Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Product Review - Volvik Vivid Golf Ball

Welcome to another product review. As always these are the thoughts of a mid-handicap golfer and are unbiased by any access to launch monitor data and are my opinions derived entirely from playing the ball.

There is also an accompanying video on the sister youtube channel to this blog, also imaginatively called Three Off The Tee (The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel). Please go over to that to see some footage (and a rocking good tune as the soundtrack to the on course coverage. Check out their Facebook here (Forget The Whale - from three holes at Royal Ascot Golf Club shot in tropical heatwave conditions last Sunday (18th June). I played a par five (the second on the course), par three (the eighth) and a longish par four of 400 yards (the ninth).

You can check out the video review here (Volvik Vivid Ball Review - includes on course testing). As always I'd be immensely grateful if you can subscribe to the channel, thumbs up the video and if you've tried these balls leave a comment about how you found them.

The Volvik Vivid Golf Ball
Now I know these balls have been available in the US for a while now and that Bubba Watson has been using a Volvik on tour (the S4 aimed at higher swing speeds). However they are now only slowly becoming more and more available in driving ranges, club shops and high street retailers over here in England.

So what's the story with these Vivid golf balls. Well the Vivid is just one in a range of Volvik golf balls. They are a Korean based manufacturer and this is their foray into an already crammed golf ball market. There are seven colours in the Vivid range and Volvik are saying they are the world's first matte finished ball. They are a three piece ball and aimed at golfers with slower swing speeds in the 70-90mph category. They claim these balls will give more control in the short game and longer distances off the tee although if I'm being cynical that seems to be the same marketing blurb attached to any new ball released these days.

So what do I think? Well as you'll see in the video I tried the yellow and green incarnations and the first impression is that they live up the name and are certainly vivid even in the matte finish. What I did sense was that the dimples seemed less pronounced than other golf balls and in fact the green one seemed to resemble a table tennis ball at first glance. The yellow one in particular stood out very well and was easy to track in the air and even in the longer grass of the semi-rough. If you're a golfer with eyesight problems it may be that there is a ball in this range that will let you see it better in the air and on the ground. Whether that's a happy by-product of what Volvik are doing or was the intent I'm not sure but they certainly stand out

Of course looks aren't everything as we know with this game. How do they perform I hear you cry. Well to be honest my initial impressions weren't great having utilised the short game area and putting green before going out. Now as you'll be aware, the UK and the south of England has been basking in a heatwave and so the greens were firm. Add in my notoriously consistently inconsistent short game (even utilising the linear method) and I may be doing these balls an initial disservice. There didn't seem to be too much spin imparted and they tended to run out further than I'd anticipated. Add in the variables I mentioned and it was hard to form an objective opinion prior to play

However when putting with them, prior to playing on the course, using the Odyssey O-Works V Line Fang I reviewed recently (O-Works video review) or (O-Work blog review) I found them very dull off the face and very hard to control distance especially on anything in the 10-20 foot range.

You'll see from the video clip (Youtube clip) that my third into the green was a decent enough shot from the semi rough. It was from 154 and even allowing for the hot conditions, the 7 iron I hit seemed to go further. Indeed, the ball landed ten feet short of the green (around the 140 yard mark I usually get for that club) and then ran twenty yards through the green into the back bunker. Had the sand not been there I think there was about another ten yards of roll left so that shot went approximately 165 yards.

Now I know from historic launch monitor data that I have a swing far quicker than the 70-90mph target area Volvik suggest for these Vivid balls (and so often on the cusp of R/S flex in my irons and indeed the I25 I have have been hard stepped as a result) but that is a good distance for a mid handicap 7 iron. Add in to the mix that like the putts before going out, it felt dull (or dead as I say in the video) then it's hard to see where the distance came from. That said, the drives at the first and last of the three holes were both more of a cut than I wanted but both, particularly the last one got good distance off the driver. Now of course there will be added run out from the baked conditions but I was surprised at how well a ball not hit that great (certainly in terms of club path etc) ended up. The only detriment was the dullness off the face

You can't help but notice in the clip that they do seem attracted to sand and I found bunkers on each hole. I played reasonable shots at each but there was little evidence of any spin and they all ran out. That mirrors what I was seeing with pitches and chips on the practice area so I can't say that the Volvik claim of giving more control with these balls held up.

