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Hallamshire Golf Club, Sheffield

An incredibly understated and uninviting piece about golf in the local Sheffield Star reads:

“Hallamshire Golf Club is nestled between the Peak District and the City, on Redmires Road.  The club is home to one of the best and most challenging courses in the North of England”

Well thats true, but …

Recent winner of the US Open, 2022, Matt Fitzpatrick is a member here, not only that but other greats such as Alison Nicholas, the winner of the US Women’s Open 1997 and Solheim Cup Captain in 2009 and 2011, lesser known Mary Everard, (recently deceased), was a four time player in the Curtis Cup- all have links to the Hallamshire – in short this course produces winners, quality winners at that.

It is true, Sheffield isn’t known as a tourist trap, its deep rooted industrial heritage in steel surpassed only by the friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) rivalry of the two home grown football teams; the Owls and the Blades. The natural friendliness of Yorkshire people and their, usually deserved, status of ‘no flies on us’ approach puts this city on the map for many reasons – but golf isn’t one of them.

Fitzpatrick admits that his home course is very similar to Brookline, Massachusetts where two historic wins US Open as an Amateur in 2013 and the more recent one of the US Open Champion 2022 puts him as only the second person (behind Jack Nicklaus) to win both these titles at the same course.  Matt says of his home course; the Hallamshire is shorter (than Brookline) but the greens can be tour standard and are the best around.

The pro shop, albeit welcoming, is just like any other, the clubhouse doesn’t scream at you despite its commanding elevated position overlooking the course. Truth is, unless you knew it was there, you could easily drive past the club.   But what it lacks in showy appearance it more than makes up for as a challenging, well designed course for all.

A fairly intimidating first hole appears narrower than it actually is off the tee, but the clubhouse popping up into full view once you’ve driven the ball is enough to put anyone off – especially if you’ve hit a poor drive.  Add the OOB on the right and the in your face wind, you’d be happy to survive hole one with a decent score and scurry onto the second tee as you become engulfed in the course.

The 4th, par 4 SI7/1 (460/378 yards) is quite a straight hole called Bilberry Dimpling.  The name bought back fond memories of me sitting atop the Moors picking bilberries for Mum to make jam.  Whilst hole 4 didn’t bring back those comfort memories of home cooking, it is a fairly open yet lovely hole.  From the 4th, over the 8th, you can see the aptly named Snake Pass as it winds its way along the hillside carrying people to endless opportunities in their little square boxes on wheels.

Redesigned in the1930’s by Harry Colt, Hallamshire golf course embraces the natural terrain of hillocks, sways, heather, gorse and of course bilberries. Add the odd bunker – whose level of consistency with their sand and depth of sand was as good as any top course I’ve played, and you’re on to something special.

The 6th intrigued me with its far reaching views of Hallam Gorse Moor with its WWI training camp.  Even to this day overhead images show the outline of the trenches dug – weird to think that another great golf course designer, Alister MacKenzie was instrumental in the design of the trenches during WWI!   Hidden behind the trees on this par 3 193/127 yard (SI15/17) hole you can just about see Rivelin Dams.  

The (member) legendary 9th, with it’s hard to stop the ball on the green challenges any such notions of making a birdie on this par 3!  Such is he slope of this green that any downhill putt is met with trepidation. This is not a hole you’d give a gimme in a match!

As the back nine is 220/360 yards longer than the front, bagging a decent front nine score could help you with your overall score.

The 10th is a par 5 from the front, par 4 from the back tees.  It is literally laid out in front of you.  A slightly elevated tee off area before it drops down to a water course crossing the fairway.  The green is cleverly positioned to be slightly off centre with a bunker left.  A brave shot over or work you way around into the mouth of the green. Its name  Perfection is one you’d strive to live up to on this hole.

The course continues to work its way around the natural landscape throwing in many challenges, especially for those who haven’t played it before!  Large sways of gorse are in play as they hug the ravines transcending downwards or pop up in places you’d rather they didn’t.  

Hole 15 is called Long.  This par 5 is a test for those who may no hit so far or have left their ‘A game’ in the car park.  Measuring 584/506 SI10/4 this is one hole which you could be punished or rewarded on.

Slightly different in outlook and design is the 17th, a par three over a shallow gorse ravine to a slightly elevated green.  The imposing rock face sits immediately to the right of the hole and green.  A clean hit is required to make it over the gorse and over the multiple bunkers protecting this 134/123 yard par 3.

A sloping fairway right to left closing hole par 5 487/452 yard SI 14/5 is one where you could walk away with pride or hang your head in shame as the clubhouse and any patio loungers overlook the final green.

In summary; the Hallamshire greens were superb, the bunkers were consistent and the fairways offered so many different thought provoking opportunities – from all the tees.  It is a must play for any golfer.  Enjoy the hospitality which is sure to be extended to any visitor.

Sarah Forrest

Golf Guru Group

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Cavendish Golf Club, Buxton, Derbyshire

It is no surprise to most of you, I am a massive Alister MacKenzie fan, so when I was offered the opportunity to play another of his thought provoking designs, I jumped at the chance.

Buxton is a spa town in the High Peak borough of Derbyshire, England.  It is the highest market town on the edge of the Peak District National park.  Even the drive through beautiful Buxton got us excited as we started to climb up to the golf course.  Buxton is just 45 minutes from Manchester airport, and about 50 mins from Manchester or Sheffield centres making it accessible by car or plane for those wishing to explore this beautiful area.

