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Do you lay up? Do you hell... Have you got enough balls?

Many have tried, many have even come close but none have managed to tame our famous 10th hole; could you?

For more information and to book: Call 08709 00 00 66 and quote WMG or visit www.TheBelfry.com


2010 has much to look forward to for golf addicts in the UK. The Open returns to the Home of Golf in July and then all roads lead to Celtic Manor early October for an eagerly awaited first Ryder Cup on Welsh soil where the purpose built Twenty-Ten course is likely to provide thrills in abundance and the high drama we’ve come to associate with this great event.

Editor:

Phil Nicholas

Euan Stubbs

Managing Director editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk T: 07772086951

Phillip Nicholas

Managing Editor editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk T: 07929613199

Jane Stubbs

The Golfer Magazine intend to do our utmost to make 2010 memorable too for local golf in our region. Starting with this issue which features amongst other things 6 regional reviews and lots of winter golf offers, some from clubs we’re happy to feature for the first time. It is our number one aim and top New Year resolution this year to get every single club in our 6 counties all involved in this publication one way or another. We wish each and every West Midland’s golfer a year of unbridled success in 2010 and invite as many of you as possible to share some of it with us in what we are sure will be

our highlight of the year. Boosted by the success of our one off tournament last year and the positive feedback we received, we are to be holding a Spring and Summer long West Midlands amateur order of merit series. Fourball teams of any standards can get a taste of touring championship life with us and compete for big prizes at 4 and possibly 5 quality venues across our region. More details are on page 18, those who participate can look forward to a summer of high golfing excitement, and of course plenty of publicity too, not just on these pages but in detail in our dedicated tournament section on our brand new website www. playgolfwm.co.uk So there’s plenty to look forward to in 2010, there will be more ways than ever to get involved with The Golfer Magazine, here and online, thanks for your continued good wishes and feedback and let us know all about your golfing year ahead, i feel its going to be a memorable one. Phil Nicholas

Business Development Director editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk

Ange Cooke

Photographer editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk

Bill Eagles

Competition and Marketing manager editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk

Alexander Baras

Art Director editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk

The Golfer Magazine 16 Bluebell Close Leek Staffordshire ST13 7AW

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January • 2010


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news

CHASE THE ACE During our October travels delivering The Golfer Magazine to club shops all over the region and chatting whilst we did to the pros and members, it was mentioned a few times that they wouldn’t mind having a regular column devoted to the ultimate single shot achievement in golf, the magical hole-in-one . We also heard about two rather unique and related tales that certainly deserve publicity. So here is our introduction piece to a regular feature that will pay tribute to

all West Midlands Golfers who run up a huge bar bill at the end of their rounds....... for the best possible reason. Any one getting a holein-one from now on and can get it verified by the club pro, please let us know and we’ll list them in “Chase the Ace” each issue, and should something happen to you or your club similar to the two events below we certainly do want to hear all about it.

WHITEFIELDS GOLF CLUB This hotel run establishment had a rash of aces within a week in November, the 10th hole (not very aptly at the time) named “Muddler” had two within 30 minutes one day as first, Joe Mcgee then fellow member Chris Shaw walked off the green with 1 written on their scorecard. Must have been a good day to be sitting having a drink in the clubs attractive “Fairways” bar. One week later though that double achievement was bettered still as Pete Mcintosh holed in one at the Par 4 15th hole. The hole named “ Temptation “ is 257 yards in length and surrounded by water, Pete’s ace and albatross rolled into one, to the best knowledge of club staff at Whitefields has never been achieved before.

WHARTON PARK Kevin Booth, a one-handicapper from Wharton Park GC had previously holed in one twice in his career by the time he reached the 8th hole “ Fieldfare “ in a Saturday club competition in October. A blind target, Kevin knew nothing, only that he’d struck a good shot until two guys on the nearby 6th raised their hands in celebration of his feat. Nothing unusual in that, however Kevin wasn’t finished yet. Exactly one week later,again on a Saturday morning, again with a 9 iron and with the very same ball, he struck another fine blow, this time there were no witnesses and no ball either on the green, when he walked up to find it nestling in the hole just as the previous week. Kevin, who got away with buying the

Whiskies in the bar the first week as it was in the Club Competition wasn’t so lucky the second time around, his double hole in one ball now takes pride of place on his mantelpiece at home.

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Stoneleigh Deer Park Golf Club based near Coventry had a major reason for celebration at the end of 2009 as their five man team clinched victory in the final of The Mail on Sunday Classic at El Rompido in Andalucia, Spain on Saturday 28th November 2009, with a win over Moor Park Golf Club (3 1/2 to 1 1/2). At the beginning of the 2009 season there were over 3,000 teams nationally taking part, all playing for the Winner’s Trophy and a chance of playing the Finals in Spain. Stoneleigh’s team played their way through the rounds, these were initially local, regional, national and then onto the Quarter Finals in September. It was their win over Lymm GC at Worsley Park GC in Manchester that clinched the coveted place in Spain for the November Semis & Final. The team was made up of brothers Mark & Steve Woolerton, Neville Gardner, Shaun Young and youngster Will Smith who had the honour of holing the winning putt on the 18th green. The team are all pictured below with mascot and caddie John Reay along with non-playing captain Ron Edmondson, who was understandably a proud man at the finish. “It is such an accolade and tremendous achievement for Stoneleigh Deer Park Golf Club to become the Champions of The Mail on Sunday National Golf Classic 2009. It is not just a win for the team but a win for the Members and Golf Club too! The lads were really magnificent. This is a real milestone for Stoneleigh - I am still having to pinch myself to realise that we have actually pulled it off!!” Ron would like to thank John & Cherry Reay and Avon Timber for their sponsorship of the team, also their Mascot & Caddy, Johnny Reay (Junior Captain) and to the Caddies (Ken Wykes - Club Captain, John Lewis, Kevin Ariss and Harry Smith) & all the supporters who travelled to Spain to cheer them on to the tremendous win. Thanks also to Chris Dougill, Andy Richter & Ron himself, who played their part early on in the preceding rounds.

THE EDITOR Now i’m no self publicist, far from it but my esteemed colleagues and dear friends thought it would be amiss of us to produce a hole-in-one column and not mention that i, the editor and modest at best golfer managed the ultimate feat at the 3rd hole at The Nicklaus Course at Carden Park last summer. Slightly lucky as the ball pitched by the side of a friendly bank

Congratulations to the Champions!!!

that rolled it sideways into the cup but i’ll take it and am more than happy to join The Golfer Magazines exclusive hole-in-one club. Feel free to get in touch with us here at editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk about your hole in one achievements

January • 2010


NEWS

Survival hopes rise for Birmingham’s golf courses More than 60 organisations, including hotel, pub and leisure companies have registered their official interest in running Birmingham’s cash-strapped municipal golf courses. The applications have flooded in after the city council announced it was looking for partners to rejuvenate its seven financiallybelow-par courses and help them turn a profit after making massive £600,000 losses last year. Already the city’s leisure chief Martin Mullaney has decided to close the most costly course, Hilltop in Handsworth, from April after it reported losses of £239,000. But the remaining six – Boldmere, Pype Hayes, Cocksmoors Woods, Lickey Hills, Harborne and Hatchford Brook – could come under new management with improved club houses and hospitality facilities if the city can strike the right deal. Mullaney’s vision includes club houses, run by private partners, providing pub, restaurant, hotel, conference and even civil wedding services. The city is also looking at reinstating pitch and putt courses and introducing adventure golf in parks to lure more youngsters and families into the sport. Coun Mullaney said: “The market testing exercise has been extremely encouraging and we’ve already had over 65 registrations of interest. “Officers have met with a number of groups and individuals to discuss a number of possible initiatives – including pitch and putt at Stechford Hall Park. “Pitch and putt would certainly plug a gap in the golf service. At the moment we have a very good schools programme, and then we have the municipal courses. Pitch and putt would provide a step up for newcomers to the sport. “The market testing is looking at what is best for the golf service as a whole, rather than a series of isolated cases, and so far it has been a worthwhile exercise.” A report into Stechford Hall concluded that the course, which was among five pitch and putt facilities closed in the mid-1990s, has been kept in good condition and could be relatively easily reinstated should funds become available. Council leisure scrutiny chairman Coun John Alden (Cons, Harborne) believes that the closures of pitch and putt has stopped youngsters, particularly those from inner-city areas, taking up golf. “We are paying the price for that decision now, with fewer youngsters taking up golf we have fewer players graduating to the 18-hole courses,” he said. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

THE GOLF MARK AWARDS 2010

Golf Mark is a national scheme that identifies and recognises junior and beginner friendly golf facilities. Any golf club affiliated to the EGU/EGWU may apply to gain the Golf Mark Award and the vast majority who have joined have seen major benefits for their clubs. Each year a member club from each county is nominated for the National GolfMark Club of the year award. A selection panel from the EGU will choose the winning club and at Woodhall Spa in February we hope that one of these nominated West Midlands establishments can walk off with the prize.

Warwickshire - Olton GC

A busy and competitive junior schedule is looked after by three junior organisers led by Terry Smith.

Worcestershire - Gaudet Luce GC

An award winning junior golf academy and attractive starter packages for new to the game golfers.

Shropshire/Hereford - Oswestry GC

Have been involved in Golf Mark for a number of years now, credit for the nomination goes to ex-secretary Peter Turner and Junior organiser Judith Dornell.

Staffordshire - Aston Wood GC

A real team effort that’s created a steadily growing junior section, plus a commitment to providing facilities for disabled children.

WINTER WONDERLAND Ex-Ryder Cup star and European Tour player Peter Baker the long time director of Golf at The South Staffordshire club near Wolverhampton has now took on the Head Professionals role at the club and given its pro shop a considerable makeover. Its now a Ping custom fit centre and boasts a new state of the art swing studio with video analysis and a Tomi putting system that can pick out even the tiniest flaw in your putting

We Want Your News!

stroke. The equipment now exists at South Staffs that will make rained off lessons a thing of the past and when Baker is busy on European Tour duty his assistants, head teaching pro Shaun Ball, Midlands Tour regular Steve Carter and young assistant and soon to become pro Andy Ellis are all able to step into the breach. The shop now also stocks new clothing ranges from the likes of Calvin Green and Greg Norman.

