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ISSUE 226 | March 2020 | Tel: 01329 834360 | Email: |

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FINALLY, GOLF SPEEDS UP Reflecting on a marvellous Masters: Justin Rose, Hampshire’s favourite golfing son, made us so proud as he played his role in one of the tightest but most gentlemanly showdowns in the history of the event


New measures to tackle the curse of slow play in golf have produced a measurable improvement in the first big event where they were operated. The European Tour has introduced a new pace-of-play policy this year to speed up the game and combat a problem that turns off spectators. NORTH Hants Golf Club in Fleet will have

The tour’s senior referee, Andy McFee, said: “The players who have traditionally been tardy looked to me like they were getting on with it.” Officials analysed timings from the Abu Dhabi first round compared with last year when similar weather conditions prevailed. “Interestingly, the first round was to find some more space actually 10 minutes quicker this Any player attracting twoin its Justin Rose Room to record the continuing year”, Mr McFee said. infringements in a tournament – exploits of the county’s favourite and not son. just in one round - can be golfing “And the second round was about penalised with a one-stroke penalty. six minutes quicker, so both rounds Room will be found for mementoes of the The evidence of thealongside policy’sthose were quicker.” 2017first Masters to be placed effect came thetriumph three-ball of Rose’s Open in 2013 and his Three-ball matches averaged Olympicat Golf rounds theGold. Abu Dhabi HSBC just over four hours 30 minutes: Championship: rounds which were perhaps tediously long by amateur But while Rose was pipped at Augusta by 10 minutes quicker than they were standards but positively swift in the Sergio Garcia, the inevitable disappointment infor2019. professional game. his fans was counterbalanced by a display skill and sportsmanship As Lee ofWestwood celebrated which was “The flow around the course was a credit to both men, and to a sport which brilliant”, Mr McFee added. “There victory, observers were compiling still prides itself on honesty and fairness. are always things that go into a slow the statistics which suggested that the new regime has grabbed the Yes, the final round between these two Ryder round of golf, it is not just about Cup titansof was to be emotional. Rose players playing slowly.” attention thebound players. was edging his way towards a second Major, and Garcia was trying to secure his first on the very day which would have been the 60th birthday of his hero, Seve Ballesteros.

Former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, an influential voice in golf, gave the new rules the thumbs-up: “It’s been amazing, but these are the things we need.

Running between shots, the 29-year-old shot three over - a better score than 30 golfers who played at normal pace. “I felt like it would be a fun thing to do and didn’t necessarily think it would hurt my game too much”, he said. The previous best of 119 minutes was set by Belgium’s Thomas Pieters.

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Rory’s back on INSIDE topMyof the world Rory: Green Jacket wedding wish – Page 4

Rory McIlroy has returned to the world number one spot for We teeyears. themeet first the time10th in five

hell The four-time Major winner hound replaces Bus Pass American Brooks Koepka. Golfer – Page 16

Recapturing the top spot for

a total 96th week moved him Philip’s second spell into illustrious company: as Hants PGA skipper –only PageTiger 16 Woods (683), Greg Norman (331) and Nick Faldo (97) have spent more weeks Hampshire as the world’s top-ranked Jenny’s player. lifetime Neither McIlroy accolade – Page nor 16 Koepka Banned: Time-consuming practice of both caddie and player lining up putts

“Pace of play has been great this week. It seems like the players have said to themselves, ‘well, this is it’. Turn to Page 4…

…and it doesn’t get much faster than this! With all this talk about slow play, But the overriding emotion for spectators Sebastian Soderberg thought heof the final round was the way these two would have a bit of fun. Europeans fought the fight. Teeing off first in the final round of In the final Desert round, they were toe-to-toe rivals the Dubai Classic, the Swede but not opponents, supremely competitive recorded the fastest time for 18 yet gentlemanly, acknowledging each other’s holes on the European Tour. skills with a knuckle-touch or a nod. He got round in 96 minutes and had a local marker and his caddie - his • Turn to Page 4- for company. brother Jasper

MAY 2017

Well played, Masters mate: At the end and on the course, Rose and Garcia were sporting gentlemen

Record breaker Sebastian Soderberg: “I felt like it would be a fun thing to do”

featured at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am but the two-year Was this rolling format golf’s of the ranking system took McIlroy worst top. The complicated nature of the injustice ranking system took McIlroy ever? from 0.2 points– behind Page 24Koepka to 0.03 points in front.

McIlroy intends to play PLUS golf inthis 2020. “It 2“carefree” Course Reviews month! doesn’t me as a golfer to Bird Hillsserve Golf Centre play conservatively, carefully. - page 14-15 I have my own style to play and most of the Romsey Golf Clubtime it works, sometimes it doesn’t. - page 19-22 “It’s a mindset I’m going to try to replicate every time I tee up.”

Tee Times – your FREE local national He says he will focus on his golf game magazine and “let the ranking take care of itself”.

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If you would like to advertise in Tee Times, or would like to submit any editorial copy for publication, please call us on: 01329 834360, email us at:, or write to us at: PGL Services Limited, Shedfield House Dairy, If you would like to advertise in Tee Times, or would like to submit any editorial copy for publication, please call us on: 01329 834360, email us at:, Unit 3, Shedfield, Southampton, Hampshire, SO32 2HQ. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, the publishers cannot accept liability for errors or omissions. All articles published herein are without responsibility or write to us at: PGL Services Limited, Shedfield House Dairy, Unit 3, Shedfield, Southampton, Hampshire, SO32 2HQ. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this on the part of the publishers, in the occasion of loss or damage to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any views published in Tee Times Golf Publications. COPYRIGHT: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be publication, theinpublishers cannot acceptbyliability forwhatsoever errors orwithout omissions. All articles published are©without responsibility on the part of the publishers, in the occasion of loss or damage reproduced, stored a retrieval system or recorded any means prior permission in writing from theherein publishers. PGL Services Limited 2006.

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ROMSEY GOLF CLUB - Book an afternoon Golf Society for £25pp - Read our 4 page Course Review on pages 19-22 Tee Times | February 2020


MAN THE DRAWBRIDGE! World tours face threat of a ‘rebel’ group A rebel world circuit is trying to sign up the biggest names in the game. Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are among those approached by a new organisation, the Professional Golf League, which has ambitious plans to reshape the sport. It is said to be aiming to launch a big-money, TV-friendly, grand prix-style 18-event world tour. It would involve 48 top players within a framework of individual and team contests. “I certainly wouldn’t want to lose what’s been built in the last 40 to 50 years”

Proposals include a series of 54-hole tournaments, with shotgun starts, with no cut, offering $10million at each event beginning in 2022. Bosses at the established tours are taking the threat seriously, although the reaction of both the PGA and European Tour both the PGA and European Tour was summed up by European chief executive Keith

Pelley: “We are not really in the business of commenting on other tours whether they are real or whether they are fictional.” Tour chief Keith Pelley: “We do not comment on other tours, real or fictional.”

