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COMING UP ROSES SCHMIDT SEALS STELLAR YEAR IN FRONT OF SUPERSTAR JUSTIN - P8
Nov-Dec 2019 Yorkshire Golfer is published by League Weekly Ltd, 31 Branch Road, Batley, W. Yorks WF17 5SB Tel 01924 470296 for subscriptions & deliveries Contents are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced wholly or in part without permission of the publishers
IN THIS ISSUE
Sandra Kirton 07771 885757 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org @yorkshiregolfer
find us online: www.yorkshiregolfer.net SO MUCH TO CELEBRATE Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs’ annual dinner even more of a glittering event than usual p11
GET THE BIT BETWEEN YOUR TEETH WITH DRILLS Scarthingwell’s Tony Howarth offers some sound advice for making the most of winter practice p18
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED Brabazon Trophy winner Ben Schmidt talks about mixing it with the stars of Europe’s Challenge Tour p6
WHAT’S ON THE AGENDA FOR 2020 Your guide to events for next year –12&13
UNDER THREAT Temple Newsam GC in Leeds promises to put up a stern fight as council makes plans to sweep away decades of golfing history p20 & 21
THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER Halifax GC’s penultimate hole is named among the top 50 par-3s in the UK by Today’s Golfer p10
PARK AND STRIDES Danny Lockwood discovers there’s more to the golf business than just golf as he visits Cottingham Parks p14 & 15
WOODCOCK’S WONDERS Yorkshire Boys’ team manager praises his side after victory in the Northern Counties League championship p4
ON TRACK FOR MAKING IMPROVEMENTS Waterfront Golf’s Danny Walsh and Chris Dennis point you in the right direction as you look to use the winter months to sharpen your pitching and putting p24
Spread your club's good news... email your results, open events, photographs and news items to us on: email@example.com and follow us on Twitter @yorkshiregolfer THE NEXT ISSUE OF YORKSHIRE GOLFER WILL BE DELIVERED TO CLUBS ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2020
BACK IN WHITE ROSE HANDS Captain Grimbleby’s superb team retrieve England Senior Men’s County trophy
YORKSHIRE RULE AGAIN DUE TO KING GARFORTH’S Andy King crowned victory for Yorkshire in the England Senior Men’s County Finals with an eagle on the 17th hole. King’s moment of golfing gold came after three days of intensive competition at Effingham Golf Club in Surrey culminated in a direct shootout between Yorkshire and Sussex. Sussex knew that a draw in the match would make them champions and with two games left out on the course a win for the Tykes looked very unlikely. Hessle’s Alan Wright was up against it in the penultimate match. He was one up playing the par-5 17th, but missed the green in two after his opponent had hit his second shot to 8ft and looked on for an eagle. But Wright holed from 20ft for birdie and when the Sussex man missed it meant that King only needed a half in his game. Then came the Midas touch from King on the same hole in his match with Colin Jones. With Jones one up, King was faced with a 60-yard third shot into the tricky par-5. A large crowd gathered around the green as the veteran played a brilliant pitch and run and found the bottom of the cup for an amazing eagle. When he then halved the 18th with Jones, the half point in his game was good enough to give Yorkshire the title for the second time in three years. After playing a key role in the 5-4 win to end the week undefeated in his games, jubilant King said: “It’s hard to put this into words – what a brilliant effort from a great team. “The chip on 17 was unbelievable. I hadn’t hit a very good five-wood and left myself 60 yards to go. I played a running shot with a nine iron and it just kept going and going and then dropped. “My emotion? Well, I just reached for my driver as I knew I still had a lot of work to do at 18.
“I knew my putt on 18 was crucial in terms of the match, but I didn’t know it was to secure the half point to win the title. “I won’t lie it was hard to draw the putter back and even harder because I hover the putter behind the ball. But when it dropped and the team started cheering I knew we’d done it.” While there was understandable joy in the Yorkshire ranks, it was hard not to feel sorry for a Sussex side that has now finished runners-up for each of the last three years. Yorkshire edged the morning foursomes 2-1, but after wins for Martin Galway and Steve Graham in the afternoon singles Sussex needed one and a half more points from the final two games to nail the victory. Although Jones and Doug Park played valiantly to half both their games it wasn’t enough to rain on the Yorkshire parade. At one stage in the morning foursomes matches it looked as if Yorkshire might coast to a win rather than have to rely on late drama. On the front nine Yorkshire were up in all three games, but there were twists and turns to follow. In the first game, Sussex duo Graham and Martin King were trailing thanks in part to a brilliant eagle on the 8th hole from England internationals Richard Norton and Rich Jones. But with the match all square heading down the 17th hole, Irish international Graham’s approach to the par-5 set up an eagle chance for his partner, which was duly knocked in. Yorkshire found trouble off the tee on 18 and could only make a bogey. With their opponents safely on in two a concession followed and the point went to Sussex. But the overall morning honours went to Yorkshire. Stephen Mason (Wakefield) maintained his fine form to make four wins
Jubilant Yorkshire celebrate with the England Senior Men’s County Finals trophy in four outings by partnering Alan Wright to a 3&1 win against Malcolm Cawte and Mark Logan. Mason was drafted into the team by Yorkshire captain John Grimbleby for the Northern qualifier at Garforth and soon gelled with Wright. There was final-hole drama in the match between Sussex pair Jones and Park and Yorkshire’s King and Ian Clarke. The Yorkshire duo were in command coming into the back nine, but Sussex fought to take the match down the last. With Yorkshire bogeying the hole, Park lipped out a six-footer for par to earn a half point. Yorkshire captain Grimbleby said: “This was a brilliant advert for senior men’s golf and I’m so proud of my team – heroes one and all. “It was a magnificent team effort. They stayed focused and together and had a brilliant team spirit. “We learned a lot from our first appearance in the finals back in 2015 and then won it in 2017 and it feels great to bring the trophy back to Yorkshire. “Next year’s final is in Torquay and I’ve already booked Butlin’s for the lads, with buckets and spades at the ready.”
Grace excels HESSLE’S Grace Lambert won the best nett prize at the Pete Cowen Golf Academy Strokeplay Championship. Her gross 81 nett 62 at Doncaster Golf Club in the final event on the PCGA Tour won her an Odyssey stroke lab putter and fitting session. She is pictured with PCGA Junior tour organiser Nick Huby.
(PIcture: Leaderboard Photography)
HISTORY MAKERS Yorkshire are the first to wear the Northern Counties Boys’ League Championship crown
Woodcock lauds his super lads YORKSHIRE came out on top in the inaugural Northern Counties Boys’ League Championship with a comfortable victory over Durham at Cleveland Golf Club. In this maiden event for the Northern Counties, the league was split into two divisions, North – Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland, and South – Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, with each divisional team playing each other and the winning team in each league progressing to the final. Durham won the Northern section and Yorkshire took the Southern equivalent and the counties agreed that the final should be played at Cleveland during half term. The finalists were blessed with some fantastic weather with sunny intervals and a slightly cool breeze, and the course was in excellent condi-
tion. The greens very fast, having been ironed in the morning, provided a true test. The foursomes were led by a pairing of Under-16s for Yorkshire, but Rotherham’s Jack Whaley and Ben Brown (Masham) couldn’t get going on the back nine, having turned all square, and went down 4&2. Captain Jack Maxey (Hornsea) with partner Ben Schmidt (Rotherham) soon levelled things up with a 2&1 victory. Both pairings of Josh Berry (Doncaster) and Rudding Park’s Jack Ward and two Toms – Pyman (The Oaks) and Kelly (Fulford) – took control of their games around the turn, both going on to win 3&2. In the final game, Oliver Caton (Crosland Heath) and Harry Mowl (Huddersfield) had a convincing 7&6 win.
Team manager Philip Woodcock with the Yorkshire team after their Northern Counties Boys’ League championship success Wakefield’s Dan Bradbury continues to make a name for himself on the ultra-competitive American college circuit. His latest victory came in the Men’s South Region Preview event where he closed with a seven-under-par 65 at Irene Golf & Country Club in Memphis, Tennessee, to win by two shots. Opening rounds of 69 and 71 kept him in the mix before the former Yorkshire Boys’ captain In the singles Whaley lost 3&2 while Brabazon Trophy winner Schmidt, three up after five, was pulled back to level by Eaglescliffe’s Will Skipp by the turn. Schmidt’s determina-
blew the field apart in his last round. Named Freshman of the Year in a stellar inaugural year at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, it was his second win of the season and also marked his fourth straight top-3 finish in five autumn tournaments. The former Kettlethorpe School pupil also took the Wakefield Club Championship in August after shooting rounds of 73 and 71.
tion kicked in and he came out victorious on the 17th. Maxey was five up after as many holes against Adam Charlton, which set up a 3&2 win. Berry had a comfortable
4&3 win that was followed by a snug 3&2 triumph for Mowl. Wins for Kelly (2 up) and Caton (5&3) secured a winning margin of 11-4. Yorkshire team manager
Philip Woodcock said: “This was a terrific win for the boys in this new competition format. Once again we played as a team, and that’s why we are Team Yorkshire! I must thank our captain, Jack, for leading the team to victory in his final year in the boys. “Also to Harry and Tom Kelly, again in their final year – thank you for your contribution and may I wish all three of you continued success in the future. “Many thanks also to Cleveland Golf Club for hosting the event, and to the Durham players for such a great match played in the true spirit of the game.”