The Golfer magazine for the West Midlands is after your clubs news, whether it be a new club champion or an exciting new development we want all clubs to view these pages as the perfect way of getting some coverage. Also we will be promoting club competitions for our March issue so if you wish to list your clubs calender then email us at editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk and join the only dedicated news section for golf in the West Midlands.

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Midland golf pros raise more than £160,000 for charity Midland professionals raised more than £160,000 for good causes in 2009, demonstrating the fund-raising power of the pro am. The huge amounts of cash raised for charities throughout the region is especially pleasing considering the current economic crisis that has swept through golf just as much as any other industry. Jon Sewell, PGA Midland Regional Secretary, said: “It just goes to show that, despite the tough climate in which the Midland Pros have had to operate, they are still able to generate fantastic sums for many, many good local causes.” While significant amounts have come from some of the bigger events - such as £40,000 from the British Par 3 Championships - every pro am in the region has contributed to make 2009 a bumper year for all the beneficiaries. Significant events last year included the Northamptonshire County Pro Am which raised a magnificent £14,000 in the club’s centenary year. And Rob Macey, Director of Golf at Ramsdale Park, raised more than £16,000 through his marathon four rounds of golf in a single day! 2009’s Midland region captain, Finlay Clark also had an event to remember as his captain’s day at Blackwell Golf Club raised a huge £10,000 for a breast cancer charity thanks mainly to a highly successful post round auction. That Clark’s successful day at Blackwell raised five times its expected amount is down to the efforts to which he went in securing auction items including sports memorabilia from Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and new Formula One World Champion Jenson Button. His father Iain had raised a lot of money during his latter years as head pro at Hagley Golf Club and Finlay expects brother Cameron, the pro at Moor Hall, to take up the challenge next year when he assumes the region’s captaincy in March. Northants County’s golf day netted £14,000 as pros and amateurs turned out in force to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Northamptonshire Guide Dogs for the Blind benefited to the tune of £5,000 with Childline (£2,000), Northamptonshire & Warwickshire Air Ambulance (£2,500), Greenfields Special School and Sports College (£1,000) and Northamptonshire Junior Golf (£1,500) among the other beneficiaries. Another prolific fundraiser in the Midlands is trick-shot expert David Edwards. The pro from Forest Pines Hotel and Golf Resort recently received a special award from children’s charity When You Wish Upon a Star in recognition of his efforts in raising more than £25,000 over the past ten years. Presented with a commemorative “star”, Edwards who is famous not only for his mastery of the trick shot but also his comic commentary was, for once, completely stuck for words.

8

TOURNAMENT NEWS The Titleist sponsored PGA Midlands Winter series took shape by the end of 2009, the three Pro-Ams have so far produced three different winners in close contests all played out in typical Autumn and Winter conditions.

FOREST PINES PRO-AM OCT 28TH

Joint winners at the first event in Lincolnshire as a pair of 69’s from home pro Daniel Greenwood and Darren Prosser from Halfpenny Green proved to be just enough for a one shot shared victory over the chasing pack.

FOREST OF ARDEN PRO-AM NOV 24TH

In tough conditions at the famous Arden course only two players broke par, Chesterfield pro George Woolgar who shot a 70, finishing runner up to Walton’s Adrian Ambler whose 69 took the honours.

LITTLE ASTON PRO-AM DEC 8TH

More familiar Midlands names appeared at the top of the leaderboard at Little Aston, and some low scoring too as new Walmley GC’s Director of Golf Matt Morris shot a 67 to pip Moor Hall’s Cameron Clark by one shot. Victory propelled Morris to the top of the Winter Order of Merit table as it nears the halfway stage.

Order of Merit

There are still places available for teams of three amateurs to join the pros at any of the remaining events in the series. Contact Mids PGA secretary Jon Sewell on 01455 824393 for details on the following events: Tuesday 26th January

The Belfry (Brabazon )

Tuesday 9th February

The Belfry (PGA National)

Monday 24th March

Forest of Arden

Tuesday 6th April

Forest Pines

JANUARY • 2010


BLOXWICH

2010 - The Season Ahead We asked some of the Midlands Tour’s leading lights about their ambitions for the 2010 season and also to let us know well in advance about whom they think will be the up and coming young stars on tour this year to keep an eye out for

Craig Shave

Paul Wesselingh “I am looking forward to defending my Order of Merit title this year as well as taking part in the PGA Championship at Wentworth which I can’t wait for. Hopefully I can continue to improve and be ready for tour school in September which is the ultimate aim.” Craig’s one to watch: Matt Whelband (Charnwood Golf Centre - Loughborough)

“I’ll be working hard on and off the course to maintain my 2009 form and try to keep my position in the Top Three in the Order of Merit. The Club Pro Championships are also important this year for a chance to qualify for the PGA Cup team to take on America in 2011.” Paul’s tip for the top: Thomas Rastall (Sleaford GC)

Matt Morris

Lee Clarke “After a mixed 2009 season I’ll be looking to play in all the ranking events in order to have the best chance of winning another Midlands Order of Merit. I expect it to be a very busy season with Pro-Ams and some British Club Pro events.“ Matt’s New Kid on the Block: His assistant pro Joe Smoothy (Walmley GC)

“I’m setting myself some stiff targets for 2010. I feel my game is ready for a step up towards the big time and I hope to climb further up the Order of Merit table as well as competing in a few EuroPro tour events.” Lee’s young pretender for 2010: Richard Tagg (Sherwood Forest GC)

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

9


Corporate

Class

And the ultimate championship challenge CORPORATE GOLF

CORPORATE GOLF

MEMBERSHIP

MEMBERSHIP

7 DAY

Marriott Forest of Arden Corporate Golf 7 day Membership entitles the holder to the following: • 12 months membership running from 1st March to 28th February • This membership will permit one complimentary fourball per day Monday to Sunday, to play at the Forest of Arden only • The fourball may be taken on either the Arden or Aylesford course • Reciprocal rights at other Marriott Country Clubs (excluding Hanbury Manor & Druids Glen) for one person. Up to 3 others may be introduced at the appropriate Members Guest Rate • Bookings may be made up to 28 days in advance and will be subject to availability. Normal membership terms and conditions apply

WEEKDAY

Marriott Forest of Arden Corporate Golf Weekday Membership entitles the holder to the following: • 12 months membership running from 1st March to 28th February • One complimentary fourball per day Monday to Friday, to play at the Forest of Arden only • The fourball may be taken on either the Arden or Aylesford Course • Full use of all leisure facilities for the fourball on the day of play. • Reciprocal rights at other Marriott Country Clubs (excluding Hanbury Manor & Druids Glen) for one person. Up to 3 others may be introduced at the appropriate Members Guest rate • Bookings may be made up to 28 days in advance and will be subject to availability. • Normal membership terms and conditions apply

• 20% discount in the Zest Restaurant & Bar

• 20% discount in the Zest Restaurant & Bar

• 10% off Corporate Golf Event Rates

• 10% off Corporate Golf event rates

Annual fee: £8250 + VAT

Annual fee: £5500 + VAT

Enrolment fee: £750 + VAT

Enrolment fee: £750 + VAT

14

Please contact the membership team on 01676 526 107 for further details

For Societies As a society venue Forest of Arden is more than capable of hosting many events of different sizes , it has rooms and suites for the smallest or largest groups plus in the summer a marquee area with its own barbecue by the side of the 9th hole on the Arden Course. For that private occasion though look no further than the Hotel’s brand new dedicated society room on the first floor, private bar and dining room, plenty of room for up to 100 golfers and its own balcony looking out onto the superb 18th green. Contact 01676 522335 for details on 2010 society packages

JANUARY • 2010


FOREST OF ARDEN The Marriott Forest of Arden resort is one of the West Midlands very finest golfing and leisure hotspots. Set in a parkland location at Meriden in close proximity to the motorway networks. Families of wild deer roam the estate and the fairways of its 36 holes of quality golf. The 4 star hotel has recently undergone a £5million refit, a modernisation programme Marriott felt was vital to maintain and strengthen Forest of Arden’s position at the top table of our regions locations. Just the place then to kick off our West Midlands review coverage for 2010. In a two issue New Year special, the March magazine will focus on the Aylesford course, the hotels leisure facilities and will include a competition for a stay at the resort. In these pages we look at the corporate and society side and review the layout for which Forest of Arden is famous, the Championship Arden Course.

Arden Course The Arden Course has hosted many a European tour event. Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie have been among the winners of the English Opens and British Masters held here. Designed by Donald Steel in 1970 the layout makes use of the natural landscape, mature woodland and trees especially the ancient oaks that feature on the back nine give it a much older look. The enjoyable front nine is purely parkland, with water hazards featuring on seven holes, holes 3 and 6 share a large green and the short 8th presents a daunting tee shot over the lake often in a swirling wind. The same could be said for the 9th hole too, a fair bit of lake to carry from the tee, then a narrow corridor of a fairway is all you get for a safe spot between rows of trees, from the back tees it presents as stiff a challenge as its possible to find. Most golfers, ourselves included, will find the closing half the truly memorable stretch. The course opens out to a classically English country park setting, those mature trees stand imposingly at the side of fairways often lined with bracken and fern. It’s very rare too that you’ll ever anywhere come across as many four legged spectators during a round of golf. The back nine is notable nature wise for the groups of fairly tame deer that wander around oblivious to the dangers of a stray golf ball or two. It is another reason for straight hitting, they tend to hang out in the rough and longer grass and add unique charm to The Arden Course. Holes of note include the Par 5’s at 12 and 17 which share the same lake around the green. Both too have deep bunkers guarding the safe side of the putting surface, a real risk and reward element for those going for it in two. Then finally there’s a signature hole 18th that has won and lost many a tournament on the European Tour, this iconic and famous long Par 3 draws comparisons with another closing hole at The Brabazon, only a few miles up the road. This one is 211 yards from the championship tees and with a water filled ravine stretching almost all the way to the green plus a wide open aspect to attract swirling breezes this is an intimidating tee shot. A little easier it has to be said from the yellows, shorter and set more to the side, nevertheless finding the dance floor from your first shot feels very special. The Arden is a high quality course set in fine surroundings with challenges galore, championship standard golf that doesn’t disappoint and will demand you produce your finest golf in order to succeed. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

11


The Futures Bright

lauren and charlotte taylor If we listed here all of the achievements of Lauren and Charlotte Taylor from Rugby Golf Club there wouldn’t be a great deal of room for much else in this issues the future’s bright, a statement tailor made for these golfing sisters making big strides in junior ladies golf. Lauren Taylor is 15 and plays off a handicap of plus 2.4, she now plays at Woburn Abbey too and is coached by The Belfry’s Alistair Davies. Amongst many highlights in her career so far was a 9th place finish in the English Amateur Ladies Open this year when she was one of the youngest ever qualifiers in the tournaments history. Lauren almost went one better when she secured a reserve spot for the British Open after final qualifying in August. Had someone dropped out she would have been the youngest ever competitor in the tournament, yet a few days getting used to the crowds and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie was valuable experience. Lauren has represented England on many occasions and has recently been selected as a sports ambassador leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Her ambitions include another crack at The Open next year and a place in the Curtis Cup before taking on the world of professional ladies golf.

