfers (18-22, 23-25, 25-30), which make golf more affordable for cash-strapped youngsters, while there is a £400 ‘Flexi’ membership

that offers a limited number of games per year, excluding the championship course on weekend mornings. Off the course, much of Hever’s appeal lies in the superb clubhouse, part of which dates back to the 13th century, and which provides the perfect place for members and guests to relax before, during and after a day’s golfing. With a spacious patio, informal spike bar, and a generouslyproportioned lounge and dining room, it is the ideal environment for entertaining, with a choice of dining facilities and meeting rooms. Upstairs there is another private room, which is used to host weddings and private functions, both of which are proving increasingly popular at Hever Castle, due to its idyllic location, which although rural is only 20 minutes from the M25. For those guests wishing to offer friends and clients something even more special, private rooms in the magnificent castle itself can be reserved. It’s fair to say that Hever Castle offers a truly unique experience, on and off the fairways, and with an array of membership benefits and tempting introductory offers, there has never been a better time to join. To find out more about what Hever Castle Golf Club can offer, and to book a preview round from only £20 on The Championship Course, please contact Membership Manager Peter Holder by calling 01732 701004 or emailing pholder@hever.co.uk. For more information and the very latest offers and society packages, visit www.hever.co.uk, where a video tour of the club is also available to view.

Continued investment in the golf courses and the historic clubhouse and its facilities has ensured Hever remains one of the most popular clubs in the region


March 2012 / Issue 208

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‘Great Golf Days’

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Golf News has teamed up with the organisers of Golf Live and Callaway Golf to offer one lucky reader the money-can’t-buy experience of caddying for eight-time Order of Merit winner and Callaway staff player Colin Montgomerie After carrying the former Ryder Cup captain’s clubs for two holes at the London Golf Club during one of his oncourse demonstrations at Golf Live, the winner will then be taken to one of Callaway Golf’s driving range bays, where they will be fitted for the brand’s stunning new RAZR FIT Driver. Callaway Golf ’s first adjustable driver has already made a big impression on Tour, most notably with Phil Mickelson’s win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Alvaro Quiros’s victory in the Dubai World Championship. The RAZR Fit has also won a stack of industry awards, including a five-star rating in Golf Digest’s Hot List for 2012. It features an OptiFit hosel that allows golfers to adjust the face angle to open, square or closed positions at address to improve accuracy and trajectory. Golfers can also use two OptiFit weights to shift the clubhead’s centre of gravity to promote either a draw or neutral ball flight. It all adds up to a powerful package that delivers distance and shot-shaping capability.

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TO ENTER: To be in with a chance of winning this superb prize, all you need to do is answer the question below correctly, and email your answer to info@golfnews.co.uk, with ‘Golf Live Competition’ in the subject line, together with your name, address and contact telephone number.

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For tickets to Golf Live, which takes place from May 18-20 at The London Golf Club, visit www.golfliveevent.com For more details about Callaway Golf’s range of performance-enhancing products visit www.callawaygolf.com

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March 2012 / Issue 208

After enduring the worst season of his professional career, big-hitting Ross Fisher needs to regain his form – and quickly – if he is to meet any of the big targets he has set himself for 2012 Ross Fisher’s goals for this season are pretty simple – win a tournament, get back inside the world top 50 and make the European Ryder Cup team. Not surprisingly, that last goal comes top of the list. Fisher played on the victorious European team that triumphed at Celtic Manor Wales two years ago. The Ascot man delivered two points out of the four matches he played, and wants to experience the thrill of winning another Ryder Cup. His provisional 2012 schedule includes a trip to Medinah Country Club, Chicago, in September for the 39th Ryder Cup. Two years ago such goals would have seemed relatively easy, but Fisher’s 2011 stumble puts them in slight doubt. After four straight seasons of recording at least one win a year, the 31-year-old failed to add to his trophy cabinet last season. He also slumped to his worst position on the European money list, 52nd, since his rookie 2006 season when he placed 66th. Cause for concern? Not really. “I didn’t have a disastrous year last season,” Fisher says, when I grab him for a chat following his second round in the Abu Dhabi Golf Champiosnhip. “I felt as if I played about the same as I did the previous year, but just didn’t get the rewards. Everyone talks about the fine line that exists out here, and I think I went through that last year.” Finishing 52nd on the money list and taking home €583,569 to boost career earnings to just over €7.5 million in six seasons on the European Tour would suit many pros. However, Fisher isn’t just any European Tour pro. He’s one of the longest hitters in the game, and has been in contention for majors. In 2009 he finished fifth in the US Open and might have won if not for a balky putter. A month later he recorded a final round 75 in the Open Championship at Turnberry after getting into contention through the 54 holes. “Every player has slight dips in form, and Ross is no different,” said three-time former European Tour pro Mark Roe, Fisher’s short game coach. “Ross is a massive talent, and I know how hard he works on his game. He’s going to win a lot more tournaments than the four he already has.” The former Wentworth Foundation graduate played pretty well in last year’s Masters, finishing in joint 15th,

Fisher in deep waters Words by Alistair Tait

but he failed to qualify for the US Open, missed the cut in the Open Championship and placed a distant 45th at the US PGA Championship. “I played pretty well in The Masters, and felt maybe that was going to be a sign of a good season, but things just didn’t click the rest of the year,” Fisher says. Indeed, he never really threatened to win last season. He had four top 10s, with a best finish of sixth in the KLM Dutch Open, a tournament that he won in 2007. “Last season doesn’t really concern me. It’s just a question of being a little more patient this year. If I’d finished, say, outside the top 100, then I might have been worried during the off season, but my game wasn’t too far away.” Hopefully not too far away from a spot on José Maria Olazabal’s Ryder Cup team. “Celtic Manor was an amazing experience, probably my best in golf. To be part of a wining team was just an unbelievable feeling, and I don’t want to miss another Ryder Cup. Making this year’s team is high on my list.” It might be high on his list, but his main priority probably should be getting back inside the world top 50. From a high of 17th in November 2009, Fisher has slipped outside the world’s top 100. At the time of writing he was 112th, and the world’s ninth best Englishman. Back in those heady days of 2009, only Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter stood above him on England’s world order. Now he is some

way down the pecking order. “Getting into the world top 50 is a big goal, because if you can do that then you get automatic entry in the majors and World Golf Championships. That’s where you want to be. So top 50 in the world is also high on my list. I’ll do that if I can win tournaments.” The new season also brings a big change for Fisher. After years of playing Titleist equipment, he has jumped ship to Nike. He turned up in Abu Dhabi bedecked in Nike swooshes. Either the clubs are taking longer to get used to, or Fisher has more rust on him than usual, but he was far from exemplary in his first two events of the year. He made the cut in Abu Dhabi, but finished 42nd. He got blown away by the shamal winds off the desert in Qatar, opening with and nineover-par 81, then added a 75 to miss the cut by miles.

Of course, there are other things on Fisher’s mind these days besides birdies and bogeys.The former Wentworth man and wife Emma now have two children. Daughter Eve arrived in 2009, while son Harry was born last year. “Of course it gets harder to devote as much time to practice when you have children, but it’s a good problem to have. I’m not about to complain that having a family is negative. It’s up to me to balance spending time on my game and spending time with them, but that’s a balance a lot of players have.” Hopefully he can get that balance right to achieve the three goals he’s set for himself this year. Ross Daniel Fisher is too good a player to go winless this season, too good a player to be outside the world top 50, and certainly the sort of player who should be helping Europe win this year’s Ryder Cup.

“Celtic Manor was an amazing experience, probably my best in golf. To be part of a wining team was just an unbelievable feeling and I don’t want to miss another Ryder Cup”


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March 2012 / Issue 208

Newbury & Crookham Golf Club

The Perfect Golfing Day Out

SOCIETIES & VISITORS The perfect venue for your golfing day out

Fantastic golf course all year round Superb food & welcome l Wide range of packages available to suit your requirements l Play & Stay Packages available l l

DON’T JUST TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT! “The greens, quite simply the truest, fastest and smoothest that you will put on in England, I’m not a member but this is no exaggeration”

Berkshire’s Peter Jones fought off the challenge of 43 fellow amateurs to win the 2012 Volvo Matchplay Championship hosted at the Vale do Lobo Resort in Portugal. Jones, a 15 handicapper from Bearwood Lakes Golf Club, is no stranger to winning amateur events, having won Golf News’ own Links Championships at Princes in October last year. The wily veteran continued his fine form in Portugal, proving a model of consistency over the 72-hole Stableford event. He opened up with a steady 34 points on the Royal Course, before adding a 35 on the Ocean course, and then separated himself from the field with an impressive 40 points on the Royal in round three. This gave him an unassailable seven-point lead going into the final round, where he scored a solid 35 points for a 72-hole total of 144 and a sixpoint winning margin. Speaking after his win,

Jones keeps up to claim Volvo title Jones, who also won the Volvo Matchplay Pairs event with his son in 2010, said: “The Matchplay finals made for a fantastic week. Val do Lobo is a superb resort, with two sublime courses, and truly fantastic facilities. There was a great atmosphere both on and off the course, with excellent organisation by Volvo making it

“It has one of the best collections of par 3s in the land, 4 of the 5 of them are truly memorable. Course in excellent condition, under rated and well worth a visit” Taken from: top100golfcourses.co.uk

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Peter Jones won the singles trophy

very special for all participants. All for an entry of just £20 – exceptional value!” The pairs event was won by Colin Ledwith and Alan Smith from Canons Brook Golf Club in Harlow. The Essex-based duo won by six points with a 72-hole total of 161. Following the win, Smith said: “The entry fee was the best £20 I have ever spent. The hosting was brilliant, great venue, great restaurants and great company. Quality golf courses, quality food, quality accommodation, but most of all some great friendships made. I just hope I can qualify again soon!” The singles and pairs winners now go on to compete in the Volvo Amateur Golf Tour UK Final to be played over 36 holes

on the Ailsa course at Turnberry from October 19-22. The road to the finals began last June, when 1,700 pairs and 950 singles from 1,500 different clubs played four rounds of matchplay, before reaching one of the eight regional finals, from which 44 golfers qualified for the grand final at Vale do Lobo. The finalists were treated to five nights’ accommodation, return flights, and car hire, and also received a welcome pack of a Nike polo shirt and a dozen Nike balls. The 2012 Volvo Matchplay Championship is now open for entries, and any golf club member with an active handicap can enter online at www.volvogolf.co.uk, by calling 0845 466 2222 or by emailing info@volvogolf.co.uk.


March 2012 / Issue 208

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Sandford completes four-year renovation Towers come tumbling down A round at Royal St George’s and Prince’s Golf Club will never be the same again following the demolition of the three towers at Richborough power station. The iconic structures dominated the East Kent coastline for over 50 years, and have served as a backdrop for

five Open Championships,. They were demolished in a controlled explosion on March 11, which took less than 20 seconds to raze them to the ground. Although not a public event, the final destruction of the towers was witnessed by thousands of local people, many of whom had worked

Stoke Park set to host celebrity Heroes day Stars of sports, stage, and screen will be on show at Stoke Park Golf Club on April 25, when the Help for Heroes Celebrity Golf Day tees off for its third annual tournament. The star-filled charity day, which will raise vital money for the Help the Heroes fund, sees three amateur golfers paired with a celebrity for 18 holes of golf over the historic parkland layout in Buckinghamshire. Among the famous names already lined up to play are Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, BBC football pundit Alan Hansen, former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, and sports presenter Steve Rider. As an added incentive to take part, the first person to ace the 180-yard 7th hole will win a £40,000 Audi TTS Roadster. One of the auction lots during the post-match dinner includes a four-ball at 50 of the UK’s top courses, including Royal St Georges, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, and the Trump International Resort in Aberdeen, which opens this summer. Bidders can also win a round with Lee Westwood. For details of how to enter a team, please email stacey@heroesnationalcelebritygolfday.com or visit www.heroescelebritygolf.com.

at the power station before it closed in 1996. The 300ft towers and a 400ft chimney were part of a complex of buildings that opened in 1962 to burn fuel from the Kent coalfields. The owner of the plant is planning to build a green energy park on the same site.

There is a spring in the step of members at Sandford Springs Golf Club in Hampshire following the recent completion of a four-year programme of investments at the 27-hole venue. Over £1.5 million has been spent on improving drainage, while a further £250,000 was invested in a new irrigation system for watering tees, greens and approaches – all of which is aimed at offering members and visitors top-class playing conditions throughout the year. Set among the rolling hills of Berkshire and Hampshire, Sandford Springs boasts a trio of challenging nine-hole loops – The Park,

The Wood and The Lakes. Membership packages start from £924 for five-day adult membership, with visitor

Pepperell signs for Frilford

Goodwood ace wins fast track

Frilford Heath Golf Club, one of Oxfordshire’s oldest established clubs, has signed a sponsorship deal with tour professional Eddie Pepperell. The agreement will see Abingdon-based Pepperell, who turned pro in April last year, acting as an ambassador for Frilford Heath as an attached touring professional, displaying the club’s logo on his golf bag throughout the 2012 season. He will also provide regular blogs to the club through its official website, keeping members and visitors updated on his life on tour. Speaking of his new sponsor, 23-year-old Pepperrell said: “I am very honoured to be representing Frilford Heath, a club I know so well. They offer three very different courses and excellent pracitice facilities, which are ideal for preparing for tournaments. I am grateful for the club’s support and belief in me, and am very much looking forward to representing them on tour during the season ahead.” Alistair Booth, Executive

Sussex nine-handicapper Storry Thrower is preparing to swap his golf glove for a pair of driving gloves, after winning a track day at Silverstone following his victory in Golf at Goodwood’s annual Order of Merit. The Aldwick-based golfer performed the most consistently over the 10 events at the Chichester-based club to win the title, and is looking forward to taking on the challenge of driving around the famous Silverstone circuit, home to British motorsport, in a selection of Porsches. Golf At Goodwood joined forces with the Mid Sussex Porsche Centre who host their annual Golf Day over the award-winning Downs Course to offer the winner a once in a life time opportunity to compete at the historic circuit.

Director of Frilford Heath, said: “We are delighted that we can continue to support Eddie. From the day that he first joined Frilford as a junior, Eddie has shown great potential, winning numerous club, regional and national competitions. We know he will achieve the same success in his professional career. To be a part of that is very exciting for the golf club and our members.” Pepperell has made a positive start to his career

in the paid ranks, including finishing third at the Open de Normandie in 2011, while this year has seen him bag a second and a fifth on the developmental Hi5 Tour, before he moves on to play a full season on the EuroPro Tour, which begins at Wensum Valley on April 25. Frilford Heath will be hosting its own EuroPro Tour event from July 18-20, where Pepperell will be hoping to make full use of his home advantage.

AT

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March 2012 / Issue 208

Davies hits out at prize money imbalance Tour stalwart Laura Davies has called for a minimum prize fund requirement at Ladies European Tour events to avoid a repeat of the money list being won outright in one competition on the 26-tournament schedule. Surrey-based Davies, NGS2012_GOLFNEWS_A4_aw.qxd winner of 76 tournaments

01/03/12

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around the world during her 26-year career, has hit out at the imbalance of prize money on offer at the majority of LET events, and called for a minimum guaranteed prize fund to be introduced after Japan’s Ai Miyazato won the 2011 Money List after playing in only two events – the British Page (where 1 Open she missed the

cut) and the Evian Masters (which she won). Her nearest rival, England’s Melissa Reid, played in 19 events, winning two and finishing inside the top 10 on eight other occasions, but still finished €80,000 behind Miyazato. Speaking prior to taking part in the season-ending Omega Ladies Masters in Dubai,

which offered €75,000 to the winner, 46-year-old Davies said that tournaments such as the Evian Masters, which awarded €360,000 to the champion, made a mockery of the money list and failed to adequately reward players who compete on the Ladies European Tour every week. “I really think you should

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have to be a European Tour member in order to qualify for these big events, but somewhere along the line the rules have changed,” said Davies. “Ai Miyazato is not a European Tour member, and played in just two events, but she won the money list, and that just seems a bit ridiculous to me.” Davies added: “You could win eight or nine regular tour events and still not win as much as was on offer at the Evian. If one of the regular European Tour players wins it and plays 20 events, then it seems like a just reward, but regardless of who wins it, it’s just a shame that one tournament can dominate the money list like that.” Davies, who finished 48th in this year’s money list, admitted that she had benefitted in the past from the imbalance, but added: “I think we need to have a rule where players have to play a minimum number of events, say five or six, in order to qualify. Alternatively, they could create a points system that rewarded consistency, but that’s no fun because everyone likes to see how much money people have won. That’s always been the judgment.” She added: “I don’t want to see the prize funds for these big events cut, but the others rise. What we need is virtually every tournament to have a total prize fund of €500,000, and then the Evian and British Open don’t become as important. If you’re only playing for €200,000 each week, it’s very difficult to make the ground up.” As Golf News went to press, the LET 2012 schedule featured 24 tournaments, with two ‘potential’ events still to be confirmed. Of those confirmed tournaments, six had yet to announce prize funds.

Open house at Chipstead

Chipstead Golf Club in Surrey is hosting two open days in April, where visitors are invited to sample the club’s superb facilities for free. The members at Chipstead will be giving up their course on April 22 and April 29, so that those unfamiliar with the club can play the course and experience what it feels like to be a member for a day. Start times for these two dates must be pre-booked with the professional shop. All ages and skill levels are welcome, and no handicap certificates are required, although players must bring their own clubs and golf shoes. The club is also running a series of free coaching weekends in May, with juniors catered for on May 12-13, and ladies on May 19-20. To make a booking for the Open Days, or the coaching sessions, call 01737 555781.


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1p round at Moor Park is no joke!

When offers look too good to be true, the generally are, but a bargain basement price for a green fee of just 1p at one of the UK Top 100 courses is the real deal. To celebrate their online tee time booking service Moor Park Golf Club in Hertfordshire is offering this eye-catching deal throughout April, making one tee time a day available for just 4p (four-balls only).

The tee times will be available to book from midnight to noon on April 1, with one time available between Monday and Friday in April at this discounted price, which normally sells for £90 per person. All times are subject to availability and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To bag a 4p tee time go to: www.moorparkgc.co.uk

Rookwood’s new website offers broad(band) appeal! Rookwood Golf Course in West Sussex has recently launched a new website to help make it easier for golfers to book their next visit to the popular pay-andplay venue in Horsham. Designed by Talking Design, the website continues the strong branding theme created by the facility over the last 12 months. Both functional and informative, the new site also includes a ‘Golf Day Wizard’ tool, which is specifically designed for organisers wanting to tailor a golf society day to their specific needs. Rookwood was one of the first clubs in the UK to offer online bookings, and has always ensured that its green fee prices are cheaper when booked via the web. Rookwood’s operations manager, Mark Pearson, said: “Nearly half of all our tee reservations are made online. That’s a staggering statistic,

especially because less than 10 years ago no-one was booking tee times online anywhere. When you consider the majority of bookings made for hotel rooms and airline flights are now made online, it’s a trend that is sure to increase over the coming years.”

He added: “We’re really pleased with the new website. It was the final piece in the jigsaw of our re-branding, and now has the same colourful, vibrant feel as the rest of our marketing material.” For all the very latest offers, please visit www.rookwoodgolf.co.uk.

