Friday, 5 April 2019

The Curtain Falls

Welcome to another offering from this humble blog. As I write this there is a degree of sadness attached to it but also a feeling of positivity for the future? Confused? Don't panic all is about to be revealed so leave that mouse alone and don't wander elsewhere into cyberspace until you've read this.

The Three Off The Tee blog started way back on 1st January 2010. I was genuinely shocked too when I looked at that and like you faithful reader wondered how one man can get away with writing so much rubbish about hitting a small white ball around a big field. This is where it all began (The Year Of The Homer) and it was suppose to document my journey of golf improvement towards a single figure handicap nirvana.

As the years wandered by that dream came tantalisingly close with a golden spell that saw the handicap tumble down to 9. something and single figures was within my grasp. Instead of soaring with eagles I floundered with turkeys and since then it has been in a yo-yo effect, going as high as 15 when single figure dreams became a running joke and back down to the realms of 11 or 12 where you could see the light at the end of the world.

That was all it was suppose to be. A blog providing the reader with a (hopefully) light hearted update on the ups and downs of my progress. Then it broadened as different thing and more and more opportunities presented themselves. I got involved in doing some work for Golf Monthly, editing a page that appeared each month in their magazine. I played in their centenary competition and qualified through the regional events to the grand final at the Forest of Arden and came second overall, losing on countback.

I was able to play more and more courses, writing more editorial style pieces, started doing product reviews and then the world of Youtube arrived and I started a sister Youtube channel also called Three Off The Tee (which you can check out and subscribe to here - The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel) which again opened up more and more opportunities. Granted there were still the "Quest For Single Figures" updates but it has felt for a long time now as though the blog has been lacking direction and has felt tired and jaded. If I have felt that I dread to think how it's come over to you the long suffering reader.

As a result and with a sense of regret, this will be my last offering on here. Google have made some changes behind the scenes which have affected some of creativity and features of the blog which is a huge pain and I just feel it's time for a fresh start.

Thank you for your kind support and loyalty on here over the years. I hope to see you over on the new shiny blog
View From The 19th very soon
Consequently I have already got a new, far more vibrant blog up and running and I'd love you to click this link and come over. Grab yourself a sausage roll and a drink and enjoy "The View From The 19th" - The View From The 19th - A shiny new blog!!

As you'll see it's written by a golfer for golfers. I really want to make it far more interactive and really want you the reader to get involved with comments on the blog and via my social media (details on the new blog). I want to involve more of you in my Youtube channel and hopefully in some product reviews and more. I want to come to some of your courses (probably UK based for now) and film the "Three Hole Challenge" where we'll play a par 3, par 4 and par 5 for £5 and get it all on camera. If you'd be interested (and I'm sure some of my golfing pals at Royal Ascot and places like Caversham Heath would relish taking cash from me) then get in touch. If there is anything you'd like to see featured let me know

As it is a more general golfing blog, although "The Quest For Single Figures" remains a driving force in all of my golfing exploits I'll be doing more feature pieces based on the experiences of a club golfer and talking about stuff from the wider world of golf. Again if you agree or disagree with what I put down, let me know. Lets get this going as a place to chat about golf. There are some great product reviews coming soon (once it stops raining every time I set a video camera up) and we'll be kicking off with the Visio putting mat and gates (Visio putting mat and Visio putting gates)

Let me close by thanking each and every one of you that has read any of my ramblings over the years and I hope you'll take the opportunity to come over to the new version, click on some of the links and read the posts I've already put up. I look forward to seeing you there soon. Thanks once again and goodbye from here.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Peaked Too Soon?

Hello one and all wherever you are. I hope 2019 has started well for you and that you've managed to somehow scratch that golfing itch to some degree so far. Thank you to everyone that read my last blog regarding the Three Off The Tee Youtube channel (if you missed out there's a chance to get with the programme and read it here The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel Blog) and if you have watched any of the videos and more importantly, subscribed to the channel then a huge thanks. There will be a very brief update video coming soon with my aims for the channel in 2019, an idea of the type of content coming this year and hopefully a chance to get you involved. Having got that brief plug out of the way early doors, let me proceed to to the heart of the matter and address the title of the blog. Have I peaked too soon?

If you have read any of my recent blogs (thank you) or follow me on social media (Twitter - @hackergolfer, Facebook - Martin Bedborough and Instagram - hackergolfer) then you may be aware that since December I have been playing some steady golf which has continued into the new year. I managed a third place in Royal Ascot Golf Club's new year competition (open to both the men and women) on 5th January, which was a non-qualifying event for handicap purposes, have had a few pick ups in various roll up events and was down to play in the January monthly stableford on the 12th, off the yellow tees and which was a handicap qualifier.

What I have also done, is cut down on my practice, restricting my visits to the range to maybe once a week, but there have been weeks where I've not gone and hit balls at all. I'm listening to the words of some wise old heads at the club that say I simply need to get out and play more often. Now, up to a point I agree. However my focus has changed and I want to dedicate a large proportion of my practice once we can get back to the club in the evening, to the short game. I have actually been pitching well and chipping better than expected off the wet, muddy winter conditions but I want to work really hard on distance control, improve my chipping and bunker play and really knuckle down to improving the putting. With regards to the putting, my lovely wife treated me to a Visio putting mat (Putting Mat - 12 degrees) and the Visio putting gate pack (Visio Putting Gates). I've been using these indoors already and although it's early days, initial signs are positive. I will be reviewing both products for the Youtube channel in due course. The bottom line is, improving the short game and putting seems to be a long term solution to making better scores, even when ball striking is off.

Visio Putting Gate Pack

Visio Putting Mat
So, having typed all that and wasted thirty seconds of your life reading it, I decided to hit the range on the Monday (7th) and hit some balls. I wasn't trying to change anything per se and merely wanted to keep the swing and tempo ticking over. Nothing wrong in my golfing mind. What happened next was a disaster. We all know that you should stretch, warm up and begin by hitting a few short pitch shots. I did parts one and two but when it came to putting club on ball, I proceeded to shank (yes I said the dreaded word) every pitch. Deep breath, relax and pull a wedge and hit a few easy full shots. Socket, right and repeat. Five minute time out, check basics and pull a nine iron. Socket, right and repeat. Basically bar perhaps ten balls, everyone was a socket rocket to the extent I left a lot of balls in the basket and exited home in a grumpy mood.

The dreaded socket rocket otherwise known as the shanks
All the confidence exuded from playing so well evaporated in a twenty minute ball thrashing frenzy. I tried so hard to slow it all down, check basics, rehearse and execute to no avail. So what to do next. Nothing for it but to get back on the horse so I went back on Wednesday and managed to find something and I hit it half decently. Instead of leaving well alone, I went back on the Friday. Back to the socket rockets with a mixture of good ones chucked in to really scramble the head. No worries thought I. Hit the practice ground before I go out, hit twenty balls, relax and go and play. That would be too easy and no, back came the rights. Perfect and with only twenty minutes until I tee off. The competition was off the yellow tees and so the first shot would be about 160 yards to the opening par 3. A perfect scenario to someone incapable of hitting irons straight.