Charlotte Taylor is 13 years old and already playing off a handicap of 5, coached also at The Belfry by Chris Ryan she recently finished 4th in the English Girls U13 championships and was the Junior Warwickshire County Champion in 2008. Charlotte is a member of the English Women’s Golf Associations Super Birdie Squads and aims to continue her progress through the age groups for her country and also become a scratch handicapper this year. If you measured Charlotte’s golfing development in comparison with Lauren’s at the same age there’s not a lot to choose between the talents of the Taylor sisters from Rugby Golf Club, we look forward to following their progress in the months and years to come in future issues. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

13


ASTON WOOD

The Aston

Express W

hen you’re a reasonably new course, situated in an area where well established and world renowned golfing establishments sit in abundance just a few short miles away, it doesn’t look easy on paper to make a mark and be a success in an area where your neighbours include Little Aston, Sutton Coldfield and only slightly further afield The Belfry and Forest of Arden. Golfers are spoilt for choice in this busy part of our region, yet with some hard work and dedication, a friendly environment, a vibrant social scene, plus a rapidly maturing course, Aston Wood is proving to be a popular new venue and a success story in tough times.

and reward poser over just how much width of yet another lake you dare to take on from the tee. The closing stretch is now a fair old test, a fitting climax to an impressive layout that is always improving. The USPGA standard greens are large, fairly undulating and a real joy to putt on, in true American style many also only have a narrow collar for an entrance, with some fairly thick stuff either side, and neat but deadly sand traps in addition, accuracy on approach shots is vital. New buggy paths and winter tees have been constructed lately, the management and green keeping staff work hard to defeat the seasonal scourge of soggy ground, even harder to achieve at Aston Wood with its clay base and flat ground. These days though it’s a rare occurrence for play to be called off here. With a busy and friendly bar area, a good sized function suite for all occasions and a huge marquee area with room for up to 400 guests, the social scene plays a major part in life at this club. Quiz nights, tribute bands, weddings, dinner dances, the list is endless and all together it forms a major reason in keeping membership healthy and visitors coming through the door. It’s a popular venue for many West Midlands societies too, the exciting course, varied packages and good value for money prove hard to resist. With a busy Junior section that has recently achieved Golf Mark status, the all round appeal of Aston Wood has to be admired, a forward thinking golfing establishment and a true Midlands rising star.

The course was designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark in 1994 and is very much inland links in appearance. It starts very much as it means to go on with a true gem of an opening hole. Many courses start modestly and allow you some early forgiveness, here you’re straight into quite a challenge all the way along this Par 4, culminating in an approach shot across the brook to test golfers of all standards. The varied water hazards are the stand out feature at Aston Wood, picturesque brooks and lakes present a significant challenge on many holes as well as adding a risk and reward element. The water plays a large part in Aston Woods’s signature hole. The 17th has two lakes either side of a daunting approach to a bunker clad green on this 382 yards par 4. It also has the unique feature of having one bunker that leads directly into the water hazard. A long Par 5 18th follows with a risk

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

14


COMPETITION We have teamed up with The Belfry to offer you the chance to become our golfing Guinea Pigs for 2010. The fabulous prize will be for 2 men and 2 ladies to win either 6 custom fit sessions or 6 lessons. We will assess your game and at the end of the year we will be putting you to the ultimate test on none other than The Brabazon itself to see who has improved the most!

Custom vs Tuition Fit To enter this competition all you need to do is email us at editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk and explain in 40 words why you should have the chance to win this fantastic prize.

Closing date for entries, 10th February

22

APRIL-MAY • 2009


GET CARTER

GET CARTER Midlands Tour regular Steve Carter will be regularly writing a column each issue all about the tour from the pro’s point of view, this issue, the winter season.....before the big freeze set in. Midland Region Pro-am at Parque Da Floresta 15 - 19th November. With the winter blues starting to set in we had the chance to escape for a bit of golf in the sunny Algarve. We played a 54 hole Pro-am which was keenly contested. Thanks to a little local knowledge on my team we managed to win the team contest, Paul Wesselingh (Kedleston Park G.C) shot an amazing 7 under par to win the Pro event. These events are open to all club golfers so if tournament golf in the sun sounds attractive then ask your local Professional or speak to the Midland PGA office about next years events.

GET IT UP! Carters BIG tip for the winter to all club golfers - Throughout all of my golf in various Pro-am or alliance golf I have had great fun with all the amateur golfers, but one thing that I keep noticing is that they all seem to come up short with approach shots. So get your yardage right from the fairway marker and my challenge to all golfers is try to take a club that will enable you to fly the ball all the way to the flag stick. Don’t take a club that you think will land and run up the green. It WON’T run this time of the year. So next time you play imagine that thought. It will improve your winter scores. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

It has been a very busy time of late with most clubs hosting various winter alliances or Xmas Pro-ams, these events are great for me and other Professionals as it keeps us competitive through the winter months.

South Staffordshire Yule-tide Pro-am - Monday 30th November we held our annual pre Xmas Pro-am, this year with three Ryder Cup players present. Peter Baker, David Gilford and Paul Broadhurst led a strong field of professionals on a day that made me wish I’d stayed in Portugal. It was like playing in the North Pole, however as always the course was presented very well and despite all of the big names it was Wess again who came out on top with an excellent 69 (-2). Local knowledge definitely paid off however as our course manager Rhys Thomas led home the winning team with a score of 84 points.

Professional scores: Paul Wesselingh (Kedleston Park)

38 points

Peter Baker (South staffs)

37 points

Phil Hinton (Chesterton Valley)

37 points

Our Xmas Pro-am at Druids Heath GC was very well supported as always, with well over 25 teams taking part. This event marks the start of Christmas for me and fellow pros. A lovely dry December day brought with it some good golf, luckily mine was good enough to take the winners cheque. The course was in excellent condition and the turkey dinner was top notch. Professional scores: Steve Carter (South staffs)

40 points

Danny Taylor (Swingers)

37 points

Greg Rogula (Leek Westwood)

37 points

16


SOUTH STAFFS

Winter Wonderland F

or a trip to a highly regarded Midlands location offering good winter playing conditions at a surprisingly reasonable price, The South Staffordshire Club situated at Tettenhall just outside Wolverhampton could well prove to be the ideal seasonal ticket.

It’s unlikely in summary that you’ll come across a course where the distinct lack of water hazards is so unnoticeable. The layout remains of original and timeless character and stands the test of time for a permanently stiff challenge enjoyable from start to finish.

This gently rolling parkland treat has the look of a classic English country park about it. British design luminaries Vardon, Braid, Colt and Steel have all had hands in creating a tree lined mature layout that tries and tests golfers of all standards. Three particular skills will come under scrutiny at South Staffordshire. You’ll need an on form driver as in addition to the Par 5s there are six holes over 400 yards long. Should you veer from centre on these tight fairways the ability to play low punch shots under the branches of the trees will be a useful asset. A good touch around the greens will be vital too as even a slightly mishit or over hit approach could find a tricky spot to the side of contoured putting surfaces where the run off areas can be severe and punishing. So you’ll need to be on top of your game to score well, being the host course for many prestigious Midlands tournaments guarantees a high degree of difficulty but also a layout permanently in fine condition with stand out holes around every corner. South Staffordshire possesses one of the strongest opening holes in the region, a long sweeping dog leg par 5 where only total early tee shot precision will bring success. A stunning tree surrounded short 6th, with no room for waywardness and where your chipping may have to get you out of a tight spot. Then there’s the 17th, shorter in length for this Par 4 but the fairway narrows and even a slightly offline or mishit approach could leave you in three putt territory on a very slippery green. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

A large and traditional clubhouse has a warm welcome guaranteed and its size makes it an ideal society venue with a good variety of group packages. The practice putting green in front of the clubhouse patio is one of our favourites. Excellent visitor offers are currently available for winter tee times, no golf course around has a look suited to one of those crisp, sunny winters mornings quite like South Staffordshire.

