* Prices may differ from that shown
Scott was voted in 2010 to be in the top 100 fitters in the world. He does a wide range of clubs, shafts & grips. He is constantly working with Pro's on tour with prototype products, that haven't made the market place. So if you want to stay on step ahead of your friends, Scott Gourlay is your man. I used to play off 16 handicap, i now play off 9. And this is done to me using the wrong products for my swing, everything was wrong. My shafts were regulars, i needed stiff, my irons were full blowen cavity backs, i now have have TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC Irons, my grips have also been changed. And everything now works as it should. The final thing i asked Scott to fix was my slice. And believe it or not, it was my old clubs that was causing this, i was generating so much spin, it was sending the ball right every time. So don't take my word for it, give Scott a call and see for yourself. http://www.sggt.co.uk/index.html
This is such a broad subject to cover and review, especially for someone like myself who is obsessed with the game and frankly could write about it all day. With that in mind I decided to break the game down into what I see as being some of the most relevant issues relating to the game today....
GOLF - AN ELITIST GAME PLAYED BY OLD FELLAS?
Perhaps as little as 10 years ago if you aksed a non-golfer for their opinion on the sport, you'd have probably heard about a game for wealthy folk, mostly male and mostly in their senior years. But from what I can see the demographic of the game has changed massively in recent years, with a lot more interest shown by juniors - both male and female. Most clubs now have busy junior sections and the lower membership fee schemes for under 18's are hugely important in that kids from low-income families have a chance to learn the game, therefore stripping away that elitist feel that golf might have had in the past. In addition to this, there are lots of decent municipal courses out there that don't cost the earth to play but which are maintained to a very high standard.
Golf's resurgence in recent years can probably be put down, at least in part, to it's increased TV coverage and the massive popularity of the Ryder Cup. Golfers like Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and of course Tiger have made golf cool and the fantastic venues and fashionable outfits on show only add to its huge appeal. It's good to see that TV coverage extends to the women's game also, and I was genuinely caught up in the recent Solheim Cup contest on Sky Sports, which Europe's women managed to win late on the final day.
Going back to the age thing just briefly, whilst it's fantastic to see a lot more juniors on the course these days, the beauty of golf is that players from different generations can play together and compete with each other on an even keel. Golf is all the better for the fact that age need not be a barrier to performance, as Tom Watson proved so convincingly at the 2010 Open Championship. So in my experience it really is a game that men, women, boys and girls of all ages and from all backgrounds can enjoy - which of course is how it should be.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF GOLF.
Golf perhaps doesn't have the best reputation environmentally and there are those who think it's all about ripping up acres of forest in order to create a millionaire's playground shaped by bulldozers. Yet golf course design has in recent years turned a corner and gone back in time to a point where architects would rely on the natural contours of the land. This is best demonstrated by courses like Macrihanish Dunes in Scotland and the Bandon courses in the States. These courses, and others like them, are built on sandy, free-draining soil, which means that large-scale, complex drainage systems are often not a requirement. Effectively, such courses are sculpted by mother nature as opposed to high-powered machinery. Links golf (i.e seaside golf) is in my opinion the most magical form of the game and there are more and more golfers that share this view. Fortunately this is the type of course that doesn't involve cutting down trees and shifting tonnes of earth to make it the perfect venue.
GOLF AS A RELAXING PAST TIME.
The physical benefits you can take from the game of golf probably depend on your attitude towards it and your desperation, or otherwise, to shoot a decent score. For anyone who can remain relatively indifferent to the score they enter on their card, golf must be the most peaceful and relaxing sport there is. If bad-breaks, missed putts and an incurable slice can be met with a shrug of the shoulders then surely there is no better sport. Certainly the venues must be the most scenic of any sport and no matter how awful your round might be, a golfer couldn't help but be blown away by the natural beauty of courses like Loch Lomond and Woodhall Spa.
Having said all this, golf can be the single most frustrating sport I've ever known. I'm a mid-handicapper who hopes to perhaps one day make it into single figures but I'll never be able to play to the level I aspire and so will always have a bit of a love/hate relationship with golf. But despite my desire sometimes to snap my putter over my knee in frustration, I'll keep going back for more because I love the game and always think that the next round could be the one where everything clicks and I finally shoot the round of my life.
I hope my review is enjoyable to both golfers and non-golfers alike.
As i am quite a sporty person, there is no real surprise that i like to walk out onto a crisp "lawn" every sunday morning to play the weekly 18 holes. Its the sport everyone loves to hate, whether you play it or not, as it can be so very frustrating.
However, when you get it right it is definately one of the most rewarding sports in the world.
I picked up golf when i was 17. My local course had a few free lessons going on a sunday morning so i decided to go down there and try my hand with my mates clubs to see how i would get on.
It turned out that i really enjoyed it, bought myself some clubs and joined the club. I think that was the idea of the free lessons! It hooked me in. However, i started playing every week with my mate and really got into it.
Thats the great thing about golf, its such a social sport. You could never argue that football was a social occasion. Football socials yes, a match, not a chance. Whereas you and your mate set off on a sunday morning and have a good knock you can really enjoy yourself and have a good chat on the way.
I like to think i have got myself to a semi-reasonable standard, and it is definately the most rewarding sport now i have. Its brilliant, i really enjoy it and when you put that ball on the green from 200 yards its one of the best feelings in the world.
You know what you have come through to get it to this stage. You know you have had endless shanks, slices and pulls, but on that one occasion, you nailed it. A rise of euphoria comes through your body!
So, if your looking for a fairly casual sport to get involved with, want to make new friends and get some socialising going on, then get involved with golf.
Well I hate to admit it, but I love golf. Have been playing since I was a kid and still play as often as I can.
If you have never played golf before, the idea is simple. Hit a small ball into a hole. Although there is slightly more to it than that, that's the basic idea.
When it comes to playing golf, there are all different kinds of levels you can play at. Most people, including me, start with pitch and putt. This involves relatively short holes that are not to difficult. You are usually given clubs to use, an iron and a putter generally, and it will cost you around £5 for a game, which will probably last between one and two hours, depending on how busy it is.
If your a little better you can play 'proper golf'. This involves going to a golf club and playing usually 18 holes. Most clubs you visit you do need your own set of clubs, but some you can hire clubs from. You can't just turn up and play at some clubs, you have to be members, which can you from between £500 a year to several thousand, depending on the course. But if you find a municipal course you can go for a game and will usually look at paying between £15 and £30 for a round, which will take you between 3 and 4 hours.
I love playing golf as it can be such a relaxing game. You can compete against friends or play the same course and try and beat your own scores. It's good exercise, after buying your clubs is not to expensive. You can visit some beautiful places and see some wonderful sights.
When it comes to watching golf, i enjoy this as well. Have never been to a live event so can't comment on that, I'm talking about watching it on TV. I only really watch the majors, whicih are the 4 biggest events, but do fond them very exciting. Is hard to believe of your not a fan of golf, but it can be a really edge of your seat sport sometimes. That is largely due to the influence of Tiger Woods in recent years, he has really brought golf back into fashion.
Overall would say this is an excellent sport that just has so many benefits and its something pretty much everyone can enjoy. If you have never played golf before get down to your local course and have a swing!
A brilliant game, which can be enjoyed by all ages, however can be very expensive to play, and requires large amounts of time to play correctly.
Golf consits of a player playing usually 18 holes, with a certain Par around 70 usually, witht he player trying to get around the course in as little amount of shots as possible. Par is defined by how many shots it should take you to be able to get the ball in the hole.
Each player will have a handicap, which gives them a chance to keep their score to Par, and at current my handicap is 9, which means i should shoot 9 strokes over par for my ability level. As you shoot lower your handicap goes down, and when you shoot over your handicap, it goes back up.
Gofl courses can be found all over the world, and with golf having huge amounts of publicity and money put into it, everyone is likely to have heard of Tiger Woods, the best in golf today.
Golf can be watched or played all over the UK and is enjoyed my millions across the world.
Golf clubs and balls can vary in price, according to ability level, and with golf clubs made for all ages and sizes, everyone can take up the chance to play golf. A round can usually take between 3-4 hours however pro players may take up to 5 hours.