ADVERTORIAL Huddersfield Golf Club – the ‘home’ of Yorkshire golf – offering 15 months’ golf for price of 12
Opportunity to make Fixby your home edged when in 2017 she was HUDDERSFIELD Golf Club – the 'home' of Yorkshire golf – is appointed the first female captain of the PGA in England and inviting applications to a limitWales (North). ed number of prospective newThe club’s progressive atticomers with an enticing invitatude towards providing its tion to enjoy their first 15 members months of memwith a course bership for the of the highest price of just 12. standard has Fixby, as it is seen developpopularly known, A limited number of ments such as was placed at the applications are being the introduccentre of county accepted for membertion of golf thanks to its ship at Huddersfield USGA stansecond captain Dr Golf Club commencing dard greens F L Mackenzie on January 1, 2020 and and a fourbeing the driving running until March 31, year project, force behind the 2021. recently comformation of the More details can be pleted, that Yorkshire Union obtained by emailing involved both of Golf Clubs in gm@huddersfieldrestoration the late 19th cengolf.co.uk and renovatury. or telephoning It has tion of its 01484 426 203. remained there bunkers. ever since and has established itself as one of Huddersfield GC is a regular the White Rose’s finest clubs, host to county and national with the championship standard events – England Golf’s of its course matched by its English Champion Club compemany amenities, including an tition and men’s county finals imposing and attractive clubhave been staged there in the house in Fixby Hall and compast two seasons alone – but prehensive practice facilities warmly embraces players of all that see members provided with standards, from beginner to low free range balls. handicapper. It has thriving playing secFor the former, membertions at all levels, including ships are available for which junior, ladies, rabbits and senthe fee will include tuition not iors, and its professional is Alex just in the playing of the game, Keighley, whose immense conbut also in areas such as its etitribution to golf was acknowlquette, pace of play, scoring
A view of the magnificent Fixby clubhouse at the heart of some of Yorkshire’s most scenic golfing acres
How to apply
and rules. Non-golfing memberships are available, too. Arrangements are available for the cost of the joining fee to be spread over five years. “We are a forward-thinking club that looks to involve the whole family wherever possible, and of course we have a marvellous professional in Alex Keighley,” said the club’s President, Charles Webb. “An added attraction is that members have the opportunity to play other top-class courses through reciprocal memberships
– with the likes of Lindrick, Manchester, Pannal, Lincoln, The Bradford, Woodsome Hall – and we have a busy calendar of social golf and social functions. “It’s 12 months a year at Fixby in terms of competitions – although quieter in the winter we do have a Winter League, which is very popular – and the clubhouse is a marvellous place for members to bring their friends and family for social occasions, Sunday lunches and the like.
“Our ladies, rabbits and junior sections are particularly good at helping new members to integrate; their arrival is clocked and an immediate arm placed around their shoulder to help them feel welcome.” Alex Keighley and assistant Gary Martin have been particularly successful in running a junior Academy that has helped its participants take their first steps in the game, progressing on to success on the course. Huddersfield celebrated its Quasquicentennial anniversary
in 2016 and club archivist Graham A Smith authored a splendid book Huddersfield Golf Club: 125 years at Fixby, detailing its many proud achievements and memorable occasions. Among the latter was a round at Fixby in September 1906 by the four most famous golfers in the world at that time – Harry Vardon, James Braid, JH Taylor and Sandy Herd. The latter, the 1902 Open champion, was Fixby’s second professional from 1892 to 1911.
HUDDERSFIELD GOLF CLUB MEMBERSHIP OFFER 2020/21 15 MONTHS FOR THE PRICE OF 12
Join one of Yorkshire’s finest golf clubs, host to the 2019 England Mens Team Championship & 2019 Yorkshire 1st Division Championship Applications are being accepted for membership commencing 1st January 2020 to 31st March 2021 For more details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01484 426203
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED Brabazon Trophy winner notes where he needs to improve after tackling Tour’s top pros
Schmidt is happy to up his studying they are to come by, and it was BEN SCHMIDT described one of the best weeks of my life playing in the Stone Irish Open as a learning experience,” he on the European Challenge reflected. “I didn’t feel out of Tour as one of the best weeks place playing in that company, of his golfing life. but there were some very Rotherham’s Schmidt, 17, noticeable differences to playranked the eighth-best amateur ing top-level amateur golf. in the world, finished in a tie “First of all, the scoring is for 26th after rounds of 70, 73 much tighter and if you drop a and 71 with the last round shot you can abandoned lose 10 or 15 after nine places on the holes. field whereas He finished in amateur golf nine shots you might only behind the lose one or winner Emilio email@example.com two. They are Cuartero so good at Blanco and one ahead of fel@yorkshiregolfer hanging in there and grinding it low South out. You can see Yorkshireman Joe that every shot is crucial espeDean. cially over the first two rounds Thanks to an invite organwhen everybody is trying to ised by White Rose Sports make the cut.” Management Agency, which Schmidt played in the same was started by Leeds-born group as Pelle Edberg, who is Premier League footballer on a medical exemption from James Milner, Schmidt was the main Tour and was using able to further his golfing eduthe Irish event as a warm-up cation and says he learned a lot. event for next season after “I was really lucky to get an undergoing surgery on his invitation as I know how hard
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Ben Schmidt smiles as father Philip carries his clubs over a bridge during the Challenge Tour’s Stone Irish Open shoulder, and his razor-sharp short game made a big impression on the youngster. “I was really impressed. He would hit a couple of poor shots and then recover to make par,” said Schmidt. “It seems like everybody gets up and down from 60 yards and in, and it made me realise that I need to be better in that department. “My focus for the winter was always going to be on improving my pitching and chipping and playing in Ireland against guys who are doing this for a living made me realise how important that side of the game
is. If I have a weakness, it’s my short game. If I’m not 100% and miss a few greens I do sometimes struggle to save par.” Schmidt also saw at first hand the importance of finding the fairways in the paid ranks. “In terms of length the course wasn’t much different to an amateur event although some tees had been moved up because it was so wet. But if you didn’t find the fairway it meant almost certainly having to play a lay-up shot, which was a big change for me. “On most of the courses we play as amateurs the rough is less penal and you can normally get it
up and around the green. But not there – the rough was brutal.” His father Philip also made the trip to Headfort Golf Club in County Meath and caddied for Ben. “I would give him 10 out of 10 as a caddie. He did a great job and I think he also enjoyed the experience,” said Schmidt junior They set an initial goal of making the cut and then trying to get into the top 20. “I hit it pretty well all week, especially from the tee, and was playing nicely on the last day and felt I could have played my way into the top 20 on the back day, but we were pulled off after nine.”
The Wath Comprehensive Golf Programme scholar has been promoted to the England Elite Squad as a result of an outstanding year that saw him become the youngest winner of the English Strokeplay Championship when he picked up the Brabazon Trophy at Alwoodley in May. He is hoping that will lead to a trip to Australia in January to represent England Golf, but before that he heads to the prestigious South Beach International Amateur in Miami in December, which is ranked as the world’s fifth most important tournament for amateurs.
15-shot margin for Ben in Rose Telegraph romp ROTHERHAM teenager Ben Schmidt won his fourth major amateur event of the year when he romped to victory in the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship Schmidt’s runaway 15 shot victory at Quinta do Lago in Portugal set a record for the event and was witnessed by former winner Rose who was sponsoring the event for the first time. Already the winner of this season’s Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy as well as the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters, Schmidt shot 68, 69, 69 for a final score of 10-under-par, a performance made even more impressive as he went through the final 36 holes with only one bogey, despite the windy conditions. He said: “I did feel very much in control and I can’t tell you what this means to me. To win this title at any stage would’ve been a huge honour, but to do so in the year when Justin Rose has first put his name to it and sponsored the championship with his own money makes it extra special. “It’s been a fantastic year for me, with the Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy already on the mantlepiece and now this as well. It gives me so much confidence going forwards.”
Rose was impressed. During his second round on the par four 12th the former World Number 1 looked on as Schmidt hit a soft fade with a five iron over a lake to set up another birdie. Rose commented: “I was told Ben was one to watch and he definitely is. I can see why he’s ranked in the top 10 in the amateur rankings. He is very, very good.” Schmidt, who was supported throughout the event by his mum,
dad brother grandad and grandma added: “Justin is a pro that I respect, and I was nervous when I knew he was watching me. On the 12th I thought ‘just don’t mess this up’ and I was relieved when I hit a good one.” Woodsome Hall’s Lily Hirst did not enjoy the same success as her Yorkshire counterpart and struggled after opening with an 84 but described it as an unforgettable week. She competed in the girls’
event, which was won by Somerset’s Mimi Hirst thanks to a birdie, birdie, eagle finish. Hirst, who became the first Yorkshire winner of the English Girls’ County Champion of Champions in September said: “The golf is not to be mentioned but the experience was unreal, and the people made it so much better too.” Schmidt,17, started the week well. He was part of the winning team in the Am-Am and also hit the longest drive of the day which earned him tickets to the British Masters next year thanks to the European Tour Foundation. On the eve of the event Rose had reflected on what the tournament had meant to him as he urged the young golfers to seize the moment. “When I won as a 16-year-old , it acted as a springboard to me realising my dreams. This is your chance to put your marker down,” said Rose. Schmidt took those words to heart getting off to a fast start and his rivals were always in his wake after an opening round of 68 which contained five birdies and left him three clear of the chasing pack. And he remained dominant throughout, taking an eight shot lead into the last day. Pictured - Ben lifts the trophy
Howley pair in Q school battle TWO Howley Hall professionals were fighting to regain their European Tour cards as YG went to print. With two of the six rounds still left to play in the final qualifying school at Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona, Dan Gavins was in a tie for 13th at seven under par. He staged a comeback after taking nine on a par 3 hole in the opening round when coasting along at 3 under par, as he bids for a second successive season on the European Tour, after finishing 167th in the 2019 Race to Dubai. The Leeds-born golfer who has also competed on the Challenge Tour has showed he has the nerve to deliver when it matters by coming through all three stages of Q school on two separate occasions - in both 2015 and 2018. Marcus Armitage was a further shot back on -6 in a tie for 16th and he is another comeback kid. A spot in the final stage looked a distant prospect when he was outside the top 60 going into the last round in stage two at Las Colinas with only 20 players to go through. But a best of the day last round -3 68 in strong winds dragged him up to 9th place on a day when only 8 players in the field shot 70 or better. He made headlines early in his European Tour career when, at the 2017 Omega Dubai Desert Classic, he was photographed asking Tiger Woods for an autograph on the driving range. A winner of the Foshan Open in 2016 he is coming off the back of disappointing year where he could only finish 87th on the Challenge Tour. Yet another Howley Hall professional, Ben Hutchinson, missed the cut however after a fourth round 76. He was joined on the long trip home by Rotherham’s Jonathan Jigger Thomson who was a shot worse on +4 The top 25 and ties will earn full playing rights on the 2020 European Tour which starts with the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in South Africa on November 28. For a final report and Q school scores visit www.yorkshiregolfer.net
Halifax GC’s 17th hole among UK’s top 50 par-3s HALIFAX Golf Club’s penultimate hole has been ranked in the top 50 Par-3 holes in the UK and Ireland by Today’s Golfer magazine. The magazine worked in close consultation with leading golf writers and several top course architects, including Martin Ebert (Mackenzie & Ebert), Robin Hiseman (European Golf Design) and Jonathan Gaunt (Gaunt Golf Design) to compile the list. The 17th at Halifax was selected along with iconic short holes like Troon’s Postage Stamp and Carnoustie’s 245-yard 16th, the most feared short hole on The Open rota. Ranked number one is the 9th at Trump Turnberry, which measures 187 yards. Like No 11 on the Ailsa Course, this is a brand new hole following Ebert’s Trump-authorised redesign. He has turned a very forgettable par-4 into an incredible par-3, played over the frothing sea towards the iconic lighthouse and what is left of Robert the Bruce’s Castle. From the Championship tee (which also sits in the sea), a 248-yard long iron or hybrid is required to avoid the three pot bunkers and find the large, sloping putting surface. From the daily tees it’s a more manageable 168 yards with the sea on your left. Whichever
tee you choose, drink in the surroundings, take the customary photographs and, if you succeed in making a par, celebrate with a treat at the halfway house in the lighthouse. Today’s Golfer describes Halifax’s 176-yard par-3 17th as one great character, going on to say: “Draped across Ogden Valley, this little-known moorland layout’s penultimate hole is one of England’s most characterful par-3s. Aptly named Bagott’s Leap, it plays from an elevated tee on the hillside, across heather and a brook to a green sitting below. Played into the prevailing wind, club selection is key.’ Halifax Golf Club professional Nick Krzywicki is in full agreement, saying: “The hole only measures 160 yards from the yellow tees so on a normal day, due to the fact that the green is more than 100ft below you, it only plays a nine iron, but when the wind is up I have hit everything from a 3-wood to a wedge. “The beauty for me is that it is such a natural hole, with nothing man made about it. It’s just as golf was meant to be. “We get so many great reviews of the hole from visitors with many of them remarking that the 17th alone is worth the green fee. It’s not as difficult as it looks though, and we’ve
Dawson enjoys being at centre of a whirlwind
A view of Halifax Golf Club’s 17th green seen from the tee seen plenty of aces on the hole.” The club’s website features a short video on the “infamous” 17th and golfers are invited to film their own experiences on the hole and submit them for inclusion in Ogden’s various social media platforms. The club has another reason to celebrate when it commemorates its 125th anniversary next year, which will be marked by a number of events both on and off the course. A highlight will be the 125th Black Tie Ball on Saturday, May 9 at the Arches, Dean Clough, Halifax.