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STOURBRIDGE

Sweet & Stour Situated in an ideal spot close enough to the Black Country’s urban sprawl for good transport links, yet in an equal measure far enough away to give it a peaceful countryside profile, Stourbridge Golf Club is a long established members club, formed in 1892. Steeped in history, (the honours boards are long in the club room), a hard working committee and green keeping staff ensure a warm welcome with a stiff golfing examination guaranteed. The courses maximum length is a mere 6,231 yards, no reason though for false impressions of an easy ride, tight tree lined fairways, some penal rough and well placed bunkering create a challenge where good positioning is key and you risk straying offline at your peril. In the main it’s a pure parkland challenge yet there are a few attractive heathland areas too for added appeal. There are 5 par 3s to give you a chance to keep the scoring on the low side, the woodland skirts close by in general though, targets are narrow and only the green will suffice on holes such as the 203yd 10th if you are

to stay out of bogey territory. A good looking hole yet surrounded by bushes and trees and large greenside sand traps accuracy is paramount. The short holes all present tricky tests that may define your whole round and encapsulate what Stourbridge is all about. Other highlights include an attractive tree and sand surrounded par 4 signature hole 2nd, a dog leg 13th with a steep bank in front of its large green that plays much longer than its 393 yards. The 14th, a shorter challenge has a really appealing tee shot view for a good old rip with the driver. The back nine has a lot less yardage than the front but evens that out with much more in the way of undulations and raised greens. The course is currently in fine condition, winter playability is excellent, its sandy base ensuring fine drainage and no need for winter greens, the putting surfaces are true running and even paced throughout with some subtle borrows that may lead to some head scratching.

ich can easily large club room wh after round , spike bar and the for ms ion roo sit r po ke pro loc e d rnise ridge an attractiv rb ing the ou ck St The recently mode bu ke y ntl ma rre all large society working club is cu rd ha round lar all pu accommodate a po ive s ss thi iors to its impre all its no surprise victim and especially jun len relaxation. All in ers fal s mb ha me b w clu ne ur attracting s winter if yo credit crunch by cover for new thi ist. sort of place to dis prove hard to res y ma s arm ch set up. Just the ’s ub Cl lf Go ge rid Stourb to the elements, THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

19


Home on the Range A

hh, the local driving range, your regular venue for trying out that new 3 wood before the match at the weekend, the place to iron out those faults that have crept in to your game. A no pressure booth all of your very own to whack away to your hearts content and perform the sort of John Daly-esque swing you wouldn’t risk at the Sunday Medal. Many of us use them, just how many though feel the benefits of a good range session at the golf club where it really matters? Our feature highlights some of the best driving ranges and associated practice facilities from all over our region. Yes the fields may get a little boggy sometimes, the balls ain’t always the best, those rubber tees are often too long or short for your drivers and there’s not a lot of protection from the wind on a cold winters night, but.....with just a little bit more concentration, discipline and a proper practice routine your valuable local driving range may just be the very place to tune up your game this winter ready for another spring time assault on the fairways of The West Midlands and beyond. Our team of pros, one from each of our featured ranges give tips and advice below on just how to make the most of that bucket of balls and find a routine that will help make your trips to your often criminally under used practice facility a vital weapon in your quest to lower that handicap this coming season and make you feel truly............. home on the range.

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DEBBIE DAY (TWYFORD) Challenge yourself to make your range time more rewarding Play a “pretend” round of golf, start off with a drive down a “make believe” fairway that you have picked out for yourself between say two targets. If you hit a good tee shot decide on what the next shot would be and play it e.g. a 7 iron to a target that would match the distance you would normally hit your 7 iron. If you hit a good shot, assume you will 2 putt and then play another tee shot. If you play a less than good shot pretend you have to play a chip or pitch shot to get you either back into position or to get the ball on the green. Set a realistic target before starting and keep note of your score, this way you will be better able to apply what you practice to the real situation on the course when you next go to play.

NOVEMBER • 2009


RANGE TIPS PAUL JENKINS (SWINGERS) Common problems we encounter from lessons is that players cannot take their game from range to course. Some brief tips on how to avoid this.......... Avoid scraping... scraping is just hitting one ball after another until they are all gone Create a pre-shot routine... All top golfers have a precise pre-shot routine Visualise each shot... Even at the range visualise what you want to hit Imagination... Try imagining you are playing the first few holes at your home club, so you get a realistic feel for different shots.

CARL ROBERTS (BELMONT) Try to resist the temptation of unleashing the driver as soon as you arrive at the range, this time of the year injuries, especially pulled muscles are more frequent. Important I feel therefore to start off with your wedges with half and three quarter swings enabling you to not just get the right contact but loosen up correctly too before taking on some of the longer targets.

FRASER LEEK (COPCUT) To maximise your time at the range, each club needs equal attention, have a plan of action before you start, begin with gentle wedges to the shortest targets and work your way up. Avoid getting stuck in a rut too. A common issue I find is that many golfers tend to stick with the same club thats causing them problems at the range. If you’ve discovered a slice with your 7 iron for instance, put it down and try something else, chances are you’ll come back to it later and it’ll be straight and true again, use your head and vary the clubs to give yourselves the best chance for improvement.

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

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M

ost of our towns and cities in the West Midlands have a Cannock Park type of golf course. Often hidden away from the golfing public eye without the benefits of the publicity their more illustrious neighbours command, the council run municipal courses nevertheless play a vital part in many a golfer’s career. They can be an ideal starter venue, an excellent weekend option when other clubs are too busy or too pricey, somewhere just to have a knock and maybe just to iron a few faults out. No frills maybe at the council run pay and play, but not a lot of pressure either.

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Cannock Park’s course is right by the side of the leisure centre in the town and as an example of a municipal track it’s not half bad. It is not a particularly long challenge, at only just over 5,000 yards you could easily give the driver a day off, yet it’s far from straight forward with twists and turns, some two-tiered greens, and ditches or streams featuring on half of the holes. Cannock Park is well kept too, the ground staff do a good job of maintaining the greens in good condition, despite evidence of the preparation of winter greens when we visited, the summer

putting surfaces were still in use after a fortnight of heavy rain. There is a lack of thick rough at the course, which isn’t necessarily an invitation to blast away, Cannock Park’s more subtle defences ask questions of your control and club selection at times. After an opening tree lined dog leg challenge with an imposing oak slap bang in the middle of the fairway to negotiate on approach, the course opens out to expansive parkland. After a long Par 3 sixth the next three holes skirt the edge of The Chase and Shoal Hill Common, look out for the sloping green at the 9th. JANUARY • 2010


CANNOCK PARK

in the

PARK

The challenges grow on the back nine and especially towards the end of the round, The 13th is a steep dog leg par 4, downhill all the way and may tempt long hitters to cut the corner and go for the green in one in good conditions. Fifteen has to be stroke index one though, two streams to negotiate which make club selection vital, one to deter long hitters from the tee and the other running in front of the green, there’s a few trees about too making it a tricky positional test. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

The 17th either plays as a long 3 or a short 4 with another threat of a watery grave and you finish with the shortest hole on the course albeit with the smallest target too, the 18th leaves hardly any margin for error, you’ll need a precise iron to walk off Cannock Park in a good mood. There’s quite a lot to admire out there, it’s a good examination of your golf game as well as being an excellent venue for an initial foray into golf. Some things many of us take for granted are a little lacking, first timers here aiming to shoot well are advised to purchase

a yardage book from the pro before tee off and the 19th hole facilities are mostly to be found inside the leisure centre. On the flip side though it’s enormously friendly, green fees and memberships are low and it certainly doesn’t live up to a lot of people’s pre-conceptions about municipal courses and their playability. Could be just the place to kick off your 2010 golfing journey, courses like Cannock Park will form an integral part of our schedule this year, the council pay and plays perform an important role in the development of the game in the West Midlands, without them, many of us wouldn’t be the golfers we are today.

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H

MOSELEY

idden away right in the Southern Heart of Birmingham City Centre is a club reputed to be one of West Midlands best kept secrets. Despite its close proximity to the motorway networks, Moseley Golf Club’s location probably doesn’t look on the map like an attractive proposition yet it takes very little time once you’re there to realise it is a worthwhile journey of discovery. The attractive modernised clubhouse sits around a well maintained challenging parkland layout that for 4 hours is so tranquil and scenic you tend to forget its right in the middle of England’s second city. Playability wise it is quite an examination with tight tree and bush lined fairways, uphill targets for greens with not much margin for error, and lots of bunkers. The 80+ sand traps threaten throughout and place a high emphasis on accuracy and the right club selection. Even the very first hole which at the low side of 300 yards will encourage the very long hitters intent on an early glory bid has a target almost entirely guarded by deep bunkers.

Central Park-land Discover a Second City treat

Moseley is a course where the major tests come early doors, following the longest Par 4 on the course comes the short 4th hole; total precision is required here to find the green set in a tight spot with trouble all around. Merely a warm up though for the main event, the superb 5th is the ultimate signature hole, difficult, scenically stunning and a knee trembler all rolled into one with Moseley’s heron guarded lake placed menacingly right in front of the tee. It is a good 150 yard carry from the back tees and there is a risk and reward element, the sideways facing fairway ahead is tree lined too, the risk is to cut the corner of the dog leg for a shorter approach by firing one over the lake and the trees, for a more conservative approach there is a gap in the trees, a safer option yet a longer second shot will await to a well bunkered green. It’s a fine challenge and golfers of any standard will happily settle for a par here. Despite the heavy rainfall in the days leading up to our round Moseley’s condition holds up well, there’s never any need for temporary greens and the putting surfaces are true running and good quality throughout. Ideal for a winter visit to a course always enjoyable and testing right to the end where an attractive short Par 5 18th hole gives a genuine opportunity of a closing birdie provided once again you can keep it out of the sand.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH, The view from the 5th tee THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

It all finishes in front of the clubhouse with a lovely patio area around the 18th green and practice putting green. The traditional looking facility has been refurbished throughout and has a modern look inside with room for large societies comfortably. Golfing groups get the full Moseley personal touch with many menu options and its one of the friendlier clubs around too, members and staff offer a warm welcome to an establishment destined we feel not to be one of West Midland’s best kept secrets for much longer.

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36 Holes of golf plus bed and breakfast just £40! offer available till March 1st and is based on a minimum of 16 golfers (weekdays only) T&C`s APPLY

I

t’s a fair jaunt from some parts of our region to the outskirts of Hereford and Belmont Lodge, many of its visitors and members hail from Mid and South Wales, yet with impressive accommodation facilities and some highly reasonable play and stay rates distance needs to be no barrier for West Midlands visitors and societies to take the trip westwards to this very attractive location.

of pleasant young spruces. Playability wise there’s scoring opportunities to be had, notably at two successive short Par 5’s the 5th and 6th. With short holes either side and another dog leg long one at the 8th, Belmont holds an unusual distinction of going 5 holes without a par 4. The run ends at a tricky downhill 9th where your approach needs to be spot on in distance or a highly tricky up or down chip will ensue.