Golf an require alot of patience, and practise and many people claim it to be rather boring, however hitting a 300 yard drive down the middle of a fairway just feels superb.
A brilliant game with a brilliant future and history.
Now that there Sir Winston Churchill has certainly come up with a few memorable turns of phrase over the years, and his description of Golf is for me, pretty much on the money.
"Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose." (source : Thinkexist.com)
So why bother?
I'm fully aware that for a great number of people, the mere mention of the subject in conversation is enough to make their eyes glaze over and have them running for the door sharpish.
In many circles, it has an enduring reputation for being elitist, stuffy and inaccessible. To the casual observer the very idea of dragging yourself out in ice-cold sheeting rain for hours on end, knowing full well you have a monumentally minimal chance of improving your scoring is frankly laughable.
But I implore you to please bear with me, oh non believers. I promise to do my utmost to try and explain just what it is that drives us half-witted weekend hackers on. How no matter how much you practice, no matter how many times you play a course or a hole before, you never know what's going to happen next. The mere fact that each and every shot counts the same, whether it's a monster drive or a tiddly putt that somehow squirms its way the hole is an endless source of fascination and frustration. Why won't the ball go straight for once? No matter your age or level of ability, inevitably all golfers experience the mystifying phenomenon that is "military golf" - left-right, left-right,left-right, you get the picture!
It's that constant battle with your inner doubting demons, forever raging deep beneath the prim and proper exteriors of the Pringle Jumpers and Plus Four Pantaloons.
Knowing that even when you are playing at the peak of your powers, you are still only ever one bad shot away from complete meltdown; all it takes is one unscheduled stopover in a 10 foot sandpit and that could be your entire day in ruins. Yes on the face of it, it's basically a stroll in the countryside, a harmless pastime, a day away from it all. But out there in the moment it's facing your fears, overcoming physical and mental barriers, keeping faith in your abilities, conquering your nerves, cherishing each minor victory, hoping against hope that just maybe this time, having endured the wild winds and chilled bones, it might finally be your day.
The Junior Years
As I got a five year head start on a certain Tiger Eldritch Woods, it'd be nice to be able to claim that I was playing Junior Golf while he was still in nappies. However according to his online bio at infoplease.com as he apparently was already hitting balls on a driving range at 18 months and by 1984 when I made my proper debut as a Junior Club member, as an 8 year old he won the International Junior Championship (oh he also won when he was 9, 12, 13, 14 and 15 - no one likes a show off)
Luckily for me, I was blissfully unaware of the lurking menace of the Tiger as I learnt my craft down at the Normanby Hall Golf Club. The club professional told my Dad that I had a very natural swing (which roughly translated into please shell out a few more quid for lessons), and within a few months I'd managed to get my very first handicap. Now for the non-golfers among you (thanks for sticking with me by the way), here's how it works. There are 18 holes of varying lengths, and each hole has a Par rating which is the number of shots it should take a professional golfer to complete it. There are a mix of Par 3's 4's and 5's but on average it's around 4 per hole so a standard golf round Par is normally 72 shots. Clearly this is beyond the means of the plucky amateurs, so depending on ability, they are allocated a handicap ranging from 1 to 36 extra shots per round
Being a newbie, I was allocated a 36 handicap, which meant that I could go around in 108 shots (or on average 6 per hole) and still achieve par for my handicap. I entered a couple of monthly Junior medals with little success, and as it was school holidays, along with a couple of my pals we decided to have a go at the Midweek competition, normally strictly the preserve of the retired brigade.
Now, call it beginner's luck (or more likely the innocence of youth) on this particular occasion the Gods of golf were smiling on me. All the way round, the ball flew straight and true as I racked up 5 after 5, making a mockery of my lowly status. By the time I was strolling down the 18th if you looked closely you'd swear I was sporting a moustache, a stripey poncho and a big floppy sombrero. This was golf bandit country, and I had grasped this competition firmly by the chimichangas.
With hindsight, posting a 15 under par score was perhaps a little unwise. My record-breaking net 57 meant that I won by a country mile, and that in the process I had unwittingly caused a major rumpus, eventually resulting in Junior's been banished from all senior competitions. In one fell swoop, my handicap was slashed by 10 to 26, and however hard I tried, I never managed to recapture that form. Within a year I had retired from the Junior circuit, with just that one medal squirreled away all forlorn and forgotten in my tin box of mementos. But there and then the legend of Panda Wilson was born, a golfing spirit destined to echo through the years, until one day I would return....
The comeback begins
Off I toddled through college and the university years, leaving my once treasured clubs to gather dust in a forgotten corner of a garage in Scunthorpe.
I continued to avidly watch all the big tournaments especially The Open and all the epic Ryder Cup Europe vs USA contests on the telly drawing inspiration from the game's truly courageous characters like the electrifyingly talented Spanish maestro Sevriano Ballesteros, or the Australian "Great White Shark" Greg Norman. But somehow I never made it back out onto a course, I didn't have the time or the money to spend.
Then I entered the world of working and as a result of frequently having to be on the road staying in hotels during the week, meant that in between the expenses meals and beer-ups there was a window of opportunity for a bit of evening golf. As technology had moved on rapidly since my Junior days, I was soon embarrassed by my old fashioned wooden woods and rusty irons, so invested some of my new found earnings in some new kit.
What a revelation!
Suddenly armed with a huge headed Metal driver those meagre 150 yard efforts I used to make the best of were confined to history. Standing at my full 6ft 2, having gained at least 80 pounds since those early days, I discovered I could whack the ball 300 plus yards with relative ease. My interest was reawakened. Only trouble was in the wilderness years I'd completely forgotten all the putting and chipping basics, so despite the added distance my game was still all over the place.
Company Golf day
Being competitive sorts by nature, collectively we decided to set up an unofficial annual Company Golf day open to our technology group of 60 or so employees (at least 40 of which were golfer wannabees). We were that desperate for a proper challenge, we all agreed to book a Friday off and pay the £20 each green fees ourselves.
To make it fair and give everyone a good day out, we made it a team event, using a format called Texas scramble, whereby each team member took a shot, and only the best shot counted, so essentially you could score around par for every hole , just like Tiger and company. So naturally the better golfers would be teamed up with beginners, and even as a complete non-golfer there was still a chance that you might be the one to hole that crucial putt.
So our first tournament came around in the summer of 2002 and although our team never really got in the running, I at least had the consolation of winning a little plaque for longest drive at the 10th hole. Only 18 years since my last triumph, but at last I could start thinking of investing in that trophy cabinet :)
Then we started playing it twice a year, but time and again consistency seemed to desert me at the critical moments. I couldn't blame my playing partners , they did their best, and let's be honest it was always supposed to be about unwinding and having a laugh with your workmates.
Last chance saloon
With company realignments and changes, by 2005 we faced the break up of our little golfing group, and so by late September there was only one more tournament to play.
Having come within 1 shot of glory, twice before, I had to admit, finally getting my hands on the overall trophy had become little short of an obsession for me. All of my best mates had by now tasted victory, surely it was my turn...
My desire to win was so strong that as soon as the choices for the teams was announced (based on unofficial handicaps), I actually tried to get the organiser to swap one of my players as I was convinced the other teams had an unfair advantage. In the end I grudgingly accepted the cards I'd been dealt and determined to get extra practice in. In the past it was always a case of turn up on the day and give it a go. This time it was every night down at the driving range, 3 or 4 intensive practice rounds leading up to it.
And yes I'll admit it, I even invested in a set of furry Panda wood covers, and a black and white stripey jumper to match- every detail was attended to.
After a shaky start, it all started to come together. With only 3 holes to play, we were holding to level par, and in fairly tricky conditions I knew that would give us a real chance of winning. The 16th, the easiest par 4 hole on the course was next, so naturally we were expecting good score. My drive seemed to fly pretty well only trouble was straight into a sand trap. No worries we thought, one of us should be able to get it out OK. My two colleagues tried first - but somehow they couldn't manage it. Suddenly I felt the pressure in the moment and froze; my swing was wild and shaky, and despite my face getting spattered with sand, that fluffy little white ball barely moved an inch. Disaster upon disaster as we 3 putted the green, leaving us licking our collective wounds from a 6. Now it was over, we'd well and truly chucked it away at the last hurdle, at 2 over par I knew we didn't have much chance.