Five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson said: “I’m curious but I don’t know enough about it. I’m listening to it. I think it is intriguing but I don’t know enough about it to comment publicly, but I hope to learn more.” Rory McIlroy confirmed he was first approached in 2014. “I certainly wouldn’t want to lose what’s been built in the last 40 to 50 years,” the Northern Irishman said. But he did say the challenge of these outsiders could prompt a remodelling of the current structure: “It might be a catalyst for some changes on this tour.” Iain Carter, the BBC golf correspondent, wrote: “The European

Golf starts picking up the pace From Page 3 “Our referees have been proactive. They have spoken to the players about it and it seems everything is running nicely on the golf course. “This is the way forward. It’s been brilliant. I hope it doesn’t go like it goes in other sports when you have rules changes and it seems like the first three or four weeks everybody is up for it, but then you kind of forget about it. “I hope it is pushed forward and we send a good signal to the world that we are taking this seriously, that we want to finish rounds on time and we want to be in control of everything we do.” Slow players are being targeted and two were placed on the ‘bad-


time register’ during the first round in Abu Dhabi. The amateur Ahmed Skaik took 109 seconds over a shot while Victor Hovland took 59 seconds to hit a putt. Both missed the cut, and had they incurred another bad time they would have received a one-stroke penalty. “Lining up the line on the ball, he was a hell of a long time doing that,” McFee said of Hovland’s offence. “I had a couple of chats with one or two of the slower players and told them the time has come. This is coming from the players, you’ve got to change. “We’ve had numerous chats with various players over the years and as yet they haven’t really listened. So it’s encouraging.”

Tee Times | February 2020

Tour’s elite Rolex Series would be far more impactful if it were a set of limited-field tournaments, with the best-of-the-best chasing the big money. Phil Mickelson: “I’m listening. It’s intriguing. I don’t know enough. I hope to learn more.”

“But try selling that to the bulk of your membership; you could not get it through. The rank-and-file players want their chance of winning the largest cheques. “Things may have to change, though. There is now talk that the Australian Open could be part of the rebel circuit, with a women’s version as well. “Make no mistake, PGL faces massive challenges to muscle in at the top of professional golf but the fact it is agitating could be enough to shake the status quo. “Expect the establishment to come together to fight off the outsiders. Indeed, there is evidence aplenty that this is already happening.”

Westwood Ho! The Abu Dhabi Championship was won by evergreen English star Lee Westwood. The 46-year-old finished on 19 under par, two shots ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Victor Perez. The victory meant he has won titles in four different decades on the European Tour. He missed out on the 2018 European Ryder Cup team, He was asked about the prospect of getting into Padraig Harrington’s team this year. “It’s just nice proving I can still do it”, he said. “It was good watching last time but if there is chance to get in the team I will obviously go for it.”

Who are the would-be rivals? The people behind the PGL project have managed to maintain a certain air of mystery. Rumours say Saudi Arabian money is involved and it is known that the boutique investment bank, the Raine Group, is a key stakeholder, says BBC golf writer Iain Carter. “One of the Raine Group’s partners is golf fanatic Colin Neville,” Carter writes, “who has brokered major sporting deals including a $400m Chinese investment in Manchester City and who, according to a 2016 interview in the Sports Business Journal, would most like to swap jobs for a day with Rory McIlroy. “PGL’s backers, who have been working on the project for six years, believe the current golf set-up is outdated. “In a recent press release, they said: ‘If you want the world to watch, you have to showcase your best product, week-in week-out. Golf doesn’t do that currently’. “If you had the chance to start again you wouldn’t create professional golf as it exists today. The league is that chance’.”

Events Cancelled Two women’s golf tournaments became the first to be cancelled because of the concerns about the coronavirus. The Women’s World Championship in Singapore and the LPGA Thailand event were scratched by the LPGA following advice about large-scale events in Asian countries. It said the health and safety of all involved is “our highest priority”. The Blue Bay LPGA in China had already been cancelled because of the virus. At the time of the cancellations, there had been more than 40,000 cases reported globally, with 908 deaths recorded in China.

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On Tiger Woods:

“Anyone playing Tiger has to beat him… twice”

On Rowdy Fans:

“Rory was ready to cross the ropes to get at one”

On Ryder Course:

“Neutralises many of the USA’s natural advantages”

Padraig plotting and pondering So how’s it going, Padraig? The 43rd Ryder Cup matches will be held in the United States from September 25 to 27 on the Straits course at Whistling Straits, Haven, Wisconsin. Team Europe is the reigning cup holder after a 17½–10½ victory over Team USA in 2018 at Le Golf National. And European captain Padraig Harrington has been revealing is thinking on the opposition, his own players, the likely threat of Tiger Woods, the course and the distinct possibility of having to deal with obnoxious, beer-fuelled home fans. Harrington is buzzing at the prospect of inspiring another European win, and spelled out his thinking in a BBC 5 Live Sport interview. A big talking point for Europe’s captain is the Tiger threat. The reigning Masters champion has only once played on a winning Ryder Cup team and that was back in 1999, but Harrington said: “I’d be more wary of Tiger Woods now than back in the day.” He says that the 44-year-old is now more accommodating to the competition’s pomp and circumstance. “Watching from the outside, he is


Padraig Harrington: Has visited Whistling Straits – and liked what he saw

more of a team man, and enjoys himself. He’s much more dangerous and he still has big presence on the tee. “Anybody playing against Tiger has to beat him twice. You’ve got to play better golf than him - and then you’ve got to be big enough to handle playing better golf than him, which isn’t easy.” Harrington has already visited Whistling Straits - and liked what he saw. “It’s tough to be an away captain,” he admitted. “I’d have been devastated if I drew the card that I had to play them on a Hazeltine or a Valhalla (where Europe lost in 2016 and 2008 respectively). “This is a better golf course. It neutralises so many of the USA’s natural advantages. I definitely think it gives us a better chance in the US, to go on this links style golf course.

Tee Times | February 2020

“I was there with a year to go [to the Ryder Cup] and in the three days I was there, the first day was 86 degrees and humid, the second day was the worst thunderstorm - and heavy rain and fog - and the third day was bobble hat cold and windy. “So it could be anything and clearly playing the European Tour you are much more conditioned to deal with different conditions.” On the subject of the home fans, Harrington knows the American crowds will not make it easy for his team. Four years ago at Hazeltine, there was plenty of abuse from home supporters directed at European players. “I will tell my players to expect and accept a bit of booing and a bit of cheering if you hit a bad shot. He does not want spectators putting off players as they are about to make strokes, and is keen to make sure the atmosphere does not boil over in the way that it threatened to at Hazeltine, when McIlroy was the centre of abuse being hurled by drunken American fans. “One guy got at Rory on one of the walkways and got very personal,” Harrington recalled. “And Rory wanted to go in over the ropes at him. And I’m thinking: ‘Oh no, this is the worst.’ I’m the minder, I have to go where he’s going and I’m thinking: ‘Please don’t do it.’ Thankfully nothing came of it.”

