Posted by & filed under Golf Tips.

Becoming older doesn’t mean you become a bad golfer – just look at Tom Watson and Gary Player. However, if you’re a senior golfer, you need to make minor adjustments to maintain a good distance and strong overall game. Here are Bernard Gallacher’s top tips for senior golfers to help increase their distance.

Use technology to your advantage

There’s some brilliant technology out there that can help golfers play for longer. You can use a buggy if you have problems walking around the course or an electric trolley if you want to preserve your energy for swinging.

A buggy is especially handy if you’re playing on a hilly course, and a trolley is ideal if you’re playing in wet weather and need somewhere to store your waterproofs and towels. You can carry as much equipment as you want around with you. This technology has existed since I was playing and it’s improving all the time.

Choose your clubs carefully

Nowadays, the pros score highly because the shafts are tailored to their game. Senior golfers can also take advantage of this development by customising their clubs. They can get their clubs fitted by a professional, who’ll find the weight and shaft to suit their game.

There are senior shafts out there. Senior golfers should use hybrids right up to even a 5 and 6 iron, rather than using a long iron.

The advent of titanium shaft clubs has been a massive development in golf. Titanium shaft clubs allow you to make a big head, which helps you tee it up higher.

You couldn’t make a head that size in my day because the clubs were made of wood, and you could barely lift it. Now, when you drive, the ball’s up in the air to start with. You don’t have to get it up in the air anymore and that’s a big bonus for senior golfers.

Find the ball to suit your game

Once you have the right club for your game, you can start experimenting with different golf balls. You won’t use the same ball Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy would use, but your game will benefit from this.

You’ve got to use a ball that you can compress – avoid high compression balls with a rating of 100 or higher. Senior golfers should use a low compression ball with a rating of between 70 and 80. It’ll make a big difference to their distance.

(Related: Golf Ball Compression Chart and Rank)

Work on your grip

You should never underestimate the importance of a grip in improving your distance. The pros concentrate a lot on their grip, and they take it very seriously. By contrast, I’ve often felt that amateur golfers take their grip for granted, and their distances suffer as a result.

Your grip should be in the roots of your fingers of both hands as much as possible. It should never spread to the palm of your hands, otherwise, you’ll lose the flexibility in your wrists.

Practise your aim and alignment

This is another area that I don’t feel enough golfers pay attention to, but your aim and alignment are vital in increasing your distance off the tee.

I’d advise all senior golfers to take an alignment stick with them to optimise their aim. This will help them find the all-important angle of attack.

Put down the alignment sticks and align your feet slightly to the left of your target. Try to mirror the spine angle in the ground as you address the ball.

Your posture is also important. Remember the basics – stand as tall as you can to the ball and bend over from the waist. Think about the turn as well – the turn should be clear on the right side and the backswing.

Warm up properly

People rush to the course, having not played for two or three weeks, and think they can hit a 240-yard drive down the middle. You can only do that now and again – it doesn’t happen very often!

The only way you’re going to prolong your playing career and maintain a strong distance is by conducting a proper warm-up routine.

There are plenty of stretches and exercises you can do before each round. Then there are the playing drills – I like to arrive at the course in plenty of time to hit some balls.

I’d advise all senior golfers to start with a short iron, hit a few balls with a medium iron and then hit a couple of drives.  

Don’t take out a driver and try and kill the ball 300 yards. You wouldn’t try and go straight into top gear if you were in a car, and it’s the same when you’re playing golf.

Don’t overdo it

I’ve seen so many senior golfers make this mistake, and it’s an easy mistake to make.

When people retire, and they’ve suddenly got nothing on their mind, they’ll go to the golf course. If you’re a retiree, don’t make the mistake of playing EVERY day. Have a day off to re-charge the batteries and give your body a rest.

If you want to play as often as possible, maybe play nine holes instead of 18 sometimes. Whatever it is, you need to give your swing a break. Your distance will be all the better for it.

Posted by & filed under The Open.

Ask a hundred golfers to rank the greatest Open Championship courses and you’ll get a wide range of responses. We’ve attempted to narrow down the top 10 courses – see what you think… 

1. St Andrews – Old, Fife

One of those places that’ll make the hairs stand on the back of your neck. How many golfers would choose the Old if they could only play one course for the rest of their lives? A very large number, you imagine, for this is the home of golf, where the great game has been played since the 15th century.

With its double greens, crossovers and gaping bunkers, there’s nowhere else quite like it in the world. Throw all that history into the mix, its famous landmarks and iconic holes, and you have golf’s undisputed number one golf course, never mind the best on the Open Championship rota. Agree?