Westbury to add new nine Westbury Golf Club in Wiltshire is to shortly begin work on adding a further nine holes to its existing ninehole layout. The club, which was founded in 1973, and is located near the famous White Horse at Trowbridge, has recently acquired the land to allow the course to be extended. British golf architects SAS Golf Design, run by Adrian Stiff and Ben Stephens, have been given the job of designing the course, which when completed, will cover a 100-acre site. The design will be influenced by old-style courses, with a number of grassy hollows, only a small number of sand bunkers and a large water feature that will come into play on two holes. Inert landfill will be used to fund the project, and also to provide material to build the holes. Stiff has extensive experience building courses using landfill, most recently the new Stranahan course at the Players Club near Bristol.

‘Voice of Golf’ re-opens Hindhead shop Veteran BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss made the short journey from his home in Hindhead to perform the official ribboncutting duties at the opening of the new-look professional’s shop at Hindhead Golf Club on March 10. The 81-year-old broadcaster, who will be jetting off to Augusta next month to cover the Masters, was on hand to unveil the impressive new shop, which received its last refit over 20 years ago. Designed in conjunction with the

club’s head professional, Ian Benson, who has been at the club for the last nine years, the refurbished shop is the final piece in a series of investments at the famous Surrey-based club, which recently saw the completion of a £1.5million clubhouse renovation. The spacious retail outlet is packed with a wide range of equipment from the game’s biggest brands, including Ping, TaylorMade, Titleist and Cleveland, while FootJoy’s new apparel range forms a striking addition

to the clothing lines, which also includes Glenmuir and adidas. To celebrate the re-opening, members were offered a 10% discount off all stock for a one-hour period, which proved a big success. Speaking after his official duties, Alliss, who enjoys a long association with Hindhead, said: “I absolutely love the shop. Ian and his team have done a great job, and I’m sure the members and visitors will find it a welcome addition to the wonderful facilities at the club.”

Society Packages 2012 Package prices from £29.00 per person

Bespoke packages on request Ideal for corporate & large society/charity days

To book please call Debbie or Lizzie on:

01959 522944 www.dvgc.co.uk Darenth Valley Golf Course, Shoreham, Kent


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March 2012 / Issue 208

The tricky approach the par-fve 11th

With its impressive 18th century mansion hous championship golf course, Heythrop Park is th

Located 30 minutes west of Oxford, Heythrop Park Hotel & Golf Resort has long been a stopping point for tourists on the Cotswold heritage trail – Blenheim Palace is only a few miles away – but only came on the map as a golfing destination in October 2010, with the opening of the 7,008-yard Bainbridge course, which was designed by Tom Mackenzie. And although the word about Heythrop has slowly but surely got out, it remains something of a hidden gem and worthy of far greater fame among the golfing community. Those that have had the pleasure of visiting, depart with promises to return and are blown away by the tranquillity and timeless elegance of the estate, which was bought by businessman Firoz Kassam for £15 million back in 1999. Mr Kassam, whose corporate portfolio includes five hotels, has spent the last decade – and over £30m – converting Heythrop from a corporate training facility into a fullyfledged luxury leisure resort. The golf course is just part of the jigsaw of top class facilities on offer here, which also include a spa and a gym, while the 220-room four-star Crowne Plaza Hotel, which opened last year, takes the on-site accommodation offering up to an impressive 351 rooms.

The par 3 13th brings a touch of Valderamma to Oxfordshire

In pure golfing terms, the vast 440-acre Bainbridge Course is still very much in its infancy, but despite its youth, the 7,088-yard layout is blessed with maturity beyond its age, with 300 years of majestic woodland providing a stunning canvas on which MacKenzie has worked his magic. Although the opening three or four holes are slightly pedestrian, as you move away from the house, the course really gets into its stride in a superb stretch that starts from the dramatic downhill par-four fifth and runs all the way through to the challenging 203yard par-three 13th, and the dog-leg 14th. Lakes, streams, huge rises and drops in elevation, and a clever use of

the typography have created some superb holes that will test every part of your game and require every club in the bag, especially if you decide to play off the very back of the five teeing options that are available to guests. The 296-yard sixth will be many players’ highlight, presenting a driveable par-four over water that offers genuine reward, but plenty of

“Anyone taking on The Heythrop Challenge wins a 50 per cent discount on either five- or seven-day memberships” risk. When the course first opened, the management offered to waive the joining fee for anyone who reached the green off the tee, but anyone taking on The Heythrop Challenge, as it is called, now wins a 50 per cent discount on either a five- or sevenday membership. And with annual membership costing £999, that’s a tidy sum to save for one stunning shot. The par-five 11th is another cracker that will require all of your

concentration to score well on. The imposing house provides a stunning backdrop as you tee off down the hill towards the fairway, while your third shot requires a pin-point iron to a small green tucked to the side of a pond. The par-3 13th is another show-stopper and will have students of architecture conjuring up images of the 17th at Valderamma, with water in front of the green, and a natural amphitheatre of grass behind, serving to frame the hole superbly. In addition to the stunning holes, there are plenty of interesting distractions throughout your round, including numerous Cotswold stone walls, which come into play on several holes, while a carp lake, a Victorian skating pond, and even a Jesuit cemetery all add to the mix. The last three holes are slightly less dramatic, but no less demanding. The par-four 18th, with its gun-barrel straight fairway bordered by an avenue trees, offers a challenge that is unique to Heythrop. Looking straight down to the majestic house in the distance, it definitely leaves its mark on your mind – and on your card, should you happen to fade or slice it. With the greens fast and true, and so many natural and man-made hazards to contend with, this is a course to test every part of your game and golfing brain. Ranked 123rd in a recent survey of UK courses, this number looks certain to come down as the course matures over the coming years, and with green fees costing from as little as £30 during off-peak periods, and numerous walk-


March 2012 / Issue 208

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se, quality on-site accommodation, and its stunning he perfect destination for discerning golfers

Heythrop hits the heights The par-four sixth requires a brave shot over water to reach the green

on rates available at different times of the year, it represents tremendous value for money for a golfing experience of this standard. The management is looking at hosting professional events here in the immediate future, which reflects its genuine and realistic ambition to be rated as a top-class championship venue. Having walked the course during my round, I’d not hesitate in recommending a buggy – which are fitted with GPS – for those not sound of limb, as there are some long walks between some of the holes. That said, it is eminently manageable and makes the post-match beers in the clubhouse all the more rewarding! A single storey clubhouse has been built a few hundred yards away from the main house, keeping golfers out of sight of weddings and conference goers, while providing a luxurious haven for spa and pool users and a relaxing place to have a drink and a meal before or after a round. Golfers looking to make a break of it are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation. Despite its impressive proportions, the main house offers just 17 bedrooms, but they are definitely worth booking if you’re staying with a partner or want to push the boat out for a special occasion, while the remaining 250-plus rooms in the wing of the main house are more basic, and will appeal to golfers who are more interested in the size of the greens than they are the proportions of their four-poster. In addition, the new fourstar Crown Plaza offers a further 120

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Quote ‘Golf News offer’ when booking a four-ball at Heythrop Park and pay just £160! This exclusive offer is available between April 1st and June 30th, 2012 only.

For bookings call 01608 673333. rooms of luxurious accommodation, with an excellent choice of food and drinking venues on-site, including the stylish Brassey restaurant for formal dining and the trendy Mezzanine bar for a more relaxed atmosphere. With extensive meeting facilities, including a 350-seat theatre and a ballroom, the hotel is also a superb venue for corporate or large social events. And with one-night’s dinner, B&B, and two rounds of golf breaks starting from just £89pp, there are plenty of incentives for golfers to make the trip to this most stunning of resorts, where the quality of the service is matched by the quality of the facilities. For bookings, and the very latest green fee offers, call 01608 673333, email info@heythroppark.co.uk or go to www.heythroppark.co.uk.


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March 2012 / Issue 208

Pro-Ams to the fore in packed PGA schedule

Chart Hills is a new venue on the PGA Pro-Am circuit in 2012

The PGA South Region has unveiled a packed tournament schedule for the coming season, including eight Order of Merit events and an increased prize fund. New for 2012 is the PGA Woosnam-Faldo Challenge at Dale Hill and Chart Hills, which will test the players’ ability to cope with two very challenging courses over

two days. The event will also boast two Pro-Ams at both Leaderboard courses. The Virgin Atlantic PGA Southern Open continues to be hosted at Drift GC, as does The PGA Surrey Open supported by Kronenbourg 1664 at Gatton Manor, and The Tylney Park Classic. The PGA Kent Open remains at Prince’s on the Kent coast, while the PGA Southern

Professional Championship moves to the Longcross course at Foxhills, now fronted by the Seve Ballesteros Foundation Pro-Am. The Wildwood Invitational again provides the finale to the 2012 Order of Merit. Regional secretary Sam Smith said: “We introduced some new ideas into last year’s events, so this year we’re building

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on those things that worked to the obvious advantage of our members, sponsors and patrons, and the prize fund is up on last year as well,. “We’ve laid on top class tournament golf at championship venues for our members. The pro-am events are on the region’s best golf courses and will appeal to all those who enjoy pro-am golf.”

Hot Ford in cruise control Kent professional Matt Ford bagged back-to-back Titleist & FootJoy PGA South Region Winter Series titles last month, after shooting 69 at The Berkshire, and following up with a superb 65 at Swinley Forest. Including his earlier win at Hankley Common, Ford has now won three of the Winter Series tournaments, and looks all set for another successful season on the southern circuit. Ford, who is playing on the Challenge Tour this season, defied low temperatures and strong winds to tie for the lead with The Nevils’s Jamie Harris at The Berkshire, after the pair both finished with two-under par 69s. A 40-foot birdie putt at the 16th saw Ford draw level with his rival, but he later admitted that his short game had let him down. “I played pretty well, but my putting left a bit to be desired,” he said. “All the same, the course was in great nick, and I was happy with the way I was swinging, and I’m really looking forward to the 2012 season now.” At Swinley Forest, Ford started out slowly, with his first nine containing two bogeys, but he charged through the back nine in 29 shots for a three-under-par 65, which included an eagle two on the tricky par-four 11th. The leading assistant at The Berkshire was Mark Hillson (Tandridge), his 72 taking the ball, glove and shoe contract, while the leading assistant at Swinley was Robert Knight (Tadmarton Heath) with a 69.


March 2012 / Issue 208

/ 29

Insurance - it’s all part of the game?

Longer nights and equipment launches are a pertinent reminder that the golf season is right around the corner. After months in the doldrums, most of us are eagerly anticipating the beginning of an exciting new season, where thanks to the help of our shiny new golf equipment, we’ll hope to shave a couple of shots off our handicaps. Trips to the driving range become more frequent and once The Masters is on the TV, we’re all set and primed for a busy summer of golf. Of course, many of us are happy to spend hundreds of pounds on the latest gadgets or £10 on a pack of balls, as we search for that extra 20 yards off the tee. However, up until recently, what many golfers considered an unnecessary expense, could be the best money you’ll spend this year. Golf insurance has become increasingly popular, and following a landmark court case last year, where a golfer was awarded almost £400,000 in damages after being stuck by an errant shot, it should be top of every golfers ‘most wanted’ list. Anthony Phee was a visitor playing Niddry Castle Golf Club in West Lothian, when he was struck by a ball from an adjacent hole. Despite the player who hit the shot shouting ‘Fore’, Mr. Phee’s defensive actions didn’t prevent the ball from striking him directly in the eye, which ‘exploded’ on impact. Devastated by the incident, Mr Phee sued both the player who struck the

Getting the appropriate level of insurance cover is vital for all golfers - whether they’re a European Tour professional or a weekend hacker shot, and the golf club. The judge in session commented: “Every golfer, no matter his or her degree of competence, will make bad shots”, highlighting that all golfers should be aware of the potential consequences of hitting a wayward shot. Many of us accept that being hit by a golf ball is one of the risks associated with the sport, but with over 12,000 golf-related accidents each year requiring hospital treatment and the potential cost of your next ‘duck hook’ being hundreds of thousands of pounds, being covered by a specialist golf insurance policy seems like a no-brainer. John Woosey, Managing Director of Golf Care, the UK’s leading provider of specialist golf insurance, noted: “It’s the time of year when we’re all becoming excited about the start of the new season. It’s an exciting time, and we would urge every golfer to consider buying a specialist golf insurance policy to make sure they are properly covered. For less than £30 a year, you can have peace of mind knowing that you and your equipment are covered. Our policies are available online, so golfers are covered instantly before they play their next round.” It isn’t just club golfers

who are prone to on-course accidents either, as Golf Care Ambassador and three-time Ryder Cup Captain, Bernard Gallacher explained. “I remember being struck on the knee in the Benson & Hedges at the Belfry in the early ‘90’s. It took me out of the tournament and I was unable to play for a few weeks. No matter how good a golfer you are, the golf course can be a dangerous place.” Golfers without insurance also run the risk of theft, and when you consider the ease and affordability of being properly insured, it amkes sense to invest in more than just the latest equipment before the season starts. After all, golf can be expensive when it goes wrong and it is no longer accepted that being hit or causing damage is just ‘part of the game’. Golf Care includes ‘New for Old for Life’ options, so policy holders receive brand-new equipment in the event of theft or damage to their existing clubs. For those that travel there is also a worldwide coverage option available.

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March 2012 / Issue 208

Although a prime example of a ‘hidden gem’, Gatton Manor Hotel & Golf Club is definitely on the golfing map for professional and amateur golfers alike

There is always a slight nervousness among the membership when a club comes under new ownership, but the loyal members at Gatton Manor have little to worry about on the evidence of my recent visit. Following the ‘don’t fix it if it ain’t broke’ school of management theory, the Ockley-based club’s new management is determined to carry on where the previous owners left off, by continuing to invest in making the club the very best of its type. After all, golf club owners are merely temporary custodians of something that was there long before them, and will be around long after they’ve gone, so all they can do is to leave it in better condition than they found it. That’s a tough job at Gatton, as the club already enjoys an excellent reputation for being an accessible, well-run and, above all, friendly club, which offers great off-course facilities and a well-cared for 18-hole championship course. The man tasked with maintaining and developing that reputation is general manager Colin Cole, who brings almost 25 years of experience in the hotel and leisure sector. “Having inherited an extremely professional team, with a wealth of experience, the overriding message to members and guests is that it is very much business as usual at Gatton Manor,” says Colin. “There is a tradition of warmth within the club which helps explain why so many of the members have been at the club for so long, and it is this atmosphere that we will look to keep at the heart of everything we do.” Although Gatton has always been popular with golfers of standards in the south east, its triumphant elevation to true championship status following its

Glorious Gatton hosting of the PGA Surrey Open for the past two years, has taken the club to the next level in terms of its fame and overall quality. The South Region PGA’s decision to stage its most prestigious championships at this parkland course since 2010 has been thoroughly vindicated, with both the tournament committee and many of the players providing positive endorsements regarding the quality of the venue and the course, which will once again be put to the test when the 2012 Surrey Open takes place on June 27-28. The 54-hole tournament, which is once again generously sponsored by lager brand Kronenbourg 1664, looks sure to attract another full entry, while a pre-tournament Pro-Am, which takes place on June 26, is also sure to be a hot ticket. Last year saw 41 teams take part in fun-filled day, and with teams of four (including a PGA Pro) costing just £350 this year, another sell-out is expected. One of the main reasons the PGA decided to move the Surrey Open to Gatton was the quality of the course, which has come on significantly following continued investment in new drainage, course machinery and above all, staff. The course has improved dramatically under the stewardship of course manager Rob Sebbage, who has overseen further improvements to the overall quality of the playing surfaces, with particular attention paid to drainage on and around the greens, which ensures that the course never has to use temporary putting surfaces. The winter period has also seen plenty of bunker renovation work being carried out, including the complete upgrading of sand traps on the third and 15th holes, which are now much deeper hazards, with steeper faces. The tree-clearing programme has also

continued apace, allowing more light and air movement onto the course, and speeding up the pace of play for those who miss the fairways. As the pros have already discovered, the 6,629-yard, par-72 layout presents an enjoyable, yet testing challenge. There was a slight concern that the current generation of big-hitting pros would bring the course to its knees, but that proved to be far from the case, with last year’s winner, Nick Redfern finishing the 54-hole event in just six-under par. Designed by Commander John Harris, who worked closely with Harry Colt and Mackenzie during their heyday, Gatton’s undulating greens closely follow the styles of these particular geniuses of golf course design. Harris made the most of the opportunities provided by the natural landscape, with signature holes like the sixth. He also created Gatton’s famous par-five 17th, which, at 645 yards, is the longest hole in the South East. Throughout the course, tree-lined fairways offer an ever-changing narrowness, which helps concentrate the mind, while a multitude of natural hazards, including lakes, ponds, streams and ditches, places a further emphasis on accuracy and comprehensive course management. Add to that some notoriously small greens, many of which are tilted and contoured to varying punishing angles – and you have a course to quicken the pulse at every turn. Booking a tee time couldn’t be easier, with online booking available for both members and guests. Summer visitor green fees have been set at £36 during weekdays and £48 at weekends, while annual seven-day membership costs £1,079, with no joining fee. For those who can’t commit to an annual membership, but want to play here on a regular basis, the club has a ‘Friends

of Gatton’ loyalty scheme, which costs nothing to join and offers up to £10 off advanced green fee bookings, as well as preferential rates at the hotel and free room upgrades. Over 800 people have joined the Friends scheme, with a good number subsequently going on to full membership. Under the stewardship of head teaching professional Max Newman, the club has also launched an Introduction to Golf programme, which provides an entry platform for those new to the game, while Max is also available for individual coaching lessons for all levels of player. Gatton’s popularity as a golf break destination continues apace, with the 12 bedrooms in the Manor House and six rooms in the clubhouse creating the ideal getaway for a golf break for groups of all sizes. Each ensuite Manor House room has its own design and layout, with quality touches that set it well apart from rivals in the golf market, including flat screen TVs and wireless broadband. The hotel also boasts quality business and conference facilities, with function rooms for weddings and private family events. The club has recently been granted planning permission to build 20 new luxury golf hotel apartments on site, which the new owner plans to begin development in Autumn 2013. The new facilites will also include a luxury spa, which will only add to Gatton’s attractiveness as an all-round leisure destination. So whether you are looking for somewhere to join, to bring a society or stay for a relaxing golfing break, Gatton Manor has truly championship credentials.

