Tag: Travelling Lady Golfer

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!!


Carnoustie Country – Golf and More

As the fickle eye of golfers flit around the world following one tour to the next, adding more exceptional golf courses to their ever growing bucket list to play, eyes will soon come to rest on Carnoustie in Angus for the AIG Womens Open.

But before we make a bee line to Carnoustie Championship; a wonderfully challenging links course in its own right, maybe we can stop and take stock of what we might be missing on route?

Driving over the bridge from Fife, you’re in Carnoustie Country.  Into the upcoming yet relatively understated city of Dundee, the forth largest city on Scotland.  Recent additions to help Dundee grow into a tourist attraction are the likes of the imposing and uniquely designed V&A museum.  The first design museum outside London stands proudly on the riverside. Dundee is cited as having some the friendliest people, it is hardly surprising it is in the 84th percentile of safe cities.  Roots in jute (for ropes), jam and journalism, shows its diversity as a destination with a unique and evolving heritage.

Before you leave the bosom of Dundee, eager to play some golf, try one called Downfield – a  good challenging 18 hole championship parkland course to break you in.  With the rush to play sea side courses, neat parkland course like Downfield often get overlooked, but for a good all round experience of Scottish golf, moreover golf in Carnoustie Country, give it a go!

Along the coastline the golf offering is as diverse as it is challenging with the likes of Monifieth, Panmure and into Carnoustie itself before travelling a little further North to Montrose.  Monifieth Medal with its 6 opening holes following the railway line are a wake up call to links golf.  Panmure screams deep rooted history, playing those first few holes lull you into a false sense of security before it spits you out on the 18th for being too complacent!  Carnoustie has three courses, but the most iconic one is the Championship course, with such known holes as ‘spectacles’ and of course the iconic closing holes of 17 and 18.  Buddon and Burnside are also good golf courses and compliment the championship without challenging its strength.  They certainly aren’t the ugly sisters of the mighty Championship course.

On route to Montrose, call off at Arbroath, home of the Arbroath smokies.  Still a thriving industry of dried haddock with a freshness of taste to die for.  You can see the wood smoking kilns where freshly caught fish is being dried.   You can even request vacuum packed fish to delight your relatives back home, if you can resist opening it up before getting home!

Montrose 1562 course is a delight.  For your first game you are not aware of its splendour until you finish hole one and the sea views open up as you walk over the crest to tee box number two.  Even though I’ve played Montrose more than once, that moment never fails to surprise and delight me.  

What else can you do in Carnoustie Country – Glamis Castle is an interesting place to visit.  The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret shared a common love of Glamis, and you can see why with its historic links and chic opulence.

With so many stunning beaches and myriad of open spaces, even the family is catered for when visiting. 

Who can resits an ice cream on the beach, or better still go for freshly picked Scottish raspberries in the sweet creamy Cranachan, but don’t forget to ask one without whisky for the children!

Sarah Forrest

aka Travelling Lady Golfer

My Marathon in Golf

Remember this?

I completed one article a day for 26 consecutive days.   A marathon in golf writing and promotions, you might say!

The reason for taking on this self imposed challenge was to help golfers remain buoyant and give them something positive to think about.  When the world returns to some semblance of normality, this will still be here to help golfers think and plan.

I purposely didn’t want all bucket list courses, just a variety of genuine good courses to visit and play.  I wanted to give England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales an even (as possible) split too. With my desire to appeal to all golfers; old, new, young, old, male, female and families.  The truth is, there is no point squirrelling knowledge when others can benefit from it!

Favouring to focus

On golf courses I had played.  I did need help for 4 of the courses featured.  Thank you Kevin Markham, Neil W and Phil Millington for plugging three of the gaps!  Also thank you to Kevin Markham and Kevin Murray for allowing me to use their excellent golf photography for some of the features.

What I didn’t expect was for it to take so long to do the daily research.  To dig through copious notes and do an awful lot of tapping into my memory banks.  Then of course get the articles written up, images sourced and posted across various platforms. Thanks to the golf clubs, despite being in lockdown, who answered my various questions and requests.

An annoying lightbulb moment

At some ungodly hour of 4am was something else.  For this campaign, I decided to act out each letter in semaphore.  It then became apparent, that whilst I thought it was a great idea, a lot of people didn’t have a clue.  They just thought I was doing some poor version of YMCA, by trying to replicate the shape of the letter.  When I got to letter S, I told people what I was doing and the penny dropped.

I made the commitment

And was delighted by the level of engagement across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  My blog also hosts the full write up and suite of images which has now tipped 28K.  All social media platforms produced a good ROI, with Instagram being the most interactive.  Probably as it is pitching to the audience who is most likely to be interested in visiting more golf locations.  But in all, the campaign across all platforms has been well received.  Other golfers praising me for the foresight and tenacity to ensure its success through its unique delivery.