In 1923 The Duke of Devonshire allocated some land and requested, the now legendary, Alister MacKenzie to design an 18 hole golf course.  Golf history in the making, the Cavendish course took the name of the Duke of Devonshire and still to this day the family retains  some links to the golf club.  Maybe better known in golf history is Cavendish being the inspiration for Augusta National, with amazing similarities.  Cavendish Golf Club was opened in 1925, some eight years before Augusta National.

A coolish start to what turned out to be a sunny day, we tee’d it up with Lady Captain, Rachel.  A relative newcomer to the sport, Rachel was as keen as mustard  and I was not without a little jealousy at her being able to take up such a great sport on such an iconic course in such a beautiful setting.  Although she did try to tell me it wasn’t always sunny there!

Hole one was the pathway to the course, the gradual leading you into the clutches of the MacKenzie lair.  It wasn’t until hole 2 with its tiered green that it curled its lip and bared the teeth as the course to conquer, or just enjoy, as we did.

Not overly long in length  (5721/5162 yards) and true to MacKenzie ethos, Cavendish is more about being able to play the course rather than the length of the ball one can hit – sure enough having a decent drive doesn’t hurt, especially if you can get yourself in to position A.  None more obvious than on hole 11.  Keeping the tee shot centre left is perfect to take on the ravine with the babbling brook beneath a drop off, and to give yourself a shot to the green.  Slightly shorter off the tee and you have the conundrum of deciding whether to lay up or go for the green across the drop off and water course.  A relatively short par 5 (403/366 yards), SI9 can lead to a birdie opportunity.  

I was looking forward to the MacKenzie greens with their, in places, excessive undulations. The 17th is a large green left to right but a tee shot short and a huge uphill awaits you.  Personally I like the excessive slopes on greens, it means I have to read them.  To me its like playing snooker.   When you’re looking to put the blue in the middle left pocket, what angle do I need to take and do I need to bounce off the side to do so… You might think a bit of a mathematical brain could be needed but I can assure you – that’s not me!!

One thing that struck me at Cavendish was the desire to return the course back to its original state.  MacKenzie is not known to put bunkers in places just to make the game too hard, his bunker positioning is carefully thought through with the regular club golfer in mind.  Cavendish have lost some of their bunkers over the years so I’m delighted to see they are gradually reinstating them.  Not only this but come the millennium year for the club in 2025, all the bunkers will have replacement sand.  Playing the course today, one can still enjoy the course, but it’d be great to play it when all the green have been done and back to the original design.

Snatches of Augusta’s iconic holes catch ones eye as you play the course.  The Scotch pines being prominent in making this comparison.  With just 4 full time greenskeepers and 2 part time ones, their passion is evident in the way they embrace the ethos of the course designer.  Bumping into a couple of them whilst playing was not only an opportunity for some good banter but also an opportunity to acknowledge the pride they took in their work.

Interestingly, the course doesn’t go out in nine and back in nine.  It seems the course layout has been changed either just before or just after it opened so all the hard hole were not all on the back nine.  This ‘new’ change is reverted back to the MacKenzie way for 4 days of the year when the course is taken back to its original design – just for fun.  I really love that idea and might just knock on the door of the Cavendish during that four day period.  That said, the ‘new’ layout does not detract from the beauty of the course and its surroundings, more I like to think that Mackenzie gave options.

Although parkland at first appearance and yes it is true there are plenty of trees in places (needed as there are no toilets on the course!), weirdly the open landscape of Cavendish Golf course site does lend itself to be played like a links in places- the chip and run shot is a good one to have in your bag – especially if the wind is blowing!  But make sure you bring more than that shot to the course otherwise the water courses and the odd tree might get the better of you! 

The white club house sits proud and offers a warm welcome on arrival and a comforting big hug if the course beats you up.   Not an overly large, ridiculous small or ostentatious building, just comfortably sat within its space commanding its position with pride- ready and waiting to greet you.

So, if you cant get to play Augusta, give Cavendish a go, I loved it and would definitely return.

www.cavendishgolfclub.com

Words and Images

Sarah Forrest

Golf Guru Group

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Manor House, Castle Combe, England

Staying at the 14th Century Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe near Bath last week and playing the Peter Alliss and Clive Clark designed course was a real treat.

The 5* Manor House hotel and restaurant experience was second to non.  Nestled in the award winning ‘Prettiest UK Village’ and being home to masterpiece greats such as Warhorse and Downton Abbey.  The Manor House hotel is a short drive to the golf course. The hotel is split into various accommodation offerings- I stayed in one of the mews cottages overlooking the front car park and gardens beyond.  An oldie woldie style of dark wood and plush furnishings and a huge bed oozed comfort which didn’t disappoint.

Dinner in the Castle Inn was a short walk from the accommodation with breakfast being served in the main hotel building itself – both meals were of both quality and quantity.

In contrast the clubhouse is relatively new, and as such has good break away rooms for golf groups or meetings.  The verandah overlooks the iconic 18th hole which has water in play to the right of its approach.

Hole one takes you over an old motte and bailey, although now the motte is only distinguishable but is in play for the first drive to a dog leg left.  The course shows its colours from hole 2 – an elevated par three of 118/151 yards, SI 13/17 the view is wonderful down to the green as a babbling brook dissects the short fairway and wraps itself around to the left of the green.

