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Intro Welcome to the springtime issue of The Golfer Magazine. Never has a season been so eagerly awaited for participants of our sport in the West Midlands and beyond. It may well come as something of a relief to secretaries, committees and ground staff too, the seemingly endless and rather brutal winter we’ve all endured has left us with regular views of whitened fairways and ghost like car parks, all too common sights in our regions golf clubs. It took its toll on The Golfer Magazine too, the slightly later release of this issue can purely be attributed to the weather, it took six attempts and postponements before we finally managed to review Handsworth GC, the pros there now regard us as something of a jinx! Editor:

Phil Nicholas

Euan Stubbs

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

Phillip Nicholas

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

All that is thankfully behind us now and we’re all flocking back to the fairways in droves, attempting to make up for lost time. It’s a great time to be a golfer, new clubs and techniques to test, the ball travels further, 27 hole days are upon us, and soon the 36 ones will be too. A long and hopefully sunny season stretches ahead of us, we hope our tournament series the 2K10 amateur Order of Merit tour will play a part in many of your schedules. The full itinery appears on the next page, with a great

list of venues, food, entertainment and prizes participants can look forward to an exciting summer of competitive and fun times with us at the West Midlands finest golfing hot spots. All this will be given maximum exposure here and especially on our new web site www.playgolfwm.co.uk, the dedicated tournament section will focus on everything and everybody taking part in the 2K10 tour, our reviews, Mids PGA information and The Road to the Ryder Cup feature will also be covered in more depth. Perhaps the most exciting news of all is that with the support of The PGA we are to branching out one more time this summer, and how. We are to be including the East Midlands counties for the first time in our June issue to become The Golfer Magazine Midlands edition. Over 300 golf clubs will then be in our region, guest reviewers might well be welcome come the summer time! So a busy time awaits, and going back to the start, as the golfing season really gets going we hope our excitement is matched by you the readers and 2010 will see all of us reach new golfing heights. Phil Nicholas

Jane Stubbs

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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MARCH • 2010


A GOOD START FOR ALL The new year at Oswestry Golf Club started well for both club member, Margaret Ratcliffe and PGA Professional Jason Davies.

Gaining instant results from this tuition, Margaret used a five wood to ace Oswestry’s 136 yard seventeenth hole in her very next competition – the seventh ace of her career.

Managing Director Allan said on purchase, “We are delighted with this acquisition. It’s a very exciting time for everyone, we are looking forward to getting to know the members here and welcoming new ones.”

Both Margaret and Jason’s county wide roles of developing and coaching the game involve them with the new County Golf Partnership. So it was appropriate that Mark Taylor, PGA Professional and newly appointed County Development Officer visited Oswestry recently to congratulate Margaret and Jason on their joint successes.

Stacie, who has taken the role of marketing director has member satisfaction at the top of her priorities in her new role. “We are intending to further upgrade the club and in particular the golfing facilities” she stated, “we feel its vital to canvas the opinions of our members to ensure that any changes are in line with their wishes.”

Pictured (left to right) Mark Taylor, Jason Davies and Margaret Ratcliffe

COVENTRY GOLF CLUB

oventry Golf Club is one of England’s premier golf courses and in its 99th year at Finham will for the 3rd year running be staging one of the Regional qualifying rounds this coming June for the Open Championship. The last two years have been a great success and in the coming months preparations will be commencing to provide a platform for the public to come and see Pro Golfers, some local, pitting their skills against a course that will be in the peak of condition. As 2010 is also Ryder Cup year Coventry GC takes pride in the fact that their Club Pro, Dr Philip Weaver, will again be presiding over the opening ceremony at Celtic Manor. Phil has been the Pro at Coventry for 31 years and is Chairman of the PGA and member of the Ryder Cup Policy Board.

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WHARTON PARK UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP In February, Wharton Park GC situated in Bewdley, Worcestershire was acquired by the Umbers family, Allan, his wife Anne and daughter Stacie will be aiming to continue the good work establishing the 1991 designed club that the previous owners began. Wharton Park has built a reputation as not just an up and coming golf course but also as a first class wedding and conference venue, its Greens restaurant is well known for its fine food.

Margaret, who is chairman of the Shropshire Ladies’ Golf Association took a lesson from Jason, who has been appointed England Academy County Head Coach by the Shropshire and Herefordshire County Golf Partnership.

C

NEWS

Coventry GC as a whole has been working hard in recent years on various projects to keep it at the forefront of UK golf clubs. One such project which Phil, together with Keith Lindsay, Coventry’s Course Chairman, were very instrumental in securing was the coveted English Golf Environment Award. This award is presented in recognition of clubs that have put into place environmental improvements such as preserving natural habitat, bird and wildlife conservation, tree planting schedules etc. Now the Club, one of only 6 others in the UK, are striving to obtain Golf Environment Organisation certification for environmental and ecological excellence. Coventry also received the Golf Mark award last year for its junior and beginner coaching programmes. The club will continue to take a modern outlook, it has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere but also maintains the great traditions of golf.

Membership subscriptions, which start from as little as £8.25 per week are to be frozen this year at the club and the joining fee to be waived until June to encourage new members, Allan and Anne are determined to establish Wharton Park as one of the most important all round family golfing venues in The Midlands.

Pictured from left to right our Rachel Bailey, Mike Raj and Rory Haigh MARCH • 2010


NEW PRO TEAM AT WHITTINGTON HEATH

NEWS CHARITY GOLF DAY In April 2011 Sharon Heeley, EGU/EWGA Regional Development Officer (West Midlands) is heading to China for an amazing 450kms cycling challenge, raising funds for a charity called “Women for Women”. The charity aims to improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of a range of conditions that affect women and babies including cancer, infertility, miscarriage, genetic diseases and brain injury. Details of the event are as follows

Friday 6th August 2010 At Henlle Park Golf Club nr Oswestry, Shropshire (www.henllegolf.co.uk)

£25 per person Inclusive of 18 holes (4-ball better-ball) and a two-course meal

(If you would just like to come along for the meal, places are available at £12.50 per person)

One of Staffordshire’s finest golfing establishments has a new team in its pro shop. Pictured here from left to right are Rachel Bailey, Mike Raj and Rory Haigh. Rachel is an ex ladies European Tour player and winner, having lifted the Biarritz Ladies Classic in 2001. Mike, who is head pro has been coaching all levels of golfers for 16 years and has won 5 pro tournaments. Rory has been a member of staff since 2007 and starts a PGA foundation degree in September.

The team have already updated the shop at Whittington with new stock and equipment including a vector X launch monitor. They are also on the lookout for new junior members at the club, boys and girls for lessons, competitions and get-togethers, and are working towards the coveted golf mark accreditation. Further details from the pro shop at 01543 432261 or visit the website, www.whittingtonheathgc.co.uk

Team prizes PLUS nearest the pin, nearest the line and longest drive. Optional extras (with prizes) will include secret hole, 2’s, putting competition, raffle and golf clinic To enter, complete an application form, available from Sharon Heeley Tel: 07734 088319 or Email: sharon.heeley@englishwomensgolf.org

Thanks for your support!

KINGTON’S HIGHEST HONOUR Kington golf club received one of the English Golf Union’s highest honours in February. The GolfMark High Achiever Award is given to clubs who have exceeded the standards set by GolfMark even further in promoting junior and beginner golf. This award has only been given so far to less than 3% of clubs in England, so staff at the popular Herefordshire club, especially junior organiser Bob Pritchard, pictured receiving the honour from the EGU’s Sharon Heeley were understandably proud of their achievement. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

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One

The Special The Belfry and The Brabazon course don’t need too much of an introduction, this layout has played host to more Ryder Cups than any other course on the planet – four in total, and with two wins and a draw, a successful venue too for the home side. Memories of those epic encounters make The Brabazon a Mecca for golfers worldwide to experience just what makes this such a magical golfing venue.

History Designed by Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas in 1977, The Brabazon became a tournament venue just a year later and was always destined to host a Ryder Cup, this it did for the first time in 1985. In the late 90’s Thomas presided over a major makeover in time for Europe to triumph again in 2002.

Signature Psychology The Brabazon layout is famous of course for those two par fours, the 10th, immortalised first by Seve back in 1978, and still today The ultimate risk and reward challenge. Then, the unmistakable 18th, with its sprawling lake and that three-tiered green. Much has been written about these two holes, there’s no doubt your round and its success will be dominated by them. To get the chance to drive the 10th green is high on the wish list for amateur golfers of all standards. No matter what your handicap is, it has to be attempted. Unless it’s a serious competition you haven’t come all the way here to lay up. The odds of success are in all probability rather slim, it is a very tough shot of course, but find that dance floor and you can dine out on the experience for months to come. The 18th too is an incredible challenge, a par here requires you to clear vast amounts of water twice, the bolder you are off the tee, the shorter your approach will be, yet it’s still a desperately difficult one and the more sensible option for mid-handicappers and upwards is to lay up and play it as a par Five. However, golfers aren’t inclined to be sensible when tackling one of the most famous holes in the game, the prospect of a par and its associated glory will in all likelihood outweigh the tedium of common sense.

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• 16 OTHER GOOD REASONS • To dwell on those two holes any longer though would do The Brabazon course as a whole a serious injustice. The Belfry’s continuing investment in its flagship course over the years has produced further challenges of a high standard throughout the 18 holes to ensure that not only will your golfing skills be stretched to the very limits but also more importantly there’s never a dull moment on this special layout. A stretch of holes exists between the 3rd and 9th that will grab your attention to such an extent you may just forget that 10th hole is approaching until you reach the halfway house. Lakes and streams dominate this section, so too do large cavernous bunkers that guard the dry side of the fairways, there’s not much let up when it comes to difficulty, but you’re not likely to harbour any resentment about that, there’s way too much to admire. Apart from a delightful par 3, 12th hole with another pond to carry to reach the green, the water largely takes a back seat for the closing holes, until you reach the dramatic 18th of course. In between, there’s more to enjoy and the stern examination still remains, especially in the way of some particularly tricky approach shots to very well protected greens. By the time you’ve gathered at Sam’s Bar and Grill for some 19th hole refreshments there will undoubtedly be many tales to tell of your Brabazon exploits, successes and failures. These days though, not just confined to those two famous signature holes. Here are three others we’ve picked out for special attention, there’s a fair few more.

MARCH • 2010


THE BRABAZON - MUST PLAY

Location Situated in Wishaw, just outside Sutton Coldfield on the A446 Lichfield Road, close to Junction 9 on the M42 and Junction 2, M6 Toll.

6th Hole, 430 Yards, Par 4 (White Tees) A tremendous dogleg dominated by the lake on the left hand side. Aim right off the tee, taking care to avoid the trees and bushes and a teasingly placed bunker in order to give yourself as least water as possible to carry on approach. Nerves of steel are needed here. 8th Hole, 409 Yards, Par 4 (White Tees) A very difficult tee shot with trees and water on the left and a large sand trap on the other side. Good distance is required to set yourself up for a mid-iron approach to a well-guarded green with a stream running all around its front. 16th Hole, 405 Yards, Par 4 (White Tees) This one’s all about the approach shot. An incredibly tight two tiered and raised green surrounded by trees and bunkers is practically out of view from the fairway. You’ll need to know where the flag is and get club selection spot on to prevail, a real test of your precision. • IN GOOD NICK • In the midst of our harshest winter for years a February trip to The Brabazon, a course which prides itself on its immaculate condition was always going to be the supreme test of its all year round playability and quality. It might as well have been the middle of June. The fairways are carpet-like; the rough is tough but fair and an even length throughout, bunkers are beautifully manicured. The high point has to be the superb greens, which are hand mowed 365 days a year in all weathers ,

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

always quick, even in February they read 11 on the stimp meter, silky smooth yet still receptive to a full shot. With ridges, banks and big undulations, it truly is the ultimate putting examination , all about pace and good reads, yet even if it does prove a little too tough, remember these same surfaces bamboozled a fair few superstars in past years, and the pros today still hold them in the highest regard. • FACILITIES • A vast array of off-course amenities, from Europe’s largest on-course golf shop to the PGA National Golf Academy with its 34-bay floodlit driving range and Custom Fit Centre and Sam’s Bar and Grill takes care of the post-round refreshment needs. The 324 bedroom hotel offers a variety of play and stay promotions for The Brabazon course and The Belfry’s other two notable courses, the PGA National and The Derby. • SUMMARY • The West Midlands is blessed with a fine array of great golf courses, many of them richly deserve the ‘must play’ tag for 2010. However, there is one layout that thanks to its history and reputation stands at the top of every golfer’s wish list for that one special visit this year. The Belfry’s commitment to constantly improve The Brabazon course with its fantastic all year round condition and playability in all weathers ensure its place at the top of the table is fully justified.