Let me simply say my opening tee shot was a combination of prayer, clenched buttock cheeks, a swing designed to try and find any part of the face except the hosel, and using more club than usually required. Somehow it went forward. Not a solid strike (a pattern would emerge) and not a technically sound swing but it found the back of the green and allowed me to two putt for an opening par.

I'm not really sure how to put into words what played out other than I took the old adage "it's not how, it's how many" to stratospheric new heights. While the driver wasn't on fire it didn't put me in too much trouble. However it was the irons where the issues lay. I don't know if you've been afflicted by the shanks, but it is really hard mentally and the worry over each shot is where will it go. Given my pitch shots had been affected it bled down into those shots on the course.

How then did I manager to play the front nine in two over par gross. I really, honestly, truly didn't feel like I hit a single iron or pitch shot well. I wasn't swinging with any conviction or freedom, less I hit the hosel. Granted I made some good putts and my new Odyssey Red O-work two ball fang putter (why do Odyssey give them such funky names?) was doing the business.
My new putter was on fire. I've been putting well since I got it. Long may that continue
The trend continued on the back nine. I was playing ugly but this was definitely my day. Even when I couldn't manage to find a green, I contrived a way to get the ball close. The back nine at Royal Ascot definitely plays harder in my opinion and so to play that in five over gross for a grand total of 77 gross (+7) and a massive 44 stableford points was beyond my wildest expectations even on a good ball striking day. Granted there were times when I rode my luck on the back nine, none more so than my drive at the last which I carved right but it managed to miss the out of bounds, land under a tree but still give me a back swing to progress it down the fairway. I bailed out left to take out the pond that lurks short and right and then played a sublime pitch stone dead to salvage a six. That had been what it was like all round.

February 2019 Statistics

Unsurprisingly, 44 points was enough to take division 2 of the competition by a decent margin. The good news is it should qualify me for the end of season "Masters" event for all division winners in monthly stableford and medal events as well as those winning other main club competitions (Captain's Day etc). That'll be the third year running now I've been in it so I am definitely doing something right each season. The even better news was I got a massive handicap cut from a starting position of 14.5 down to a new mark of 12.4 so I am now officially off 12. That was my goal for the season so I can't help feeling I've gone too soon, although it's tempered by the knowledge one bad round pushes it back to 13 again. All in all then a grand day out you'd think.

And here dear reader is the nub of the post. Fantastic that I won, even better that after ages the handicap is on the move the right way. Dare I even mention "The Quest For Single Figures?" However and this is where I think people will take issue, it really feels in many ways a hollow win from a personal perspective, I absolutely hated the way I hit the ball from start to finish and took no satisfaction over the quality of my golf. I had some luck, made some putts that on other days wouldn't have gone in and in my golfing heart feel I got lucky. I have played far better golf for far less return.

I posted on social media once the results were confirmed that golf is stupid and it really is. I basically spent the whole round trying not to his a hosel. That was the limitation of my thinking over the ball, so no focus on the shot, what I was trying to achieve and how I was going to swing the club to get the desired shot. My mind definitely wasn't clear, just the normal thought process had shifted to the anti-shank. Not really something I recommend going forward.

In the end though, I have to be in the glass half full (if not full up) camp. A massive cut and a win is always welcome irrespective of how you achieve it and while it was definitely "my day" it's nice when that happens. We all have far too many days where you know the golfing gods are yanking your chain. As always, as is my golfing DNA, maybe I'm being way too hard on myself and in the end found a solution to a problem. I went out on the Sunday with the normal roll up and simply swung and guess what, not a sniff of a shank. Suffice to say I'm giving driving ranges a wide berth for now.

Thanks as always for reading another opus and your continued support. As I've mentioned, don't forget my Youtube channel (Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel) and if you'd like to get involved filming an on course vlog or help with product testing, please let me know. Don't forget to subscribe if you haven't done so already as it really makes a difference.

So then a rather eventful start to the year. I definitely think I'll feel the three shot pinch for a while but if I ever want to make it to single figures I need to get use to playing off 12 and then go lower again. I definitely feel engaged and ready for the warmer weather and see where I go and I hope you join me on the journey. I think it'll be a good one. See you for the next instalment soon.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel

As you may or may not be aware, there is a Youtube channel that runs alongside this blog, imaginatively also called Three Off The Tee. If you've never seen it, have forgotten about it or just need reminding of where it is, please click on this link to go straight there: The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel

So why am I mentioning it? Well there are several reasons. Firstly, I need your help to grow the channel. Once I can get to 300+ subscribers I can start bringing more varied and interesting content, and plan to include as many subscribers in this as I can. It also gives me a chance to offer better prizes to lucky subscribers. It's free to subscribe so I politely implore you (nay beg) to go ahead and do so now if you haven't already done so. Once I hit that 300 mark I'm going to give away a decent prize and as they say "you've got to be in it to win it". I'd love to get more folk from my home club, Royal Ascot involved too, so if you read this (and I know some of you do), subscribe to channel as well for a chance to get yourself and your golf game immortalised on film for the world to see.

Secondly, I'd like to get more involved with our contributors and golf companies, either here, via Youtube and on social media. I really enjoy doing the product reviews and giving a mid-handicapper opinion on the equipment which is unbiased, has no gadgets or gizmo's and is just me using the gear for three holes on the course and coming back and giving a straight forward opinion on what I thought. If there are any up and coming golf companies, established names in the golfing equipment market, or individuals that would like to work on me on any golf related project, please contact me here, on my Youtube channel or via Twitter at @hackergolfer

If you want a chance to see my reviews, please feel free to click on any of them from 2018 and beyond. To make it easy, I've included a link where you can see all the reviews to date (Review Playlist). I want to grow the channel this year and need the help of those in the industry as well as those that watch the videos and read the blogs. The bigger I can make the channel, the more opportunities I can give to subscribers to get involved. It becomes a win-win.

Finally, and as it's the new year it gives me a chance to bring to you my top five videos from 2018 for you to enjoy. Its been a tricky job to try and whittle it down as I've been really lucky last year to get involved in a number of different events as well as having the opportunity to do some equipment reviews. Here are my favourites of the past year.