The golf course, now 25 years old is very much one of two halves, the opening nine being a hilly stretch of first wooded terrain, then opening out into wide open parkland punctuated by copses

The downhill short and tight 10th hole right in front of the club shop takes you on a descent into the bottom part of the lay out and down to the riverside. The Wye meanders attractively to

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the side of the back nine and gives Belmont fresh impetus in its closing stretch. The wind blows just that little bit stronger, there’s frequently the threat of a watery grave and holes like the 13th and 14th play a whole lot longer than their yardages. The 15th is a lovely hole, with a newly formed rockery and water feature from the tee, a gentle dog leg to a green well bunkered to demand precision. A mature oak stands defiantly in front of the 16th tee too at this long par 4 which may prove a formidable barrier to the long hitters. The Belmont challenge climaxes with another reachable Par 5 17th, assuming you don’t go JANUARY • 2010


BELMONT LODGE

left off the tee and bound down the steep bank towards the practice area. The closing hole takes you back uphill to the pro shop again with an accurate approach required that will have you reaching for the yardage book prior to taking it on. Belmont Lodge provides a fine thought provoking test of your game in enviable surroundings, in good condition too, before our visit there had been much Autumn rain, our expectations were of a fairly soggy back nine by the river which didn’t materialise, tee mats were in use but that didn’t affect the yardage at all and the main plus was a distinct lack of evidence of winter greens. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

Post round facilities are some of the finest Herefordshire has to offer. Belmont House is an 18th century grade II listed building, the grand old exterior a complete contrast to its ultra modern interior look with a bright and airy bar area, lounge and restaurant. The accent here is firmly on good food and excellent service, smaller societies are well catered for and for larger groups, conferences and weddings Belmont Lodge produces a marquee for spring and summer events. The newer lodge by the side of the car park and club shop has 30 modern hotel rooms, 26

twins and 4 doubles, plenty of room for a society play and stay break. There’s good fishing to be had too, large pike and barbel among many species found in Belmont’s one mile stretch of the adjacent river. Great deals are always available for golf and leisure breaks at Belmont Lodge, the management here pursue an energetic policy to fill the fairways by the day, and the rooms and restaurants at night A busy spring and summer awaits at this likeable and forward thinking location that shows off Herefordshire hospitality and rural charm at its finest.

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The Class of 2009

Our magazines of varying titles reviewed 35 courses, mostly from Staffs and The West Midlands, but also from further afield in our society sections in our first 5 issues in 2009. A brief reminder of them all is listed here, for without their hospitality and open doors we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Staffs

Beau Desert A classic heathland track rated as one of the finest inland courses in England. Narrow fast running fairways are lined by heather and gorse with a backdrop of mature firs and spruces. The large greens are

Staffs

Whiston Hall Scenic countryside charm at its finest with an up and down course full of variety and tests especially a knee trembler of a first tee shot.

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Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 1

6,310 yards (white tees) Par 70

full of tricky borrows and take some working out; the par 5, 18th is one of the very best closing holes in the West Midlands. Always in excellent condition, Beau Desert guarantees quality year round playability.

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 1

5,551y ards Par 71

Finishes with four consecutive driveable par fours of varying degrees of difficulty.

Staffs

St. Thomas Priory Very friendly and busy all round golfing establishment featuring a genuine course of two halves, always picturesque and finishing with another classic 18th hole

Staffs

Ingestre A member run masterpiece deep in the heart of the countryside, the attractive layout has a mature look that belies its comparatively new existence. First class

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 1

5,969 yards Par 70

with a daunting tee shot. A renowned onsite academy and the home of the European Golf Performance Institute (EGPI)

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 2

6 ,357y ards Par 70

practice facilities and a large clubhouse make for an ideal all round venue that scores highly for its welcoming nature.

JANUARY • 2010


SOCIETY RECAP Staffs

Brocton Hall Traditional, manicured and visually stunning, this Harry Vardon design is a pure treat from start to finish, water features

Staffs

Westwood Two halves of total contrast ensures something for everyone and a need for every club in the bag. The hilly front nine proves a stiff test; the longer, flatter closing stretch will delight long hitters. A

Staffs

Whittington Heath One of the West Midland’s oldest clubs, packed with history and tradition. A heathland gem that features narrow fast running fairways surrounded by heather

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 2

6,064y ards Par 69

dominate especially at the short 9th which is our favourite Par 3 in Staffordshire.

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 2

6,105y ards Par 72

well maintained and scenic gem from start to finish, The River Churnet meanders all around a delightful Par 4 10th hole.

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 3

6,490y ards Par 70

and long grass, accuracy is the key for good scoring. Some lovely tree lined picture postcard holes and a distinctive clubhouse make it a must visit location.

Staffs

The Manor Hidden away amongst farmland near Uttoxeter this unassuming, undulating gem features the River Blythe running through its heart and a good number of risk and

Staffs

South Staffs A highly regarded Championship layout to relish playing all year round. Mature trees surround the fairways and around the carpet like greens there’s many tricky bunkers and banks to ask questions

Staffs

Stafford Castle Nine holes and eighteen tees which prove to be a highly enjoyable test set in lush parkland with risk and reward elements including a memorable driveable

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 2

6,206y ards Par 71

reward type challenges. One of Staffordshire’s friendlier clubs with a host of wildlife visitors.

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 3

6,512y ards Par 71

of your short game. Superbly conditioned throughout this is one of Staffordshire’s very finest courses that’s changed little over the years. The putting green and clubhouse are a traditional delight.

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 3

6,383y ards Par 71

par 4 5th hole with a massive bunker and even bigger green. Plans to make it a full 18 hole course set around the castle are well underway.

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Staffs

The Three Hammers One of the finest teaching facilities, short game courses and golf shops in the Midlands all rolled into one modern location.

Staffs

Bloxwich Set in the heart of the Black Country but easy to forget that while on the course, a parkland test with mature trees, water hazards and some very tricky short holes,

Staffs

Wolstanton Highly enjoyable all round location with a tight undulating course to test placement and club selection. Some nicely manicured Par 3’s add to the all round appeal. The

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Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 3

1,410 yards Short Game Course

A golfing haven for juniors and beginners, it also includes a floodlit range with automated tees and a large bistro onsite.

The Golfer Magazine, Issue 1

6,269y ards Par 71

not anywhere near as straight forward as it may look, large club room will house large societies.

The Golfer Magazine, Issue 1

5,761y ards Par 68

recently refurbished and spacious clubhouse is a delight. Very friendly establishment, well regarded and an ideal starter venue for juniors.

Staffs

West Midlands Golfer

The Chase An excellent all round venue with large clubhouse, and fine practice and training facilities. The maturing lay out demands a good day with your driver plus some

Staffs

6,641y ards Par 72

nerves of steel at the par 3 closing hole. Well kept greens are an impressive feature throughout.

The Golfer Magazine, Issue 1

Trentham Park One of Stoke-on-Trent’s finest with a jaw dropping opening hole and a scenic yet formidable closing stretch where shooting somewhere near your handicap

West Mids

The Belfry The Brabazon

7,196 yards Par 72

TheP GAN ational 7,053 yards Par 72

6,390y ards Par 71

will be very satisfactory. Mature woodland dominates the landscape making accuracy of paramount importance, a super test of golf.

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 3 West Midlands most iconic and famous golfing destination. Four Ryder Cups and their memories have golfers worldwide queueing up to take a turn on the famous holes that define The Brabazon Course, now notable also for equally spectacular remodelled tests especially on the front nine that now give it added all round appeal. Always in immaculate condition it remains the ultimate examination of your golfing skills. The newer PGA National is a fitting neighbour with a highly enjoyable mix of inland links and large stadium like Par 4’s and 5’s with huge mounds and cavernous bunkers throughout. With fine facilities and very impressive training academy The Belfry has it all for golf lovers young and old.

JANUARY • 2010


SOCIETY RECAP Worcs

The Worcestershire Scenically one of the very finest in our area, set as it is right at the foot of The Malvern Hills, the undulating course plays pretty tight and challenging with a good

Shrops

Patshull Park Southern Shropshire stunner based around a large fishing lake with hotel and leisure facilities making it an ideal play and stay location. The lay out has twists

Wales

Conwy Supremely enjoyable flat links test with views right across Llandudno bay to The Great Orme, no protection from the wind on the coastal holes and even when you

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

West Midlands Golfer

6,500Y ards Par 72

mixture of nicely manicured holes, the Par 5 17th is a special treat. The newly modernised clubhouse is ideal for societies and functions.

The Golfer Magazine, Issue 1

6,345y ards Par 72

and turns and throws up a few risk and reward type posers with a few shortish par four tempters. Well maintained and a pleasant all year round challenge.

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 2

6,647y ards Par 72

travel inland for the closing stretch the gorse lies in wait to complete a formidable but fun challenge going right till the very end.

West Mids

Stonebridge

West Midlands Golfer

Somers Course 3,316 yards Par 37 Hampton Course 2,786 yards Par 33 Blythe Course 2,757 yards Par 33

A highly underrated location in an area highly populated with golfing establishments. 27 holes set in three loops of 9 give plenty of variety with the welcoming common link of excellent putting

Shrops

Henlle Park A new design located on hilly and picturesque Georgian Parkland close to the Welsh border. The course has water hazards and many tall mature

Wales

Maesdu Only separated from the coast by the railway line and its near neighbour, The North Wales GC. This testing course is mostly parkland in appearance but

surfaces. The inland links stretches of The Hampton and Blythe courses are a joy. Great practice facilities including a floodlit driving range set in front of a large lake, very close links to the motorway networks.

West Midlands Golfer

6,025y ards Par 72

oaks to avoid and gets better the longer it lasts. A large contemporary clubhouse makes for a fine society location.

Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 2

6,383y ards Par 71

keeps a strong links type wind threat throughout and is quite a test that culminates with a fine downhill and very bunker clad Par 5 closing hole.

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Wales

Pennant Park Set on a hill top with views of the Dee Estuary below, this new lay out proves an attractive test with manicured features sitting alongside the natural parkland

Wales

Rhuddlan An inland parkland layout in lovely surroundings featuring lush fairways, overhanging trees and tight rough. Twisting brooks and streams add to the appeal, the

Wales

Aberdovey A favourite for West Midlands Golfers, some of whom are members here, pure unspoilt links land right on the bottom edge of North Wales. Full of humps and hollows, large greens and blind targets Aberdovey is seaside golf

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Staffordshire Golfer, Issue 2

5,859y ards Par 70

surroundings which can catch a sturdy breeze at times. The modern clubhouse is a fine compliment to a enjoyable round.