The 6th was slightly annoying from the forward tees, in so far as the back tees had a small pond to go over.  The forward tees were, in my opinion, harder than the back tees as the shot of choice was not straight onto the fairway but approached by an angle.  The the line of choice from the tee is to the right of the bumps and over the corner of another stretch of water. That said, being a par 5, there was scope to go off piste and still recover with it being a SI7/15.

Hole 8, par 4 is a big hitters dream at just 239/309 yards (SI13/17) from tiered elevated tee boxes.  OOB left and a few trees right, it didn’t give the appearance of being intimidating either and therefore was drivable for a birdie or easy par.  Looking back from the green to the tee made you realise how high the tee boxes are.

Hole 10 sets the scene for the undulating fairways of the back nine, a slight dog leg left through the humps to an approachable green just around the corner. 

When people talk about The Manor House – hole 12 or 17 are the holes they are most likely to discuss, why?  

Hole 12 – potentially controversial to golfers and golf course designers.  As one rounds the corner, the hole comes into sight and one can see why.

That said I love a challenge so was delighted to give the ball a good hit to the sloping right to left fairway as it runs down the hill – naturally club choice is key off the tee as too far and you’re either into the rubbish right or left or even into the ravine.   The dot to dot fairway climbs quite sharply after the ravine to the hugely elevated, bunker protected (right) fairly large green.  Add a not so insignificant tree to mess with the drive means accuracy is important rather than length on this hole.  This par 5 SI 2 12th (430/498 yards) continues to cause many discussions – personally I think its a great hole and feel it is quite reachable in regulation with carful course management.

Interesting, playable golf continued with shadow casting bumps and humps and the odd small pond to negotiate – then hole 17 came into play.  Now I will be honest here, its another one of my favourites.

As you leave the green from hole 16, unaware of what is ahead (spoiler alert) it hits you in the face as you gradually take a short ride downhill to the tee box.  The tee box is one long expanse right to left with the various tees positioned along its length.  Before deciding which club to take, wander along the tee box – camera in hand, and enjoy the view.  Not one but two greens to play for, one right, one left, you never know which green is in play on the day you’ll play.  Great for the green keepers who can switch them around as weather dictates.  Weather does come into play here as the tee boxes are quite elevated and again have that babbling brook meandering around the two greens, pretty as a picture.  The greens are not small target greens but too short, too long, too far left or right could lead to a no score on the card – and no one wants that!

Up hill afterwards to the closing hole – it is this hill that makes you grateful you hired a buggy!

A good par 4, SI10 finish (322/384 yards) with a favourable drive centre left to avoid the tree right enables a shot to the green to miss the water right and bunkers left.

In summary, an established course set within hill and valley and some lovely Cotswold countryside.  The practice green looks like it had been on steroids with massive elevation changes, but the actual greens were less sloping, with some subtle movement of the ball.  In the main they were in good condition.  Tee boxes were in good condition too, that is the forward and back tee boxes.  Fairways were cleverly thought through to enjoy the countryside yet hold your attention to the game in hand, in short, a great course to visit.  For the ultimate experience, try the stay and play option and immerse yourself into the true English countryside

Words and images from Sarah Forrest, LC Ambassador

Insta: @tlg.golfplus | Youtube: @travellingladygolfer | Twitter/Facebook: @golfgurugroup | LinkedIn: Sarah Forrest

Montague Course – Fancourt

One of three course in the purpose built Fancourt resort near George, South Africa.

Our first time to Fancourt, and we were excited to be there after about a five and half hour drive from Cape Town.  Having an afternoon tee time allowed us a leisurely drive and time to check in before the golf.  

We were met with the friendliest starter, Akhile, and then we were off playing the 5th best course in South Africa.   It didn’t take us long to settle down on the beautiful Montague course.  The tee boxes struck me first as in great condition, flat and wide enough for even my height! Most noticeable was the tee markers themselves showcasing the King Protea (National flower) from the back tees through Springbok, Galjoen, Yellowwood to the forward tees being the Blue Crane (National bird).  It later came to light how much flora and fauna there was being nurtured on the Montague and the other courses across the Fancourt offerings.  Noticing the tree mulch of almond husks to help retain moisture at the base of the trees gave a lovely contrast in colour to the freshest of greens on the fairways and the cleanest white sand as well as being a great bi-product for recycling.

In the recent Dimension Data, part of the Sunshine Tour event, which finished the day before we arrived, German golfer, Alexander Knappe won with a whopping 23 under.  The stats showed that the Montague played the hardest during the tournament.  And here we were tackling it after a 5.5 hour drive and totally oblivious as to its mind blowing stats.  

Hole 4 was a par 5, (398 meters/435 yards up to 527 meters/576 yards) SI 17 off all tees made for an interesting hole in so far as a big expanse of water popped up around the back of the green.  Thats after a sweeping fairway gradually guiding you to target and a slight narrowing onto the almost island green, made it a great challenge.  But the blue water was so dark, it was almost inviting – I say almost!

There was freshness in the air playing that late summer afternoon, a welcome breeze and an overriding excitement for actually being at Fancourt that only those who have visited will understand.