1) Avril's Dream Charity Golf Day (when a Golfhacker met the King of the Jungle)
I had the chance to play in a charity golf day as part of Team Golfhacker, with the editor Nick Kevern, equipment editor, William Murfitt and Mark Sapsford who answered and 11th hour call to make the side up. Aside from raising money for a great charity that grants wishes to children with life changing or terminal illness, I had the chance to chat with now King Of The Jungle, Harry Redknapp. Check that out and watch for a great video bomb, and watch how Team GolfHacker got on (or didn't) as we tackled a tricky Chigwell Golf course

Avril's Dream Charity Golf Day Video

King of The Jungle - Harry Redknapp (he features highly on my video favourites for 2018). Lovely man.
2) Ryder Cup Round Table
Sometimes you are given a rare opportunity in golf to participate in something unique. This was one such occasion as Golfhacker magazine was given unique access to a round table discussion with four players who have all played in the Ryder Cup. These included Ryder Cup legend and winning captain, Ian Woosnam, two Frenchmen, Thomas Levet and Jean Van De Velde and Englishman Peter Baker who was a rookie in the 1993 event and scored three points (two wins partnering Woosnam and a singles win against Corey Pavin). This video shows the discussion in full so it is long (about 43 minutes) but is a fascinating watch as the four discuss the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris, Tiger Woods and future Ryder Cup captains. It's an interesting discussion, even more so as they were only scheduled to talk for ten minutes and something that I'll not get to film again

Ryder Cup Legends Round Table Discussion Video

3) The British Par 3 Championships
Again I was lucky enough to be invited to the last day of the British Par 3 Championship at Nailcote Hall in Cheshire. It's a fantastic event where a host of celebrities and former professional golfers take on a testing par three course. I managed to film two pieces, one of which I hope captures the flavour of the day and the other shows me asking some quick fire questions to some of the celebrities taking part. I really enjoyed the whole day and plan to be back in 2019 to cover far more of the even

The British Par 3 Championship - A Flavour of the Event
The British Par 3 Championship - Celebrity Interviews

4) Linear Short Game
I have written on here a number of times about the linear short game method. If you type "Linear" into the search button it'll bring up everything I've written about it (and there's a lot!!!) but in essence it's a method of playing pitch shots, bunker shots and chipping around the greens as devised and promoted by one of the top UK coaches Gary Smith and which uses the bounce of the club to give a wider margin of error and more control. It's set up and the position of the club takes some getting use to, especially in bunkers but it really does work and has made a difference to my game. In 2018 I did several videos on the subject. Here I've included my mid-handicapper take on the method to show the basic set up for each type of shot.

I have also included a scramble test. If you don't know what this is, it's nine holes and if I hit a green in regulation I have to drop the ball off the green and try and get up and down and if I miss the green in regulation I carry on as it lies and again try to make an up and down. It is a way of working on improving the short game in a real time environment and so adds a degree of pressure you don't get from block practice. The idea is to get up and down (under par) as many times as you can. A chip and two putts counts as par and anything more is over par. Keep watching as there is a surprise on one hole!

Linear Short Game - A Mid-Handicapper Demonstration
Linear Method - Scramble Test

5) 'Arry and Vicki
To finish, I've included some off course footage of Harry Redknapp and actress Vicki Michelle taken from the evening entertainment at the Avril's Dream charity golf day. If you watched Harry get crowned King of The Jungle you'll already know he's got a fantastic sense of humour. This catches him talking football (it was the day after England lost the world cup semi-final) and its totally off the cuff. Be aware there is some strong language. There is no doubt he has a definite career as a stand up comic waiting for him.

'Arry and Michelle - Avril's Dream Charity Golf Day

I hope you enjoy these videos. Please give me feedback either in the comments section of the Youtube video (and please thumbs up the video and Youtube loves those) or on here and let me know what you liked. If there are any topics you'd like me to cover or you have any ideas let me know. Also comment and let me know if you want to feature in a video at some point in 2019. I'd love to do more course vlogs and get more of you involved. Similarly I'd like to offer you a chance to take part in more product reviews. It would really mean a lot to get to 300+ subscribers and I've a number of ideas in mind for 2019 content and really want others to be involved.

In the meantime happy new year and hope you have a great year on the fairways. Keep reading and supporting the blog and the Youtube channel and hopefully our paths can cross at some point. Here's to a great season and all our handicaps reducing.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

A Nod Backwards And Looking Forward

Happy new year. I'm back after a longer sabbatical than I'd planned but hopefully here to make up for lost time. As far as golf goes, there has been, very, very little to report as I simply haven't played. My last competitive round was on the 3rd November where I managed a pleasing second place in division two of the monthly stableford. Since then I've managed to find a decent bit of form. I took the money in a roll up over the Christmas break and had a couple of second places and all in all have managed to play some decent golf despite not feeling I'm swinging the club very well. Granted the majority of these have come off the yellow tees but with no roll and muddy lies around the greens, scoring still hasn't been easy so I'm hoping to take this late surge of form into 2019.

Is it just me or has the last few months of 2018 seemed to have flown past? It doesn't seem too long ago we were playing on baked courses under an azure blue sky, and then autumn seemed to come and go, the clocks changed and we were in winter. For me that period between the clocks changing and the end of January is always a source of frustration. I can't get to the club to work on my game and any meaningful practice is either a range session or means giving up a playing opportunity to give a part of my game some work. I have been trying to resist this as I wanted to play far more and practice less and only when the game absolutely required it. As you will have already read, even that simple plan hasn't quite gone as expected.



It has become a sort of blog tradition of mine to recap on my golfing year, perhaps pick out a few highlights and look ahead to 2019 and my hopes for a new golfing year. I have to be honest, 2018 was an eventful year golfing wise. I got to play some lovely courses, had some fantastic opportunities come up and of course there was the epic "Quest For Single Figures".

Let me start with the "Quest". As one of the resident wags at my home club refers to it (yes Mick Mills I mean you) the search continues. If you have stumbled across this blog and a) are still with me (thank you and well done) and b) have no idea what I'm talking about, The Quest For Single Figures is as it sounds and my attempt to get a single figure golfing handicap. It is something I was close to and did manage to get down to 10 a few years ago. Since then, a number of serious illnesses involving hospital stays, lack of form,  and taking my game down some blind alleys trying to improve has seen the handicap gradually go up and up.

There have been the odd oasis of hope and success in a desert of frustration and 2018 is another case in point. I started the year on a handicap of 14.2 and as I write this it's now 14.5 (so playing off 15). In reality I've gone up a shot even though the handicap has only moved 0.3 shots. I would actually argue that such little movement shows a far greater level of consistency than in preceding years which were blighted by a string of 0.1 rises. There has been success and a win in a monthly stableford as well as several second places. I had a definite summer slump and did return ten consecutive 0.1 returns from 21st July until 22nd September where I had a second place (and 0.6 cut). Since then, it has been far more consistent and I feel I am managing to make better scores even when I'm not playing that well which is something all the better players (and lower handicappers) at my club manage to do.

It's annoying as I've been much happier with my game this year. I've played more golf and practiced less and perhaps that has shown in my performances. I am frustrated that there were a few times when I've let potential wins and handicap cuts slip and either ended up in the buffer or got an increase but all things considered I do feel my game is on an upward curve. I have an action plan in place for the winter months, including a couple of lessons and a lot of work on my putting and short game. Will next year be the year? I really hope so but if I'm honest I'll take moving from 15-12 as a successful starting point.