My business ethos has always been about working with people, striking up friendship and helping them where I can.  My social channels follow this ethos, so I am grateful for the interactions I have received.  Whether it was guessing the letter of the day or commenting and liking the posts.  I’m delighted to have such good strong golf and business relationships.  People who genuinely want to see and hear about golf and lifestyle.  As presented in my unique eye popping way. 

This semaphore for today is not a letter more its meaning as ‘end’ – or ‘end of word’, as it signifies the end of this campaign.

I like showing golfers and their families where they can go to play golf, or visit for their next holiday.

To this end, I am looking for destination partners as well as sponsors.  Brands who enjoy out of the box thinking when it comes to promotions.  Brands who want innovative fun campaigns promoting golf and lifestyle to those who want to see it.

More innovative and imaginative content to come, don’t forget to follow me:

Instagram sarah_thetravellingladygofler

Twitter and Facebook @golfgurugroup

LinkedIn @Sarah Forrest

Blog https://golfgurugroup.blogspot.com

Website www.golfgurugroup.com

And my fledgling You Tube channel


Full statistics for this campaign available on request.

Email : [email protected]

A -Auchterarder

GB&I Golf Course Review – Z to A

This is my last in this series of GB & I golf course reviews.  I hope that you have enjoyed it, that it has given you some inspiration and importantly helped you through the tough times we are all in at the moment.  I am always here to help and to listen.

As ever, the full write up and more images can be found on http://golfgurugroup.blogspot.com

Auchterarder Golf Club

Auchterarder Golf Club

Orchil Rd, Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland, PH3 1LS

It seems fitting that as I start this series in Scotland, The Home of Golf that I should finish it here too.

As before, this series is about showing you some genuinely good golf to play around the UK and Ireland.  Auchterarder is no exception to this.

Arguably it isn’t the longest course, there are 6 par 3’s and 3/4 par 5’s.  It measures 4967/5800 so is an easy walking course.

In the shadow of its big boy neighbours you can catch a glimpse of the PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles as you enjoy playing Auchterarder.  In fact, time it right and you can shoot to the green to the crowds whooping and hollering  No one need know they are actually cheering golfers on the adjoining course!   A beautiful, hilly in places, but not too silly, parkland course with amazing views.

Auchterarder Golf Club

Only 28 miles from Edinburgh

Airport located with the beautiful Ochil Hills as its backdrop.  Doing some research I found 78 Ochil in Scotland, so maybe don’t put that into you navigation system!  The name Ochil, recorded as Okhel in 13th Century is from Pictish origin.  Although it may have evolved from Ogel meaning ‘ridge.’  Either way, it is quite beautiful. 

Hole number 13 is actually called Ochil View.  A par 4 SI16/18 268/289 yards this downhill shot is fairly narrow with green side bunkers in play.  So if you’ve played it badly, take solace in the view.

Auchterarder Golf Club

With Auchterarder

In Gaelic meaning ‘the summit of the rising ground’ gives you some idea of the altitude.  Located on the Strathern Ridge it is one of the highest towns in Scotland.  

Life started in 1913 when Ben Sayers designed a 9 hole golf course. In the early years maintenance was done by goats grazing the high ground.  With WWII came the call up of a lot of its members, it also saw the golf course return to pasture land once again.

Post war and into the 1950’s and 1960’s the Old Nine was recognised a good place to play.   In 1979 it became an 18 hole course.  More recent works include an extension to the clubhouse in 2002.

Auchterarder Golf Club

It was lovely to see some of the names of the holes.  No. 7 is called Dinnae Stray, a par 4 SI5/9 332/473 yards.  The exit off the tee is a little intimidating with established trees left and right.  It does open up a little but the green with it amphitheatre of trees around the back of the green add drama.  Quite an appropriate name though!

With a continued plan

Of phased improvements the 12th hole bears the mark of more recent upgrades.   This par 3 SI 18/16 116/164 yards could be a nervy tee shot through a relatively narrow exit off the tee.   The new three tied green is protected by bunkers from right and left and water at the back.  I loved playing this hole, in fact I didn’t realise at the time it was a fairly new improvement.  It had clearly bedded in well.

Auchterarder Golf Club

The 18th is called Hame… no guessing as to what that means.  A par 3 SI 12/10 145/184 yards is a tight closing hole.  But a warm friendly club awaits your return — what could possibly go wrong!

So might not be the course you thought I might feature for my final letter, but one I wanted to give a shout out to as a good club to visit.  Despite its relative short length, it is a good course to play.  Strategic bunkering and well established trees made it a pleasant game and the clubhouse atmosphere was great too.

Auchterarder Golf Club

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B for Blairgowrie

B – Blairgowrie

GB&I Golf Course Review – Z to A

I am showcasing one golf club a day across GB & I over 26 days – in reverse alphabetical order.  Full write up and more images can be found on http://golfgurugroup.blogspot.com.