Sweeping fairways, undulating greens and large shapely bunkers softened and gave the easy on the eye appeal.  Bunkers were easy to play from, although they did have a few stones in them. 

There was a good quality half way house to take stock, erase your partners good score, work on your mind game and generally be a menace whilst preparing for the back nine, which didn’t disappoint.  

The 17th, a par 3 over water, measuring 116 meters/126 yards up to 190 meters/207 yards, SI8 from all tees is a nice looking hole, well so long as you’re not scared of water!  With very little bail out the menacing water was one thing, but the strategically placed bunker after the water but before the green was not much of a welcome either..

With only 1200 members across both the Montage and Outeniqua courses playing as a hotel guest is easily accommodated

As the days progressed the slick greens became a bit of a joke, as you will see on the  www.youtube.com/c/travellingladygolfer “Fan of Fancourt” video

Montague might not have been the easiest course, but it played brilliantly- the course that is, not us!!

 

Clovelly Golf Club

Clovelly Golf Club

Founded in the 1920’s by the British military, it was soon to become the apple of the eye of two entrepreneurial Jewish gentlemen who had been refused membership at a golf club in Cape Town.  Turning their passion and efforts to Clovelly, their ethos continues to evolve through the generations as the original course owners son, Raymond Ackerman, embarked upon ground breaking technology in the new computerised ground irrigation systems.  Ackerman also has his name to the Golf Academy  which takes in 20 to 30 children from challenging backgrounds to give them some structure in their lives.  Cleverly mixing academia with golf on a 80/20 split, the academy supports the boys and girls equally, even beyond school years. 

The golf course itself was originally designed to be a sand course, now a grass course the kikuyu grass does take some getting used to as it grabs the club, especially on approach shots.  That said the short cut of the greens was fantastic with the roll being true and quick! 

Playing a day with a slight warm breeze meant we didn’t need to take solace from the sun under the variety of trees along the course.  Some trees bore the battle scars as they encountered the wind one too many times, taking on a 45 degree growing position which added to the drama and becoming at one with the golf course.

Holes one and ten were almost mirrors of each other, but beyond there the course opens up to a variety of challenging holes.  Water was in play for a number of holes, notably the forth hole, being as close to the original design as the fairway swept along between sand dunes.  The approach shot should be carefully considered as the small pond in front creates a magnetic field committing golf balls to the deep.  Other such mindful idiosyncrasies  were sloping greens such as the ninth with a big slope towards the ocean, bunkers as consistent as any good golf course and played well.

The longer kikuyu continued to plague me when slightly off the fairway.  Even my trusty rescue woods had to battle their way through the matted grass, but when they struck gold, they were like a hot knife through butter and the sweet clink of the club face made me smile once more.  A stunning course, not trying to be something it isn’t, just a good honest play with it all set out in front of you to see as the fairways ducked and dived between the trees and dunes and popped out to take in the whole course, all the time bringing a depth of play with he ocean in the distance.

The greens were fantastic, the course design was easy to follow and it did turn after nine back at the clubhouse to top up with some cold water.  Some elevated tee boxes and also some elevated greens keep you on your toes.

However, even the water shy can plot their way around this beautifully presented course, set in a valley which allegedly if the winds blows down the valley towards the sea, its going to rain.  Luckily for us, on both visits that wind didn’t blow and we were able to enjoy Clovelly as two regular golfers having a fantastic day out golfing.  It is hardly surprising Clovelly is no. 45 in South Africa, it was a great day out and we hadn’t finished yet!

Clovelly’s delights didn’t end with the golf.  Sat on the clubhouse terrace overlooking the course we were presented with a menu, the selection wasn’t huge, but there was enough variety to give us a sore head trying to choose, and we weren’t disappointed.  The food delivered was a perfect size portion and tasted amazing.  Members chatting easily with us, we were made to feel welcome as visitors and as golfers.  With the peacock wandering around, the sea in the far distance and the golf course in the near view, life couldn’t get any better

By stark contrast a trip into Cape Town was a slap in the face back to reality.  It is many years, well 30’ish to be exact, since we visited Cape Town as a tourist, so we were determined to make the most of it.  Starting at V&A Waterfront we were staggered at how busy it was, it wasn’t an aggressive hustle and bustle of a crowded shopping centre, it was just constant with people.  The cleanliness was ever present, and covid times were taken seriously with hand sanitiser distributers  at every entrance to every shop or restaurant.   With the sunshine glistening on the water, the V&A looked spick and span as the ocean movement gently lapped up to the boats at rest in the harbour.  We took a short harbour cruise, met with sleeping seals upon the huge tyres preventing the boats from crashing against the sea walls, and views fo the beautiful and iconic Table Mountain didn’t disappoint.

Next stop was Table Mountain.  Five years ago we decided to walk up Table Mountain, so having already ticked that box we jumped on the cable car – just as the table cloth descended upon the top!  The views going up the mountain were stunning, despite the cable car track being quite steep and tight!  The cabal car seemed to travel at a pace, but apparently it takes about 6 minutes  up or down but depends on how full the cars were.  It was a one up one down mechanism, with the cars driving each other on a push me pull me arrangement.

A full days sightseeing was enough for us, but the drive back to where were were staying took us through Hout Bay and up over Chapmans Pass – wow, what a sights we feasted our eye upon the sun setting as we climbed the hills overlooking the beautiful blue bays beneath.