West Midlands Golfer

6,473y ards Par 70

course proves harder to score on than it looks. Rhuddlan is a very friendly location and popular with societies.

The Golfer Magazine, Issue 1

6,454y ards Par 71

exactly the way it should be. Look out for the short and very deceptive Par 3 12th hole right by the beach, and enjoy the great facilties which include a large dormy bungalow which sleeps eight.

Wales

Prestatyn North Wales’s most northerly links location has a flat track that looks straightforward enough but is capable of trickery thanks to the deceiving nature of the wind speed and direction which

Wales

Royal St Davids Probably North Wales’s most famous links location, and as difficult a track as its likely to find anywhere. A real sense of achievement guaranteed here for a successful round overcoming the at times brutal elements, tight design and a formidable closing stretch of Wales

Nefyn and District The absolute ultimate location, a clifftop spectacular in which you travel to the very edge of the Llyn Peninsula and back again at The Point, an 8 hole stretch of awe inspiring golf adventure that will literally blow you away but leave

West Midlands Golfer

6,564y ards Par 72

must be respected to shoot a low score. Totally traditional and highly enjoyable throughout as well as being one of North Wales’s best value for money venues.

West Midlands Golfer

6,591y ards Par 69

holes that take you right through the many tall sand dunes that border the course. No less enjoyable though for this ultimate test, Royal St Davids is a jaw dropping treat that demands many a visit. Small society accommodation provided on site in dormy bungalows. The Golfer Magazine, Issue 1

(Old Course, including The Point) 6,201y ards Par 71

you desperate to come back and have another go. Never mind the scorecard which may well get wrecked, for players who like to walk on the wild side this is as much fun as its possible to find anywhere.

JANUARY • 2010


SOCIETY RECAP Wales

Chirk A good value for money location in pretty surroundings near the Vale of Llangollen, the lay out is notable for containing 3 very long Par 5’s including a 664 yarder at

The Rest

Shaw Hill A prime location in England’s North close to Preston with a mature tree lined lay out containing many diminutive water hazards ensuring a thought provoking round is in order. A very

The Rest

Carden Park Jack’s relatively new design can suit all abilities with five tee locations. A good test throughout with notable water features and some risk and reward elements from the tees. Plenty of width

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

The Golfer Magazine, Issue 1

7,045y ards Par 72

the 9th around the lake which is one of the longest holes in Britain. A fine all round venue with range and a 9 hole Par 3 course.

West Midlands Golfer

6,283y ards Par 72

busy course and club, much of that due to the imperious Georgian mansion which is now clubhouse, spa, leisure and conference facility all rolled into one.

West Midlands Golfer

THE NICKLAUS COURSE 7,045y ards Par 72

on the fairways but a fair few bunkers too and some tricky green targets place a high emphasis on approach shot accuracy. A long walk yet its a thought provoking and pleasurable 18 holes.

The Rest

Horsley Lodge Situated close to Derby this parkland course surrounded by farmland is a manicured and attractive treat with undulating tests throughout and is a true putters paradise. The USPGA

The Rest

Collingtree Park A former British Masters venue near Northampton with a tricky wooded parkland examination dominated by its closing hole a par 5 with an island green

The Rest

Woodhall Spa Voted Britains finest inland lay out and immediately its not difficult to see why. A natural heathland masterpiece where every shot is an event. Dominated throughout by huge cavernous bunkers so good you almost deliberately aim to be in one. Wonderful design and the

West Midlands Golfer

6,500y ards Par 71

greens are immense and great quality from start to finish, some pretty as a picture water features as well, especially at the penultimate hole which has practically an island green.

West Midlands Golfer

6,776y ards Par 72

set right in front of the large clubhouse. Speedy American style large greens provide a stout test of your putting skills.

The Golfer Magazine, Issue 1

THE HOTCHKIN COURSE 6,921y ards Par 73

right use of its superb surroundings effortlessly produce an enduring golfing experience that all must make the journey to at some point in their playing lives. You’ll need your game at its best to score well, but there’s so much to admire even if you don’t.

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SOCIETY

SOVEREIGN AIR CONDITIONING GOLF SOCIETY

Formed Members

1981 25 plus guests

Favourite courses played

Church Stretton, Ingestre, Conway, Abergele

Ones they’d love to play

Hawkstone Park, Forest of Arden Next year this long running Stoke-on-Trent based group celebrates its 30th anniversary, some of the guys on the photo have been there from the start, the society was originally formed by workers from the Spode Pottery firm, yet its sad demise in 2008 led to an exodus of members and a real threat to the societies existence. Enter member John Whalley, the owner of Sovereign who took over not just the name but the funding of the group, donating funds and trophies and enabling it to continue. The revitalised Sovereigns play six venues per year alternating between local venues and favourite courses in North Wales, well organised they elect a new committee each year and are always on the lookout for new golfing challenges to discover. They are not without a sense of humour either, there’s some practical jokers in the squad , as an ex captain found out to his cost at Mold GC. Whilst doing his after round prize giving speech another member pointed out to club staff that he should be searched before leaving...... on closer inspection his jacket was found to contain many items of Mold GC’s finest cutlery and even salt and pepper pots. The Sovereigns are always on the look out for new places to play and new members too, and would be especially pleased to welcome back as many of the original Spode gang as possible. For enquiries and details on their 2010 trips contact treasurer and former condiment collector Fred Hughes 01782 320697.

CALLING ALL WEST MIDS SOCIETY ORGANISERS To be a part of the only golfing magazine dedicated to your region and to possibly feature yourselves in our society section give us a call below and we can offer in return for your membership.

“YOUR MAGAZINE NEEDS

YOU!

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Regular e-bulletins on the latest society news and events in the magazine. • Free membership to our fully interactive society section on our new web site • Society offers from the golf clubs as soon as we hear them and before they are published in the magazine • Special discounts for The Golfer Magazine member societies on all courses featured in the society section of the magazine and on the new website at www.playgolfwm.co.uk Call our office on 01782 597033 for more details or e-mail the editor at editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk JANUARY • 2010


Cheshire Course

heshire C

Charm

Our second mid-summer trip to Cheshire’s Carden Park took us for a look at The Cheshire Course to see if it was a worthy companion to previously reviewed and more heralded neighbour The Nicklaus Course. Having already caught a good few glimpses of The Cheshire beforehand especially its fabulous closing hole and safe in the knowledge it too has hosted pro tour events we were fairly confident a good layout awaited us. Designed by Alan Higgins The Cheshire opened for play in 1993 and by 5 years is the older of the two. It’s another lengthy challenge measuring 6,824 yards from the back tees. The layout fits into a classic heathland category with an increasingly woodland feel to its closing holes and boasts some fine scenery throughout. Comparisons to the Nicklaus design are inevitable but when it came to similarities we would say overall quality, the spacious nature of the course and the smooth running standards of the greens are the only obvious ones.

The spectacular view from the 18th tee, dare you risk all?

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JANUARY • 2010


CARDEN PARK The rest is all a little bit different and welcome too, the hazards especially are of a contrasting nature. Less obvious water troubles feature here, only really around the 12th green and 18th fairway will it potentially cause a headache although there are a few hidden ponds around. It’s the sand traps that can provide serious grief, many of them, and although smaller in size than next door the small pot bunkers here especially on the fairways are steep lipped and offer little hope of much yardage, just to get the ball back in play may be what you have to settle for at times. The 14th hole is the supreme example, assuming you manage to avoid the clutch of traps that feature on the left hand side then there are 5 more little terrors right in front of the green to deter those going for it in two on this short, uphill Par five. Then there’s the Ha-ha, a hazard we have never encountered before on a golf course, and maybe never will again. Remaining from the early days of the estate it features on four of the holes especially on the long Par 5, 11th. A steep ditch with a five foot wall in front of it, the penalty for landing in the Ha-ha is a likely trip out sideways or backwards and a frustrating hiccup for your progress. The Cheshire Course is an enjoyable picturesque challenge throughout yet in our opinion it’s the last five holes where it achieves truly memorable status. From the bunker strewn uphill 14th the layout becomes a woodland wonder, taking in a cute tree-lined short Par 3 before climbing again along a tight and beautiful 16th hole with a coniferous forest running along the right hand side and a delightful raised green. A longer Par 3 equally as striking follows before you reach the peak, and the fitting climax of the course.

Facilities At Carden Park No excuses for rustiness on the dance floors at Carden Park, both the Nicklaus and Cheshire courses have their own practice putting greens. Halfway huts with hot food and drinks plus seating are also on both layouts, buggies, all with GPS are plentiful and on the courses everything is all mapped out and well sign posted. The complex has a fully covered driving range which is a car drive away from the clubhouse yet worth your while given the challenges that lie ahead. The clubhouse itself has recently undergone a £500,000 refit and boasts large leather clad locker rooms complete with sofas, wide-screen

TVs and saunas. Jacks Bar is the new eatery and lounge upstairs with a fabulous looking menu and panoramic views of The Cheshire Course especially that spectacular closing hole. All of the little golfing extras are done very well yet it is the quality and variety of its 36 holes that will define a play and stay visit. The two courses are both challenges to relish and compliment each other nicely. From the wide open spaces, water hazards and risk and reward posers on The Nicklaus Course to the naturally scenic, more subtle Cheshire with its eye-catching climax there’s something there for everyone to enjoy at Carden Park

The 18th tee sits high up at the very top of Carden Park. The challenging hazard packed short Par 4 is all down there right in front of you tempting you to risk all with the driver. It may depend on the wind which is likely to be against you. Have a minute before club selection though to take in the surroundings, just to the side is a sandstone cliff with fantastic views of the Cheshire Plain and the North Wales hills beyond, it’s a stunning conclusion to a layout that starts out very good and just keeps getting better. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

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TOUR BANTER

I

ts the time of year again where we all have a look back at the events and highs and lows that have shaped our fortunes during the past twelve months. We’re no different of course and what a year 2009 was, a whirlwind 52 weeks featuring more mileage than the Top Gear team and more lake balls than we’d care to admit that now reside in more pro shops than we’d care to admit. Our achievements have way surpassed what we expected them too, if the progress of the magazine were a round of golf we would be striding up the 8th fairway by now, full of confidence with a couple of birdies under our belts. This time last year it was still at the formative stage, we hadn’t even stepped on to the practice putting green. Speaking of which, those underrated yet vital areas of our golf clubs can be the venues for a few highlights too. They come in all different shapes and sizes, Stonebridge has a series of little ones, The Chase has a huge one with an island rockery in its midst, The Worcestershire’s is excitedly based on The Himalayas it seems, and as for our favourite, Ingestre has a superb challenging one that stretches the length of its large clubhouse at the back. Little competitions often break out whilst on them, a few bob may change hands, and when we’re doing all the pre round review bits and run out of time to have a go on them we always regret it out on the course when the putter performs rustily on the opening holes.

