TODAY’S GOLFER SUMMER 2012 (JUNE 14-JULY 11)
ALEX NOREN’S SWING TIPS
SUMMER 2012 ISSUE 297 JUNE 14-JULY 11
36 PUTTERS 15 WEDGES TESTED The right clubs will make golf easy(ish)!
✓ PITCHING ✓ CHIPPING ✓ PUTTING ✓ BUNKERS
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PLAY AWESOME COURSES FROM UNDER A TENNER
PING & COBRA WOODS
THIS MONTH'S SECTION
016 Ferrari motor into golf with Cobra-Puma 018 Fraserburgh focus 020 Kuchar’s swing 029 The columnists: Copeman and Vaughan
oN sAle sooN
Nike Golf builds on success of Method range ➔
Nike Golf’s preseNce
is growing, both on Tour and in the bags of us amateur golfers. It’s no surprise then that they have quickly built on the success of one of their most successful franchises – Method putters – with three new Midnight models to appeal to even more golfers. Nike’s clubs haven’t always competed that well with the industry’s traditional heavy hitters, but since launching the original Method putter in 2009, Nike have won deserved kudos in this catergory. The original range consisted of five putters – 001 through to 005, with blades, a midmallet and a mallet all included – and now Nike have introduced 006, 007 and 008 milled models. All three differ slightly in design but crucially each model retains the Polymetal Groove Technology that imparts more topspin on the ball more quickly for less skid and more accuracy. Nike Golf engineers have also made the putters more forgiving by removing 30g of weight from behind the face and the body and replacing it towards the extremities of the head. The original Method produced two Major wins in its first year on Tour, and later models have bagged many more. We think the new Midnight additions might well continue this winning tradition and tempt more golfers.
Method Midnight 006 A classic heel-toe weighted putter based on the 001.
Method Midnight 007 A centre-shaft, no offset and Polymetal Groove Technology.
All models released June 15, 2012. price: £160 each. options: 006 – RH/LH, 33", 34", 35"; 007 – RH, 33", 34", 35"; 008 – RH, 33", 34", 35". information: nikegolf.eu
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Method Midnight 008 Engineered with heel-toe weights, for greater stability.
THE FIRST LOOK AT
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SET UP TO GUARANTEE THE STRIKE 2. The sternum represents the bottom of the swing’s arc. It needs to be positioned fractionally ahead of the ball at address and stay in that position until after impact. 3. It’s by using the sole of the club that you will find a solid strike and extra forgiveness. Hit some shots from an empty glove packet to get the feel of the club sliding, not digging down.
THE POSITION OF YOUR HANDS AND
sternum are the most important when pitching. Carry out these simple set-up checks. 1. Form a channel with two canes on the ground as shown. Position the hands within it by tilting from the hips and allowing the arms to hang naturally. The hands should stay within this channel during the beginning of the swing.
NEUTRAL PATH By swinging the hands within the channel back and through, you're more likely to create a neutral path for your club.
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ALIGN LEFT With the sternum set you’ll feel more pressure under the left foot, which acts as a post to pivot around and hit against.
GET YOUR ARMS AND BODY WORKING RIGHT PITCH SHOTS, ESPECIALLY short pitches, create anxiety. When anxiety kicks in you tense up; the body can overwork and the club will underwork for the distance you want to send the ball. Imagine if you were throwing a ball. The arm would naturally move freely and without any tension. Start by throwing a ball a short distance, then medium, then long. You’ll instantly start to swing the arm back further. What’s happening is the body is responding to the movement. This will help you understand that when you want to hit the ball further it’s not just the club that’s travelling further but everything else is moving in harmony with it. 1. Start with a ball in your throwing hand. Take up your golf posture. 2. Stay in the golf posture and swing your arm back, keeping the weight over your left foot. 3. Release the ball to your target.
BUILD A POSITIVE STRIKE WITH ONE-ARM SWINGS
Your release point will change depending on the flight you want to hit, another key part of pitching technique.
As you take the arm back, notice how the rest of the body responds more and more as it moves further back in the swing.
Take note of how your arm is free of tension before you throw the ball. This is the feeling you want when you set up to a pitch.