2. Muirfield, East Lothian

For many, Muirfield, which first hosted The Open in 1892, offers the fairest test of all the Open Championship venues. Two circuits of nine rotate in opposite directions, the back nine looping inside the front nine, which ensures that golfers never face the same wind direction on two consecutive holes.

The layout might be slightly unusual for a Scottish links course, but it’s near-perfect – a little eccentric, maybe, but a masterpiece nonetheless, with the fairways and hazards beautifully designed. Then there’s the clubhouse, which, like the course, has its own special atmosphere.

3. Trump Turnberry Resort – Ailsa, South Ayrshire

Any mention of Turnberry and it’s hard not to picture the famous ‘Duel in the Sun’ – 1977, the year Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson went head-to-head for the Claret Jug. Watson edged it, of course, but he did suffer heartbreak here, too, when in 2009, aged 59, he lost a play-off against Stewart Cink.

The Ailsa course features one of the most spectacular par 3s on the Open rota – the par-3 9th, which plays over the cliffs and crags to a green right by the famous lighthouse. Some of the holes by the sea will take your breath away, such as the short 11th, as will the halfway hut, which isn’t your typical stopover. We’re talking serious wow-factor from start to finish.

4. Carnoustie, Angus

If you like a tough test, they don’t come much sterner than ‘Car-nasty’. This is where Jean van de Velde succumbed to Carnoustie’s treacherous 18th hole in 1999, and no doubt many more will fall victim to this brute in the years to come.

Weak holes simply don’t exist on this Angus links, where the narrow fairways are protected by gorse, streams and devilish bunkers. It might lack the spectacular sea views that some of the other Open courses can boast, but there can be nowhere better to test your game – the challenge is relentless. As for the finishing stretch, it’ll live long in the memory.

5. Royal Birkdale, Southport

The North West of England is a links hotbed, with an array of excellent courses supplementing its three Open venues – although not everyone will agree how this particular trio should be ranked.

Royal Birkdale first hosted The Open in 1954, and since this time has been the most regular venue for the Championship other than St Andrews. It’s blessed with some of the most stunning dunes in the country, which frame the holes beautifully, and it’s one of the characteristics anyone who’s played here will remember most – that and the par-4 1st, which is surely one of the hardest openers on the Open rota.

6. Royal Portrush – Dunluce, County Antrim

Royal Portrush is stunning, and there’s every chance those who have played it would rank this Open venue – which returned to the Dunluce Links for the first in 68 years in 2019 – a lot higher. Shane Lowry, who landed a famous victory that year, might be one of those.

The Harry Colt masterpiece is characterised by towering dunes, and an array of standout holes. For many, the par-4 5th will top the lot, a hole where you tee off from an elevated tee, before following the fairway towards the sea. In truth, it’s one of those places where every hole feels dramatic in some way.

7. Royal St George’s, Kent

The Open returns to Sandwich in 2021 for the first time since 2011, when Darren Clarke kept his emotions in check to fulfil his boyhood dream and lift the Claret Jug. Located on the Kent coastline, this windswept links course, which is regarded as one of the strongest layouts in the UK and Ireland, will test your ball-striking and course management to the limits.

One of its best features, as well as its undulating terrain, dunes and deep bunkering, is the fact that the holes all point in different directions. As a result, golfers face ever-changing wind directions. You can’t fail to enjoy the test it offers.

8. Royal Liverpool, Wirral

Hoylake, which has hosted The Open on 12 occasions, is one of the most historic clubs in the country. Rory McIlroy triumphed the last time the Championship was held here in 2014, and who can forget Tiger Woods’ emotional victory in 2006?

At the tip of the Wirral peninsula and set on fairly flat ground, it may lack the dramatic views as a number of other Open venues, but it’s no less mesmerising and makes wonderful use of the natural contours.

9. Royal Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire

The fact that this iconic Lancashire links is surrounded by urbanisation and is set back quite far from the sea only seems to add to its wonder. It’s an iconic Open venue that boasts many of the Championship’s most memorable moments – Seve’s recovery shot from the car park in 1979 to finish three shots clear and his third Open title in 1988 being among them.

Its pot bunkers and sprawling gorse will strike fear into anyone who plays here, and its difficulty cranks up a notch when the wind blows from the Irish Sea. Placement from the tee is essential if you master what is often described as a “beast” – which is certainly what the 206-yard par-3 opener is.

10. Royal Troon – Old, South Ayrshire

Royal Troon, which is set to host its tenth Open in 2024, is designed in the traditional out-and-back manner of the Old Course at St Andrews. Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson put on a show here in 2016 that was reminiscent of the Watson, Nicklaus duel at Turnberry – and much of the credit for that epic showdown can be attributed to the qualities of this superb links course.