Things got worse at the little par 3, the other two played their shots straight into the water. Standing there, with all the emotions of frustration and confusion floating through me I was suddenly struck by a vision. My wife was 5 months pregnant at the time and in a moment everything was clear as a bell. I'm not having him come into the world without a trophy to my name. So overwhelmed by a feeling of love and belief was I, that I actually played the shot with my eyes closed. I opened them to see my ball skidding within inches of the hole and running on a long way by.
Even though there was 20 feet or more between me and the hole, somehow I just knew I was going to sink it. There it was, back to 1 over par with one to play. We were the last group out and as we walked down to the 18th, a couple of the lads came over - Club house lead is 2 over par - so there it was we knew what we had to do- just a par needed to win.
Great shot kid that was one in a million!
Now, if you do follow golf you will no doubt have seen the infamous Carnoustie Open finale in 1999. There, a certain Frenchman called Jean Van de Velde stood within touching distance of his finest hour. He was 3 shots ahead of the field so quite simply all he had to do was take a 6, never mind a par 4. He made a fateful decision in that moment, that he wouldn't change his style now, he wouldn't play it safe. It had worked for him all week, and so why not just go for it. Out came the driver and the rest was history. The tee shot was wild, his ball found its way into two sets of ditches, somehow he scrambled a 7 but he lost out in the playoffs.
Funnily enough, as the other two lads hit fairly tame iron shots into trouble, I had a bit of a dilemma. But remember, I had the inspiration of my unborn baba driving me on. Up I stepped, full of renewed vigour, the big driver in my hand, confidently picturing it flying majestically down the middle.
A mighty swish and Schhht-winn-gg a great contact, its up and flying. Hang on its curving left, oh no, no it can't be, the wind's taking it straight into the thick cluster of trees, that's it game over, out of bounds. Then it happened - crr-a-cckk - catching a tree full on it somehow bounces fully 40 yards back onto the fairway like its been reeled in by a frenzied fisherman.
Scarcely believing what just happened, the second shot flies to the edge of the green, I putt the third to within 2 feet and there we have it.
With all our mates gathered round and relentlessly mickey-taking we still have 3 chances to secure the trophy. Our first chap somehow rolls it past the hole. Don't worry I said, I'll just knock it in now. Nice and firm, steady nerve , oh no - it swirls around and bobbles out the other side.
So after all this turmoil it boils down to the very player that I tried to swap before we began, the one person I didn't believe would be good enough on the day. Sweet as a nut he rolls it in - never in doubt. As I got carried away in the moment leaping around and punching the air, one or two of my less familiar work mates were perplexed. They always thought of me as easy-going, chilled out etc but as my competitive streak came bursting out there was no hiding it.
Just before we got our hands on the trophy, the organizer only went and told me partners that I wanted to change the teams around before we played - how embarrassed was I after bigging them up all through the round, I felt like a right traitor. Still when I got my paws on that cup, it didn't matter anymore. I finally understood what had really been driving me on all these years. My dearly departed Dad, who lost his fight against lung cancer in 2002, had always believed in me, he was even chuffed to bits when I won that longest drive plaque.
I always remember shortly after the charismatic Irish man Padraig Harrington had realised his lifetime's ambition and won the 2007 British Open, his little boy came running up to him and whispered on camera if he could keep ladybirds in the trophy!
No £500,000 first prize cheque and claret jug needed for me. Just a little silver plated £10.99 memento, which to this day stands proud in our lounge. And everytime we have a little game of indoor golf or even footie or cricket, our little man runs over to that little trophy and shouts "I won the cup - like Daddy." I think back to that day and smile.
So for me personally, golf means more than just a pastime, a hobby - it actually represents the bonds that run through the generations, father to son, and all the journey that lies in between.
That's quite enough of this melancholy nonsense -its time to head for the 19th Hole - is it your round!?
Bo Jackson knew baseball, Bo knew basketball, but Bo, you don't know Weekley. Boo Weekley, that is.
Maybe Bo does know Boo, or can speak to the shared experience of growing up in the rural south. We've been refreshed by other professional athletes from rural backgrounds who tend to speak their minds and shun the memorized sound bite, people like Charles Barkley and another golfer, John Daly. Never did I see Barkley or Daly plying his trade with dip spittle on his lower lip, though, which is what I'm pretty sure I saw on Weekley during last Sunday's final round of the Honda Classic.
Daly and Barkley have their own peccadilloes, to be sure, and I'm not about to go trumpeting chew, but there was Weekley in one moment on camera checking golf's image as a sport for the rich played by whiners who sometimes hurt themselves with their swings, like Daly, who apparently wrenched himself in the first round last week when a camera went off during his swing. He had to withdraw from the tournament.
Can you imagine if Weekley makes it into the top-10 on the money list and qualifies for The Masters? Picture him getting caught spitting on camera. Nantz wouldn't know what to say. The cameraman would be fired.
A quick comment to counter any previous suggestion that golf could use a little dip on its lip every now and then: I watched several long chunks of the European Tour's coverage last weekend (I don't remember the name of the tournament, but it was in Thailand and the prize for a hole-in-one on one of the par-3s was a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue) and was refreshed by the commentary, which is to say there was hardly any. It wasn't the first time I've checked in on European Tour coverage. But this one was more sedating than others for some reason. Let me put it to you like this: I've been to the opera once in my life and had a deeper sleep in those three hours than any other chunk of sleep I'd ever had. In chunks of twenty minutes all weekend the European Tour got me there. I say this as a high compliment. I wanted to mention it now because I plan on checking in with their coverage for the rest of the year, and of course reporting my findings.
Anyway, for all you do, this Boo's for you.
Last week: Allenby seems to be having problems on Sunday, particularly on the back nine on Sunday. I felt good with him in the outright all week, especially going into the final round. He blew it with back-to-back bogeys on 15 and 16 and ended up T5. If he makes par on those two late holes he wins at -6. Allenby's still a good head-to-head pick, though, and I'm glad I picked him over Luke Donald. That win, at 9-10, 1 unit, yielded $900.
In this week's PODS Championship, take Joe Durant (40-1), 1/6 unit: Durant loves the Copperhead Course, which makes sense as this is considered a ball-striker's course. Durant is always one of the best hitters of greens on Tour. It's when he gets on the greens that there's a problem. His game is like K.J. Choi's---nothing flashy but consistently good---and Choi has won on this course twice.
Take Arron Oberholser (50-1), 1/6 unit: Oberholser withdrew from the season-opening Mercedes because of a bad back. He came back two weeks ago at the Match Play and last week surprised (me, anyway) with a T10 at the Honda Classic. Oberholser is another good ball striker. We might be seeing him in start-of-the-season form given the layoff. Meaning, a quick start last year ended in his first win, at Pebble, just four tournaments into the season. In fact, he's been good out of the gate for the last several years. The question mark is the injury. Who can say on that front? We're talking golfers here. Daly's bow out was not exactly like a hockey player having his face sewn up between periods then coming out for more. All I can say is I like Oberholser's chances if he's OK.
Take Daniel Chopra (66-1), 1/6 unit: Chopra had an outside chance to get into a playoff last week but a birdie on the last hole wouldn't have mattered anyway as the playoff number was -5. He finished -3 for a T8, but I thought back to consecutive top-10s toward the end of last year, particularly a T2 at the Frys.com, and his comments that he likes playing for contention on Sundays. He likes the pressure. It showed in Vegas and it showed, albeit to a lesser degree, last Sunday as he carded two birdies and no bogeys on the back nine. He can be streaky and his temper might still be a lingering issue, but he's certainly got the talent. (Posted by me at other site too)
Golf is a game which used to be an elitist sport - this isn't the case any longer. Most golf clubs will nowadays welcome players from all social backgrounds and ethnicities. Yes, there are places which are still snobbish, upper class establishments, but the game in the current climate is as open and accessible it's ever been - so now is a good time to start playing.