Blairgowrie Golf Club – Rosemount

Blairgowrie; Rosemount Course

Golf Course Road, Blairgowrie, Perthsire, PH10 6LG

Blairgowrie means ‘Plain of Gowrie’ in Scottish Gaelic. It’s name pops up all over the world; in Australia, or where I first heard it, in South Africa.  I’m sure there are others too. The one I am talking about is in Perthshire, Scotland.  Being so close to exceptional links courses, playing Blairgowrie offers a great, yet equally tough golfing experience.  Usually without the buffeting wind!

Blairgowrie Golf Club – Rosemount

In 1889 a piece of land

Was purchased from the Marchiness of Lansdown by Black Loch.   Nine holes were built with a further nine scheduled for work in 1914.  At a cost of £3,000 Alistair MacKenzie was bought in to do this job.  Mackenzie is probably best known for his work at Augusta, Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne.  However the Great War delayed opening until 1927.   In 1930 James Braid was appointed to add a further eight holes to the MacKenzie design.  He also did some bunker work and I’m sure much more!  The Wee Course at Blairgowrie is the original 9 holes.  I played the Wee Course and would definitely recommend that too. 

You could say two great designers of the time put their mark on this course.  Initially called Lansdown, it was later renamed Rosemount.  Another 18 holes designed by Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas in the 1970’s was called Lansdown.

Blairgowrie Golf Club – Rosemount

Credit to a golf club

That doesn’t rest on its laurels with it’s desire to continually improve.  As close as year 2000 Donald Steel did some work on the first green.  Holes 6 and 7 have also recently been remodelled to bring back some of the MacKenzie influence and style.

Hole 6 is a par 3 SI 18/6 171/189 yards.  With a sloping green back to front it is the longest green on the course.  Add a couple of dimples in the front of the green for good measure means club selection and commitment are key.

Consulting my notes; hole number 7 has a ‘hashtag nightmare’ in the margin.  This made me giggle as that’s what I clearly thought at the time when referencing the pin position! 

Blairgowrie Golf Club – Rosemount

An established woodland course

With a huge dollop of heathland thrown in for good measure.  Carved out of scots pines, silver birch and enough heather to bring everyone good luck, except when playing golf.  It isn’t unusual to see red squirrels and roe deer wandering around this peaceful setting.

The day I played it was a bit grey and miserable.  You could still see the colours of the heather push though in defiance of the weather.  The fairways were spongy and bouncy and clearly drained well.  There were surprisingly comfortable to walk upon, but the golf ball also responded well to the surface too.  The greens were in tip top condition when I played.

Blairgowrie Golf Club – Rosemount

I loved the way the course ran around the site

In amongst the tall trees and ball grabbing heather.  The fairways clearly laid out in the woodland as if a band aid had been ripped off a hairy leg.  I’m sure thats not how golf course designers do their planning, but it does conjure up the image I want!

Another hole worthy of a mention is hole number 17.  I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, but it is known as one of the best par 3’s in Scotland.  A sneaky little ditch running across the fairway isn’t really in play from the tee.  This gem of a par 3 is SI 15/13 147/165 yards has a menacing two tied green.  I was told to take enough club, I went out the back..  Bunker heaven or bunker hell?  A few bunkers to chose from here with a long one stretching across the front right. The enclave of trees surrounding this large green perfectly frame the finish to the hole.

Blairgowrie Golf Club – Rosemount Course

Greg Norman

Won his first European Tour event here in 1977.  Frequently appearing in the Top 25 Heathland courses, tipping the balance as the best heathland in Scotland.   Old Tom Morris said ‘I think this is the most beautiful inland green I have ever seen.’  This was just after he’d sunk a long putt on the last green to win his friendly match against the then club captain.

This classic mature golf course with its unique design mix of MacKenzie and Braid is a pleasure to play.   I can’t wait to get back.

For more innovative, fun unique golf content, please subscribe to my social media channels 

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Interested in this golf club, or any in this series, or wish to be featured in the future, please email me on [email protected]

C for Carnoustie

C – Carnoustie

GB&I Golf Course Reviews – Z to A

I am showcasing one golf club a day across GB & I over 26 days – in reverse alphabetical order.  Full write up and more images can be found on http://golfgurugroup.blogspot.com

Carnoustie Championship 

Links House, Links Parade, Carnoustie, DD7 7JE

I was given the opportunity to visit Carnoustie a while back. Subsequently I took a number of clients and again revisited a couple of years ago, just before the Open in 2018.  

Carnoustie is the name of the town in which sits this well known championship course.  In fact there are three golf courses here, but my focus is on Carnoustie Championship.  A double C if you like!