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COMPETITIONS WINNERS Pictured from right to left our winners are.. Jeff Cowls, a 14 handicapper and a member of Aston Wood. Jo Cassidy is a member at nearby Wishaw and is a 29 handicapper. Gill Winstanley, who plays off 24 and is the lady captain at The Warwickshire And finally David Ellis from Burton-onTrent GC who plays off 13

Our golfing guinea pigs for 2010 in association with The Belfry have been chosen and the 4 winners of our Custom Fit vs Tuition competition met up for the first time early March and are pictured here in front of the famous ivy clad clubhouse either side of Kirk Lovell, golf operations senior supervisor. Our fantastic four will have their games assessed and two will receive six custom fit sessions, the other two , six lessons. Their progress will be

followed throughout the summer until we all meet again, early Autumn for a round at The Brabazon Course to see which method has worked the best. Two more competition winners too this issue‌. Winning a one night stay at the 5 star hotel at Celtic Manor for two, plus 18 holes on either the Roman Road or Montgomerie courses is Mrs Anne Solloway from Halesowen.

N I W y a t S ic

t en! s a t n rd a Fa t Of A res o F e at Th 10

NAME THE 2 GOLF COURSES AT THE FOREST OF ARDEN

Last but not least, the winner of the society experience day at Carden Park in Cheshire for up to 12 golfers is Paul Marston from Walsall.

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Congratulations to all our winners this month, and thanks to all who entered. This is your chance to sample the fantastic quality that we have in the last 2 editions. You can win 1 night dinner bed and breakfast with a round on both the Aylesford and The Arden courses. All you need to do is send your name, address, email and contact number along with the answer to the question in the sign.

email your answers to editor@staffordshiregolfer.co.uk or post your answers to Fairway Media Ltd, St james house, webberley lane, longton, Stoke on Trent, ST3 1RJ Closing Date April 16th 2010 MARCH • 2010


HANDSWORTH History

Designed in the late 19th century and remodelled by H.S.Colt in the early 20th century, member run to this day, the last 20 years have seen major improvements to course, clubhouse and the distinctive fishing lake.

Location

Easier to reach than its location might suggest. Junction 7 off the M6 onto the A34 Walsall Road, then right on the B4124, the club is situated 2 miles further on, and well sign-posted.

Course

Situated on a wide expanse of land where nowhere, even on its borders is it even merely noticeable that Handsworth is an urban golf course. Amongst the peace and tranquillity are rows of mature trees, attractive green to tee walks, meandering brooks and flocks of Canadian geese all contributing to a picturesque

looking track. In general, it’s a generous looking 18 holes, the tree-lined fairways offer plenty of width, the rough isn’t too penal and there’s not a great deal in the way of hidden surprises. Fairway bunkers are plentiful however, many have been moved to trickier spots in recent times to add a risk and reward element. Difficulty depends considerably too on the time of year, the deciduous trees (of which there are many) make far bigger hazards in full bloom, some tee shots demand accuracy in firing between groups of tall trees not too far apart, gaps that narrow during the spring and summer. Handsworth has a number of really nice looking straight ahead Par 4s, the fairways dotted with those ever present sand traps, the brook that leads from the lake crosses the 9th, 14th and 15th holes. Challenging bunkering around the putting surfaces too, notably at the tight Par 3 holes that Handsworth has, scenic but not always straightforward. The greens

themselves are large, receptive and maintained to a high standard, smooth and true running throughout.

Facilities

A large practice ground, putting green and short game area. The clubhouse is very large with two lounges, restaurant and snooker room. Head Pro, Lee Bashford and his staff organise society and corporate golf days including coaching sessions and clinics for non-golfers.

Summary

A very well run and successful member club with a course in great condition in time for the summer months, which will see it at its very best. The name Handsworth may well conjure up some false pre-conceptions among out-of-towners but take it from us, once you’re here it’ll prove a very pleasant surprise.

Where The City Takes A Break A very traditional and well-established members club in an area of Birmingham that doesn’t necessarily promote thoughts of an ideal golfing location for those who don’t know about it. Some places though are deserving of closer scrutiny.

Favourite Hole: 9th, 420 Yards, Par 4 Handsworth’s signature hole is the very 1st around the lake. A lovely hole yet we plumped for one of the straight ahead longer Par 4s, the brook looks far away but it does all run downhill towards it. Then it’s an uphill approach to a heavily sloping green where it’s well recommended not to go too far. Plenty of bunkers and trees too, just a stunning looking hole.

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

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Nailcote Hall A Great Golfing Experience

Notable golfing establishments are ten-a-penny around the East Birmingham to Coventry corridor. The M42 and A45 slip roads regularly have those brown signs, pointing you towards the likes of Forest of Arden, The West Midlands and Stonebridge amongst others. Competition is fierce around these parts for green fees and society bookings, yet there’s one location that offers something a little bit different, welcome to Nailcote Hall, a 17th Century Jacobean Country House Hotel. An ideal, easy to reach conference venue, the idyllic wedding location, and in its grounds a Par 3 course that hosts currently the West Midlands most prestigious pro tournament, the British Par 3 Championship, a mid-summer event high on the agenda of local and European pros plus many celebrities.

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MARCH • 2010


NAILCOTE HALL History

The Course

The British Pro Short Course Championship was first held way back in 1933 in Torquay. Legends such as Ted Ray, Harry Vardon and Henry Cotton graced the tournament in its early years. In 1998, a new era was born as the newly designed Nailcote Hall became the events host course and in the subsequent years has provided many exciting tournaments, many of them undecided until the last putt has dropped.

It only tips the scales so to speak at just over 1,000 yards in length. It only takes an hour to play and anyone who brings a wood or hybrid along with them is probably going to be ridiculed. What could be simpler? Hit a few wedges, sink a couple of putts to feel good about yourselves, have a pint, job done. Take a look at the view from the 1st tee however and re-evaluate your pre-conceptions, there’s an instant early example of the tricky task ahead and why many of the British par 3 competitors have struggled over the years.

Nailcote is a family run business; everything is done in house including course design, owner Rick Cressman and Ex European Tour stalwart and Head Pro Mark Mouland work tirelessly to improve the layout and present an annual strict examination of everyone’s short game skills.

The long narrow and very raised green is only 116 yards away but finding its centre is your only chance of joy. Anything off target will leave you either in one of the steep-lipped bunkers that surround it or faced with a chip up a steep bank with the realistic danger of slipping back down the other side too.

hole, more of that later. Needles Eye is the name of the 5th, apt too as your wedge will need to be straight as a die to avoid the two oak trees placed just 10 yards apart in front of a bunker clad green. The 6th has an elevated tee set amongst trees with Nailcote’s lake threatening on the right hand side and out of bounds perilously close to the back of the green. Hole 7 is the longest at 146 yards with an elevated green guarded by a huge and penal bunker. The 8th is much shorter but a scary proposition, two more oak trees and the lake guard the front and left of the putting surface and as you may find out there’s more trouble back right, only the centre of the green will suffice here.

Signature Hole, 9th – 133 yards

Holes 2 and 3 offer probably the best of the birdie opportunities although you cannot afford to be short on either; a meandering brook runs in front of both, with sand too. The 4th is a little devil of a

A fitting finish to this ultimate of short game examinations. Until 2007, the water was confined to the back of the green, now it stretches around to the front too for a near “Sawgrass” look – The only dry bit is occupied by one more large oak to deter the cheeky route. Disasters are inevitable here on this superb closing challenge, aesthetically pleasing on the eye as well.

The Golfer Magazine Favourite, 4th Hole, 87 Yards

Facilities

The shortest challenge has the tiniest green too, protected at the front by three small pot bunkers. The fenced off border of the course is much too close for comfort, any over hit shots will end up out of bounds, this little gem can lead to more than a few red faces.

The Hotel has 40 bedrooms. Nailcote Hall has a restaurant and a café/bar plus full leisure facilities. The grand old untouched look of the exterior is mirrored by the fixtures, fittings and décor inside. Rather like its Championship Golf Course, everything is done to a very high standard.

Summary

The Greens The majority of the putting surfaces are raised and upturned saucers in shape. Holding onto them is difficult enough and the run off areas are often very severe. Like the rest of the course, the greens are in great condition and good putters will get some joy. It’s reaching them that’s the permanent test here; some pin positions can be devilishly tough. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

There are many clubs out there that purport themselves to be The Hidden Gem of the West Midlands but for an entirely different reason Nailcote Hall may have a claim to that title. It’s not because golfers don’t know about it, maybe more of a case they are dismissive of its format and merits to their golf games. It’s a well-known fact that we don’t spend enough time honing our short games; Nailcote is the perfect venue for that. Just 9 holes here will put it through a full MOT and no matter what your standard is, shooting anywhere near par is a real achievement. However, the biggest factor here is fun; it’s something different and massively enjoyable. Groups and societies too who haven’t visited here yet should take note of the fact that this little track has the potential to play host to a fun tournament type day, possibly a quick-fire match play event that’s a little bit out of the ordinary. Thrills and spills are guaranteed as part of the package that is Nailcote Hall.

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the futures

This issue our popular column highlighting the up and coming young stars of The West Midlands looks at three young guys leading the way in their differing age groups in the regions amateur golfing circuits, and all making strides nationally too.

richard prophet

20 year old Richard has aspirations of a successful 2010 season to continue the rapid progress he’s made in the amateur ranks ever since first picking up a club 8 years ago. He learned his golf at Dudley GC, a spell at Shifnal GC in Shropshire followed before becoming a junior member at Sandwell Park where he’s been for the last 5 years. Richard’s first notable tournament success came at Ingestre Park in 2003 winning the Staffordshire under 14 championship. A year later came victory in the Worcestershire U15’s and Richard soon became a member of the England U16 squad. Richard, who plays off a handicap of +3 is coached by Kevin Haywood of Kings Norton GC. Successes have continued in recent years, especially in 2007 where

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home turf was fully taken advantage of as the local boy triumphed in both the Midlands Closed Championship and the West Midlands Amateur at Sandwell. 2008 saw Richard win one of our most prestigious and traditional trophies , The Stag at Beau Desert. Three major ambitions for this year, Richard is working hard at his game in time for Open Qualifying, The English Amateur at Little Aston and the Midlands Open. As for turning pro he’s in no rush to do that just yet, his ultimate goal first is to represent his country in the 2011 Walker Cup in Aberdeen. He has already represented England at U21 level too, another step up in the world of team golf would be relished before the professional ranks beckon. MARCH • 2010


bright

THE FUTURES BRIGHT

Last issue we featured The Taylor Sisters from Rugby, siblings making great strides in West Midlands’ junior girls golf. This month, with almost perfect symmetry we visited Evesham in Worcestershire and two brothers, slightly younger but just as highly promising.

ben and tom robinson

Ben Robinson is 14 years old and has been playing the game for 6 years, he’s currently a 4 handicapper and aims to reduce that down to less than one by the end of this year. Past achievements include a win in the IAPS UK schools championship when aged 11 and a Top 30 spot in the Midland Boys U18’s last year. Ben’s ambition for 2010 is to get into the England U16 squad and hes already entered the Faldo series for his age group too. His younger brother Tom is no less ambitious and equally talented. Tom is 11 years old and already plays off 16, he has also been golfing for 6 years. Last year saw him victorious in two major junior school events, winning impressively in his age group at both Lytham & St Annes and at the home THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

of golf itself, St Andrews. Tom also played in the Welsh Boys Open at Builth Wells last year. He hopes this year to lower his handicap down to 10-11 and is round about the same standard as his older brother was at the same age. Not that Ben would readily admit to that, these two are rather a competitive pair, their rivalry may just speed them both to greater heights. Both Ben and Tom are junior members at The Vale GC, near Evesham and are coached by father Jeremy, an ex-European Tour Pro who now owns the nearby Twyford Golf Centre, the range there is like a second home to the Robinson boys looking to sharpen their swings for further success in 2010.

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A JAMES BRAID CLASSIC – Fulford Heath GC really lives up to its reputation

A highly regarded parkland challenge in an area of wooded tranquillity at the southern edge of Birmingham. The course is notable for its water features and mature trees. The club itself is one of the busiest in the region in terms of competition and match golf for all ages and genders. Naturally, there is also a very healthy social side too.

The Course The knowledgeable members at Fulford Heath, if you get the chance to speak to one before tee off will advise you to make your scores early; it is the opening stretch here that is comfortably the more generous part. The scorecard indicates it too, and the reality proves to be the case, the first five holes offer some good birdie chances, two potentially driveable Par fours amongst them plus a very short Par three 5th hole, although its well-guarded by sand traps. As soon the gentle but distinctive River Cole appears the difficulty increases somewhat, it meanders through the middle part of the course and features on five holes.