I'm not convinced by the ball at all and definitely in two minds about it. I'm going to keep it in the bag for when we get some softer conditions and see when the greens are more receptive whether I can get any more control over approach shots and the short game and to see whether another putter (my Ping Sigma Wolverine) makes a difference with the firmer insert.

As always with these reviews I'll end by breaking the product into various categories and give a final score.

These balls are definitely strong in the looks department. Vivid by name and very much vivid by nature. Even with a matte finish they are bright. Now as I've already mentioned the dimples don't seem overly pronounced and whether that comes from the finish or is a deliberate manufacturing move by Volvik I don't know. From a short distance away, the green one in particular looked like a small stress ball or table tennis ball and the dimples weren't evident. Even in the picture above taken from the Volvik website itself the dimples are far less discernible. Have a look at comparable coloured Srixon ball and you can see what I mean

Dimples are far more pronounced in this comparison picture of a similar ball. I'm not sure how much the matte finish in the Volvik makes a difference but there is a definitely less pronounced dimple pattern on the Vivid
I like the way the green and yellow versions I tried stood out and if anything preferred the yellow in terms of easiness to follow in flight in bright conditions and certainly against the grass. On the green they seem to stand out against the putter face and I can see how this could inspire confidence over the ball. 7/10

These are clearly designed for golfers with a slower swing speed of mine and Volvik say that it's optimum range is 70-90mph, I am definitely quicker than that. As I've spoken about already though, the distance achieved was noticeable. I do need to either capture some launch monitor data or better still actually pay these in more favourable and receptive conditions and report back. 7/10

Again, Volvik are looking for a medium trajectory from golfers swinging in the optimum speed range. I don't but I did find the ball flying on a rather penetrating and pleasing trajectory. While I prefer a higher flying (and therefore in theory softer stopping) ball this wasn't a bad trajectory at all. Tying this in to the distance and waiting for the inevitable rain in the UK and the course being softened back up a tad I'll be interested to see what results I can get, especially in the crucial scoring zone from 120 yards and in 7/10

Another area in which Volvik make the usual claims that most ball manufacturers make and one that I found hard to reconcile the reality I found on the course, and practice before hand with the claims they made. Certainly in the short game area and on the green where I demand the most from whatever ball I play, I didn't see any check out of sand or around the greens and as I have to keep repeating it's an area that begs repeating in more conducive conditions. However at this time I can only comment on what I felt and observed and this was an area I found the ball lacking in 5/10

Now we come to the most variable and personal of all the characteristics of this ball and I'm aware how subjective this is and so please ensure these comments are my own based on the testing I did and may not correspond to your own experiences.

I didn't enjoy the feel of this ball across any area of the game. I've described the feel as dull or dead and that's exactly how it felt of all of the club faces. The sound even sounded dull and so whether that reinforces this view point is open to argument. It's simply a ball that when it boiled down to it I didn't enjoy hitting and this is something that you can't put down to the dry and warm playing conditions and is something I don't see changing irrespective of how the course may change in different weather. It's an area I find important in picking a ball and never want anything that feels rock hard and pebble like or sounds strong off the face. Even around the short game, I want a ball to give me response through the club face and encourage me that it'll respond as I planned on landing. I didn't get that in any shape with the Vivid 4/10

On the limited testing I did the simple conclusion is that this isn't the ball for me. I liked the colour and to a degree the matte finish and while I didn't pay the ball enough to test durability to any degree there was no significant marking even on the bunker shots. The Volvik Vivid just didn't match what I look for in a ball. I am prepared to repeat the process again in softer conditions but think in most categories the results and overall outcome will stay the same. 6/10

So there you have it. Not a glowing review but I do try and be honest and subjective and have no affiliation to any brand or maker and tailor these reviews as very much an average club golfer with all the limitations my 14 handicap brings.

These balls haven't been in the UK for that long but I know have been out in the US for a while now. I'm interested on hearing your own feedback. Does it correspond to my own or do you think they are a better ball than this review suggests. Please put your comments in the box below or if you watch the youtube video leave a comment there and I'll respond to you.