So what about the rest of my 2018? Well I've been extremely lucky to have done some media work for Golfhacker (Golfhacker's Website) and so a huge thanks to Nick Kevern for his support and assistance. I managed to interview a few of the celebs at this years British Par 3 Championship and had a great day watching some of the play. If you didn't see the videos on my youtube channel you can check them here.

Par 3 Championship - Celebrity Interviews

The flavour of the par 3 championship

I also got to go to the Farmfoods European Senior Masters at the Forest of Arden and for me, perhaps the biggest highlight was getting unique access to a round table conversation about the Ryder Cup in Paris with some former Ryder Cup players including winning captain Ian Woosnam. Listening to Woosie, along with Jean Van De Velde, Thomas Levet and Peter Baker was a joy. We were only scheduled to have ten minutes but as you'll see from the video below they were still talking forty minutes later. It's a long watch but I make no apology. This is the interview in full and as you'll see, they cover not only Europe's great win but the tricky subject of future captains. Well worth a watch over this festive period!

Ryder cup round table interview

I've also been lucky enough to product test some equipment. These have mainly been different makes of golf balls and as always I've given my unbiased opinion as a mid-handicapper. My reviews have no gadgets, no gizmos and no bull. Just me and the product out on the course playing a few holes and coming back with a point of view. These have proved a huge success on my youtube channel and it's an area I'll be looking to expand in 2019. Talking of the channel, I really want to grow this in 2019 and I need your help. If you haven't subscribed, click here and hit the subscribe button (it's free to do). As I get more subscribers I can bring bigger and better content and also try and get some subscribers involved as well.

I've also been lucky enough to play some great courses and meet some great people. We had a great day at Chigwell Golf Club with Team Golfhacker on a charity day raising money for Avril's Dream, a great charity granting wishes to children with long term and life threatening illnesses. I even managed an interview with the King of The Jungle, Harry Redknapp. Check that here

Chigwell charity golf day

Perhaps the best course  played was Liphook which currently sits at number 66 in the new Golf Monthly top 100 UK course listing. It was part of a great day and the annual Golf Monthly Forum Help For Heroes Charity Day. I've already covered the day itself in a previous blog (Help For Heroes Day) but the course was superb as was the welcome we received from Liphook. In fact, the ladies section kindly gave up their usual Tuesday day to give us access to play. A superb gesture and much appreciated. The greens were the best I played on all year by a distance. They were so fast, almost tour speed and far too good for most of the field. I think if I was a member there I'd either be a brilliant putter or a gibbering wreck. There's no middle ground and even a two foot putt was a nerve jangler and it was easy to have four feet back the other way especially if you left yourself on the wrong side of the hole. That said. it's easy to see how it has risen in the Golf Monthly listings and it's a superb venue to play. It's not overly long by modern standards but just asks so many questions about all aspects of the game.

As you can see in this snapshot, there has been some really interesting times in 2018. Where do we go next year? I'm hoping that Nick and I can catch up again at the British Par 3 at Nailcote Hall in Warwickshire. I really enjoyed my debut and would love to get more involved over the whole week. Similarly with the 2019 Ladies British Open at Woburn it would be fantastic to get involved in some coverage for that. Add in the Senior Masters at the Forest of Arden and it could be an interesting few months.

I want to grow the youtube channel and really want to do some collaborations with some other content providers and perhaps do some more work with golf companies reviewing their products. I've a few irons in fires and hopefully will get some positive news in the new year.

As for my game, the aim is simple. Start getting that handicap moving downwards. As I mentioned I have an action plan in mind (weather and health permitting) to put some work in to improve my weak areas. It is no secret if you regularly read my blogs that the short game needs the most work. It is an area I spent a lot of 2018 working on especially my pitching. I feel it has really started to show some positive improvement but my chipping is definitely a negative and holding me back. That is where I aim to spend 80% of any practice in 2019, around the greens working on getting up and down from any lie. I'll also look to work on my bunker play (which I think is better than my handicap level) and
work really hard on my putting. I feel that area in the last few months has fallen away drastically. I need to pick a putter (I've been chopping and changing with alarming regularity) and stick with it. I need to get back to working on holing out well from 2-5 feet but I also want to do a lot more work on starting longer putts on a better line. I'm not convinced I'm finding the centre of the putter face and I'm not sure I start the ball accurately enough.

I'm definitely going to continue with this years plan and play more, practice less. I can see the dividend in that. I am going to do some more work with James Lambdon to improve my thinking process on the course. I wrote about some initial work (The Golf Psych) and it has really made a difference. Way back at the beginning of this blog (when you felt like you still had a life!) I mentioned making better scores when not playing well. In the second half of the year having worked with James, I simply felt much calmer every time I played. Bad shots didn't fry the mind as often as they did, leading to more errors and run of car crash holes. There are still bad holes in there and moments of madness but generally its improving. When I am playing the shot I am visualising much better, going through a clear process and accepting the outcome and moving on. There is a lot more stuff I want to do to improve this side of things and empty my head of any technical thoughts.

James is launching his new website early in 2019 and I urge you to bookmark the page and email to subscribe. It promises to bring a lot of information and help golfers everywhere (Think Clearly Golf Website)

And with that, 2018 gallops into history. I hope your own golfing season has been as busy varied and exciting as mine. Please feel free to let me know in the comments section what you've been up to. I hope you've some great plans for the 2019 season and that in the meantime you and your families have a happy and a healthy new year. Thank you for reading my words of madness in 2018 and hope you'll join me for more blogs this year. In the meantime I hope 2019 gives you everything you want, especially from a golfing perspective.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Product Review - Vice Drive Golf Ball

I’m back and this time it’s another product review. This one is looking at the Vice DRIVE, their two piece offering. As with all my ball reviews, it’s just me as a mid-handicapper straight out of the car, onto the course and playing three holes, a par 3, par 4 and a par 5. No gimmicks, no launch monitors no data. Just me hitting the ball in real conditions and coming back with my honest and totally unbiased opinions. This isn’t my first review of the Vice range and I’ve done a review on their four piece offering, the Pro Plus which you can check out here Vice Pro Plus Blog Review. As always, there was a video review of my on course reactions as I tried it and you can see that here (Vice Pro Plus Youtube Review)

As I’ve already said, this is their two piece ball. I’ve done a video review to accompany this review and now would be a good time to stop, get a drink and watch how I got on. Check the video here (Vice DRIVE Youtube Review). If you made it to the end, a) well done and b) you’ll have a good idea of what I thought but this blog will go into more detail and I’ll give my thoughts on key areas and score each out of ten as well as an overall rating. Before I proceed further, many thanks to Nick Kevern, editor of Golfhacker, a brilliant online magazine (check their website here for the latest magazine and loads more great stuff – Golfhacker Website) for giving me the balls to test. It seems like excellent product placement too with the Golfhacker logo on them, ready for free advertising when I lose them.