It has three distinct sections: the first six out and along the coast; the middle part a technical test through the dunes; and a tough final third that’s generally played into the wind. The standout hole? There can’t be many better short holes on the Open rota than the famous “Postage Stamp”.

Posted by & filed under Golf Equipment.

While many of us would welcome an extra few yards of distance, it’s important to find a driver that’s going to help you hit more fairways. After all, what use is 15 yards more carry if you’re ending up deep in the rough or in amongst the trees?

There are plenty of models out there that can lure you in with the promise of extra distance – and there’s no doubting they can be super effective in this department. But here, we’re going to look at those models which favour forgiveness.

If you’re a mid to high handicapper, chances are your drives don’t always find the centre of the clubface, but the following models won’t punish those mishits quite so severely. In short, they should help you to find more fairways.

1. Ping G425 Max Driver, RRP £450.00

Powerful and forgiving, the Ping G425 driver has a rounded profile, which gives it a user-friendly appearance. Its forgiveness has mainly been achieved with a 26-gram tungsten movable weight, made possible by weight savings from advancements in the driver’s dragonfly crown technology. It can be secured in a neutral, draw or fade setting to influence forgiveness and shot shape.

2. Mizuno ST-Z Driver, RRP £399.00

Mizuno might not be the first manufacturer you think of which it comes to drivers. However, many of its recent models have been receiving glowing reviews – including the ST-Z. Its higher MOI head, designed to produce low to mid-spin, is both forgiving and easy on the eye. Plus, it’s wallet-friendly, at least compared to several other premium models on the market.

3. MacGregor MACTEC X Adjustable Driver, RRP £149.00

Featuring a high-MOI design for increased stability at impact and an expanded sweet-spot for greater forgiveness on off-centre strikes, there’s a lot to like about this driver – and its many features aren’t reflected in its modest price. It also offers adjustability, allowing for lofts of 9°, 10.5° and 12°.

4. TaylorMade SIM2 Max Driver, RRP £449.00

Tommy Fleetwood’s weapon of choice is going to appeal to a wide range of golfers, for it’s long and forgiving. It has a slightly larger face than the standard version, plus a 24-gram back weight for even more forgiveness. Easy to align, pleasing on the eye and the ears, and available at under the £450 mark, it’s easy to see why this driver is proving such a popular model both on Tour and at club level.

5. Callaway Epic Max Driver, RRP £499.00

If a typical round sees you finding all areas of the clubface, Callaway’s Epic Max is definitely worth trying. The face is uniquely enhanced, and the super-strength titanium promotes maximum speed, forgiveness and spin robustness. Given Callaway utilises Artificial Intelligence to design its clubs, you can be sure each minute performance detail is taken into account, and as well as offering explosive distance, the Epic Max is super forgiving.

6. Titleist TSi2 Driver, RRP £519.00

There’s a model to suit every skill level in Titleist’s driver range, although those seeking maximum forgiveness would be well advised to try the TSi2. It’s the more forgiving model because it has a low and deep centre of gravity for speed and accuracy across the face, courtesy of a fixed flat 9g weight at the rear. It might set you back over £500, but can you put a price on regularly finding the short stuff?

7. Cobra Golf Radspeed XB Driver, RRP £369.00

With its flashes of turbo yellow, the Radspeed XB (Xtreme Back) certainly won’t be beaten on shelf appeal – but it’s right up there in terms of forgiveness levels, too. It features an oversized address profile and 20g of weight positioned in the back (14g fixed and a 6g interchangeable weight), and 8g of fixed weight in the front. With Cobra Connect, users are also able to track their performance – so you really can see how many fairways you’re finding with it.

8. Srixon ZX5 Driver, RRP £429.00

Whilst the ZX woods are designed to help generate more speed and distance, both the ZX5 and ZX7 offer plenty of forgiveness – with the ZX5 particularly generous in this department. It features a strong but lightweight carbon crown, which repositions mass low, deep and around the perimeter. The traditional shape will also appeal to a large number of players, as will the price.

9. Wilson Staff D9 Driver, RRP £289.00

One of the key features of the D9 is its peak kinetic clubface, which divides the face into a series of fractural zones to deliver distance and performance. It’s one to try if you’re prioritising yardage gains – but it also comes with a standard 10-gram or a super-lightweight 3-gram weight, which gives you the option of adjusting and fine-tuning the moment of inertia and forgiveness. Given the price, it offers impressive all-round performance.

