Tuesday, 27 January 2015

JANUARY ARTICLE 2015


FOUR TIME MAJOR WINNER Ernie Els’s course on the Malaysian island of Langkawi lies amidst a million year old tropical rainforest stretching to the shores of the Andaman Sea.  Originally designed in 1992, the 18 hole championship course has been completely renovated and reopened to rave reviews. The Els Club Teluk Datai, managed by Troon Golf, was built to strict environmentally friendly standards, and “aims to preserve and enhance the natural environment amidst unique luxury and eco golf educational experience” whatever that means.


THE HONDA CLASSIC (23rd February) at PGA National is one of the premier events on the PGA TOUR, and players compete for a purse of over $5.6 million.  Russell Henley prevailed last year in a four man playoff against Russell Knox, Ryan Palmer and Rory McIlroy.  McIlroy began the day with a two shot lead, but stumbled with a final round 74.  However he did improve as the year went on.


JIM FURIK COMMENTED on how the initial Ryder Cup task force meeting at Palm Beach went.
 “It was productive,” he said.  “We didn’t come up with any answers, but we wanted to air everyone’s thoughts.  It was a very open discussion; nobody felt like they had to hold anything back if they weren’t happy.”

As the players airing their opinions included Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Raymond Floyd we can be pretty sure their feelings were well and truly aired.


SCHOOL OF GOLF’s MARTIN HALL says fairway wood problems are often related to a lack of understanding about how to execute the shot.  Trying to sweep the ball off the ground, as many players have been taught, is apparently a mistake.  Hitting slightly down on the ball and taking a small divot is the actual goal.  “If you can make that adjustment you'll see immediate improvement when it comes to accuracy and distance,” says Martin.  I’ll try anything once.

THE EUROPEAN OPEN, founded in 1978, was played at various courses in England, including Sunningdale and Walton Heath.  At it’s height the total prize money reached £2.4 million.  It folded in 2009 due to lack of sponsorship.  The current deal with BMW expired after the PGA last year at Wentworth.  The European Tour has been struggling to find sponsors. The tax man doesn’t help either, dipping into the prize money overseas competitors make in the UK.

Graham McDowell says he would like to see the revival of the iconic events on the European Tour.  It’s been a tough 7 or 8 years; losing events in Spain, Germany and the UK.  However, things are looking up.  There will be 6 new European Tour events this year.  I know they include the Thailand Classic, Indian Open and Mauritius Open, but the European Open is to return in September, albeit in Germany.  Then there’s the ever popular Irish Open in May, and Paul Lawrie is to host a new  tournament, the Saltire Matchplay in July on the Murcar Links, his home course near Aberdeen, as part of the Race to Dubai.  The British Masters could also be returning for the first time since 2008.  So cheer up Graham, all is not lost.
  

JAZZ GREATS such as Count Basie will put harmony into your putting stroke, according to new research.  Male players are 17%  and ladies 10% more accurate while listening to jazz on the practice green.  Country music improves baseball performance and rap raised basketball skills but jazz does it for golfers.  It is suggested it helps them calm down, concentrate and improvise on the green.  So on with the headphones: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!”

Until next time, happy golfing.

Contact Mick for all your regripping and repair requirements.  

Tel: 638 859 475.

Friday, 2 January 2015

DECEMBER IN MY REVIEW OF 2014 A GREAT GOLFING YEAR!!!!

IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP


THE ULTIMATE golf experience:  nine holes of snow golf in Bjorkliden, Swedish Lapland.
250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Bjorkliden is a (fairly) normal golf course during the summer months, but is buried deep under the snow throughout the winter. Undaunted, Swedish golfers don their bobble hats and tee off.  Night golf with glowing golf balls under the Northern Lights is apparently a unique experience, and accuracy helps; if you thought it was hard finding your ball in the rough, try a snowdrift!
JUSTIN ROSE has moved his family from Lake Nona, Florida to the very British Bahamas.  “I bought a house here a few years ago, and it seemed like a good time to make it permanent,” he said.   “We’ve made many friends here, and there are more fun things for our family to do together besides golf.”  Maybe having Ian Poulter racing his new Ferrari round the block and half the U.S. Tour players in Graeme McDowell’s local for Karaoke nights made Lake Nona a bit of a Nono.