I hope you enjoyed this and the video version and stick around to the blog and the youtube channel as there is plenty more content coming including some course vlogs and reviews and of course the ongoing "Quest For Single Figures"

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Course Review - Sutton Green Golf Club

Welcome along to another post and another course review. I played at Sutton Green Golf Club in Guildford, Surrey last Saturday (June 10th) in sunny but extremely windy conditions with gusts touching 30mph at times making playing, and playing well a tricky prospect.

If you're a regular reader (and I thank you for your loyalty) you may recall I visited Sutton Green last year to have a short game lesson, using the linear technique, with Gary Smith, a top UK coach and the driving force behind this method of short game play. If you missed the original write up (or need reminding) then this is the review of that lesson (Gary Smith - Linear Lesson). I was mightily impressed with the feel and set up of the place on my fleeting visit and looking out over the course it was somewhere I had been keen to play for a while now.

One of my playing partners actually made the booking, using the TeeOffTimes website (Tee Off Times) and booking in at the professional shop on arrival was a simple and efficient process, brightened by Gary Smith sitting in there enjoying a coffee. He remembered our meeting (not sure that's necessarily a good thing after this length of time) and we had a nice chat about all things linear method. I'd arrived very early for our 1.30 tee time and it was a good job as the A3 was heavily congested in both directions but it did give me time to wander into a well presented clubhouse and enjoy a bite to eat. The menu is fairly standard golf club fare with all the usual favourites. I opted for the sausage sandwich on toasted ciabatta. It was nice although could have been lifted with some fried onions. Never the less, it filled a hole and set me up for the afternoon on the course.

When my playing partners arrived, it transpired he had got the tee time for £28 a head. Now I don't know about anyone else, but that price for a prime time, early afternoon slot in June is very competitive. All it needed now was for the course to be as good as the opening impressions.

We were a three ball and following a rather large society so were resigned to the pace of play being slow. Not a big deal as the sun was out and it was pleasantly warm despite the strong and gusty wind. We were met on the first tee by the club starter, who was very friendly in his approach and gave us an overview of the course, the expected pace of play and a few pointers for the first few holes.

The pleasant clubhouse from the 18th green
The club is still relatively young, having been founded in 1994. The course was designed by David Walker and co-designed by Dame Laura Davies, the top lady professional who has enjoyed worldwide success in her career. It's a par 71 measuring 6,327 off the whites but still provides a mean challenge of the blue tees (tee of the day) at 5,916 yards. It boasts four very long par fives, including the first and last holes, five interesting par threes ranging from over two hundred yards, to a very pretty 125 yard hole perched at the top of the course, The rest are par fours offering a variety of challenges from those being potentially in range off the tee to some that are long, real two shot (or more) holes.

The opening hole was 523 yards off the blue tee and a par 5 but played directly into the strong wind and was going to be a real three shot hole. Taken from the club website:

"The opening hole is along par five designed to allow play to flow freely. Care must be taken with the first two shots to avoid the large trees which protrude into the left had side of the fairway. Two fairway bunkers guard the right side of the fairway. A generous sized green and fairly level putting surface should ensure a satisfactory start to the round"

There is also a video flyover of the hole Sutton Green 1st hole flyover

I hit a decent drive and a well struck hybrid but in the strong wind was only level with the tree in the fairway and some 170 yards short. I hit another good hybrid, slightly left between the path and the left hand bunker, pitched on and made a two putt bogey (net par) for a safe, if unspectacular start.

Water comes into play on a number of holes and first makes an appearance on the second, with a pond short and right of the tee box. The course meanders on and while it gradually climbs uphill, it is not a hard walk. The fourth is a quirky dog leg left, at forty five degrees and the tee shot is played forward towards a large tree in the fairway that needs to be avoided and then it's a simple shot with a mid-short iron in.