10. Yonex Ezone GS Driver, RRP £349.00

The Yonex Ezone GS driver is an affordable, playable and adjustable driver which offers plenty of forgiveness. A Power Groove allows maximum repulsion from low on the clubface and increases the size of the driver’s sweet spot. Meanwhile, the brand is big on using a vertical polish on the face, which allows the ball to slide upwards at impact and therefore reduces the amount of sidespin created with a ‘traditional’ horizontally polished or milled driver clubface.

Posted by & filed under Golf Tips.

This article was written by Steve Carroll from our partner National Club Golfer.

Thanks to Kenneth Johnston for emailing in a question I suspect has caught a few out from time to time.

“If I accidentally lift my ball on the green without putting my marker down then realise what I have done when it is my turn to play, what would the rule be, and what penalty would I incur? I have actually done it.”

As have I Kenneth and, as we’re about to see, so did a very famous player in a big tournament.

Let’s reveal the answer…

Yes, Jon Rahm got caught out with this rare lapse in concentration when he picked up his ball without marking it on the 5th green at Olympia Fields in the second round of last year’s BMW Championship.

Cue lots of headlines shouting about ‘bizarre’ rules breaches. But while it’s certainly not common at the professional level, are there any of you out there who have fallen foul?

I did in the opening week back after the first lockdown last year. Clearly being back on the fairways after so long away melted my mind.

The result was I had to add a stroke to my score.

A ball on the putting green can be lifted and cleaned but it also needs to be replaced on its original spot.

Rule 14.1a – Spot of the Ball to Be Lifted and Replaced Must Be Marked – explains that before you lift it, you’ve got to mark that spot. That’s most commonly done with a ball marker, though you can also hold a club on the ground behind or right next to the ball.

If you forget and lift the ball off the green without marking its spot, you get a penalty stroke. And if this does ever happen, make sure you put the ball back where it was before cracking on.

Posted by & filed under Golf Tips.

This article was written by Steve Carroll from our partner National Club Golfer.

This is the situation. It’s a par 3 where you can’t see much of the flag and there’s trouble in all directions. You hit a tee shot but don’t see where it lands.

Worried about its location, you announce and play a provisional. You get to the green, spend three minutes looking for the first ball but can’t find it.

Disappointed, you move on and play the provisional, which is on the green, and you now believe to be the ball in play under penalty of stroke-and-distance.

Holing out after two putts, you get to the cup only to see your original ball also nestled at the bottom.

So what now? Is it a hole-in-one, or a double bogey? In both cases, the players who contacted me opted to write the latter on their scorecard. But were they right?

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

This one sounds complicated but the answer is revealed right at the front of the rule book. In Rule 1.1, no less.

In fact, it’s clear if you just stop for a second and think about what the game is really all about – what its purpose is.

Let’s give you the R&A and USGA definition. “Each hole starts with a stroke from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green.”

Got it? That’s right. As soon as your original ball went in the hole, it was over. Everything else, the provisional, the searching, the putts, didn’t count. The hole was completed the moment the ball was at rest in the hole after your stroke.

So get your wallet out, you’re buying everyone a drink. You’ve hit the perfect shot.

Posted by & filed under Golf Equipment.

Cobra have expanded their King players’ family line for 2021 with the new Cobra King Tec hybrid. 

Cobra King Tec Hybrid: First impressions

I love the matte black and silver aesthetic on the crown of this club – it looks incredible. I also like the really futuristic styling on the sole.

Cobra King Tec Hybrid

The overall profile is slightly oversized which inspires a lot of confidence over the ball. 

Cobra King Tec Hybrid: The technology

This is the first Cobra hybrid to feature a Pwrshell face design as we see in the Radspeed irons. This is a thin, forged L-Cup insert that is extra flexible to create faster ball speeds and higher launch. 

There is a Carbon Fiber Crown that saves 10 grams of weight which Cobra have repositioned low and back to lower the centre of gravity.

Cobra King Tec Hybrid

To optimise performance for a wide range of golfers the hybrids feature an adjustable weight and loft system. There are three adjustable weights on the sole. This can be adjusted to the toe or heel to make the club more draw or fade bias. Alternatively, they can be repositioned at the front for a neutral and lower launching ball flight. The Cobra Myfly hosel also features eight settings so you can adjust the loft and ball flight. 

Each hybrid comes with a Cobra Connect grip powered by Arccos caddie. 

Cobra King Tec Hybrid: The details

RRP: £239

Lofts: 17°, 19°, 21° and 24°

More info: Cobra website

This article was originally published by our partner National Club Golfer.