Get on the

Dance Floor

South Staffordshire has a fine practice putting green too, in June we covered the PTS Invitational Midlands Tour event, after the players had finished on it and headed out for their final rounds the putting green wasn’t empty for long. Five or six gentlemen of a highly advanced age took occupancy and proceeded not just to show the pros how it should be done but also proved that age is no barrier when it comes to competitiveness. No quarter was given and neither were too many gimmes either as the seniors stroked their way around the nine hole course with skill that defied the years complete with a determination to succeed sadly lacking in many of our get rich quick sporting stars of today. Squabbles and snarls were in evidence throughout the keenly fought contest right until the very end when friends were reunited and they retired to the bar for a tipple or two. Apparently its a regular event and the gents, one of them in his Mid-Nineties and a member for a staggering 65 years all don the plus fours and truly look the part. The very antithesis of that event also happened on a putting green. The equally impressive one at Leek GC had us as regulars on it earlier in the year, in those halcyon days when we actually had some time on our hands we would nip down and spend an hour or two honing our techniques. That was until Harry Fearn got wind of our presence, you may have seen him in this publication a couple of times, 8 years old and The Wee Wonder in his age group for 2009. A permanent fixture at Leek, Harry as we soon found out enjoyed nothing more than joining in our little putting contests, and then thoroughly beating us at them. Our groans and excuses rang around the Staffordshire Moorland air as the Wee Wonder proved to be another determined competitor for whom the word gimme was an alien utterance. We left more than once with tails between legs, too many beatings at the hands of an 8 year old tends to lower the morale somewhat, but never mind all that, it was worth it to admire his single minded young skills just as it was to admire the undiminished efforts of the Octogenarians (and above) of South Staffs. To all of them, and the millions of golfers out there in between those age ranges, take time in 2010 to enjoy your local putting greens, a microcosm of golfing life that shouldn’t be ignored. Phil Nicholas

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NOVEMBER • 2009


THE ROAD TO THE RYDER CUP

T

his October, golf’s greatest team event will be contested on Welsh soil for the very first time. The hugely impressive Celtic Manor resort and showpiece 2010 course are to host an eagerly awaited Ryder Cup contest where Europe will be determined to regain the trophy from an American side that will hopefully have a Tiger in its numbers. Ryder Cup Wales is an association founded in 2002 straight after the Cup was awarded to the principality. Their mission is to boost the profile of golf and its related businesses all over Wales. From North to South the country’s golf economy is soaring on the back of The Ryder Cup, since 2002 visitor numbers have risen by 51% and golf expenditure by 80%. It’s not just the courses that have benefitted,

44

hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are all reaping the rewards too, it is estimated that an average golf visitor spends 4 times as much as a regular tourist. Ryder Cup Wales are working hard to ensure that all clubs, big and small, well known and not so heralded will profit from their time in the spotlight and are looking to the future too. The Ryder Cup legacy fund has allotted £2 million to be used in the construction of 45 new pay and play courses all over the region especially designed for beginners and juniors. Too long in the shadow of its Celtic cousins Scotland and Ireland, visitors and societies from all over Britain, Europe and the World are now realising what a wealth of golfing quality resides within the borders of the Land of the Dragon. JANUARY • 2010


ROAD TO RYDER CUP

Many West Midlanders however already enjoy trips west to the principality, and this young magazine has chalked up a fair few too, previous Welsh reviews in our society sections are well received and reflect the current popularity of the region. Thanks to our relationships with Ryder Cup Wales and the Celtic Manor resort , The Golfer Magazine and our new website will this year be embarking on an epic review trip starting on the next page from the Twenty Ten Course itself and finishing there in next September’s issue. In between, our review team will traverse the country from Flintshire and the North Wales coast through Snowdonia to the scenic regions of Mid Wales. Next summer will see us tee it up down in Pembrokeshire and finally heading east across THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

the beautiful Gower Peninsula finishing our journey in the valleys of the South. Along the way we will visit not just the well known tracks and links favourites that the region is renowned for, we will also endeavour to unearth a few hidden gems too. Around the lakes and mountains inland and the rugged coastal areas where only crazy golfers dare to venture on a windy day, this publication will produce the most in depth, factual and entertaining guide on Welsh golf that has ever appeared in a magazine. We will include in addition the best accommodation around each region and focus too on the tourist hot spots, some also off the beaten track. Wales consists of a staggering 641 castles and around 200 golf courses, and while we’re not going to idly boast about visiting them all we’ll certainly pack as much as we can inside your very own definitive Road to the Ryder Cup.

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THIS IS WHERE

DRAGONS

PLAY W

est Midlands Golfers and visitors alike will find it a pleasant beginning to a trip to Celtic Manor when discovering you practically only have to drive up the slip road from the M4 or A449 and you’re there. Close transport links are vital for a Ryder Cup location, so too is an exciting golfing spectacle and an occasion next October to match the memorable tussles of the past. Celtic Manor and the Twenty Ten course can’t do anything about the closeness of the match and the quality of golf on show but it has designed and presented a course clearly set to challenge superstar minds and skills in equal measures, it has the added bonus too of having a distinctly good spectator look about it. As for the mid-handicapper amateur experience of playing the Ryder Cup course before Tiger and Rory do, it does prove to be just that, an experience. The staff at the Twenty Ten clubhouse make sure that pre-round there’s a real treat in store, from the bag drop through to the personalised lockers in the sumptuous Ryder Cup locker room. Then there’s a trip in the shuttle bus down to the bottom of the valley in plenty of time to use the free facilities at the practice ground, the balls waiting for you to hit in neat pyramid clusters and your clubs lined up by the side. The golf service here is so special that it’s an absolute must to turn up at least an hour before your tee off to get the full treatment. You may not be able to play the Twenty Ten

46

course like a tour pro but Celtic Manor make sure you get a glimpse of what it’s like to be one before stepping onto the 1st. Course length for Tiger & Co is just shy of 7,500 yards, there are 3 Par 5s in excess of 600 yards in length, and while the amateurs off the yellows wont quite be faced by that sort of distance it’s still a sizeable track and will certainly turn into one you’re not likely to forget in a hurry. The majority of the opening holes play like an inland links challenge, lots of length, cavernous bunkers and clever contouring for an early examination; however there’s a tricky Par 3, 3rd hole over water that gives a hint of what is to follow. A long carry over the drink is required with a depression in front of the green demanding nothing but total precision is needed. Not enough club and your ball may slip back into the hazard, too much club and your chip back runs the risk of failing to stop with a similar fate in store. This sort of challenge typifies what the Twenty Ten is all about. The ponds and lakes become an almost ever present challenge on the middle part of the course which will surely become the defining stretch for the Ryder Cup excitement. There are risk and reward dilemmas out there in abundance; some classic match play golf is inevitable and not much room around for too JANUARY • 2010


TWENTY TEN COURSE - CELTIC MANOR

many wayward hits. Yet these water hazards are all right there in front of you, as long as you play within yourself and get club selection right you can keep the ball dry. The biggest danger you may well encounter is a little more subtle. Put simply, you can ill afford to wrong side yourself around some of these greens. Approaches need pinpoint accuracy or some of the spots you may find yourself stuck in will leave you facing slippery rescue shots across slopes so severe that the water you proudly thought you’d skilfully avoided might just come back into play again. It’s a wonderful challenge to play these holes, as they continue through the back nine you get a sense of how the matches next year will build themselves up to a closing stretch crescendo of tension and excitement. The double lake signature 14th, then the ultimate risk and reward 15th, a tight dog leg with the risk part a death or glory tee shot requiring a carry of 270 yards over mature woodland to a pearler of a putting surface. Finally the last three see you climb to the Twenty Ten’s highest point. The views from the banks to the side of the 16th fairway must easily rank as the finest in Ryder Cup history. Down below you can see practically all of the main holes the Twenty Ten possesses and witness the growing drama unfold. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

As for the playability the water takes a break for the closing holes yet the tight sloping fairway and penal bunkers of the 16th will make par feel special. The 17th too is typically Twenty Ten in style, miss the green on this Par 3 and you’re seriously in bogey territory. The closing hole, a mammoth downhill par 5 won’t let the side down as a potential Ryder Cup clincher. History dictates that a home European venue must have a watery threat in front of the final green and there’s one here to hopefully disturb American psyche. It’ll take an immense couple of blows to find this green in two, especially as there’s a very steep bank in front liable to drag under hit approaches back into the water. A truly fitting end to an immense and spectacular golf course guaranteed to test your skills to the very limits and certain to provide a great stage for yet another memorable Ryder Cup. Tee times here are limited to visitors between now and next October. An opportunity to come and play here before battle begins shouldn’t be passed on, the very moment you drive through the gated entrance and down the path to the Twenty Ten clubhouse, this whole golfing experience proves to be a truly unforgettable one. We’ll be back next summer and also on Sunday 3rd October standing by that 16th fairway hoping for fireworks and seeing just how Tiger, Rory et al play the superb Twenty Ten, watching them risk will be our reward.