THE NEXT STEP FROM
throwing a ball is to make some onehanded swings to a tennis ball. This is a great practice drill because the club feels much heavier, which means you can’t directly control it as much and you tend to give in and just let the club swing. What you’ll find is that the wrist, elbow, chest and torso are responding to how the club is moving, and so the club swings on the correct plane. You’ll gain important acceleration by using the weight of the clubhead more than the body. Using a larger ball again helps to take away any tension from the motion but you can use a golf ball as you get better. 1. Address the ball as normal then take your top hand off the club. 2. Swing the club back with one hand keeping your weight over your left foot. 3. Allow the weight of the clubhead to control the downswing, striking the ball with a shallow angle of attack.
Set the shaft with a slight forward lean and with the sternum ahead of the ball and the weight favouring the lead foot.
Allow the trail wrist to hinge to set the club on plane. Feel the handle leads to initiate the downswing and into impact.
One-handed swings encourage the club to approach the ball shallower, which helps use the club's bounce correctly.
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MY GOLFING LIFE
still counting strokes Olympic rowing hero Sir Matthew Pinsent has swapped oars for irons and now relishes his prominent role at iconic Bucks club Stoke Park
WORDS KEVIN BROWN PICTURES jamEs chEadlE
E has claimed four Olympic gold medals and 10 world championship titles, but there is no mistaking the sense of pride on Sir Matthew Pinsent’s face as he gazes at his name on the list of Presidents at Stoke Park Golf Club. The 6ft 5in, 17 stone rowing legend is the latest entry on the wooden board in the President’s Bar which contains the name of everyone who has held the office at the famous Buckinghamshire club. “It’s brilliant, fabulous,” he admits to TG. “I’ve got my own parking space which winds the club captain up no end, although I don’t know why – he’s got his own spot too.” You might think the name of the iconic, knighted Olympian stands out, but that is not the case – for two reasons. First, his predecessors include His Highness Prince Albert of Schleswig Holstein and Earl Alexander of Tunisia. Second, the lettering isn’t quite as bold on his entry. “I’m going to have to have a word with the club to get it changed,” chuckles Sir Steve Redgrave’s long-time wing man. After just a few minutes in the company of Sir Matthew, TG knows such a request will not happen. When we asked how best to address him he replied: “Call me what you like, Matthew will be fine.” We duly oblige, and even throw a few “Matts” in. He’s that kind of guy; for one of the most successful sportsmen this country has ever produced, he doesn’t have an ego. He’s warm, friendly and extremely affable – the cliched gentle giant. So, Stoke Park suits him perfectly. Because, despite being in swish Bucks and the backdrop of movies such as James Bond’s Goldfinger, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Layer Cake – not to mention home to 27 holes of Harry Colt-designed golf – it is not stuffy. “Although the club has got loads of history it’s not snooty – I can come in here (President’s Bar) in the morning and get my laptop out, do some e-mails, get my phone out and take a call,” he explains. “I’ll take my golf shoes off at the door and walk in in my socks. I’ll play in the midweek ‘roll-up’ with a ➔
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YONEX EZONE I £149
WILSON FG TOUR I £79
TAYLORMADE ATV I £89
Another great looking and feeling wedge from Yonex but both Phil and Steve marked it down for versatility. Steve said it was too easy to slide the club underneath the ball in rough although David and Jon rated it highly. ■ yonex.co.uk or 0208 742 9777
Pro James wasn’t taken with the curved leading edge and that affected looks and versatility although David insisted the sole was one of the most versatile on test and the FG Tour proved highly accurate in the hands of our team. ■ wilsonstaff.com or 01276 404 970
Pro James was concerned with the large flange at the back of the club and said this could affect performance off tight l ies although the 60° loft had more heel relief. Jon was a fan though and insisted these could go straight in his bag. ■ taylormadegolf.eu or 08000 728 624
Looks: 4.3 Feel: 4.1 Versatility: 3.8 Accuracy: 4.0 Spin/launch: 6,987rpm/26° (lie board); 2,217rpm/35° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
Looks: 3.9 Feel: 4.2 Versatility: 3.6 Accuracy: 4.5 Spin/launch: 7,010rpm/33° (lie board); 2,011rpm/39° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
Looks: 4.1 Feel: 4.3 Versatility: 4.0 Accuracy: 4.0 Spin/launch: 6,580rpm/26° (lie board); 2,774rpm/36° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
JOHN LETTERS MM GRIND I £89.99
SNAKE EYES 695LZ I £89
ADAMS M. PUGLIELLI I £129
Features a sole grind with plenty of toe and heel relief designed for better players and our team loved the versatility. David said the topline was a touch on the thick side but elsewhere this was positively received. ■ johnletters.com or 0845 196 0050
A solid wedge across the board with testers commenting on the feel off the face. Steve awarded this full marks while Phil was impressed with the feel and stopping power. The score lines on the face put off pro James though. ■ golfsmitheurope.co.uk or 01480 423 610