More golfing talent from Hollywood Holywood, the seaside town just five miles from the centre of Belfast, has been crowned the best place to live in Northern Ireland. It is also famous for producing a certain golf player named Rory McIlroy. And now another young Hollywooder is beginning to make his mark on the fairways and greens: teenager Tom McKibbin, pictured below. The 17-year-old’s hopes of clinching the Australian Amateur title were dashed as he was beaten 5&3 by local man Jed Morgan in the final. Morgan, from the host Royal Queensland club, stormed into a six-up lead after 12 holes in the 36-hole decider.

McKibbin cut the margin to four after 18 holes and after falling six down again, trimmed it back to three holes with seven remaining. But Morgan won the 12th and 15th to complete his victory. McKibbin paid tribute to Morgan after the final: “Didn’t get the win today but still delighted that I reached the final. Congrats to Jed who played great,” said Tom on Twitter. McKibbin’s performance in Australia has moved him up to 78th in the world amateur rankings and his performance put him 13 places higher than his Irish team-mate James Sugrue who last won the British Amateur Championship. The teenager plays in the same Holywood club where four-time Major winner McIlroy learned the game. Young Irishmen are certainly making their mark Down Under. If Sunday’s final had gone a different way, McKibbin would have become the second successive Irish winner after Conor Purcell’s triumph last January.

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Stories to be Told The Donnington Grove Estate, set in beautiful countryside on the outskirts of Newbury, is spliced by the River Lambourn and bedecked with a varied and mixture of iconic English parkland and woodland. Records tell us that the house, the centre piece, was built by James Pettit Andrews between 1763 and 1772, on a site overlooked by Donnington Castle. It was designed by John Chute in Strawberry Hill Gothic style, and described as expensive to construct and costly to maintain, and was eventually sold to William Brummell (father of Beau Brummell) in 1783, and it was Brummell who turned it into a true country estate. By the time of his death, the estate covered 800 acres, and the house had been substantially extended, stables built, and entrances lodges erected. The superbly landscaped gardens were probably the work of William Brummell himself, as he had knowledge of estate design. When he died the estate was sold, as directed in his will, and the proceeds shared amongst the children. John Bebb an East India Company executive became the owner, until it passed to Head Pottinger Best, eventually being requisitioned for Allied Supplies Ltd for the war effort. Sometime after World War 11 ended the estate was sold to Hon Reginald Fellowes (the cousin of Winston Churchill) and his wife Daisy, the heiress to the Singer Sewing Machine empire. Renowned for her decadent behaviour, she had one of the most lavish collections of jewellery in Europe. The house became infamous for the parties held there, and Daisy had a little white cottage built in the style of the main house, where she would take shelter accompanied by her maid, and recover from her party excesses.


Tee Times | February 2020

However history had made a mark on the grounds centuries before the house was built, for on 27th October 1644, in the midst of the Civil War, the Second Battle of Newbury was fought on the land between the rival armies of the Cavaliers and the Roundheads. The Parliamentarians had had several successes in the field, and had moved to Berkshire. On this occasion, the forces of King Charles 1 fought an unequal battle against the Parliamentarian army, which had twice the number of men at arms as the Royalists. The rebel army had laid siege to Donnington Castle, a key royalist outpost, but abandoned the siege when Charles came with reinforcements. Oliver Cromwell was among the commanders of the Roundheads, and it is believed that the flanking manoeuvre which was attempted was used for the first time in combat. The Battle however was inconclusive but both sides suffered heavy losses, and King Charles was allowed to retreat to Oxford. Nonetheless it was a significant event with far reaching consequences. The following year, with the New Model Army the throne was defeated, King Charles 1 executed and a republic declared and Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England. The republic was to last eleven years until 1660 when Charles 11 was restored to the throne.

More radical change came about in modern times when in 1991 the estate was purchased by Shitenoji International. The Japanese buyers bought the site with the purpose of building a top quality golf course on the land. They were also responsible for the creation of the wonderfully tranquil temple area and ornamental gardens. As the twentieth century was heading to a close, the estate was to have a new and totally different purpose, an elite golf facility, in an era when golf was going through a period of high popularity and rapid expansion. Donnington Grove was to become a major player in the Berkshire golfing countryside. The Japanese then made a master stroke in appointing Dave Thomas to be the architect for the new course. The brief that Thomas was given was simple, build a course of championship standard that would blend in with the surrounding countryside, test the best players, but be enjoyable by those less accomplished. In my opinion, he met the criteria perfectly. The result is a modern resort style course, with USGA specification greens, American style bunkering, but looking perfectly in place in the rolling Berkshire countryside. From the back tees it is over 7100 yards, but from the yellows a more manageable 6576 yards, though still a tough examination needing all the clubs in the bag, only made easier if the driving is spot on. Work began in 1991 and on June 12th 1993 Donnington Grove opened. In 2005 the estate changed hands when it was acquired by the present owners; it is now privately owned and managed and remains a successful independent and unique resort in Newbury.

Something for Everyone

As fascinating as the history of the estate undoubtedly is, the Hotel and Country Club are very much the hub of an up to date and progressive complex offering excellent accommodation, and a wide variety of sporting activities in additional to the first class golf course which is at the heart of the scene. The recently modernised and re-styled clubhouse was an ambitious project, part of a major new investment programme which included the total refurbishment of the bar and restaurant, the creation of three fully equipped beauty treatment salons and major work on the driving range. The changing rooms have the luxury of sauna steam rooms as well as very well furnished locker rooms. The restaurant can accommodate eighty people, and has marvellous views over the terrace toward the ornamental lake and the River Lambourn. The driving range and practice area is in the process of having ten bays installed, five of which will be under cover, and with the setting beside the lake will make practice a delight.

It was constructed in 1991, but it has the look and feel of a long established links, no doubt because of the setting and the classical backdrop not only of the house but also Donnington Castle nearby. It is no surprise that the venue has played host to EuroPro Tour events and numerous other recognised events on the golfing calendar. The course is the ideal venue for Societies, leisure breaks and visitors in general, but also provides everything that the club member could wish for. The importance of their involvement is paramount and fully recognised, with many benefits attached to the status of member at the resort. Membership and the loyalty card gives discounts for all the treatments and use of facilities at Donnington, and fully enjoyed by over 400 members, including sixty ladies and a very strong seniors section, active and very successful in representative competitions. With no joining fees and very competitive annual fees the club has much to offer the local golfer. The modern fleet of buggies and a very attractive half way hut are those important touches that add to the enjoyment of playing one of the best courses in the region. For those with wider sporting ambitions, there is wonderful game fishing on the complex, a perfect chalk and gravel stream with crystal clear water, with excellent wading and stalking in the river for trout and grayling and also more fishing in the lakes. The waters are stocked with brown trout and there are grayling to be had on the streams. For those needing tuition, lessons can be arranged.