The golf course at Gatton Manor, which has never looked in better condition, provides a true test for amateur and professional golfers alike

Gatton Manor, Standon Lane, Ockley, Surrey RH5 5PQ. Tel 01306 627555 www.gattonmanor.co.uk

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March 2012 / Issue 208

NickBayly

GNeditor reveals what has caught his eye in the golfing headlines in recent weeks

Overhyping rivalries really is old hat

Time to bring in ‘third umpire’

It’s in the job spec of a golf journalist to talk up supposed rivalries between the top players. It makes for good headlines, even though the paragraphs that follow are usually somewhat thin on hard evidence of two players wanting to actually punch each other in the face, never mind shoot a lower score in a four-round stroke play tournament. Let’s be honest here, golf is not a combat sport (despite what happened at Kiawah Island in 1991 and Brookline in 1999). More often than not, the protagonists’ paths rarely cross and, on the occasions when they do, you don’t often see them knocking each other’s golf bags over or coughing in their backswings. So any golfing rivalry is always partly induced by leading questions at post-match press conferences, where heat-of-the-moment comments are twisted into the ‘“Rory, I’m gonna take you down, sucker!” says Tiger’ headlines that we’ve seen in recent weeks. To his credit, McIlroy said that he is only trying to beat the golf course, not individual players, whenever he tees it up, although even that is slightly disingenuous, because when I last looked it is the scores in relation to other players that results in someone winning a tournament. But let’s get this into perspective. Professional golfers face 150-odd rivals each and every week, so to pick out one as a bigger ‘rival’ than any others is rather disrespectful to the other 149, and smacks of an over-inflated ego. Then again, I don’t think Tiger invited Phil Mickelson on his stag night…

I can only speak for myself here, but I’ve always enjoyed the commentary box adjudications of former R&A Rules of Golf chairman Ian Pattinson during the BBC’s coverage of The Open. A lawyer by profession, Pattinson was always on hand to give some memorably dry and dispassionate judgments whenever a player tried it on with a drop zone or dodgy line of sight ruling. Rightly or wrongly, his views were never conveyed to the on-course referees, but it certainly gave the TV viewers, many of whom were – and still are ­– mystified by the game’s often eccentric laws, a clearer understanding of what the correct decision should be in any given situation. Given that TV seems to have wedged its all-seeing eye into almost every aspect of professional sport these

A TV referee could speed up rules judgements and avoid post-round disqualifications

days, I’m still amazed at the golfing authorities’ failure to use it to its best advantage. It begs the question as to why the European Tour hasn’t introduced a third umpire into the Sky Sports commentary box, or at least have a rules official sitting in

a production lorry on the course where he, or she, can observe every moment of the action. There have been a number of incidents in recent years, most recently poor Peter Whiteford’s disqualification at the

Avantha Masters in India, which could so easily have been sorted out if someone in a position of power had seen the infringement – the ball moved when he wasn’t looking at it – and been able to pass on their judgment to a rules official

on the course. In an age where a shot here or there can mean the difference between making the cut, and indeed making a living, the players deserve better treatment. Golf prides itself on being self-policing, but when the players themselves don’t know whether they’ve broken a rule or not, then it’s surely in the interested of the integrity of the game that every technological tool possible is brought to bear on the problem. Of course, there can’t be cameras on every inch of the course, but if the TV viewer can see an infringement then the on-course referee, and the player in question, also have a right to know the full picture. Otherwise it just makes the game look sillier than it already is. So let’s hope golf joins the 21st century and puts an end to these pointless post-round disqualifications.

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March 2012 / Issue 208

Go on then, tell us how you dislocated your shoulder? It was just an accident, as simple as that. I was out snowboarding on Christmas Eve, and put my right arm out on the way down and heard the sound. I felt a little bit of pain and thought I should carry on at first. I thought: ‘Why waste a good day’s snowboarding?’ - but five minutes later I couldn’t move it and was heading back down the mountain to get it looked at. I was told if it was surgery it was going to be four to six months, but because there was no surgery it was a case of weeks. Still, it wasn’t the best Christmas present I could have had. Are you going to rein in the extreme sports for a while? Golf is the most important thing in my life, because it provides for everything else – the fun things I get to do away from the course. All my effort goes into that, but when I’m away from the course, I love snowboarding and mountain biking. They’re a great way of getting away from the worries of tournament golf, so that will never change. Are you match fit now? I’m probably operating at 90 per cent. I played in the WGC event in Miami, and survived that, so things are on the up. I’m very much finding my feet on the golf course, but the only way to get sharp and back into the swing of things is actually playing tournament golf. Do you believe your best years are still ahead of you? I believe I’m stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been, even with the shoulder injury, and I’ve got the mental game that I never used to have. I reckon I’ve still got a good ten-plus years, if I stay in good shape. I just need to get the physical skills up to par, and then capitalise on the next 10 years. It is prime time. If I think about where I was 10 years ago, I’m a completely different golfer, much more accomplished and sure of my own abilities. I’m much more knowledgeable on everything when it comes to the golfing world. I’ve got to get out there, and start making the birdies, and put it to good use. It’s no use being in your prime if you can’t go out there and win tournaments. That’s the most important thing. How frustrating has it been to be on the sidelines while the rest of the Brit pack has been performing so well? It was more than a little frustrating, but it’s also a challenge and it’s one I can either rise to or get fed up with. So I’m taking it as a challenge, and, if anything, it’s actually sparked my love for the game again. I’ve been doing this ten years now, and I was starting to get a little bit burnt out. Sitting on the sofa and going to rehab, and watching the

great golf on TV has lit a fire under me. I’ve watched those guys on TV, and I’m proud of what they are doing, but I want to be right there with them. I want to be competing against them and beating them, but I also admire them, and try to learn from them by analysing my own game and being brutally honest and self-critical. Do you feel like you’re the forgotten man of British golf? I don’t think I’m

forgotten. The other guys have been playing great golf, and you’re right, I’m one of a couple of players who are not mentioned as much. But the only way to fix that is to get back into the winner’s circle. Watching Rory’s performances has been inspiring, and I’ve just got to go out there and win. Do you have any specific goals in mind now? The goals are still the same. It’s just a shorter time period I’ve got

to try to accomplish those goals. The great thing is I’m not going to miss any majors this year. I’m going to be ready for Augusta, and, if anything, I’m going to go there fresher than I ever have. Missing five tournaments out of a schedule of 25-plus is not a massive amount, and if you balance it out over my whole career, it’s just a blip. Your record in the Majors doesn’t really reflect your performances


March 2012 / Issue 208

/ 35

Prime Time

Back from a two-month lay off following a freak snowboarding accident, Paul Casey talks to Golf News as he prepares to get on with the golden years of his career

he won. But, because he put together good scores, and a couple of other guys made mistakes, that’s how he ended up winning a few of his titles. Obviously, the pressure in a Major is greater, and the courses are more difficult, but if I keep doing what I’m doing, there is no reason why things can’t fall into place, and maybe I’ll walk away with a Major victory some day. How much are you gagging to get back in the Ryder Cup team after missing out in 2010? I want to be part of many more Ryder Cups, and I would love to make the team this year. I’ve just got to play the golf I know I’m capable of and start winning tournaments and the Ryder Cup will take care of itself. What does the Ryder Cup mean to you? For me it provides great memories – the battles you get, the pressure, the stress, the fun away from the course. There are moments I will cherish forever.

elsewhere. Why do you think that is? For quite a while I felt that I had to do something extra special, and to play better golf than I would normally do to win a Major. But I no longer think that’s the case. The other day I read an interview with Jack Nicklaus and he said something along the lines of it’s not a question of having to do something extra special. He said he just put himself in the right place. It wasn’t that he was given as many Majors as

How much are you looking forward to reconnecting with your fans at GolfLive in May? I’m really looking forward to it. I was lucky enough to be involved in the first GolfLive back in 2010, and I was really impressed with the overall look and feel of the event. The way the fans can be a real part of the action is fantastic and it’s great from a player’s point of view to give something back to fans in a way you can’t on Tour. UK golf fans are very passionate about the sport, always like to ask a lot of questions and have a go themselves, so it will be nice to be able to offer some advice and see them in this unique environment again. Do you have any trick shots up your sleeve to impress the crowds at The London Club? I certainly don’t have as many as Jeremy Dale, who I saw at GolfLive in 2010, but I do have a few I can bring out now and again. It doesn’t always come off, but I can drop the ball

out of my mouth and hit it on the half volley, which I’m sure I will try this year. I can also throw the ball quite a long way, as I use to be a keen cricket player at school, so if I’m not getting on with my clubs, then perhaps I could throw the ball on the par 3s! How do you calm down nervous Pro-Am partners? It’s funny, sometimes they’re not nervous at all, while others are a bag of nerves on that first tee, so it’s different every time. I just try to talk to them as much as I can, so they can take their mind off what they are actually doing. You don’t have to just talk about golf either; it’s nice to get to know your playing partners and what they do. It should really feel like a practice round with your mates, and that’s how I try and make them feel. No matter how bad their shots are, I have probably seen worse somewhere before!

Having watched so much golf on TV recently, have you noticed the slow play, and if so, what would you do to stop it? Yeah, I’m not a fan of slow play, but it seems like fines never seem to get us to move quicker. The real way to get the guys to speed up would be to impose penalty shots. But then some people say that’s too harsh, and it would be an awful way to lose a golf tournament, but maybe that’s what it has to be. It’s got to be killing participation in our sport, as well. Golf is a great game, but if it takes five or six hours to get around a golf course, it’s not enjoyable to watch on TV, and people just don’t have that much time. You can’t just saying you’re ‘nipping out’ for a quick six-hour round! Paul Casey will be appearing at Golf Live at The London Golf Club from May 18-20. To book tickets call 0871 230 7130 or visit www.golfliveevent.com.

Paul Casey is desperate to break his major duck and add to his tally of Ryder Cup appearances


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March 2012 / Issue 208

Storybehindthepic Sponsored by

Alf Perry and Fred Perry: Leatherhead Golf Club, 1935

O

f all the long shots to have won The Open Championship over the years, few can match the rags to riches story of Surrey club professional Alf Perry, who sprung from nowhere to win the Claret Jug in 1935. Forget Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis, Perry actually had to beg for time off from his day job as the head professional at Leatherhead Golf Club in order to take part in the Open at Muirfield. Perry, who is pictured here meeting the 1935 Wimbledon champion Fred Perry (no relation), was a completely self-taught player who possessed what has been rather unkindly described as ‘a hooker’s grip that might have startled the Boston Strangler’. A two-club golfer at the age of six – his father had given him only a driver and a niblick – he had learnt early to improvise. The leading golf writer of the day, Bernard Darwin, thought his swing ‘a little bucolic’, but noted that the ‘eccentricity of his grip so riveted the eye as to detract from the dash

and roundness of his action’. Given his unorthodox background – and swing – Perry teed off at Muirfield as an unconsidered 66-1 outsider. His odds might have been longer had the bookies looked into his golf bag, which contained an assorted miscellany of steel and hickory-shafted clubs. Yet four days later he won the coveted Claret Jug after compiling rounds of 69, 75, 67 and 72 over Muirfeld’s fearsome links to beat Alf Padgham by four shots. The modern champion may well have a private plane waiting to take him to his next destination, but Perry had to rely on a lift to the train station at Drem from the deposed champion, Henry Cotton. The very next morning, at 7.30am sharp, he was back on duty at Leatherhead, taking green fees and repairing clubs. Beyond his Open heroics, Perry achieved only moderate success in his career, with his best year coming in 1938, when he won three events on the fledgling professional circuit. However, following his exploits at Muirfield, Perry was selected to play

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in the 1935 Ryder Cup and brought the entire team – which included Cotton and Padgham – to play at Leatherhead prior to their departure from Southampton for the boat trip to New York. Perry played his part in the matches at Ridgewood Country Club that year, finishing all square in his singles game with US Open champion Sam Parks, although the team lost 9-3. Perry was also a member of the Ryder Cup teams in 1933 and 1937, but because the matches were restricted to eight players, with just four foursomes and eight singles, he played in just two matches, losing both of them. Perry served as Leatherhead’s club professional for over 40 years, finally retiring from his post in 1972, aged 68. He died two years later. His achievements were honoured by the Professional Golfers’ Association in 2001, with the planting of a tree beside the 18th green at Leatherhead, which, although a feather in the club’s cap, probably didn’t please the current members too much as yet another hazard to negotiate!

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March 2012 / Issue 208

Hone your inner game at Hindhead A intensive one-day course aimed at understanding how the inner workings of the body affect a golfer’s ability to withstand the pressure of competition is being held at Hindhead Golf Club in Surrey next month. The HeartMath course, which takes place on April 23, and other dates this summer, follows a system currently being used by a number of Tour-level players, which gives golfers control over their heart, brain, nervous system and emotions in order to cope with the most challenging competitive situations. The oneday course is being run by sixtime world canoeing champion Anna Hemmings (below), Hindhead’s PGA Pro Ben Clayton, and Tour coach Stuart Cartwright. The next course, which costs £239pp, runs from 9am to 7pm on April 23. For more information visit www.beyondthebarriers.co.uk or call 0208 540 3603.

/ 37

Playgolf purchases Lexden Wood

Lexden Wood Golf Club in Colchester has been bought by fast-growing golf club company Playgolf, and will now be known as Playgolf Colchester. Located two miles from Essex’s county town, the club now joins the family of Playgolf venues throughout the UK that comprises The Leatherhead Club in Surrey, Playgolf Bournemouth, and

Playgolf London in Harrow. The facilities on offer at Playgolf Colchester include a 6,000-yard, par 70 parkland golf course; floodlit 24-bay driving range; a 9-hole, par three academy course; and a short game practice area. The undulating 18-hole layout, which received a major revamp in 2007, features many hazards, including a lake and river, which come

into play on five holes, and 64 strategically-placed bunkers. Thanks to USGA standard greens, the course is playable all year round, without the need for temporary greens. The club’s teaching academy is one of the busiest in Essex, with professionals using both the GASP computer analysis system and the Explanar swing training aid to bring on players of all ages and skills levels. Playgolf Colchester’s manager, Leighton Oakey, said: “We are delighted to join a family-run business that will maintain our existing ethos of being an open and welcoming club for all ages that will provide everything a golfer will need in a fun and professional environment, whatever your age or golfing ability.”

Lullingstone Park Golf Course

Parkgate Road, Chelsfield, Orpington, Kent, BR6 7PX, 01959 533 793

Society Days

Great bespoke Golf Society packages from just £23 per golfer* *Subject to availability terms and conditions apply. Minimum numbers required.

Enjoy a challenging and professionally delivered golf society experience in the heart of rural Kent. Start your day with a hearty breakfast and hot drink at The Lodge, before setting out on the 18 hole Castle Course to play possibly the most challenging and scenic courses in the area. Finally relax with drinks and a meal when you return. 18, 27 and 36 hole packages available including a range of catering options to suit all budgets.

Are you a Mighty Master? Epping Golf Club in Essex is hosting a special tournament for youngsters just starting out in the game on April 5. The tournament is open to girls and boys aged under 16 who do not posses an official handicap. The format will be stroke play over nine or three holes, to be played in divisions according to ability, with prizes on offer in all categories. The closing date for entries is March 23. To enter call 01992 572282, or for more details visit www.essexgolfunion.org. www.lullingstonegolfcourse.co.uk C

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Just gets better & better Summer Society Packages from £26 Green Fees from £15 Membership from £64

The Ridge Golf Club, Chartway Street, Sutton Valence, Maidstone, ME17 3JB. Tel: 01622 844382. Web: www.theridgegolfclub.co.uk


38 /

March 2012 / Issue 208

Whittington ‘cut in half’ by new r Where there are always NEW ways to enjoy golf... Spring is coming - so time to plan that extra golf day. At Epsom we have some excellent society golf packages and we are very flexible to create a package just for you. ORGANISER Simply call us to discuss your requirements. PLAYS FOR

FREE:

GOLF SOCIETY PACKAGES:

For any society of 12 or more the organiser plays for free.

PAR PACKAGE: Coffee and bacon rolls plus 18 holes of golf: £28. BIRDIE PACKAGE: Full English breakfast plus 18 holes of golf £31.50.

SPECIAL RATES FOR GROUPS OF 20 PLUS:

EAGLE PACKAGE: Light lunch plus 18 holes of golf: £32.50.

Simply call us to discuss your group.

ALBATROSS PACKAGE: Two course meal plus 18 holes of golf: £40.

WEEKEND GOLF SOCIETIES:

EXTRA 9 OR 18 HOLES: Just £10 extra per person.

Please call to ask about availability.

The high-speed railway line that will link London to Birmingham will cut one of the oldest golf courses in the world in two, ruin five historic holes and destroy the existing clubhouse. The 126-year-old Whittington Heath Golf Club, in Staffordshire, host of the 2010 English Ladies’ Championships, sits on the government’s proposed route for HS2, which was given the green light last month. The track is set to be laid down the ninth hole, rendering it and four other holes unusable, while additionally affecting three further holes. It will also lead to the clubhouse being demolished. However, its members are determined for the club to survive the disruption. “The line cuts the course in two, driving track straight

The new rail link from London to Birmingham will cut a swathe through the course at Whittington

through the clubhouse,” said club captain John Tipper. “We are very disappointed HS2 is going ahead on the proposed route. It is easy enough to create golf holes, but it takes years for them to

bed down, and a lot depends on where we can obtain land. Our intention is to make sure there will be an 18-hole golf course here for many years to come. We must press for compensation to cover the

cost of dealing with land purchase and golf course architects. We will need to get prices on these things, and an agreement on what HS2 are prepared to pay. The future will depend on their

Saracens stars swing into Topgolf Men with odd-shaped balls tackle the TopGolf challenge

CALL THE PROSHOP ON

01372 741867 or email: stuartwalker@epsomgolfclub.co.uk

epsom

golf club www.epsomgolfclub.co.uk

Brickendon Grange GOLF CLUB

Brickendon Grange is a mature parkland golf course set in 160 acres of rolling Hertfordshire countryside, south of Hertford. It’s easily accessible from the M25 and other major routes. It offers a good golfing challenge, without being so tough as to ruin your day, together with the peace and tranquility of a truly rural location. We can arrange 18, 27 or 36 holes together with our first class catering to match your requirements. Brickendon Grange Golf Club is the ideal venue for your Society day out! We have a range of Society Packages for you to choose from Starting from £37.00 To find out more about our full range of Society Packages please call Jane or Pat on: 01992 511258 or email: play@bggc.org.uk

Pembridge Lane, Brickendon, Nr. Hertford SG13 8PD.

www.bggc.org.uk

Saracens rugby stars John Smit, Schalk Brits and Justin Melck got into the swing of things at TopGolf Watford last month to test drive the newly-refurbished golf venue. The centre in Bushey Mill Lane has just re-opened after a massive £500,000 makeover. The astroturf has been replaced, hi-tech target holes upgraded and improvements have been made to the audio/visual entertainment system. The Saracens stars, who are reigning Aviva Premiership champions, took along mascot Sarrie the Camel to keep an eye on their back swings.  TopGolf marketing manager Michael Angelides said: “We’re delighted to have the Saracens players come and test out the centre. We believe the improvements we have made, not only to the game experience but aesthetically too, have enhanced the enjoyment  members get out of their visits to TopGolf.” 

Aldridge on targe A thrilling birdie on the first hole of a play-off gave aspiring tour professional Dan Aldridge victory over Denmark’s Lasse Jensen in the latest tournament of the inaugural Gecko Winter Pro Tour at La Cañada in Cádiz. Twenty-three-year old Aldridge picked up €3,000 for the victory, his first of the season. He went from a complete beginner to a plus two handicap in just five years and turned professional four years ago. Aldridge who grew up in Kent says the arrival of the Gecko Tour, which takes in seven venues in Spain, has changed his life. “If the Tour didn’t exist, I would have no winter competition, and I would still be working in an office,”


March 2012 / Issue 208

rail link attitude and approach.” The club is being supported in its battle for compensation by its local MP, Conservative Michael Fabricant, while the Staffordshire PGA believes everything must be done to prevent the club from closing down. “I will offer help to maximise the compensation the club will receive from HS2,” said Mr Fabricant. “And I will help the club acquire land from the Ministry of Defence, adjoining the golf course, which will enable this historic club to continue. “But it is vital for the club to plan ahead so that an alternative solution may be found.” The club, which has around 500 members, has stated that it will continue to operate as normal for at least the next five years, before construction of the line starts.