I began playing golf around ten years ago - and had little knowledge of the game. I was able to pick up the rules, and start striking the ball cleanly fairly quickly. I did have some lessons with the pro, and was told I had a fairy natural swing. In all honesty, I haven't really improved that much since - the reason I still play is because it's nice to get away onto the G.C and escape from working life. It's good spending some time amongst tree-lined fairways - even if your course is in the center of a big city. This doesn't mean golf helps me relax - in fact, the way I play sometimes - it can make me stress-out even more.
Golf can be costly. The 9-hole club which i'm a member of is fairly cheap at just under £500 pounds a year, but some of the fees which the bigger clubs charge can run into thousands of pounds. A set of basic clubs (3-iron - Wedge) can be picked up fairly cheaply from places like Argos - or a decent fitted set made by the likes of TaylorMade, Ping or Nike, can be bought for around £400.
I do find golf on TV entertaining to watch - but I can understand why many people see it as being dull. My personal enjoyment in watching golf, apart from enjoying the immense skill levels on display, is seeing our homegrown talent, e.g Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, compete at a high level on a world stage - Especially exciting when the Ryder Cup (Europe vs USA) is taking place (I do think it should now return to the GB & Ireland vs USA format tho).
As a Setanta viewer, i'm able to watch live U.S tour golf - but the coverage is awful. It's actually not Setanta's fault, as the feed is taken straight from the American 'Golf Channel'. Basically if you're lucky, you get to see around four shots between each three minute advert break - unbelievable.
There are a few things in golf which annoy me. These generally relate to the attitude of other players. I cannot tolerate slow play - especially if a group in front have lost ground to you, but still won't allow you to play through - disgraceful. I remember once, getting incredibly frustrated, waiting to play my shot onto the 9th green, where a group of old ladies were standing talking about Emmerdale - completely oblivious to my presence behind them.
My golfing ambitions are to get to a single figure handicap over the next few years - i'm off 12 at the moment, and my game just needs a bit of fine tuning. Perhaps i'll take a bit of coaching or something to make the necessary improvements.
I would recommend golf, as it can fun to play. If you're playing well, it's great. It's one of those games where you can have a couple of good rounds, and think you've cracked it - only to step onto the course the next day and play like an absolute ass. I think that's why the sport is so popular - we can all play shots like a pro - but only the consistent among us are pro's.
Augusta, Georgia, USA
Course(s) Augusta National Golf Club
Tour(s) PGA Tour
PGA European Tour
Japan Golf Tour
Format Stroke play
Purse $7,250,000 (Euro5,423,535)
The Masters for me is the beginning of the summer and I will be hooked to the next four days golf with my betting slip in hand. Those beautifully manicured greens remind you of the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, the players putting on the delicate services with the same respect, accuracy and reverence as Steve Davis and Cliff Thorburn. Like snooker, one twitch of the arm and you quickly groaning, the ball lipping the whole for that missed birdie like the pink rattling the jaws. It's a game of man against course, concentration over brawn - and Tiger Woods is the main man.
Today is more about muscle and kit than it ever was around the US Tour, tools of the trade smashing the ball 60 yards further than Jack Nicklaus ever could. This brings lesser guys into the equation for the Green Jacket, if they can hit it straight and putt well over the weekend. Last year the relatively unknown Zach Johnson (66-1) beat them all with that kit and some born again Christian clam. With these thick-headed power drivers, the course designers always try to beat the muscle of new technology by lengthening the holes some more, somehow.
The strongest of them all is Tiger Woods (11-10f), the four times champion already talking up his chances of doing the Grand Slam in the same year, an unheard of feat in the game. A win here would put Tiger second only to Jack Nicklaus six wins at Augusta and few are betting against him. Woods is closing in fast on Nicklaus all-time Major record and few seem up for the challenge to stop him. Jack had the great Arnold palmer to contend with, the two slugging it out with broadswords in the sixties and seventies too win the big prizes. Woods doesn't have that pressure and so has a free run this year and many more.
-Most player wins-
Jack Nicklaus: 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986
Arnold Palmer: 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964
Tiger Woods: 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005
Jimmy Demaret: 1940, 1947, 1950
Sam Snead: 1949, 1952, 1954
Gary Player: 1961, 1974, 1978
Nick Faldo: 1989, 1990, 1996
Horton Smith: 1934, 1936
Byron Nelson: 1937, 1942
Ben Hogan: 1951, 1953
Tom Watson: 1977, 1981
Seve Ballesteros: 1980, 1983
Bernhard Langer: 1985, 1993
Ben Crenshaw: 1984, 1995
José María Olazábal: 1994, 1999
Phil Mickelson: 2004, 2006
Woods won seven straight tournaments in a row on the US Tour-end of lat season to the beginning of this-before going down at last months 'Doral' in Miami, looking unbeatable up until that rare blip, most fellow pros settling for second place in North America now. The cretin Ian Poulter, he who wears the ridiculous clothing, claimed to be the only challenger to Tigers domination, but last scene heading off to Europe with his tail between his legs.
With Woods nudging evens in the market there's value elsewhere on each-way betting, paying five places if you shop around. Phil Mickelson (8 out of top 10 finishes here) is 11-1 second favorite and has won around here twice in the Tiger era, milking the gap when Woods had his kid with the trophy white wife and, of course, the beloved death of his father Earl.
The ever reliable Vejay Singh at Majors weekend is priced 16-1 because of that whilst in-form Major winner Ian Ogilvy from Australia is next at 25-1. Our first European in the betting is Open Champion Padriagh Hamilton at 28-1, sharing the price with big tournament player Ernie Els with some high street firms. Another one that is good around here and won Majors is the excellent Retif Goosen (two seconds and two thirds here), a generous 33-1 with Hills. Justin Rose is the first Brit fancied by the bookies at 33-1 with Luke Donald at 40s. http://www.oddschecker.com/golf/us-masters/win-market
-Who to bet on-
The facts are though that no British or Irish player has won a Major outside of Carnoustie since Tiger Woods turned professional. You have to go back to Faldos win in 96 at the Masters for a major win in America. Young Casey (66-1) and Justin Rose (40-1) and Luke Donald are guys that could win one or two majors around the world and Rose has led a few during the first three rounds. But this is not the place to break their duck. If it's going to be a non America winner then I would be looking at value from the Southern Hemisphere. I've mentioned U S Open champion Ogilvy and his fellow Aussie Adam Scott (33-1) is also having an amazing season. KJ Choi from Korea looks like he fancies this course with two good finishes over the last couple of years. Big Angel Cabrera (80-1) is a guy I like around Augusta and I'm sure he will be there or there about on Sunday. Tim Clark from South Africa is another guy that will one day win big.
£2 each-way on Ogilvy at 25-1
£2 each-way on Retif Goosen at 33-1
£1 win on Ernie Els.
-The Rules of Augusta-
The club is fastidious to say the least who they let in and there's a one year waiting list for course admission tickets for the big event. Its strict rules for the media to, 4 minutes of commercials an hour only, only recently did they let ABC show all 18 holes live. There are all manner of silly and pedantic rules for players and spectators alike, including no running, no inappropriate clothing - and the poor cadies having to wear those sweaty dungarees in all weathers.
Bags, Backpacks, Purses, Packages
Weapons of any kind (regardless of permit)
Folding armchairs/Rigid type chairs or stools
To increase TV revenues the tournament committee has used their wildcards on obscure Asian players, meaning the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo miss out. Nick Faldo hasn't taken up his champion's privilege to play, having a pop from behind the mic instead - his other favorite sport. The second most nervous moment at this year's tournament, behind Faldos hand shake with fellow Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger, is the one when the very old ex-champions being asked to hit the ceremonial first tee shot on the Thursday. In the year of 2001 someone called Coody was a little too old for the job in hand and hooked it into the crowd and hit a punter square in the forehead-the guy on the actual tee! The poor old champ didn't know where to look, hence his near decapitation of a similarly stunned elderly gentleman.