This is not our first trip to Cape Town, but it is our first to play golf and stay out of the big city.  As Clovelly was our first encounter playing golf in the Cape, we knew that we were not going to be disappointed with our chosen venue.

Thank you Clovelly for making us feel welcome

This is the first of three articles and videos we will show out our trip to South Africa.

Please do comment below, message us or better still take a look at www.yourtube.com/c/travellingladygolfer – subscribe if you can, we have a lot to show you this year – golf and more.

Thanks for reading

Sarah & Steve Forrest

A for Andi

A for Andi

?I’d like to introduce you to the third member of our team – Andi the Landy

Andi is now a gender neutral landrover defender.  In a former life Andi worked for the MOD, his strength and resilience enabled him to carry more radio equipment than NASA.   Before selling Andi on, the MOD kindly replaced his engine and that’s when he entered our lives.

?As a dowdy all purpose army green, Andi had seen better days.  Sand filled and dirty we cleaned him up and stripping out the multitude of racks, radio equipment, batteries and a myriad of other equipment.  Like a huge sigh of relief Andi chassis literally lifted by about 15cm.  Giving Andi a new top was a turning point, no longer did the heavy duty canvas flap around in the wind.

?Good rubbings down, a new paint job, some TLC (there is even a passenger side vanity mirror now!) and raptor paint applied to the inside he was starting his new life transformation.  He is like a pupae reemerging as a gender neutral butterfly.  

But we haven’t finished with Andi yet – we still need to wrap up over the insulation we’ve already added to the inside with some 4-way carpet and there are still a few bits and pieces to install to make our lives better when on the road.

?Coupling Andi with the trailer we also bought at the same time, they make a fine pair of functional, comfortable work horses.

Andi comes with blacked windows to the sides for any would-be sponsors, partners or tourist boards we are working with and will be equipped to travel long journeys.

?Andi will be making appearances on our You Tube channel and we will even show you what we’ve done for the transformation – but for now, Andi is a pleasure to drive – people move out of the way when we come down the road – but maybe that the mad red hair flaying in the wind behind the drivers wheel that puts the frighteners on any other road users?

So like Andi, and share the adventures we are taking together.  Andi is the vehicle to get us to you.

A for Andi concludes our trip around for golf and lifestyle, we hope you have enjoyed it?  All articles are on our blog, and our website and of course some are even backed up with videos which sit on our you tube channel.

?So please do follow, like, share and subscribe and we promise to continue to show you some great adventures.

#AnditheLandy

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B for Blog

B for Blog

⛳In this demanding fast moving world of instagamatic, podmania and reaching a crescendo of YouTubeilation, I’d like to give a subtle nod to the humble blog.  

Q. What is a blog? 

⛳It is an information platform, usually based on peoples experiences they want to share but it can be used as a ranting outlet for some! 

Q. Is it still relevant in todays, moving at pace demanding society where everything is wanted at the touch of the button – yesterday?

⛳There is a huge untapped talent out there writing blogs, they don’t usually do it for a fee and are rarely sponsored.   Anyone searching for information is very likely to land on a blog and get the information they need.

Q Why do I blog

⛳My reasons for blogging was not to drive traffic to my fledgling business, but as my way of saying thank you.  I was often invited on trips to various places as a Golf Tour Operator.  Whilst my specialism was, and still is, female golf and travel, the business was small.  In business, as in life, I’ve always wanted to give back, so if I was invited on a trip, and I couldn’t sell the destination as a small niche (in growth) business, I started to write about my experiences.  This gave me some comfort that I was indeed giving something back for the kindness and support the hosts had extended to me.

⛳Switching from Golf Tour Operating, into journalism is as a direct result of blogging.  I just found I liked doing the writing more and I wasn’t forever trying to sell something.  In essence, I just like sharing experiences, so people can choose to read, act upon or share as they wish.

⛳My own story of getting into blogging may be slightly different to others but with the number of views I still get, I think it is still relevant as yet another source of information. 

⛳It is easier to watch a video, volume on or not, than to read a blog but having and developing my writing skills has helped me personally get published in various magazines. 

⛳So when you’re reading a blog, read it and appreciate that the author has spent time researching the information they are sharing with you.  Of course you don’t have to agree with everything that has been written, but it is your prerogative to carry on reading, stop reading or respond to the author.

⛳Thank you to all of you who have supported me over the years, I genuinely hope it has helped you with information and maybe my honesty and humour has played a part too?

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C for Colombia

C for Colombia

⛳This might not be the first place you would think about for a golf trip but mix it up with some culture then it could well be.  As Colombia is named after Christopher Columbus I felt duty bound as a golf explorer to visit too! Colombia is the forth largest country in South America and is home to the second largest population.

⛳I had just landed into Bogota after a long haul flight and I was exhausted.  Instead of resting, I jumped on an internal flight to Bucaramanga.  Arriving, I needed some fresh air, so decided to visit the driving range.  Now bearing in mind I’d just picked up some new golf clubs the day before leaving, I was quite excited to be on the range – but I couldn’t hit a barn door – it was terrible.  I went to bed feeling slightly fed up but blamed jet lag.