A perfect combination, golf and game fishing, the best of all worlds from my own point of view, and the ideal addition when enjoying a stay at Donnington Grove. As well as the excellent game fishing, clay shooting is also on the agenda. Local expert Sean O’Shea is the instructor, offering lessons and advice for all standards, whether first time novices are more accomplished shots, and with all necessary equipment for a sample or something more. Archery can also be arranged and Combination Activity Days can be the ideal way to provide Corporate Days with a difference, for golfers to try new challenges in addition to the golf. There are so many aspects that can be built into the programmes that it would be difficult to find a more complete venue for a group activity. After the endeavours of the day, there can be nothing more satisfying than a return to the House, for food and refreshment whatever your tastes. The house constructed in 1760, but with every modern facility is in the Strawberry Hill Gothic mode, and in the early evening with the lights twinkling in the windows it is quite enchanting. Set in the lee of the ruins Donnington Castle, standing sentinel over the burgeoning complex. On my return visit after a gap of just a few short years, I was pleasantly surprised at the progress with all the new facilities, established and made to complement the course, which was already one of my personal favourites.

This is now a real case of “Not Only But Also� for the quality of the golf course has long been recognised, and is the focal point of the location. The greens are second to none, fast and true and with enough undulations to test even the best putter. Dave Thomas created this impressive course on the 550 acre estate, a mixture of mature wooded parkland and chalk downland, with the river and lakes providing first class natural hazards.

Tee Times | February 2020


Golf at Donnington Grove is typical of the style used by architect Dave Thomas, after a successful playing career he turned his talents to course design, became famous for his construction at The Belfry when in partnership with Peter Alliss, and his numerous courses in Spain, headed by the West Course at La Manga. There are two loops of nine holes, both very different in character, returning to the clubhouse in traditional manner, the front nine on higher ground overlooking Newbury, and the back nine, holes set out in classic parkland with several water hazards to spice the challenge. The 10th and 11th set the scene and the 14th reminds that water is still to be avoided. As you play the latter holes a glance left and you may see anglers wading deep water and casting for those elusive brown trout, or perhaps a silver grayling to take home for supper. A delightful course to play and enjoy, with enough scenery and wildlife to tempt you to spend a few seconds concentrating on things other than a little dimpled ball. With all the facilities on hand in the main buildings, it has become a very popular location for Corporate Meetings and Presentations, well located and with delightful setting and service.

Donnington Grove has celebrated its Twenty Five Year Anniversary in 2018, a milestone worthy of recognition. And much more will be happening during the course of 2020. It would be the perfect time to visit for a stay, and with a wide variety of accommodation; plenty of options. There are three individual lodges each to accommodate two people, with sitting room, diner and fully equipped kitchen, with the secret garden and the Japanese Temple close by. The Summer House with its very attractive terrace has six suites, Lake View has ten ensuite double bedrooms, ample choice to satisfy the most discerning visitor, and in the main house there are eight further ensuite double rooms, with traditional bathtubs to soak away the aches of the golf adventures, or other sporting exertions. There will be promotional activities throughout the Summer and Autumn that will be attractive and enjoyable. At the present time there are plans in train to install a new professional team to run the golf shop and provide tuition, changes that will widen the scope of service available to members and visitors, and to take place smoothly and with the minimum of disruption. A trait evident wherever you go in the resort, efficient and unobtrusive.


Tee Times | February 2020

There has been substantial investment in the hotel complex and the sports facilities, part of an ongoing process which will enhance an already superb resort, and with all the essential ingredients now in place it can offer the perfect location for golf on Corporate Days, Society or group visits, particularly with some tuition attached. With the new Beauty Treatment rooms, suitable for both male and female clients, there is no need to be deterred by adverse weather, which will prove to be a real boon in the winter months, and an added benefit when wives and companions accompany visiting golfers for that leisure break with a difference. It has proven to be a very popular location for that very special wedding day, and offers the perfect setting for treasure wedding photographs.

The location is ideal, whether travelling from the Midlands, London or the South, with easy access from good arterial roads and motorways, the M40 and the A34, just a few miles north of Newbury. General Manager Nigel Green and his team have a very flexible but highly professional approach, and will be happy to receive enquiries and to help to plan a visit that will be tailored to the individual requirement and certainly one to be remembered.

HOST VENUE 2019 & 2020

Society Golf 1 in 12 get FOC golf, golf days from £25 per person weekdays and weekends - subject to availability. Donnington Grove estate is set in 500 acres of beautiful countryside and is the perfect location if you’re looking for the ultimate golf experience in Berkshire.

The course is immaculately maintained and open all year round, with no temporary greens and full of challenges, ensuring that you’ll enjoy your round of golf at Donnington Grove.

Whether you’re looking for golf club membership, a golf break, a day of golf, a driving range or simply a great round, look no further.

The excellent facilities add to the perfect golfing experience. As well as having a refurbished bar and restaurant with friendly staff, there is a wide range of accommodation in the 18th century house or spacious accommodation and lodges, all on-site.

Overlooked by the historic Donnington Castle, this exceptional golf course was designed by Ryder Cup legend Dave Thomas in 1993 and has since delighted and challenged thousands of visitors, from the enthusiastic amateur to the international travelling professional. It’s hardly surprising, then, that this Berkshire golf course has hosted the Challenge tour in 2004, European Pro Tour in 2001, as well as hosting the European Pro Tour and being featured on Sky Sports in 2019 and again in 2020.

The practice facilities boast a 10-bay floodlit driving range, which is also heated for those cold winter days of practice. Playing a round of golf at Donnington Grove could not be easier. Call in, email or phone 01635 551975 for tee times and information on society packages and the helpful team will look after all of your golfing needs.

Donnington Grove offers a winning combination of excellent championship golf course to test golfers of all abilities, a superb clubhouse, tasty food and friendly hospitality. We are located only 4.8 miles from the M4 junction 13 & just off the A34 close to Newbury town centre. Our facilities in 18 hole championship, par 72 – measuring 7108 yards from the whites, driving range, 2 practice greens, buggies available from £30 each, fully stocked ProShop with registered PGA professionals and stunning views of Newbury and Donnington castle.

To book, please contact – Tom Fleming / Golf Manager 01635 581000 ext.220 or email Packages can also be tailored to suit requirements, please contact our Golf Manager to discuss.