It is unclear where the name Carnoustie came from.  Most likely it is from Scandinavian nouns of Car and Noust, meaning Rock and Bay respectively.  Another story.  The Battle of Barry in 1010 where a Danish General invader, Camus, was put to the sword by clansmen led by Scottish King, Malcom II.  The Norse Gods were not happy at the loss of their favourite warrior.  To show their displeasure they cursed the neighbourhood and released thousands of crows on Barry Sands.  Colonising the locality it became known as Craw’s Nastie, corrupted to Carnoustie.  As the village evolved into a borough in 1899, three crows flying was adopted as the crest for the area.

Photo credit – Kevin Murray

Of the Championship course itself

It has been noted that golf has been played here since 1500, with the present course being mapped out in 1850.   Old Tom Morris extended it twenty years later to 18 holes.  An extensive redesign was made by James Braid in 1926.  However, it was felt his design did have a weak finish so it was a local man, James Wright who we can thank for the closing holes!   Wright was drafted in ahead of the 1937 Open Championship.  The course as we know it has pretty much remained the same for the last 80 years or so.  In fact, it is not a course that flips its holes around when a Championship is played here.  There are no airs and graces at Carnoustie, it is what it is.  Take it or leave it.  Most will take it, and enjoy it, even if they don’t score well.

As you stand on the first tee of the Championship course, the hotel behind you, you’re pretty much out there alone.  The Tee box, despite it proximity to the clubhouse and Links House is almost in the middle of the course, or so it seems.  You just know that people can see you from the hotel and are most likely watching too.  But as it is far enough away, it doesn’t bother you.  You ‘get into the course’ from that very first hit.  You hit your drive, into a reasonably large area and you can forget the rest.  You’re off and into the bosom of the course almost immediately.

Photo credit – Kevin Murray

Barry Burn

Makes a menacing appearance early on, but slinks back into oblivion until the closing holes.  It is a relatively flat course, quite open and the weather is in play pretty much all the way round.  

When you look at the course on televisions, you see the long whispy grass taunting your every shot.  But actually down on the  ground, the course is in exceptional  condition and you can see clear cut fairways.  Hogans Alley, 6th hole a par 5 SI2, 485/520 yards is good demonstration of this.  Although a relatively narrow fairway, the 1953 Open Championship winner, who has been honoured with the naming of this hole, showed the way when hitting it straight down the middle.  As golfers we often hear, just hit it down the middle.  Not an easy feat at the best of times, but when confronted with a narrow landing strip, the task appears near impossible. 

Photo credit – Kevin Murray

I will be honest with you.

I never really quite understood the nerves of some golfers, I’m a happy hit and play golfer.  But even I had a little heart flutter on that hole the first time I played it.  I did manage to get it where I wanted, in the middle.  Needles to say subsequent games have never yielded such good results.  Doing it once was clearly a fluke, replicating it is what makes a good golfer!

Playing Carnoustie

Was one of the rare moments where I had done some research before visiting.  Being such an iconic course, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on any experiences.  You know how it is when you go on holiday only to return home 2 weeks later being told you should have visited…..

Photo credit – Kevin Murray

I had read up about the Spectacles on hole 14, and was keen to see them in person.  A par4/5 at 375/476 yards SI1.  The first time I saw them I wasn’t playing, so I was less than impressed.  The next time I saw them was as I stood there with a club in my hand.   I swear those bunkers had grown overnight!  A good par 4/5 they don’t come into pay until about 50 yards short of the hole.  In fact, despite their size, they almost sneak up to you.  I have not had the pleasure of landing in them yet.  Probably a good job as I might still be in them now, with their high sides and uninviting shot to the green.  Most likely I’d go out backwards, maybe even with a putter if allowed!!  Call me chicken or call me sensible.

To be honest getting to hole 14 is the start of any potential card wrecking day.  Whilst I do love this course, I also totally respect it and play it using all my shots.  I really love hole 16.  The start of Barry Burn making its persistent appearance again over the next few holes. A par 3 at 212/225 yards, SI 13, which looks so inviting and plays more than I have even given it.  

Photo credit – Kevin Murray

Those Carnoustie bunkers

Are in play all around and the Barry Burn sliding in from the left.  I always feel as though I can get on the green and pop it in for a birdie.  That hasn’t happened yet!  I did sneak one in between the bunkers on the left once and it happened to roll close to the green, more good luck than good play if I’m honest!

Then I think I must have taken 3 putts – but thats another story for the 19th!

The greens are generally quite large at Carnoustie, they are short cut and roll like anything – or have the days I’ve played!  Carnoustie is one of those places that you look at an aerial picture of and think, what’s the problem?

Photo credit – Kevin Murray

The oldest Ladies Club in the World

Is at Carnoustie with gender discrimination being a nasty word.  That’s the only time ‘nasty’ should be used when referring to this golf course.  They have a healthy ladies section and I have always been pleased to see this continues to be the case.

It would be rude of me not to mention the closing holes.  Hole 17 a par 4, SI5, playing 364/473 yards.  I do recall going in Barry Burn on the 17thwith my second shot  A  horrible little scummy things barely getting off the ground. I was gutted, even more so when I got close and realised how deep it was with my ball was in sight but out of reach.   Carnoustie beat me that hole fair and square. Placement is key to getting any score here and not getting dragged into Carnoustie’s golf abyss. 