The youngest winner of the Masters is Tiger Woods, who was 21 years 104 days old when he won in 1997. In this year Woods also broke the records for the widest winning margin (12 strokes), and the lowest winning score, with 270 (-18). Jack Nicklaus was 46 years 82 days old when he won in 1986, making him the oldest winner of the Masters. Nicklaus is the record holder for the most top tens, with 22, and the most cuts made, with 37. Two of Nicklaus's rivals in his prime; Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, known as The Big Three, hold the record for most appearances, with 50 each. Player holds the record for the number of consecutive cuts made, with 23 between 1959 and 1982 (Player did not compete in 1973 due to illness). He shares this record with Fred Couples, who made his consecutive cuts between 1983 and 2007, not competing in 1987 and 1994. Nick Price and Greg Norman share the course record of 63, with their rounds coming in 1986 and 1996 respectively. This score is also a record for all major championships. The highest winning score of 289 (+1) has occurred three times: Sam Snead in 1954, Jack Burke, Jr. in 1956, and Zach Johnson in 2007. 
(Above paragraph courtesy wikipedia)
It starts with the 'Champions Dinner', where last years Green Jacket holder gets to pick the menu. Scott Hoch made some racist comments about Tiger wanting 'chicken and rice' after the young kids first jacket and the mush despised big mouth seem to be booed out of the game pretty soon after. It was only thirty years ago before that incident that black people were only allowed into Augusta to clean the toilets and shine the members shoes.
On the Wednesday it's the traditional press day and the relaxed Par three tournament, the only golf event everyone wants to lose. No one has ever won it and gone on to win the Masters in the same year.
First presented in 1949 its what every pro wants to win, Augusta National the supreme test of golf, The British Open in second place ,purely because the big American players didn't always fly over to compete here, the Scottish links weather particularly too much for some.
The green jacket is only allowed to be removed from Augusta National briefly by the reigning champion, after which it must remain at the club. (The only exception to this rule is Gary Player, who failed to return his jacket after his 1961 victory, having mistakenly taken it home.). The club owns the rights to the jackets.
2007 Zach Johnson United States +1 2
2006 Phil Mickelson United States -7 2
2005 Tiger Woods United States -12 Playoff (2)
2004 Phil Mickelson United States -9 1
2003 Mike Weir Canada -7 Playoff (2)
2002 Tiger Woods United States -12 3
2001 Tiger Woods United States -16 2
2000 Vijay Singh Fiji -10 3
1999 José María Olazábal Spain -8 2
1998 Mark O'Meara United States -9 1
1997 Tiger Woods United States -18 12
1996 Nick Faldo England -12 5
1995 Ben Crenshaw United States -14 1
1994 José María Olazábal Spain -9 2
1993 Bernhard Langer Germany -11 4
1992 Fred Couples United States -13 2
1991 Ian Woosnam Wales -11 1
1990 Nick Faldo England -10 Playoff (2)
1989 Nick Faldo England -5 Playoff (2)
1988 Sandy Lyle Scotland -7 1
1987 Larry Mize United States -3 Playoff (3)
1986 Jack Nicklaus United States -9 1
1985 Bernhard Langer West Germany -6 2
1984 Ben Crenshaw United States -11 2
1983 Seve Ballesteros Spain -8 4
1982 Craig Stadler United States -4 Playoff (2)
1981 Tom Watson United States -8 2
1980 Seve Ballesteros Spain -13 4
1979 Fuzzy Zoeller United States -8 Playoff (3)
1978 Gary Player South Africa -11 1
1977 Tom Watson United States -12 2
1976 Raymond Floyd United States -17 8
1975 Jack Nicklaus United States -12 1
1974 Gary Player South Africa -10 2
1973 Tommy Aaron United States -5 1
1972 Jack Nicklaus United States -2 3
1971 Charles Coody United States -9 2
1970 Billy Casper United States -9 Playoff (2)
1969 George Archer United States -7 1
1968 Bob Goalby United States -11 1
1967 Gay Brewer United States -8 1
1966 Jack Nicklaus United States E Playoff (3)
1965 Jack Nicklaus United States -17 9
1964 Arnold Palmer United States -12 6
1963 Jack Nicklaus United States -2 1
1962 Arnold Palmer United States -8 Playoff (3)
1961 Gary Player South Africa -8 1
1960 Arnold Palmer United States -6 1
1959 Art Wall, Jr. United States -4 1
1958 Arnold Palmer United States -4 1
1957 Doug Ford United States -5 3
1956 Jack Burke, Jr. United States +1 1
1955 Cary Middleoff United States -9 7
1954 Sam Snead United States +1 Playoff (2)
1953 Ben Hogan United States -14 5
1952 Sam Snead United States -2 4
1951 Ben Hogan United States -8 2
1950 Jimmy Demaret United States -5 2
1949 Sam Snead United States -6 3
1948 Claude Harmon United States -9 5
1947 Jimmy Demaret United States -7 2
1946 Herman Keiser United States -6 1
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1945 Canceled due to World War II
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1942 Byron Nelson United States -8 Playoff (2)
1941 Craig Wood United States -8 3
1940 Jimmy Demaret United States -8 4
1939 Ralph Guldahl United States -9 1
1938 Henry Picard United States -3 2
1937 Byron Nelson United States -5 2
1936 Horton Smith United States -3 1
1935 Gene Sarazen United States -6 Playoff (2)
1934 Horton Smith United States -4 1
Here are some good things about golf as this review will contain no negatives. I'll leave that to anyone who wants to make comments.
The challenge you face is never the same, even when you play the same course every week. This is because the weather will be different, and the position of the tee and hole will have changed. Very subtle changes can make significant differences.
Every golf course is different, so if you try a new one that is a new challenge.
It is such a difficult game that you can never reckon to have cracked it, so even if you are really good at it you should never get bored - there are always further goals at which to aim. Even if you are really bad, you will just occasionally hit a shot that gives you real satisfaction and that brings you back for another go.
It gets you out in the fresh air for a few hours.
Golf courses are sometimes set in beautiful scenery. Golf courses are good for wildlife.
Sometimes you can hit a shot that you know is the absolute best you can do. Sometimes you know that even Tiger Woods might not have done so well - and you don't have to be a very good player for that to happen: just chip in from thirty yards, or get a birdie on a par three.
Hitting a golf shot right out of the middle of club feels amazing, and the flight of the ball can be really pretty.
After the round, you can think about your good shots, and the really interesting holes you have played.
You can play the game on your own, in which case it is you against the course and against your expectations. You can play directly against other people - when it's one against one, this is generally called match play and can be very exciting. You can play in competitions with any number of people, and the handicap system goes a long way to evening out the differences in players' abilities, so you could get a decent game against Tiger Woods even if you go round in 100 shots.
Golf clubs are very social places, where the beer is usually cheap and you can make new friends.
For any given situation, there are usually a great number of different ways of playing the shot successfully.
Golf tests your decision-making ability. It tests how well you deal with success and failure.
You can play golf from a very early age until you are ready for upstairs.
Golf tournaments can be very exciting to watch, both at the course and on television.
About ten years ago if you had of even suggested playing golf to me i would have laughed in your face. I was of the opinion that this was a sport for the upper class, and the wannabes, and it was very easy to spot the difference between the two. The upper class had moustaches, and a bald spot covered by a perfectly positioned ping cap. Possibly a monocle, and most definately a bow tie. The wannabes, had a trendy shell suit, and looked remarkably like the scousers from harry enfield on the telly.
However, my view was changed, as more and more of my friends gave it a try, and i decided to follow suit. I thought that it was a rich mans game, and was fearful of having to spend a fortune on the equipment. If you go to one of the specialist shop, this may be the case. But i was able to procure my first full set of clubs, a trolley, a bag, a glove, a pair of shoes, and some tees and balls for under £250. This will serve you well if looked after, and all that i really had to top up on to begin with was balls, as more and more of mine were lost in the rough. I became quite a good gardener (at least i was adept at hacking through long grass).
I felt nervous on the first outing. Still feeling rather out of place, and only having hit a few balls at the driving range previously, i found the first tee to be the most unsettling. It is guaranteed that you will have a few people standing watching as you hit your drive. Bugger, i sliced the ball right. A good point to learn a bit of etiquette. My favourite number became four, or should i say fore. Fore right or left signals to other players that your ball could be coming into contact with their head at any point. Replace all divots lifted by your club (in my case they were sort of craters, and had to be filled in with a shovel.). Do not wheel your trolley onto the green, and allow quicker players to play through (move past you so as not to hold them up.).