After a pleasant par three, the sixth from the high point of the course is a real scenic hole sweeping downhill and from left to right and a good drive with a fade leaves a very short approach in. It plays rather short but is perhaps a lull before the exam to come. The next is a very long hole, in fact the longest on the course and even off the blue markers comes in at 540 yard. The drive is very tricky with thick trees and rough right of the hole and the left hand side of the hole is protected throughout by out of bounds. Off the tee there is a little more room than it appears when standing there looking out on the hole. It then requires another lusty blow uphill and another into the green. Again, this played into the gusty wind and I hit one of my best drives of the day, a decent five wood and still had a five iron left. The right of the hole is protected by fir trees which my approach found and I had to work hard for my bogey (net par). The next offers little respite and is a par four to a sloping fairway and an equally undulating green.

Sutton Green Golf Club scorecard
The ninth is the signature hole with water in play off the tee on the right and again to the right of the green. It is no pushover at 378 yards to another green that slopes front to back. I hit a drive and seven iron to ten feet and was happy to walk off with my par. Adjacent to the green is a halfway hut for those needing a pick me up after the opening half.

The back nine also starts with a par five that plays over five hundred yards. It has a large lake to the right of the fairway and trees down the left and from an elevated tee there isn't much landing area to aim at. With the wind blowing directly towards the water, it was perhaps no real surprise all three of us fed the fish and deposited our tee shot to a watery grave. I struggled my way along the hole to the green. This is a real elephant graveyard of a putting surface. Very undulating and in contrast to the greens on the front nine that had appeared much flatter in comparison. The hard work continues with a long par three measuring 213 yards off the tee of the day to a green protected by trees and needing a very accurate wood or long iron to thread the ball onto the green.

There is a chance to attack at the next and is in range for some. I took driver but carved my tee shot way left towards the tee box on the next leaving a totally blind shot of 119 yards over trees and thick rough. I managed to find the green and make par but definitely didn't play it the way the designers envisaged. After another long, uphill par three the fourteenth is another visually pleasing hole. Again there is water in play off the right and comes into play again by the green, cutting into the putting surface and making it essential to play to the heart of the putting surface.

The 16th is another visually spectacular hole. A mid length par three, there is water the entire left hand side of the green and behind. I have to be honest I hit a really scabby 6 iron and thinned it, with it going no more than head high but it was straight and so to the consternation of my playing partners found the putting surface and nestled ten feet from the hole. Their well being was diminished even further when I holed my putt for a nice birdie.

The view of the 16th green where danger lurks left and long
The course closes with the last of the par fives. Again there is water lurking for a tee shot wandering right and there is a bunker protecting the left hand side. From there the holes sweeps down to a green situated in front of the clubhouse patio ensuring the golfer will usually have an audience watching their final acts. I missed the green in regulation but hit a decent chip to six feet under the scrutiny of the masses of the society that had played in front of us. I missed the par putt but a six (net par) was a nice way to close the round.

All in all my two partners and I had a pleasant day out bu how would I rate it? As always with these reviews, they are strictly impartial and based solely on my own findings

Course Layout and Condition
As I said at the very beginning this is a course I'd wanted to play for a while. While it's long in places, especially the par fives, it is a reasonably easy walk with no real inclines to endure. I liked the layout and the feel of the holes. There were a couple of holes that will split opinion, especially the sharply dog legging 6th, but in general terms what you see is what you get from each tee.

The back nine definitely felt as though it played much harder than the front and the greens in particular were far more undulating and difficult to putt on. I found the pace of the greens very slow, and many putts came up 4-6 feet short. Given the time of year I thought these would have been quicker but the actual condition of the putting surface is very good (but need to be faster). Sutton Green does have a lot of society golf on it which may explain the need for them to be a little longer. There is a distinct difference in the contouring of the greens and those on the front nine are flatter than those on the back nine.

The quality of the tee boxes was reasonable. They were all relatively flat and grassy. It's a real bugbear of mine standing on a tee that has dips, hollows and slopes on it but these were all well presented. There was nothing hidden from view off the tee and so what you see in front of you is what you get. No nasty surprises.

It's a pleasant parkland course with many mature trees, some of which definitely come into play on fairways or protecting greens. In the main, the rough is a reasonable length meaning that an errant shot should be found although making clean contact isn't a given. There are a few areas where it's much thicker and harder to find the ball but that's the same on most courses. The playing conditions were hard with a very strong breeze so it definitely played harder than the card. That said, it never felt like a slog.