To me, hole 18, par 4 SI 11 374/444 yards appeared less daunting, although still slightly narrow. Barry Burn on this closing hole has seen many a great golfer weep, John Van de Velde being the most notable of them all.  But I’m not going to write about him, you probably know already, and I don’t want to end on a negative!

Photo credit – Kevin Murray

The key is navigation

And not to be too greedy.  I did OK here, but I haven’t experienced the wrath of the Barry Burn on this final hole – yet.

Me, I’m looking forward.  I’m seeing the hotel for some welcome food and drink.  Now you can relax in the Links House too.  The hotel is not owned by the golf club, it is a separate organisation, but has a close working relationship.  

With the AIG Women’s Open playing here in August 2021, I can’t wait to return.  If only to see if I can relive my one and only straight drive on Hogans Alley, or to see if I can continue to avoid spectacles.  But most importantly to see if I can conquer these closing holes – or at least play to my handicap!  Whilst there I also hope to experience the lovely Scottish hospitality at The Rookery and to look around the now completed Links House.  The latter still under its finals stages of construction when I last visited.

Photo credit – Kevin Murray

For more innovative, fun unique golf content, please subscribe to my social media channels 

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Interested in this golf club, or any in this series, or wish to be featured in the future, please email me on [email protected]

D for Donegal

D – Donegal

GB&I Golf Course Reviews – Z to A

I am showcasing one golf club a day across GB & I over 26 days – in reverse alphabetical order.  Full write up and more images can be found on http://golfgurugroup.blogspot.com

Donegal Golf Club

Murvagh, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Does this golf course have it all?

From dead bodies to ancient food storage.  From ocean side golf holes to mountains views and Forests.

Founded in 1959

As a nine hole course closer to Donegal on land called Tullycullion.  Hole 13 yards bears the name of the former sight as it is in view from the 13th green.  

Often referred to as Murvagh, Donegal golf club moved it current location in Murvagh in the early 1970’s.  Eddie Hackett designed Donegal with 2 loops of nine holes taking inspiration from Muirfield.  Not out and back as some 18 hole courses, but an inner and outer ring of nine holes each.

Eddie Hackett

Is known for saying “I find nature is the best architect, I just try to dress up what the Good Lord provides.”   Going from hole number 13 a par three and the shortest hole on the course to hole number 14 a par five of 504/565 and the longest hole on the course.  Testimony that Eddie Hackett did indeed within the the natural canvas as presented to him.

The par 3, 5th is their signature hole, called Valley of Tears.   I wonder how it earned that name!  It may be the lack of fairway, target golf is very much in order for this hole!  That said the green is quite large but come up short and there is a deep bunker to catch you out.  Statistically this is also the hole that has highest number of hole in ones on the course, so a mixed bag for sure.  

The original design

Has had some tweaks from Pat Ruddy who is still engaged to offer advise as needed.  Ruddy has lengthened holes and done  some remodelling on others, but largely the layout remains as it was from Eddie Hackett’s original design.

My opening gambit of ‘does the course have it all’ is demonstrated with its location on the Murvagh peninsular.  Located near Murvagh beach, with its blue flag status, adds to the drama and contrast of the Bluestack Mountains.  Ditches dissect the course in places and there is also woodland to encounter.  Add the obligatory bumps and humps as if an oversized mole has left its casts of yesteryear, now grassed over.  All this is in play at some point or another.

The history of the site belies it’s short history as a golf course.  The 17th called Souterrain hides a series on underground chambers. Whilst not entirely sure what these chambers were used for, it is likely they were used for food storage.  Other theories were to take refuge when under attack.

The first green

Was unearthed as a burial site for some unfortunate sole who’s remains were found during excavating the course in the 1990’s.  This unique location also lends itself to stories such as the hole number 6.  A par 5 493/514 yards with its views of The Hassons.  A location in the 18th century where Irish Emigrants boarded the ‘coffin ships’ bound for a better life in the Americas.

Hole number two a par 4, 377/466 yards is the only hole that faces West, into the prevailing wind.  With bunkers in play on the approach there is no let up if that wind is blowing.    As you would expect the wind does come into play as it swirls around.  Having the inner and outer ring does afford some level of respite on the back nine, but not a lot on the day I played!  

No such story in Ireland

Would be complete without fairies or leprechauns usually whilst enjoying a pint of the black stuff.  Hole number 11 is called Fairy Rath.  A Rath is a ringfort, often associated with fairies and leprechauns.  It has been speculated that one such ringfort existed just before the green on the 11th.  Now a big dip to catch the ball on the approach.  I could have used some of the infamous ‘luck of the Irish’ with my approach shot which didn’t land on the green but in the swell giving myself a tricky recovery shot.