A firm favourite with pro James and Phil. James insisted the head size was perfect and rated the feel and versatility highly while Phil awarded it full marks across the board. A fine example of why Adams are making great strides in the UK. ■ adamsgolf.com or 0845 1960 050
Looks: 4.3 Feel: 4.3 Versatility: 4.5 Accuracy: 3.5 Spin/launch: 7,089rpm/25° (lie board); 2,377rpm/36° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
Looks: 4.3 Feel: 4.5 Versatility: 3.9 Accuracy: 4.0 Spin/launch: 7,120rpm/23° (lie board); 2,377rpm/35° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
Looks: 4.4 Feel: 4.3 Versatility: 4.3 Accuracy: 4.0 Spin/launch: 7,394rpm/22° (lie board); 2,753rpm/33° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
MIZUNO R-12 I £115
PING TOUR-S I £103
CLEVELAND 588 FORGED I £119
David and pro James felt the head was a little rounded for their liking but other than that the R-12 was well liked in all categories. James also commented on the thinner hosel because he said it was less likely to get caught in the rough. ■ mizuno.eu or 0800 328 0180
Ping’s Tour series wedges always go down well on test and this is no exception. Steve felt this offered forgiveness as well as the usual wedge performance benefits while Jon awarded it top marks in all categories. Top notch. ■ ping.com or 01427 619224
Probably the most famous wedge shape of all time and it showed. David said the feel was as soft as anything he had hit although he would have liked a little more heel relief. The satin chrome finish was particularly well received. ■ clevelandgolf.com or 01420 541 709
Looks: 4.5 Feel: 4.5 Versatility: 4.6 Accuracy: 3.5 Spin/launch: 6,875rpm/21° (lie board); 1,941rpm/37° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
Looks: 4.3 Feel: 4.5 Versatility: 4.3 Accuracy: 4.0 Spin/launch: 7,056rpm/24° (lie board); 2,528rpm/37° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
Looks: 4.5 Feel: 4.5 Versatility: 4.2 Accuracy: 4.0 Spin/launch: 6,672rpm/25° (lie board); 3,730rpm/32° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
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PING ANSER I £150
NIKE VR PRO I £89.95
Forged, compact wedge offering terrific feel and forgiveness
Easy-to-aim, high-spinning wedge with versatile sole options
The Anser is Ping’s first forged wedge and features a thicker face and hitting area for better forgiveness and control while a tungsten toe weight and slightly longer hosel moves weight to the extremities of the head. Roy loved the crisp sound and feel and insisted this was one of his favourites while Steve was also a big fan – commenting specifically on the adaptability and ease of use. He also rated the weight and balance, saying it felt comfortable in his hands. Jon also rated the Anser’s feel highly, although he perhaps felt it was designed for more accomplished players because of the slightly more compact head shape. Again David rated the feel highly and insisted this would be an extremely versatile wedge with a bit of practice although he was a little disappointed with the relative lack of loft and bounce options. Pro says: I’m definitely a fan of the head size. It is nice and compact and this really appeals to the better player. I also like the matt finish on the head because this reduces the chance of glare and means you can open the face to adjust the loft without worrying about the sunlight. Personally I’d prefer a little more heel relief for a touch more versatility but this is still a great all-round wedge. ■ ping.com or 01427 619 224
The VR Pro wedge is the best Nike have ever produced according to pro James, David and Jon and deserves its place in the upper echelons of the test. It is proven on Tour in the hands of Tiger Woods, Charl Schwartzel and a host of other Nike pros and certainly impressed our team as well. Roy loved the straighter leading edge because he found it easier to line up. He gave it top marks across the board and insisted he’d be happy to part with his hard-earned cash for the wedge. Steve liked the classic design and the balance although he felt the ball came off a touch quicker than some so initially struggled with distance control. David loved the compact head and the high number of grooves on the face inspired confidence. He particularly liked the option with the DS sole, which offers more heel and toe relief for greater versatility. Jon also commented on the groove pattern, insisting this generated lots of spin and gave him a lower ball flight on pitch shots. Pro says: This has everything I look for in a wedge: a compact head, straighter leading edge, thin hosel and an extremely versatile sole grind. My preference was for the DS option in the more lofted wedges because I felt there was more versatility; the darker platinum finish was a great look. ■ nikegolf.eu or 0800 056 1640
Looks: 4.4 Feel: 4.3 Versatility: 4.5 Accuracy: 4.5 Spin/launch: 6,069rpm/26° (lie board); 4,226rpm/34° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
Looks: 4.7 Feel: 4.7 Versatility: 4.5 Accuracy: 3.5 Spin/launch: 6,349rpm/23° (lie board); 3,592rpm/34° (rough) RATING: ★★★★★
Making sense Ping’s first forged wedge earned the plaudits for feel among our testers – as did the sweet impact sound generated by its neat, compact head. A non-glare finish for bright conditions tops off what is undoubtedly a great club.