Vice are a German company, founded in 2012, and were designed to bring premium golf balls at a cheaper price, and do so by only selling over the internet and directly to the consumer. They offer some fantastic price breaks for buying in bulk. Don't be fooled, cheap doesn't mean poor quality and Vice claim they perform equally if not better than other comparable balls already on the market
Whilst this is their two piece offering, it’s not an entry level ball by any stretch of the imagination and bears no resemblance to some of the cheap two piece balls on the market. Vice say this is designed for players with a low to medium club head speed (so perhaps not ideal for someone that swings as fast as I do, although I am working hard to slow it to a blur). It’s a 368 dimple design and has a surlyn cover that Vice say is resistant to scuffing and marking up.

The Vice Drive Two Piece Ball
I played my home course, Royal Ascot just after a bout of rain, not really enough to make a difference to the fairways which the green staff had worked on after the summer drought but just enough to give the greens a modicum of hold. That said throughout the summer the greens were still relatively receptive to a well struck shot and our greens staff did a brilliant job, on very limited resources to ensure they were some of the best I’ve putted on in 2019 and I’ve played a number of top 100 courses in the UK.

So after all this build up, what did I think? Well I didn’t swing the club perfectly after a stressful day in work and a fraught rush to the course. That said, this is fairly representative of where my game was at that time anyway, I was playing a premium four piece in the firm summer conditions and will switch to a three piece, the AD333 tour, once the colder, wetter weather arrives.

As I stated in the video, this ball actually surprised me. It performed far better than my pre-conceptions when I did my initial introduction and even when I pegged it up on the first hole I filmed. Let me reiterate, as I feel it’s an important point worth repetition, that what you see on the videos, warts and all, including poor swings and shots, are as it happened. I don’t re-shoot any poor or duffed shots and I test the ball exactly as I find it on the course, whatever the lie or position on the hole.

As always, I conclude these reviews breaking the ball and the way it performed into a number of key components and mark each separately out of ten and then give an overall score. Again, this is subjective to how I found they performed and please bear in mind these may not hold true for all standard of golfing standards. Vice do offer a testing pack, which is a two ball sleeve of each ball in their range and so it may be worth investing in one of these and trying the DRIVE (and all their other balls) to make sure it’s the ball for you.

Looks

The DRIVE looked a nice bright colour, and was in marked contrast to the more matte finish that seems to be en vogue from some companies at the moment. The Golfhacker logo was crisp and bright with no blurring around the edges. Vice offer a customisation programme across the range and this example was really impressive. 9/10

Flight

I have used some of the well known two piece balls on the market, in particular the Srixon AD333, especially in winter conditions, as a self-confessed short hitter, and like that ball for the higher flight I get, which in turn means more carry. Perfect when the fairways are wet. I found the DRIVE gave a comparable flight, and while the fairways were still firm, there was an impressive amount of run on landing. 8/10

Control

Now, while it’s one thing to throw a two piece ball onto damp winter greens and expect a level of stop, hitting the Vice DRIVE onto firmer green would provide a sterner test. It actually performed very well and as you’ll have seen I hit a nice chip on the first hole (the par four 10th) that finished stone dead, and when I hit the green on the par three (the 13th at Royal Ascot) it pitched and stopped up very well. I played a few holes off camera, having already filmed a par three and four on our back nine and with pitches and bunker shots there was a level of stop I wouldn’t normally associate with a two-piece ball. 8/10

Durability

Vice have already stated the DRIVE is designed for durability. I didn’t strike the ball particularly well, hit it out of bunkers and generally gave it a thorough going over throughout the back nine. What I found was, and as I mentioned in the video, it stood up to everything very well and there were no discernible marks or scuffs. It was perhaps one of the most durable balls I’ve played with in a long time. 9/10

Feel

This brings me neatly back to the most subjective category of all. How do you mark “feel” as it differs from player to player subjective to the strike put on the shot? All I can really do is compare it to the other balls on the market and again, if we use the Srixon AD333 as a bench mark, then it doesn’t perform any differently in terms of feel. Well struck shots felt soft of the face (but so do range balls if you hit them right) but there wasn’t any discernible click or nasty hard feeling off the putter face. Clearly as a two-piece it’s never going to be the softest ball on the market and it’s not designed or sold that way, but again, it did outweigh my personal pre-conceptions I had. If anything, it felt hardest off the driver but ultimately if that’s going to help lead to a few more yards, that would be a trade-off I’m happy to accept. 8/10

Overall
I called the DRIVE as the Vice entry level ball. It’s so not that in any way at all. It’s a ball designed to be both part of their range as a whole and capable of standing on its own merits. It fits both parts of the criteria well. It definitely ticks a lot of boxes, particularly in terms of durability, which may be a buying decision when you look to purchase new golf balls. As far as a two-piece ball goes, this is right up there with any of the market leaders in my opinion. I’ve spoken already about pre-conceptions and I think we all suffer from this whenever we try new gear. Once I get out there and film any review I try and be as open minded as I can and each and every one are an honest and unbiased opinion on what I really thought.

The DRIVE is a very strong performer in the two-piece sector of the market. I’ve tried several Vice offerings now and as a newcomer (relatively speaking) to the crowded ball market place they’ve really created a place for themselves as well as a growing reputation. The DRIVE performed really well and I was very impressed. In fact, I was so impressed I’m seriously considering buying a few dozen and switching to these as my winter ball of choice. I don’t think you can give a better recommendation than that. 9/10

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Product Review - Taylormade Project (s) Golf Ball

As seems the way these days, there’s never enough time to get around to doing everything on here I want. I’ve a new job which is working me far harder than I envisaged but one I’m really enjoying and I’m still trying to drip the last few weeks of getting to the club after work before the light finally closes in and signals the imminent arrival of Winter.

It seems ages (yes it is I hear you cry) since I reviewed the recent golf ball offering from Taylormade, their Project (s) on my Three Off The Tee youtube channel (check the channel as a whole here Three Off The Tee Youtube channel). You should be familiar by now that whenever I do a product review there is a video you can watch here (Project (s) Video Review) As always with my golf ball reviews, there is no fancy data, no launch monitors, just me as a mid-handicapper straight from the car after work to the course, playing a par 3, par 4 and a par 5 and giving an honest an independent review of what I think.

I hope you check the video out and please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll make sure I respond. To start the review, let’s begin with the technical blurb and hype from Taylormade:

The all-new Project (s) offers an even softer feel while continuing the company's focus on low driver spin and significant driver distance. TaylorMade has designed one golf ball that delivers on the two performance attributes amateur players in this category want most: soft feel AND distance combined in a single product.