Hole number 8

Has been voted the best Par 5 on the West Coast of Europe.  It’s elevated tee and deep swells add to the drama of the blind shot to an elevated fairway.

Darren Clarke, 2011 Open Championship winner and member, states that Donegal is ‘one of my favourite courses in the World’

And who am I to argue!

For more innovative, fun unique golf content, please subscribe to my social media channels 

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Interested in this golf club, or any in this series, or wish to be featured in the future, please email me on [email protected]

E for Enniscrone

Z – Zetland

GB&I Golf Course Review – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one venue/location a day for GB&I Golf Courses.  It is my ode to some great golf starting backwards today with the letter Z.  The full write up can be found on golfgurugroup blogspot too, so there is no missing out on that extra little bit of information.

Look out for the daily influx of unique, quirky, amazing golf courses across the GB & I can offer.

In 1975 Zetland became Shetland.

Whilst Shetland is singular in speech, Shetland is actually an archipelago of nearly 100 islands in the North Sea, with a population in excess of 22 thousand.  Only 16 of these islands are inhabited and our focus for this golf course is Shetland main Island, just outside Lerwick, being the main town.

Whilst I have a daughter and her family living in Shetland, and having driven past the golf course multiple times, I am sad to say, I have not played the course, yet.  So have sought help from their friendly management committee.

Unique in its location Shetland Golf club surpassed only by the wonderful honesty box system. (Currently being replaced by an on-line booking system during covid times).  I love it when an honesty box is in play, it tells me so much about the club, and its members.

With just one green keeper on the books their volunteer system is second to non.  With around 20 to 30 members giving up a few hours each week to repair the ditches, trim the grass and the never ending task of cutting fairways.

Being so far North

The weather does come into play.  During summer you can pretty much play 24 hours with a longest day comp starting at 8pm.  On the opposite spectrum, winter golf is only playable for 5 to 6 hours a day.

Be mindful to take plenty of golf balls, not for the terrain so much as the crows who take delight in taunting the golfers by stealing their golf balls whilst in play!  I wouldn’t mind being the one to find that treasure trove of golf balls stashed somewhere near the golf club – but never in the hole!!

Shetland itself is a beautiful totally unspoilt location, with the golf course within a natural fold of the rugged landscape funnelling towards the North Sea.  You can sometimes spot killer whales (Orca) hunting the prolific seals off the coast.

With a 300 strong membership Sheltand Golf Club also enjoys a thriving junior section (6 to 17 years) of 30.  The Junior section is run by volunteer coaches who are keen to see a good mix of female and male children taking up golf.

Whilst Shetland might not be everyones cup of tea, for the nature lovers amongst us, it is a true gem.  Just don’t forget to pack your golf clubs and enjoy a round of golf at Shetland GC.   Thats what Im going to be doing next time I’m visiting my daughter

Membership from £150 with guest rates at £30 a round

Shetland Golf Club, Dale Gott, Shetland, ZE2 9SB

And just in case you’re not too sure where Shetland is, look North Scotland then look higher up!  In fact Shetland is so far North it isn’t always shown on the map of GB&I!  An overnight ferry from Aberdeen or a  short one hour flight from Inverness.  Other airports in the UK serve Shetland, but may not be direct flights.

Look out for more letters in the Z to A of GB&I Golf Course reviews

Shetland Golf Club Facebook page

Cat fishing in the golf industry

Cat fishing is grooming on line and as I have experienced, golf is not immune to this sordid world of chancers.

I have always been a friendly person. One who engages and listens to people.  I’ve been told I’m one of the best networkers in the industry.  So maybe my friendly disposition and my heavy involvement in social media make me the perfect target for any would be cat fishers?

Based on my experience, I can split the perpetrators into three categories:

1. The unsophisticated groomer aka the dirty old man

This is a man who is most likely seeking attention but doesn’t quite have the sophistication to know how to do it, so out of the blue, with no history of communication, he send a picture of his genitals – a dick pic!

It isn’t pleasant, although does cause hilarity in the household as I show hubby.  This person is basic and crude in his attempt to prompt a response.  He did get a response, I blocked him!

2. The doctor or serviceman or other esteemed profession aka the village idiot.

In comes a connection request from the nicest groomed man dressed in theatre blues, dark haired, smiling perfect white teeth.  He wants to connect with me!

He’s a surgeon, better than that he’s a military surgeon in a war torn savaged country ready to help the wounded and fix them up as his service to the country.  He has children, lives in the US and is a hero.  On his soft side, he is missing his children and trying to lead a normal life in the turmoil of his high pressure job.  He needs you to connect with him, he needs normal people in his life, he needs you.

This is the story HE spins you.  The story is one barely on the cusp of believable – that image, it is just too perfect!

I played dim and asked, ‘are you a scammer?  You can’t be too careful?’

His indigent response was scathing in its reply, of course I am genuine – how could you say such a thing!