Marketing Director Gareth Woodhead said: “We’re planning a huge celebration and hoping that we can bring together both current and past members to celebrate what Halifax Golf Club has and does mean to so many people both locally and afar. We’re aware of Past Captains that now reside across Yorkshire and as far afield as Australia. “To get as many greats of our club together in one room on this one night will be a great feat and one, we’re excited to bring together in the coming months.”
OULTON HALL greenkeeper James Dawson has enjoyed a busy few weeks. He was runner-up in the prestigious Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year Award 2019 and became a father for the first time. What’s more, the 30-year-old had to break off from his paternity leave at home in Garforth to participate in the two-day competition, as his wife, Kirsty, had just given birth to their first child, Rory. All in all, as he readily admitted, it was a whirlwind couple of weeks. Dawson said: “My boss, Mark Dring, nominated me and I was successful in the regional interviews and was chosen to go to York for the final event over two days. “I was anxious and nervous, particularly as Kirsty had only recently given birth and I had to leave her to attend the event. I’m getting more used to dealing and meeting people now, but, even so, it was quite daunting getting up and presenting in front of a room full of people..” York-raised Dawson has been with the Leeds resort for two years and is taking his level two greenkeeping qualifications at Myerscough College, in Lancashire. Oulton Hall’s course manager, Mark Dring, added: “I was delighted to be able to nominate James and was not at all surprised to hear of his success. He’s very hard-working and professional and is always keen to learn. All I can say is that the guy who beat him must be something very special.”
125 YEARS AND COUNTING White Rose union’s landmark year honoured by special plate presentation by R&A
YUGC has so much to celebrate THE Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs celebrated a litany of successes in this its 125th anniversary year at its annual dinner at York Racecourse. Among the team victories lauded at the event, which was supported by Investec Wealth & Investment, were those by its Northern Counties League side – which triumphed for a record fifth successive time, under the leadership of captain Darryl Berry – and its seniors, who claimed the England men's county crown. Individual achievements included Rotherham's Ben Schmidt becoming the youngest winner of the Brabazon Trophy, at 16, and Hallamshire's Alex Fitzpatrick representing Great Britain & Ireland against the USA in the Walker Cup. Special guests at the dinner – attended by 360 guests with representatives of 45 clubs – were Jenny Clink, President of
England Golf, Clive Edginton, captain of the R&A, and former European Tour player and Sky Sports presenter Nick Dougherty. YUGC President Kevin Tucker, of Saltburn, in recounting Yorkshire's succession of conquests, presented an amusing account of captain John Grimbleby's seniors side in the England county championship at Effingham, in Surrey. “I'd never been to a seniors county final before and looked forward to seeing how they compared to a boys or men's county final,” he said, adding after a slight pause: “I can honestly say it's nothing like either. “The chat the day before the tournament started didn't revolve around the usual subjects like who hits it off which tee in the foursomes, the best side to miss the green, or which par-5 to lay-up on and which to go for. It was more about which
Pictures: Cameron Thomson
Yorkshire captain Darryl Berry receives the Daily Telegraph Men’s Northern Counties League trophy from Northern Counties President Clyde Camp. Inset, the plate presented to YUGC by the R&A surgeons did the best hip and knee replacement. Edginton thanked the YUGC “on the behalf of the R&A, for everything the Yorkshire Union has done and continues to do to support the game of golf” and presented a salver to commemorate the union’s 125th anniversary.
He continued: “It would be completely wrong to pretend that everything in the golfing garden is rosy. Yorkshire has not been immune from the reduction in golf club membership numbers in this country. There are various factors in play... they represent a significant challenge for the R&A, for
England Golf, and for the Yorkshire Union. “The R&A has embarked on initiatives which we hope will reverse the trend. Indeed, everything we do at St Andrew's – from revisions to the rules, the world handicap system, the promotion of ninehole golf, the support of family
golf, and the encouragement of more women working and playing in golf, is designed to ensure that golf is thriving 50 years from now.” On the issue of women in golf, Clink drew laughter when she said: “I've travelled pretty well the length and breadth of the country this year, attending tournaments and receiving a warm welcome after the shock – sometimes even the horror – that a woman could be president of England.” Former Lancashire team member Dougherty, who drew back the curtain on life as a tournament player, said of county golf: “It was a big part of my journey. I remember when I played for my county – especially when I was half the age of all the others – that I thought maybe I could do this, maybe this could be the future for me. “My dad had already picked this for me, but that was when I started to believe and playing county golf was a massive, massive bump in my confidence for me. That led to playing for my country, playing for Great Britain & Ireland at the Walker Cup. “People remember things you do as a professional golfer, but one of the most iconic moments in my career, the thing I remember so clearly, was being part of that team.”