Tee Times | February 2020


Golf icon Greg Norman proud of Al Mouj Golf progress ahead of the third staging of the Oman Open

The two-times Major winner believes the unique course showcases Oman as a top golfing destination Muscat, Oman: World-renowned golf course designer Greg Norman has reaffirmed his belief that his creation at Al Mouj Golf is one of the best in the world as the venue is set to host the Oman Open on the European Tour for the third successive year. The transformation of the scrubland between Oman Airport and the Gulf of Oman could have been a daunting challenge for Norman, but the twotimes Major winner and holder of the World No.1 position for 331 weeks, took it in his stride and created: “One of the finest courses I have ever designed anywhere in the world.” With the stars of the European Tour set to touchdown in Oman ahead of the tournament, which gets underway on February 27 and will finish on March 1, Norman is always pleased to hear positive feedback from those involved in the event. “When designing a course, I always strive to create a layout that is both challenging yet playable for all levels of golfers and it is especially rewarding when a course is then selected to host a Championship event,” he said. “The huge bonus for me was that I was able to create a vast natural habitat which quickly became a haven for birdlife and various flora and fauna.


“The original site was devoid of plant life so we brought in as many indigenous plants, bushes trees, cacti and shrubs we could find and introduced lakes and streams to the layout, which soon became home for all manner of creatures.

“Combine this newly created habitat with the incredible views of the Hajar Mountain range and the Gulf of Oman in the backdrop, and you end up with a visually stunning golf course.

(L-R) Abdullah Al-Shidi, Greg Norman, HH Sayyid Taimur bin As’ad and HE Sultan bin Hamdoon at the opening of Al Mouj Golf

Tee Times | February 2020

and It’s extremely rewarding to see the positive effect this project has had on the growth of golf in the Sultanate. “I was pleased that the ‘mountainshaped’ grassed sand dunes that run the length of the course on the inland side, achieved exactly what we planned, in masking the views of the airport, which enhanced the views of the Hajar Mountain range, and silencing the noise from the nearby highway.” Other courses in the region that Norman has designed include Jordan’s first championship course at Ayla Golf Club and the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, which plays host to the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, and the Australian believes Al Mouj is the pick of the bunch. “Each hole should be should have its own unique characteristics and the course should have as wide a variety of holes as is possible and I reckon we achieved that. I can reaffirm that my original assessment that Al Mouj is one of the best courses I have ever designed.” 2018 Oman Open winner Joost Luiten and a host of the European Tour’s top stars are set to compete in the $1.75m Oman Open looking to collect valuable World Ranking and Ryder Cup qualification points in addition to seeking out the silverware on offer for the winner.


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Tee Times | February 2020 | | 02382 020909


What has happened to Southampton Golf Club?

What does your golf club mean to you? To some it’s just a place they rock up every now and again and hit a few balls or play a round. But to so many a golf club is more than that. It’s like an extended family, somewhere close to their hearts. A place they feel they have a deep seated connection to and there is usually an assumption it will always be there. If you were a member at Dunwood Manor - as I was as a junior - you know all too well that the nightmare of a course closing can suddenly become reality. Southampton Municipal is one of those special courses, the history of the club is rich in adornments of the 3rd best Municipal Golf Course in the UK, best place to grab a meal after your round and boasted a host of the best players in Hampshire attending various opens and club competitions. So many golfers, myself included have fond memories of the course, not just playing it as an amateur but teaching there as a professional. So when I went up there a few weeks ago I was fairly stunned as to the overall appearance of the place. First impressions really knocked me for six. It’s like it’s been left to decompose, mud surrounding the clubhouse, doors hanging off and the one and only sign of life was Bill behind the bar, a very friendly chap in the pro shop and the neglected flower beds. The course looked (as many courses do at the moment) in need of TLC, but I put that down to the winter we’ve had. Little did I know the full extent of this club’s decent into an abyss it will struggle to get out of. It’s safe to say that many golf clubs across the UK are suffering and many fight to stay open with the not so Great British weather and actual membership numbers are on the decline. But even so this is not the Southampton Golf Club I once knew and it hasn’t been for some time now. Talking to some members (current and ex members) they said there is a distinct lack of love as well as money being injected into the place, a feeling that the course is merely being kept open. Apparently temporary greens have been in the same place for weeks on end and the general condition has deteriorated hugely over the last few years forcing many members to leave.


Tee Times | February 2020

Its a big decision leaving a club, especially if you have been a part of it and it has been a part of your life for a long time. Once you’ve left it is also very tough to go back. You get used to where you are now a member and uprooting once again seems a huge hassle. The ladies section at Southampton has already folded in January of this year especially when this ladies club at Southampton was formed before the men’s (87 years ago). This in itself is awful for the game of golf. There must be hundreds of women who play, fancy getting back into golf or indeed taking it up. Many would live in walking distance of the club. Yet there are not enough to even keep the section open, this to me seems ludicrous. The sixty to seventy men only members now lost to other clubs on top of the club losses of 69 members in Oct/Nov and a further 30+ members all due to the desperate state of the course. This place should be awesome with a capital A. As a golf club with 27 holes it should be the home of learning to play the game in the South. This club should be teaming with juniors and youngsters playing on the course as well as learning the game. Golf is such an incredible sport for teaching kids etiquette and self control. This place should be a crucial facility in keeping the youth of Southampton off the streets, out of trouble and developing the future of the game.

For the experienced player it should be a destination for club, society and corporate golf as it always used to be. In years gone by the Southampton Open saw 56 players attend with a handicap of 6 or better. It was a magnet for some of the South’s best golfers. The layout is fantastic, the coverage on the greens always used to be so consistent. It is in an excellent catchment area for a captive audience. With the university, hospital and countless businesses on its doorstep. Let alone the population of the city and it’s suburbs. Southampton Golf club should be thriving and a driving force among clubs in the south. But sadly this isn’t the case. I’d question why as would many others but lack of attention and it seems any money at all being spent on the facility seems an obvious point of blame. Having worked at the muni with Andy Gordon I know how much of a buzz can be created up there without an excruciating battle... We had strong visions for its future as a nucleus of golf development in the South. As it had enjoyed in the past with big charity days, functions and opens. I am really saddened that this vision doesn’t seem to be shared by those involved in running the golf course and I’m sure it is frustrating for any pro who has been involved up there in recent years. The old Greenkeepers residence (semi detached housing down the path) is totally derelict and a sight for sore eyes. In the last five years the course has been neglected and the state of the exterior of the clubhouse and surrounding areas is shocking. It’s slowly decaying and it doesn’t sound like anything is being done about it. The members and regulars have voiced their concerns but to no avail it seems. How the restaurant has survived is beyond me. Bowlers has always been a favourite amongst golfers when it comes to post round drinks, food and socialising. We used to live in Bassett and regularly just wandered down for a round and a drink overlooking the course. There are few places you can enjoy the sunset as well as consistently good food. The atmosphere in that clubhouse used to rival that of any sports club or pub in the city.