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The turn is an especially tricky stretch. Challenging short holes at 8 and 11 sit either side of two real examinations, the long Par 4, 9th, stroke index one, an undulating test with a daunting uphill long iron approach required to its raised green. The back nine then kicks off with the longest hole on the course, a right to left dogleg Par 5, also uphill with the River Cole to negotiate from the tee and an approach that demands your total precision to a well-guarded putting surface. Precision is a good watchword for success at Fulford Heath. It’s a thinker’s type of layout, good club selection is vital to put yourself in the ideal spots on

fairways to attack the greens from the right angles. If you stray off line there’s also the extra hazard of low-lying branches hanging down from the mature oaks that will demand some skill and creativity in punching your way out of trouble. Fulford Heath’s greens are renowned for being some of best in the region, smooth and very fast in Mid-summer, and all year round quite an undulating challenge to test all abilities. They are also quite well defended too; missing many of these targets on the wrong side will leave some daunting up and downs for par. The round ends with another Par 5, the fitting conclusion being a superb carpet like putting surface, truly saving the best until last. MARCH • 2010


FULFORD HEATH History A James Braid design and completed in 1933, no more than the odd tweak has been performed in the subsequent years. The clubhouse used to be a tannery and was modernised in 2000.

Location Only 2 miles away from Junction 3, on the M42, via the A435 dual carriageway. The club is well signposted and situated on Tanners Green Lane.

Signature Hole: The 16th, 167 yards, Par 3 Fulford Heath’s short holes really stand out, the highlight being the final one with a lake that plays longer than it looks and rolling slopes on a difficult to read green. Well protected by sand traps too this stunning looking hole has claimed many victims over the years. The Golfer Magazine Pick: The 12th, 361 Yards, Par 4 This hole truly encapsulates what Fulford Heath is all about. The river flows all around and through this delightful dogleg where placement is the key for success, the approach shot tricky enough to a narrow well-guarded green without the added disadvantage of being in the wrong place to play it from.

Contact secretary/ manager for details of current offers Membership packages for golfers of all abilities, including beginners Social memberships also available, visitors always welcome

Course Improvements By the springtime, Fulford will have finished lengthening four of its holes, the 6th, 7th, 13th and 18th will all be a little bit tougher, the 7th especially will now present a real dilemma as the River Cole will become a serious factor from the tee, now set much further back.

Facilities Fulford Heath’s refurbished clubhouse makes an attractive 19th hole venue. The large open planned room has an area at the back that can be sectioned off for private parties. The society packages are full of variety and so too are the menus. Good THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

short game practice facilities. A great social venue too for all, a full diary is guaranteed for all types of occasions. An extra benefit to membership here is reciprocal free weekday golf at six other courses all around England.

For The Ladies In a unique venture for 2010, the lady members at the club wish to invite other ladies and girls along to Fulford Heath, play some holes and enjoy some social time afterwards. These ‘taster’ sessions will be held at regular intervals throughout the year in order to introduce the club to potential new girl and lady members, juniors and gents are also welcome to take part, the next session is to be held on April 11th.

For Juniors Fulford Heath is a golf mark accredited establishment thanks to its very busy Junior Academy. In the summer months, children of all ages and abilities, whether members or not, attend coaching sessions led by Head Professional Richard Dunbar and assistants, members of the club who have attained level one teaching qualifications. School visits are also included as part of Fulford’s impressive Junior Coaching Programme.

Summary Springtime and early summer will see Fulford Heath at its very best. In full bloom, this strategic challenge of a course with its impressive greens will charm and examine your game in equal measures. A trip to this welcoming establishment in North Worcestershire is highly recommended

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GET CARTER

2010

realise your potential T

he two main men at the heart of the much admired Golfer Magazine have (despite the large amount of golf they play reviewing courses all over ) less than much admired golf games. Managing Director Euan and Editor Phil are stuck in a mid-handicap rut at present, both with wildly inconsistent games, when we’re hot , there’s good golf in the pair of us, but at our worst there are many issues that desperately need addressing before the springtime and the tournament season. To find a solution and a method of improvement we hadn’t come across before we visited St Thomas Priory in Rugeley , home of the European Golf Performance Institute ( EGPI ). Head Professional Michael Beaumont and staff use a more scientific approach to a golf game, concentrating on the physiological side and just what your body needs to do to maximise your playing performance. In an initial 3 hour assessment we received an eye-opening example of just how different this type of coaching is, if there is something wrong with the way your body performs during a golf swing the team at the EGPI will focus on those issues first and foremost. A 3 hole playing lesson starts off the assessment under the watchful eye of Michael and his video camera, all about observation at this point, there’s no actual coaching involved. Back inside the institute and we’re put through our paces by undertaking a 15 point physical profile to test strength and conditioning with the centre’s strength and conditioning coach Cara Percival. While one of us sweats, the other one is having his deficiencies pointed out to him in minute detail via the findings of the video camera and on the force plates. The idea is for us both to undertake a six week home course of stretches and exercises designed to begin to iron out some of the issues that Michael lists below.

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Phil needs to improve his posture at address, his weight is back on his heels too much, a programme of stretches and pulls should promote greater levels of flexibility in his lower back and hamstrings that will give him improved and more natural posture at set up, with the added benefit of producing extra force.

Finally Cara takes us through the homework we’ve been set for the next six weeks until we reconvene early April , our two differing regimes should hopefully produce some promising results and help us understand more fully the bio-mechanics of the golf swing. The facilities here are designed to improve golf games of all standards, ages and sexes. The slightly elitist reputation that the EGPI has in certain circles is undeserved, pros, high-handicappers and many juniors all use and benefit from the service here. If you’ve had lessons and new clubs and gone down the normal routes of golfing improvement without total joy this appliance of science approach might just be worth a try too. Next issue we’ll see just how much our games have changed and take the 3 hole challenge again, hopefully with a blitz of birdies and no more aching limbs!

Euan’s problem and his inconsistencies are down to a lack of balance. His centre of gravity moves in the swing and his weight transfer is poor, causing a loss of distance and often erratic strikes. We have given him a series of exercises designed to create better stability in the hip and pelvis to improve balance.

MARCH • 2010


Mix “n” Match LOCATION

Couldn’t be much better placed, M42, junction 6, then a short trip down the A45 before taking the A452 Leamington Road, turn left onto the B4102, Stonebridge on the left hand side.

HISTORY

Originally an 18 hole parkland course designed in 1990. Extra land was purchased in 2007 and 9 inland links holes were constructed that are now split between two of the nine hole loops making Stonebridge a truly mixed bag of a challenge.

FACILITIES

In a new regular feature in The Golfer Magazine we spotlight each issue one of our regions flexible friends, i.e the 27 hole courses. For a quick 9, a regulation 18, or a days worth of golf taking in each hole these clubs provide the answer. Usually very good value for money with fine off course charms, the 27 holers give us something different in our golfing rotas. We kick off at Stonebridge, close to the centre of the region and its three stretches of nine holes that offer something for everyone.

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One of the regions finer teaching academies, lots going on for all ages, and plenty of junior involvement. A 21 bay floodlit driving range, short game area, putting and a practice bunker. Inside, a large restaurant ,spike bar and meeting rooms. The well stocked club shop now custom fits and repairs clubs.

SUMMARY

A notable trailblazer for a new feature, Stonebridge has the right mix of holes on its three courses to suit fans of all forms of golf. Lots going on facility and coaching wise too, an unpretentious family friendly location that’s well worth a look at.

MARCH • 2010


27 HOLE CHALLENGE… STONEBRIDGE The Somers Course This loop of nine really is a mixed bag of golfing holes. Water down the right side of the first fairway will catch any wayward early shots and some tricky longer challenges towards the end means that you really will have to get off to a good start if you have any chance of making a score. This is by far the longest of the three tracks and measures 3316 yards from the championship tees, over 500 yards further than the other 2. Early on though the emphasis is definitely on accuracy, with tight fairways and well guarded greens aplenty. After completing the beautiful par 3 4th where your iron play will be tested to its limits you face a walk to the 5th tee where the course completely changes its face. Standing on the 5th tee feels like you are on a totally different lay out. Big hitters will relish the opportunity of the next 3 holes, birdies, eagles and bogies all a real possibility, this stretch can undo all the good work of the opening 4 holes. All in all this is by far the most testing 9 in our opinion and scoring well will be a true test for all levels of golfer.

Somers Stunner 8th – a short par 3 over water and a tight entrance to the green meaning only the most accurate of shots will provide you with a birdie opportunity.

Hampton Course The Hampton measures 2786 yards and is the second longest loop. It may not be the longest but don’t let that fool you, the emphasis is high on placement. Once more the Hampton starts off as a typical parkland layout and after the 4th becomes an exciting inland links with some fantastic golf holes and lots of thick rough to catch any off centre strikes. The 3rd hole is by far one of the tightest tee shots you will face at Stonebridge with water both right and left of the fairway and an old oak tree slap bang in the middle of the fairway. Big hitters may think they can take out the trouble with their driver, think again as a brook running 20 yards in front of the green will put paid to any thoughts of using your biggest club. The Hampton is in our opinion the best of the three lay outs and has some of the best golfing holes in the area.

Hampton Highlight 5th- a par 3 with a water carry and a huge pot bunker inches in front of the green really does provide you with a great risk and reward golf hole.

The Blythe The Blythe is the shortest of the three and if you are playing the full 27 you will be pleased to see that on the score card. A long par 4 start will test you early on and by the time you have played the 3rd , a 200 yard par 3 you will be wondering if they have got the yardage wrong. However after a short walk to the 4th hole you enter the same inland links environment as the one on the Hampton course. This section of the course is not long, however there really is lots of trouble, with undulating fairways, water hazards and links style rough you can easily come a cropper. The 9th and final hole is a dogleg left with trouble 90 yards short of the green. You will need to muster all that remaining energy to keep your ball dry on this hole and it is a great finish to another fantastic loop of nine here at Stonebridge.

Blythe Beauty 7th – A short par 4 with lots of danger if you miss the fairway, find the short stuff however and you are left with a stunning looking green to go at, a real classic in our eyes. One common link that does run through all 27 holes is the quality of the putting surfaces. There’s variety in terms of size and curvature but the smoothness and even pace is present on all of them as well as receptiveness. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

21


GET CARTER

GET OUT OF THE GROOVE Welcome to my spring column, before we get to the real start of the tournament season I felt it time to talk about one or two topical and contentious issues in the game.

GET IT RIGHT! As my season fast approaches the work that is done off the course is very important. Testing new clubs out to ensure you have all the advantages available is very important. It is a common occurrence that club golfers have clubs that don’t suit them, either they bought it cheap off a mate at the pub, or their golfing buddy has just upgraded and they take his old (but newer than yours ) driver off them at a good price. Getting fitted with the right shaft is one of the most important things for golfers of any level. So next time you’re at the club pop in to see your PGA Professional for some advice on the equipment that’s best for your game. With spring coming I eagerly await the start of the season and with Q school for The PGA Europro Tour just around the corner its time for some serious training in order to be ready for the next step up the Pro grade. In the next issue I’ll let you know how myself and my fellow hopefuls from the region got on. Over the coming months i will be featuring all of the news, interviews and results from the local and national tours. I feel this is very important as the quality of golf on display from the PGA Professionals is the highest it has ever been. Good luck with the start of all your seasons, please let us know here at The Golfer Magazine of your finest moments.

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Phil Mickleson’s trials and tribulations with his wedges on the US Tour lately highlighted a confusing equipment issue worth looking into further for all players. To put golfers at ease below are the cut off points for different level of golfers. European Tour Golfers - have already changed from u grooves back to v grooves, this will reduce the amount of back spin the players create. I feel that it only benefits them from the poor lies because these guys and their skills wont take long to master landing the ball shorter and it releasing to the hole side. PGA Professionals (yours truly) - we have until 2014 until we have to make the change over. A big bonus for me is that the

Europro tour is governed by the PGA so i can play in tournaments without changing my clubs. Amateur golfers - You have until 2024 to make the change over, which I’m sure before that happens we will have another 2 or 3 different rule changes take place. But however one rule which will affect me and fellow pro’s is the regional Open qualifier. This year the PGA golfers who qualify through will have to change their clubs for the final qualifier, and then change them back if they don’t get all the way through to the Open Championships. Very frustrating and expensive! So rest assured all club golfers you still have plenty of time before the changeover.

YEAR OF THE TIGER! We are entering the Chinese year of the Tiger. Question is will it be the year of the Tiger as we know it? I have a huge amount of respect for what Tiger has done for the game. For not the straightest hitter, and certainly not the longest anymore he continued to compete at a level above everyone else in 2009. This i think is down to his mental strength and magic with the putter. I think Tiger will have a big impact at the MASTERS in April, don’t write him off, he will be back! MARCH • 2010


THE WINTER

BRABAZON PRO-AM, JAN 26th

SERIES

A freezing cold day and some testing pin positions saw scores soaring at The Brabazon, only Moor Hall’s Cameron Clark managed to break par, his 71 featured pars on all of the last 13 holes, consistency that proved enough for a two shot victory over Shaun Smith from Cotgrave Place with Steve Carter and Time Stevens finishing joint third. Clarks win saw him edge to the top of the Order of Merit.