Basically, for those new to the sport, you are given a number of shots per hole, in which to get your little white ball into the little hole at the end (i think they actually make these smaller than the ball, so as to infuriate you further.). This number of shots allowed is called par. If you take less than the given number of shots, then you are under par, and this is the name of the game.
one shot under par is called a birdie
two shots under par is called an eagle. You will not likely need to know the names of any less, as they are to the mortal man, impossible to achieve.
for every shot more than par you take, you are over par, and thats bad, ok?
one shot over par is called a bogey
two shots over par is called a double bogey etc
You really dont play against other people as you learn, rather against the course itself.
Now, if you do go out to challange your friends, golf has a structure in place to allow the new players to challange the more experienced and make it more competitive. This is known as a handicap (my handicap appears to be golf itself!). this is where less experienced players are allowed extra strokes per hole. It essentially makes the par of each hole greater for the poorer players, so as to give them a sporting chance. This can be worked out when you are a member of a club, by playing a few rounds. My handicap is 18, meaning i get an extra 18 shots per 18 holes, which translates to an extra shot per hole. So for example, on a par 4, if i hole the ball in 5 strokes, i am essentially level par, not 1 over. This way you can go out and enjoy a round, and not embarrass yourself against the better players.
Practice most definately makes perfect, and in my experience, i would suggest taking a few lessons from the club pro. This allows you to establish a swing. Once you have a good swing, then it is a case of lining up, and repeatin the swing on every shot.
The sport, i find is very challanging, and is a great way to unwind. It takes full concentration, and as such is a good way to empty your mind to all troubles you have. Also it is very good excercise. My local course plays around 6 km, which translates to me walking about 10km after i have zig-zagged accross the course with errant shots! A round lasts around 4hrs, which takes the sting out of the price. I pay £18 for a round, but it turns out to be very good value, working out at £4.50 an hour. You would spend much more in the pub!!!
No-one will ever be perfect at this game, and it is one of the most challanging and absorbing sports there is. It is so rewarding to hit a great shot, and have the people behind you clap and offer advice. A very friendly bunch play the sport, and as long as you are not taking the michael, so to speak they will help where possible, and the crack is great. I have only given you a basic insight into the game here, and it is really a complex, and many varied thing. But if you want to take up a sport that keeps you healthy, but also has a great social aspect, then i suggest that you give it a try. Even if you borrow a set of clubs for the first while, until you confirm your liking for it, or otherwise. A great past-time, enjoyed on a fair playing field by both young and old. It is one of the few sports where the older you are, generally the better you get, and many a time i have been trounced by people of pensionable age! Hats off to them i say!!
The 19th hole
Golf joke for weddings - A pitching wedge shot is supposed too go up in the air, and land softly beside your target. But on an outing with a friend, he hit a shot with his pitching wedge. He hit the top of the ball, and it went straight, bounced several times, but landed beside the hole. He turned to me and said "thats what i call a son-in-law shot". Why do you call it that, i asked. He looked at me and replied " well, its not what i wanted, but it will do!".
A man was playing a shot towards the club-house, where his wife was sitting outside. It was about 500 yard, and he wanted to play the perfect shot. He hummed, and hahhed, lined it up, looked at several different clubs, and finnally settled down to play the shot. His playing partner then said to him " i dont know why you took so long anyway, you'll never hit her from here!".
Well its so long from me, and a final word would be try it, and if you dont like it you can say that its a load of balls (well one actually, i'm wrong as usual but thats par for the course!).
If anyone had told me twelve months ago that I would watch the last day of the US golf open on TV and what's more be glued to the screen throughout, I would have told that person that they were completely and utterly insane. Yet this was just what I was doing last Sunday and all down to having taken up golf myself earlier this year. Surprisingly I now find it extremely interesting to see how the players are standing, what club they are using and I even find myself gazing avidly at the TV at those shots that appears to be of nothing but sky.
I decided I would share my own experience in getting started in the game and perhaps this will explain this transformation of my opinion of golf on TV. As a novice, I am not going to be able to go into the rules and etiquette in a lot of detail as I am still learning all that myself I am afraid.
Last year I moved to Bermuda where golf is extremely popular and there is an abundance of fine golf courses. I did not consider taking up the sport at that point though, it probably wasn't until six months later when I went to the nearby driving range with my visiting sister and brother in law that my husband and I decided we should take the game up. We made it a new years resolution to learn to play golf, Bermuda is not a very big place and we definitely needed to find a new hobby and we also knew this would be a good way to make more friends.
We decided the sensible place to start was on the driving range and we also decided that taking lessons with a pro would be a good idea. Before our first lesson we went to the driving range several times but I found that I did not make progress by myself and I was hitting the ball just as well on the first visit as I was on the fifth. Just as badly should I say. My husband fared slightly better but truthfully he was just clobbering the balls out to the field and (we discovered) had incorrect technique and was unlikely to have made real progress without lessons.
Finally it was the day of our first lesson and we had booked an hour. We started off being shown how to grip the club, how to stand before taking a shot and of course the mechanics of a good golf swing. Our tutor observed us and was quickly able to pinpoint exactly what we were doing wrong and how we should correct. A few seemingly minor adjustments had an incredible effect particularly with me and by the end of my first lesson I easily trebled the average distance I was able to hit the ball. My husbands swing also improved a lot and became less clobbering and more effortless. After two lessons, he was doing so well the tutor was complimenting his god given talents and telling him how people would practice for years and not be able to hit the ball like this. My greatest compliment at this time was "Nearly". But I persevered.
Our aim was weekly lessons but of course things get in the way of this and we have probably averaged two a month at most. We spend a lot of time working on perfected our swing but the short game is really where the score can tot up so we have also spent some time working on chipping and putting and of course there are techniques for this play too that we would never have come up with by ourselves.
A few years ago back in the UK, I went to one group lesson about ten people to one tutor and that format did not work for me as there was so little individual attention. My conclusion on lessons is that they are essential and try to get them individually or with just one or two others, you will undoubtedly need less of them that way.
We got ourselves kitted out fairly early on, before the first lesson in fact. A weakness of mine is that whenever I decide to embark on a new endeavour I tend to confuse buying the appropriate outfits, equipment and accessories as making progress. In this particular situation though I think that the shopping was justified as we would have otherwise had to hire clubs and one is not allowed on a Bermuda golf course without the proper shoes and other attire.
First of all we bought our clubs, there are a few golf shops in Bermuda but there is a lot more choice in the UK of course. My husband did not have many sets to choose from as he is left handed, however he saw a very good deal and was able to get a set of irons and woods for $500. His set included three woods (1, 3 & 5) and seven irons (pitching wedge, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 & 4). My rather less than scientific explanation as to what this means is that the club heads are at different angles and the shafts are different lengths and this effects the height and distance of the ball being hit. So a pitching wedge will send the ball high but not very far, the nine not quite as high but a bit further and so on up until the lowest iron. The woods are used when you need to hit a long drive and the numbering is similar, the 1 will hit further than the 5.
I had a few more options to chose from, at first I was very tempted to splash out on an expensive $1,400 set because I liked the look and brand name. In the end I was persuaded that this was a silly thing to do and I got a set of Wilson clubs for about $700 which included the same clubs as my husbands plus a "hybrid" which is apparently something between a wood and an iron, it looks like a small wood and is easier to use when you are new to the game. My $700 also included a bag, however I didn't like it so I gave that to my husband and bought myself a bag I liked. We both had to buy a putter and now we are getting out on the course more we decided to invest in a sand wedge each, you know just in case..
I am very glad that I did not buy the more expensive set of clubs or buy them individually, I am absolutely certain that it would not have made a jot of difference to my game as a novice. I probably would not recommend buying the cheapest set of clubs around but I do think being economical with the first set makes sense. Other essential and relatively inexpensive items we bought at this stage were golf gloves (you buy one to fit your opposite hand, so I bought one for my left hand), tees, balls, furry animal club head covers and golf shoes.