Top spinner Our testers liked the straight leading edge of Nike’s VR Pro, citing easier aim. The extra grooves visible on its face also helped promote a high spin rate coupled with a penetrating flight – a tasty combination in a modern wedge.
Golfer BRONZE Today’s
Golfer SILVER Today’s
LAG PUTTING TrAIN yoUr brAIN we can all stand there and hit
three or four balls to the same hole, learning from each effort and unsurprisingly, the last ball usually finishes the closest. But you take very little from this in the long run other than gaining the pace of the greens before you tee off; this routine has little point to it. Research tells us that the brain predicts and works things out better when the practice is
‘the brain works better when your practice is random.’
call the shots Calling out whether you think the putt is short or long of your target before looking up is a good way to be a more instinctive putter.
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random. Practising to the same spot makes you lazy and doesn't prepare you for the course. Practising to different spots makes your brain work harder and more efficiently. Set up to a hole 30 feet away and hit four balls to the four points of a compass around the hole – one short, one long, one left and one right. Changing the length and direction on each putt makes your prediction skills better for when you’re on the course. If you hit all your practice putts to the same spot, as soon as you (inevitably!) don’t get that length of putt on the course you aren’t prepared.
FOOT MARKER Use your right foot as a measure of how far to swing the putter back to make the ball go a certain distance – on your toe, before it or past it. The key here is to keep the tempo of your stroke the same.
compass drill You can increase the difficulty of the task by moving further away from the hole. Once mastered, try and hole the putt.
SHorT PUTTS SPLIT THE DIFFErENCE we can all haVe tendencies tO
aim left or right of our target – yet believe the putter is square. Then, when we make a good stroke, the ball misses. This occurs because we get lazy in our alignment. This drill makes your brain and eyes work a bit harder and is better at ensuring your putter is actually square.
3 Snookered drill Appreciating that breaking putts have a different entry point to straight putts gives you more chance of holing out.
1. Once you’ve picked the line you want the ball to start on (not necessarily the hole), take your address position, place the putter head behind the ball and open it enough so it obviously aims right of the target. 2. Then close your putterface so it obviously aims excessively left of the target. 3. Finally, rotate the clubface so it is aligned in between these two directions. This gives you an assurance that your clubface is square and means you won’t second-guess yourself over the ball and make any last-moment compensations during the stroke.
ADoPT A 'No FEAr' APProACH
PLAy SNooKEr To UNDErSTAND THE ENTry PoINT
technique on short putts and end up giving up and decelerating. But if you are conceded a putt or just leant over to tap one in, you’d instantly be more positive. You need to capture that same tempo when faced with short putts that carry a consequence. If you spend a long time thinking about it, that’s when you tend to decelerate.
on them to require you to aim outside the hole are tricky, because the pace has an inﬂuence on the amount the ball will break. My advice to you would be to hit the putts positively. Remember that on breaking putts, the entry point changes, rotating around the hole left or right. Trying to die breaking putts into the front
MOst aMateUrs Get over-embroiled in
shOrt PUtts which have enough break
of the hole will often mean you’ll miss on the low side. As a drill, place a ball in front of the hole where the ball will funnel in from. Then, play a game of snooker, trying to knock that ball in. This drill allows you to appreciate how the angle the ball rolls in on changes and also helps ensure you strike your putts with enough pace and apply a positive stroke. ➔ Todaysg olfer .co.u k ❘ is su e 297
THE BIG TEST
Our ultimate guide to getting the best putter for your money in 2012 sees 36 fine f latsticks put through their paces. Which is best for you? W O R D S J O N G R E AT H E A D , D AV I D C O N N O R P I C T U R E S T O M C R I T C H E L L , H O WA R D B O Y L A N
Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield, B76 9PR Tel: 01675 470301 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.thebelfry.com
TESTERS JAMES RIDYARD Age 34 HCP Pro Our pro doesn’t change his gear too often; is his eight-year-old putter about to be replaced?
