What an amazing Open Championship! Following an overdue win for Dustin Johnson in the US Open, I think it a very fitting result that a European, equally overdue a major victory, should win The Open. With the Ryder Cup fast approaching, Henrik Stenson beating Phil Mickelson in full flow makes the mouth water! And how must Phil feel? One in front with 17 to play, 5 under with no dropped shots for those final 17 holes and lost by 3!
I am still staggered by the distance the ball is now hit. I do think fitness plays a part and the latest equipment certainly helps, especially with graphite shafts, metal headed drivers and fairway clubs, but the Extra Stiff steel shafts and iron heads are fairly similar to days gone by, albeit the shafts are longer and the heads less lofted, basically making a modern iron at least one club stronger. So what part does the modern ball play?
I recently visited Stoke Rochford Golf Club, where I played my junior golf in the sixties. It really got me thinking of how golf has changed in all aspects over half a century! Stoke Rochford is a gem, hardly hidden though, as it is situated on the A1 five miles south of Grantham, Lincolnshire, and well worth a visit anytime you are in the area. Cattle were grazed on it in the summer and the greens were protected by barbed wire nailed to wooden posts, both of which, along with cow-pats, served as additional hazards. Cattle and Sheep were not unusual obstacles in rural Lincolnshire! The course has changed very little, albeit a few tees pushed back and the afore mentioned hazards removed, but even in the sixties, when 200 yards was a very good drive, it boasted 6 par fives well over 400 yards, unreachable for most. In those formative years, I and my contemporaries were looked upon as huge hitters with a drive and 6 or 7 iron to say 420 yards. Now 450 yards is a 300 yard drive and 9 iron or wedge. Eyes popped if we hit a 270 yd par 4 with a drive, now it is a long iron or fairway wood.
Anyway, while I preach to the club golfer, “distance is secondary, keep the ball in play, get down in three from wedge distance in,” it still didn’t sit well at Stoke, noting that the irons required to greens were longer than they used to be and the drives not quite reaching the marks of fifty years ago when a lump of wood on the end of a heavy steel shaft and a balata ball were the equipment of the day!!
One thing I think has helped the young golfers develop enormously is the equipment now available to fit their size and strength. In my time as a junior it was the top sawn off an old hickory shaft (yes, I actually learned with hickory) or the heavy steel ones. Electrical insulation tape for a grip and as we grew a bit, men’s clubs we could “grow into”. This is why we now see 13/14 year old scratch golfers and the average age of superstars tumbling. They have been able to watch the best on TV and copy their hero’s swing with equipment suitably matched from when they could walk. Of course, coaching, practice facilities, opportunities etc have all improved too, as they have for everyone.
So what can we learn from all that? Firstly, I stand by “length is secondary.” The majority of golfers will do well to concentrate on short game to improve their scoring and be more consistent. Secondly, with modern technology we can all at least know the equipment we are using is right for us, therefor once fitted, instead of waiting to buy the next “fix” spend a few pounds on coaching and equally as important, a bit of time practicing what you have learnt. Oh yes, and given that most who read this will not be in the age bracket of those I have been talking about, please, please, stop trying to hit those 300 yard drives!!
Enough of me reminiscing about the 60’s, let’s focus on the weeks just passed! Italy, as always, was gorgeous and is reported in the ‘blog,’. Iain is already working on next years 10 day Tour in late June. Having started writing this towards the end of the North Wales tour I can only say how impressed I have been with the courses. Holyhead was a true hidden gem and while I knew Nefyn and Royal St David’s by reputation they were everything one would expect. On arrival for our final day at Conwy we almost returned home early as the rain and wind blew in from the bay. Thank goodness we didn’t! Advised by the locals that they expected it to change, it eased as we approached the first tee and we played a wonderfully enjoyable course in pristine condition, for the most part, in almost perfect links weather!
Our final 2016 Tours in Northern Europe are Ireland, Sept 10th and Gothenburg, Sweden, Sept 17th. This year’s response to UK events has been excellent, thank you, and we look forward to next year’s schedule being released soon. Following your response to my comments on Woodhall Spa, it has been included in the 2017 programme with accommodation in the Dam Busters headquarters at the Petwood Hotel. You are warned though, that when entering the bunkers on the Hodgkin course, you will assume it was the Dam Busters practicing that created them!
Before that of course we have a full overseas programme fast approaching. As already mentioned September offers Wexford and Gothenburg. October is Portugal with a Golf & Coaching Week at the Robinson Club in Tavira and a golf week in Porto, northern Portugal. Only limited places are now available on both events.
While I am in Sri Lanka during November Barney will host an event in Tenerife and another in Madeira. Madeira was very well received last year, and we do have a number of vacancies still available, for you to spend time with Barney. If I may refer you to the front cover of this months’ Golf Monthly Magazine and a large teaching section within it, you will understand the quality of the coach who is hosting these events.
Mr P himself is too modest to say, but you really are in the presence of one of the finest coaches in the UK, when booking one of Barney’s events. With my Christmas and New Year programme already sold out, Barney and Jennie will be hosting a similar programme also in the Algarve. Now is the time to book the festive season before the airfares go sky high!
Finally, on Sunday night I saw a good solid win by Jimmy Walker in the USPGA. That’s two majors each for Europe and USA this year; what odds a draw in the Ryder Cup
As David has said, the last few Majors have been amazing to watch and congratulations to the self-effacing Jimmy Walker in his USPGA triumph.