The Project (s) uses TaylorMade's high lift 342LDP dimple pattern, which, in combination with the lower backspin construction, reduces drag throughout the golf ball's flight for more distance.
In general, lower compression golf balls travel the shortest distance, but with Project (s), TaylorMade's engineers have solved for soft while maintaining impressive distance. The result is a golf ball that delivers on both distance and feel, allowing for golfers to no longer having to choose between one over the other


The Project (s) ball and box
Eric Loper, Director of R&D Golf Balls, said:  "The new multilayer design incorporates a softer yet resilient dual distance core that maximises distance and enables us to utilise a softer ionomer cover for soft feel and great control. We are eliminating the need for a golfer to choose between distance and feel in this category. The new Project (s) provides both softer feel AND distance." 

TaylorMade Project (s) Golf Ball: Key Features
Dual-Distance Core
Similar to the Project (a) the Dual-Distance Core in the Project (s) decreases the overall compression of the ball for soft feel while maintaining rebound and speed. The Project (s)'s compression is 60, 10 less than the Project (a). The dual distance core is a two-layer system that has a large, low compression inner core that reduces unwanted driver spin and creates great feel. The outer core consists of a softer-resilient polymer that also improves feel and maintains high ball velocities.


Aerodynamic Ionomer Cover
Due to the high COR of the Dual-Distance Core, engineers were able to use a soft ionomer cover that improves feel and control around the green. Compared to the competitive set, the Project (s) has the softest cover which provides more greenside spin and soft feel.


Pricing
TaylorMade's Project (s) golf balls available matt white, matt orange and matt yellow at an RRP of £24.99


So enough of the spiel, what did I think? As I said in the video, I swing the club quickly and definitely fall outside the speed parameters the ball was designed for. That said it did a job. There were elements that surprised, especially off the putter and around the greens where I thought it would struggle but it gave me enough control and there were no issues with the feel off the putter face. When I found the middle of the club face off the tee, I was surprised, if not a little shocked on how far it went.

I have tried other low compression balls and to be fair this was a standout performer compared to others on the market. It’s a growing niche of the ball market and while I don’t think it’s where I’d position myself, there are plenty of golfers out there that would benefit from this sort of ball.

As I’ve mentioned and as I commented on the video, my swing on the day wasn’t as loose and fluid as I’d like but coming straight from work, straight from the car and onto the course is representative of how many of us get a golfing fix in the summer so I think my findings stand up as being representative.

As I've done with other ball reviews I'll finish the review by breaking the Taylormade Project (S) into various categories and giving a final verdict

Looks
The matt white left me fairly ambivalent and while it seems to be a growing trend in the golf ball market, I am fairly traditional and prefer my new golf ball to look bright and shiny on the tee, straight out of the box and waiting for the first hit. I’ve seen the other colours on offer and again they are functional but not my cup of tea. 6/10

Distance
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in other videos and reviews, I am currently in the three piece sector of the market and my preferred ball of choice is the AD333 Tour. Given the unusually hot conditions in the UK this summer, these have given way to four piece premium balls to get as much control as possible as distance wasn’t an issue on baked fairways. Now autumn is here, I need to maximise distance. I was dubious on how the Project (s) would fare but it did surprise me and I did get it out there. On all shots, including irons and wedges, there wasn’t a huge drop off on where I’d normally be distance wise 8/10

Flight
The ball produced a fairly low flight for me. Whether that was the swing I brought to the course on the day or a result of the dimple pattern and aerodynamics Taylormade have put into the design I can’t say. I would suggest it would give a good flight on a blustery Autumnal day and didn’t impact stop and control hitting into greens 7/10

Control
Around and on the green, this ball was far better than my own pre-conceptions on how it would perform and managed to easily exceed my expectations. The ball seemed to stop well coming into greens and when playing chip shots seemed to have a good degree of grab especially my recovery shot on the par five. 8/10

Durability
As always in my reviews I only played three holes with this ball. I had no issues with the durability and if you have seen the video review (Project S video review) you can see that my strike wasn’t always the best and I didn’t always put it in position A but there were no significant scratches or marks after I played the three holes. 8/10

Feel
That subjective word that is so hard to describe or categorise but is normally the first requirement any club golfer asks about whenever a golf ball is discussed. Taylormade are marketing the Project (s) as a soft ball. I’m not sure I go along with that 100% and on certain shots, especially off with the driver in my case, it felt no different to firmer two piece or some three piece balls I’ve hit. Again, there were some iron shots that it felt “soft” such as my approach into the first hole on the video with a wedge from just over 100 yards and others like my second into the par 5 when I caught it flush where it felt much firmer. The way it felt off the club face definitely didn’t put me off it. Did it tick my “feel” box? In truth no, but it definitely didn’t feel horrible. 7/10

Overall
I’ve already been honest and said I came into this review with a few pre-conceived thoughts about this low compression offering and that I didn’t think it was a ball aimed at me. I stand by those. That said, in the growing low compression ball market, this was a standout performer. I managed to get enough out of the ball on the three holes I played to enjoy using it.

As you’ll have seen, it wasn’t a particularly good ball striking round and technically my swing was messy at best. Given that and the fact I perhaps swing too fast to get optimum performance from the Project (s) I got some good distance when I hit it well, didn’t seem to lose too much on the bad ones and was very pleased and surprised with the control on offer around the greens. It performed solidly, and better than I thought and so while my overall mark could be seen as somewhat stingy and unjust, it is brought up on control and durability and let down on overall performance (based on my swing speed) and for me, the looks.

It isn’t a bad ball and I am only giving an honest and unbiased opinion. I strongly urge you to get a sleeve in your local pro shop and give them a go. They are definitely a strong partner for the existing Project (a) ball (which I like very much) and you may find it suits your game far better than it does mine. As a result my overall mark is 7.5/10

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Good Courses, Good Company, Good Cause

Salutations and welcome to another epic blog entry (or not depending on your point of view). Despite the nights drawing in ever quicker now making it impossible to get to the club after work to work on my game and play, I’ve had the opportunity in the last few weeks to play two very enjoyable rounds of golf. on courses rated in the top 100 UK courses.

As many may be aware, I have had a long standing acquaintance with Golf Monthly magazine and especially their internet forum (Golf Monthly Forum). The forum has long been a melting pot and discussion space for all things golf (as well as non-golf) related. Perhaps though, its single greatest triumph though has been its support of the Help For Heroes charity (The Help For Heroes Charity Website).

Before this years event, being held at Liphook Golf Club in Hampshire, the total amount raised was already close to £100,000 and we were certain to break that barrier. A fantastic effort since the initial day held at Luton Hoo in 2010 with a handful of players. Sadly the main driving force, a wonderful man and forum stalwart Rick Garg was tragically taken from us a couple of years ago at no age at all. His presence both on the forum and especially on Help for Heroes day is sorely missed and there is always a hole in proceedings. We do now have the Rick Garg memorial trophy which is awarded annually for services towards the H4H day and the charity. This years winner Robin Hopkins was a close friend of Rick and visibly moved to receive the award.