A TRULY DICKENSIAN golfing story:  In 1868 Young Tommy Morris won the Open Championship aged 17; he and his father “Old Tom” Morris took first and second places.  He won again the following year, also making the Open’s first hole in one.
In 1870 Young Tom won the Open for the third time, retaining the Champion’s Belt, which preceded the Claret Jug.   His name was also the first to be engraved on the Jug when he won for the fourth consecutive year, a feat never since matched.  He had a unique style, with incredible strength for his size. With his wooden headed putter he was said to be ‘devastating.’
Tommy soon achieved sporting celebrity status, and he travelled the country playing competitive golf.  A huge crowd, some of them “apparently new to the sport and decidedly unruly,” watched him win that magnificent 3rd Open. In the first round his score was 47 over the 12-hole Prestwick course.  His three at the 578 yd. opening hole generally held to be a par six, was incredible.  Tommy built on his first-round lead for a total of 149 to win by 12 strokes.   When he arrived back at St. Andrews his friends bore him shoulder high from the train to an enthusiastic reception at Mr. Leslie’s Golf Inn.
The next time such a crowd would turn out in honour of Tommy Morris was for his funeral. In September 1875 he lost both his wife and their baby in childbirth.  It was said that he had to be persuaded to play golf again: when he did, his genius had deserted him.  His health suffered and he was rumoured to have taken to drink.  After playing a wager game in freezing weather Tommy became gravely ill.  He was found dead at the foot of his stairs by his own father on Christmas morning 1875.  He was 24.

U.S. GOLF BUGGY MANUFACTURERS Plum Quick Motors entered the Guinness Book of Records this month for the fastest speed attained by a golf buggy, reaching 118.76 mph on a closed racetrack. The standard two-seater completed the course in 12.241 seconds, clubs included, and the 52 yr. old test driver was wearing a seat belt and helmet.  He said it was “Hairy.”
 The company's priciest model, the $65,000 48-volt Assassin, tops out at 40 mph, which would be quite hairy enough for most.
Three things an ageing golfer loses:  his nerve, his memory and what was the third thing?


Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a great golfing New Year.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

NOVEMBER IN MY REVIEW OF 2014 A GREAT GOLFING YEAR!!!

IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP
WHILE IN TURKEY for the Race to Dubai Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood were invited to try hitting golfballs over the walls of the impressive 2000 year old amphitheatre of Aspendos.  Ian Poulter remained at the hotel, tweeting that because of the gorgeous food he was too full to move.  Perhaps he should have gone out and practised his putting.

THE 2015 IRISH OPEN will be played on a course familiar to both Rickie Fowler and Rory MciIroy.   Royal County Down in Northern Ireland hosted the 2007 Walker Cup when the two first duelled as 18 year old amateurs.

After McIlroy was victorious this year at the Open and PGA Championship the two were reunited at the Ryder Cup when McIlroy again got the upper hand both in the foursomes and in their Sunday singles match, winning 5 and 4.

Fowler is keen to have another shot at McIlroy.  "When Rory told me the Irish Open was going to Royal County Down I was really keen to play. We will have plenty to reminisce about” he added, polishing his Derringer before slipping it into the inside pocket of his raincoat (sorry, got carried away.)



PAUL AZINGER cashed in after the 2008 Ryder Cup by writing a telltale book and embarrassing the players.  Paul McGinley will not be doing the same.  “I wanted the lads to know that what happened behind the scenes stayed there” he said, “so I promised there would be no book.”  Stout fellow. 

MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ may be on the short list for 2016 Ryder Cup Captain but his lack of fluency in English may scupper him.  Fellow countryman Sergio Garcia doesn’t think Jimenez’s English, while OK for ordering cigars, is good enough to deal with the demands of the job.  At least he has plenty of time to sign up for night classes.

GOLF MANUFACTURERS have unleashed a new range of expensive toys on recession hit America, proving that their heads are still firmly either in the sand or the clouds.  TaylorMade’s offerings include the R15 driver, with Front Track Technology.  Two sliding weights can be moved to a variety of positions in the head, changing the combinations of distance, forgiveness and draw/fade bias.  The Front Track also acts as a Speed Pocket, which expands the size of the sweetspot and reduces spin.  Only £369!  Just in time for Christmas!
As if that weren’t enough, the new RSi irons feature Face Slot Technology; slots either side of the face which according to TM, work in conjunction with Speed Pockets to give improved performance on shots that don’t hit the sweetspot. The RSi 1 irons replace the Speedblades, the R15 driver the SLDR.  So tough luck on the shops that invested in SLDRs and Speedblades.