/ 39

Hull dropped from Curtis Cup squad

England starlet Charley Hull has been controversially dropped from the Curtis Cup team after accepting an invitation to play in the first women’s major of the year. The 15-year-old from Woburn has been told she is ineligible to play in the biannual team matchplay tournament against the USA because of a clash of dates between the Kraft Nabisco

Bankers go for broke at Brocket Entries are now open for the seventh annual Banks and Brokers Golf Championship, which will culminate in a Grand Final in Morocco in early November. The event provides golfers from the financial services sector with the chance to battle for golfing supremacy among their peers, while helping to raise funds for STAR4Africa, a UK-based charity dedicated to providing support for children in Africa. A maximum of 18 teams of four will scrap it out in qualifying events being held at Chart Hills Golf Club on July 12, and Brocket Hall on August 6, for the right to jet off to Morocco for three-day final, which will be staged on the Royal Dar Es Salaam Golf Course near Rabat. For more details, visit www.banksandbrokersgolf.com.  

et on Gecko Tour he said. “I’m preparing for the EuroPro Tour Q-school in April and this Tour gives me great competition, and I intend to play all the remaining events.” He added: “I practise for six hours a day and spend another two in the gym. I do this six days a week, but it’s still not the same as getting tournament experience. The top three in the order of merit also get their entry fees paid for the Q-school of the main European Tour. It’s a great incentive, and a platform to launch the next stage in my career. The prize money is good, and it’s nice to know you are playing for a guaranteed first prize of €3,000 every week.”

Championship, which starts in California on March 29, and a team trial taking placing at the same time in Nairn, Scotland, which is the venue for the Curtis Cup in June. Hull, like the other GB&I Curtis Cup squad members, had signed a player agreement to attend the trial. As a result of her change of plans, the Ladies Golf Union considers she has made herself unavailable for selection, and will not consider her for the matches against the USA. Hull is the current English and Welsh strokeplay champion and a winner in January’s Harder Hall Invitational on Florida’s Orange Blossom Tour. Her successes and high ranking had led to her inclusion in the invitation of five of the

world’s leading amateurs to play in the Kraft Nabisco. Commenting on the LGU’s decision, John Petrie, chief executive of England Golf, said: “While player agreements are important, the aim is to win the Curtis Cup. For a 15-year-old player, ranked ninth in the world, to be invited to play in one of golf’s majors is an outstanding achievement, and for Charley to be punished for her success makes no sense. I hope the LGU has sufficient flexibility to revisit this decision and be able to select the best eight players for the team. The only winner here as things stand is the American team.” The LGU’s decision prompted Twitter traffic with comments such as ‘baffled’, ‘amazed’, and ‘bureaucracy run mad’. Karen Stupples, a former Women’s British Open champion, tweeted: “For what it’s worth, Charley is making the right decision to play in Kraft, the experience gained from it is priceless.” Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, another past Open champion, said: “Ridiculous! Surely the LGU would want to have their best possible team. Charley would and should be a lockin regardless.” Hull’s place in the Curtis Cup squad has been taken by 15-year-old England international Georgia Hall, from Remedy Oak, Dorset.

Lullingstone Park Golf Course

Parkgate Road, Chelsfield, Orpington, Kent, BR6 7PX, 01959 533 793

Membership Packages 2012

5 day £495 7 Day £795 Junior £120 Corporate rates also available, ask in pro-shop for details

Enjoy the challenging & beautiful scenery of Lullingstone Park Golf Course again, and again with our outstanding memberships. Get great, year-round value at one of the most challenging courses in Kent. Our exclusive 7 & 5 day memberships also include: Driving range discounts Member lesson rates Discounted buggies Join us now!

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t: 01342 830 917 e: golf-shop@lingfieldpark.co.uk w: www.LingfieldPark.co.uk Follow us on twitter @MarriottGolfUK The Broome Park Estate, Barham, Nr Canterbury, Kent CT4 6QX

www.broomepark.co.uk

LINGFIELD PARK MARRIOTT HOTEL & COUNTRY CLUB Racecourse Road, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6PQ.


40 /

March 2012 / Issue 208

Swingers’ finalists Miami bound New Lane, Sutton Green, Nr Guildford, Surrey, GU4 7QF Tel: 01483 747898 email: admin@suttongreengc.co.uk

www.suttongreengc.co.uk

The perfect venue for Society & Company Golf Days Bacon Roll & Coffee, 18 holes, Golfers Special (One course meal) - £37.50 Bacon Roll & Coffee, 18 holes & 3 Course Meal - £49.50 Bacon Roll & Coffee, 18 or 36 holes, 2 Course Lunch & High Tea - £59.50 Bacon Roll & Coffee, 36 holes, Light Lunch & 3 Course Meal - £69.50

Virgin Atlantic is delighted to announce that the Season 9 Final of Flying Club Swingers, its innovative loyalty golf programme, will be held at the stunning Turnberry Isle Hotel & Resort in Miami, Florida this November. After last year’s exciting end-of-season event in Orlando, this year’s final will give Swingers a distinctly different Florida experience at one of the state’s finest golf resorts. Turnberry Isle is home to two spectacular courses unlike anything else to be found in the Sunshine State. Both the Soffer and Miller courses were recently redesigned by Ray Floyd and over $45million has been spent to ensure the resort maintains its status as one of the finest in the world. The event will see 24 golfers from around the globe compete in a Ryder Cup-style tournament between Europe and the Rest of the World. For most of them this is a ‘money can’t buy’ chance to experience the excitement and pressures of team golf. The camaradie among the players over the four days is always special, and many lifetime friendships are made.

Miami will no doubt provide many memories, whether they are on the golf course or off it, in one of the world’s most exciting cities.

Qualification for this year’s final is now under way, and will continue through until October. To join Flying Club Swingers now, visit www.

flyingclubgolfleague.com. Before registering, you will be asked to sign up as a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club member, which is free of charge.

Members prepared to s A new survey on the spending behaviour of golf clubs members has revealed that golfers are prepared to spend more on memberships and green fees in 2012 than they were in 2011. A Sports Marketing Survey poll of over 2,000 golf club members revealed that the average golfer spent £2,486 on the game last year. Members paid, on average, £808 for their annual subscription, which was the biggest single expenditure item. The next biggest was

golfing holidays, with an average expenditure of £670. And, as the average member also paid £211

on visitors’ green fees, club members last year spent £1,689 each simply on playing golf – 68 per cent of


March 2012 / Issue 208

/ 41

Lullingstone Park Golf Course

Wentworth launches Sardinian outpost The stars of world golf are used to beating a path to Wentworth, but that role looks to have been reversed following the opening of a new coaching academy in the Mediterranean, which will be staffed by a team of professionals from the Surrey club. The new Wentworth Golf Academy has opened at Forte Village in southern Sardinia, and will be operating from May through to October this year. Forte Village is a luxury

Is Molas Golf Club

five-star resort, which prides itself on best-in-class facilities for families, including a

range of professional sports academies for children and adults across football, tennis,

Parkgate Road, Chelsfield, Orpington, Kent, BR6 7PX, 01959 533 793

cricket and dance. The Wentworth Golf Academy, whose facilities include a driving range and synthetic surface short game area, has been designed for both children and adults, whether they are beginners being introduced to golf or advanced golfers wishing to improve all aspects of their game. The academy will also have access to the nearby 27hole Is Molas Golf Club, which played host to the Italian Open in 1976.

2-4-1 golf Every Tuesday and Thursday. from the 6th March. *All offers end 27th April 2012 does not include public holidays, or 3rd, 5th, 10th, 12th April 2012.

Caversham to host Tour events Caversham Heath Golf Club in Berkshire has been chosen to host two prestigious tournaments over the summer. The popular Reading venue has been chosen as one of the host clubs for the 2012 William Hunt Trilby Tour, with the club staging three pre-championship qualifying events (April 6, May 7 and May 21), together with a corporate day on April 27, where companies can win a sponsorship package for the televised Tour Championship of Berkshire, together with two entries into the Regional Championship itself, which takes place on May 31 and will be televised for Sky Sports. Last year the club hosted a Jamega Pro Tour event, and it was so successful the tour is returning again this year from September 3-4. Attracting two big events to the course is a boost for the club, which has recently embarked on an ambitious improvement programme, with long-term goals of developing the course and club into the best in the area. As part of the plan, a new management team has been put in place, with a near six-figure sum at its disposal, to make improvements to the club. Members and visitors have already seen some of that investment spent around the club, with the resurfacing of the car parks and paths. New green staff have also been appointed, expanding the existing team, and work will shortly begin on the development of the practice facilities. Caversham has also recently appointed a new PGA professional, Matt Collis, who has joined from Camberley Heath, where he had been head assistant for two years. Collis is making several big changes to the pro shop. As well as offering a free customfitting service, he is also opening a new workshop and video swing studio for coaching, allowing indoor winter coaching, and a comprehensive club building and repair service.

Buggy special offer Ever y Tuesday & Thursday £16 *Subject to availability terms and conditions apply.

Buggy’s can be hired anytime, book in advance to avoid disappointment must be returned by 5pm in March, 6pm in April.

www.lullingstonegolfcourse.co.uk Complimentary Copy

spend more in 2012 total expenditure. The remaining 32 per cent was invested in equipment, including £290 on clubs, £141 on apparel, £92 on trolleys, £79 on shoes, £74 on distance measuring devices, £72 on balls and £49 on bags. A total of 93 per cent of members said they would renew their annual subscription in 2012, with less than one per cent saying they would not. Of those who will not be renewing, the majority played less golf in 2011 than

in previous years. Perhaps surprisingly, the average woman spent nearly £200 more on her golf club membership than the average man (£984 to £788) and more than £300 more on golfing holidays (£945 to £644). Under 35s spent significantly less on golf than the over 35s – the former spent £1,060 on memberships, green fees and holidays, while 36-60-yearolds spent £1,780 on the same three items.

The survey also found that the vast majority of club members are avid golfers. Over 85 per cent played more than 52 times last year, with more than a third saying this was an increase on 2010, while just 0.5 per cent played less than once a month. Nearly half of all club members expect to play even more golf in 2012 than in 2011, with two-thirds of under 35s stating that they will play more golf this year compared with last.

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44 /

March 2012 / Issue 208

EwenMurray

Sky Sport’s voice of golf speaks out on issues of the month

Slow play is killing our great game

T

he Accenture Match Play has become one of the top events on the golfing calendar. The Players Championship at Sawgrass was previously seen to open the golfing year, but this intriguing event, which has found a handsome home in Arizona, has clearly taken over that mantle. It comes as no real surprise, as the format is one that is enjoyed by golfers the world over. It’s the game in its rawest form – mano a mano. Match play finds out the men from the boys. It’s the human instinct for survival, where reputations are cheap, and the legend of David and Goliath lives on. It gives the underdog the belief that this can be his day. This year’s renewal had its fair

Mahan’s man of the match share of early departures, with former winners Ian Poulter and Luke Donald falling on the opening day, and with Tiger departing in round two. Three of the four seeds were still there on Saturday, and two made it to Sunday morning, with Hunter Mahan emerging the surprise winner in a thrilling final against Rory McIlroy. For television viewers, it’s the unpredictability that is the attraction, and whether you like betting or not,

Georgia’s on my mind! This is a great time of the year. With two of the World Golf Championships behind us, we turn our attention to the finest golfing spectacle of the year, the US Masters. For five years or so, we lost what we knew as the Masters. The greens became too firm and unreceptive to shots, and that’s not the way the course was designed by McKenzie and Jones back in the 1930s. The Masters was all about the whoops and hollers down the back nine on Sunday, as eagles, birdies and bogeys were made, and the tournament ebbed and flowed. Augusta’s chairman, the impressive Billy Payne, has given us the Masters back, and last year’s edition was fantastic. This year could well be better. We have Tiger Woods returning to form and bidding for a fifth green jacket; we have Phil Mickelson bidding for a third win at Augusta and coming off a great win at Pebble Beach; and then we have the new World No.1, Rory McIlroy, eager to erase the memories of 12 months ago, and win his first US Masters. With so many of the world’s best players seemingly in peak form, surely one of the ‘big boys’ will win this year. The majors are so hard to predict, with the nucleus of top players expanding all the time. One young player that has caught my eye recently is South Korea’s Bae Sang Moon. He may well be a good outsider to become Asia’s second major winner. But with Woods shooting 62 in the final round of the Honda Classic, I’ll stick with him to take his major tally to 16. There is nothing like the Masters amid the splendour of Augusta. The azaleas will be in full bloom, the fairways like an emerald carpet, and the greens in showroom condition. The wait is almost over.

it’s crunch time for those who do. The Accenture is their week with one-on-one predictions. Television producers dislike the format, because of possible early or late finishes causing havoc with scheduling, but the true golf fan doesn’t care about that. There are, of course, many medal rounds throughout the season, but match play is undeniably the king of formats.

I don’t wish to sound like an old fuddy duddy before my time, but the speed the game is played at today is alarming. I’m not just talking about general play in clubs – some of my fellow professionals are as much to blame. Slow play is killing the game from the top down. The worrying trend of top professionals and caddies ‘having a board meeting’ on the tees and fairways needs to be nipped in the bud. Phil Mickelson and his caddie, Jim ‘Bones’ McKay, are two of the finest people in the game, but they never seem ready to play when it’s their turn. They are not alone. Jim Furyk backs off every shot and Mark Wilson and Jason Day were unnecessarily slow during the Accenture. There are many more sinners I could name. Nothing could be more simple or efficient than the yardage book, along with the pin sheet that informs the player of the positioning of the holes on the greens. By the time Saturday arrives, these players are into their fifth round on the course, having played a practice round and often a Pro-Am. They are not seeing it for the first time. They have just hit their tee shots down the fairway, and often then spend two minutes discussing where the wind is coming from. It’s more often than not coming from the same direction as it was five minutes earlier! There are, of course, some players that are just downright slow. Ben Crane and Charlie Wi are the biggest offenders in the States. Down the years, Bernhard Langer and Padraig Harrington were often singled out for the tardiness of their play.

‘Spitgate’ highlights social responsibilities

On the subject of the etiquette of the game, the topic of spitting raised its rather unpleasant head in the media last month. Some of the American players chew tobacco, and therefore spit. I condemn that as ugly and undesirable, and believe sets a bad

example to the next generation. Since I had my spat – pardon the pun – with Tiger Woods in Dubai last year, which resulted in him receiving a £10,000 fine for spitting, he has not spoken to me. I’m sad about that, because no matter what you may think of Tiger,

The various Tours deal with the offenders by fining them. A £5,000 fine is little punishment given the money a top player earns these days, but penalties of shots would hurt, and that is the route they may have to take in the future. Like many of you, I hate slow play, mainly because it’s selfish. I used to play in Southern Region Pro-Ams because I enjoyed them and it was a way of making a few extra pounds. One day, back in 1992, I left home at 7.30am to play at a course not 25 miles from my house. The round took 6 hours and 20 minutes! After an hour or so with my four-ball after the round, I returned shortly before 6pm. That ceases to be enjoyable. In South Africa, members of some clubs are dropping by as much as 20% a year, while a more worrying statistic is that fewer than 12% are members between 25 and 35 years of age. Down there, they have halfway houses at every club which, although enjoyable, takes rounds over five hours, meaning golf is no longer a morning or an afternoon recreation. If you hit some balls before your round, have a shower afterwards, and then a drink with your mates, you are well into making it an all-day activity. Most young men have worked all week, while their partners may have looked after children or been at work themselves. An eight-hour round of golf is simply not on. Many golfers are influenced by what they see the top players do. I think they, and the powers that be, need to look at the pace of play as a matter of urgency.

he is a mild mannered gentleman off the course. But I had no choice but to say what I said on air, because I was speaking for all those who tune in to watch golf and all those who paid at the gate. Nobody expects to witness an icon like Tiger doing what he did. It was a moment of madness born out of pure frustration. Keegan Bradley (pictured) sent the Twittersphere into overdrive last month with his spitting during the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. When asked about it, he said he honestly did not know he was doing it, and I believe him. It seems to be a nervous affliction. Since that tournament, he has not done it and, strangely enough, his play seems to have speeded up, as it’s no longer part of his pre-shot routine. Keegan is an outstanding young man, steeped in the history of golf, and when he saw the tapes of the final round at Riviera, he was appalled. So full credit to him for knocking that appalling habit on the head, but it all goes to show that Tour players have a responsibility to the fans. It’s something they need to take seriously to improve what are not just bad golfing manners, but bad social habits.


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March 2012 / Issue 208

Sign up for an African adventure! A tournament aimed at offering professional-level conditions for aspiring young golfers has been launched in Nigeria. The 1st Kids Golf International African Junior Championships, which takes place from April 9-14, has been launched with the aim of bringing international junior golf to Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

Until now, recognised junior golf events have only been held in the US, Europe and Asia. The championships, which are open to boys and girls aged between five and 18 (split into five age groups) from all over the world, are being held at the IBB Golf and Country Club in Abuja. It is expected that up to 260 young golfers will take part in the event, which has been endorsed by

the US Kids Golf Foundation, allocating top finishers for priority entries in its European, Teen and World Golf Championships. Players can register online for the Kids Golf International African Junior Championships by visiting www.kidsgolfinternational.org. Entry fees are £135, which covers practice rounds, gifts packs, closing presentation dinner and prizes.

South East stars scoop volunteer awards England’s top golf volunteers have been officially recognised for the inspiring work that encourages people to take up and enjoy the game.

 The 2012 Volunteer of the Year Awards, made by the England Golf Partnership, were presented during the annual County Golf Development Conference held at Woodhall Spa in February. The winners were Patrick Denning, Shenal Patel, Sally Benn, Guy Carr, Carol Delf, Jenny Clink and Ted Leather. Patrick Denning, a 17-year-old from Boughton Golf Club in Faversham, Kent, was voted U18 Young Golf Volunteer of the Year.
Last summer he was one of 25 young ambassadors for the Kent Golf Partnership’s Open Legacy project. He volunteered at club sessions, GolfLive and The Open Championship, and has been helping Boughton PGA professional Greg Haenen. Patrick said: “Volunteering has opened up a new world for me, and shown me how much work goes on in the background at events.” Shenal Patel, from Coombe Wood Golf Club in Surrey, was voted Golf Volunteer of the Year in the 18-25 year-old category.
In two years, Shenal has contributed hundreds of hours to supporting other newcomers to the game. She took free beginner lessons at the World of Golf in New Malden before joining Coombe Wood, where she now plays off 24. When her degree course required volunteer work, she returned to World of Golf, taking her PGA Level One qualification and supporting PGA professional Jon Woodroffe and his team at beginner group lessons and at golf days. She was recently appointed to a job with London 2012, and credits her successful career move to her volunteering skills. “This is a massive honour and I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I volunteer just for the sake of it, giving back what I get from golf and hopefully inspiring other people to play.”


March 2012 / Issue 208

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Joke of the month Men and their sheds A man and his wife are playing the fifth hole at their club when he slices his drive so far to the right it rolls into one of the greenkeepers’ sheds. He finds the ball and plans to take a drop when she says, “Let me go down to the other end of the shed and hold the door open. Then you can hit your ball through the door and back to the fairway.” He thinks this is a good idea, so she holds the door. He takes a big swing, but rather than flying through the door, the ball hits her in the head and kills her.