This place is one of the reasons societies and charity days repeatedly visited the club pulling in a huge chunk of business in green fees for the course and F&B for Bowlers. But with the condition of the course and the neglect of the building that is the clubhouse many have stopped coming and the number of events has rapidly decreased. According to some groups who have returned to the club year after year, there was no flexibility being given, and no taking into account conditions like temporary greens. Sometimes full 18 temporaries are in place for weeks at a time, apparently mainly due to a lack of groundsmen to carry out the change to the flags on the 18 hole course. If things continue on this path there may be no golf club or place to sit with a glass of wine and enjoy the sunset. There’s a part of me suspects that might be part of the plan, if indeed there is one. Let the place go totally to the dogs, let all the members leave and have nowhere to go as a club. If the members who have left were thinking about returning they’d be expecting vast changes. I’d have to question whether these would be even possible without some kind of monumental u-turn on MyTime Actives part. Things would need to be changed in a way that you’d suspect Harry Potter had got involved, it’s almost gone past saving… But… and it’s a big but… If you are reading this and feel strongly about the current state of affairs, maybe you have ideas of how things could be improved or have a vision yourself of what Southampton Golf Course should be... maybe you are still a member there and are clinging on to the hope things might improve… or you had no idea (as I didn’t) that the place that once was glorious is now in the gutter, then let the club know how you feel. Certainly it is not just a mere case of a club closing and people having nowhere to play their golf. It is a case of making what once shone as a club in the south shine again. Sometimes lots of voices together can force action and maybe, just maybe we will see something other than weeds springing up from the dirt that surrounds the clubhouse at Southampton Golf Club. I keep my fingers crossed. To make your voice heard, email or

Tee Times | February 2020


Forward-thinking Littlestone is one of the first clubs to support England Golf’s Women in Golf charter Littlestone ( has again proved itself to be one of the most forward-thinking golf clubs in England following the announcement that it has become one of the first clubs to support England Golf’s Women in Golf Charter. Littlestone, a member of the Golf in Kent Partnership (www.golfinkent., has already bucked the trend of most member-owned clubs and modernised the running of the club by dispensing with the role of secretary/general manager and bringing in a number of departmental heads and introducing a structure more akin to those operating in the commercial world. At the same time, The Board at Littlestone has been discussing over a long period of time about how to increase the number of women involved in the business and to increase the female membership. “So when we learned of the Women in Golf Charter, Littlestone was very keen to sign up to it as a way of rubber stamping the club’s commitment to enhancing the role and participation of women in the club”, commented Sarah Saunders, Club Membership & Marketing Manager. “We currently have over 150 women members although only around 60 play regularly whilst our girls’ membership is quite low with just six girls although we have over 40 participating in our free school lessons on a weekly basis. This is something we hope to build on in the coming years.” In order to attract more females into the game, Littlestone has been running outreach training programmes into local schools and ‘Girls Golf Rocks’ at the club which have seen an increase in coaching with girls of primary age specifically. Although this has not led to massive influx into the Junior membership, it has seen a phenomenal increase in participation – Littlestone’s main goal - and most importantly, it has introduced the sport to those who may never have the opportunity to try golf otherwise. Littlestone also runs weekly coaching and coffee mornings specifically for female non-golfers and improvers. This has the benefit of creating a more relaxed, social ambience around the game and introduces new participants to each other at the same time. The current Lady Captain, Sheila Stirling, has been appointed as the first Women in Golf Champion and following her captaincy, she is keen to continue working with the club’s management to ensure its commitments to the Charter are met. “At Littlestone, the Board is keen to ensure both sexes are represented equally and joining the Women in Golf Charter is seen as part of this process. We also hope that Littlestone will be a beacon for equality across the region and encourage other clubs to follow our example,” concludes Saunders. Littlestone also recently became the first club in Kent to achieve SafeGolf club accreditation from England Golf following its commitment to promoting a safe and positive environment for all those participating, working and volunteering in the sport of golf. Littlestone has two 18-hole golf links courses, The Warren and The Championship Links which will host The R&A Junior Open in July 2020. Founded in 1888, this top 100 links course has seen its share of prestigious tournaments and welcomed the great and the good into its membership with Lord Balfour, Lord Asquith and Noel Coward among its most famous alumni. The club has hosted Open Final Qualifying on five occasions and is both excited and proud to have been chosen to host The R&A Junior Open next year.


Tee Times | February 2020

The club has grown from strength to strength in recent years and, with a full membership, is one of a handful with an increasingly long waiting list. Littlestone is a member of the Golf in Kent Partnership between Visit Kent and some of the county’s premier golf courses and accommodation providers that promotes the Garden of England as a golfer’s paradise, thanks to the excellence of its courses and off-course attractions.

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Tee Times | February 2020


Have you the Correct Clubs in your Bag Are you wasting money on clubs you seldom play? More importantly, are you denying yourself opportunities to play better and more enjoyable golf, simply because your bag is equipped with clubs totally unsuited for your game? As a professional club fitter I knows that the set makeup part of the fitting recommendation can be one of the most effective ways to offer measurable improvement to the player, especially for the many millions of average-to-less-skilled golfers. For the last twenty years, golf equipment manufacturers have forced major changes in the specifications of the clubs with which we all play the game. It all started when OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) started messing with iron loft, which up until the 1990s were set to standards that every club manufacturer respected and adhered to. For example: • 3-irons, a tough-to-swing 24º club on a good day, have been de-lofted over the past three decades to 18º to 20º (becoming LESS than a 2-iron); • 4-irons, which historically were set at a 28º loft, were de-lofted to between 21º and 23º (becoming less than a 3-iron); • 5-irons, which before had been set with a 32º loft, have been de-lofted to between 23º and 25º (thus becoming what a 3-iron used to be). This has also been done in varying degrees to the 6, 7, 8 and 9 irons. Why? Money!! Designers soon realised the easiest way to sell new clubs is to prove that they hit the ball further than the previous model. Which of course is exactly what happened. But even more infamous and damaging was the fact that from this shrinking of lofts, the 3, 4 and 5 irons swiftly became a whole lot harder to impossible to hit for the vast majority of golfers.Take a look at your own bag: Which clubs are shiny, and which are well worn? The higher number irons even have more worn-down grips. And the lower number irons? They’re practically untouched. What can I do to help this situation? The goal is to remove these hard to hit clubs with easier more consistent ones. This will either be higher numbered fairway woods, or the clubs that were designed especially with this in mind – hybrids. So this is why we’re at this point— where golfers seldom use their 3, 4 and even their 5 irons. Plus, for the most part, they’re also very confused about hybrids…which for most of us are necessary for consistently hitting longeriron distances into the greens and on longer par-3 holes. The fact is, hybrids are a wonderful