January and February saw the Titliest PGA Midlands Winter Series reach its halfway point at both of The Belfry’s Championship lay outs.

PGA NATIONAL PRO-AM, FEB 9th Clark was again on form at The Belfry but this time had to settle for second place as a late birdie blitz from winter specialist Adrian Ambler ( Walton Golf Centre ) propelled

PGA Midland Region 2010 Tournament Schedule

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Date 19/04/2010 28/04/2010 10/05/2010 14/05/2010 16/05/2010 21/05/2010 26/05/2010 27/05/2010 28/05/2010 02/06/2010 07/06/2010 09/06/2010 10/06/2010 13/06/2010 15/06/2010 17/06/2010 18/06/2010 20/06/2010 24/06/2010 28/06/2010 29/06/2010 30/06/2010 02/07/2010 07/07/2010 08/07/2010 09/07/2010 12/07/2010 14/07/2010 15/07/2010 16/07/2010 20/07/2010 23/07/2010 25/07/2010 26/07/2010 27/07/2010 28/07/2010 01/08/2010 05/08/2010 08/08/2010 09/08/2010 10/08/2010 11/08/2010 13/08/2010 15/08/2010 16/08/2010 19/08/2010 20/08/2010 24/08/2010 25/08/2010 31/08/2010 02/09/2010 03/09/2010 07/09/2010 10/09/2010 12/09/2010 14/09/2010 20/09/2010 21/09/2010 22/09/2010 23/09/2010 06/10/2010 12/10/2010 15/11/2010

him up the leaderboard to take the first prize on 3 under after a 68. Clark was joined in second by Paul Streeter and in a rare winter appearance 2009 Order of Merit winner Craig Shave finished 4th on level par. Currently Ambler and Clark are tied for top in the Winter Series with two events left. There are still places available for teams of three amateurs to join the pros at the remaining two events. Contact Mids PGA Secretary Jon Sewell on 01455 824393 for details. Monday 24th March.......... Forest of Arden Tuesday 6th April............. Forest Pines

Event Prizefund PDF Midland Masters PQ, Kedleston Park n/a GLAZERITE PQ, Wellingborough n/a Powerade Assistants PQ, Whittlebury Park n/a Mark Group Birstall Pro Am £ 5,000 Nuneaton Pro Am £ 4,000 GLENMUIR PQ, Little Aston n/a GLAZERITE Pro-am, Wellingborough £ 4,000 GLAZERITE TROPHY, Wellingborough £ 8,000 MENZIES Welcombe Pro Am, Stratford upon Avon £ 5,000 PTS INVITATIONAL, South Staffordshire (three day event) £ 17,000 PGA National Pro-Am, Coxmoor n/a PGA National Pro-Am, Little Aston n/a Shirley Charity Pro Am £ 4,000 Stourbridge Pro Am £ 5,000 SKINS Fourball Challenge, Stapleford Park n/a Market Harborough Pro-am £ 2,300 Rothley Park Pro Am £ 2,700 Walmley Pro Am £ 3,200 Abbey Hotel Pro Am* £ 2,500 Rotary Pro Am, Copt Heath £ 3,800 Farmfoods British Par 3 PQ, Nailcote Hall n/a Hinckley Pro Am £ 4,000 Gedney Hill Pro Am £ 3,000 PDF MIDLAND MASTERS Pro Am, Kedleston Park £ 3,000 PDF MIDLAND MASTERS, Kedleston Park £ 8,000 Pro Captain Challenge, Staverton Park £ 1,000 Northamptonshire County Pro Am £ 5,150 Second City Pro Am, Little Aston £ 3,000 Ladbrook Park Pro Am £ 4,000 South Staffordshire Pro Am £ 4,400 Ruddington Grange Assistants Championship £ 3,000 The Chase Pro Am £ 3,750 Burton on Trent Pro Am £ 3,000 CH Properties Invitational Pro Am, South Staffordshire £ 3,300 Midland Assistants Pro Am Championships, Cavendish £ 1,500 FINETURF MIDLAND PROS PQ, De Vere Belton Woods n/a Enville Pro Am £ 5,500 MIDLAND OPEN supported by The Mark Group, Birstall (two day event) £ 12,000 Brailes Pro Am £ 4,000 KN27, Kings Norton £ 10,000 FARMFOODS BRITISH PAR 3 Pro Celebrity Day, Nailcote Hall n/a FARMFOODS BRITISH PAR 3 CHAMPIONSHIP, Nailcote Hall (two day event) £ 26,000 FARMFOODS BRITISH PAR 3 Pro Celebrity Day, Nailcote Hall n/a Burghill Valley Pro Am £ 6,000 Hawkstone Park Pro Am* £ 3,000 Midland PGA Assistants Pro Am, Shirley £ 3,000 Charlie Britton Classic, Gedney Hill £ 9,000 FINETURF MIDLAND PROS PRO-AM, De Vere Belton Woods £ 2,500 FINETURF MIDLAND PROS CHAMPIONSHIPS, De Vere Belton Woods (two day event) £ 10,000 Forest Pines Seniors Classic tbc Leek Pro Am £ 3,200 Luffenham Heath Pro Am £ 3,410 Northampton Pro Am £ 4,500 Brocton Hall Pro Am £ 5,095 Moor Hall Pro Am £ 2,500 SKYCADDIE Midland Assistants Championship, Telford Hotel & Country Club* £ 2,000 Peterborough Milton Pro Am £ 2,000 Olton Pro Am £ 2,500 COLD ASHBY TOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS Pro Am, Cold Ashby GC £ 1,000 COLD ASHBY TOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS, Cold Ashby GC £ 6,750 Needham & James Pro Am, The MENZIES Welcombe £ 3,000 Captain's Day, Moor Hall* £ 2,000 Parque da Floresta Pro Am, Algarve tbc NOTE: Prizefunds based on 2009 figures. Where marked * indicates proposed 2010 fund (tbc).

MARCH • 2010


Pro Turns Caddy Former PGA Midland captain Bob Larratt – no stranger to carrying his own bag – took up that of his daughter’s while she took part in the Ladies’ European Tour Qualifying School. The Kibworth (Leics) pro, who has competed regularly on the European Senior Tour in recent years, was the bagman for 22-year-old Kym as she successfully won her players card for 2010 at La Manga. Kym, playing at Q School for the Ladies’ Tour for only the second time, found her father’s advice invaluable during seven gruelling rounds at the Spanish resort. Kym shot rounds 71-72-78-221 in QS1 to go through to the Final QS where she ended on 293 after her 73-71-78-71 returns. “I played in the qualifying school for the 2009 tour, but failed to make the cut for the last round of FQS then, so I am absolutely delighted to have achieved my target of a full card.” “Now, I have an exciting golfing year to look forward to. I know my dad will continue to be there for me too which is a great boost.”

Snow Joke The seasonal flurry of snow which caught the entire British Isles by surprise was welcome in one corner of Northamptonshire at least. Cold Ashby Golf Club was again able to offer the best skiing in the county during four days of snow. Greg Croxton, co-owner of Cold Ashby, admits that while the nation struggled to get to work, he had actually been hoping for more snow. “We were a little unlucky, really,” he said, after opening the slopes - among the highest in the county - to skiers and snow-boarders.

Pro Am Opens Door To World Stars

“We had more than 60 skiers, some regulars and some newcomers while the snow lay but would have liked it to have lasted longer. It is better value than golf really.” Cold Ashby, which was ironically, one of the least snow-affected areas in the country this year, becomes a mecca for skiers who happily stump up £15 for a session. A portable ski-tow means there is no need to trudge up the hills between runs and allows users to enjoy the winter wonderland. Croxton was quick to point out however that as soon as the snow had thawed, the course, albeit a little damp underfoot, was open again for golf!

Cameron Clark Cameron Clark, the incoming PGA Midland Region captain, may face a few sleepless nights in the coming months and it will have little to do with his new role. The Moor Hall pro, who takes over from big brother Finlay as captain of the region, has a new addition to the Clark dynasty that includes his father Iain, the former Hagley GC professional as his wife Sarah recently gave birth to son Ewan. Of his golf, he said: “I’ve been playing well although I have not had too much practice in the cold weather. I would love to go somewhere to get some warm weather golf but that is not possible with the family.” Instead he has concentrated on the Titleist Winter Series and is looking forward to the Glazerite Trophy – the first of the 2010 Midland Order of Merit events at Wellingborough at the end of May. “I will obviously play all of the Order of Merit events and want to try to qualify for the Club Pros and play in this new English PGA event at Goodwood and I want to play in the Welsh THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

Open where I have played for the past couple of years.” The captaincy is also at the forefront of his mind. “I am really looking forward to it,” he added. “We will try and do as much as we can for charity this year. “Carrying on the Clark dynasty means so much to me too. I know Dad is very proud of us both which means so much. We are so close as a family and he has been the consummate pro throughout his career and I want to carry that on. I just love what I do.”

Richard Lewis, head professional at The Worcestershire, will this month tread the same fairways as world greats such as Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Boo Weekly in the proam of a lifetime. Lewis, was one of a lucky bunch of golfers from Britain and Europe to be drawn to play in the Srixon Cleveland Trans-Atlantic Tussle at The Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort in Miami. The Worcestershire pro does not yet know who he will line up alongside but knows it could be one of Singh, Henrik Stenson or even Miguel Angel Jiménez. The opposition could include one of the aforementioned US greats, all of whom are Srixon or Cleveland players. “I don’t mind who I play with although I would love it to be Jiménez,” said Lewis. “It is just going to be such a thrill to play alongside any of those great players.” Lewis entered the draw at a recent trade show and was one of a handful of Brits to be chosen at random to play in the USA v Rest of the World challenge at the magnificent Miami resort.

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HALFPENNY GREEN

NEW BEGINNINGS One of the newest golfing venues in the region, set on the edge of The Black Country with a Nine hole course, driving range and a lot going on.

9 Holes and Single vend £10 (weekends & bank holiday) Unlimited golf & single vend £10 (weekdays) 3 monthly season ticket £150 (unlimited golf)

Location

An attractive position amongst miles of rolling farmland, just 15 minutes from Wolverhampton and Dudley Town Centres. Panoramic views of the Shropshire and Staffordshire hills. Light aircraft from the nearby airfield buzz overhead.

History

Opened in 2002, Halfpenny Green is a family run business, 60 acres of farmland converted into a golfing location; the large clubhouse opened in 2006 is a barn conversion.

The Course

Purpose built to provide an ideal venue for beginners and intermediate players. The nine holes measure just over 2,500 yards and the flat landscape doesn’t make it too taxing, yet ground staff keep it in good nick and are working hard to increase the trickery too with new tee placements and extra bunkering to be added this year. Rows of Birches and Pines have been planted for some added attractiveness in the future, the course is a true labour of love and a work in progress with the crucial bonus of its sandy base providing excellent drainage and year round play. The greens too are large affairs and in fine condition throughout. It’s an ideal

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starter location, a no pressure relaxed environment where wide fairways and the level terrain will suit down to the ground juniors taking up the game and intermediate players to relax and fine tune their skills. However, the 9th hole, an uphill long Par 5 breaks the rules slightly here, upwind this is no easy task for a player of any standard attempting to close out with a birdie.

Driving Range

12 Bays floodlit, and now with automated powertees and new driving mats.

Junior Golf

Halfpenny Green makes a real commitment to junior progress, Sunday morning sessions from ages 3-12, plus week long holiday camps and

kids from the local schools get regular opportunities also to hit a few balls at the range under the watchful eye of the centre’s Two Professionals, double Midlands Order of merit winner Darren Prosser and 30 year professional Keith Wheeler.

Facilities Halfpenny’s social side is as busy as the golfing one. The clubhouse can accommodate 200, the large sun terrace outside with its fine views make it a fine location for weddings and other occasions, there’s a marquee to hire for outdoor events. The club also runs a very popular curry night, societies have a good range of packages to choose from and back to the golf, Halfpenny Green is a venue for Powerplay golf tournaments.

The Future

The club is currently developing more land next door for a six hole academy course due to be open early 2011.