GOLF MOVES DOWN UNDER this month with the Australian Open, Masters and PGA.  If Adam Scott  managed to win his third gold jacket in Melbourne at the weekend he will next have to face Rory McIlroy.  Rory, fresh from collecting his goodies in Dubai will be winging over to defend his Australian Open title in Sydney on November 27th.  The PGA Championship on the Gold Coast in early December follows.  It will be the last chance this season for the world No. 2. to hang a major trophy on his Christmas Tree.   


BACK IN the murky past our regular Sunday foursome would hold earnest discussions in the 19th on everything from local politics to the pitiful size of the measure.  Enjoying a post round pint recently with my Sunday four I noticed our discussion consisted solely of our ailments, symptoms and treatment!  But as they say, after sixty if you don’t wake up with aches and pains you’re probably dead!

OCTOBER IN MY REVIEW OF 2014 A GREAT GOLFING YEAR!!!

IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP


          PATRICK REED’S  Ryder Cup opponents collared him last week when he returned to the UK for the Volvo World Matchplay and had their photo taken mimicking Reed’s gesture to the crowd at Gleneagles.  Reed took it all in good part.  For the camera anyway.  Back in his hotel room he probably chewed the carpet.

 Dr. FRANK STABLEORD deserves to be remembered by amateur golfers everywhere.   Dr. Stableford was a surgeon in the Boer war and WWI, afterwards becoming Captain of Wallasey Golf Club on the Wirral.  He devised a system of points scoring after realizing one day that many players were getting very little fun out of their golf, often tearing up their score cards after a few holes, especially at Wallasey, where strong winds could make play extremely difficult.
Golf handicaps had originally been used for the purpose of wagers but eventually there was a need for a central handicapping authority.  In 1881 the use of three rounds and then take the average was adopted.   Many clubs played medal competitions, hard for the less formal golfer, or they played against bogey, based on the best average scores over a particular course, which was very individual, with widely differing standards.

 Dr. Stableford’s points system was first played in competition at Wallasey on 16th May 1932, and was an instant success.  At the time the maximum male handicap was 21, but not liking the idea of anyone receiving 2 strokes at a hole, he restricted the allowance to 7/8th of handicap, giving a maximum of 18 shots.  Gradually he refined the system to give 4bbb, foursomes and mixed matches.

The great advantage of Dr. Stableford’s system is that it enables a player to continue after a few bad holes, and speeds up play by letting a player pick up when he is out of contention.  It was Henry Longhurst’s opinion that “No single man did more to increase the enjoyment of the more humble golfer.” 
GOLF IN AMERICA can be interesting.  Approaching the 16th green in Montana a golfer came across three bear cubs wrestling with the flag  (no sign of Goldilocks.)  And in Oregon an eagle landed on the green, picked a player’s golf ball up in it’s beak and flew off.   The surprised golfer said:  “I’d been hoping for an eagle all day.”  In case you’re wondering, rule 18/1 has it covered: If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.
RORY McILROY has pulled out of the Shanghai HSBC and BMW Masters to prepare for his forthcoming courtroom battle against Horizon Sports Management.  Horizon is countersuing for breach of contract.  For both protagonists millions are at stake.  For the lawyers Christmas has come early.

THE EUROPEAN FATHER AND SON Championship returns to Valle del Este, Almeria, from 27th October to 1st November.   Over 50 teams compete for the title of best scratch and handicap Father and Son team in Europe.  Last year’s winners, both from England, will return free as part of their prize. 

Open to any pro or amateur team, maximum handicap 24,   contestants’ ages range from 10 to 90 (not a team presumably)  The 54 hole 2bbb Stableford event brings golfers and their families over for a great week in the sun.  Sky Sports cameras, press and announcers all make it as close to a pro championship as possible, and with evening entertainment, spas and a carnival atmosphere it is proving a popular annual fixture.   


“Columbus went round the world in 1492; that isn’t a lot of strokes when you consider the course.”  Lee Trevino (Who else?)
Just a reminder folks that any loose change dropped in to the poppy boxes this month will all help this very worthy cause