product, an ingenious alternative to hitting today’s hard-to-hit long irons. They can be: • Easier to get airborne than any iron of the same loft; • Possibly more accurate on longer length par-3s; • More consistent from both short and long grass; • Effective from hard-pan; and • Better suited for bump and run shots from around the greens. They really are easier to hit high to fly than irons of the same loft, especially when professionally fitted to the golfer— when they’re built with quality designed components and custom built to fitting specifications that ideally match each golfer’s individual swing characteristics that allow the hybrids to blend seamlessly with the conventional irons for consistent distance gaps. As to whether to go to a high-lofted wood or hybrid for the iron replacements, two factors need to be taken into consideration: • The more the golfer sweeps the ball rather than hits down on the ball, the more likely that high-lofted woods will be a golfer’s iron replacements. • The golfer’s personal preference/opinion as to whether they are more comfortable or confident with a fairway wood or a hybrid is also key to the selection of the low-loft iron replacement clubs. Club head speed also plays a role in the set makeup determination. The slower the club head speed, the shorter the distance gap from normal 4-degree loft increments between clubs. This type of player would benefit with a larger separation between each club. For the good player, set makeup fitting certainly will include some of the same elements for the average player. Not all players who shoot in the 70s can consistently hit the a 3 wood high enough or consistently enough off the deck, nor can they hit a 3 iron (sometimes even a 4 iron) well enough to say it is better to keep

Tee Times | February 2020

it in the bag than an easier-to-hit hybrid that flies the same distance. For many good players, set makeup fitting has to focus on several other areas: • Let’s say you can hit your 3 and 4 irons up in the air. Can you stop those shots on the green as well as you could if you hit a higher-launching hybrid that flies the same distance? • Does your higher club head speed or later release cause a much higher flight with your hybrids so that in high-wind conditions you have control or distance problems? If so, be smart and use hybrids on calmer days and put the lower-lofted irons back in the bag on windy days. • Players who can get a little off line from

day to day might consider replacing their 3 wood and 5 wood with a strong 2 hybrid that is in the area of 40-to-41 inches in length for more control. • Different horses for different courses. Good players should always have an array of alternative clubs that are better suited to different courses and different hole designs. A copy of this and my previous articles for Doyle’s Dilemmas can be found online at Should you have any questions on this or any equipment matter please feel free to call: 01256 322007 or 07859 920055. Alternatively, email me directly at or visit

Tee Times | February 2020


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Tee Times | February 2020


McDOWELL GETS HIS MOJO BACK “I’ve got a great wife and a great family. Now I feel that my best golf is still ahead of me” Graeme McDowell says his best golf could still be ahead of him after claiming his first European Tour victory since 2014. The Northern Ireland star finished 12 under to win the Saudi International by two shots ahead of Dustin Johnson. It was his 11th European circuit victory. “It’s 10 years since I played the best golf of my life,” said McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion. “I feel now like I’m moving back in the right direction,” he said. I’ve got my head around what I’m trying to do with the golf ball again and what I’m trying to do with the swing thanks to Kevin Kirk (the coach who began working with him last August.

“Pete Cowen has been by my side for many years and I have Kenny [Comboy] on the bag. I have a solid team and life has settled down. “I’ve got a great wife and a great family - I’m very happy with what’s going on in my life right now. I feel like the ripples in the pond have steadied and I’m in a good place to play some good golf. “Kevin said there is ‘no reason why the best golf in your career cannot be ahead of you’ and I like that idea. I like that focus.” McDowell, who began the week ranked 104th in the world, moved up to 47. He felt that his first European Tour title in almost six years came sooner than he expected.

Sam’s Climbing Sam Locke hopes his first tournament victory since turning pro has got “the monkey off my back” as the 21-year-old Scot battles to live up to the promise of his 2018 Open silver medal. He has made a whirlwind start to his second season as a professional, Having tied second in the Penina Classic in the Portugal Pro Tour, he won the following Palmares Open.

Ladies Welcome “I didn’t realise it had been quite so long to be honest,” the 40-year-old said. “I’m very excited and relieved at what is a massive win. “My big goal this year was to get back into the top 50 in the world and back competing in the big tournaments. I’m really excited that it’s happened a little sooner than expected but hopefully it lays the foundations for a big year.”


leading professional tours, have long expressed their reluctance to embrace such moves. But the R&A and USGA are pressing ahead to try to limit the continuing growth in driving distances. R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers told BBC Sport. “This will only be achieved if the whole industry comes together to make sure the game is thriving 50 years from now,” The recent publication of the Distance Insights Project Report suggests potentially significant changes are being considered. They may lead to alterations to club and ball specifications to limit their future effectiveness as well as local rules potentially being introduced for certain courses and competitions.

Tee Times | February 2020

The Berkhamsted Trophy, one of amateur golf’s foremost men’s events for the past 60 years, is to invite female players to enter this year. It will be the first time that a longestablished amateur event has taken down a men-only barrier. The next tournament on the West Hertfordshire heathland course will take place on 2-4 April. The event will be eligible for World Amateur Golf Ranking points for both men and women.

In The Money

Will they really put a leash on The Big Dog? To those who can control its built-in power, the modern driver is fondly named The Big Dog. “Let The Big Dog eat,” is the cry as they launch another distancegobbling tee shot. And spectators love it too. They marvel at the professionals who can send the golf ball further than any amateur’s dream. Now golf’s governing bodies, the R&A and USPGA, have said that long hitting should be curbed. It is a move likely to be welcome by traditional golf clubs whose older courses seem to be shrinking by the distances players can smash shots off the tea. The two rule-making bodies are seeking support for the idea from the sport’[s key stakeholders. A tough ask, given that club and ball manufacturers, along with


Golf’s governing bodies say ways must be found to limit distances off the tee

The report states that in 1995 the top-20 longest hitters in elite male competition averaged 278 yards off the tee. By last year, that figure had risen to 310 yards. Erin Hills, the Wisconsin course that staged the 2017 US Open, measured a mammoth 7,741 yards yet it did not stop Brooks Koepka’s winning score being 16 under par. “Longer distances, longer courses, playing from longer tees and longer times to play are taking golf in the wrong direction,” the report concludes. “Golf will best thrive over the next decades and beyond if this continuing cycle of ever-increasing hitting distances and golf course lengths is brought to an end.”

Players on the 2020 Ladies European Tour are playing for a record £15.2million total prize money, a £3.9million increase over last year. There will be 24 events, four more than last year and nine up on 2018. The UK will host one of the new events, offering £835,000 in prize money, with the location yet to be announced. “I couldn’t be more excited about what’s been achieved to improve the schedule,” said Europe’s Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew.