The pace of play was very slow and it took around 4 1/2 hours to get around. The card reckons it should be a four hour round but given the size of the society in front, and the ability (or not ) of some of them, the pace was always going to be pedestrian. Pace may have benefited from an on course marshal moving things along but I think had we not had the society to deal with we'd have been very close to the four hour mark.

Score - 7/10. I only marked it down because of the speed of the greens which I thought was an issue. They could only have been 7 on the stimp meter at most and everyone in our group struggled to get the ball to the hole. Had they been quicker this would definitely have been an 8/10

Value For Money
As mentioned this was booked via a third party website and only cost £28 for a weekend round and would be cheaper still in the week. It is possible to book online via the club website. Whether this offers a cheaper rate or not I'm not sure but either way I thought it offered very good value for money. With the conditioning (green speed not withstanding) of the course it was very well priced.

Score - 9/10. Top value

Sutton Green has a large putting green outside the clubhouse, adjacent to the first tee and has a short range facility measuring about 120 yards (from where Gary Smith does his short game tuition) and there are two warm up nets. The professional shop is an open plan facility as you enter the clubhouse. There is a separate visitor changing room and it offers a limited number of lockers for hire on the day. The bar area is well appointed with a number of lagers and real ales on tap as long as a reasonably priced food menu. The food I had was well cooked and very nice (needed some onions!!!). The seats are comfortable and with a large patio as well the golfer has a nice environment to enjoy a post match drink and discuss the proceedings. There is also a large dining room for society and function use

Score 7.5/10. It would be nice if there was a range or longer warm up area to stretch the muscles before playing but that's a minor gripe from myself and not the fault of the club as I could see that space for such a facility is severely limited. The visitor locker room was small but well appointed and I am always happy when a club offers a locker service to visitors.

This is always a very important aspect. I'm sad to say even in this day and age, so many clubs seem to want to take your money but don't make you feel welcome. I'm pleased to say this is far from the case at Sutton Green. Everybody my partners and I met were very welcoming and helpful. In particular, the starter was very good. With a large (30+) society going off in front of us, he did a magnificent job of not only making everyone feel welcome on the first tee but ensured everyone got away and moving as quickly as possible.

The welcome in the pro shop was also positive. From a personal perspective it was nice to see Gary Smith again but the professional behind the counter was helpful and co-operative. Post round, the welcome we got in the bar after was very warm and the bar staff were quick and attentive and served with a smile on their face. All in all there is a real warm feeling at Sutton Green and they clearly work hard at making a visitor experience as positive as they can.

Score - 9/10. A fantastic visitor experience and we were made to feel very welcome

OVERALL - 8/10. Perhaps a tad harsh and only marked down on the speed of the greens. When I return, and I certainly will be, if these were to be better and faster, I'd have no hesitation in raising my overall score to an impressive 9/10

Sutton Green Golf Club doesn't have any pretence and isn't trying to compete with other, older and more famous clubs in the Guildford or Surrey vicinity. It knows what it is and what it is trying to do and is a members club, offering visitors the chance to come and play that has found it's niche and is very comfortable there. The course has clearly matured in the years since opening and is a fair test for all abilities.

All in all then a very, very nice place to spend an afternoon playing. I wish the wind hadn't been such a factor but having spoken to my playing partners I would think we'll be returning again very soon and hopefully will enjoy a fine summer day on the course. If you are in the Surrey area and the Woking/Guildford area and fancy a game then you could do a lot worse than try this place out.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

End Of The Road - Or The Start Of The Journey

"Always make a total effort even when the odds are against you" - Arnold Palmer

So why the inspirational start? I had this blog already written and it wasn't going to be a good one. There has been a lot going on personally away from the "Quest For Single Figures" and it was going to begin to have an impact on the amount of golf I could play and certainly the amount of practice I could do.