Clockwise from right Testers were given plenty of time to iron out stroke glitches; all the main putter makers supplied a range of their latest products; and Odyssey assessed by pro James and Jon.
PAul MCGlInCHEY Age 38 HCP 5 An aerospace engineer, Paul’s technical feedback was outstanding. Jon GREAtHEAD Age 29 HCP 8 From short distances he’s no Crenshaw, so our man was looking for help inside six feet.
tHE AnnuAl PuttERS
test is something we all look forward to at TG, and this year is no different. No matter how good the rest of your game is, if you don’t have a putter you feel comfortable and confident with, your score will suffer. Fortunately for us, this fact is not lost on the major golf gear brands. From knife-like blades to cattle-brand lookalike mallets, their putter lines have continued to expand to cater for every kind of stroke and visual preference possible. We called in 50 different models from our usual stock of equipment manufacturers, and 36 made it into the magazine. Here’s how we did it. Methodology As in previous years, we divided the Test into three categories of putter – blade, mid-mallet and mallet. We did our best to place the supplied putters into one of these three, but there were inevitably some crossovers. We decided that the blade category would be full of genuine, traditional blades – anything slightly larger would be placed into mid-mallet. Largerheaded putters were selected for the mallet section, although there were some in there that were considerably smaller than others. Mizuno’s MPT
105, for instance, was the most compact in that section, but as it was the brand’s largest headed putter, it went into mallets. As previously stipulated, we took the top 12 putters in each category and published the results in the magazine. Why the different categories? Long gone are the days when equipment manufacturers simply made two or three designs of blades to offer to consumers. With the improvement in innovation development in recent years, engineers have been able to make putters more forgiving by moving weight to the extremities and increasing the MOI. This means that the club is more resistant to twisting at impact, which should give golfers better results. While some blades are more forgiving than others, the real change in shape comes in the form of the midmallet section and the mallets category. The putters in the latter division, for the most part, boasted a sizeable footprint and some had changeable weights to give golfers a different feel at impact. The midmallet section was full of putters that were a little larger than the blades, but not overly muscular.
distance testst After sifting through hundreds of TG Test applications, we asked three readers to come and join our two-man equipment team and trusty PGA Pro James Ridyard at The Belfry to test the putters. Each tester was given plenty of time to warm up with each flatstick, and then we asked them to putt to a hole six feet away. We believe that this is the sort of length putt that costs you in the final analysis, so it made for a good barometer of how the putter performed. The number of putts holed (out of five) was recorded. We then asked the testers to lag five putts from a distance of 25 feet. The number of balls that finished within half a putter’s length was then recorded. Each tester used the same threepiece premium golf balls which ensured a level of consistency. conditions and venue We tested the putters over two intense days at The Belfry’s PGA National Academy, on the fabulous practice putting green there. We were somewhat blessed with fine conditions on both days. Each tester was asked to putt to the same hole for each putter, in order to ensure consistency.
DAvID ConnoR Age 31 HCP 10 Putting is Dave’s Achilles heel. He was eager to find a wand to end his suffering. RICHARD PARkER Age 31 HCP 15 Our man knew what he wanted from a putter. But would he find it during the test? AnDREw PICkEn Age 52 HCP 20 With an old school blade in the bag, Andrew wanted to test the latest technology.
RATINGS Beside our two length categories, we asked testers to supply marks out of five for looks, feel and confidence. We averaged these five scores from the test team to give us an overall mark. This was our tightest test in terms of final scores, so the 12 that made each category were all fine products.
★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★
Must Buy Very Good Good Average Avoid
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LEARNING TOUR TIPs
SWEDE STRIKE ADVICE
the posture angles you set at address into impact will help you strike the ball consistently well, something which Noren is prolific at.