Howley Hall Golf Club Open Events 2020 Monday 27th April Ladies Team Open Monday 4th May Seniors Spring Open Sunday 7th June Men’s Open Sunday 12th July Mixed Open Sunday 26th July Rabbits Open Monday 3rd August Ladies Am Am Thursday 6th August Junior Open Monday 7th September Seniors Autumn Open Telephone: 01924 350100 or visit: www.howleyhall.co.uk
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
YOUR 2020 GO MARCH
Wednesday 18: YUGC Annual Council Meeting, Pannal Saturday 28: Yorkshire Men v Lincolnshire, Cleethorpes
Monday 1: Men’s Open, Ilkley; Seniors 4BBB, Forest of Galtres Tuesday 2: Men’s Senior Better Ball, Normanton Sunday 7: Men’s Open, Howley Hall Wednesday 10: YUGC 4th Div Team Champ, Middlesbrough Saturday 13: Yorkshire Men v Cumbria, Seascale Mon 15-Tues 16: Yorkshire Seniors Championship, Doncaster Thursday 18: Seniors’ 4BBB Stableford, Skipton; YUGC Senior County Members’ Mtg No 2, York Thursday 18 - Sunday 21: US OPEN, WINGED FOOT Friday 19: Ladies Team Stableford, Skipton Sunday June 21: Mixed 4BBB, Skipton Monday 22: Mixed Team Stableford, Ilkley; Road to Royal St George’s, Notts Hollinwell; Yorkshire Seniors v Cheshire, Rotherham Wednesday 24: YUGC 3rd Div Team Champ, Knaresborough Sunday 28: Men’s Am Am, Ripon City
APRIL Thursday 6 - Sunday 9: THE MASTERS, AUGUSTA NATIONAL Wednesday 8: YUGC 7th Div Team Champ Prelim, Forest of Galtres Monday 13: Mixed Open, Bingley St Ives Thursday 16: YUGC County Members’ Invitational Mtg No 1, Cleveland Monday 20: Men’s Spring Seniors Open, Ilkley Wednesday 22: YUGC 7TH Div Team Champ Wakefield; Seniors Open, Bingley St Ives Friday 24 Ladies: Am Am, Ripon City Sunday 26: Ladies 4BBB Stableford, Skipton; Men’s Am Am, Ripon City Monday 27: Ladies Spring Open, Ilkley; Ladies Team Open, Howley Hall Thursday 30: YUGC County Members’ Spring Mtg No 1, Selby
MAY Monday 4: Seniors Spring Open, Howley Hall Wednesday 6: YUGC 6th Div Team Champ, Malton & Norton; Ladies Open, Bingley St Ives Thursday 7: Seniors 4BBB Stableford, Skipton; YUGC County Members’ Spring Mtg No 2, Moortown Sunday 10: Men’s 4 Man Team Stableford, Skipton Monday 11: Yorkshire Seniors v Cumbria, Crosland Heath Thursday 14 - Sunday 17: USPGA CHAMPIONSHIP, TPC HARDING PARK Thursday 14: Seniors 4BBB, Ripon City Saturday 16: Yorkshire Men v Lancashire, Hallamshire; Men’s 4BBB, Ripon City Sunday 17: Mixed Am Am, Ripon City Wednesday 20: Spring Am-Am, Notts Hollinwell; YUGC 5th Div Team Champ, Filey Monday 25: Men’s Open, Bingley St Ives; Mixed Open Am Am, Normanton Tuesday 26: Northern Federation Under-16 Boys, Eaglescliffe Thursday 28: Yorkshire Boys’ Champ, Scarcroft; YUGC Senior County Members’ Mtg No 1, Driffield
JULY Wednesday 1: EG Northern Boys Qual, Hexham Thursday 2: YUGC County Members’ Summer Mtg No 1, Meltham Saturday 4: Yorkshire Men v Cheshire, Prestbury Monday 6: Men’s Summer Seniors’ Open, Ilkley Wednesday 8: YUGC 2nd Div Team Champ, Moortown; St Ives Salver-36 holes, Bingley St Ives Sunday 12: Men’s 4BBB Stableford, Skipton; Mixed Open, Howley Hall Monday 13: Yorkshire Seniors v Northumberland, Harrogate Thursday 16: YUGC County Members’ Summer Mtg No 2, Oakdale; Ladies Open Am Am, Normanton Thursday 16 - Sunday 19: OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, ROYAL ST GEORGE’S Monday 20: Yorkshire Boys v Lancashire Boys, Bradford Tuesday 21 - Wednesday 22: EG Northern Seniors Champ, Fulford Wednesday 22: 4BBB Open, Notts Hollinwell; YUGC Team Champ, Abbeydale Thursday 23: Seniors 4BBB, Ripon City Friday 24: Ladies Open Ripon City Saturday 25: Men’s 4BBB, Ripon City Sunday 26: Rabbits Open, Howley
Yorkshire Amateur Championship Trophy, seen here with 2019 winner David Hague – Tuesday August 18th at Lindrick
Hall; Mixed Am Am, Ripon City Wednesday 29: Nine Hole Golf Club Team Champ, Waterfront; Seniors Open Bingley St Ives
AUGUST Monday 3: Yorkshire Seniors v Durham, Eaglescliffe; Ladies Am Am, Howley Hall Wednesday 5: EG Northern Group Qual, Royal Liverpool Thursday 6: YUGC County Members’ Autumn Mtg No 1, Teesside; Junior Open, Howley Hall Saturday 8: Yorkshire v Northumberland, City of Newcastle Monday 10: Mixed August Open, Ilkley; YUGC Young Talent Identification Day, Sandburn Hall Tuesday 11: Yorkshire Under-16 and Under-14 Boys’ Championship, Dewsbury District Wednesday 12: Ladies Open, Bingley St Ives Monday 17: Yorkshire Under-16 Boys v Cheshire, York; Yorkshire Seniors v Lancashire, Clitheroe Tuesday 18 - Thursday 20: Yorkshire Amateur Championship, Lindrick Thursday 20: YUGC County Members’ Autumn Mtg No 2, Wheatley Saturday 29: Yorkshire Men v Durham, Wetherby Monday 31: Mixed Open, Bingley St Ives
SEPTEMBER Tuesday 1: EG Northern Group Seniors Qual, Silloth Wednesday 2: Seniors Open, Bingley St Ives. Thursday 3: YUGC County Members’ Invitation Mtg No 2, Beverley & East Riding Saturday 5: Mixed Team Stableford, Skipton Monday 7: Ladies’ Autumn Open, Ilkley; Men’s Am Am, Normanton; Seniors Autumn Open, Howley Hall Monday 14: Autumn Seniors Open, Ilkley Tuesday 15: Men’s Senior Autumn Better Ball, Normanton Wednesday 16: Autumn Am-Am, Notts Hollinwell Friday 18 - Sunday 20: Yorkshire Matchplay Champ, Hessle Sunday 20: Men’s 4BBB Stableford, Skipton
OCTOBER Thursday 1: Ladies Autumn Texas Scramble, Normanton Sunday 4: Hollinwell Trophy (Scratch), Notts Hollinwell; Men’s Autumn Am Am, Ripon City
NOVEMBER Friday 6: YUGC Annual Dinner, York Racecourse
HOMEWARD BOUND Cottingham Parks clubhouse and leisure centre, seen from the 18th fairwayn
HERE is an awful lot more to the 21st century golf industry than being welcoming of occasional society groups, doing a decent bacon buttie or steak pie, and making sure your greens run truer than most modern MPs. Business diversity is the theme at one popular, thriving and growing Yorkshire enterprise – with ‘enterprise’ the key watchword, notwithstanding the 36 golf holes which are at its heart. Cottingham Parks is a proudly independent leisure facility – nay, leisure resort – with something for almost everyone, and an ambitious eye on the future too. Now in its 25th year of operation, what began life as an undulating golf course halfway between Beverly and Hull has matured and grown in all manner of ways. General Manager Chris Gray explained how the Cottingham ethos has evolved into today’s multi-faceted business model: “We started with the Cottingham Parks course,” he said, “then added the clubhouse, the health club came next, and after that the Fairways lodges.” The club offers retreat packages in its own 2bedroom lodge, but people can also buy a 2-or-3 bedroom Holiday lodge on-site with a 99-year licence with the option of access to 36-holes of golf plus the leisure club. The neighbouring Skidby Lakes course, complete with its own clubhouse, was added to the portfolio in 2008 and in the last couple of years has undergone substantial improvement works. There’s much more to the Cottingham Parks experience though, with an excellent golf acade-
Parks, lakes and a life of luxury... There’s more to the golf business than just golf at Cottingham Parks Danny Lockwood reports my (Skidby has its own practice ground) an onsite beauty salon and even adjoining equestrian livery centre. Horse-owners can keep their animals in livery and use not just the outdoor riding and jumping facilities but the indoor 25m by 50m arena. And up next…? Well, in coming weeks East Riding Council (which occasionally uses the venue for meetings and events) will consider a planning application for a hotel with up to 70rooms on site. That would take Cottingham Parks onto an entirely new level. “Our belief is that going down a constant path of offering discounted golf offers isn’t the best
strategy,” Chris added. “By diversifying, and offering a wide range of activities and providing it with an eye always on quality and good service, we think the future is really bright.” Whilst Cottingham Parks has its own range of affordable and attractive golf offers for societies and visiting golfers, it also has a range of membership packages that appeal to people and families on a broader spectrum. Golfers can opt for a full 7-day stand-alone package on Skidby Lakes at £650, or enjoy 36hole membership of both clubs and courses for £950. There’s also an upgrade option which gives full health club membership and use of the gym and swimming pool at half regular price. What’s more, non-golfing partners of members can also take advantage of that half price health club offer. As well as group exercise classes the health club also has a certified physiotherapist on site in DREAM ACADEMY: Excellent practice facilities including a covered range
BEARING FRUIT: A short par 3 over a row of plum trees
Stephen Osborne offering remedial massages and various treatments. Indeed just this year Cottingham Parks was short-listed in the best gym in the north for the National Fitness Awards.
HE two golf courses sit on respective 150acre (Cottingham) and 100-acre (Skidby) footprints just to the east of the arterial A164 road linking Beverley with the M62 and Humber Bridge. The Parks course is an undulating track with a number of both functional and aesthetically pleasing manmade water features, which make the lack of length on some shorter par-4s completely incidental. The signature 12th hole is a great example of an excellent hole not requiring a driver – unless you really are in complete control, or perhaps have had one too many nips from your winter hip flask!
Clockwise from left – don’t be tempted to go for glory on the short par 4 15th; a large oak tree forms a natural obstacle on the excellent closing hole; Luxury holiday lodges have the option of a golf and leisure club membership; a handy map of the course before you set out on your round Subtle mounding around the greens adds an extra element to challenge your iron accuracy and your short game skills. It’s a par-72 of nearly 6,500 yards, with the traditional format of two par 3s and 5s, plus five par 4s going out and coming in. The Lakes course was originally opened in 2009 by Sir Ian Botham and after coming under the Cottingham umbrella in 2008 was given a thorough makeover in 2016/2017, reducing the par to a 68, but providing an excellent challenge to all levels of golfer. A planting programme of more than 3,000 trees will give it some of the impressively mature characteristics of its bigger brother next door.
COTTINGHAM PARKS Yellow Tees 1st - 496 yds, par 5 A nice looking par 5 opener, wide
opening and rising before you, although your tee shot is tight up the left before opening out. There are two bunkers on a green sloping from back right to front left. 2nd – 339yds, par 4 From an elevated tee, a shortish par 4 but again tight down the left side with right-sided trees more in your eyeline than shotline. No need for driver, you’re coming into a large oval green, with a front left bunker but the back and right run-offs are into a ditch.
5th – 543yds, par 5 Stroke index 1, a long par 5 although all downhill. The trouble is mostly left and although there are trees right, a banking throws everything hit there back towards the fairway. A sentinel tree may mean you having to shape your second with either draw or fade. There’s a slight dogleg left on approach, but the green also runs away from you. A tough hole.
3rd – 373yds, par 4 You can open your shoulders on this straight-on drive, slightly rising towards another back to front sloping green. Anything right-ish on approach should come back off the banking.
6th – 315yds, par 4 A short par 4 but avoid the ditch at about 180 and you’re going into a slightly elevated, deceiving MacKenzie-style, mounded green guarded by a series of traps.
4th – 157yds, par 3 First short hole, uphill, and you won’t be able to see the bottom of the
7th – 362yds, par 4 Looks innocuous off the tee but a pond encroaches from the left, then
COTTINGHAM PARKS GOLF CLUB
HAZARDS: Water and sand to negotiate on the par 3 8th
Woodhill Way, Cottingham, East Yorks HU16 5SW Tel: 01482 846030 www.cottinghamparks.co.uk Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
White 506 365 391 187 589 353 367 160 333 510 441 341 370 163 310 138 312 559
Yellow 496 339 373 157 543 315 362 146 302 500 405 309 366 137 291 120 278 511
3144 36 3251 36 6395 yards Par 72 SSS 71
Par 5 4 4 3 5 4 4 3 4 5 4 4 4 3 4 3 4 5
pin. The front ditch shouldn’t come into play, just get your distance right.