Summary

Hard work, dedication and forward thinking have produced a desirable venue for golfers of all ages and abilities to play and socialise in a lovely setting. Memberships and green fees are great value for money too, Halfpenny Green is a good up and coming venue not to be ignored. MARCH • 2010


HORSEHAY VILLAGE

Village

Charm

A fairly new design set in a developing area just south of Telford. Council owned yet independently run, the course designed by Howard Swan was opened for play in 1997. Horsehay Village also has a floodlit 22 bay driving range on the premises. Course

Favourite Hole

The layout is just less than 6,000 yards in length from the White Tees, Par 70 with two halves of contrast on either side of the main road. The first nine has an inland links feel to it with challenging holes nicely designed around the undulating terrain. Ups and downs, long grasses and some tough approach shots are the order of the day, notably a long iron or fairway wood to a putting surface at the long Par 4, 9th, whilst avoiding two ditches and a deep bunker.

Hole 8 – 185 yards, Par 3 Scenic but deadly, your long iron or fairway wood will need to be on form to find the putting surface across a large lake and two greenside bunkers. If you’re going to miss the target, too long is a lot more desirable than too short.

The back nine is set on more open ground, a little bit more in way of width on the fairways, the hilly nature remains the same, there’s some well-placed sand traps, yet a spell of holes exists that will suit beginners just that little bit more. However, the trickiness returns fine style for the two closing holes. The 17th is a tight downhill challenge where accuracy off the tee is crucial for a successful approach to a green well below the level of the fairway. Then the finishing hole is a fairly long Par 4 dog leg with a daunting long iron approach to a green guarded by a large bunker and stream on the left. It is a challenging conclusion to an excellent and varied test of golf. The greens are well conditioned and consistent in nature, and at its highest points Horsehay Village offers outstanding panoramic views of the surrounding Shropshire countryside.

The bright and airy modern clubhouse is really nice with the Nineteenth Hole bar accommodating up to 50. Larger societies and other functions can be catered for, a marquee sits outside and buffet menus are prepared on the premises. The driving range has a well-stocked club shop.

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

Facilities

Summary Pre-conceptions can often exist when the words council and golf go together. Any of those will soon be laid to rest here. Horsehay Village’s combination of an enjoyable test of golf with some stand out holes, a friendly atmosphere and very reasonable green fees make it well worth a visit for all ability golfers in 2010.

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In a regular section each issue we will focus on one special golfing venue right at the very border edge of our region, a club that may not appear on the radar of many West Midlanders but deserves closer scrutiny and a little extra mileage to reach. Our first occupant of the ‘out of the way, but it must be played’ slot is none other than England’s highest golf club. Sat on top of Bradnor Hill in deepest Herefordshire with the Welsh border no more than a good 6 iron away is Kington Golf Club, established in 1925 and a real hidden gem of natural beauty.

Kington Golf Club

The golfing

High Life 28

MARCH • 2010


OUT OF THE WAY, BUT IT MUST BE PLAYED Surroundings The medieval market town of Kington sits at the bottom of Bradnor Hill. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle found inspiration in a nearby haunted house when writing The Hound of the Baskervilles. Difficult not to feel inspired golf wise either at Kington which boasts panoramic 3600 views of the Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains, The Malvern’s and Clee Hills amongst others. The land also forms part of the historic Offa’s Dyke Walk. Be prepared to share the fairways with grazing sheep who are oblivious to the risk of a flying golf ball or two.

Course

On the face of it, there’s reason for optimism and a low score when surveying the task ahead. Course length is just 5,900 yards, there are no bunkers and no water hazards either at Kington. Ambitions of a birdie blitz though can only be realised if you can tame the terrain and cope with the elements on a track that plays as a pure inland links treat. The natural undulations of the land present rolling, fast running and sloping fairways that can speed your ball towards trouble and tight spots to make approach shots very tricky propositions. None more so than at the beginning and end as both the 1st and 18th share a fairway, one goes up with the ground falling away from you and to the left, and coming back it presents a similar problem on the other side. Despite a hilly beginning, once you get up towards the highest points of the hill it’s not as tough to walk as it might look. Having a deft touch around the greens is a good key for success here, approach shots need to be precise and from the correct angles as the greens often fall heavily away from the front or side leaving in all likelihood very difficult up and downs to regularly tight pin positions. The putting surfaces are a year round delight, great quality and full of variety, some are large, undulating two tiered affairs yet there’s also some narrow, modestly sized gems, so well defended on all sides. Naturally the elements will play a major part too, no hilltops anywhere are immune from a stiff breeze or two and Kington is no different, especially at the highest points it can get quite severe. Around the turn sees the layout at its most exposed and typically links like in its erratic and unpredictable nature, penal patches of bracken and gorse lurk to entrap windswept golf balls, great care is needed on a blustery day, with a little luck too. The Par 5 (and reachable in favourable conditions) 11th marks the start of a slow descent back towards the clubhouse, an enjoyable closing stretch is never lacking in charm and the superb views remain throughout as does the wonderful sense of fun you’ll no doubt experience playing this very different type of track.

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

Signature Hole, 18th, 283 Yards, Par 4 There can be no other here. It shares the same fairway as the 1st so you spend your whole round looking forward to the prospect of driving the green on this delicious finishing hole. Its downhill all the way and eminently reachable, with a bit of wind behind you could even manage it with a long iron or hybrid. However, should you pitch it too short, or in the wrong area, the left to right sloping fairway could send your ball towards nasty spots of heather and gorse and a typically Kington-esque pitch of high difficulty required to reach the long and narrow putting surface. A real picture book and grandstand finish. The Golfer Magazine Pick, 15th Hole, 214 Yards, Par 3 Quite an unusual hole for Kington, everything is all in front of you on this long Par 3 with its raised tee and exposed putting surface. A great test, for coming up short will expose your golf ball to the lottery of bumpy links type land, go too long and a steep bank awaits at the back of the green. Gorgeous views from the tee.

Directions

From the North, Kington is on the A44 via Worcester and Leominster, from the West it’s the A411 Hereford road, Kington is 71 miles from the centre of The West Midlands.

Facilities

The traditional clubhouse has fine views overlooking the superb 18th green and back up towards the tee. There’s always a very friendly welcome at this most sociable of clubs. The club has just been awarded the Golf Mark plus honour for its impressive Junior set up. Green fees and society packages are some of the most reasonable around.

Summary

For those who enjoy something a little bit different in their golfing rotas for 2010 this picturesque border spot is an ideal location. Not to be taken lightly in any way, you’ll barely notice the lack of traditional hazards, Kington doesn’t need them. It’s a unique challenge for an inland track, your creativity in shot making will be fully tested in a most enjoyable way. Untouched by the modern march of golf club progress, Kington’s charms are fully deserving of a wider audience.

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THE BELFRY

A Great Place

to do business! Corporate Special Earlier this year we were invited to The Belfry to experience first hand what they offer their corporate clients. The day was a thank you to all their corporate members and a 2 ball better ball was on the agenda. Upon arriving we were greeted in one of the fantastic suites and a full breakfast was served, where we had a chance to meet all of our fellow competitors. One of the first things we noticed was how well everyone got on. There was lots of pre-game banter and business happening around those breakfast tables. The PGA National was the course for this competition and as always in superb condition. We had been partnered with the Grosvenor Casino pairing and straight away found out that these guys played some very good golf. Throughout the round we were chatting to the guys and finding out their thoughts on the corporate membership package that they had taken out, they were impressed by the package. “We get to play at one of the best golfing venue`s in the country and bring clients who`s business is vital to us, after a day here it just helps strengthen our business relationship” Sadly there was no winning golf by us but a respectable 3rd for our playing partners. The day was a great success, occasions like these easily highlight the value of corporate golf at this most prestigious venue. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

Corporate Golf Membership Share the thrill of the ultimate venue for golf Site of the PGA’s headquarters and host to more Ryder Cups than any other venue in the world, The Belfry has become synonymous with golf and a Mecca for both professional and amateur players. The Belfry’s corporate golf packages provide the perfect opportunity to draw business associates, clients and colleagues together in the spirit of friendly competition and camaraderie. Complemented by excellent hospitality and the space to entertain groups of all sizes they’ve been specially designed to impress you and your guests from the moment you arrive. Inviting your guests to enjoy our three golf courses and world-class facilities leaves a lasting positive impression and where better to find inspiration than walking in the footsteps of sporting legends.

Corporate Golf Membership starts at just £6,950

Corporate Golf Days As one of the world’s leading and instantly recognisable golf resort for players of all levels, The Belfry represents a unique backdrop for corporate entertainment. Undeniably the spiritual home of the Ryder Cup and host to the Quinn Insurance British Masters, The Belfry has vast experience in delivering successful corporate golf events. From blue chip corporate golf days to European Tour events, The Belfry hosts golfers across the three courses, each offering a very different, demanding and exciting challenge. Matched by the menu choices, the high levels of service and the space to facilitate large groups, The Belfry is the venue of choice for all types of corporate golf hospitality. Benefit from the complete golf experience with a corporate golf day at The Belfry. For more information please call our Golf Sales Team on 01675 470301 or visit www.TheBelfry.com

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SOCIETY

THE WYE VALLEY Golf Society

Formed

2006

Members

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Favourite courses played Ones they’d love to play

Burghill Valley (Herefordshire Ashbury Manor (Devon) The Belfry (Brabazon Course) Forest of Arden (Arden Course) Hailing from the very southernmost tip of our region at beautiful Ross-on-Wye are this months featured society. The Wye Valley Golf Society are a fairly new group, their first full season was just 3 years ago but already the original 12 members have been joined by many more, a consistent rise year by year, and now two juniors are in their midst as well. The majority of their golf is played in Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and there’s an annual away trip to Devon, where the regular season opener is held in January at Ashbury Manor .The Wye Valley GS are year round players, a bit of winter chill doesn’t deter them, a typical season sees them tee it up at 8/9 locations. They also like to take trips into South Wales, the highlight being a mid summer 36 hole event at Dewstow Golf Club in Caldecott, Monmouthshire. Golf days are always competitive affairs, stableford tournaments are held and the records kept till the end of the season bash where the player of the year is announced plus other awards. The picture features 20 members, looking a little chilly at Ashbury Manor in January. This society are always on the lookout for new members, it costs just £25 for life membership, those attractive orange tops form part of the package. Further details on this growing group and how to join can be found on their website, www.wyevalleygolfsociety.co.uk

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 MARCH • 2010


THE NICKLAUS COURSE

TheNicklaus course

Signature Hole 17th, 378 Yards, Par 4

Set amongst 1,000 acres of undulating and attractive Cheshire countryside, the Championship Nicklaus Course is the golfing focal point of a visit to the luxurious Carden Park estate. Nicklaus and son Steve designed and opened the course for play in 1998. Despite its infancy the layout has already played host to the PGA Seniors Tour and is the regular venue for the annual Keel/Felder charity event.

Location In the heart of Cheshire, just 12 miles outside Chester, situated at Broxton on the A534 Wrexham road and very well signposted. 70 miles from the centre of The West Midlands and less than a two-hour drive away.

Course What awaits you is typical of a Golden Bear design, testing and hazard packed with a few posers from the tee. A tricky challenge, yet fair too, everything is right there in front of you. Water features dominate the course, brooks, ponds and lakes play a part on no less than 14 of the holes, if you can keep your ball dry throughout 18 holes at The Nicklaus Course that would be no mean feat. Much of that success might well be down to good decision-making. Nicklaus and son test your nerves with two Par 4s, the 7th and 15th featuring split fairways, a real risk and reward element from the tee. The choice to be made is from which fairway to attack the green, water naturally plays a big part again, placed menacingly to entrap a mishit shot.

Facilities The modern clubhouse has a sumptuous look throughout, leather sofas, saunas and large widescreen TVs in the locker rooms. A roomy bar and lounge too, the balcony offers great views of the stunning 18th hole on Carden Park’s other championship course, The Cheshire. Great practice facilities too with a range, short game area and two putting greens. The luxury hotel has 196 bedrooms, full spa and fitness resources and offers a variety of great deals for play and stay packages.

Summary Much to admire on The Nicklaus Course, the scenery is attractive, facilities are first class and the layout will intrigue and keep you thinking throughout. It can yield a good score, but you’ll have to be at your strategic best to prevail at Carden Parks flagship challenge, one of Cheshire’s very finest.

Strategically placed fairway bunkers add to the danger elsewhere especially during a stretch of longer holes around the turn. The greens are large, fast running and often epic affairs with a stadium feel around raised putting surfaces like at the lake surrounded 6th and the Par 5 closing hole. The course stretches to over 7,000 yards from the Championship Tees, Jack caters for all abilities with 5 tee locations on each hole, it is a good walk around The Nicklaus Course, not too undulating though and there is always plenty of buggies for hire. Signature Hole 17th, 378 Yards, Par 4 This delicious dogleg around a lake will appear as no surprise, it’s the one in front of the hotel you pass on your way up to the clubhouse. Plenty of time beforehand to consider how to play it, the wind speed and direction will play a part but most will take the conservative approach, aiming right to avoid the water. The tapered fairway may just leave you with an interesting ball position from which to play an approach where going left has an inevitably wet conclusion and right will leave you with a devilishly difficult downhill chip to a slippery green. A real classic. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

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Work, Rest & Play

36

MARCH • 2010


FOREST OF ARDEN

M

ost golfers know of the Forest of Arden for its championship Arden Course, scene of many an exciting televised finish in its European Tour events of recent years. Most renowned resort golfing venues have two lay outs though and this one is no different. Both courses were designed by Donald Steel in 1970, similarities therefore are inevitable, yet The Aylesford is the more friendly venue, much shorter in length, just 5,801 yards from the whites and with more room on its fairways and certainly less in the way of punishing rough stuff. The Resort Course as its also known was clearly designed with the weekend golfers in mind, much more up the streets of the mid to high handicappers and also as a useful warm up for 36 holers before taking on the more demanding track just across the way.