His ‘hurt’ was shallow in its delivery, instead trying to twist it back on me for accusing him.

I wasn’t having it.

‘I think you’re a scammer!’

He closed his account so quick, I didn’t get chance to block or report him!

End of story, or so I thought.  A week or so later, I got a connection request from the same dark haired smiling surgeon, his perfect teeth, scrubbed up and ready to go into surgery – the only thing was, it was a different name this time!

I didn’t connect

3. The manipulator – aka Mr Danger

This one is the one who I believe is most dangerous, he spins a story with snippets of truth, he dangles the carrot and swiftly whips it away again.  The story I was given was so colluded, with twists and turns to knot up even the sharpest of brains.  He had rich parents, multiple houses, his first wife had died, his new partner was his rock, but only ever referred to by initials, but she was ill now, he wants to go on the senior tour, he has a personal driving range, he was in the special forces in a senior position but sustained a head injury, but not too much detail given.

His family are from Catalonia, he and his family all have places in Mallorca.  He has done everything and been everywhere, and isn’t shy to tell you so either.

His stories are extra ordinarily long, and incredibly exhausting to read.

They dart around all over the place, often referring to his background, his illness, his wealth, he puts you on a pedestal, says things about you that make you feel great, albeit not always correct, but if you try to correct him, he brushes it off claiming you’re a good person, he just knows you are.

His message are like a dripping tap.  His stories elaborate in length yet lacking in substance, he’s done everything and brags incessantly about his  and his family’s achievements.

His insistence to send something, his continued story of his contacts all over the world; the one who lives in his house in the Netherlands.  The ambassador for Nike who sends him free and cheap things.  His property in Mallorca, his family from Catalonia, all statements without detail.  And all so incredibly wearing to read.

He says he can confide in me.

His partner encourages him to do this as it makes him feel better! He has a 500 page book about his life on the back burner, but it isn’t available to read and he doesn’t want to take it any further.  It’s just been written just in case?

His attempts to be philanthropic, he wants to send me things to give away to get rid of the excess stock in his warehouse.

He wants to send me something for me, for my family.

So I tested him with his alleged Nike connections.

Can he get me a name in Nike who I can talk to about replacing hubby not so waterproof trousers.

He can do better, he has a pair in hubby’s size.  He will send replacements.

He has a pair, but they aren’t new, they don’t have labels and they have been worn once by him, do we want these – no thank you.

He found a pair in hubby’s size.

I will send something for you to giveaway

OK, I will forward gift them to new starters at the club.

Thats not what it is for, it for new people getting into golf??  I will just send the trousers, as I’m not wasting postage money on sending something you’re going to give away???

From a man who owns multiple houses and travels all over the world.

Holes in his story were becoming cavernous  and I cannot express how exhausting this was getting, maybe hindered by being in lockdown, dark evenings and a usually active life, tipped upside down by external events.

I stepped away, hubby contacted him about the waterproof trousers, nothing was forthcoming.

I blocked his account when he sent a nasty message, nothing too personal and nothing hurtful, just a little spiteful and unnecessary.

Truth is, I still to this day, do not know if he was cat fishing me or not.  But I do know how I was feeling, how run down I was getting, how exhausting his stories were.

So to play devils advocate.  He may have been genuine!  I do not know. He wasn’t being particularly manipulative, he didn’t ask for any money or to meet.

Maybe, if you’re trying to get someones attention, maybe you like someone and want to work with them, please think about your approach to them, and how they might perceive it

Could you be displaying hallmarks of a cat fisher inadvertently?

I hope this article serves as a reminder that cat fishing is out there, the golf industry is not infallible to this.

If any of the above resonates with you, please remember, you are not alone, find someone who you can confide in, someone that doesn’t know the perpetuator.  Or, maybe, you are trying to engage with someone, and if so, could it be read incorrectly?

The long and the short of it, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!

This was not an easy article for me to write.

I am sharing this to help others spot the pros and cons of live in social media.

I have met and made friends with so many people online.  We have a laugh, we help each other out with posts, we back each other up and we ‘chat’ on messaging systems.

Like many things in life; it is often the few that spoil it for the many.  I will continue to be friendly, helpful and outgoing.  That is me, and if anyone is thinking; great, easy prey – I’m happy to write a follow up article with more details.

This article has not been written to name and shame, it has been written to help others who may have been in a similar situation, to empathise with them.  To say – you’re not alone.  You’ve got this!

Sarah is a business women in the golf industry in excess fo 10 years.  As the founder of the first UK Golf business to focus on women’s golf travel, the knowledge and wealth she brings to the table have enabled her to successfully transition into media, social media and marketing for global golf brands and locations.