Golf Monthly editor Mike Harris (left) presents Robin Hopkins with the Rick Garg Memorial Trophy for 2018

Liphook was founded in 1921. Not perhaps the longest course but it places a huge premium on accuracy and thinking as thick heather awaits for any wayward shot. (Liphook Golf Club website) Perhaps the greatest defence though are its greens. Not only is the pace of them some of the quickest around on a regular basis but there are so many subtle breaks and borrows that no putt can be considered truly “in” until the ball actually drops. When you add in undulating fairways and the odd blind tee shot, it really makes for a magical blend. The quality is a real testament to their green keeping staff and the course presented to us on the day was in perfect condition.

As a result, apart from one player in a field of seventy odd, the scoring was challenging for most myself included. I was playing with one of the Battleback guys Rich Cross who Help For Heroes assist to get back into normal life. Rich injured himself in a UK parachute accident, trying to prevent himself crashing into the public crowds when his display went wrong. He’s been virtually rebuilt top to bottom and although there are some ongoing issues he has to deal with for the main he’s able to lead a “normal” life and judging by his early showing including his first drive on the second hole (it was a shotgun start) his golf is coming on.

My group. I'm second left and Rich Cross our Battleback Golfer is on the right
The course was too tough for me on the day along with some very erratic playing but the greens in particular for fiendish and I can imagine playing those on say club championship weekend present the sternest of test. However the day is never about winning. It’s about meeting old friends, new faces and raising as much money for a great cause. We were treated to a great carvery and dessert and then we had returning professional auctioneer Mark Head back yet again to try and prise more money in a charity auction. As always he kindly gave his services free of charge

Golf Monthly editor Mike Harris presented the cheque to Barrie Griffiths, a Beneficiary Ambassador for Help for Heroes. He gave a poignant speech about the charity and how it helped bring him back from a very dark place. It certainly left an impression on everyone in attendance and reinforced just how crucial the work of Help for Heroes is.

 As always it was a marvellous event and on this year has already raised a marvellous £17,500 the current amount raised now stands at well over £110,000 and everyone is eagerly anticipating the announcement of next years event.

The cheque being presented
It’s open to all forum members, so simply register, get involved on the forum regularly and get your name down. That applies to all forum meets that are arranged which brings me neatly onto my other game. The day before Liphook, I travelled the relatively short distance to West Hill Golf Club. As so many travel so far for the H4H day, there is usually a pre-cursor arranged to make it a more viable and enjoyable few days rather than a long drive there and back for one game of golf.

There were around 40 golfers on the day at West Hill. We were blessed with glorious autumn weather and another gorse lined heathland course. It’s another course that has hosted a H4H day (West Hill H4H Day at West Hill - blog report). I was playing with three others, well known activists on the Golf Monthly forum and although we’d enjoyed an online friendship and seen each other at various golf courses up and down the country this was the first time we’d played together. To say it was fun was an understatement. I was partnered with a South African, capable of prodigious length off the tee, but equally capable of hitting the adjoining course or the main rail line into London. Add in his penchant for multi-lingual swearing and the scene was set.

We had a friendly game against the “Scouse Mafia” a Liverpudlian and a staunch Liverpool fan. We lost not helped by my erratic play, my partner unable to always find the course and some more tricky greens that were a perfect rehearsal for those we’d face at Liphook. Again, scoring overall was very mixed and a testament to the challenge West Hill presents. Again it’s not long but needs planning and a steady nerve on the greens.

So, all in all two very enjoyable days of golf in some fantastic company. My own form may have been pretty in and out, but when you are playing great courses in great company, does it really matter? It’s a shame the season is drawing to a close, but with a two day Golf Monthly forum meet already planned for Sunningdale next year, preceded the day before with a round at The Addington (a UK top 100 course) as well as another great H4H day, there’s still loads to look forward to.

Thanks to everyone that played over the two days, but more so to those behind the scenes at Golf Monthly and the forum members who give up huge swathes of their time each year to make sure each years event goes off perfectly and surpasses the previous year. There are far too many to name individually (although the forum members know who they are). We're really lucky to play some great courses so why not join the forum, get involved and maybe I'll see you at an event in 2019

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Weather Wins Out

As golfers we are constantly looking at the weather. Will it rain? Is it going to be windy? For the most part we’re a fairly robust and hardy bunch and will usually venture out in most conditions, especially if it’s a match or competition. Now I don’t know about you, but having said that, it’s one thing to already be on the course and playing and for the conditions to deteriorate, especially rain, but a totally different scenario knowing a few days in advance it’s going to be pouring before you even get to the club and there’s no sign of it stopping until long after you’ve finished. That takes a different mind-set totally.

I think you can guess what’s coming. We were due to play a friendly club match against Tylney Park at my home club, Royal Ascot. It was the return leg following the first game at Tylney Park at which Royal Ascot took away a 4-2 lead. Sadly, I was one of the two that lost although in my defence my partner on the day had one of those rounds we all know so well and for the most part struggled. That said, he did come in in the early stages and definitely kept us in it or it could all have ended far earlier and in a greater deficit. The weather forecast had said heavy rain throughout the day for a few days before. For once the forecasters were spot on.



Having woken to a leaden sky, the rain soon came and it was almost biblical by the time we convened for brunch. We were introduced to our opposition, Chris Mitchell off 21 and John Weatherley off 12 who had more than a passing to resemblance to the wrestling star of the 1970’s Jacky Pallo complete with trademark ponytail

It was with a heavy heart that I put the waterproofs on in the locker room knowing I wouldn’t be taking them off again until I returned at the end of the round. No point warming up and getting everything wet and the fact the putting green already had a puddle on it didn’t bode well. Things didn’t get better when my partner Harvey Woods and I made a farce of the opening hole to go one down immediately. We got it back and then lost another. I scrambled a half in a double bogey seven at the par five 5th having played three off the tee (a great name for a youtube channel, so go check it out here The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel and PLEASE subscribe while you’re there).

Conditions were horrendous to put it mildly. From the outset every hole had standing water and many greens had puddles. Finding relief from standing water was becoming harder and harder and while scoring wasn’t great, it was a nip and tuck match and played in great spirits. It was a feeling of all in it together and all four of us simply laughed at the absurdity of what faced us, the rubbish we were playing and enjoying the good ones when they came along.

Having got it back to all square at the 7th Harvey made a great half at the eighth for a crucial half and we managed to get our noses in front one up after winning the 9th. I have to be honest I wasn’t relishing another two hours in those conditions. I had wet gloves on both hands and was wringing water out of both before playing each shot. I’d taken the precaution of wearing my waterproof socks (a great idea for Christmas) and these were working overtime but my feet were dry and warm.

As we headed towards the 10th across the car park I was so pleased to see both captains standing at the front door to the club waving us in. Match abandoned as a draw, all scores on the day null and void. I don’t think anyone in our group or across both teams were too distraught at that decision and with the course only going to hold more water a sensible move to protect it, especially the greens. As a result, it was decided the match score from the first game stood and so Royal Ascot got a narrow win.