⛳Next morning I was playing Ruitoque, and so the awful golf continued, all I could do was laugh about it.  The clubs didn’t work, I literally kept air swinging everything – and that’s not one of my usual baddies!  By the 9th, I’m totally fed up, gazillions over handicap so I decided to play with the one iron that worked well for me – my 5 iron.  Hole 10 started not so bad, a bogey.  Then holes 11 through to 18, I pared every one.  So 1 over on the back nine and an extraordinary number over on the front nine!  I later found out I had been given the wrong clubs by my then golf professional, who looked at me and gave me a ladies set as opposed to the set of mens irons I had been fitted for.  I knew they didn’t feel right but my new 5 iron was my friend for the rest of the trip! 

⛳Back in Bogotá, a high altitude city which seems to be divided into two parts by the Santa Marta Mountains  Bogota vibes are distinctly different to Cartagena.  As with any big city, it is busy.  The golf on offer was often by invitation from a member, but we did manage to squeeze in a couple of rounds on nicely established parkland courses.  Playing an older, bedded in golf course, San Andrés with its narrower tree lined fairways was very much like playing a good parkland course here in the UK.  The caddies were great and it was common place to break after nine holes and have some food.  Usual practice is to buy your caddy food as part of his fee too.  The caddy didn’t eat with you and you drove the schedule, but it seemed to work quite well.  A very friendly place to play golf with the locals being bemused by my presence.

⛳With the movie ‘Romancing the Stone’ ringing clearly in my ear every time I think about Cartagena, I was delighted to be able to visit and play some cracking golf too.  As you see on movies, the centre of Cartagena is just as you’d expect- sun bleached multi coloured buildings propping each other up with greenery cascading down.  Wandering around the main streets my inner magpie come out as I glanced longingly in every emerald jewellers shop with envy.  With Colombia being the country that mines and sells most of this precious commodity, you can pick up some stunning pieces of jewellery.

⛳Ruitoque is one of Jack Nicklaus first Colombian ventures.  Set high up it affords some of the most spectacular views with the city laid out beneath and the rolling countryside beyond.

⛳Out of town playing Jack’s (now we’re on first name terms as I’ve written about his course designs so much and – wow he got around!!)  was the beautiful Karibana Cartagena.  A lovely pool area awaits your arrival and beyond is the golf course.  The blueprint of a Nicklaus design; wide open fairways and big imposing bunkers.   I got to watch the professionals take on the course, and the next day, I got to have a go myself! A slight difference in play but with no less enthusiasm and loved it with its ocean side holes and naughty bunkers placed in the way!

➡️Full review on golfgurugroup.blogspot.com

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D for Dominican Republic

D for Dominican Republic

⛳On a miserable Monday, I’d like to transport you to the beautiful white sands and blue skies of the Dominican Republic.  Located in the Caribbean and being slightly smaller than Slovakia it has a land border with Haiti and a very long swim away to Puerto Rico.  

⛳With 26 golf courses on offer, many are designed by the big names in golf design.   Pete Dyes Teeth of the Dog is as iconic as the Caribbean itself.  There are actually three golf courses at Casa de Campo, Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore and the Links.  Having played only two of them I can’t tell you about the Links, but Teeth of the Dog is set alongside the rugged coastline of the ocean.  Resembling dogs fangs, this is how it got its name.  I recall those few holes distinctly as a good challenge.  Hitting over inlets there was little room for error off the back tees, but then off the front some holes were very short – moral of this story, play the tees that are achievable to you as a golfer!  Playing Dye Fore with its views is also a great addition to the overall package at Casa de Campo.  However with 7,000 acres, there is more than golf here – multiple restaurants, its own beach, golf carts to use to get you around, clay pigeon and skeet shooting and even its own village.  With multiple accommodation styles of offer, its a great place for the whole family.

⛳Close to Punta Cana – the airpot I flew into, I stayed at the stylish and comfortable Westin Hotel.  With its open facade from reception onto the ocean, you immediately feel the cool welcome breeze of the sea.  A quick lunch meeting was served with the most delicate and delicious dish of ceviche.  As fresh as the ocean smell with a little squeeze of lime made working easy.   Playing Corales was a treat, quirky cave like holes were welcoming as they broke up the vast green, blue and white adding not only interest but an overwhelming curiosity as to how the golf course was so neatly manicured around these natural features.  

⛳You might be forgiven to thinking that the outer parts of Dominican Republic are all white sand, blues skies and oceans and it is, kind of.  But when it comes to golf, there is a fair share of trees, tropical ones gently swaying in the breeze and reflective water hazards too.

⛳Playing Punta Espada, another of my favourites in Dominican, you’ll be met with wide open fairways, strategically placed bunkers and the forever present blue ocean.  Despite its openness, plotting your way around this course is key to scoring well.  I recall playing a beautiful tee shot, albeit slightly left, it did open up the hole which was neatly tucked around the other side of an inlet lake on the right- needless to say, I thought I could get to it, and distance wise I probably could, but my cautious and knowledgable caddy advised to take an iron and put it left of the green, allowing a shot in.  When I got up there, I understood why – the entrance to the green was very narrow and had I gone for it, I would most likely be in the water.  Caddy one, Sarah nil.

⛳If larger, fun for all the family, hotels are your kind of thing, try staying and playing at the Barcelo.  A huge complex with multiple accommodation blocks which were served by various restaurants.  The main restaurant was more of a refectory than a posh restaurant, but you couldn’t fault the food.  The room I stayed in was on the ground floor, which reached out onto my own little garden then directly onto the beach.  Outside my room was a ‘bath’ – I hesitate to say bath, as it was huge too.