PIC OF THE MONTH

GETTY IMAGES

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend: No, this isn’t Tiger Woods’s suite at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It’s actually some of the star players who took part in last month’s HSBC Women’s Champions tournament in Singapore. The ladies in question, [l-r] IK Kim, Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Yani Tseng, Beatriz Recari, Melissa Reid, Suzann Pettersen, Pak Se Ri, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis, wore a staggering $11 million of jewellery, donated by Tiffany & Co, at a glitzy reception at the legendary Raffles Hotel. Sadly, the girls had to give the sparklers back at the end of the evening.

Five facts you didn’t know about Golf 1 125,000 golf balls a year are hit into the water at the famous 17th hole of the Stadium Course at Sawgrass

2

Phil Mickelson, who plays left-handed, is actually right handed. He learned to play golf by mirroring his father’s golf swing, and he has used left handed golf clubs ever since.

4

The longest golf hole in the world is the 7th hole (par 7) of the Sano Course at the Satsuki Golf Club in Japan. It measures an incredible 909 yards. 

Is the Masters shaping up to be one of the most

win

5 PAIRS OF TICKETS TO THE ‘WORLD OF GOLF ALL UNDER ONE ROOF SHOW!’

Golf was banned in Scotland from 1457 to 1502 to ensure citizens wouldn’t waste time when preparing for an English invasion

with Lee Westwood

What about The Open at Lytham? I’ll probably play a bit of links golf the week before, but I won’t go to the Scottish Open. I wasn’t a big fan of Castle Stuart. It didn’t feel tight enough off the tee. We needed a 25-30mph wind to make it play as it should.

competition

5

uick questions How are you preparing for the Masters this year? I’m playing in the Houston Open the week before, because they get the greens really fast and they have lots of roll-offs around the greens. Then I’m just going to go straight from Houston to Augusta and play 36 holes over three days in the lead up to the tournament.

He looks at her, shakes his head, and explains, “No way. The last time I tried that, I took a triple bogey.”

Golf News has teamed up with the organisers of this year’s National Golf Show to bring readers the chance to win one of five pairs of tickets to the three-day event, which is being held at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre from April 20-22.

3

The driver swing speed of an average lady golfer is 62mph; 96mph for an average LPGA professional; 84mph for an average male golfer; 108mph for an average PGA Tour player; 130mph for Tiger Woods; 148152mph for a national long drive champion.

A year later, the same man and his new bride are playing the same hole when he again slices the ball into the shed. He finds it and plans to take an unplayable lie when she says, “Let me go down to the other end and hold the door open. Then you can hit your ball through the door and back to the fairway.”

exciting in recent years? I think the Masters is pretty exciting every year. There always seems to be a story going around that gets everybody going. But obviously if there are a lot of guys all playing well going into it, it’s even more exciting to the outside world looking in. Do you think you’ve served your apprenticeship at Augusta now? Experience plays a massive part at Augusta, and explains why you don’t get many first‑time winners there. It’s the kind of course that you need to learn. Will we be seeing a bit less of you in Europe this year? I’ve joined the PGA Tour, so I’ll be playing the

minimum 15 tournaments in the US, including the Fed Ex Cup, which I’m excited about. Other than that, it’s a pretty similar schedule. The middle part of the year will mainly be in Europe, then Asia at end of the year.  What was the hardest part of being World No. 1 for you? There’s nothing hard about being No.1. If you don’t enjoy that then you need to take up another sport. I was talking with Luke [Donald] about it on the putting green the other day. I said, “Morning, No.2.” And he looked at me and nodded. And he said, “Yeah, it’s sort of a bit of a relief. There’s only one way to go when you’re No.1. At

least there’s more than one way to go at No.2.” Why are you still using the Ping G10 driver? Because I like the fact that it goes long and straight! I’ve tried the new i20 driver, which was great, but I’m just hitting the G10 too well at the moment to want to make the switch. Are you off the beers at the moment? Yes, I’ve been on the wagon – sort of – since January 8. Trying to lose a bit of weight. I had a few glasses of Champagne with the family after picking up my OBE from The Queen, but apart from that I’m off it. I don’t drink a lot, anyway, but I just felt like stopping altogether.

This year’s show is aimed at providing golfers with a comprehensive insight into the ‘World of Golf’, including both the technical and lifestyle sides of the sport. The organisers have set about bringing a wide range of exhibitors, equipment, clothing, travel destinations, tuition, PGA coaching under one roof, as well as offering advice on health and nutrition, custom fitting, club testing. There are designated chipping and putting areas, plenty of simulators and the all the latest golf gadgets to try out. With some of the biggest and best brands in golf in attendance, visitors will also be able to test and buy the newest equipment on 16 driving bays, with Callaway, TaylorMade, Cleveland, Yonex, Wilson, Nike and Mizuno among those equipment brands that have previously exhibited. In addition to all the handson entertainment, there will be loads of things to watch and do, including trick show displays,

prize competitions, fashion shows, exclusive offers, and plenty of fun for golfers of all levels. Visitors will also have the opportunity to watch, experience and interact with a panel of expert speakers, knowledgeable PGA Professionals and special guests. Now in its sixth year, the National Golf Show is shaping up to be the biggest yet, so come and join the fun at the NEC from April 20-22! TO ENTER: To put yourself in with a chance of winning one of the 5 pairs of tickets, just answer the following question below and email your answer to info@golfnews.co.uk, with ‘NEC Golf Show Competition’ in the subject line, and including your name and address. Question: Who won the 2011 Open Championship? Advance tickets: £12 per adult, £18 for two, £48 for group of six. U14s go free when accompanied by an adult ticket holder. For more information visit www.nationalgolfshow.com. For tickets sales call 0844 581 0801.


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News in Brief Rose claims WGC glory Justin Rose claimed the fourth PGA Tour win of his career at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, in Florida. The 31-yearold started the final round three shots behind leader Bubba Watson, but a two-under par 70 was enough to win the WGC event by a shot from Watson. Rory McIlroy put himself into contention with a final round 67, but had to settle for third place. Tiger Woods was forced to retire half-way through the final round with a knee injury.

Kruger rules in India South Africa’s Jbe Kruger overcame a late wobble to claim his first European Tour victory at the Avantha Masters in New Delhi. The 25-year-old South African looked to be coasting towards the title when he stood on the 17th tee at DLF Golf & Country Club with a three-shot lead. However, he overcooked his approach and failed to get up and down, the resulting bogey his first for 46 holes. A wayward drive at the last then struck a camera, and his second went left in to trees, but faced with a daunting third over the water Kruger displayed nerves of steel to stick his approach to ten feet. He missed the resulting birdie putt, but par was good enough for a round of 69 and a two-shot win over Spain’s Jorge Campillo and German Marcel Siem.

March 2012 / Issue 208

Rory takes the top spot Rory McIlroy moved to the top of the world rankings after winning the Honda Classic by two strokes in Florida. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland showed great resolve, dropping only one shot in a final round of 69 for a 12-under-par total. He withstood a superb final day charge from Tiger Woods, the youngest man to reach the number one spot, who had two eagles in a 62 to share second. Lee Westwood posted five birdies and an eagle in a 63 for fourth place. It was a final round full of character from McIlroy, who has grown significantly in stature since imploding at last year’s Masters with a closing 80, having led by four shots going into the final round. McIlroy needed some calm up and downs from around the greens to salvage pars early in his round, and when veteran Tom Gillis bogeyed his second hole in succession at the 10th, McIlroy had a comfortable four-shot advantage with eight holes to play. However, he hit a wayward drive at the 12th, and dropped his first shot in 23 holes

when he missed from 15 feet for par. Woods, nine shots off the pace in joint 18th overnight, had collected an eagle and three birdies in his first 11 holes to move into contention. The drama intensified when he birdied the 17th and eagled 18 in vintage fashion, to equal his best score in the final round on the PGA Tour, and move within one shot of McIlroy, who was only at the 13th hole. But McIlroy restored a two-stroke cushion after pitching superbly from 92 yards to five feet at the 13th.

£100,000 bid for Harrington’s hat

lifetime award FOR torrance Winning Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance is to receive a Scottish Golf Lifetime Achievement Award. Torrance will be given the award in the year that marks a decade since he led the European team to victory over the United States at the Belfry. The 58-year-old will become the third recipient of the award from the Scottish Golf Union. Former Open champion Paul Lawrie and eight-time Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie were honoured last year.

Padraig Harrington is to offer advertising space on his hat and on his clothing and golf bag for three tournaments in March and April, in a bid to raise funds for a family member who was paralysed in car crash at the end of last year. The 40-year old three-time major winner is auctioning the space to the highest bidder in an attempt to raise funds for Gerard Byrne, a 35-year old decorator, who is the eldest son on Caroline Harrington’s aunt. He has been told that he will never walk again after his car hit black ice and skidded off the road in a single-car accident in Ireland the week after Christmas. “Obviously Gerard will need a lot of assistance in his life – a wheelchair enabled car, renovations to his home and other things - so my sponsors have agreed to allow me to offer all the branding on my clothing and bag to the highest bidder for three tournaments in March and April,” said Harrington. “If somebody wants to have their branding on the front on my hat, or if they want the golf bag or any other place, it’s up for auction for that three week spell when I am playing the Shell Houston Open, the US Masters and the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head. We already have a bid of €100,000 for the front of my cap and €50,000 for the space on my chest.”

He then found a perilous spot in thick rough to the right of the 14th green, but produced a deft chip and run down the hill to three feet and comfortably saved par. His tee shot at the next went left into the bunker, but despite a stone near his ball he splashed out to six feet and calmly stroked in the putt. At the 17th, another parthree with water guarding the green, McIlroy found the bunker with his tee shot, but escaped magnificently again to three feet

He may not have a major trophy on his mantelpiece yet, but World No.3 Lee Westwood picked up a valuable prize of a different kind last month, when he was awarded an OBE his services to golf in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. The 38-year-old from Worksop collected his gong at Buckingham Palace and admitted he was far more nervous beforehand than he ever gets out on the golf course. “It was amazing really, one of the best days of my life. It was a great honour,” he said after attending the private ceremony. “Little lad, 12 years old, starting golf over at Kilton Forest Golf Club, you don’t imagine you’re going to be stood receiving an OBE from the Queen one day at Buckingham Palace, so it’s a fantastic experience. I’m very proud. To have my wife, parents and children here is very special, and it’s a nice day for everyone to enjoy and celebrate.” Westwood revealed he had

and demonstrated admirable composure once more to send the putt into the middle of the cup. He parred the par five last with ease to take the title, and with it the world no.1 spot. “It’s very special,” he said. “When I was 10 or 11, I was interviewed and said I wanted to be the best player in the world and I wanted to win a major – and now I’ve achieved both of those goals.” He added: “It was tough out there, especially seeing Tiger make a charge. I knew par golf would probably be good enough, and that’s what I was trying to do. My short game felt great and definitely saved me a few times.” McIlroy claimed his first title at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009, secured his first major at last year’s US Open and also won the Hong Kong Open in December. Since the USPGA Championship last August he has played in 12 ranking events, and finished outside the top-five in only one of them. This season he reached the final of the World Match Play event in Arizona, losing to Hunter Mahan in the final.

Westwood’s royal appointment enjoyed a brief chat with the Queen about golf, but was more keen to try and turn the conversation to another sporting pursuit. “She seemed to know a little bit about golf and I’ve played with Prince Andrew in the past, so maybe he’s told her a few things about it. But I really wanted to get into talking about race horses

with her, but we didn’t have time for that. “I must admit I did get sweaty palms inside there waiting for my turn, it’s nothing like being on the golf course when you’re in a comfort zone ­– it was a nerve-wracking experience. But I’m full of admiration for the royal family, so that’s probably why I was nervous.”

Schwartzel plans Masters BBQ Masters champion Charl Schwartzel wants to cook his own barbecue for his Champions Dinner at Augusta. The South African is yet to gain approval from Augusta officials, but he hopes his event will offer something more informal. Traditionally the previous year’s winner chooses the menu for the dinner for former champions, and selections often reflect the hosts’ homeland. “In South Africa we call it a ‘braai’,” explained the 27-year-old. “I like it to be fun and relaxed, with something that everyone will eat.” The exclusive event, which was first held in 1952 with defending champion Ben Hogan as host, is only open to past winners and select officials, and is held behind closed doors in the Augusta National clubhouse. Schwartzel added: “I don’t like very formal dinners. I thought of keeping it very relaxed, sort of standing around a fire and cooking the meat. That’s what I do when I’m home on my off time. Every night I cook meat on the fire. I thought that was something to do.” Schwartzel plans to prepare the hot food himself - including steaks, lamb and sausages – on the lawn outside the Augusta clubhouse, but has yet to receive the go-ahead from the organising committee.


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It must have been great to get your first win under you belt in 2008, but how did your win in Dubai compare, given the quality of the field? Yes, absolutely. Obviously, I wouldn’t change either one for the other, but winning in Dubai was very, very special. My first win was really just a last‑day high, and it was a complete surprise. Winning in Dubai was also a surprise, but I kind of hung in there after taking the lead after the first round. So both of them were very special, but I feel that I had to work more for the second than the first. Trying to keep my lead, trying not to lose ground and closing it out put a lot of pressure on me. You seemed very calm during the final round, but what were you feeling inside? Well, I tried to be calm, of course. There were different feelings at different moments. There were times when I was feeling nervous, then excited, while I also felt a kind of chill coming through my body. But overall I really enjoyed it. I love to compete. Competing in golf is my biggest thrill. That’s why I decided to turn professional, because I really enjoy competing. I would have been proud of myself no matter what the outcome was, because I played without fear. That was my goal, just to go for it. Obviously I wanted to play smart, but I told myself that I would try to go for it, no matter what happened. I’m just happy that I was able to stick to my plan, and that I was able to play boldly. One of your most impressive stats in Dubai was that you hit 85% of the greens in regulation. Did you feel that your game was in good shape going into the tournament? I felt that I was playing really, really well, but I don’t think you can ever know when you’re going to shoot 63 on the first day, but I knew I was improving and that my game was good enough. I also played great during the second and third rounds, but got a bit unlucky on the greens. I had had lots of birdie chances, but nothing dropped. I was just really happy that I was able to remain patient, and keep my confidence up for the entire week, and not just for one or two days. Did beating a player of Lee Westwood’s stature have any special meaning for you? Not really. I’m just happy that I was able to win and I was even happier to get a win in such a prestigious event. It was not just Lee, whom I admire a lot, but also with all of the big names that were contending, like Rory [McIlroy], like Martin [Kaymer], like Stephen [Gallacher], they are all really, really good players. And the fact that I was able to be successful just proves that I’m moving in the right direction. It gives me a lot of confidence that I have proven that I can perform for at least one week as good as the best in the world. It’s just a huge morale boost. According to your biography on the European Tour website, you won at least one amateur event in Spain every year from the age of seven to 18. Given that you’re obviously so used to winning, has it been at all frustrating not to be in the position more often as a professional? No, not frustrating. I think that good amateurs can very easily get used to winning, but once you turn pro it’s a completely different story. When I was competing as a youngster I was really only up against two or three other kids, and we were all good enough that any of us could win, but now I’m competing against 150 guys every week, and any of us

March 2012 / Issue 208

Bello on Top Golf News talks to Spanish rising star Rafael Cabrera-Bello about his recent win in Dubai and his hopes of joining a strong Spanish contingent in September’s Ryder Cup can win. So obviously the chances of winning are reduced very, very quickly. Of course, I would have liked to have won more, but I’m happy with what I have achieved. I’m happy I’m improving every year. I feel my game is getting better, and hopefully I’ll put myself in the position to win more often. Your victory opened a lot of doors to big money events, including the WGC World Match Play and the Shanghai Masters, what do you think this will do for your career? As you said, this will open a lot of doors, and this was really the quality jump in my game that I have been practising so hard for. It’s still a little bit of shock to be playing in these events, but I know this win is going to give me the chance to take my game to the next level. It opens the door to play better field tournaments, to play with the top, top players more often, and I think that’s the best way for me to keep improving. Given your current position in the Race to Dubai, are you allowing yourself to think about the possibility of playing in the Ryder Cup? It wasn’t a goal at the beginning of the year, and still isn’t now. I know I am in a much better position now to achieve it, but I still need to grow as a player in order to be able to set the Ryder Cup as a goal. Although that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to qualify – don’t get me wrong – just it’s not something essential for me still. Wouldn’t it be great to have you, Sergio, Alvaro, Gonzo and Miguel in a team led by José Maria? Spanish would have to be the team’s first language! Of course it would be great, it would be absolutely fantastic for Spanish golf to have that many players in the team, and it would be a wonderful tribute to Seve. If not all of us, I’m positive there will be more than one Spanish ambassador in the Ryder Cup. Growing up in Spain, who were your golfing idols? My idols were Seve [Ballesteros] and José-Maria [Olázabal]. I grew up watching videos of many of Seve’s spectacular victories, while I

watched José-Maria’s Masters wins in 1994 and 1999. They are probably the reason why I’m a golf pro. Your Twitter activity has been upped in recent weeks. Do you feel like you have more of a public profile to maintain now that you have a big win under your belt? Yes, my twitter account – @RCabreraBello – has grown a bit since my win, but the truth is that I had only started using Twitter three weeks before, so I can’t really compare. Hopefully, one day I can reach Ian Poulter’s 1.2million followers! There were quite a few comments on Twitter about how smart you looked out on the golf course. What importance does clothing play in your game? Clothing is part of your image. I think that if you like the way you look, it will put you in a good mood and give you confidence, which are attributes that will help you perform better. What are your favourite pieces in the new FJ Apparel range, and how does it feel to be chosen to be a brand ambassador for its launch into the clothing market? My favourite

collection is the Cape Collection. I am from the Canary Islands, our local flag has white, blue and yellow, so the Cape collection suits me perfectly. It is a pleasure for me to be brand ambassador for such a quality brand such as FootJoy. I feel really honored to join the club of so many great players that have been and/or still are part of the FJ Team, and to be a small part of its launch into the clothing market. Tell us about the new clubs you have in your bag this year and how they have helped your game? I‘ve been using the Titleist 712 MB irons since the middle of last year. I really like their soft feel and the feedback I get from them. They are excellent clubs and I’ve felt they have helped improve my ball striking and iron play. What ball are you currently using? Titleist Pro V1X. Talking of balls, what chance do you give Spain of adding the European Championship to the World Cup title? Big chance – defending champions, and current World Champions – it doesn’t get much better than that!