I’d like to thank my playing partner Harvey, especially for keeping us in it and getting us in front, even in vain, and to both Tylney members Chris and John who were a joy to play with and I’d like the chance of a home and away rematch next year.

Sometimes as our captain Stuart Pearce said in the introductions to the proceedings you have to “man up” but even then, you have to be pragmatic and the decision to call it off was a wise one. It definitely takes a strong mind not to let conditions get the better of you and amongst the rain and the puddles there were some good shots from everyone in our group. There’s definitely a certain madness we golfers have to go out in such conditions to get our golfing fix and represent our clubs. Sometimes the weather may win the battle but as golfers we’ll win the war

Thursday, 11 October 2018

European Senior Masters Pro-Am Day


Last week I had the opportunity to attend the pro-am day at the European Senior Masters at the famous Forest of Arden course in Warwickshire. The Arden Course was designed by Donald Steel and opened in the 1970’s sitting within Lord Aylesford’s vast 10,000 acre estate. It has already played host to seven English Opens and five British Masters and this was the second year of hosting the Senior Masters. I was also fortunate enough to be attending on a media pass courtesy of Golfhacker magazine (Golfhacker Website) and Champions UK plc

As part of that I had managed to get an invite to an exclusive round table interview with former Ryder cup player and winning captain Ian Woosnam, European Senior Masters host and former Ryder Cup hero Peter Baker and two French stars of the European Tour and former Ryder Cup players Jean Van De Velde and Thomas Levet (who was also making his European Seniors debut at this event). Golfhacker was the only magazine invited to what should have been a ten minute series of quick fire questions but which turned into a forty five minute discussion on the recent success in Paris and all things Ryder Cup.

Tournament Logo

I was lucky enough to film it all. It was also filmed by European Tour Productions (who managed to walk through my static camera position several times) and the entire interview is available to watch here. It really is worth a watch, even at forty five minutes long. Check it out here (Ryder Cup GOLD video)

After this unique opportunity drew to a close I wandered to the range and putting green to watch a few of the players warming up before heading to the first tee to watch Woosnam and Baker play (it was a shotgun start) and then wandering around a few holes. I managed to get a few players in action and hope this video captures a little of the flavour of the pro-am day. Watch it here (European Senior Masters - A Flavour Of The Day)

As I wandered around the course, it brought back mixed memories. I’d played the course back in October 2011 in the Golf Monthly Centenary Final which was a national event. I qualified at St Pierre in Chepstow and the final was around the Arden course being played by the professionals this week. I say mixed memories as I really enjoyed the course and the setting, played nice and steady and while I won the handicap section, I came second overall and lost on last six count back. If you never read my round up you can do here (Fine Margins Blog).

My tee shot on the 18th at the Forest of Arden in the Golf Monthly Centenary Final
I had a wonderful day covering the event. The organisers were brilliant, the players approachable and the media pass opened up a few opportunities for forthcoming collaborations on Youtube. If you don’t already subscribe, please go over to my channel now (Three Off The Tee youtube channel). 
Once I hit 300 subscribers I’ve a giveaway coming and as I alluded to, there are some interesting projects coming up which I hope I can get some of the channel subscribers involved in.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay around for the actual event which ran from Friday to Sunday and was eventually won by Santiago Luna of Spain. He was knocking it nicely in the pro-am and maybe I should have read the signs and invested a few pounds on him winning. I followed the progress via the European Seniors twitter thread and despite a few weather issues it was a marvellous event resulting in a narrow win for Luna.

I know Golfhacker are planning a return visit next year and I hope the Forest of Arden host the event again. It’s a majestic setting and provides a stiff test for the players especially in autumnal conditions. This year Golfhacker got behind the scenes and looked at what the scorers do as they follow each group and worked on one of the main scoreboards. I’m hoping for a similar behind the scenes opportunity next year. Golfhacker is designed for the average golfer. That’s the likes of you and me. It tries not to be fixated on the main European and PGA tours but covers a chunk of the ladies game and especially the seniors, as well as travel and product reviews.

As part of their seniors coverage I’m trying to arrange and exclusive interview with Australian former European tour member (and three time winner) and senior tour member Peter O’Malley. Hopefully we can get this organised and filmed early in the 2019 season so another great reason to subscribe to the channel now. I’ve met him informally at my home club Royal Ascot and he’s good fun to be with and has a whole storybook of tales to tell from his time on tour.

Finally a huge thanks once again to everyone involved making my trip to the pro-am such and enjoyable experience. The Forest of Arden holds so many memories for me and it’s definitely a course I’m keen to play again. If any of the European Senior Masters organisers want to save me a pro-am spot for next year I’m more than happy to put my iffy swing on camera and show it to the crowds. Now that would be fun.

There’s plenty of other great stuff coming up here too including a much overdue review of the Taylormade Project (s) and Vice DRIVE golf balls. I’ve already done the video reviews (watch here Project (s) video review and Vice DRIVE ball review) but as with all my product reviews I also provide a more detailed review here. I’ve an update on my own golf and the “Quest For Single Figures”. I’ve played a couple of interesting courses and a favourite annual event so plenty to chat about. There was also a club match against Tylney Park to discuss which had several “incidents”. Thanks as always for your time in reading my ramblings and I’ll see you for another blog soon.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Ryder Cup Gold


When you are in the presence of a Ryder Cup Legend like Ian Woosnan, and European team members that have been there and done it as Peter Baker, Jean Van De Velde and Thomas Levet have, you have to simply sit and listen to what they have to say about everything connected to the Ryder Cup.

I was incredibly privileged to be invited by Nick Kevern, editor of Golfhacker magazine, Champions UK PLC, the European Senior Tour and European Tour productions to a round table event on pro-am day at the European Senior Masters at the Forest of Arden.

Golfhacker (Golfhacker website) were the only magazine invited. It should only have lasted fifteen minutes, but as you'll see, once these Ryder Cup stalwarts started talking it was difficult to stop them. In fact had the pro-am not been a shotgun at midday I feel they'd have kept going. My camera was fixed but this was being filmed by European Tour Productions so there are times when their cameraman walks through shot but it doesn't detract from the Ryder Cup gold coming from the table. Enjoy this rare and unique insight into the Ryder Cup from the European perspective. It may not make comfortable listening for American viewers but it's an honest and open assessment of the Ryder Cup just gone with these European team members (and winning captain) and gives their own views on what the European team did well compared to the US side and provide a rare insight into a team room.



This was a one off opportunity and I hope the video is an interesting window into all things Ryder Cup. https://youtu.be/JzKbA3Kypew


I'd love to hear any comments you may have about what these four fantastic Ryder Cup golfers have to say. If you have any thoughts please leave them in the comments section and I'll respond. I'd love to hear what you have to say and think about their insights. At the same time, please subscribe to my youtube channel. The more subscribers I get the more opportunities to provide unique content like this.