Jennie and I really enjoyed the Women’s Open at Woburn which is just up the road from us. We joined the 50,000 plus spectators who attended over the week and have to say we were very impressed with the standard of golf and how friendly the players were.
The only disappointment was that local favourite, Charley Hull didn’t contend but she showed some great form and surely is a future Major winner. I thought you all might find this swing analysis I did for Golf Monthly Magazine interesting and you may be able to apply a couple of points to your own game.
David also mentioned how improvements in equipment and coaching have helped in the junior game. This showed in the Women’s Majors this year where the average age of the winners is twenty one and a half! Picking up on the ever wise Mr Short’s statement of “length is secondary” the winner at Woburn, Ariya Jutanugarn actually discarded her driver for the event.
She threaded her way through the magnificent tree lined fairways with an iron (admittedly a souped up one) and found as we all do, golf is an easier game from the short grass. One of the joint runners up, the diminutive Mo Martin (5ft 1in) also reminded us that dexterity with a wedge makes up for any lack in length and in fact recalling clubs of a bygone age, the Hogan company called their wedge an “equilizer” which says it all!
Our UK Golf and Coaching and Academy programmes are racing along and we have a couple of places available for our last one in September. Looking forward to autumn and winter, which we at DSG do, I am really looking forward to our visit to Tenerife and experiencing their excellent courses.
We have places on the Madeira trip the following week, where we experienced a terrific trip last year and the golf, food and views are brilliant (see blog). As David also mentioned this Xmas and New Year Jennie and I are hosting events in the Algarve and we are both really looking forward to be able to play golf over the holidays as we would be thinking twice in the UK.
I trust that you are well and have enjoyed the feast of golf over the last few weeks. The positive distraction of the Olympics and the Premier League season to come of course, and then the focus will be on the Ryder Cup.
As our UK season draws to a close (where does the time go?), thank you to everyone who has made the pilgrimage to Staverton Park for the ‘Golf & Coaching’ and ‘Golf Academy’ weekends and likewise to those who attended the very successful Dorset and North Wales golf tour events. For 2017 there will be the usual portfolio of coaching weekends, perhaps with a new venue or two to enjoy as well, and also golf tours to Dorset, Lincolnshire and the Herefordshire and Monmouthshire region. The dates have been set, and Jennie will be illustrating these on the web-site very shortly, with the itineraries and prices following on soon as we have them confirmed.
With regards to the autumn, all of the overseas events have been well supported, with the Porto, Sri Lanka and Tenerife weeks all almost, but not quite, fully booked. We also have four places still available on the October Tavira Golf & Coaching week and a dozen or so places available for the Madeira Golf Week with Golf Clinics, which I would highly recommend. As we creep ever closer to September, so the adverts about Christmas parties will start, and the first festive merchandise will appear in the shops. We do still have plenty of places available on Barney and Jennie’s Festive tours, should you choose to spend Christmas and New Year in what should be the warmer and drier climate of Portugal.
For the New Year, the 14th January Golf & Coaching Week has just been launched, which will take place at the La Quinta Resort near Marbella, with the accommodation at the excellent Melia Banus Hotel in Puerto Banus.
The ‘Golf Week’ which will follow the week after, will involve four rounds on the two Mijas courses and a round at Santana Golf Club, with the accommodation in Fuengirola. We are literally finalising the programme at the time of writing; hence please keep an eye on the web-site for the details of the trip.
The tour to South Africa is proving popular once again. The Fancourt week sold out within a couple of days, and both the Cape Town and Garden Route weeks only have seven or eight places available on them. Please also note that there is also the option to stay at Fancourt for four nights at the end of the tour. We have four rooms remaining for this tour extension and please email or call me if this option would be of interest.
For the spring programme, we have two San Lorenzo Golf Weeks with Clinics, the traditional La Cala Golf Week, as well as ‘Golf & Coaching Weeks’ at the Robinson Club and a ‘Golf Week’ which will be based from the Penina Golf Resort. All of these events will be launched in the coming weeks, with the allocated dates illustrated on the web-site. Look out too for Gran Canaria in April, as we seek some warmth in the late spring.
The summer will see a return to Italy (Tuscany), Ireland (Cork) and new venues in September and October will include Bulgari and Prague in the Czech Republic. All of that is to come so please link to our Facebook or Twitter pages as we announce on there when the new events are on the website.
Thank you as always for your support. As we say every month, the trips are about you, and ensuring that you experience holidays and events that live long in the memory. Please let us have your views for the website when you have been on a trip.
Enjoy Rio, the football, the cricket and the build up to the Ryder Cup.
All the best,
As David has mentioned above I am as proud as punch about Mr P! This month’s edition of Golf Monthly Magazine features “himself” on the front cover and has a 32 page pull-out section titled “50 Faults Fixed”. The editorial team came up with 50 faults and Barney had to come up with the fixes. I know I am biased, but it is brilliant. He has been a Golf Monthly Top 25 Coach since 2004, but this makes him Number 1. The magazine should be at the newsagents now or you can like their Facebook page and see videos of Barney explaining some of the fixes.
Back to DSG, Iain is working hard on the itinerary for 2017 which means I will be working hard adding them to the website. Please bear with us, as we will get them online as soon as we can, so that you can start your planning.
Keep giving us your feedback on the events and enjoy your golf.
With kind regards,
David and the team
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