SI 9 12 5 11 1 7 3 16 14 8 2 6 10 17 15 18 13 4 32917 36 3033 36 5950 yards Par 72 SSS 69
Red 428 319 348 96 528 312 304 127 247 430 347 258 357 120 234 109 267 455
Par 5 4 4 3 5 4 4 3 4 5 4 4 4 3 4 3 4 5
SI 9 13 5 17 1 7 3 15 11 2 8 10 6 16 12 18 14 4
2575 36 2709 36 5284 yards Par 72 SSS 71
there’s a ditch protecting the front of the green – with run-offs if your approach is too long. Index 3 for a reason. 8th – 146yds, par 3 There’s a fish-stocked pond between you and the green on this second par 3, but shouldn’t be an issue. Indeed the lateral bunker is well short of a green that slopes from a back shelf towards you. Much will depend on pin position. 9th – 302yds, par 4 A tricky short par 4, with sharp dogleg left to right, with a big pond right on the elbow. Bale out safely left, or get the big dog out and go for the green. More risk than reward, I’d say! 10th – 500yds, par 5 Straight-forward, everything’s in front of you including a couple of lateral ditches and short front bunker.
11th – 405yds, par 4 Stroke index 2, a longer par 4 with an intimidating drive – thick trees down the left and a fairway bunker if you err too far right. There’s also a diagonal ditch to catch the big hitters, before you come into a lateral green with a tricky front right bunker. 12th – 309yds, par 4 A super little hole. The green is hidden away behind a line of trees on the left but if you bale out right you bring water into play. You’re coming into a green at 45 degrees, with bunkers left side and a run off into water right. 13th – 366yds, par 4 Another one to open your shoulders on, a dogleg right to left, into a flattish green which is mounded with bunkers towards the front. 14th – 137yds, par 3 As it looks, a front lateral bunker so you have to carry that, but come in high because a big, semi-circular bunker catches everything through the back. 15th – 291yds, par 4 Another terrific shorter hole. You can go for it, but there’s water on three sides of the green that you can’t see from the tee. Be smart, play to the elbow, and you have more room on your short approach than you first think. 16th – 120yds, par 3 Make sure you hit this tee shot plum – because between you and the elevated green are seven plum trees. They’re only about 15-20 ft high but when I played in September their fruit was absolutely delicious! Short but tricky. 17th – 278yds, par 4 All about position, so be smart. Get too greedy and you’ll probably find water either side. A front bunker protects a narrowish green which breaks distinctly from right to left. 18th – 511yds, par 5 A lovely looking, conifer-lined finishing hole. A handsome par 5 (beware lateral ditch again!) and your second will involve negotiating a big old oak tree in the centre of the fairway. For most golfers your third shot is into a shallow, lateral green and many shots will run through into the rear bunker.
Malton lift foursomes Hirst bows out after 45 years at Dewsbury
MALTON & Norton defeated Hanging Heaton by a margin of 6&5 in the final of the YUGC Inter Club Foursomes played over 36 holes at Selby. The fast draining sandy sub soil enjoyed by Selby came to the rescue as they stepped in at the last minute to host the 36hole final which could have been lost due to the amount of rain in the early part of October. In the final Hanging Heaton were represented by Scot Minto and Scott Colquhoun who played together throughout the 2019 tournament, but the Malton & Norton pair of Marcus Brigham and Josh Stead got the better of the duo from West Yorkshire. Yorkshire Amateur
Champion David Hague had also helped Malton & Norton get to the final which saw Hanging Heaton take a one-hole advantage after nine holes in a topsy turvy first round. But Malton rallied and took a threehole advantage into lunch. The afternoon stanza started in an exciting fashion with Hanging Heaton salvaging a spectacular half in four at the first hole. Tree trouble off the tee left Hanging Heaton with a blind approach from long distance at the opening hole but Minto found the target and his partner holed from 20 feet for par. Only a fine par saving putt from ten feet by Stead maintained the three-hole lead. Minto has enjoyed a fine
year which include victory in the Ogden Cup and culminated in breaking the Hanging Heaton course record by two shots after a 63 which included an outward nine of 29 shots. But he and partner Colquhoun had no answer to the consistent golf played by Brigham and Stead who closed the game out on the 31st hole in a match played in a competitive but friendly spirit. Both clubs represented were presented with a cut glass YUGC decanter and the players with YUGC commemorative tankards as the trophy and YUGC ‘armada’ headed back to Malton & Norton. From left: Scott Colquhoun, Scot Minto, Josh Stead and Marcus Brigham
NIGEL HIRST has retired after spending almost 45 years as professional at Dewsbury District Golf Club. He may still live down the road in Lower Hopton, but has come a long way since he arrived as a 21-year-old when he moved into a prefab concrete building that was also the members’ trolley shed. First introduced to the game by his father Ralph, a 3-handicap player at Hanging Heaton, Hirst’s long professional career began aged 15 years and 11 months as assistant to Charles Hughes at Woodsome Hall. Next year will mark his 50th anniversary as a member of the PGA and he was the longest continuously serving head professional in Yorkshire. His gregarious nature led to him becoming a key influencer in developing the Pro-Am scene in Yorkshire and the Dewsbury District Pro-Am is the longest running in the county having been played 39 times in the last 44 years. Supporters will be pleased to hear that it will continue, under the guidance of Nigel’s successor James Ward. When he was captain of the Yorkshire PGA, he encouraged Dewsbury member and DIY store magnate John Madeley to support the organization and one of his proudest moments was bringing the Yorkshire
PGA Championship to his home club in 1991. Hirst, who has served as captain and President of the Yorkshire PGA is not one to miss a trick. When Nigel found out that turf supplier Alan Chappelow had just dug up Elland Road and had thousands of tons of topsoil, he persuaded the club to build a new short game area. His final project was the construction of a new practice ground, which is almost ready for action save for a covered area and a ball dispensing
machine. He is also one of the best independent golf retailers in the county and took his inspiration from Filey professional Doug Currie. “He was surrounded by bigger clubs like Ganton, but had the best professional’s shop I had ever seen,” says Hirst. “We started out in the trolley shed and now we have a thriving retail business despite some of the big boys trying to
step on our toes.” Another to have a major influence on his career was former Worksop professional David Snell. “I went to one of his pro-ams. It was superbly organized, and he just commanded the room. I came away thinking ‘he’s the man I want to be’.” Hirst has always had an eye for an opportunity and was instrumental in pushing for a new clubhouse, which was built at a cost of £750,000 back in 2002. He was made an Honorary Life Member in 2000 and the Mirfield native intends to continue playing at the club he first joined as a 13year-old. He is pictured after his biggest win, in the Wilson Northern Club Professionals’ Championship in 1986, and in 2015 edged out his then assistant and protégé James to win the Halifax Golf Alliance Page Trophy – 43 years after winning it for the first time. His retirement was marked by a sold-out Nigel Hirst Celebration Medal and an evening function with over 200 guests present to recognize his achievements and listen to his favourite entertainer, the Soul and Motown vocalist Ritchie Penrose.
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TONY HOWARTH, Academy Director at Scarthingwell Golf Academy
Winter is ideal time for working on these drills WHEN the weather is bad and you are feeling the need to keep your game in shape for next season, take advantage of your time on the range or at home by using these drills to keep your short game sharp. One of the keys to successful chipping is good distance control and the basis of good distance control is a chipping action that can be repeated consistently. When you have a simple, easy to repeat chipping action you can control your shots by making slightly shorter or longer swings and by selecting different clubs to produce consistent results. For most golfers I would recommend keeping the hands ‘quiet’ during most chip shots. This means playing the shot with very little wrist action in the same way you would use a putter. The biggest cause of hitting the ground behind the ball and also striking the ball too clean when chipping is having a scooping action and trying to help the ball up into the air. To ensure a good technique, a repetitive set-up routine is needed. Here are the key points: Take a much narrower stance (picture 2) than for a full shot (picture 1) For control during your chip shot, grip slightly down the club Your hands should be forward of the ball – so that the club shaft points to your left hip (picture 3) Set up with about 60-70% of your weight on your front leg When we swing the club for a chip, think of it as being the same as your putting stroke. We are maintaining a
Squaring up to solving a putting flaw
straight line down our left arm into the shaft of the club. Keeping our body quiet, we rock our shoulders back and through, allowing the length of our backswing to dictate the length of the shot (picture 4). Our intention is to strike the ball with a slightly descending blow, not allowing the clubhead to pass our hands at any point. The follow-through is relatively short, continuing to preserve the straight line down through your lead arm and club shaft. In summary, while I always recommend putting whenever possible, chipping is your next safest alternative. With a chip shot, the ball will travel in the air only a short distance and will do most of it’s travelling along the ground. Plan to land your chip shots on a reliable surface such as the green, fringe, or fairway. Set up for a descending angle of attack, with the ball slightly back in your stance, shaft leaning forward, and weight slightly on your left side. Swing the club in a solid motion, without breaking your wrists in either direction at any point, just like a putting stroke. The points to remember: Using a 7 iron, the ball will fly about 25% of the distance in the air and will roll about 75% of the distance. A very short chipping action is required for this shot. When using a pitching wedge, the ball will fly about 50% of the distance and roll 50% of the distance. Again, a short compact action is required for this shot. Regardless of the chosen club, your chipping action is the same. The only
THERE are many ways to work on your putting while stuck indoors during the winter even without a real golf putting green to practice on. One of my favourite putting tips is to work on starting putts on line. It’s espe-
thing that changes is length of backswing and follow through. The chip and run shot should be your first choice when there are no hazards between you and the flagstick and when the fairway is closely mown. Remember, a poorly struck chip and run shot will often result in a reasonable outcome but a badly hit lob wedge can be calamitous. The following drill is a great way to help build feel and distance control with your lofted wedges. The driving
cially important if you’re a golfer who has trouble pulling and pushing your putts. An easy drill to practise is by hitting two golf balls at the same time and watching them roll equally side by side.