⛳A later trip to Dominican Republic I was asked to be guest speaker about ‘Female Golf and Travel’, and whilst I loved the challenge, I was also nervous as anything as I stood up in front of industry professionals chatting away about a subject that has been my life for the last decade.  

⛳Afterwards we got to relax, play some golf and do some sightseeing too.  The pool was a massive hit that trip and it was where we gravitated for an evening sundowner before showering and changing for dinner in one of the amazing restaurants on site.

⛳So as Monday comes to a close and the end of our A to Z is within sight, we hope that what we have bought to you, in our unbiased way, has given you some insight as to the depth of our knowledge of the golf and travel industry.  Please let us know what you think?

➡️Full review on golfgurugroup.blogspot.com

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E for England

E for England

⛳With just over 2,000 golf courses, England has more golf courses than any other European country.  Utilising approx 2% of Englands land mass, even a densely populated country such as England has space for great golf courses.

England has it all – links, parkland, heathland and the odd hill top course.  Home of multiple Open venues, it sits nicely alongside its better established golf destinations; Scotland and Wales with Ireland being a short hop away.  Rich in history, for golf and for stories, England can satisfy most golfers of most abilities. 

⛳As one of the founder members of Golf Tourism England I always wondered why more golfers didn’t fly into London or any of the other airports, acclimatise to the time zone (and weather), play some golf in that area then go onto their bucket list courses either in mainland Europe or any of England’s neighbouring countries.  Is England seen as the poor (golf) relation to these better known destinations, or are we not that good at telling people about them?

⛳Even in our capital, London, there is golf.  Hampton Court, home of Henry VIII and located right on the River Thames, this unique golf course has deer wandering freely.  Then as you edge slightly further out of the capital the golf map opens up.

⛳There are some cracking courses which the sand haters will relish; Royal Ashdown Forest and Luton Hoo – both reasonably close to central London.  Further afield, play the highest course in England, Kington and into the Cotswolds we have Minchinhampton Old, both bunker less courses too.

⛳Some of the countries finest golf is in the home counties.  The Surrey and Berkshire course are world renowned with Wentworth, Sunningdale, the Berkshire and Swinley Forest and many more being on most golfers bucket list. 

⛳On the south coast, the closest part to France, is Kent; the Garden of England  With often temperate weather conditions and the likes of Royal St Georges, home of the Himalayan bunker – the deepest in golf history at 40 feet deep and 25 feet wide.  Plus next door is the equally exciting course of Royal Cinque Ports.   Princes is a 27 hotel golf complex, plus a whole lot of other alternative golf offerings make Kent a great place to visit.

w18 clubhouse Chosen 1/10/18 John & Paul

⛳With Merseyside being the most populated area for golf courses, there are 18 to choose from in just 644 kilometres.  The stunning design of Old Tom Morris, Wallasey golf course remains one of my all time favourites and is home to the Stableford points scoring system, with Dr Stableford clearly having a mare of a round to come up with this popular points scoring system on the 2nd hole – a par 4, huge dog leg right.

⛳English golf courses have cleverly worked alongside the National Trust and as such resulted in some golf course with not only amazing views but once which are often managed by the livestock and kept as natural as possible without the usage of chemicals.

⛳Yorkshire is the largest county in England and has 92 golf courses in West Yorkshire and 58 North Yorkshire.  Home to three Ryder Cup venues in Moortown, Ganton and Lindrick – and also home to many of Dr Alister Mackenzie designed courses.  Yorkshire is a good typical English experience where words are not minced and value is keen – but not to the detriment of the golf course conditions.

⛳There is also a great selection of hotel resorts all over the country, some owned and managed by big hotel chains, others are independent – all offer great experiences.

⛳Some of my favourite golf courses are Wallasey, Burnham and Berrow, Kington, The Worcestershire, The Wisley and my home course, Cleeve Hill.  I have been lucky to play a lot of golf in England, so there are loads more, but at some stage I need to shut up!  

⛳If you’re after some diversity in the golf offerings, England could be your answer.

➡️Full review on golfgurugroup.blogspot.com

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F for Fashion

F for Fashion

The Skort

Is is a skirt?

Is it shorts?

⛳No, its a skort – said in a non super hero way – or maybe the humble skort should be the superhero article of clothing for golf?

⛳The word skort is a portmanteau with the word itself originating in the North America.  But this arguably fashionista item of clothing is not the recent design invention some might think.

⛳It appears the skort burst onto the fashion scene in the 1959 Montgomery Ward Spring Summer catalogue when describing an accordion pleat skirt over matching bloomers underneath.

⛳However the practicality of wearing a skirt, especially in sport was even earlier in 1931 with Lilí Álvarez, the Spanish tennis player setting the trend of wearing a ‘divided skirt’.

⛳The evolution of the skort combined with fashion and practicality bought the next phase in its development.   In fact my first skort was exactly this, a pair of shorts with a matching ‘flap’ of material across the front, so in appearance, shorts from the back and a skirt from the front.

⛳Modern day skort fashion is more feminine with the skirt usually all around.  This can be layered, pleated, boxed or any combination of.  At first glance it just looks like a skirt but with the practicality and modesty of shorts.