We asked around a little and discovered that one of the easier courses on the island was at the hotel a mile away from where we live so we decided that this would be the one we would visit. The course is considered easy as it is short and every hole is a par 3. The maximum par of any golf hole is 5 so one way to judge the difficulty of a course is to see how high the par for the course is. Another consideration is the length, although we found the best way to find out what a course is like is to ask other golfers as courses that are shorter but are narrow or have lots of lakes and bunkers can be difficult as well as the long ones.
We first went out on the course after a couple of lessons, our tutor thought we were quite brave to go out on the course so soon. I think he would have been right had we gone out onto one of the more difficult courses, frequented by experienced players but the course we went to has lots of beginners on it so it is not quite as pressured.
But there is a surprising amount of pressure on a golf course, especially when there are others watching your tee shot. Unfortunately we have discovered that although you can book a round for yourself and another, the courses will very often pair couples and solo golfers up and you have to be prepared for that. On my second round we were grouped with a third golfer who worked at the hotel and was an extremely good player. It made me very nervous, I could not hit the ball and was not enjoying myself at all and stopped playing at the halfway mark. I did not go back on the course for about two months afterwards.
I was finally tempted back onto the course when we arranged to play with a couple of novice friends and hence avoided the risk of being paired up with a very accomplished stranger! This has proved a successful strategy as we had a few more rounds, increased my comfort levels and after about half a dozen rounds I felt that I would be comfortable with playing with somebody I don't know, although that has not actually happened yet.
The length of time it takes to complete the course depends not only upon how big it is, but also how difficult and how many other players are out, but it is quite normal for it to take four or five hours to go around an average course. I enjoy getting the fresh air and some exercise as I go to retrieve my ball from wherever it may land although I tend to drive the golf cart between holes.
Etiquette and terminology~~~
Well as I mentioned I still have a lot to learn in this regard but I can probably cover a few basics. One of the most important things when out on the course is to keep the game moving and don't slow down other players. Of course you need to enjoy your own game so you need to get the balance right between rushing yourself and holding other people up.
If the people behind seem to be always waiting for your group to finish up on the green, then you should let them through at the next hole. If this is a persistent problem then you should limit the number of strokes you allow yourself for each hole. I have been out with somebody who scored a 17, which is getting silly, she should have stopped at 8 or 10 or thereabouts.
The next etiquette point is order of play, which is straightforward, after tee off the person furthest away from the hole will play first and so on until completion. On the green the person or persons nearest the hole will pick up their ball and put a marker down so they are not hit by other balls. The first one to putt can choose whether the flag stays in or comes out and the other players have to do likewise. I think there is a convention or rule on the order of tee off but I haven't worked that out yet, I do know that you should not speak or move whilst another player is teeing off and indeed you should show similar restraint throughout the game.
You should not take too long looking for you ball if your shot goes adrift, I believe three minutes is normal and then you should take a drop shot, that is put a fresh ball down roughly where the last one went missing and take a penalty stroke.
The first stroke at any hole is called the tee off. If the hole is a short one you would hope to land on the putting green. If it is a longer hole then you would hope to land somewhere on the fairway, this is the area of grass running up to the green, it is not quite as smooth as the green but is short grass and pretty easy to hit the ball on from here. If you are unlucky with your shot then you may find yourself in the rough, these are the areas of longer grass to the side of the fairway and it is not quite so easy to hit your ball in a controlled manner from here. If you are very unlucky your ball may land in a sand bunker or a lake, neither of these requires explanation.
Every hole has a designated par, the number of strokes it "should" take to putt the ball. If you manage to putt the ball in this number of strokes then your score is said to be on par. If you take an extra stroke then it is called a bogie, two extra strokes is a double bogie and so on. If you manage to putt your ball in one less than the holes par then it is called a birdie, two less strokes is an eagle and three an albatross. I can't imagine there are many more of these than there are hole in ones.
Costs ($2 = £1 approx at the moment)~~~
Golf has a reputation of being an expensive game and this is not entirely unwarranted although you can make it as expensive as you like by joining an exclusive club or you can play on a much cheaper municipal golf course. Likewise you can buy top end clubs or buy something perfectly adequate for much less.
My costs have all been incurred in Bermuda but I think they are a reasonable guide for similar in the UK, in fact most things are a little bit cheaper in the UK. So as I mentioned I got a set of clubs for $700, my husband $500 and we bought an additional bag for about $200 as one set came without. That makes a total of approx £700 for two sets of "average" (Wilson) clubs. I have had a look on line and think it would be easy to find a set of clubs for this or less in the UK, although of course it can be done more expensively as well. Most golf courses will insist that players wear proper golf shoes and a non-designer pair is about the same as a pair of trainers. Furry animal head covers seem to be a bit cheaper in the UK as well, you can get these for about £5 - £10 on line.
We joined the golf club at the local hotel and the joint membership for a year was $1,200 with an additional one off joining fee of $500, again between us not each. This is a cheap membership and allows us unlimited rounds during the year although we pay $20 for hire of the golf cart. I know that some of the other clubs on the island charge about $20,000 a year or even more, something we would not contemplate. In the UK, again I would expect that there is a similar range of options.
Some clubs will only allow members to play but many allow non-members, we played recently at one of the expensive clubs and the round cost us $100 each including golf cart hire, having your own clubs makes a round a lot cheaper as club hire would have been another $45 and you are not allowed to share clubs. I have never had a round of golf in the UK, but I believe on a nice (but not top) course £30 - £40 is a fairly average price and a municipal course would be cheaper tha this. I also looked into price in the US as we were thinking of a round on holiday and $80 - $100 was typical.
I think there is a long way to go before I will have a handicap, but I am not in any rush and I have not found the game to be as frustrating as people used to tell me it was, I just play it to enjoy it and don't worry about scores too much at the moment. That will come with practice and regular play. The other thing I like about golf is that it is a very sociable game and it is quite handy for my work as there are always corporate golf events on in Bermuda, in fact I participated in my first tournament this week. With a bit more practice and next time I am determined my team won't come last!
Having never golf before in my life, I often watched the celebrity club over the august bank holiday, but never participated until last weekend. I went into this expecting it to be difficult, much more complicated than Ronan Keating and Chris Evans make it look on the television.
I decided I might as well go the whole hog and so bought myself the Powerbilt V2 Package Deal - Ladies RH from http://www.golfunplugged for £149 (the best deal I found)
This set is an entry level Ladies package set for a right-handed golfer, featuring graphite shafted woods/hybrid and steel shafted irons. Designed to meet the needs of the beginner with the aim to keep the outlay to a minimum.
The kit included: Driver, Fairway wood, Hybrid club, Steel shafted putter and Cart bag including matching rain hood.
I was quite shocked by how nervous I was and how seriously we all took the sport. It was at times very relaxing while at other extremely stressful.
Feeling the nerves in the pit of my stomach I step up to tee off, running through everything I have been told in my head - Focus, Visualise, Hit it!
Ok so I didn't do too great on my first shot but I did hit the ball and it went far enough for me to be pleased.
I didn't do too great throughout the entire game, but it is the taking part that counts right not the winning. I had a great time and came out with an ok handicap - although not good enought to share with the general community yet.
We will be going back to the club and I hope to improve with time, I might even take a few lessons.