A Mistress to the Masters

Being at the Masters is a dream come true to any golf fan. After all it is the holy grounds of golf and for some even more so than St. Andrews. For some strange reason Augusta National manages to keep the myth of the tournament and the course alive and it simply never gets boring. Of no other place you would hear a golf star like Rory McIlroy or Rickie Fowler say that they still get goosebumps every single time they get to drive down the road heading towards the clubhouse. Or can you imagine any other place where Tiger Woods would start to choke up on when talking about a victory? With all their rules and little quirks Augusta National is simply a perfect place. There is no other way to put it. So back in February I finally got the question that every (golf) girl has ever dreamed of: do you want to go to the masters this year? 

Guess what? I said ‚ Yes‘! I actually had a hard time not welling up while my mind started racing. What would be the first thing I want to do when I arrive? It was so bad that I couldn’t sleep for three days straight and this stupid grin on my face stayed on all the way till March 12th. That was the day I went to go to Berlin to get my journalist visa for the US. It was also the day when the United States government decided to close borders for every European Country due to Corona. But being my usual self I stayed positive and continued my journey. At this point I was hoping there might be exceptions for work trips or that maybe in a month time, when the Masters was supposed to be played in April, borders would be opened again. A month is a long time to go right? Well, we all know how that worked out. 

Fast forward to November. No Patrons are allowed on ground, only limited media were permitted and I was sitting in my apartment in Hamburg trying to fathom the fact that this is how the year turned out to be. For a short time I was thinking about actually flying to the US despite the fact I wasn’t going to be able to access the course. Simply because it was such a special Masters and I had an apartment five minutes away for the course already booked and paid for. But I decided to pass up the opportunity. 

Having been an accredited journalist at this years Masters did come with a couple of nice perks though. One of them being granted access to the first ever online Patron Shop. Thats how they called the all too expensive but equally awesome online store that they had created for Patrons who were lucky enough to have tickets for the event and give them the chance to at least buy some merchandise stuff. Trust me, I did. And I got my bank account to prove it, too. From hats to cups and windbreakers to an ugly Christmas-sweater, I bought it all. At least that gave me the feeling I was part of something special. Plus, Christmas is arriving and poor me didn’t get to go to the Masters. Like in golf – you’re only as good as your excuses! 

Heading into the week I told all my friends and family that I was going to watch every second of this years masters. Can you imagine how many apologetic texts I got? It’s funny how when a person admits to being sad or not feeling well, how it throws other people off. It is almost like people forget how to function when someone doesn’t answer‚ I’m doing good’ when they are asked how they feel. So I quickly stopped and went to just sending pictures of me on my couch with a cup in my hand and made a joke about a really sucky week.  

Another question I received over and over again is how do you cover the Masters from your couch? Not a lot of people will understand that but I personally find it easier to cover a tournament when you are not actually there. Why? Well, simply because you don’t miss as much. Think about it this way – when you are at a tournament you want to go out and see the course but you also want to see your personal favourites and you definitely don’t want to miss any on-course action. So you have to decide wether you follow a certain group or if you just stay at a strategically good place on the course to watch. Either way I can guarantee you that you will miss a lot of things going on at the tournament. As working press you always have the media centre as a go to point. But that adds to the problem. Which post round interview do you not want to miss? Which player might be hot right now and you need to be following on the course? Is there a local player that you want to follow around because that is what people want to know about? What if someone makes a hole-in-one but you don’t know because you have been following another group? The easy answer to all those questions just stay at the media centre and watch the live feed on TV. You won’t miss anything. But you will also not get any feeling of the atmosphere or for the course, so you could have stayed home! 

Photo credit : Joy Chakravarty

As I mentioned before, here I was on my couch telling me it’s not that bad and listening to Tiger Woods live press conference reliving his win in 2019. This is where I snapped out of it and got back to simply being a crazy golf fan. Not because of Tiger, but because the minute I saw footage of Magnolia Lane and heard the first notes of the Masters tune I forgot about all the worries. I was happy that I had the opportunity to access the press conferences remotely and I just wanted to see how this years Masters was going to play out. Like every year I texted back and forth with all my golf friends about the newest developments on the leaderboard, I got stoked about great shots and mad about others. And even though we are in a lockdown right now, I got someone to watch the coverage with me for three out of the four days. Usually we would have been a big group of people but even just having this small circle of people around me gave me the comfort I needed to have a great Masters tournament. One I will definitely remember for the rest of my life and one that will always be my first Masters that I almost got to go to.

Oh, and before we end this on a happy note – I am still waiting for my package to arrive with my merchandise from the Patrons store. Well, maybe I will be ready for next years Masters in April. 

Ann is a professional journalist who has provided us with this insightful piece about the life of the ‘remote’ journalist

Golf Guru Group – I too have often wondered why so many journalists stay in the media tent the whole time during a major tournament, why aren’t they out on the course, why aren’t they talking to the crowds and soaking up the atmosphere – now we know why and having experienced this myself, watching golf from multiple screens dotted around the media tent, showing live footage of different players at different stages of their game, its a good place to be to give you the complete story

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