Cabrera-Bello could be on course to make his debut in the Ryder Cup if he can maitain his early season form through the summer


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FootJoy puts its stamp on the apparel market Did the design team have a specific golfer in mind when coming up with the new FJ Collection? The avid core golfer is the primary focus for FootJoy with shoes, gloves and socks, and we saw no reason why this should be any different with apparel. Our shoe offerings cater for many different tastes, and this is something that the design team wanted to replicate in our apparel. From our research findings, we discovered that there was a fairly equal split of people wanting traditional, fuller fitting apparel to those wanting a more athletic fit. So we have created an extensive range that encompasses two different cuts and designs to cater for a wide range of tastes. What was the reasoning behind using only stretch fabrics like polyester and spandex in the collection? The decision to not use cotton in any of the shirts, and concentrate purely on stretch performance fabrics, underlines FootJoy’s brand identity as one that is purely for golfers, and one that meets the demands of the serious player, regardless of their ability. Our sole focus is to enhance the golfing experience. During the swing it is vital that a golfer’s clothing is comfortable and non-restrictive. Adding stretch fabrics allows the golfer freedom of movement throughout the swing. The amount of spandex added to our apparel is approximately 4%, which allows the product to have the stretch capabilities, while at the same time maintaining the anti-microbial benefits. How important is it that the exact same kit the FJ pros are wearing on tour is also available for club golfers in the shops? We aim to produce products that enhance the enjoyment of the game of golf, whether you are a tour player or an Steve Stricker is wearing the new FJ clothing range in 2012

Golf News talks to Russell Lawes, FootJoy’s European Marketing Manager, about the new FJ apparel collection and what it offers both pro and amateur golfers amateur. Both types still expect similar standards when it comes to comfort and performance. The players who endorse our products on tour are obvious walking advertising boards for us, who showcase the variety of FJ products to the golfing world. The product viewed will then hopefully create demand, and it is this demand that we want to be able to fulfil in-store through our retail partners with exactly the same garments seen on tour. Given the different colour trends between individual European countries and also between the UK and the US, will the range be tailored to fit in with country-by-country trends? Our US product team is continuously researching fashion trends that also include looking at future colour trends. Our ranges have been put together in complementary colour collections that give enough variety to cater for all tastes. We do not see the need to produce different colours for different markets, as we think we encompass all these needs into one European line. When looking at different fits, the US line is produced in a different cut to that of the UK range. The American golfer in general prefers a much fuller fitting shirt to that of a UK golfer, so the cuts have been modified to meet local market needs. How does the new collection fit into FJ’s overall layering concept? The layering concept has been a huge success story for the brand. We have been an outerwear brand since 1997. This forms what we term the ‘outer layer’. We also had a small selection of short sleeve

shirts that could be classed as ‘mid layer’. What we were missing was the ‘base layer’, which we introduced into our product line a couple of years ago. This gave us the complete layering system that a golfer would require to combat the different elements that he/she can encounter while playing the game. The new apparel line gives us a greater offering when looking at the layering system, whether this comes from the new performance sweaters, or the wide variety of short sleeve shirts. Either way, we now have a bigger offering of base, mid and outer layers to help enhance the enjoyment of the game of golf.” FJ Apparel Collection The new FJ Performance Apparel Collection features 65 shirts (many of which feature a tour-style FJ logo on the collar), 39 pullovers, 14 styles of trousers. The polo shirt collection comprises four colour palettes: Cape (Navy/Ocean/Yellow/White); Savannah (Black/Red/White); Valley (Purple/Charcoal/Grey/ White) and Shore (Navy/ Coral/Khaki/White). Each collection offers traditional and athletic fit options, which ensures that golfers of all shapes and sizes are catered for. The athletic fit, which is narrower across the chest and features tighter sleeves, will be available in 20% of the collection. As well as offering moisture and temperature management systems, the shirts require no ironing and also have UV protection up to a factor of 30 built into the material. The 2012 FJ Collection went on sale in the UK from March 1. For more details visit www.footjoy.co.uk

When did you last change the grips on your clubs? Come on now, be honest. Have you ever done it? Like most people, you probably end up buying a new set of clubs before you ever get around to replacing the old grips. It needn’t be this way. A few hours with your pro and a minimal outlay are all that stands in the way of revitalising your clubs – and your game – as the new season gets going. It is generally accepted that golf grips should be replaced once a season if they are to be operating at their full potential. Of course, most club golfers, who play a couple of times a month, are never going to manage this, mainly out of laziness, but it’s still a fact that never ceases to surprise. How often you should change them depends on many factors, such as how often you play, how firmly you grip the club, and the moisture conditions in your golf bag, and the kind of golf bag you have. Regardless of all these variables, there is a sure sign that it’s time to invest in a new set. Cracks. Whether they are just starting to crack, or have crevices big enough to stick a tee in, it’s high time for a new set. And don’t be tempted to change just the 9-iron, because that’s the club you use the most. If you change one, change them all. When checking out new grips, pay close attention to material, pattern and texture. There is a wealth of different options and it takes a bit of experimentation to find the one that feels best in your hand. There is no one grip that is right for all golfers, and grip selection varies widely with individual needs and preferences. Golf Pride has a useful online Grip Selection Tool that offers four criteria for choosing the right grip, which include moisture management, responsiveness, surface texture and hand size. Moisture management: When choosing a grip you should factor in moisture conditions for where you play or if your hands perspire a lot. Whether you play in arid climates or hot and humid areas, having a grip that absorbs moisture well can improve your game and consistency. Responsiveness: Grip material and construction can also have big influence on the amount of vibration transferred to your hands from ball contact. A softer grip will absorb the vibration, while a firmer grip will provide more feedback – something that better players often prefer.

Get ahead, get a grip Texture: Grip material and surface design are responsible for how a grip feels in your hands. Tacky grips have a smooth surface and are usually made of softer materials. Grips that are less tacky combine detailed surface design with firm, high-traction materials. Hand size: Grip size has a huge influence on your swing and ball-striking ability. That’s why it’s so important to select the right-sized grip. As a rule of thumb, your grip size should correspond to your glove size. Shape: Grips come in two distinct shapes – round and reminder. Round are, well, round, while the less common reminder grip features a slight bulge on the back that guides your fingers around the centre of the grip. The cost of a typical rubber grip can range from under a pound for some of the economical models to over £3 for some of the full and half-cord ones. A combination of materials is also possible, as with Golf Pride’s best-selling New Decade MultiCompound, which fuses the performance of black velvet cord in the upper hand area for firm all-weather control, with a soft, white rubber material in the lower hand for ultimate feel and responsiveness. The grip is available in red, blue, shamrock, orange, pink, yellow, sky blue, and white. The full cord versions are more expensive due to their method of manufacture; they provide a firm feel and tend to last longer than non-cord versions. Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet BCT cord grip is among

the most popular on the pro tours, with its tight-weave cotton twill fibre construction offering the levels of traction and feel demanded by the world’s best players. Aside from materials, the major grip manufacturers are constantly seeking to improve grip designs through textures, and among the latest innovations is Golf Pride’s new Patriot grip, which features a uniquely textured surface pattern that includes strategically-placed black pebbled bands. These bands, along with a supple red, white and blue rubber construction, provide extra traction. Aimed at golfers of all skill levels, it is also extremely durable. A new grip can also be the answer to your putting problems. If you find that your hands are over-active in the swing, why not consider switching to a thicker grip, or even one of the new 2Thumb grips? However, if you prefer a more wrist-driven putting action, then one of the skinny pistol grips may suit your game better. Changing grips can be a messy business, and tempting though it is to have a go yourself with a sharp knife and a pot of glue, it’s advisable to take your clubs to your local professional to do the job. Not only will they not make a mess of your living room carpet, but they’ll fit them correctly and also be able to advise you on the right style and size of grip to help get the best out of your game – which will be a free lesson in itself. For more information on the latest grips visit www.golfpride.com.


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Access All Areas Nick Bayly goes on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Ping’s factory and test facility in Arizona to see how its award-winning clubs are designed and manufactured During its 52 years in the golf industry, the Ping brand has been responsible for some of the most significant innovations in equipment technology, including concepts such as investment casting, heel-toe balance, perimeter weighting, cavity back design and the famous Ping Anser putter. Almost every modern golfing legend has used Ping equipment at some stage in their career and the Solheim family, the founders of the company, still retain their attachment to the brand, which has become iconic among golfers the world over. It all started back in the 1950s, in Karsten Solheim’s garage in Redwood, California, where Karsten, a frustrated amateur, set out to design a putter to improve his own game. Today, the privately-owned company, which employs more than 1,000 people across the world, is based in the dry heat of Phoenix, Arizona, where more than 800 men and women help to produce Ping products every day under the leadership of chairman John A Solheim, Karsten’s youngest son. The task of leading product development is in the hands of

John’s eldest son, John Karsten Jr, who trailed his grandfather around the plant during breaks from school and witnessed the transition of the product design process from hands on, keen-eyed craftsmanship into today’s 3D modeling and super-computer technology that was much in evidence during my recent visit to Ping’s headquarters to test out the new i20 range of woods and irons. I was lucky enough to be given a detailed tour of the 50-acre site, which first opened in 1961, where blocks of raw steel are melted down and fashioned into the finely-tuned pieces of equipment that many of the world’s top professionals play with today. The factory tour, which for an equipment nerd like me, was like winning the golden ticket to see Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, not only provided a fascinating insight into the technology that goes into ensuring that every club shipped out meets Ping’s exacting demands, but also revealed the sheer number of hands that each club has to pass through during the manufacture and assembly phases. If nothing else, a visit here reveals why Ping charges what it does for its clubs. One of the most fascinating aspects

of the Ping operation is that its golf clubs are pretty much all made to order. Of course, there are many ‘demo’ sets and standard display sets of clubs created, especially when a new range is being launched, but while I was walking from building to building, seeing hundreds of people at work, there was no huge inventory of offthe-shelf clubs to be seen anywhere. Someone, somewhere has either purchased a putter, some irons or a set of wedges, a pro shop has ordered some demo sets, or a set of irons needs a little adjustment. Just a few years ago the time it took from the customer order coming in, to the shipment leaving the factory, was anything from 10 to 14 days, but today, thanks to new machinery and efficiency savings throughout the process, that time has been reduced to 48 hours or less – and much less when a Ping staff player loses a club at the airport or, heaven forbid, breaks one during a tournament! While Ping staff players are famously loyal – Lee Westwood has been with the brand since he turned professional – many of Ping’s factory staff enjoy equally long associations, with many employees having worked there

Testing out the new i20 driver on the robotic Pingman


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The factory floor is full of hi-tech gadgetry to ensure absolute precision in every set of clubs

Trialling the new i20 range at the test faciliy

Tour stars Mark Calcavecchia and Mark Wilson stopped by after testing the news clubs

Ping uses a nearby foundry to make the heads for its irons

for up to 40 years, and most having between five and 20 years service. It is this continuity of service, often passed down through several generations, that creates such a highly-efficient workforce. Every employee is trained to work across at least five or six different processes, so that when people are on holiday or ill, there are trained personnel to fill the gap. Ping has the bonus of having its own iron foundry, located just a few miles down the road from the factory, where the raw steel blocks are melted down and poured into molds to create the raw heads, which are then ground down by a mixture of machines and hand-operated lathes to create the finished heads, which are then transported back to the factory. From here, they are taken through a 14-stage

assembly process, before being boxed up and shipped out to the customer. It can be a little noisy at times, and a little noxious with all that epoxy resin, but it’s fascinating to see the detail that goes into a product that most golfers give very little notice to, save the odd waggle in the pro shop. While the factory tour is available to anyone, Ping’s test facility, which is located a few hundred yards on the other side of the compound, is strictly off limits to the public, and is generally only populated by Ping employees and staff players. Even journalists aren’t allowed into some areas of the test facility, where prototypes for the 2013 ranges and beyond are secretively being worked on. Such is the competitive nature of the golf industry these days, that closed doors marked ‘strictly private – keep out’ are a common feature at research and development offices. However, I was allowed to see the iconic Ping Man – the company’s custom-built robot driving machine – in all its glory, dispatching ball after ball to the outer limits of the 300-yard driving range with monotonous regularity. Built in 1976, Ping Man was way ahead of its time, and continues to provide extremely valuable data as to how each club performs under a wide range of swing speeds and launch angles. I was also treated to Ping’s new ball launching machine, Sling Man, which allows club designers to see how different balls react to different combinations of speed and spin. Next to Ping Man is the VIP fitting

suite, an indoor, air-conditioned room with a view to the range, which is used by players during the insanely hot summer months. It’s state of the art, as you’d expect, with Ping’s nFlight launch monitor charting all the necessary swing data, and providing information to create the perfect gapping between clubs for the idea set. Players in the VIP Suite also have the luxury of being able to hit the ball off a patch of pristine turf, which is replaced every day and makes it ideal for testing hybrids, short irons and wedges. Outside on the range, I tested out the new Ping i20 range under the watchful eye of one of Ping’s custom-fitting experts, and was soon exceeding all my previous distance and accuracy performances once my specifications were dialed in. A few yards down the range, Tour legend Mark Calcavecchia was putting his new set through its paces, alongside fellow Ping staff player Mark Wilson, who has won three times on the PGA Tour in the last 12 months, including winning with the i20s on only his second outing of the year. The test facility has had to ramp up its defences following the arrival of Bubba Watson, and now has a 60-foot high fence to stop balls flying over the road into the bar. A completely new range, on the other side of the site, is currently in the planning stages, and will offer even more space for big hitters like Watson. Another place where I was allowed exclusive access, was Ping’s hallowed golden putter vault, a heavily-guarded room where every single win using a

Ping putter is celebrated with a replica gold-plated putter of the exact make and model used by the player, with their name, the tournament, and the year stamped on the sole. The players get to keep one for themselves, while Major winners are accorded a solid gold replica, which must be worth around £20,000 at current market rates. The room is extremely bling, and almost requires dark glasses to reduce the glare off those shiny putter heads, but it’s a veritable walk through the history of golf, and had even the most hardened hack like me getting all gooey-eyed over how many of the things Seve had managed to win. Another off limits room for visitors is Karsten Solheim’s original office, which is located in a part of the factory that has recently been vacated by staff following the opening of a brand new sales office last year. The office has been left eerily exactly the way it was the day Karsten died on February 16, 2000, and its decidedly 1960s décor serves as a time capsule for the entire history of Ping. With pictures of his wife and children and framed letters from presidents, past players and even Neil Armstrong on the walls, it’s an unbelievably rare archive, and one that Ping staff are fervently proud of. Rows of old Ping putters rest against the desk, along with the collectable two-toned Ping golf ball, and numerous mementos encapsulate a lifetime spent at the heart of the game. If you ever come to Arizona on a golf holiday, or for some other reason, I can’t recommend a trip to see where it all began for one of golf’s great brands more highly.

Ping Factory Tours For readers able to make the trip to Phoenix, Ping offers two-hour factory tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, by reservation only, by calling 001 602 687 5000.

Ping founder Karsten Solheim’s office has been kept as it was the day he died


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March 2012 / Issue 208

Cleveland Golf/Srixon ambassador Ben right ball for your game can save you m

Fit for purpose

2-PIECE GOLF BALL*

2

PIECE

*Sources: SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC & GOLF DATATECH RETAIL AUDITS

THE UK’S BEST SELLING JUST GOT BETTER

EXPLOSIVE POWER EXCEPTIONAL CONTROL

CUSTOM FIT YOUR BALL BY VISITING

www.srixon.co.uk

Golf balls are one of the few pieces of equipment that many golfers don’t give a great deal of thought to when they make a purchase. Choosing the right ball is all about striking the perfect balance – a compromise if you like – between what you need around the greens and your requirements from the tee. Premium balls, like the Srixon Z-STAR, will spin more and feel softer around the green, due to their thinner covers.

However, this type of ball can cost you distance off the tee. As premium balls have three, four or even five layers, they will require swing speeds of over 100mph with a driver for the ball to perform to its maximum potential. So the next time you stop by your pro shop to buy a ball, give it some thought beforehand by using the Srixon’s online custom fit facility at www.srixon.co.uk. It could save you shots on the course and some money from your pocket.

Putting

Does the ball feel good off your putter face? Always remember that the putter is the most used club in your bag, and a ball that is too hard or too soft can affect your feel on the greens. Hit some mid-range putts from 20 feet to get a sense of the feel off the clubface. Putts of this length are far enough away for you to start focusing on the pace and roll of the ball, which is ultimately what you are after when trying to gauge how much you like the feel of a ball. Don’t be afraid to have a run at the hole. After all, the aim is still to try and hole it as though it is for a birdie to win your weekly medal.

Chipping Hit some chips from about 20 yards from the flag to get a sense of the feel, as you did with the putter. Personally, I like to see the ball stop quickly, so I prefer the softer cover of the Srixon Z-STAR, as it helps to create more spin on short pitch shots. However, if you like to hit a chip-and-run, then spin is the last thing you want. In this case go for a ball with a firmer cover, as it will spin less, making the ball roll out to the flag as you visualised. It is also important to see the ball react in the same way on the greens throughout your round. If you switch between a two-piece ball and a premium ball, you will see that each shot spins to varying degrees. It is important that your ball spins as you expect it to on short pitch shots, if you want to knock shots off your handicap. Make sure you are comfortable with whatever ball you choose and that you know how it will react on pitch shots so that you can consistently hit it close.

For more information on Cleveland Golf and Srixon, ple 7482-Srixon-GolfNewsAD333AdvertArt.indd 1

10/02/2012 09:51


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n Clayton explains why choosing the many shots

purpose IT’S BACK. AND IT’S BETTER THAN EVER. Driving With custom-fit technology being so accessible these days, ask your local pro about measuring your swing speed with your driver. After a handful of shots you will be able to determine which ball will perform best with your swing. I know my swing speed is 105mph with a driver, which means I have a choice between the Srixon Z-STAR and the Srixon Z-STAR XV. As I prefer the feel of a softer ball with my wedges and putter, I opt for the Z-STAR, which is a little softer than the XV model. But be warned, this is the area where a premium ball can sap distance off your drives. A premium ball has more layers, meaning the harder you hit it, the more the technology behind the ball will work. If you swing your driver at a lower speed, a twopiece ball like the Srixon Soft Feel might be better for you. It still feels soft, as the cover is thin, but the core of the ball is bigger, so you don’t have to swing the club so hard to get the ball to perform to its optimum level.

“The Cleveland 588s were always the best wedges ever made. And with this next generation, they still are!” Graeme McDowell

White or yellow? Twenty years ago all tennis balls were white. However, as yellow is easier to see, tennis made the switch from white to yellow. Golf is now starting to go the same way, with tour players playing yellow balls at various events on the calendar. This winter, playing under dark English skies, I also started to use the Z-STAR Tour yellow. It is certainly easier to see in flight and, most importantly, to find in the rough. So next time you lose sight of your ball or are looking for your white ball, why not try a yellow ball next time you play and see the difference it makes to your game.

Ben Clayton is based at Hindhead Golf Club in Surrey and is a Cleveland Golf / Srixon Short Game Ambassador. If you want to lower your scores through harnessing your short game skills contact Ben on 01428 604458 or email benclaytongolf@yahoo.co.uk.

ease visit www.clevelandgolf.com or www.srixon.co.uk

Experience the legend, re-born at your Cleveland golf retail stockist.

www.clevelandgolf.com


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March 2012 / Issue 208

Callaway Golf RAZR X HL irons

SkyCaddie SGX

RRP: £549/£699 (8-piece set, st/gr) Contact: www.callawaygolf.com

RRP: £329.99

Fitting into the category of ‘super game improvement’ irons, the new RAZR X HLs are packed with features that offer maximum distance and forgiveness for high handicap golfers. The cast stainless steel heads feature a wide, confidence-inspiring sole, while an undercut cavity keeps the centre of gravity low and deep, to help get the ball airborne and maximise ball speed. A medallion on the back of the head is made of aluminum and thermoplastic polyurethane to fine-tune sound and enhance feel. Golfers can customise their set by substituting long irons for RAZR X HL Hybrids (£145), which feature moderate offset and a Zero Roll Design clubface, which produces a higher launch angle on shots hit low on the face for increased distance and softer landings.