In the second of our feature on one of The West Midlands most prestigious golfing locations we look at the leisure and hotel facilities at Forest of Arden and take a walk around its second course, The Aylesford.

The Aylesford is not without a few elements of danger however. Water hazards, natural and man made are scattered around, well placed bunkers and an abundance of trees in places. The wind can also play a major part, especially during an opening stretch of 5 holes which are quite exposed. It can lead to an exciting 4th, a long par 3 which could conceivably necessitate the use of your driver and then a short par 4 5th, potentially driveable in the right conditions, yet also deadly too if you misjudge your tee shot, the brook awaits, as do some leafy obstacles. Another short hole, the 10th has a small lake covering the front of its raised green, then finally the Par 5 closing hole features a narrow corridor of tall oaks either side of the entrance to a putting surface with one more pond to avoid as well. That particular shot is as tricky as almost anything The Arden demands and a fine way to finish your round. Perhaps the stand out feature of this course though is the quality of the greens, they compare very favourably with the ones on their more esteemed neighbour, smooth as silk, receptive and true running throughout, good putters will relish a go on these.

LEISURE You could be forgiven for thinking Forest of Arden to be all about great golf and related facilities. Take one step through the doors of the 4 star hotel though and a recently renovated world of comfort and leisure awaits the weary golfer with open arms. £5 million has been invested in a major modernisation programme, the results are quite stunning. Two quality restaurants onsite, Oaks Bar & Grill serves breakfasts, buffet lunches and fine dining in the evening, Zest Restaurant is more about light dishes and snacks and is open all day. The large indoor swimming pool is all about relaxation as opposed to heavy exercise with loungers all around, Jacuzzi and saunas. If it is exercise you want there are three fitness suites complete with all the usual gym facilities, cardiovascular equipment and complimentary fitness classes for hotel guests. The Cedarwood Spa is the place to pamper yourselves, Body Scrubs, facial treatments, manicures, pedicures, massages and waxing are all available. There are six luxury treatment rooms, some can be made into double rooms for friends wishing to be treated together. With 214 guest rooms, 22 meeting rooms and a marquee with a barbeque area that can accommodate 300 guests all looking out onto the challenging 9th green on The Arden Course there’s quite a dazzling array of all round facilities at this picturesque corner of woodland Warwickshire, an all round resort ideally suited for a golfing and otherwise get away from it all break. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

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TOUR BANTER

A SPRING IN THE STEP

Much has been made in the written media lately about a certain World Number One and his self enforced absence from our game. We’re not going to dwell on the topic apart from to express our hope that he will return in time to arrive in Wales ready to prowl the Twenty Ten fairways in true Tiger style to give our friends at Celtic Manor the spectacle their Ryder Cup deserves. It’s on all of our enforced absences from the game that concerns us this month. Whether we are winter players or not, that rather golfer unfriendly snow deluge and big freeze that followed it late December/early Jan and at times later in the winter months has left many of us a little behind the eight ball when it comes to preparing for the new season ahead. Amateurs like us shouldn’t take winter golf too seriously anyway, the elements regularly produce conditions inconducive to any sort of consistent golf, fairways play more like an airport runway at one extreme and at the other it resembles hitting a ball into a big marshmallow . Some days with sunshine and a fast frost thaw you can even experience a bit of both. Fun needs to be the watchword for winter golf, if you can manage that and still strike the ball out of the middle of the club then maybe you can reap the dividends come springtime.

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Not a bad time to do a bit of winter golf reviewing then in North Wales for The Road to the Ryder Cup, those bone dry links fairways withstand many wet onslaughts and still remain thoroughly playable, its an area where snow doesn’t really threaten either, sure there’s a fair bit on the mountains of Snowdonia, but it never really quite reaches the seaside courses. If only we had some links in our region, we’ve made it very clear from the very first issue of Staffordshire Golfer last Easter that we are unashamed fans of blustery coastal golf, even at its wet and wildest, there’s nothing quite like it, and playability is never in question, its more of a question how mad you are, as opposed to will it be playable. So, in a dramatic move, and as mentioned in the editor’s intro, we are in the summer to be taking in new areas for this magazine, the counties of Derbyshire, Notts, Northants, Leics will be included too, all landlocked unfortunately. However, there is one other that falls under the Midlands umbrella that isn’t , welcome aboard Lincolnshire , England’s second biggest county that features very notable courses like Woodhall Spa, Belton Woods and Forest Pines. Home to the Lincolnshire Sausage and acres upon acres of prime farming land and agriculture, this new county of ours boasts a mouth watering 140 miles of coastline, in which are contained

3 links courses. Ok, so that’s not a great deal in 140 miles but The North Shore and Seacroft at Skegness and Sandilands, further up the coast near Mablethorpe will proudly represent the Midlands as its only links courses in this publication from June onwards. The fact that in mileage terms they are all further away than most of the links clubs visited in The Road to the Ryder Cup so far is immaterial, I’ll sweep that bit of information under the carpet. Our hopefully forthcoming trips to windy Mablethorpe and good ole Skeggy can’t come soon enough. Skeggy especially, because in my wallet is a token for a free game at the Arnold Palmer crazy golf course, situated on the sea front. Only those skilled golfers who hole in one at the 18th and ring a little bell can win one of those, and I’ll be back to claim my prize, assuming the course is still there, I think Bros were number 1 around the time I aced that hole! This summer, our petrol bill is set to soar but so are our wealth of new high class courses, links and otherwise in the new counties. We eagerly await our voyage of discovery, hopefully in the sunshine on fast and true fairways for all of us, our winter of golfing discontent will soon be forgotten. Phil Nicholas

MARCH • 2010


ROAD TO THE RYDER CUP

The Ryder Cup Effect in North Wales The positive countrywide impact of Wales winning bid for The Ryder Cup 2010 has already reached all corners of north wales and the beneficial effects can only increase as the tournament gets closer. Golf tourism is clearly prospering. At Royal St Davids in Gwynedd overseas visitor numbers have rocketed since hosting The Ryder Cup Wales Senior Open and the course now features in Golf Digest Top 100 outside the USA. The North Wales coast line and Isle of Anglesey offer nearly as many golf courses as historic castles and with its unique mix of links and parkland courses is arguably one of the best and most accessible golf destinations in the UK. From Llandudno, around the Isle of Anglesey to the North West Wales Peninsula (also known as The Llyn Peninsula) the courses are as challenging as they are scenic. From internationally renowned links like Nefyn & District GC to some real hidden gems like Abersoch GC, the visiting golfer will not be disappointed when it comes to value, choice and welcome. Armed with pre-paid vouchers, route planners and complimentary golf balls set out on your Llyn Peninsula golf break. The Llyn is a magical place surrounded by the dramatic Snowdonia National Park and the stunning sea vistas of Caernarfon and Cardigan Bays. With much of the Llyn’s coastline National Trust maintained golfing tranquility is assured. As the 3 nights B&B and 4 rounds of golf package is only £225 pp, wallets are full of beer vouchers so you are well equipped to enjoy the local hosteleries! Your journey starts at the western edge of The Llyn on the Welsh Riviera. Designed by James Braid, Abersoch GC dates back to 1907. After being lulled into a false sense of security when looking at the course card (5800 yards par 69) and having played the first couple of holes, tighten your belts for the signature 3rd hole at 246 yards par 3 and then the stroke index 1, 7th hole par 4 THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

at 459 yards. After winding your way around the coastline and reflecting on what might have been, enjoy refreshments in the clubhouse and look forward to the treats ahead. The sojourn continues at Pwllheli GC with its brilliant combination of parkland and links holes. James Braid and Tom Morris had a hand in designing this “special” golf course. At 6100 yards with strong par 4’s throughout it is not overly long but is a significant challenge. Avoid hell bunker on the 10th at all costs, get a par 3 and immediately join the mutual admiration society. Now on to Nefyn & District GC where a sharp intake of breath is required on the 1st tee not only because of the vista but also because a good, strong and straight drive,

into a fresh breeze, is required! Whether you take on the old or the new courses, Nefyn will delight you. On the old course, which is Wales’ own Pebble Beach, enjoy the experiences on the 13th and 14th holes. It is little wonder that Nefyn is in Golf World’s top 100 courses. At over 100 years old Porthmadog GC is a true delight for the visiting golfer. Score on the front 9 and hang on during the back 9. Get a par on the par 4 “Himalayas” 14th hole and congratulate yourself with a beer in the bar afterwards.

To sample this and other great golf breaks see www.northwalesgolfbreaks.co.uk or call free phone 0800 083 2983

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Wales’ ‘Pebble Beach’ No Road to the Ryder Cup feature would truly be complete without the inclusion of Nefyn and District. Set on the furthest tip of the Llyn Peninsula this unique 26 hole layout is arguably Wales’ most spectacular golfing setting with views of the sea from every tee and a Snowdonia backdrop.

History First played as a nine hole course in 1907. Esteemed designers J.H Taylor and James Braid developed the course and its current layout in the 20’s and 30’s with the former describing it as ‘situated on one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen’.

Location/Directions

Located in the village of Morfa Nefyn, on the Northern side of the Llyn Peninsula, 6 miles away from Pwllheli on the B4412. From Mid-West Midlands head for Porthmadog on the A5, from the South, the A458 and A470. 150 miles from the centre of our region.

Course

Nefyn’s unique layout demands you make a decision if it’s just 18 holes you’ve come for. After the opening 10 holes which is common to both the Old and the New Courses the ‘New’ course takes you inland for a more gentle finish, probably suitable for the slightly less adventurous if the elements are particularly unfavourable. The alternative ‘Old’ layout takes you out to ‘the point’ a long

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undulating rocky outcrop at the very edge of Welsh Civilisation. Crashing waves and secluded coves on one side, and on the other slightly calmer part, a stretch of sandy beach with the local lifeboat station and a quaint pub that was Nefyn’s original clubhouse. Before reaching this most ultimate and breathtaking example of links majesty there’s a good early examination awaiting you on Nefyn’s first ten. A baptism of fire at the opening hole, its steep drop down to the green with the shoreline as a backdrop will demand an accurate approach. An uphill second follows that doglegs around the bay, followed by two par 4’s that hug the rocky coastline. The Par 3, 5th has a tee that places you out on a small rocky out-

crop surrounded by the sea, it’s probably here that you start to realise what a special place this is, you can fully understand those who describe it as the Welsh Pebble Beach. Holes 6 to 10 take you a little more inland, your best birdie opportunities may well reside here if it’s to ‘The Point’ you are heading next. A totally blind second shot up a high bank to an exposed 11th green welcomes you to ‘The Point’, and for the next 6 holes respite from a succession of tee shots over killer hazards, approaches to narrow targets on cliff edges and patches of thick rough will be hard to come by. It’s a truly memorable and exhilarating stretch of holes; if the wind blows anything like its potential, you might as well hide your scorecard. Instead, just enjoy the experience and holes like the MARCH • 2010


NEFYN & DISTRICT Signature Hole, The 13th, Old Course, 405 Yards, Par 4 The ultimate in risk and reward. There’s a very generous fairway on the right for the conservative approach, but as the crow flies there’s a huge carry over the bay that just dares you to be brave. It’s all about how much you feel you can take on for the chance to play a shorter approach to a tight green set between two rocky outcrops under the gaze of the lighthouse. Awesome.

Par 3, 14th, its raised tee sits right by the lighthouse. In front of you there’s a good drop down to the green, and an even bigger one guaranteed for your ball down to the sea if you’ve overclubbed by even one. The 15th has a tee shot that demands a carry over the life boat station before reaching the fairway. 16 and 17 are hardly walks in the park either and then mercifully, The Old Course ends with a gentle short Par 4 back to the clubhouse, a stiff drink may never be so welcoming!

Take Care With…

Keeping your ball dry. Sounds a bit obvious but Nefyn’s other hazards pale into insignificance compared to the near ever-present peril presented by the Irish Sea. Keep it dry and there’s a good score to be had out there on a calm day. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

The Golfer Magazine Pick: The 15th, New Course, 407 Yards, Par 4 The New Course and its closing eight tend to take a back seat a little at Nefyn. Yet it’s a pleasant stretch of holes with this dog leg challenge a real highlight. Out of bounds all the way down the left and clever bunkering throughout make this a tough proposition. At the back of the well contoured green is a rocky inlet complete with crashing waves from the sea, quite a distraction.

