Long time no blog. Time marches on and there is just the first glimmer of Spring. It didn't feel like it in the stableford last week which was punctuated by heavy, nay torrential showers, a gusty wind and a chill still in the air. It was a combination that made scoring particularly hard. I never really felt in control of my swing all day and never really addressed the ball fully confident. I somehow managed to get it round in a respectable 32 points. Not quite enough to save my handicap from a 0.1 increase but while I may not have owned my swing, the short game was nothing short of a revelation. I have returned to the linear method and with a fresh feeling of confidence my chipping and putting were much improved. A figure of 31% par scrambles is testament to the transformation. In the end it was good enough for a 7th place finish in division one. For the first stableford competition of 2013 it was fantastic to get a top ten finish.
Buoyed by the performance and the fact that the rain due wasn't coming until the afternoon, I went out in the Saturday stableford eager to improve on the stableford showing. In the end the 29 point haul was a cacophony of missed chances, poor course management and a cold putter. The short game wasn't as hot as the previous round. I still didn't feel as though I was swinging it well and the takeaway and back swing in particular felt out of sync. If that was me playing badly then the future looks rosy. I got it round without too many issues and the odd save or putt here and there would have transformed the score.
If I thought I was struggling, spare a thought for my regular partner Mike Stannard. He is in that pit of frustration we've all been in. Nothing is going for him at the moment and he can't find a spark, buy a putt or make a score. He is too good to be struggling for long but with the Jubilee Cup approaching, and the fact we are entered into the Nike matchplay (formerly the Volvo matchplay, a national knock-out played regionally before an area and national final) I am worried about my wing mans form.
However if he, I or you think your game is in a bad place, spare a thought for guy called Colin Chandler. He is blind, with only exceptionally blurred vision in one eye and eight months ago took up golf. With the help of the pro at Reading Golf Club he is finding a way to get it done. What a testament to the power of this great game. Check out this video http://itv.co/YZw4jb
Over at Golf Monthly, my friends there have launched Britain's Best Putter 2013 in association with Odyssey. This begins with clubs hosting their own qualifying event. I have approached my own club at Royal Ascot to see if they want to get involved. http://tinyurl.com/blasbeg
I'm not sure my putter and current forms on the greens would be good enough to get through but I like the concept and it seems like a cheap event to stage, always a plus point for any club in these cash conscious times. It would be a fun thing to stage and give members something different to try and if it can be tied into a big event (Captain's Day etc) it would add an interesting twist to proceedings.
Speaking of Royal Ascot, it has been fantastic to see their recent initiative to encourage more kids to take up the game going from strength to strength. They recently held a free introduction to golf open day for 4-17 year olds. Assistant pro Jamie Whenman, assisted by Junior Organisers Patty Dismore and Tricia Taylor guided a big turn out through some of the basics of the game and have had a huge take up for the Junior Academy. This eight week programme will give the kids hands on experience in a fun environment along with hands on coaching from Jamie.
It is great to see the club getting into this sort of thing. It has to bode well for the future, Catch them young in any sport and you have a great chance of these kids taking the seeds being sown here into adulthood. We need to keep producing players for the future. Not just the future of Royal Ascot but clubs up and down the country.
The Masters gave us the usual share of excitement and this year, a hint of controversy with Tiger Woods being penalised two shots for an illegal drop. In my humble opinion he should have been DQ'd and the ruling the committee used to fudge a resolution wasn't designed for this purpose. I am pretty certain had it been anyone else the result would have been different. Indeed, Aussie tour pro Craig Perks posted this on his Twitter site, quoting a PGA Rules Official pic.twitter.com/DVYZCMMxvz
In the end whether you thought Woods should have gone either by DQ or by taking himself out of the event, the finale was captivating. It was great to see Scott come through especially after the way he lost the Open last year. It was sad to see there was no real British challenge on the last day although had Westwood made some putts on the opening holes could it have been different?
Finally, and keeping with the Masters vibe, check out this great piece from Windlesham Golf Club. They got the juniors to caddie dressed in full Master's like boiler suits. I would love to see that at my club, and could be an ideal way of getting those juniors we have brought through the academy integrated into the club. The more they are welcomed the longer they will stay. Check out the report http://tinyurl.com/cug8uon
A bit of a Heinz 57 for a change. I thought it would be nice to give you a glimpse at what is happening on social media, in different clubs and at the place I call home, Royal Ascot, as well as an update on my own progression. If you like it, or even if you don't, let me know.