It’s Nick Again Canadian Nick Taylor captured his second PGA Tour title with a fourshot win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The 31-year-old world number 229 began round four one ahead of Phil Mickelson and finished with a 19 under total. Mickelson was seeking to match Walter Hagen’s 45 PGA wins, birdied three of the first six holes but faded. Taylor’s only previous PGA Tour win came in 2014 at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Tee Times | February 2020


Winchester Challenge Cup Royal Winchester Golf club was established in 1888 in Morn Hill. The Ladies Golf club was an independent club established in 1891. They played at Morn Hill before moving in 1901 with the Main club to the present site originally rented from the Church Commission. The Ladies contributed to the buying of the land from the Church Commission in 1929 and only amalgamated with the Main club after 1945 when the main club was in financial crisis. Royal Winchester Golf Club is not by any means the oldest club in Hampshire. The Royal Jersey golf club (1878) is the oldest club affiliated with Hampshire and the oldest Hampshire golf club is Bramshaw golf club (1880). Royal Winchester Golf Club gained it’s ‘Royal’ title through its connection with the Duke of Connaught in 1893. The LGU was formed in 1893 and the Lady Captain and Secretary of Winchester golf club were very involved in its establishment.

The Winchester Challenge Cup was presented by the Ladies Committee of Winchester hence its name. This Trophy was played for at the LGU Open meetings which was held twice a year (reduced to once a year in the Autumn 1898). The Winchester Cup was won outright 3 times by a lady in the early 1900s so she won the right to keep the Cup. Therefore, a new Challenge Cup had to be presented. Unfortunately this Cup was lost in the fire in 1994. It was replaced, only to be stolen from the clubhouse during a burglary. The then Lady captain, Pam Arnold, commissioned a new one to be made and this is the Trophy that is presented today. The Winchester Challenge Trophy competition is the oldest Ladies’ Trophy competition in Hampshire. It is played each year at the beginning of September. This competition is only open to lady members of a Hampshire golf club and is played in a Medal format as stipulated in the rules.

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Tee Times | February 2020

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Springing towards a sharp short game this year. It hasn’t been the best start to the year weather wise. So the lack of time spent chipping in the back garden has been fairly minimal with us. But I have managed to do a few short game lessons out there utilising an array of apparatus including climbing frames, polycarbonate panels from my obliterated greenhouse (thanks to the storms in February) and the odd bucket. The only limit when it comes to your practice session is your imagination. But the improvement you will see out on the course will be undeniable. Simply dedicate a few dry, sunny Spring mornings to your short game and reap the benefits. These sessions can be done at home if you are lucky enough to have the space, or on the practice ground. You can also adapt this to the driving range though the last two options are preferable. Start with crisping up those chip shots: Line 10 balls up and hit some short, firm chip shots at any target. Distance isn’t important here but strike is. If you struggle with connecting and hitting clean shots check that you are gripping far enough down the club. The shorter the chip shot the shorter your club needs to be. So if you are hitting cute teeny ones then ensure you are really holding the club nearly where the shaft meets the grip.So many players I’ve taught in the past, don’t grip down the club. Making the short ones feel really awkward. Keep grip pressure fairly light. Ball position can be middle to begin with. Weight planted solidly on the foot nearest your target. The chipping action should be a fairly steep takeaway (Tick) and a solid TOCK through, maintain the triangle of your arms and shoulders and limit wrist action. Almost a putting stroke but with adjustments made at address to encourage you to hit down on the ball. You should almost scalp the turf, making firm connection with is each time. And you should be following through slightly further than you went back. Most players who struggle with the short stuff will go too far back and decelerate or stop just after the ball. Stabbing it almost. So get those 10 balls consistently jumping off the middle of the club before you move onto distance control. Once you’ve mastered that crisp strike move onto a few targets. Work with only 5 balls now and ensure you go through a pre shot routine for each one. As if you are on the course. Get a feel for the rhythm and length of swing. You can then work up towards hitting balls up a ladder of targets. Be as kind or as challenging to yourself as you like. The most important thing is you are out there and you are paying attention to one of the parts of the game that is make or break when it comes to scoring. I’ll elaborate on practice ideas/ scoring systems next month but for now get out there and get chipping. For lessons in golf performance, psychology and indeed shot saving around the greens contact me on or visit my website Good luck and here’s to your golf game springing into life this year.


Tee Times | February 2020

More distance! There’s no doubt about it, most golfers want to hit the ball further! It’s definitely an advantage if you can hit the ball a long way. Many of the great champions of the past and present have been long hitters: players like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead of the older brigade and of the more modern era, the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. These players mentioned all have fabulous all round games. The two kings of golf in my lifetime, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are both renowned as great iron players and putters. Indeed, in one season Tiger holed one thousand putts in a row from five feet and in, truly amazing! Imagine how much lower your scores would be if you putted that brilliantly. There are three things that you need to do in order to hit the ball a long way. You obviously need club head speed, a good angle of attack and a middle hit. To swing the club fast through impact the timing of the swing is critical. Obviously some people can naturally move faster than others, but a swing that has a correct pivot motion has more chance of building some speed. Try throwing a ball and you’ll feel the sequence of motion you need to build some power. You’ll feel your weight shift to the right foot as you swing the arm back. Towards the end of the arm swing and with your weight still on the right foot, the left foot steps towards the target. This movement puts a stretch and torque through your body and initiates the forward throw. This is exactly how a golf swing should be sequenced. Rory’s swing demonstrates this movement beautifully. Next thing is the angle of attack. It’s very difficult to get the driver out there if you have a steep angle of attack. Ideally the club wants to be moving upward slightly when it hits the ball. The set up can help quite a bit with this. You want to feel that the torso is leaning away from the target slightly. Tee the ball up a bit and just try and launch it high. To do this it’s important to keep the body behind the ball through impact. Also an in to out club path will get the club swinging more upwards. I would be wary of doing this, particularly if you tend to play with a draw as you could be visiting the rough on the right and the left a lot more regularly. Lastly, the centre hit. Hitting out of the middle of the club is key to long accurate hitting. A ball struck from the toe of the club will tend go short and stay low. As a rule it will tend to bend fairly quickly to the left. On the other hand a ball hit from the heel of the club will fly weakly and generally go to the right. The reason these off centre hits cause so much bother is because the impact on the ball causes the club to wobble, robbing power and accuracy. When the ball is struck from the middle of the club, there is no wobble and all the power is transferred into the ball. Just a word of warning about chasing power to improve your golf game. Remember golf is a game that requires a high level of skill. A few extra yards won’t necessarily get those scores down. I listened to a great interview with Graham McDowell after his latest, long awaited win on the European Tour. He said that he had been trying to hit the ball further and completely lost the rhythm of his game. However since not making extra distance his main goal and focussing on the scoring part of the game, his form has returned. The focus of next month’s article will be, “triggering the swing”. A good swing trigger can really help to create a rhythmic and well sequenced motion.

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Tee Times Golf Magazine, March 2020  

Tee Times Golf Magazine, March 2020