Contact: www.skycaddie.co.uk

Titleist Velocity RRP: £28 per dozen Contact: www.titleist.co.uk Although we’d all like to be able afford to play Pro V1s all day long, Titleist knows that we can’t, so it also make balls that cost less, yet still do a good job for a large percentage of golfers. The all-new Velocity, as the name suggests, is all about speed – off the clubface and through the air. That speed comes the ball’s high-speed LSX core (Lab Speed Extreme), which is encased in a new NAZ2 cover with a new dimple pattern that delivers high initial ball speed on all full swing shots and ‘playable feel’ in the short game.

For those who have been patient enough to wait for the next generation of GPS systems to come along, the wait might well have been worth it, following the launch of a new wireless SkyCaddie. Its WiFi capability hugely simplifies the process of downloading courses (and accommodating course updates), either in your home, at work, or at the golf course, doing away with the need to attach the handset to a computer. RangeVue is another new feature, using pre-set yardage arcs that instantly provide distances to various points on the course. Other tried-and-tested features include interactive HoleVue with auto zoom, which provides a view of the entire hole and yardages needed to avoid hazards; IntelliGreen Pro, which calculates distances to major green contours and false fronts, as well as any other point on the green from your angle of attack, and PinPoint Technology, which allows golfers to add pin sheet positions for even more accurate approach play.

Motocaddy S3 Pro Trolley RRP: £399.99 (£599 lithium battery) Contact: www.motocaddy.com The S3 PRO introduces a number of never-seen-before digital features into the trolley market, including a ‘lost ball’ timer that takes the guesswork out of measuring the ‘elastic’ five minutes that you are allowed to look for your ball (or someone else’s). The timer is activated by the simple push of a button and a discrete series of beeps lets you know when five minutes has elapsed. In addition, the S3 Pro has a ‘round’ timer that allows the player to check the duration of a game at any point. Other innovations include a USB GPS charging port and a CartLock security device that enables the owner to set a pin code to render the trolley useless to a would-be thief. It also features an ergonomic double handle, sporty wheels and comes in a choice of colours and paint finishes.

MacGregor M59 driver RRP: £149.00 Contact: www.macgregor-golf.co.uk The brand made famous by Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and, more recently, José María Olazábal and Aaron Baddeley, is making a comeback with its latest M59 titanium driver. With its white crown and red and black sole colouring, the eye-catching 460cc titanium head features a curved face and sole contours designed to reduce drag and deliver high ball speed. Powered by a UST graphite shaft, the M59 will be available in righthanded 10.5- and 12-degree lofts for men and a 12- and 14-degree loft for women.

Powakaddy Freeway Digital Trolley RRP: £349.99/£529.99 (lead/lithium battery) Contact: www.powakaddy.com PowaKaddy’s new Freeway Digital power trolley combines easy-to-use functionality, quality engineering and modern styling. Standout features include a soft-touch ambidextrous handle with a built-in responsive 9-speed control roller, fully-integrated LED digital display screen, and electronic digital distance function. A lightweight, robust frame combines with sporty, low profile five-spoke wide wheels for a stylish appearance, while the whisper-quiet motor comes with choice of two lead batteries and one lithium battery. It is available with a black or white frame and comes with a two-year warranty.


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Ping Moon-Lite II Pencil Bag RRP: £48.00 Contact: www.pinggolf.com Although not designed to carry pencils, the new Moon-Lite II follows Ping’s tradition of producing quality carry bags that punch above their weight in terms of functionality and performance. Features include a three-way top; an adjustable standing strap, and three pockets (large apparel and accessory pockets, and a water-bottle holder). Weighing just 2lbs, the Moon-Lite will comfortably hold a full set of clubs. It is available in Inferno Red/Charcoal, Navy/Silver, Black/Silver and Royal/White.

Serengeti Sunglasses RRP: £192.00 Contact: www.serengeti-eyewear.com Designed for driving – both on and off the golf course – Serengeti sunglasses feature an exclusive spectral control technology which selectively filtrates the light spectrum to enhance the ‘driving’ colours – red, green and yellow – allowing drivers to react to hazards such as brake lights and traffic signals more quickly. The impact-resistant, photochromic glass lenses are made of high-grade optical glass, which is ground with diamond wheels into perfect spheres, and polished to remove any imperfections. Antireflective coatings on the lens also reduce the back reflection that causes squinting and eyestrain, while polarized lenses eliminate glare. All models are available with prescription lenses.

Ping i20 fairway woods Mizuno MP650 driver Rating: RRP: £249.99. Contact: www.mizuno.eu

Bushnell Gloss White Tour V2 RRP: £249.00 Contact: www.bushnellgolf.co.uk Bushnell has added the Gloss White Tour V2 to its range of best selling laser range finders. Featuring PinSeeker Technology, the Tour V2 ensures accurate target acquisition by isolating the target and completely shutting out background hazards. When more than one object is sensed, the closer of the two is displayed and distance is calculated. Compact and simple to use straight out of the box, the V2 is accurate to within one yard.

Mizuno has returned to its classic roots with the new MP650 driver, ditching the rather fiddly Fast Track adjustable weight system found in the MP630 in favour of a more streamlined model that sings out simplicity and class. Shying away from spanners, bolts and rotating hosels may seem like a risky move in this age of adjustability, but I think it’s the right one for Mizuno, a brand which trades on its links with the Tour, and the appeal of the MP franchise with better players, who traditionally don’t like to see too many bells and whistles on their clubs. Getting down to details, the 650 features 450cc all-titanium, pearshaped head which has been stripped back to offer high swing speed players a driver that produces high launch and low spin rates. The forged face produces the fastest ball speeds Mizuno has created to date, with a variable face thickness helping to maintain those speeds across the largest possible hitting area. Looking down at address, it sets up slightly open, a look favoured by skilled players, offering the potential to work the ball in both directions. The head is very clean and no-nonsense, and keen students of design will notice how head shape has been subtly altered from previous models to give the toe a more rounded look to the toe, which again, is visually appealing. The extra weight in the toe area has the potential to open the face at impact and create a fade, so to offset this Mizuno has placed a 6g weight in the heel of the club. The sound was very good at impact, as was the feel, while in the right hands this can certainly get the ball out there, with a high, soaring trajectory. All told, this is a quality driver for mid-to-low handicappers looking to gain more control and feel into their long game. It’s available in 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 12-degree loft options, with the standard shaft being a Fujikura Orochi Red Eye (R, S, X), although multiple custom shafts are also on offer.

RRP: £200.00 Contact: www.pinggolf.com Featuring the same stunning matt black finish found on the i20 driver and hybrids, the stainless steel i20 fairway woods are versatile performers, helping to launch the ball with ease from all turf conditions and off the tee. The compact head shape ensures the sole – which features two tungsten weights – glides through heavy grass and launches the ball high, while its neutral set-up promotes square impact and straight shots – although it’s still possible to work the ball in either direction should you so desire. The face is slightly deeper than the i15 range, but will still fit the eye of golfers who prefer a low profile. Ball flight can be customised with a choice of stock shafts: the Ping TFC 707F for a low-spin and boring trajectory, or the lighter Project X Black by True Temper, which offers mid levels of spin and a higher trajectory. Loft options are 3S (14º), 3 (15º), and 5-woods (18º).


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March 2012 / Issue 208

3 4

2

Spin it to win it with the latest threepiece balls 1

1. Wilson FG Tour X

NEW BALLS PLEASE!

RRP: £39.99 for 12 The new FG Tour X is a three-piece ball designed to appeal mid-tolow handicappers looking for more distance and control. It has a 93 compression to offer a firmer feel and improved performance for players with higher than average swing speeds. The firmer core helps deliver more distance from the driver and long irons, while the multi-layer construction – covered in a thin cast urethane – provides maximum spin and control on short iron and wedge shots. A new dimple pattern – Traction Control Technology – is designed to improve stopping power into greens and enhance carry through higher spin, while reducing fliers from the rough by engaging more contact with the surface area of the club’s grooves.

6

5

5. Callaway Hex Chrome RRP: £34.95 for 12 Golfers with moderate swing speeds have often had to make a compromise somewhere in their game with the ball they play. But Callaway believes the new Hex Chrome will eliminate that dilemma, because it features the same urethane cover found on its Tour ball, the Hex Black, for better greenside feel and spin, while still maintaining distance off the tee. The ball’s distance-delivering properties are found in the new s-Tech Core, which is surrounded by a firm, thin mantle layer that provides resilience – and ball speed – without making the ball feel harder. Callaway’s proprietary HEX dimple design produces 100% surface area coverage, reducing drag and promoting a stable, penetrating ball flight.

2. Titleist NXT Tour

6. TaylorMade Penta TP3

RRP: £34 for 12

RRP: £36.99 for 12

Entering its second decade as Titleist’s best-performing nonurethane covered golf ball, the new and improved NXT Tour promises long, consistent distance and commanding short game control. A new ‘dual core’ construction means that it has a small, soft centre and a larger powerful outer layer, the combination of which achieves the best possible performance. The 302 dimples are spherically tiled in an octahedron layout with a staggered wave parting line. This results in a very uniform surface that will help the ball fly through the air with incredible consistency for reliable performance.

Replacing the TP Black and Red balls, the new TP3 is a threepiece, Tour-calibre ball designed to increase spin without sacrificing
distance. It features the same cast urethane cover material found in the tour-level TP5 ball, which results in a softfeeling ball that performs superbly from tee to green. Engineered for golfers who prefer a ball that spins more on their long and mid irons, the TP3 features a React core that offers low spin off the tee, with added speed to promote longer ball flights. With mid and short irons, the core works with the thin urethane cover to increase spin without sacrificing distance.

7

3. Nike Vapor Black

4. Srixon Z Star

7. Titleist NXT Tour S

RRP: £35 for 12

RRP: £44 for 12

RRP: £34 for 12

Nike has added a Power Transfer Layer in the construction of its new three-piece Vapor Black ball to offer whole new levels of distance to players with average to high swing speeds. The PTL is a highly-advanced polymer that increases distance and speed when you strike the ball. Ideal for low to mid-handicappers, the soft compression Vapor Black also offers off-centre forgiveness to give golfers more control around the greens. Multi-layer technology increases distance on each shot and optimises aerodynamics.

Unchanged from last year, Srixon’s Z Star remains the brand’s headline ball in the three-piece performance category for mid-tohigh swing speed golfers (80-105mph). Featuring a proprietary urethane cover, the Z Star is super soft for added spin control, without sacrificing distance. The 324 seamless dimple design, combined with the large 90 compression Energetic Gradient Growth Core, produces a penetrating ball flight that is unyielding to the wind. It is softer than the four-piece Z-Star XV and provides slightly more spin and feel around the green, especially from the rough. It is available in a choice of Pure White or Tour Yellow colours.

The new ‘S’ version of the NXT Tour has been launched in response to demand from golfers who liked the performance of the NXT Tour, but were seeking a slightly softer feel. Featuring all of the technology found in the NXT Tour, the S comprises a low compression, highly resilient core, matched with a thin Fusablend cover. This results in low spin off the driver and long irons, and commanding short game spin and control. It is designed to produce a lower, more piercing trajectory that the Tour version. It is available in a choice of white or high optic yellow.


March 2012 / Issue 208

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performance. We took a big step last year, when introduced what’s called a spherically-tiled, tetrahedral layout on the new Pro V1, which has a different count and a different arrangement of dimples on the surface of the ball. By using this specific geometry, we’ve subdivided the ball’s surface into 24 identical tiles that are all exactly the same and produce the most uniform surface coverage we’ve ever had. Why doesn’t Titleist make a golf ball specifically targeted at women? It’s a question we get asked quite a lot, and my answer is always the same. Every Titleist ball is designed for women, in the same way that every Titleist ball is designed for men. The ball doesn’t know who is hitting it; how old, how skilled or what the golfer’s gender is. The majority of ‘lady’ balls in the market are two-piece, distance-orientated balls. They are good for maximising carry off the tee, but not for hitting controlled shots around the greens. Low-spin distance balls tend to land, release, and run through the green, so are not ideal for hitting it close to the pin. Balls like the Titleist Pro V1 and NXT Tour S offer much more control on shots around the green, which will help the majority of ladies score better.

DIMPLY the best Golf News talks to Bill Morgan, senior vice president of golf ball research and development at Titleist, about all matters spherical We often hear club golfers say that they’re not good enough or don’t have the right swing speed to benefit from using a Pro V1. Can you clear up this matter please? We believe it’s a myth that moderate and lower swing speed players need special balls. We think, in terms of influencing a golf shot, that the club is more important than the ball and the golfer is more important than the club. Now, while we know different players apply a different level of force to the ball, it is clear to us that the range of force applied by a better player includes the level of force applied by a lesser player. We strongly believe that a ball must be designed for all speeds, or it won’t work for any golfer.

Titleist is offering its new NXT Tour and NXT Tour S balls in a choice of white or yellow-coloured covers in response to player demand

Feel is something that all golfers talk about when it comes to golf balls. How would you describe ‘feel’? Feel is an incredibly personal response, and everyone has a different perception and reaction, even when it comes to something as inanimate as a golf ball. Some people purely go on the sound as it comes off the clubface, while others focus on the sensation of the ball through their hands, or the way it performs off the putter. Some golfers don’t have a great sense of feel at all –even on Tour. It is an individual

preference, and it’s not something that’s necessarily going to help you score better. A ball that feels good for the golfer might give them more confidence, that’s all Golf ball fitting is a hot topic at the moment. What is Titleist’s approach to this? Golf ball fitting is not something new at Titleist. We have conducted golf ball fitting in one form or another for decades. What we have done is taken the golf ball fitting model that we developed for our players across the tours, and adapted it into a process which provides amateurs with the ability to evaluate, test, and ultimately choose the ball that best fits his or her game. Titleist’s ball fitting methodology is predicated on the concept of helping golfers lower their scores. We conducted a recent survey and asked golfers what would they rather do, hit the ball five yards farther or take five strokes off their score? The response was a hair shy of being unanimous in favour of lowering scores. So, how do we attempt to achieve this? Teaching pros have long preached what statistics from tournament play confirm: shots into and around the green have the greatest impact on score. In fact, hitting just one more green in regulation equates to almost two strokes off one’s total score in a round. For this reason, Titleist has adopted a green-to-tee approach to golf ball fitting, targeting those aspects of a golfer’s game that will have the biggest impact on the scorecard. So which is the longest Titleist ball? All Titleist golf balls are long. In fact, regardless of swing speed, there is very little distance difference between Titleist’s five ball models (Pro V1, Pro V1x, NXT Tour, NXT Tour S and DT SoLo), no more than 3-4 yards, on average. There is, however, a score-changing difference between models with regards to spin. And spin is the factor that most influences shots into and around the green.

How close are any of the new balls to breaking the rules? When we set about designing the new Velocity ball, I asked our design team to create the fastest ball we’ve ever come up with, which they did. The only problem was that it was too fast, with early prototypes going way past the 155mps currently allowed under USGA and R&A rules, so we had to rein that in to a point when it came in just below. It took four or five goes, but we got there in the end. So how do you make a ball better? When we work on how to make a ball that’s better for, say, Nick Watney, those are the same things that are going to help you and I play better, too. Of course, what’s better is different every time. The change we’re seeking for the next generation of golf balls is coming from what golfers want today. So, better changes. What we call better today might not have been better in 2005. It might have been worse. How far in advance are you working on new designs? Well, I can tell you that we already have next year’s Pro V1 range in the bag, and we have a pretty good idea how the generation after that is shaping up, but the one after that is rather a misty blur on an even murkier horizon. There is so much that can change, whether it be the discovery of new materials, changes in the rules of golf, or things like course design, that to work any further ahead would pretty much be a waste of our time. Let’s talk dimples. Rumour has it that the new Titleist balls are more consistent than ever. How has this been made possible? The entire history of dimple development has been one in which we’ve tried to make the surface of the golf ball more uniform to improve the consistency of aerodynamic

Is yellow the new white? Not exactly, but we do have yellow options in the NXT Tour and DT Solo ranges. Our research showed that some golfers responded better to yellow golf balls, because they can follow them in flight through the air easier and can spot them easier in the grass. We did a lot of research into what made the golf ball more visible, and we discovered that by utilising the invisible ultra violet light that is not seen to the naked eye, we could make the golf ball even more distinctive. So we have a fluorescent mint green coloured core at the centre of the NXT Tour ball which, when you shine light onto it, reflects back and appears brighter. This was achieved by making the cover of the ball slightly translucent, so that the brightness shone through. Might we see a yellow Pro V1 at some point? We have no plans to ever introduce a yellow-coloured Pro V1 for several reasons. Firstly our Tour Staff simply don’t demand a yellow ball. Although many amateur golfers find the yellow ball easier to see in the air and find, these simply aren’t factors that concern a typical Tour professional. Secondly, the urethane technology in the Pro V1 will not allow us to colour it yellow. We would have to change the entire construction and composition of the ball, and that is not something we are willing to compromise on. What single ball-related thing can a club golfer do to lower their scores? Play the same ball, whatever that ball happens to be. Whenever I look into a club golfer’s bag, I usually find at least three – and sometimes a whole lot more – different brands and models of golf ball, all of which have different compressions, different cover materials, different colours – you name it, they’re different. All will react differently to different shots, whether they be tee shots with a driver, delicate chips or long putts. If you want to introduce consistency to your game, and know how a ball will react to certain shots, then you have to play the exact same ball all the time. The all-new NXT Tour, NXT Tour S, Velocity and DT Solo balls are all now available at your nearest pro shop. For more details visit www.titleist.co.uk


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March 2012 / Issue 208

As 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 Nicklausdesigned 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 the EuroPro Tour in recent years. Designed to rival its 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

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Bovey Castle in Devon

Discover the delights of stunning Dartmoor Dartmoor ponies, 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 it also ensures year-round play and no need for temporary greens. 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

CORNISH CREAM

Festival, weekly markets, and its superb range of restaurants and gastro pubs. The Apple Tree Bed & Breakfast, a Grade II Victorian house 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.

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

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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

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

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* 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


March 2012 / Issue 208

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Break out in Bournemouth! Golfers looking to combine their favourite sporting activity with all the offcourse action available in the beachside town of Bournemouth, should take a look at Golfbreaks.com’s range of breaks to the ‘party capital of Dorset’. Two-round, one-night breaks start from as little as £99pp, including bed and breakfast at The Lodge at Meyrick Park and rounds of golf at Meyrick Park and Moors Valley Golf Course. For those looking to play the stunning coastal course at the nearby Isle of Purbeck Golf Club in Swanage, a similar length stay at the Hinton Firs Hotel, including dinner, bed and breakfast, and a second round at Meyrick Park, c

The Isle of Purbeck Golf Club

Awarded 5 Star Gold Award by British Tourist Board

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osts from £149pp. Bournemouth is the perfect destination for a golf tour, with a choice of great hotels, restaurants and bars – and, of course, the beach

– coupled with some of the South’s finest tracks, including the two parkland delights on offer at Broadstone and Parkstone, while the cliff-top challenge on offer at the

Isle of Purbeck’s 27 holes is second to none. For the latest offers and bookings please visit www.golfbreaks.com or call free on 0800 2797988.