TONY HOWARTH, 2004 Sinclair Award Winner, Academy Director and Golf and Marketing Manager at Scarthingwell Golf Course, has over 25 years PGA experience and has taught all levels of golfers. This experience ranges from European Tour, Ladies European Tour and County players through to club golfers and complete beginners. Tony has appeared as guest speaker at many events including the Junior Golf Partnership seminar held at the Belfry, as Key Note Speaker at the inaugural Golf Careers Convention at the University of Northumbria,
range is a good place to start with this drill, as you will require plenty of golf balls and patience to begin with! Start with your preferred wedge and start by making a small chip of around 2 to 3 metres. Take note where the ball finishes as this will now become your next target. Your next shot should aim to land on top of the previous ball. Most times, if the ball lands close to the previous ball, it will bounce a little further away.
Set two golf balls on the ground so they’re side by side and almost touching. Then place the putter head behind them so that one ball takes up half the putter face and the other ball takes up the other half of the face.
You should now aim to land your third shot on top of your second ball. Each swing you take will require a slightly longer backswing and through swing to produce the required amount of carry distance. Continue this drill until you reach around 50 yards – then start again from the beginning. Gradually, you will begin to feel how long your swing will need to be to produce the various length shots, helping to build your feel and touch into your short game.
If you don’t strike them with a square putter face, you’ll know. If the toe leads (closed face) you’ll see the top ball outpace the bottom ball. If the heel leads (open face) you’ll see the bottom ball outpace the top ball.
guest speaker at the UK Golf Show, the Turkish Golf Federation 1st Annual Coaching Conference and most recently at the GolfEurope Show in Augsburg, Germany. In his role as SNAG Master Trainer, Tony works with International Golf Development implementing first touch coaching and development programmes across the world including Europe, Africa and Asia. Tony’s simplistic style of coaching has been his road to success and he has become known as an expert not just on the golf swing but especially on the short game and putting.
HISTORIC CLUB UNDER THREAT President Brown maintains Leeds City Council’s plans to sweep aside decades of
Temple Newsam to fight on MEMBERS of Temple Newsam are fighting to save closure of their golf courses after being told by Leeds City Council that they will be replaced by a family cycling centre, cycle trails and a cafe. The council says it is looking to shut down Temple Newsam Golf Club’s nine- and 18-hole courses and get ‘more people using this part of the estate for wider recreational activities’. The council, which owns the land where the club’s two golf courses are located, says playing numbers have ‘steadily declined’ over the last decade and managing the course now costs the taxpayer over £200,000 a year. Until 2017 Temple Newsam was the only facility in the world to have two courses designed by Yorkshire-born architect Dr Alister MacKenzie.
His courses are revered the world over, and his creations include Augusta National, Cypress Point in California and Royal Melbourne. A council report states: “To increase the popularity of the area for estate visitors and reduce costs, it is proposed that the section of Temple Newsam estate currently used for golf is transformed into a family cycling centre including roadsafety park, family cycle trails and small BMX pump track that is managed and operated by the Temple Newsam estate team. “It is also proposed that the potential to create an events space in the area is explored with the aim of increasing income from commercial events, whilst reducing the impact that some events can have on the estate visitor hub and local residents.”
Temple Newsam clubhouse
The report adds: “It makes sense to consider options for closing the golf course to reduce the cost to the council and get more people using this part of the estate for wider recreational activities. “With regards the impact of closing the course on golfers at Temple Newsam, there are over 30 other golf courses in the Leeds metropolitan district, many of which offer pay and play and/or season tickets comparable with those available at
Temple Newsam. “Leeds City Council aims to continue providing golf at Roundhay Park, which is around 15 minutes’ drive from the Temple Newsam course.” Club President Charlie Brown, who has been a member at Temple Newsam for 44 years, said: “We were told by the council back in September that the course would be closed by December, but we will fight this decision. Some of the claims made in the council
report are just not true. It is now going to public consultation and we will do everything we can to show the council there’s no need to close the courses. “The council report states that there is a decline in golf participation and whilst there may be fewer members of golf clubs now that is the opposite for pay and play golf, which is definitely on the increase and part of that is due to climate change in that the golf season is
really only 7-8 months long so it suits people to take the payand-play option rather than pay a full 12-month membership at a club. “They also state that there are 30 other courses in the Leeds metropolitan district, but as a past President of the Leeds & District Union I can tell you that 10 of those don’t have a Leeds postcode and the closest course to Temple Newsam – which is Garforth – hasn’t room for any more members. “Leeds City Council has provided no input into promoting golf at Temple Newsam yet across the city we have clubs like Wike Ridge, Cookridge and Oulton Hall which are thriving and attracting hundreds of youngsters for coaching. “I would say that 90% of our membership are aged 60 years or over and some don’t have transport so they can’t get to other courses if we close. The club is also their only chance to socialise. It’s the same for me. Temple Newsam is my life and I don’t socialise anywhere else and it’s the hub of the community. “Our only source of income comes from what we generate from behind the bar and from holding functions like wedding receptions. Four people will lose their jobs and a family will be made homeless if we close.” Brown confirmed that an online petition to save the club has been signed by over 2,000 people. He added that the club gave up nine of its, then, 36
Continued on facing page
golfing history in Leeds are based on report’s claims that ‘are just not true’ Alastair McManus revealed that the course was built by workers who were part of a scheme introduced by Leeds City Council to train those out of work McManus told Yorkshire Golfer: “Alister did a lot of work at the time for Leeds City Council and both courses were built by his brother Charlie. “There was a high unemployment at the time and the council ran a scheme to train people how to build golf courses. Charlie and a foreman trained them, and they built the courses. “They were constructed about 18 months apart and they were so pleased with the first course that they commissioned him to build the second,” he added. Part of Temple Newsam’s rich golfing heritage includes a visit by Gene Sarazen, who played a 36-hole exhibition match against Henry Cotton in July 1933. As a competitor and innovator, Sarazen A poster advertising the match between Gene Sarazen and Henry Cotton spanned golf history like no other great American player. Continued from facing page Temple Newsam was the first holes in 2017 and would be In 1935, he became the first public golf course to open in willing to give up another nine player to win the modern Grand the city on July 20, 1923 and in order to save golf at Temple Slam by capturing the Masters. 25,000 rounds were played Newsam In the final round of that tourduring the first two years. The Lord Irwin course at nament, Sarazen hit the most MacKenzie’s great nephew
famous shot in major championship golf, holing a 4-wood from 235 yards away for an albatross two on the 15th hole that tied him with Craig Wood, whom he defeated the next day in a play-off. The “shot heard round the world” helped put the Masters on the map. His Temple Newsam opponent Henry Cotton was a British national hero. He was much more than just a threetime Open champion. He also championed the cause of British golf professionals seeking a higher ground in their country’s society and became a patriarch of the European Tour. Cotton authored 10 books, designed golf courses and was the most respected and prolific British instructor of his era. Slow play was clearly not the issue that it is today in professional golf. Rounds under four and a half hours on the various professional Tours around the world are as scare as albatrosses yet Sarazen and Cotton started their second round just three and a half hours after playing their first 18. The Dr Alister MacKenzie designed Lord Irwin course was opened in 1923 and was held in such high esteem that Temple Newsam narrowly lost out to Southport and Ainsdale GC in being selected as the venue for the 1937 Ryder Cup. How sad it would be to so see all of Temple Newsam’s history disappear.
Plaxton’s praise for match play hosts Woodsome Hall FORMER Yorkshire Union President Jonathan Plaxton was a late stand-in for current President Kevin Tucker at Woodsome Hall’s annual dinner. Tucker had to pull out of the occasion due to illness, but in his current role as secretary of the YUGC Plaxton was able to speak first-hand about the warm welcome the players and officials received from Woodsome Hall when the club hosted the Yorkshire Amateur Matchplay Championship in September. Plaxton also praised the success of the HalifaxHuddersfield Union throughout the season, especially in junior golf, and there was a special mention for Woodsome Hall’s Lily Hirst, who became the first Yorkshire player to win the English Girls’ County Champion of Champions tournament, which was played at Woodhall Spa earlier this year. Captain Tony Parker also gave a speech setting out the club’s successes during the year and said how humble he was to be in the role. Pictured, l-r, are R M Hirst, who proposed the guests, Andrew Taylor (President Elect of the Halifax-Huddersfield Union, Roger Ellis (Woodsome Hall Vice-President), Tony Parker (Captain of Woodsome Hall), Jonathan Plaxton, Charles Haygarth, (Woodsome Hall vice-captain), and guest speaker Darren McDonald.