⛳The Skort has been adopted for various sports as a practical yet fashionable piece of clothing.  Generally the shorts come attached, but I’ve also known them to come as separates too. 

Pros

⛳The skort is a perfect combination of femininity, looks and practicality.   Stylish.  Comfortable.  Variety of fashion conscious styles, lengths and colours.  For any women of any age.  Often good to hide a bloated tummy!

Cons

⛳Sometimes not that easy to wear if you have to quickly pull waterproof trousers over the top.  The shorts leg width can be sometimes be too big or too small/tight- not everyone has 6’1” fashion model legs!

Here are a few brands I got to trial last summer:

⛳Lucky in Love

The flow of the material is distinctly feminine.  Lucky in Love clothing is known for being a bit ‘out there’ with colour ways and styles, making its own fashion statement on the golf course and tennis courts.  I did like the layering concept and did receive many compliments for the floral skort.  I also particularly liked the mesh inner layer which meant fewer layers bunching up over the stomach whilst allowing breathability.  The pink basic wear is a good wardrobe staple.  The pink one was meant to be longer in length and the floral of standard length, however, I didn’t see much of a difference in the lengths.  Both were nice and easy to wear 

www.shopluckyinlove.com

Floral layer Skort RRP £100

Pink Scallop Skort RRP £80

⛳J Lindeberg

A house hold name in golf fashion for males and females.  The skort provided was beautifully cut and hung well on the coat hanger – and on me!!  Although a little on the small side compared with others of the same size the redeeming feature was its quality.  I also loved the shade of blue (midnight) provided which made a nice change from navy.  The soft flowing material sits well topped by figure busting fitted waist band to add to the off centre pleat at the front for an understated fashion piece

Amelie Skort featured in midnight blue.  RRP £55 available at www.jlindeberg.com

⛳Röhnisch

If you want a good all round article of golf clothing Röhnish have been around the track so many times, you can almost guarantee they will have it.  Adopting more of a tailored fit, they look smart as well as being practical.  The navy blue/dog patterned ‘smooth’ skort is a pull on which did manage to hide a multitude of sins whilst remaining very comfortable – this one will be one of my go-to pieces for a long time   The lime green ‘Active’ skort one was more of a traditional button and zip front of a really nice light weight material.  Perfect for hot summer games of golf for added comfort.  Being a Swedish brand I always feel like Röhnish clothing fits me well as a 5” 10” non-supermodel proportions.

Skorts featured:

Active Skort RRP £69.95

Smooth Skort RRP £89.95

⛳Available from various pro-shops and on-line

⛳Prices correct Summer 2021

➡️Full review on golfgurugroup.blogspot.com

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G for Gen X Golfers

G for Gen X Golfers

Having had a birthday yesterday, today I decided to fly the flag for my generation.  Who is a Gen X golfer?  Remember Baby boomers?  Well Gen X is the next phase on – 1965 to 1980, although there is some overlap, this is the general birth date range.

⛳Five consideration or traits of a Gen X person:

?First generation to have home computers

?Grew up with the word ‘alternative’ whether that is people, music or whatever

?Creative innovators with the aim of making the world a better place

?They have a higher chance of being laid off, outsourced, or relocated therefore acquiring many different skill sets to survive

?They embrace technology and social media

Often called the options, the latchkey or the grunge generation – all seem fitting.  Squeezed between baby boomers and millennials they are the first generation to experience high rates of parental divorce.

⛳Naturally this doesn’t apply to all Gen X and is only a quick summary.

⛳What can the Gen X bring to golf?

The thrill seekers looking for meaning in their lives, which could be seen as a midlife crisis!   Often wanting more as they near retirement and questioning themselves more too.  This next generation of retirees, often take early retirement in good health and with a reasonable income due to their work hard, play hard ethic.  They have a desire to travel, share and enjoy.

⛳The wider golf industry, (not just local golf clubs benefiting from increased membership numbers), coming out of the back of covid could really benefit from this generation engaging more with the sport.  It wasn’t that long ago that golf was seen as a retirement sport.   With the Gen X retiring younger, being fitter and having a lust to engage with all things golf, they really are the low hanging fruit for growth across the golf industry.

⛳I love playing golf with any golfer of any age, ability or gender, and I do particularly like it when all generations get involved from one family.  Unlike some sports, golf can bring the whole family together with fun rivalry balanced out by the handicap system.

⛳But talking about females in particular, I’ve also always felt that the 40 plus woman is the low hanging fruit to easily grow numbers in female golf participation.  This doesn’t mean that women and girls under the age of 40 aren’t, it means there are a greater percentage of females over this age who have had their families, who have a bit more time and a bit more cash to spend, who could be engaged to take up golf.  

⛳I did a quick survey for an article last year, speaking to a selection of golf clubs in the UK, I asked them about female golf membership.  Most had seen an increase in female golf membership, but when breaking it down even further, most, over 70% of these new female members, were over the age of 40.

⛳The travel side of golf could benefit enormously by tapping into this relatively easy to engage generation, as could apparel and the spin offs to many industries in the golf industry.

⛳So when thinking growth, lets embrace all generations – all have something unique and exciting to offer this great sport of Golf.

➡️Full review on golfgurugroup.blogspot.com

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**Not all images are Gen X Golfers, but show all golfers

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