Brilliant ball-striker Alex Noren reveals and shares his favourite iron-play drills
RegaRded by many as
one of the best ball-strikers on the European Tour, Alex Noren is already a proven winner on the circuit. The Swede has three wins to his name at the tender age of 29, finished 14th in last year’s Race to Dubai and under the guidance of coach Pete Cowen is sure to challenge in future Majors. And he could even break his country’s Major duck, providing Peter Hanson doesn’t get their first. Noren is the first to admit he’s very technical and works very hard on the finer points of his swing, trying as many different drills as possible on the range to ensure it is absolutely right. "I know I use a lot of drills but they’re all designed to help me get as specific as possible. Having a drill for every move you want in your swing provides a feeling and a sign of how the body responds to that feeling straight away.” One of Noren’s main focuses is on swing plane, which is so important when trying to hit the ball powerfully and accurately. “I would say that every player struggles with being either over the plane or under the plane. I’ve always tended to be under it, which leads to the occasional hook. So I’m always working on getting back on it, creating a good strike and divot after the ball. In my swing, I’m almost trying to feel a little bit of a fade but the ball doesn’t actually fade, it goes straight or draws slightly.” Here, Noren showcases his favourite drills that you can try to improve your swing plane and iron shots. is su e 297 ❘ Todaysg olfer .co.u k
A sign of a B good strike with an iron is when the divot appears after the ball, pointing down the target line . This signifies a correct downward strike.
1. practiSe with caneS With the canes, you get the feedback you need. Place one on the ground parallel to your target and another just inside the ball on your shaft plane at address. Swing back and through trying to keep your club above it. If you swing under plane youâ€™ll strike the cane. Once you get the club moving on the right path the body will usually follow.
2. glove drill With an iron, your left arm needs to stay in position and not get away from the body. This helps the club come out in front of the body a bit more, not getting trapped behind you. It also enhances the connection between your arms and body. As a drill, I like to place a glove under my left armpit and hit balls keeping it in place.
3. Special delivery Amateur golfers think, I know I certainly did in my younger days, that to hit a draw you need to come in to the ball under the plane with the face turning over. But you can still hit a draw with the club onplane. Delivering the club with the shaft parallel to your target out in front of you will reduce your dispersion figures considerably.
4. downward hit The most important aspect of the strike with an iron, once the club is being delivered on plane, is that the clubhead is descending as it strikes the ball. This is a great picture that highlights how the shaft leans forward at impact with the hands ahead of the ball and my weight on my front leg. Notice how my right heel is lifting off the floor.
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£10 to £20
This James Braid heathland track provides stunning views and a tough challenge ➔
Par 66, 5,020 yards.
This little gem is the third highest course in Britain and as a result is right up there among the most scenic tracks around. However, the exquisite views provided by the wonderfully rugged, hilly terrain means it is also open and exposed to the elements so when the wind is blowing, this short rollercoaster of a James Braid
heathland track can turn pretty nasty. It is totally natural and raw – players share the course with grazing sheep – and it can be quirky in the extreme. This up-and-down encounter starts and finishes with par 3s and in fact the opening three holes are all par 3s! But the combination of the elements, undulating terrain, sloping lies and several raised
£30 to £40
greens confirm Church Stretton is no stroll in the park. And, if you’re not as fit as a fiddle or a mountain goat, buggies are available. THE FACTS Location: Half-a-mile west of Church Stretton, Shropshire. Green fees: Mon-Fri £20; Sat-Sun £30. 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Fri £10; Sat-Sun £15. Contact: 01694 722281.
Par 72, 6,675 yards. This impressive De Vere stay-and-play
venue is frequented by a host of golf-loving North West-based Premier League footballers. Architect Dave Thomas is rightly proud of his Cheshire parkland creation. Many fairways are lined by mature oak and beech trees, particularly on the more demanding back nine with the par-4 penultimate hole being the toughest of the lot. THE FACTS Location: North of Macclesfield, Cheshire, off A538. Green fees: £60 (£30 after 4pm). 2-FORE!-1:Mon-Fri £30. Contact: 01625 822151. £10 to £20
THORNBURY GOLF CENTRE
Par 71, 5,954 yards. Modern golf centre with a challenging main course, 18-hole par-3 layout, good practice facilities and upgraded on-site lodge accommodation. The Marlwood course sits high above the Severn Estuary with stunning views across to Wales and the Cotswolds. Star hole is the par-4 17th, the fairway guarded by two lakes. THE FACTS Location: 10 miles north of Bristol, off A38. Green fees: Mon-Fri £24; Sat-Sun £28. 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Fri £12 and after midday at weekends £14. Contact: 01454 281144.