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IP T R A T NEX HE CUP T TO DER E RY ENU V


COMPETITION We’ve teamed up with The Celtic Manor Resort in South Wales to offer one lucky reader and a guest the chance to play and stay at the venue for this year’s Ryder Cup. The winners will enjoy a round of golf on a choice of two fantastic championship golf courses - either the Roman Road, which hosted the Wales Open between 2005 and 2007, or The Montgomerie, designed by the man who will captain Europe at Celtic Manor. They will also enjoy an overnight stay in the lap of luxury at the five-star Resort with full Welsh breakfast and complimentary use of the leisure facilities at The Forum Health Club.

The Celtic Manor Resort has three championship courses in all including The Twenty Ten which has been purpose-built to test the world’s best players in thrilling match play conditions this year. The Resort has just launched a new Country Membership for The Twenty Ten Club which includes guaranteed season tickets to The Ryder Cup as well as the annual Celtic Manor Wales Open. For more information, visit celtic-manor.com or call 01633 410300

For your chance to win this superb competition prize, just answer the following simple question:

Who will captain Europe and America at the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor? Send your answers to editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk

Terms and conditions apply. The prize is a onenight stay for two people sharing a double or twin bedroom and must be taken by the end of April 2010. Prize is non-transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash. Excludes any meals, beverages and extras within the hotel, which must be settled upon departure.


Road to the Ryder Cup:

Setting the standard a must Play all year round No better place to tee off The Road to The Ryder Cup in style than at Conwy Golf Club. 120 years of history and championship pedigree, situated in a beautiful location and easily reached too, just off that most useful of North Welsh highways, the link to all the links, the A55.

The Course

Take great care with

At 6,647 yards in length from the White tees Conwy presents a lengthy test, the frequent swirling sea breezes naturally determine that no hole ever quite plays like its distance on the card. That’s the beauty of classic links golf, and those West Midlanders trying it out for the first time in North Wales this year had better get quickly acquainted with the notion that the elements play the major part in a round of golf. Hitting the ball well won’t necessarily guarantee a good score on a windy seaside day; you’ll need a bit of good judgement and luck too. Nowhere is a better example of this than at Conwy, its beautiful course sits totally exposed to the regular gusty battering it takes from the North Sea. An exciting 18 hole challenge on fairly flat land, easy to walk with tremendous natural drainage ensuring quality all year round play.

Apart from the elements, that gorse needs avoiding, a trip into there has a very inevitable and penal conclusion.

A fairly gentle start gives a slight false sense of security as by the time you reach the par 3 6th back into the breeze, a spell of holes begins that will stretch your golfing skills to their furthest extremes. It also coincides with the lengthiest spell too, as all of Conwy’s Par 5’s reside during this exhilarating middle part of the course where no two holes run the same way in succession and the wind swirls around with a mind of its own demanding some links type creativity from the golfer. Perhaps summed up best by a classic Par 5 9th hole, hazard packed with wispy grasses and gorse narrowing the fairways and little pot bunkers dotted around. The green is more or less a blind target behind a large mound, a par here is no mean feat. The card of the course and its layout may give reason for optimism pre-round for the closing 3 holes, all par 4s on the fairly short side and positioned furthest away from the sea. What soon becomes clear however, is that the little pretty patches of gorse that attractively garnish the earlier parts of the course grow into something far more fearsome at the end, shrinking the width of the fairways menacingly to give no room for waywardness on any shot and providing a fittingly challenging climax to a exceptional round of golf at one of Wales’s very finest.

50

Look forward to The putting surfaces are a joy and pretty generous too, with a lack of serious undulations there’s good opportunities to shoot low on the greens. Signature Hole – The 17th, 389 yards, Par 4 A slight lack of length needs to inspire caution rather than aggression, the gorse features heavily and makes it a tight challenge especially in a cross wind, plenty of sand around the large green which sits totally exposed. The Golfer Magazines Pick – The 13th, 174 yards, Par 3 A raised breezy tee should strike some fear, if that doesn’t, lots of thick gorse and rough on the left will, quite an achievement to reach the right level on this two tiered green. If you’re going to miss it, favour the right side and perhaps a little long, a classic and great looking short links hole.

Facilities Large Practice Ground to the side of the 1st hole. Putting and chipping greens are first class. Modern clubhouse facilities consist of two bars, lounge, snooker room, refurbished visitor locker rooms and a 90 seater restaurant. An ideal allyear round society location. Two-for-one winter green fees on offer.

Around and About Conwy has one of Wales’s most distinctive castles dating back to Edward I’s reign in the thirteenth century. Its walls are a feature around the whole town, ¾ mile in length with 21 towers. The majestic old suspension bridge marks the gateway to the town which also has a large and busy marina.

Summary A windy day at Conwy will ensure as tough a test as its possible to find, but if you’re anything like us its a whole lot of fun too. Calm conditions, and you might just have a good scoring day with a hot putter. Either way Conwy is a richly enjoyable experience, beautifully maintained, easy to reach and great value for money.

Directions A55 from Chester, go past the first Conwy exit, through the tunnel, turn right at next exit, the golf club is then signposted.

JANUARY • 2010


CONWY Location An absolutely stunning links setting, in the shadow of Conwy Mountain overlooking the estuary towards Llandudno’s Great Orme with the Isle of Anglesey visible to the West.

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

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CAERNARFON Location At the end of a twisting beach road, Caernarfon’s course boasts panoramic views to die for, inland of the Mountains of Snowdonia and on the coastal side, the Menai Straits and Anglesey.

The Course At just under 6,000 yards from the white tees its not an overly long challenge by any means, yet its not necessarily a walk in the park, a lack of accuracy here can cost you dearly. Despite its close proximity to the sea Caernarfon is a pure parkland lay out, lush green gently undulating fairways, lots of trees around and some pretty tight rough too. A few water hazards will keep you thinking, a number of shortish par fours will prove tough to resist having a go at, its very much a thinking players course and nowhere on it are you ever far away from a scenic treat. The greens are very well kept and true running with some nice subtle contours. The challenge continues right till the end, an uphill Par 5 with a testing approach over a pond to the raised green.

Take care with It may look innocuous from the tee but underestimate the rough at your peril, a trip offline can be costly as it gets a little clingy in places.

Look forward to Apart from the scenery, long hitters will see the opening four holes as real birdie opportunities, assuming they can hit it straight too! Signature hole- 14th- 335 yards Par 4 Wonderful views of the straits and Anglesey from the raised tee at this tight dog leg, with out of bounds left and right its quite a challenge on a windy day. The Golfer Magazine Pick -15th- 354yards Par 4 A straight ahead looking Par 4 which goes uphill and then down again leaving a blind approach to a punch bowl green with banking and bunkers all around. 19th Hole Cosy and friendly facilities with home cooked Welsh food and a 70 seater function room, visitors can use two-fore-one vouchers here.

Directions From the North just after passing through the town take a right turn off the A487 along the coastal lane, 2 miles and you’re there.

Around and about Caernarfon town is dominated by its magnificent 13th century castle that brings visitors from far and wide. Some fine castle wall walks with views across the bay and narrow attractive shopping streets with cosy old inns.

Coastal Charm

To the side of the town that contains probably North Wales’ best known and most historic landmark is a golf club well worth a visit in 2010.

Summary A very enjoyable test in beautiful surroundings that proves to be the ideal venue for those searching for a links alternative in the area. A location too where reserving some extra time to spend in the town afterwards is not a bad idea.

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JANUARY • 2010


TOUR BANTER

HEAD TO HEAD

A

lthough we fully intend to relate all tales of touring life in Tour Banter from wherever in the UK and beyond we tee it up, it’s inevitable that thanks to our unique Road to the Ryder Cup odyssey, 2010 will be largely dominated by Welsh related stories. From Anglesey to Barry Island we are more than likely to find some memorable moments of success, failure and general amusement. The success and failure part will be provided by our very own Road to the Ryder Cup competition. The “Deride-r” Cup, invented at the very last minute in a truck stop on the way to Celtic Manor last month.

The match is already underway and here’s what happened so far,

The plan is to play each 18th hole in Wales as a fourball battle Ryder Cup style between team Europe, Mr Stubbs (H/C 14) and Mr Wain (+2), against team USA represented by Mr Nicholas (16) and Mr Eagles (24). I must add at this stage that the teams were selected fairly and squarely by the traditional long and short straw method and whilst pledging an 100% effort to win the “Deride-r” Cup for the stars and stripes, come next October myself and Mr Eagles are firmly right behind Europe.

Porthmadog (Review – March issue). Round three saw Mr Stubbs produce some good form and with Mr Nicholas yet again stumbling under pressure it needed a special approach from Mr Eagles to turn the tide, and what an epic 6 iron he produced to six feet away for a point to America. Europe 1 ½ - USA 1 ½

One point is awarded for each closing hole winner and the cup will continue until we’ve reached Welsh course no 28, by which time a score line will exist that we predict will be the exact result of the real thing at the Twenty Ten Course itself. So sure are we about this bold statement that we went to the bookies and pledged to place the bet right at the end of our match with the winnings to be donated to the Help the Heroes Charity. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

Twenty Ten Course. The Ryder Cup will finish with this epic looking long par five which our USA were playing well until in typical American style they freaked out at the sight of water, messing up their approaches, leaving Mr Wain with an easy par putt for first blood to Europe. Europe 1 - USA 0 Roman Road Course - Celtic Manor. With Mr Nicholas making another hash of an 18th, Mr Eagles had to produce some steady golf to keep America in the hunt. Yet on the green Europe’s stars both had makeable putts to win another point, but both slid past gaining USA a fortunate half. Europe 1½ - USA ½

Conwy. Good fortune came Europe’s way in a two-ball contest as two wayward second shots produced two entirely contrasting results, USA found the middle of the gorse and Europe somehow bounced back out of it. A miracle wedge to the green seemed to bring hope of a half for Mr Nicholas and USA but Mr Stubbs had the last laugh holing a twenty five footer for his par. Europe 2½ - USA 1½ This epic battle will continue on these pages in the next issue with America needing a big form improvement to keep up with the Euro bandits (sorry, I mean stars!). If your regular four ball takes part in something similar or is thinking about starting something competitive up for 2010 let us know about them, the more unique the better and we’ll try to feature them on these here pages.

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The Golfer Magazine  

January 2010

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