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Coffee & Bacon Baguette on arrival Basket of Driving Range Balls l 18 Holes of Championship Golf l Two Course Dinner l Coffee & Mints l l

Teeofftimes launches great golfing giveaway Teeofftimes.co.uk, the UK’s largest tee-time booking service, is launching an incredible April giveaway, with prizes totalling more than £10,000 to be won. To celebrate the launch of the company’s new website – Teeofftimes.co.uk – anybody booking during April will be automatically entered into a daily draw to win anything from holidays to drivers, four-balls to golf balls. During April the revamped site will also be showcasing the very best spring offers, with greatvalue deals available at venues such as Stoke Park, Kingswood and Old Thorns. The changes to the website reflect feedback from a recent survey of more than 65,000 customers that revealed a desire for an even greater choice of venues and tee times. As a result, the new website offers all the great deals at more than 800 clubs across the UK, as well as a much more user-friendly experience for golfers looking to book tee times. For full details of the April offers, visit www.teeofftimes.co.uk from March 30.

Ashbury springs into action

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Oakwood 16th 172 yards, Par 3

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The Ashbury Golf Hotel in Devon is gearing up for a Spring and Summer of fun, with a range of great value packages at the popular Okehampton-based resort. The sizzling deals include a range of credit-crunch busting extras, including free unlimited golf, free buggies, free driving range tokens and a complimentary golfer’s pack – including ball marker, pitch mark repair tool, shoe bag and course planners. Guests will also enjoy free wine with a threecourse dinner on Sundays and Thursdays.

All of Ashbury’s seven superb 18-golf courses will be open for guests to play, while there is plenty of non-golfing entertainment on offer to keep families occupied. The sports complex comprises four huge halls, housing four badminton courts and a 5-a-side football pitch, two halls for archery, pistol and rifle shooting, and laser clay pigeon shooting, while the fourth hall is used as a gym and there is also a table tennis room. A 21m x 7.5m swimming pool can be used free of charge, alongside two saunas

and two spa baths. Ashbury also offers a range of sports massages and beauty treatments. Other sports facilities include a 15-table snooker hall; a bowls hall with three indoor rinks; four lanes of 10-pin bowling; and a kids’ games room with pool, table football, air hockey and four Sony Playstations. Prices start from £229pp for a three-night break in April, rising to £322 during the summer school holidays. Call 01837 52592 for more details or please visit www.manorashbury.co.uk.

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March 2012 / Issue 208

There are dozens and dozens of golf resorts scattered across Europe but La Manga the most famous of them all. Tucked away on the south-east corner of Spain near M on the grand scale and is simply enormous. Matt Nicholson went to visit this sport

Life begins at Forty!

Principe Felipe Hotel

Like many big things, it was created by an American. Something of a visionary, Gregory Peters pioneered the concept of an all-in-one sports resort with golf the headline attraction. That was nearly 40 years ago, when such things simply didn’t exist on this side of the pond. Today, La Manga offers everything a sports fanatic could possibly desire. As well as three quality golf courses, there are more than two dozen tennis courts, squash courts, swimming pools, a spa and fitness centre, eight football pitches, Spain’s only cricket strip, rugby and hockey pitches, bowling greens and more. It’s the perfect place for active people who don’t go on holiday

simply to sit on a beach. (Incidentally, there is a beach, but there are bigger and better ones elsewhere in Spain and so don’t go to La Manga for lazy days lying by the Med.) When you have finished whatever activity takes your fancy, there are numerous bars in which to slake your thirst, and countless restaurants offering a global range of cuisines to build your energy levels back up. The resort really buzzes at night offering all manner of nocturnal delights, and the overwhelming probability is that you will only pass through the entrance gates for a second time when it’s sadly time to leave. As for accommodation, again the range is almost bewildering. Highly recommended is the fabulous five-star

Principe Felipe Hotel. Located right at the heart of the resort, and bang next door to two of the three golf courses, it boasts 200 wonderfully comfortable rooms. As well as shops, bars and a restaurant, it’s home to the famous Piano Bar, which offers great live entertainment and dancing for those still able to move after what is certain to have been an energetic day. There are also one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments available, villas to rent, guestrooms going, and numerous other options. So seduced by the magnificence of the resort, you might want to go further and buy a timeshare or even purchase your own villa. Because La Manga is surrounded by a national park, room for further development after nearly 40 years of

gradual expansion is severely limited, so you will most probably have to choose an existing property rather than build your own. There are 37 separate little communities in the resort and, given the present parlous state of the Spanish property market, there’s no shortage of bargains to be had. At the moment, there are roughly 150 properties up for sale. You can snap up a studio apartment for about £100,000, while there’s a modest nine-bedroom villa going for a tad over £4m. One thing is for sure, there’s plenty of choice. One little collection of pretty villas is called La Quinta, which is where a home counties’ couple called Mr and Mrs Donald bought a timeshare quite a few years ago. Their two young sons,


March 2012 / Issue 208

a is probably Murcia, it’s built ting mecca

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Luke and Christian, liked nothing more than wandering down the hill to play the 18-hole, par 47, pitch and putt course. Little Luke showed immense promise back then, and no-one at La Manga, especially in the golf academy where he took lessons, is the least bit surprised by his subsequent meteoric rise through the rankings all the way to the top. Other famous regulars, some of whom own property in the resort, include Kenny Dalglish, Nigel Mansell, Andy Murray, Gordon Strachan, Selma Hayek, Tim Henman, Andrew Castle and Robbie Williams. And the first-class training facilities attract top European football sides such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Although the tennis courts and football pitches are superb, it’s the golf courses that are the undoubted jewels in the La Manga crown. Apart from the par 47 that Seve Ballesteros designed and Luke Donald brought to its knees many years ago, there are three outstanding championship courses. Certainly the longest, probably the most open and undoubtedly the most renowned of the trio is the South. Originally designed by Robert Putman, it was remodelled by Arnold Palmer 20 years ago and completely refurbished in 2004. It has hosted numerous Spanish Opens (ladies and men’s) as well as a number of other important events including the European Tour Qualifying School last November. The famous Piano Bar

Water comes into play on no fewer than 15 of the holes and there are plenty of strategically-placed bunkers. Although never a slog, the front nine is especially long with a couple of par threes where mortals will hit driver. On a more encouraging note, the wide palm-lined fairways are particularly inviting and fairly forgiving. And don’t forget to use the slope rating to claim a couple of extra shots on top of your usual handicap. While the North is significantly shorter, it demands rather more in the way of precision than its immediate neighbour. It also contains more barrancas, which are natural storm

gullies that, although dry for 99 per cent of the year, nevertheless present a grisly hazard that gobbles golf balls with gusto. The large greens are decidedly tricky, a few are tiered and three-putts are not uncommon. A grandstand finish in front of the hotel presents an opportunity to impress spectators on the terrace and balconies but carries the inherent danger of significant embarrassment if things don’t quite go according to plan. A couple of minutes away from the other two, the West is the newest of the three. Designed by Dave Thomas, it also has the greatest elevation and consequently the best panoramic views of the Mediterranean and surrounding countryside. Despite the height, the course is still eminently walkable. Set amidst pine woodland with barrancas as well as trees to contend with, it’s quite tight at times, especially on the outward nine. A favourite of many despite its reputation as the toughest of the trio, its appeal never diminishes despite its undoubted difficulty. Like the other two, it’s always presented in immaculate condition with the greens exceptionally true.

There is a stunning choice of accommodation on offer, from hotel suites to apartments and villas, all of which are located just yards from the golf courses

For more information and bookings please visit www.lamanga.com or call 0203 3013810.

The greens are always in superb condition at all three of La Manga’s courses


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March 2012 / Issue 208

We’re the golfing holiday experts. MAURITIUS

5* Belle Mare Plage

2 weeks from £1,595 pp incl. 12 nights half board accomm. flights and transfers includes unlimited golf on 2 championship courses

MADEIRA

5* Meliã Madeira Mare 7 nights all-inclusive with unlimited golf (excl. flights) from only £535 pp

CYPRUS 5* Aphrodite Hills Golf & Spa Resort

2012 Mixed Pairs

TOURNAMENT at 5* Heritage Awali Golf & Spa 12 nights all inclusive incl. flights, transfers, 5 competitions, unlimited green fees 23 Sep - 6 Oct 2012 from only £1,985 pp

7 nights half board from £590 pp incl. 4 rounds of golf with buggy excl. flights

SOUTH AFRICA Tailor made holidays by the South African golf specialists GolfHolidaysinSouthAfrica.com

Golfers looking for a fresh challenge for their next golfing holiday to Spain should check out the stunning resort at Lumine Mediterránea Beach & Golf Community, which occupies a stunning spot on the Costa Dorada. The ‘Golden Coast’, as it is known, lies beneath Barcelona, and stretches from the south of the Costa Brava to Tarragona. The region is quite different from its rugged northern neighbour, with endless miles of flat golden sandy beaches. Lumine, which showcased its impressive facilities when hosting last month’s European Fourball Championship, has recently launched its first ever stayand-play package deals, following unique agreement designed to promote the region’s distinctive golf offering. The resort boasts a host of world-class amenities, including three Troon Golf-managed golf courses – two of which are designed by Greg Norman – two clubhouses, and a

Lumine showcases Dorada delights stunning beach club. The exclusive packages, which are ideal for couples, groups or young families, are available from March 23 until June 15. The first package includes one night’s accommodation, two days of unlimited golf, plus dining in the clubhouse post-golf and an evening meal at Lumine’s restaurant for €160 per person. The second option includes two nights’

T. 028 9023 2112 www.chakatravel.com

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accommodation, 3 days unlimited golf, plus food and beverages for €170pp. Located on 170 acres, the golf offering is divided into two 18-hole championship courses and a 9-hole layout. The Norman-designed Lakes Course is an 18-hole linksstyle layout, which features several water hazards that wind around the Sèquia Major wetlands. The Hills Course, Lumine’s second championship course, runs through white pine trees and offers spectacular views of the nearby coastline. Completing the golf offering is the 9-hole Ruins Course, another Norman design, which hi laid out amongst Roman archaeological remains from the second century BC. For more information visit www.lumine.com.

Golf Escapes is delighted to offer some fantastic packages to Morocco. Great value and superb golf courses greet you in this fascinating and beautiful country - if you haven’t played golf in Morocco you’re missing out...

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MAZAGAN BEAch & GOLF rEsOrt: 4 nights - ocean view twin room, B&B, unlimited golf at Mazagan + 1 free round at the Royal Golf El Jadida with transfers included, free airport shuttle service. VALId 30 MArch – 21 JuNE 2012 Mazagan

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For more information please email: info@golf-escapes.com, call: 01342 811777 or visit: www.golf-escapes.com Different durations, additional rounds of golf, room upgrades and single room supplements available on request – please ask for further details. Prices shown are based on an exchange rate of 13 MAD to the Pound. Flights are not included, please enquire for further details.

AMAZING: Only 3 hrs flight time from London | Excellent year round climate | All inclusive packages available


March 2012 / Issue 208

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Me&MyTravels

In association with...

with Anton Du Beke – The Strictly Coming Dancing star is heading to Augusta to watch the US Masters – and is packing a shirt and tie, just in case Which was your best holiday? My mum is Spanish and my father is Hungarian, so when we were young my dad drove us abroad for holidays. The downside was the journey, which could last for two days; on the plus side, we were staying in a foreign country with family. In those days not many people went to Hungary, which made it really exciting. More recently, I spent a couple of summers in Monte Carlo, which was heavenly. And the best hotel you’ve stayed in? The Ritz in London has an oldfashioned charm, with waiters wearing tails and white gloves. The dining room is exquisite, with immaculate service and ornate details. You can’t have dinner unless you’re wearing a shirt, tie and jacket, but that suits me. Monte Carlo

Anton will be a ‘patron’ at next month’s US Masters

What do you need for your perfect holiday? Immaculate service, a wonderful hotel, sun and a fabulous golf course. In contrast, I spent New Year in 2009 in the Arctic Circle, which was remarkable. We stayed in a log cabin and we went dog sledging, ice fishing and skidooing. It was wonderful. What do you always take with you? Books – I like Robert Harris and Dan Brown. A shirt and tie: I’m never knowingly under-dressed.

Your best piece of travel advice? Embrace the culture of the country you are visiting. I hate people who moan about not being able to get a decent cup of tea. If that’s what you’re after, stay at home. How long have you had the golfing bug? I’ve been playing golf as long as I’ve been dancing, since I was 13 or 14. I play off six. I like to get out on a course as often as I can, especially in the middle of the week. It always

seems a bit naughty to be strolling the greens and breathing in all that fresh air on a weekday, but everything else I do is indoors, whether it is working in theatres or in rehearsal studios, and the great thing about golf is you are outside for four hours. I often nip out for 18 holes at Nizels in Kent. It’s a beautiful place to be: countryside, clean air, nice views, a bit of gentle exercise. Perfect! And where do you want to go next? In April, I am going to Georgia to watch the US Masters. I’m looking forward to seeing Tiger Woods in action.

Which was your worst holiday? In the mid-Eighties, I’d go to Blackpool twice a year to compete in the British Championships. I had a bag of 50p pieces to stock up the meter for light. I’d also have to iron my dance shirt and get the television and heater off one socket. There was one shared bathroom. I did everything on the cheap, as I didn’t have any money. What do you avoid on holiday? I don’t think I avoid anything, really, and I never avoid Strictly fans. They always ask, “What was Ann Widdecombe like?” or “Do you choose your own partner?” I love it. If I avoid anything, it’s that I don’t really go to places that are like a little corner of England. For tour dates and bookings for Anton du Beke and Erin Boag’s Let’s Do It Tour, call 020 7025 3750.

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March 2012 / Issue 208

An INN on York Street IRE’S A N O MILLIGOLF

7-DAY SPECIAL FOR ONLY £349 Enjoy 7 nights B&B including 3 rounds of golf for just £349 each + a second consecutive week for just £300 (based on 2 people sharing and assuming rate of £1 to $1.55)

N UNDISEW & C AN IN OVERED LAN MYRT LE BEA D CH

Stay in a historic Southern Plantation, English run B&B Never more than 4 pampered couples Play leisurely golf on fabulously conditioned courses Experience the slow pace and charm of small-town mid America Relax and unwind after golf by the pool by sipping "Mint Juleps" Luxury en-suite rooms with gourmet breakfasts and concierge services Golf booked and arranged to your liking Choice of more than 20 courses within a 35-minute drive Just a 50-minute drive south of Charlotte Airport Check out our guest reviews on www.tripadvisor.co.uk or www.destinationnexus.com

An INN on York Street 164 York Street, Chester, SC 29706 Tel: 001- 803- 581- 8681 E: info@innonyorkstreet.com W: www.innonyorkstreet.com

Budding stars of the future will have the chance to learn exclusive hints and tips and what it takes to become world number one when the Lee Westwood Golf Academy returns to La Manga Club this summer. The European Ryder Cup star launched his first overseas junior golf academy at the five-star Spanish resort last year, and such was its success, the popular training programme is returning for another outing in August. This year’s Lee Westwood Golf Academy will take place at La Manga Club from August 6-10 and 13-17, offering children a dedicated instruction programme covering all aspects of the game with prizes and gifts for all attendees. The clinics, which will run for two hours per day, are open to boys and girls in two different age groups - seven to 11 years and 12-16 years - with five-day academy courses costing €250 for guests staying at the five-star La Manga Club hotel. In addition to the academy, La Manga Club is also hosting a Father & Son Academy and Golf Tournament during the

Westwood Academy returns to La Manga summer half-term holidays. Run by the Lee Westwood Golf Academy’s teams of professionals, and taking place from June 6-8, the event offers both adults and children two days of comprehensive coaching before then putting their skills to the test in an 18-hole competition on La Manga Club’s South Course. Packages for the event start from €330 for teams staying in the resort’s five-

GTOC stands for ‘better value’ golf holidays

Hit the Algarve with Amigos!

Korineum Golf Resort SPECIAL WEEKLY PACKAGES

• 7 nights B&B 6pp • 4 rounds of golf £59 • Return flights with in-flight meals • 20 kg checked luggage and 5 kg hand luggage • Local transfers and representative services • No charge for golf bag • Under 100% ATOL protection

7 night golf break from £596

Golf Amigos has been organising golf holidays and breaks since 1994. From small beginnings, selling holidays in Spain, it has grown steadily to become one of the leading golf tour operators in the UK. As well as offering breaks to Spain, Portugal and Turkey, Golf Amigos provides its clients with top value holidays throughout Europe, including golf breaks in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, as well as many other worldwide destinations. Its current range of holidays includes a great deal at Le Meridien Penina Golf & Resort Hotel in the ever-popular Algarve, where three nights B&B and three rounds on the fabulous Penina courses costs from £179pp from now until May 31. This offer is based on two people sharing a twin room, and includes a free room upgrade to a pool view. A seven-night package on the same terms costs from £415pp. For the latest offers and bookings please call 0845 230 3100 or visit www.golfamigos.co.uk.

ALGARVE SPECIAL Le Meridien Penina Golf Hotel 3, 4 and 5 nights with daily golf

Call our holiday experts on 0203 150 0913 or visit www.CyprusParadise.com/golf

www.KorineumGolf.com

star hotel or four-star Las Lomas apartments, and competitors can enjoy a four-night stay in the hotel for €149 per night. Based on two people sharing a room - with free accommodation for a child aged 12 and under - the price includes breakfast and complimentary use of La Manga Club’s spa facilities, including saunas, steam rooms, indoor pool and gym. For more details visit www. lamangaclub.com

From only

ABTA

The Travel Association Y2916

£179

pp

Golf Amigos Worldwide Golf Holidays www.golfamigos.co.uk. Tel: 0845 230 31000

Seven established golf travel specialists with a shared desire to offer quality holidays at the best possible price, have formed a Golf Tour Operators Consortium (GTOC). They act as a single negotiating body to secure more favourable contracted rates from overseas golf courses and hotels, which are then reflected in their holiday prices. The seven members are Driveline Golf, Exclusive Golf, Golf Escapes, A Golfing Experience, Golf Amigos, Leisure Link and Premier Iberian. According to GTOC spokesman Paul Cowgill, “Even as competitors, we have seen the value in utilising significant buying power to secure deals from hotels and golf courses, allowing us to offer extraordinary value for our customers but still retaining high service levels and independence.” All the companies involved in the consortium are adamant they will not sell cheap golf holidays – believing cheap invariably goes hand in hand with substandard. But they are equally adamant that there is a big difference between a ‘cheap holiday’ and a ‘bargain holiday’. By securing better contracts based on their combined buying power of over €10 million, GTOC members have already obtained discounted hotel and green fee rates from numerous venues in France, Cyprus, Portugal and Spain. These savings are now being reflected in their 2012 holiday prices. For further details visit www.gtoc.co.uk.


We were planning to spend a few hours on the beach this week.

Right now, I just can’t remember why. I like the beach. We all do. And when we were planning this golf trip, we all talked about spending some time hanging out at the beach. After all, South Carolina has some of the nicest beaches in the world. But then we got here and started playing. Now the only sand I’m interested in is the kind I try to avoid. And the beaches, nice as they may be, are going to have to wait.

Wild Dunes Resort Links Course #18, Isle of Palms

SouthCarolinaGolf.co.uk


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