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£20 to £30
CELTIC mANOR ROmAN ROAD
2010 Ryder Cup venue’s eldest layout is well-worthy of its own headlines ➔
Par 70, 6,481 yards.
It may have been overshadowed by neighbouring Ryder Cup-staging Twenty Ten Course in recent times, but the Roman Road remains an outstanding layout in its own right. After all, the Robert Trent Jones Snr creation did set the Celtic Manor ball rolling in 1995 and has hosted a number of prestigious events itself,
including the Wales Open between 2005-07 and two star-studded All Star Cups. The venue’s senior track boasts expansive, undulating fairways and though there’s not much water around, there are plenty of strategically-placed bunkers to negotiate. One slight change this season sees the par-3 13th hole - which ran alongside the Resort Hotel
- being taken out of play and replaced by a replacement downhill par 3 which has become the 7th hole on the revised layout. THE FACTS Location: Outskirts of Newport just off jct 24 of M4, five minutess from the Severn Bridge in South Wales. Green fees: £58. 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Thurs £29. Contact: 01633 410262.
mUSSELBURGH OLD LINKS
Par 36, 2,734 yards. Significant changes have taken place at this nine-holer regarded as the world’s oldest course. The Old Links, which staged six Opens between 1874 and 1889, has received a new 1st tee, transforming the opening hole from a straightforward par 3 to a 240-yard monster! A new 9th green means a left dog-leg finish. THE FACTS Location: 7 miles east of Edinburgh. Green fees: Mon-Fri £12.40 for 9 holes & £24.80 for 18; Sat-Sun £13.40/£26.80. 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Fri £6.20 for 9 holes, £12.40 for 18. Contact: 0131 665 6981.
£10 to £20
Par 67, 5,213 yards.
Short, quirky links/parkland layout with a pair of absolutely gorgeous par 3s – the 10th and 15th. Both are played from elevated tees to greens perched beyond a lake and clifftop chasm respectively. Some of the parkland holes are bland but Seahouses is good-value holiday golf. THE FACTS Location: 14 miles north of Alnwick, Northumberland. Green fees: Mon-Fri £25 a round & £36 a day; Sat-Sun £32/£44. 2-FORE!-1: Mon-Fri £18; Sat £22. Contact: 01665 720794. Todaysg olfer .co.u k ❘ is su e 297
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Sun and sea make for an irresistible combination around the capital THE LISBON COAST offers golfers a more authentic Portuguese experience and a differing style of golf to the Algarve. Two of the leading courses in the area offer very different, but equally enjoyable, challenges. Oitavos Dunes was ranked 68th in the world and the second best course on mainland Europe by America’s ‘Golf’ magazine in September 2011 and hosted the European Tour’s Estoril Open in 2008 and 2009. This links and woodland layout offers fantastic variety and views as the welldesigned holes meander between some magnificent sand dunes. But it is the short holes that are the shining stars – the venue boasts five of the best par 3s in Europe. Penha Longa is among the top 30 courses in Europe and hosted the Estoril Open in 2010. The lush course winds up and down the foothills of the Sintra Mountains with many elevated tees and greens and some beautiful historic ruins. Lisbon's climate sees averages of 15°C during winter and around 20°C from May to October, though Atlantic sea breezes mean it’s rarely too hot to play. And being based in the capital there are plenty of off-course activities too. Lisbon has stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower), top football teams (Benfica and Sporting) and great seafood.
Beautiful beast Oitavos Dunes' par-3 14th hole plays across protected ground.
Lisbon fact fiLe Green fees: Penha Longa €97 (£79); Oitavos Dunes €130 (£106). Useful info: oitavosdunes.com or 00351 21 486 0600; penhalonga.com or 00351 21 924 9011. Give it a try: Three nights’ B&B at Hotel Cascais Miragem and three rounds of golf (one each at Penha Longa, Oitavos and Quinta da Marinha) from £409pp between September 1 and October 31. To book visit yourgolftravel.com Todaysg olfer .co.u k ❘ is su e 297