Look Forward To…

Summary

Facilities

Generally speaking, a round of golf in which you’ve ended it wet, windswept, minus 6 balls and with a torn up scorecard is no great recipe for a happy long journey home. Nefyn and District breaks the rulebook in this sense, for no matter what the elements have in store, for adventurous golfers it doesn’t get any more exciting than this. Pray for a sunny and clear day to get the chance to appreciate the full glory of your surroundings. Yet even if you don’t it’s still an unforgettable experience. The Road to the Ryder Cup is full of outstanding and memorable golfing challenges, but there’s nowhere quite like Nefyn.

Apart from the magnificent views all over, nature lovers will enjoy the resident group of oyster catchers that peck away around ‘The Point’, and there’s always likely to be a seal or two bobbing around the bay under the 15th tee.

An ideal society venue with a large clubroom and restaurant. Easily coping with up to 75 golfers. There’s also a spike bar, snooker room and a very attractive bar snack menu. Societies and visitors can look forward to great value for money green fees.

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RHUDDLAN A 1912 James Braid designed heathland course that twists and turns across an undulating landscape taking in 18 holes full of variety in terms of hazards and especially when it comes to width off the tee. Some holes, notably on the front nine offer friendly wide open fairways, others like the short Par 4’s at 14 and 17 for instance demand pinpoint accuracy if you are to avoid large clusters of dense gorse and thick rough. The wind whipping off the Irish Sea can be formidable, despite its relative shortness Holyhead is no easy ride, shooting around your handicap will be very satisfactory. The greens and surrounds are well maintained and attractive, there’s a few that you can ill afford to wrong side yourself on. Favourite Hole 2nd, 180 yards Par 3 (White Tees) Not a lot of time to warm up before facing this treacherous looking short hole, long enough as it is, yet when you add the fact its normally into the wind it has to rank from the back tees as one of the toughest holes in North Wales. Taking driver, a real possibility, missing to the right will send you down a very steep bank, and those bailing out on the left haven’t a lot of room to spare before reaching out of bounds territory.

Holyhead

Golf Club

Facilities

A large clubhouse features a restaurant with an a la carte menu and room for 100, the large bar serves bar snack meals also. Within the grounds is situated a Dormy House with accommodation for up to 14 guests, very attractive 36 hole play and stay packages are available

Summary

With views of Snowdonia and the Irish Sea, Holyhead has some scenic splendour in addition to its testing layout, a tight challenge that’s a little bit out of the norm and pleasantly so. A good walk enjoyed

PWLLHELI Golf Club

Situated on the Southern side of The Llyn Peninsula and boasting superb views of Snowdonia across Cardigan Bay. Tom Morris and James Braid each designed 9 holes around the turn of the 20th century. Pwllheli is a charming lay out with a difference, a parkland start and finish, with the middle stretch of holes purely a links challenge typical of the region. Its not a particularly long track and features no Par 5’s, yet it features no less than 10 Par 4’s over 350 yards in length and there’s trouble a plenty to be had, especially from the tee where even a slight lack of accuracy can prove fatal. Always in fine condition and the greens are slick affairs. The coastline hugging holes prove to be the highlights, gorse and heather abound, and the wind can really blow around this stretch. Admire the view from the raised tee at the 11th. Favourite Hole -10th 197 yards Par 3 A typically testing Pwllheli tee shot to a very well bunkered green with a breeze likely to be around to add extra danger. The two traps at the front are particularly severe, the quaint old cottage at the rear of the green makes this a picturesque hole.

19th hole

Two lounge bars, the upstairs balcony looks over the course and Cardigan Bay, room for large societies with full catering facilities in the restaurant area.

Summary

Another notable example of how good the golf is in The Llyn Peninsula, a great combination of two very different types of challenges will test everything about your games.

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

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A Coastal

Cocktail of Golf Location Situated 2 miles south of the town, the beachside part boasts amazing views of Cardigan Bay and inland towards Snowdon. On a clear day both Criccieth and Harlech castles can be witnessed.

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MARCH • 2010


PORTHMADOG The Road to the Ryder Cup pitched up at the busy harbour town of Porthmadog, a tourist hot spot with many attractions including its golf club, a James Braid 1906 design that makes good use of its very natural surroundings.

Directions Turn in the High Street at Post Office on the beach road towards Black Rock Sands; the club is on the left hand side of the road one mile west.

The Course

Look forward to......

A real layout of two halves either side of the clubhouse. The first nine is a straight ahead heathland type challenge with water hazards featuring on five holes. The back nine couldn’t be of greater contrast, tough and bumpy seaside links at its finest, a natural and exciting stretch of holes to test your skills to their fullest.

Great putting surfaces, undulating challenges, the highlight being a superb long 15th green.

Fair to say then that to succeed here you’ll need to gather a good score together early doors and hang onto it later on especially on a windy day. The opening stretch will give birdie opportunities notably at its three shortish Par 5’s, all reachable in two for long hitters. Yet there’s a bit of danger too especially narrow fairways with out of bounds and water on the 4th and 5th. The Par 3, 6th’s green is almost an island, then closing the front nine is another short hole, its raised tee will give a good indication of the breezes that are about as you head towards the coast. The second half certainly lives up to expectations for true links affectionados. The holes by the coastline are true classics, towering dunes and thick seaside grasses gather ominously to provide stiff defences as well as demanding a bit of typical links hit and hope shots to blind targets. A stretch of holes to favourably compare with any of the classic seaside layouts the North Wales coast is blessed with. On a windy day Par 3’s like the long 11th and the 13th with its beach edge raised tee may just prove too tough, club selection a lottery, yet the stunning setting makes it a rewarding experience even if the scorecard suffers a little. Back towards the clubhouse the closing holes ease in difficulty a little, finishing with a generous 18th , a nice wide fast running fairway to set up a potential birdie finish. After what’s gone before, you’ll be glad of it.

Take care with Underestimating just how strong the breezes can get, even if it feels calm standing on the tee.

Signature hole, The 14th 387 yards Par 4 Named “Himalayas”, its an apt title for a Par 4 with a blind tee shot and just a fairway marker to aim for, the short grass being nothing more than a narrow gangway, with huge mounds and thick grasses on either side. The Golfer Magazine Pick, 12th Hole 358 yards Par 4 (back tees) Naturally our favourite has to be the one that runs alongside the beach. From the exposed back tee you face a formidable task to find a safe landing spot and a fair bit of beach to carry too. Even if that’s achieved total precision is required to find an undulating punchbowl green carved out of the mounds. The ultimate seaside golfing hole and a great challenge.

Facilities Porthmadog has a decent sized roomy and homely too type of clubhouse, space to accommodate large societies with ease. The club also has two large practice areas and a very nicely situated putting green that’s well worth a visit.

Summary Something for all at Porthmadog with its two differing halves ensuring an always captivating test where you’ll need your best golf to succeed, especially if the wind blows. The superb views are a pleasant distraction and make fine photo opportunities.

Out and about A lot to do in the area, Porthmadog has a proud maritime history, its centrepiece being its lovely harbour. One of the best beaches in Wales, Blackrock Sands is situated on the outskirts of the town, added attractions nearby are the Ffestiniog Railway and the unique charms of Portmeirion.

Porthmadog Golf Club Club House, Morfa Bychan Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9UU Phone: 01766 512037 Club Secretary Phone: 01766 514124 Fax: 01766 514124 Email: secretary@porthmadog-golf-club.co.uk www.porthmadog-golf-club.co.uk

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

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Jewel DIRECTIONS

BULL BAY T

he Road to the Ryder Cup that will ultimately finish at Celtic Manor reached officially the furthest golfing point away from it when we visited this special spot of Anglesey on a sunny and unusually calm day in early March. A Championship challenge, the course played host to The Ryder Cup Wales Welsh Open Young Professional PGA Championship in 2008 and 2009. A Herbert Fowler design, Bull Bay is approaching its Centenary in 2013, natural links land and a truly stunning setting is what you can look forward to.

on the Crown

Take the A55 all the way into Anglesey, after the Britannia Bridge follow the A5025 for approximately 15 miles, through the town of Amlwch, the club is one mile further on the left.

COURSE Bull Bay is not likely to stretch anyone’s boredom factor, there’s no issue with that as you are faced with 18 holes full of character and rugged coastline beauty. Raised tees afford stunning views of the bay as well as catching stiff breezes as you aim into the distance across expanses of gorse and heather towards often hidden valley floors and exposed plateaux between rocky outcrops. There’s a few blind shots out there that will have you reaching for the yardage book, in certain spots, never has one been more useful. Many elevated greens too with natural bumps and mounds surrounding them to encourage a bit of creativity, the putting surfaces are consistently smooth running, ranging in size and contouring. The natural sandy base gives a guarantee of year round play at a course always well maintained.

TAKE CARE WITH Wind direction and velocity is almost always THE major factor here, even though we were very fortunate in not having any, the locals are very mindful of its threat. Crown Copyright

LOOK FORWARD TO Just the imaginative design that will see you in spots and playing shots that you won’t normally come across

19th HOLE Only constructed in 1994 the clubhouse has a modern feel in a traditional setting, main bar, restaurant and sportsman’s lounge offer seating and scope for all occasions, all looking out onto the bay below.

AROUND AND ABOUT The coastline of Anglesey is a mecca for sea fishing fans, lots of secluded bays and beaches around. On a clear day, The Isle of Man and the Lake District can be viewed.

SUMMARY Distance should not be a barrier when considering a visit to this special location, the wonderful mixture of a beautiful seaside setting and an intoxicating golfing challenge make it more than worth a little extra mileage in 2010. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

SIGNATURE HOLE 18TH 446 Yards Par 4 (White Tees) To properly experience Bull Bay the back tees are the only place to be, this closing hole is a prime example. The view is breathtaking , the task ahead quite daunting and gorse lined, although its all right in front of you for a change, and straight hitting will give you a great chance of a finishing flourish.

THE GOLFER MAGAZINE PICK 9TH 347 Yards Par 4 (Whites) This is more typical of the lay out, the drive is across rocks and heather to a deep valley that cuts diagonally across the fairway. Then a short iron approach to a green way above you that features a very sloping putting surface, you don’t want a downhill putt here!

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By Royal Appoitment Royal St Davids is a course we reviewed ( and fell in love with on a brutal day ) last summer. In Welsh golfing circles it needs no introduction. To put it to a further test we sent two guest reviewers out there in February for their thoughts on this ultimate links examination. Our thanks to guest reviewer and writer Fraser Thomson from the Midlands PGA who’s own inimitable thoughts on North Wales’ Number One course are documented here.

MEMO: To the Complaints Department, Royal St David’s Golf Club, Harlech, Gwynedd, LL46 2UB

Dear Sir, Having been promised rain and wind, while the rest of Wales and parts of England lay under a blanket of snow, I wish to complain quite vehemently about the blue skies and bright sunshine that hung over my recent round of golf at Royal St David’s. The summer-like conditions, of which my partner and I were given absolutely no warning, played havoc with my usually consistent game. I feel this negligence on your part cannot be allowed to pass without comment. So perfect were the conditions overhead and underfoot that I inexplicably seemed to keep driving my ball from the tees into the middle of the fairway which is something that has never afflicted my game in more than 30 years of trying. So too with my approach shots, chips and putting. Regretfully, I cannot comment on how the clear conditions affected my bunker play because I never visited one of your delightful sand traps. Whilst you may excuse the glorious sunny day as an aberration I must protest that it really gives the lie to the famed Welsh claim that “the sun never shines on Wales.” Had the weather been more akin to its usual cold and blustery way I might have been able to offer it as an excuse for my ineptitude on the fairways. So you can understand my surprise when, instead of stomping off the 18th green with a pained expression and a mumble about “never playing the game again” I emerged with a beaming smile and uttering words like “marvellous”, “fantastic course” and “when can we come back?” I very much look forward to your explanation although I suspect you will fob me off with trite utterances such as “Yes, we do have a magnificent course... even in the sunshine!” I thank you,

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Fraser Thomson

MARCH • 2010


ROYAL ST DAVIDS

It is a letter I would love to have written – and posted! But really, I could never be so crass. Suffice it to say my visit to Royal St David’s was a regal one and not just because Harlech castle loomed, sentinel-like, over my every shot. When Ged Scott, a mountain of a man from the BBC with an appetite for golf as voracious as it is for food, and I left Kidderminster one look to the heavens had us doubting our own sanity.

“I can’t remember getting into so many bunkers for years,” he said, picking grit from his teeth.

Worcestershire – the county – was under snow, and some serious and foreboding cloud cover too.