While this was never going to be the end of "The Quest" it did mean flipping everything on it's head especially in terms of the golf swing and a requirement to change everything to compensate for a condition that had worsened since I was hospitalised last year and which has begun to have a negative impact on my balance and therefore making a consistent and in particular a stable swing difficult. It's not every shot but it's like a ticking bomb waiting for the swing where the balance goes as I hit it. Looking back since speaking with the consultant, it has made sense and looking deeper into some of my statistics and especially my errant and most destructive shots, with the driver and the longer clubs, balance was definitely an underlying factor and I can definitely remember coming "out" of shots or struggling to turn through it and hold a decent finish.

I'd spoken in the recent blogs about changing to a teaching professional I'd used previously, a guy called Rhys ap Iolo at a local driving range. He had got my handicap from 14 down to tantalisingly close to the single figure target and I'm hoping for a second dose of success.

In my last video on the sister Youtube channel to this blog, the latest "Quest" update (May "Quest For Single Figures" update) and in a recent blog here (May "Quest" update) I spoke about a fundamental change to my wrist position from a cupped position I'd used since I began golfing back in the 1970's to something far flatter. Indeed in the blog on here I illustrated the position with pictures of Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson as role models of where I want to get the wrist position. The logic behind this as I discussed was to get me turning better and more importantly getting the club coming in much shallower which will in part compensate for some of the issues that have blighted my golf.

I had resigned myself to the handicap increasing before Rhys and I got things totally under control and indeed after playing two rounds over the recent Bank Holiday in the Stone Cup (a stableford competition at Royal Ascot Golf Club) the scores of 30 and 28 points respectively ensured the handicap rose by another 0.2 from 14.3 to 14.5 and finally toppled over to 15 and a shot further away from where I need to be

It isn't for want of trying and I've really adopted Mr Palmer's mantra and have really been making a real effort to encompass the change to the wrist position and in practice have really seen and felt improvement in the way the body reacts in the swing. I've tried hard not to let the balance issues become a convenient excuse and I am bigger than the problem. So what? It's a valid question as I've not managed to take anything onto the course on a regular basis as my Stone Cup results show.

Of course, if you've followed my many years of rambling on here (and I am eternally grateful for your continued support) that last predicament is a recurring theme and taking changes to a course and playing well on a regular basis has been an issue. I've often strung a number of good holes per round together only to undo all the good work with a number of real car crash holes. Never the same hole (well perhaps our par three sixth, one that is a real nemesis) and never the same shot (drive, approach shot or pitch).

What is the point to all this? Well as the title hints, was this the end of the road? As I've already said, not a chance. The stubborn golfer in me refuses to let this or any set back prevent me believing in my ability to get to single figures, if not this season then at some point in the future. Is it the start of the journey? Well not really. I actually feel this has begun already, from the news the balance may continue to worsen to the change to the wrist position and the benefit this is having on the position on the down swing and quality of ball striking. Hardly a new dawn or a phoenix like rise but definitely a punctuation mark in proceedings and perhaps a time to pause, draw a breath and reflect.

Yes, there is the potential that my balance issue will worsen further but I'll find a way of making the swing work. Look at the very best, not just on tour, where there are many different swings, but particularly at your own club. Look around those off single figures wherever you play and you'll see there are some very good swings, but also some that look like a golfer fighting an octopus as they swing but they find a way to not only hit the ball consistently, but to make a score. There lies the difference. On my good days I can play well but on the ones where timing and strike is off I don't have the armoury to make a score.

Indeed it has come to a head and I spoke before of actually walking off the course when I was having a particularly bad day. Something I wasn't proud of and hoped it would be a one off. Sadly last Saturday (3rd June) it happened again and after a string of holes where I lost a ball off the tee enough was enough. I wasn't having fun and by the time I got home I'd hit real rock bottom and really didn't want to continue with golf, let alone "The Quest" and was about to pull out of the competition on the Sunday (4th). Sorry Mr Palmer but sometimes making a total effort seems way too hard and giving up is by far the easier option.

Sometimes, fate takes a turn and planets align. I had a text from a couple of members at the club asking if I wanted to play on the Saturday afternoon. Going back to the club and back on the course was perhaps the last thing I wanted to do but they stressed it was about hitting a silly white ball around a field. No pressure. Just hit the bloody thing and have some fun.