Im a big fan of watching and playing golf, although the later is part of my job as most of our business is done on the course. Just as my drives predictably end up with the quartet in the nineteenth hole I suspect Tiger Woods is going to romp away with the sports blue ribband major. A links by the way means a course built on reclaimed land from the sea. This generally means there are no trees or deep bunkers around as both don?t like salty water. It also means it?s exposed to every element and nuinsce that can annoy the hell out of the most experienced head. Young Justin Rose may have the biggest challenge of all out there as he?s been paired with the might Albeck (Tiger) Woods, whos game is tuned like the finest pinged china. Not only will the young hopeful have to cope with the intimidation factor but the humdrum and noise that goes with the worlds best golfers galleries. As soon as he tees off the crowd are moving for the best view of the second shot. Then when he puts out the masses are on their way to the best vantagepoints at hole number two, regardless of the concentration of his playing partners. I don?t think that will intimidate Rose as he?s in good form and happy to be back where it all started. The other guy in the trio is Sugimura Yatumaka who along with many Japanese players seems to always partner Woods during the big matches here, supposedly for Jap TVs lucrative commercial golf mad market. Tiger?s main problem here is hay fever. Not the best news for the American as moist of it is a five feet high and just off the fairway. Its going to be tough enough for the players to hack out of it, especially on the first tee but sneezing and eye watering!. Off tee the bookies make him red hot favorite not surprisingly at 7/4.Hes won seven of the last eleven majors and is ready to do the?slam? off all four in a year to back up the ?Tiger Slam? of four in a row two years back. Saying that, The Open is perh
aps the toughest of the majors to win because of the weather and the unique way links have to be played. If the wind gets up or the rough curls around his ball like evil asps then we have a championship. Last years winner in ?The Terminator?, David Duvall hasn?t had a good year since and has only managed one top ten finish and missed the last two cuts in the majors. But he did get in the mix at last weeks Western Open that may signal some sort of form. The golfer did say that he felt good once again when the pressure was on. He?s 40-1 on the highstreet although Tom Watson was the last guy to defend this championship back in 84,and this guy is no Tom Watson!. Phil Mickleson is the only guy that seems to have the power and skill to get near Woods lately but has had only one top ten in our Open. He obviously doesn?t like or can?t handle links courses so it would be a bit of a risk to back that seaside form. He?s been trying to become the first left hander to win the open for a long time now and doesn?t seem to get any where near it. Big value is the precocious Sergio Garcia who has finished top ten in all of his majors so far. He also won the amateur Open here at Muirfield that bought the little wizard to world attention. He likes to give it back to the US galleries and give them the finger when it gets too much. If ever there was an Each Way bet screaming at you with a megaphone then this is. William Hill online have him at 25-1. Davis Love the third hangs around many a leader board and is similarly placed in the world?s top ten golfers. Els is the most consistent non American along with Vejay Sing, although the later has never done anything at the Open. Big Darren Clarke has had an ok season and with his power could be good at 40-1.He was level 5th in 2001 and 4th outright last year. Those sorts of odds with everyone relaxed playing for second are very tempting. The enigma Colin Montgomorie is like t
hat British naval captain in Australian waters who was going along serenely and routinely and then managed to hit the worlds biggest rock. The big Scot just seems to make one error when it matters and falls apart as quick as HMS Nottinghams breached hull. He?s had only one top ten finish in the championship in 12 years and never fares well at home in bonnie Scotland. On the plus side he has featured ok in the last three.6 shots down in 1999 and 2001 are no mug rounds and maybe the lack of pressure on him to do well as he approaches forty years old. Talking of old farts, Eduardo Romero at 48 won the Scottish Masters last year and dallies with leaderboards quite a lot these sunset years. The last two Masters he led in the early stages. This is a guy who doesn?t give up with his favorite saying being?We do not stop playing because we are old-we grow old because we stop playing?. Theres lots of things to do off the course for the fans including an exhibition they had last year when I went to watch. Absolut Vodka have a virtual golf machine where any one can play alongside Tiger in virtual links or try and out drive big John Daley. The title of the exhibition is called ?Absolut art holes? believe it or not. My favorite of course activity involves twenty-year-old whisky and those rustic Scottish lasses. The winner this year (Tiger!) gets 700,00 grand!,that?s one hundred g up on Duvall?s cheque.And twice what lucky plucky winner Paul Lawrie picked up three years ago. The second place guy gets a cool 400,000 thousand down to twentieth getting that in thousands. Even last place gets 2000!. I think those pay cheques are one of the reasons why no one is in a hurry to chase down the near invincible Woods. If they can trawl the manicured US tour fairways in the sun and still pick up half a million in sponsorship and those cheques with out actually winning any tournaments then why bother. It?s not that Woods is invincible b
ut he?s sewn the seeds of doubt in his nearest rivals. All the great sportsman win half the battle that way and only five or six guys have the courage to chase him down in this form. One is the aging Faldo who is actually defending champion at Muirfield as he was the last to win here .His neat game and courage should bare well over this non driver obsessed course. Another one to have a go with his newer more aggressive do or die style, mainly in response to Tigers domination is big hitter Mickleson. Lets not forget Woosnam, a man always with an extra trick and club in his hand and first to the bar. As for Tiger who will yet again be drinking from the claret jug the nectar of youth and success. Well the words of Gary Player, who is missing this year?s championship for the first time in forty years?The harder I practice the luckier I get?. Or maybe the most celebrated sports star of all time George Best who quoted by a waiter who took up his room service.?Where did it all go wrong? smiled the diminutive Irishman surrounded by beautiful women, beer, and bundles of bank notes. Times have been a changing in the American deep south with over 70% of people surveyed for the Atlanta times wanting to see a black guy in Tiger win again over a first time major for Phil Mickleson, the white college educated homey!. What a truly wonderful role model this guy is to Americas and the worlds disenfranchised black youth. The Williams sisters have proved that it can be done against all prejudice.
We all suffer from the same human instinct. We all think we can be Tiger Woods. We all can go out there and hit the ball 300 plus yards and 1 putt every single hole. In reality though for most of us we know this will never happen. The real question is then, why we still go out and put ourselves on the line every weekend. We all get the same nerves before we step up to the first tee. Some people are going through their pre shot drills, others are smoking, while people like me try to focus by mentally going through all the things that our golf instructors had told us to focus on. Visualize your greatest shot and you will hit it. If it was that simple, golf would not be as popular a game as it is today. If we could all be like Tiger Woods, we wouldn't be as obsessed as we are with it. Oh and we are obsessed, do not pretend like your not. Your the one that goes to the golf store and tries out clubs for hours, always looking over your shoulder hoping that you are the only one in the store. Your the one that goes out in a t-shirt and sneakers and prays that you got the one tee time when no one else wanted to be playing so the only person who would know that you can only hit 150 and have a 25 handicap on a good day. Well my friend I have good news, but its a secret . . .your not the only one. There are tons of us. In fact if we all gather together I bet we out number the good golfers of the world. In fact I'm going to make a statement. We care more about golf than the 2 handicapper. For us we're going out there for the experience, their going out there to lower their score. Not that we don't want to, many of us would give our left arm to get five strokes off of our score, but to a certain extent it means we're out there for a different reason. Yes we get mad when we hit a shot poorly, but at the end of the day, taking a mulligan is not as big a deal as the "good players," would like to make it. I mean don't you think
Tiger Woods might get bored with being so good. I was watching pre- US Open coverage and he basically said that he was going to win. "Are there and facets of your game that you wish to improve?" "No, I'm pretty comfortable with everything right now." How many of us can say that? I know I can't. So anyway I'm on the tee for my first shot of the day. Head down, full follow through, here we go. Now I have never been so unfortunate to miss the ball, or throw my club farther than my ball, but I have seen it happen many times before. We all have nerves, there is no way to avoid them. Something about having people watching you on the first tee is intimidating. Maybe its the fact that you butt ahead of a guy in line to a get a tee time, and he's glaring at you now hoping for you to slip up. If you think like that of course your going to duff the ball. You know the best feeling though. Its when you do hit the ball perfectly, and that guy that has so obviously been glaring at you for the past few minutes realizes that it will be his turn soon, and there is no turning back. I think thats what I like about golf, there is no turning back. Whatever skill level you are you are. Let the guy think whatever he wants. You know that he will have at least one shot today that he will be disappointed about. Another thing that you the 25 handicapper, me and the rest golfing world share in common is making excuses. "I didn't get enough sleep," "thinking about something else." Heres what I have to say about that. I think that this is the reason that people like you and I play golf. There all these things in golf that make us worry, make us dread maybe even hate the game, but we still play it. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that the golfer who takes golf for what is, hitting a ball in a hole in as little shots as you can, misses out on why I play golf. I play golf so I can hate it, so I can th
ink about something else. Our lives have so many difficult obstacles to get by, golf on the large scale seems like such a silly thing to worry about. When I add up my score at the end of the day and I have 90 I'm just as happy as if I had gotten a 85. Its the moments you remember. The 30 foot putt you made that won the bet between you and your friend, your one monster drive, or even your ace if your so lucky. Golf is an escape, it shouldn't be a lifestyle.