CHRIS HANSON THE EUROPEAN CHALLENGE TOUR BLOG
Real progress made close to Bernabéu W
ITH a week to go before entries closed for the Spanish Open on the European Tour I was 19th on the waiting list, but I took a chance and booked a couple of cheap flights to Madrid for me and my caddie Adam Walker as I thought the odds were heavily in my favour. It meant pulling out of the Challenge Tour event in Morocco and I lost money on the return flights I had already booked, but that’s not the first time that’s happened this year, and I dread to think how many flights I’ve missed and wasted throughout the year – and indeed during my career. Accommodation was always going to be tricky though. The official hotel was close to the Bernabéu stadium and with Champions League football scheduled for the Tuesday night of the tournament a lot of options were booked up and if they weren’t, they were extremely expensive. I ended up with a cheap hire car and a small, reasonable
apartment 20 minutes away from the city and the course and well out of the way of any other golfers. And due to the high cost of booking for the whole week I only booked for three nights in case we missed the cut, heaven forbid. The only other affordable options were a selection of hostels in the city, but I’m not too sure how good my preparation would have been in a shared room with another random six tourists. I certainly have a soft spot for Spain, so it’s always nice to go back there, and I’d heard it was a great golf course too. With the pro-am ruling out any chance of playing the course Wednesday, it meant rushing straight out on arrival Tuesday afternoon with Nick McCarthy to see what we had in store for the week. The 1st tee was closed from 3pm, so that meant walking out to the 2nd and playing on from there, but after nine holes I called it a day, as for me rest was important and I had the
whole day Wednesday to walk the back nine and practise. We rushed back to check in at our apartment for the next three nights, and you will soon read that booking accommodation was not our strong point that week. On arriving at the ‘Aparthotel’ we were soon informed that the booking was actually for a double room, not a two-bed apartment…. and the room didn’t even have room for an extra mattress, it was so small. Thankfully, someone had checked out of an apartment which they hadn’t had a chance to clean so they didn’t want to let us have it, but I had no issues in stripping the beds myself, throwing out the dirty towels and making the beds up again for us. Anything to not have to sleep with my caddie Adam . In round one we were last out of the morning groups at 10.30, and I played pretty solid golf all day and stayed extremely patient. And if anyone knows
Adam, they know how good he is at keeping me positive and pushing for birdies. So, to finish on the 9th with a birdie two was very pleasing and it felt great to sign for a 68 (-3) as my opening rounds haven’t been a strong point this season. Last out in the morning day one only means one thing…last out day two, at 3pm, with a morning of time to kill. We packed up, checked out and made for Starbucks for a morning coffee before heading across to the course. I also had to book some more accommodation as the late tee time meant we wouldn’t make any of the evening flights back even if I didn’t make the cut. Off the course at 8pm, after a battle of a back nine to make the cut right on the number, we then headed straight for dinner, and then back into another local village to find our accommodation for a further night and also My caddy Adam Walker and I had dinner at TGI’s next to the Bernabéu book a Sunday night Stadium, home of world-famous football club Real Madrid flight home, which also wasn’t easy. tournament tied for 30th. tion only then to have the So despite being the last Was I happy? Of course, smiles wiped clean off our player to hole out at 8pm after missing the cut in France faces – Adam hadn’t come to Friday I was the first player to the week before when I felt I the rescue at all, he’d booked tee off Saturday morning at produced some decent stuff it for the Saturday night in two 8.50. But it was a round worth was good to back up some weeks’ time…ouch! getting up for on ‘moving day’ good feelings in Spain with a So immediately back on the and I thankfully made the strong showing on the main web I found something three move in the right direction. I Tour. miles away for 180 euros, but played lovely for a bogey-free As ever a huge thanks to now we didn’t have our 66 (-5) and climbed the leaderAdam on the bag; he makes a car. We decided to set off and board about 30 spots after huge difference not just to my walked for a couple of miles, making birdie at the last. game, but to the enjoyment of finding a TGI Friday’s restauAs the first two-ball out, being away and to life on-andrant en route for dinner next to we were round in four hours off the course. the Bernabéu stadium. and back in for an early lunch Also, thanks to Lee When we finally found our and finding some more accomnew place, I crashed out for the Sullivan for the support and modation for the last night process we have in place with night dreaming of birdies for should be easy enough in a my putting. It’s been fantastic the following day. city, you would think? finally to see my putting trendOn Sunday we were out in Well, it wasn’t as Real ing in the right way these last the thick of it at 11.02am and Madrid were playing again. I three months. the crowds were crazy. It was use booking.com for 99% of Also to James Thomson for extremely busy and with many my travel and I’ve never seen being a rock to chat to and the map on their website so full holes passing each other you keep things real. could hear the Spanish roars with only five or six available And to Simon Dyson for places ranging from a bunk bed for the local boys Rahm, Del the work we’ve done together Val and Bello everywhere. in a 6-bed mixed hostel for 200 in such a small period of time, After a steady start I made euros to a penthouse apartment which I feel is already conbogey on 6 before a worldat 12,000 euros for one night – tributing to some positive stuff class up and down on 7, and a it was crazy! in my game. There are not perfect wedge into 8 meant I Thankfully Adam came to many people out there so motiwent birdie, birdie and turned the rescue. He found a hotel vated to help fellow players in under par. one-mile’s walk from the offitheir quest. I followed up with a chip-in cial players’ hotel for 160 And so, the joys of travel on 10, then produced some euros, so we had to go for that. continued with a 10pm Sunday really good scrambling over We got a courtesy car to the flight back to Luton, of all the next five holes to keep my players’ hotel and set off on a places, followed by a threemomentum going. sweaty walk to find our beds hour drive in a hire car back to I don’t do it often, but a for the night. And it was a Huddersfield, finally arriving fist-pump birdie on 17 and a happy walk after the 66! home around 3am and all for par up the last meant I signed We were so pleased to walk the reasonable price of £600! for 69 (-2) and I finished the into the air-conned hotel recep-
ACCOMPLISHED FEET Bingley bagman still has some walking to do as he makes plans for his new boss
Fitzpatrick is Foster’s major hope VETERAN Yorkshire caddie Billy Foster is hoping his legs will last out for another few years and at least in time to see his boss Matt Fitzpatrick claim his first major championship. Next year will be the Bingley bagman’s 38th consecutive year on Tour, but he’s not about to pack it in just yet. “I’m not ready to dust down the golden Zimmer frame just yet, but carrying a heavy bag over 50 miles every week has taken its toll and I have arthritis in my feet. It’s like walking on broken glass. “But I want to keep going for another four or five years and in that time see Matt win a couple of majors. What I like most about Matt is he’s got a huge heart. He’s a winner, and I want to help him all I can.” The man who spent his career working alongside people like Seve Ballesteros, Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood during his glory years, said: “Matt is the most professional player I’ve ever had the pleasure to work for, he works so hard and does everything right. “He has an incredible work ethic and is very precise in his preparation. I call him Bernhard Langer’s love child!” Fitzpatrick’s eye for detail includes doing his own yardages. Foster explained: “Matt does his and I do mine and he has his opinions on certain shots, and I have mine. We discuss it and come to a conclusion. We are like a tag team really and bounce off each other.” Yorkshireman Fitzpatrick’s
biggest fault might be that he gets too down on himself, but the quick-witted Foster is just the man to lift anyone’s contemplation. The respect they have for one another is obvious as they’re constantly nattering down the fairways, ribbing each other about football — Fitzpatrick is a passionate Sheffield United fan, Foster a lifelong Leeds supporter. Foster, 47, split from Lee Westwood just over a year ago, but has enjoyed a fruitful season without accompanying Hallamshire’s Fitzpatrick into the winner’s enclosure. His world ranking has improved from 40th to 25th, but he has worn the bridesmaid’s tag five times already this year and according to Foster has been “robbed” on more than one occasion.” “It has felt like Superman has come out of the pack to shoot 63 or 64 every time and there’s only the BMW in Germany where he lost in a play-off that he could have influenced more,” said Foster. The Arnold Palmer Invitational last March was typical as the 24-year-old outscored his playing partner, Rory McIlroy, and everyone else bar Frankie Molinari, who had the best putting day of his career and holed a difficult chip in a wondrous 64 to snatch victory. Foster says his favourite place in America is “the departure lounge”, but he does enjoy weeks like the TPC, Masters and Harbour Town and feels Matt’s accuracy from the tee is a big advantage at events over
Sheffield United fan Matt Fitzpatrick and his caddie, Leeds United supporter Billy Foster, set aside their differing football allegiances as they work out the correct yardage of a shot during their work as a partnership on tour ‘the Pond’, which are now part and parcel of Fitz’s schedule. “Sawgrass is a great test. Its not a bomber’s paradise like so many of the courses out there and a lot of the greens are small and angled, so accuracy from the tee is key. Matt drives the ball great, which is probably his biggest strength when playing over there, but he’s strong throughout most departments of his game. “ Foster has seen plenty of changes since he started out in 1983. “I only started out as a caddie as a way to see Europe and learn more about the game. I didn’t go into it thinking it would be a career as the caddies back then were more like tramps drinking meths. “ It was a tough existence back then with no mobile phones, credit cards or yardage books and the prize money was so low that plane travel was too expensive. Now the top caddies have expenses covered by their bosses and enjoy other perks like dedicated lounges at tournaments
No EuroPro joy for Tykes The PGA EuroPro Tour has been a happy hunting ground for Yorkshire golfers in the past but there was no such luck this year for Harrogate’s John Parry. Parry eventually finished 15th in the Order of Merit, but a win at the Tour Championship at Desert Springs would have secured one of five Challenge Tour cards on offer. Parry had an encouraging start and was three under at the turn in round one before carding a bogey at the last to sign for a round of 70. He made another fast start on day two with birdies at the 2nd and 3rd but had to wait until the 17th for another birdie after making a bogey on the par 4 10th.
Parry’s start on the last day was the complete opposite to the first two rounds. The former European Tour winner opened with a double bogey seven but recovered with two birdies to make the turn at level par. He had birdies at the par 3 12th and 14th holes but they were interspersed by a bogey 6 at the 13th. He made ground with a birdie three at the 16th but was unable to muster any more finally coming home in 33 for a third consecutive 70 and a 54-hole total of 6 under par for sixth place. Mikael Lundberg won the tournament after going through a playoff against James Allan three times. Lundberg (Lumine Golf
Club) also clinched the Order of Merit title with victory in his first season on the Tour. The Swede signed for rounds of 64, 73 and 69 to force a playoff after leading after the opening day. Lundberg secured one of the five cards along with Richard Mansell, Marco Penge, Alfie Plant and Todd Clements. It was the Swede’s third Tour win. Masham’s Dan Brown (-2) tied for 19th while Wath’s Nick Poppleton finished on one under in a tie for 25th place. Meltham’s Jamie Bower and Will Whiteoak (Garforth Golf Club) both finished outside the top 50 at Desert Springs.
“We slept everywhere from £2-a-night cock-roach infested doss houses to buses and trains and I even slept in a bush one night. But I wouldn’t have swapped it for anything. It was a great experience. “We travelled together and hunted in packs because we
had to look after each other. If we got to a train or bus station some of us would stay there and guard the bags while the others walked up and down like Joseph and Mary looking for a room at the inn. “ Those early years have contributed some interesting mate-
rial for Foster’s after-dinner speeches and he’s much sought after by golf clubs and corporates. “I quite enjoy it and the guests seem to like it as well. But after all that has happened to me as a caddie you can’t buy that kind of content.”