"That's what we've been saying for ages you idiot". I can hear you all saying it already and I'm way ahead of you. I took a punt, putting a lot of very grubby old balls into the bag. There were some issues and bad shots (and yes I lost a ball at the bloody sixth hole again) but there were actually some good ones too, especially with the driver. I didn't keep count. Suffice to say I didn't pull out of the competition, the club's Centenary Medal.

When you finally get your golfing rewards!!!!
Are you sitting comfortably? I've some uplifting (perhaps even shocking) news. In tricky conditions, with a strengthening wind, I somehow cobbled a round of 83 (net 68 off my new 15 handicap) and won division two of the medal. Let me say that again. I won division two of the competition.

June 2017 Medal Statistics

Of course when you carve your first ball way left of the ninth green never to be seen again and start with a treble bogey you assume it's another one of "those days". While I played my way back into the round gently, another snap hook at the bloody 6th (AGAIN) and another lost ball for a double bogey, and it looked as though I'd be fighting for a buffer zone at best. However the putter was behaving. I'd switched to the Odyssey O-Works V-Line Fang I reviewed a while back (O-Works Youtube Video Review) or if you prefer a written version (O-Works V-Line Fang Blog Review) and as we know a good putting round can hide a host of misdemeanours.

Luck was to play a part, in particular on the 14th where I pulled a tee shot towards a copse of trees and thick grass. It wasn't readily available on first inspection and we dutifully called the group behind through. As they walked up, there was a ball sitting innocently on the fairway. As they passed on, it was still there and as I was running out of my allotted search time I rushed over. Lo! There it was, in the middle of the fairway (and good for the fairway in regulation stats). Too far to go for the green but considering where I'd hit my provisional (also left and in deep grass and not looking too inviting) this was massive. Add in a rare birdie on our 218 yard penultimate hole thanks to a snaking right to left fifteen footer after hitting the green and you have to wonder what the golfing gods are doing. Up the last I couldn't take on the green on the 511 yard hole in regulation so laid up well wide of the pond to the right of the green. As the wind was blustery, a sixty yard chip and run was the order of the day. As it happens, conditions were hard and CSS (competition standard scratch) went up to 71 and so my net 68 (-2) was good for a 0.9 cut and I'm back down to 13.6.

However do you know what, I wasn't happy. Two lost balls, including that damn sixth which is becoming a real problem hole and on another day with a colder putter that would have been well over the buffer zone. I didn't hit the ball well and 42% of fairways and just 11% of greens in regulation, tell a story. Still from walking off twenty four hours earlier to a win it's Zero to Hero. I hit the ball far better in the roll up game on the Saturday afternoon especially off the tee but a win is long overdue for the work I've put in and the cut gets "The Quest" moving in the right direction again.

If you're still with me (and a big thumbs up if you have made it this far) then I hope it was worth it for the good news and the win. It also qualifies me for the "Masters" an invitation only 36 hole medal event for competition winners in the qualifying period. It's been at least three (maybe even four) years since I last qualified and so it's good to be back. I need to get a lesson with Rhys booked in to continue our work and get the swing and in particular the balance issues working even more effectively. It's definitely coming. I can see it. I can feel it. The daft thing is once the car crash holes (and yes that's the 6th in particular amongst others) are history then there's a regular good score in there and some low ones. to come.

That brings me to my last (honestly) piece of news which is I'm going back to the IGolfApps site and the NLP Golf downloads which is designed to seep deep into the sub-conscious and improve my thinking. It's an area that has been on my radar for a while but other things have got in the way. Now I can see the need and don't need to be working "so" hard on the swing so can find the time. Whether this will make any difference or not I'm not convinced but nothing ventured and all that.

And that dear reader is the latest, somewhat good news from my "Quest For Single Figures". I still need to follow the words of Mr Palmer but I think I'm getting there and the win last weekend (that sound so good) validates my belief in my ability.

Be sure to stick around for more stuff coming soon including course reviews from New Zealand Golf Club and both the Old and New courses at Sunningdale Golf Club. If you haven't already, please check out the Youtube channel (Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel) and watch the content and more importantly subscribe to get regular updates, thumbs up the videos you like and leave any comments. I will respond. Until the next update, happy golfing.