Now, neither of us is a competitive fellow, but such a fine course will not only bring out the best in you but also the warrior and the frustration in missing four footers for a par – on immaculate greens that were as true as anything I had played throughout the previous summer – drifted towards exasperation.

But we’re a hardy pair. I’m a Scot and Scott, well he has a touch of Welsh about him having been born on the border which once allowed him membership at Llanymynech... he even sings Bread of Heaven during Six Nations matches.

The cut and thrust of our match continued with neither grabbing much of ascendancy until the 14th which was NOT Scotty’s favourite hole. It is a 221yard, par three that requires an accurate tee-shot through a channel formed by shrubs and scrub.

So we bravely set off for Harlech and, having driven through snow, sleet, rain and fog, were eventually greeted with almost Azure skies when we passed Dolgellau.

The back nine holes are the best and Thomson took the lead on the superb 15th and 16th – two par fours that on windier days would play very long or short depending on the strength of the gale.

“Hey boyo, we could be in luck ‘ere you know!” mused Mr Scott.

At 17, which has three fairway bunkers, seven greenside bunkers including a strip of sand wide enough to be a beach, Scotty was trapped again... on the beach! But, with greenkeeping staff watching from close by, he played an exquisite high flop – “I’ve never done that before” – to within three feet, sank the putt and claimed the match.

“Let’s not tempt fate,” came the response from the Scots sceptic. Having been greeted with a welcome as warm as the sunshine by club secretary Trefor Davies and pro John Barnett, a former captain of the PGA who has been in situ since 1976, we were off and what followed was perhaps one of the finest days on a golf course I have ever had. Golfers have been navigating their way around the Royal St David’s since 1894 which makes it one of the Principality’s grand old men. The accolades and honours bestowed upon it are well deserved and it has variously been named 73rd in the Golf Digest Best 100 courses outside the USA, 42nd in Golf World’s Top 100 courses in Britain & Ireland and 45th in Golf Monthly’s Top 100 in the UK & Ireland. Though not long – it a par 69 and measures 6,629 yards from the Championship tees – it is a traditional links course and one of the startling curiosities is that there is only one point from which players can see the sea – the viewing platform on the raised 16th tee. Such are the mountainous dunes that separate course from the coastal waters of Cardigan Bay that you cannot even hear the waves let alone see them. It might have been something to do with the clear day that we were rewarded, instead, with a view of the snow-capped Snowden, majestically rising from the mist to our north east. Oceans to our west, mountains to our east and verdant green fairways stretched out before us. The eighth is a challenge, measuring 518 yards from the back tees from where champions have driven, one has to stay left with both first and second shots to avoid the fairway bunkers on the right. Now Scotty might have been hopeful of making the green with his three-wood from the typically undulating fairway; he certainly wasn’t going to do so from the pot bunker in which his ball had taken up squatter’s rights. And then there were four more traps guarding the entrance to the green. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

It being the seaside, sand became a familiar theme for Scotty, which was all the more amusing since he had proudly professed to never usually visiting bunkers before we set out.

I never recovered but left the 18th elated nevertheless for a much-needed cold beer as we sat for at least an hour in shirtsleeves watching – but not quite seeing – the winter sun descend into the sea.

SIGNATURE HOLE Royal St David’s will be an entirely different course when a stiff Welsh wind licks in over the coast but that should not put you off visiting this marvellous golf course. Hewn from the raw coastal terrain that is so prevalent on British shores by Harold Finch-Hatton and William Henry More in 1894. The pair needed to do little other than shape the greens and build the many bunkers. Edward the VII granted the club royal patronage in 1908 and he would have relished the 16th a 352yard, par 4. The only hole from which you can actually view the sea – and that from a platform – it requires a mighty smite of a tee-shot to have any chance of clearing the seven greenside bunkers with your second so the best option is to drive over the hillocks on the right thus avoiding the fairway bunker on the left elbow. Woe betide those who leave their drive short on the dunes!

FACILITIES As traditional as the course indoors, the locker rooms have a quaint old charm about them, fine Welsh food available to order via the steward and caterer in the upstairs lounge. The club has an onsite dormy bungalow that sleeps up to 8 guests, the coastal railway line runs next door to the course.

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NORTH WALES The popular seaside town of Llandudno needs no introduction as a tourist attraction. In golfing terms it has two courses on its outskirts only separated by the railway line. The North Wales Golf Club is the one on the outside, true seaside links with all the challenges that entail.

SEASIDE

SPECIAL LOCATION Situated on the West Shore of Llandudno, or Conwy Bay as its better known, 1 mile out of the town with panoramic views of Snowdonia, Anglesey and The Great Orme.

LOOK FORWARD TO

THE COURSE

19TH HOLE

A windswept test in true links style more or less guaranteed. Rather like its near neighbour across the bay (Conwy) there are no towering sand dunes here to provide any shelter or protection, The North Wales you take as you find, and throughout its journey contains the type of delicious holes that only this type of golf can provide, ones that the elements if you’re not careful can bamboozle you into submission. An opening stretch of seven holes that takes you inland offers width and forgiveness early doors, with a rambling brook only a mild cause for concern. Around the turn sees the course reach the beachside with some stunning vistas, especially on a sunny day. The closing holes are fairly short in length but tight and with some increasingly thick rough about, highlighted by three very notable short holes all with raised and exposed tees. The greens here are large and reasonably flat, cause for optimism in good putters.

Bright and modern facilities in the clubhouse with its large bar and patio area . A private suite can cater for societies and corporate events. A well stocked pro shop, practice ground and putting green

TAKE CARE WITH The lay out is punctuated all over by little pot bunkers which look fairly innocuous from distance but are far from it, your stance may have to get a bit inventive. THE GOLFER MAGAZINE

DIRECTIONS From junction 19 off the A55, take the A470 Llandudno road, the club is situated on the left hand side just before reaching the town.

AROUND AND ABOUT The view from the 17th Tee

Signature Hole - 16th 151 yards Par 3

A potential card wrecker with a raised tee looking across to just a flagstick flapping in the distance as the green is surrounded by high mounds all around with thick rough, only the dance floor will suffice and its usually into the wind which could mean the use of a very high club indeed.

The Golfer Magazine Pick - 8th 387 yards Par 4

A blind tee shot to a very undulating fairway, then a tricky approach where club selection is crucial to find the punchbowl green with trouble all around it.

Seaside charms in Llandudno, The Great Orme and its chair lifts. Across the bay the majestic Conwy Castle dominates the town which also has an attractive marina.

SUMMARY Good old fashioned and traditional links land which serves up an enjoyable track that can be tamed on a calm day but will test you thoroughly on a rough one. The wonderful setting adds to the charms of North Wales, a fine value for money location on The Road to the Ryder Cup.

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Picturesque

Parkland Course

In an area quite saturated with notable links challenges, parkland devotees are catered for too, Rhuddlan Golf Club situated just 5 miles from the coast is one of this area’s most attractive golfing spots.

Take care with…

The layout benefits twofold from its setting in the beautiful Vale of Clwyd. Fine views are guaranteed plus it has a sheltered climate screened by the Clwydian range of mountains. Lush fairways, trees of different ages and meandering water features make pleasant highlights of a walk around Rhuddlan’s 6,291 yards.

As a whole, underestimating Rhuddlan. It looks a fairly generous track, yet its subtleties have the ability of biting you on the bum if you’re not careful.

The gently undulating course has Par 5s at the start and finish, the 18th especially can be quite a gruelling climax, 545 yards from the back tees and all uphill. In between, there’s a nice mix of holes where keeping the ball in the right spots is key, the light rough proves tougher than it looks to escape from, overhanging tree branches can get in the way and you’ll always need to be aware where the water is. The greens are consistent running throughout and are a good test with some teasing contours in places.

19th Hole

Look forward to…

The practice putting green with its Himalaya type slopes is quite addictive and well worth 15 minute of your time before tee off. Rhuddlan has a large and relaxing clubhouse with private function and society rooms for up to 100 guests. The menus serve some fine home cooked Welsh fare and a warm welcome is guaranteed at one of North Wales more friendly locations.

Directions

From the A55 North Wales coast road, take the St Asaph, Rhyl exit and turn right onto the A525 towards Rhyl. Rhuddlan is 110 miles from the centre of our region.

Around and About

Rhuddlan has a 13th century Edwardian castle built around the same time as more illustrious neighbours at Conwy and Caernarfon and a popular tourist post. The seaside resorts of Rhyl and Prestatyn are just a short drive away.

Summary

A popular and friendly location for parkland fans in this neck of the woods. The nicely designed and very well conditioned course will appeal to all visitors to the Jewel in the Vale of Clwyd.

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RHUDDLAN

Signature Hole 10th- 341 yards par 4 A picture book Par 4 with a real test from the tee as water runs all the way down the left hand side and to the right lurks a well placed sand trap surrounded by trees. A back to front sloping green awaits for your approach.

The Golfer Magazine Pick 6th – 309 yards, Par 4 A delightful looking but treacherous hole with all of Rhuddlan’s main hazards presenting themselves from the tee. Long hitters may fancy a dash at the green but with a brook, plenty of bunkers and those low hanging branches again it would be some shot.

MARCH • 2010


TOUR BANTER

5

3

HEAD TO HEAD

There’s no sense in beating around the bush, something fishy is going on with The Golfer Magazine’s review staff and it involves competition Bill, the acceptable public face of our publication, man for all duties, one of those do everything-moan about nothing kinda guys that every successful organisation needs. Thing is, our Bill, and at his own admittance struggles with his golf game. He has for a few years, even the onset of a huge number of reviews, 3 or 4 games a week during 2009 did little to improve the average at best, hapless at worst standard of his play.

head anyway, we all know that, and Bill’s always had a good game waiting to come out, typical of the man that it came out at a time when the rest of us and our golfing aspirations were hibernating.

Then, winter 2009-10 set in, you don’t need me to tell you what a pain that was for golfers, closedown, that’s what it was, nobody played, can’t find a ball knee deep in snow, same goes for the driving ranges. Yet when it finally thawed and we emerged again, tentatively treading the fairways with swings resembling Metal Mickey, what happened to our Bill?

Nefyn… The 18th on the old course isn’t too daunting, 4 good drives should have led to some good scores but a short game shocker from all of the high handicappers let Neil’s modest par for his standards grab the point... Europe 3.5 USA 1.5

He got better, that’s what he did, at a time where understandably the rest of us had some bad golf issues, Bill’s handicap dropped quicker than John Terry’s popularity rating. His inconsistent strikes became consistent ones, he kept his head down, he finally performed something resembling a short game, we only had to rake a bunker he’d been in, as opposed to reconstructing it in previous months. Breaking 100 was an achievement for Bill even as recently as last Autumn. Now he’s broken 95 four times in six rounds this year, and last week shot 87 at Holyhead. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re very pleased for Bill, a great pleasure its been watching his meteoric progress, even if it is all rather puzzling, if he could only putt he’d be dangerous. He smirks his Bill smirk when we peck his (shiny) head about just how he’s achieving this unlikely feat, private coach, explanar in his living room, hypnotism? Dead pan answers to all our suggestions, Bill loves watching us squirm. Maybe on a serious note it’s just down to confidence and a strong mental side. He’s always had the most admirable temperament out of all of us, patience in abundance, which circa 2010 he’s needed. He laughs out loud and shrugs at horror shots that others (not too far away from here) would chuck a club at. Golf is 90% in the

54

Bills new found skills have shone as well in our personal Ryder Cup battle during Welsh review trips, we changed personnel around, now myself (18) and Euan (16) represent USA against Neil (plus 2) and Bill (24) team Europe, we reached Nefyn with Europe leading 2.5 to 1.5.

Bull Bay… A singles battle between myself and Bill, who somehow had a stroke at the 18th which came in useful as his 2nd shot found the gorse. He recovered well to scramble a net bogey which was enough for a half as my 25 foot par effort slid past... Europe 4 USA 2 Holyhead... For variety on the same day Bill and myself went for a nine hole battle where there was never more than a hole in it. Bill received 3 shots and proceeded to card his best ever 9 hole score, USA struggled gamely to hold on to him until a couple of duffed chips sealed their fate... Europe 5 USA 2 North Wales... Finally, at long last Phil came to the party, my previous poor RTTRC form forgotten as a dazzling display, highlighted by an outrageous 45 foot putt holed for birdie at the 13th saw us record an easy 3and 2 win over Neil and guest reviewer Blair in a 9 hole challenge. Euan’s 6 foot putt at the 16th sealed a point that team USA really needed... Europe 5 USA 3 We will continue to play out this match until we reach a total of 28 points, mirroring the real thing. We will then place a bet that our score will be the result in October. Should we win, proceeds will be donated to the Help the Heroes Charity MARCH • 2010


The Golfer Magazine  

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