DANNY WALSH Head Teaching Professional at Waterfront Golf
On track for short-game improvement RECENTLY Chris Dennis and myself presented a clinic at Waterfront Golf based on improving short game skills. Chris is a specialist putting coach who focused on green reading using Aimpoint. I focused on the principles of successful pitching.
with Danny Walsh
Using Trackman Test Center, I firstly tested each player over different distances ranging from 20 – 65 yards. Trackman will produce a report that gives a score and a handicap relative to proximity to target. On the right is an example of a Trackman report. Technique: The key to good pitching is to deliver consistent contact, launch conditions and club speed (if trying to hit the same distance of shot). Obviously as conditions change, such as the lie, there will be variables to these impact factors, but honing a sound technique is a must. Distance control: We then worked on improving distance control. This is done by learning to vary the length of backswing and through swing and also adjusting club speed. If you can swing to different positions in the swing while maintaining tempo this will enable you to adjust your distance control accordingly.
with Chris Dennis
Our recent clinic at Waterfront Golf we included an Aimpoint Express Clinic. Aimpoint is a green reading system used by some of the best male and female golfers in the world including Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Lydia Ko and many more. With a range of handicaps from 5 to 36 in our clinic it was clear how it’s a system that can be used by all levels. We started by making sure everyone was able to aim their ball to the spot they had picked and away we went. The next step focused on the main skill of Aimpoint, which is feeling the slope from left to right and right to left. As illustrated in the picture on the right, each player worked their way down the line of tees and started to feel the difference between 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5% slopes. From here we moved into the process of reading putts. After players became comfortable from inside 8ft we moved into longer putts.
Our next clinic will be held at 6pm on December 12. To book or for more information call 01709 877 616.
WINTER AT WATERFRONT
2019 AT WATERFRONT GOLF
Waterfront Golf has gone through some huge changes over the past 4 years, and our membership numbers continues to rise to the point that we have very limited spaces for 7 day members but still have spaces available for 5 day members. Annual subscriptions of £435 for 5 day and £535 for 7 day offer fantastic value for our 12 month full tees and greens course. We do not have any temporary tees or greens ever! Our nine hole course has eighteen different tees and our members have the option of 9 or 18 hole comps throughout the season. Our comps are open to all members gents and ladies alike. We have a thriving senior and mixed section at the club who play every week socially and in competitions.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ANY OF OUR MEMBERSHIP PACKAGES PLEASE CALL FRANK ON: 01709 877616 Our floodlit driving range has had a brand new makeover and our new putting and indoor studio which features Capto putting lab and Trackman 4 simulator is now open and ready for use. Our three coaches Frank Houlgate, Danny Walsh and Chris Dennis our European tour putting coach all have private studios for you to learn comfortably in. Frank and Danny both use TrackMan radar and video on all lessons and Chris uses Capto putting lab so you can learn everything you need at Waterfront Golf.
Our extensive menu is available every day, cooked fresh by one of our 3 Chefs
The brand new Trackman 4 golf simulator is available to rent and is amazing when the weather is bad! Our fitting centre has Callaway, Ping, Taylor Made and Cobra available to try and we will match any genuine quote.
WE WILL NOT BE BEATEN ON PRICE!
SPECIAL OFFERS - LESSON PACKAGE’S All 3 of our coaches have special offers on this winter:Frank £160 for 4 hours Danny £150 for 4 hours Chris £180 for 2 one hour sessions, plus a 9 hole course lesson
Call: 01709 877616 or visit www.waterfrontgolf.co.uk FOR INFO ON ANY OFFERS OR MEMBERSHIP. AND REMEMBER YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A MEMBER TO USE ANY OF OUR FACILITIES AND OUR CLUBHOUSE IS MODERN RELAXED PLACE WITH NO DRESS CODE SO COME ALONG AND ENJOY A VIBRANT ATMOSPHERE
Station Road, Wath Upon Dearne, S63 7BU • firstname.lastname@example.org Please mention “Yorkshire Golfer” when making your booking on: 01709 877616 Station Road, Manvers, Rotherham S63 7UB • email@example.com
TRAVEL FOCUS: Glorious Alpine Austria
Ich bin ein Lech-er The mountainous landscape in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg pulsates with the purest air, panoramic views and golf at its most rustic and charming. PAUL TROW is your guide
S READERS of a certain age would remember from cinemas of their youth, the hills of Alpine Austria are very much alive. And not just with the sound of babbling brooks, swooshing skis and warbling Julie Andrews. Once the slush from oncoming winter’s melting snow drains away, it turns into a verdant haven for hikers and cyclists, replete with conifers, swallows and edelweiss. Now, thanks to the input of some enterprising hoteliers and entrepreneurs, golf also ranks highly on the list of valid reasons for a summer visit. In the east of Austria, especially around Vienna, the game is an all-year activity, hence the presence there of the bulk of this land-locked country’s 160 or so golf clubs. But in Vorarlberg, the most western state, it is restricted to somewhere between five and ten months depending on your course of choice’s altitude. Here, hills are mountains and near neighbours are Bavarian Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In winter, the towns heave with snow worshippers and the ski lifts chug continuously like aerial conveyor belts. Lech, Zurs and Zug, Vorarlberg’s eastern outposts clustered next to Tyrol, are busiest of all when the pistes and their attendant fir trees are swathed in shimmering white. Finding beds here during the ‘season’ is a near impossibility due to the repeat bookings that have underpinned the local economy for generations. From April to November, though, it’s a different story. These towns are definitely open for business and with six courses (three 18-hole and three 9hole), all within an hour’s drive of Lech, golfers are being serenaded in stereo. Mein host Florian Moosbrugger, the owner of the picture-perfect, 5-star Gasthof Post hotel in the centre of Lech, told me: “We would love to have more summer visitors, especially from the UK.
“There are lots of reasons for people to holiday here at this time of the year. The weather is reliable, often quite hot, the scenery is magnificent and we’re much cheaper than Switzerland. “We get many walkers and cyclists, but the hotels and guest houses are rarely full. Therefore we want to send out the message that this really is a wonderful destination for golfers, and they are very welcome.” The key to this bullish statement is Lech Golf Club, just three years old but home to the most entertaining and spectacular 9-holer I’ve ever come across. Snuggling beside the Lech River across perhaps the only flat plot of land in the entire region, this is a miniature that’s huge fun to play with its breathtaking views and beguiling hazards, yet it’s also deceptively challenging. Good shots are duly rewarded and sensible course strategy is essential, particularly on holes 2, 3 and 4 (“our Amen Corner”, says Florian) where the ball must be correctly positioned from tee and fairway in defiance of water, trees and the ever-present breeze. As a surprising bonus, considering their infancy, the greens are impressively true. From the 1st tee – the highest piece of golfing real estate in the whole of Austria at 4,951ft, more than 500ft higher than Ben Nevis – it’s a joy to behold. Time-strapped folk and beginners who only want to play a few holes can confine themselves to the first four or last five (four of which are par3s). And for travelling golfers who live further than 150km away (94 miles) there’s a great country-membership deal currently on offer pegged at an annual subscription of 350 euros. Given the ongoing turmoil on the currency markets, please forgive me for not making a conversion into sterling! Members who wish to play beyond the five-month window that Lech offers can drive
The picture perfect town of Lech (right) and its scenic golf course (left and below right), plus a view of the 14th and 18th greens at Rankweil Golf Club (below left)
downhill for half an hour west for a game at the club’s sister course, Bludenz-Braz, which has 18 undulating holes and dates from 1996. Alas, our itinerary couldn’t squeeze in a round at Braz, nor the nearby Brand (18), Montafon (9) or Silvretta (9), but we were able to enjoy the subtleties of MontfortRankweil, just under an hour’s drive from Lech and by general consent the leading course in the region. This mainly flat 18-hole Rhine valley layout, only a couple of miles from the Swiss border, was created in 2006 by local designer Diethard Fahrenleitner, who was also responsible for Lech and Brand (1994). Originally farmland, Montford-Rankweil is surrounded by fields that were full of maize when we visited and spreads across an area that could easily accommodate another nine holes. Its calling cards are doglegs shaped around ponds with prominent reed beds and fairways that remain lush throughout the year due to their lowlying position at the foot of several mountains. But even though the course plays longer
than its appearance thanks to a lack of run on the ball, driver isn’t always the best option from some of the tees. Out of a membership of around 700, a sizeable percentage live in Switzerland. For them, Montford-Rankweil is an attractive social hub, only a few miles away with no passport control and offers the cheapest golf either side of the immediate border. Lech is aiming for a similar membership model, though most of its non-locals come from further east. During my stay I played with a couple from the famous Fontana club in Vienna and there were many other golfers from eastern Austria in the groups in front of and behind us. But the visiting golfers can’t possibly fill the hotels like the skiers do. When we visited in August, Zurs was a ghost town. On the four occasions we drove through this conglomeration of
identikit hostelries, nearly all of which were closed for the summer; indeed, I never saw a single person. In contrast, Lech, an altogether prettier and more traditional settlement, and Zug, perched on a plateau some 500 feet above, seemed busy – especially its biggest hotel, the Burg. This is mainly because the bridge in Lech over a foaming tributary of the Rhine, directly opposite the Gasthof Post, is the ideal launchpad for all-day walkers, not to mention bike riders. Fuelled by a hearty breakfast to tackle the surrounding mountains, and zigzagging in line to heights of more than 7,000 feet, working up a ferocious appetite in the process, the endeavours of the daily human chain of hikers explain why such a small town is home to so many high-quality restaurants and chefs. “The resident population of
Lech is 1,400 but when every room is taken it’s over 20,000,” says Florian. “At this time of year, it might be 7,000, but no more.” Forget the snowbirds, it’s safe to say that golfers are assured of finding a pillow between May and October, the usual months of play. And definitely somewhere memorable to play! *Our visit to Lech had a sad postscript. Florian introduced us to the club’s oldest member and the town’s best-known citizen, Egon Zimmerman, who won the downhill skiing gold medal during the 1964 winter Olympics in Innsbruck. This charming, modest gentleman, aged 80, told us with a twinkle in his eye: “I was the favourite and being the local boy I had to win otherwise they’d never have let me back into Lech.” Alas, he passed away six days later.
Journey details Paul Trow travelled on a Swiss flight to Zurich from London City airport and the transfer to Lech by car, provided by Gasthof Post, took just under two hours. Munich is a similar distance from Lech and while Innsbruck is slightly nearer it can only accommodate small or medium-sized planes due to its elevation and the shortness of its runways. There are no checks on the border either way between Austria and Switzerland Web details: lechzuers.com, golfclub-montfort.com, gc-bludenz-braz.at, postlech.com, burghotel-lech.com
You don't need to pick your regular copy of Yorkshire's golf Bible up from the club – just click on here and read away to your heart's conte...
Published on Nov 27, 2019
You don't need to pick your regular copy of Yorkshire's golf Bible up from the club – just click on here and read away to your heart's conte...