Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

Forget dress codes. They have no place in golf anymore.

Or at least not at any club that is currently striving to attract new members and visitors, which I would imagine is at least 95 per cent of them.

dress code

 

What’s the issue?

I’m tired of beating around the bush on this subject. You’re worried about standards at your golf club? What if there is no golf club, will standards matter to you then?

I don’t care what people wear to play golf any more than I care what they wear to go shopping, 10-pin bowling or to the gym. Nor do I believe that the game will somehow crumble because the guy in front is wearing a T-shirt.

What I would like to see is golf becoming about a thousand times more accessible to those who have never encountered it before. I want more people, especially children, to get the chance to play.

Golf’s reputation among those who don’t play the game is appalling. Have you ever found yourself chatting to a non-golfer and then watched their face drop when your favourite hobby comes into the conversation?

I’ll be honest – I steer the conversation elsewhere. People think golf is a game played by stuffy bores. It’s toxic. They think golf clubs exist in a parallel universe. And the frightening thing is that their preconceptions are not always wrong.

 

How can it be fixed?

There is no simple solution to this, but a good place to start would be for golf to drop its obsession with what people are wearing.

It is my belief that the journey from the front gate to the 1st tee is much longer than the one from there to the 18th green.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of issues regarding slow play, arcane rules, the cost of equipment and the inherent difficulty of the game, but you’d have to be actually playing golf before they became off-putting. I’ll happily confront those issues – but only after getting more people out on to the golf course.

Symbolically, dress codes are a huge part of the stigma that is strongly attached – and let’s not kid ourselves here, golf is stigmatised – to the game. So if your club is thriving and your membership waiting list keeps getting longer then by all means carry on regardless.

For the rest of us, and that’s the majority, I think it’s high time we brought our ‘standards’ in line with those of the 21st century.

 

dress code

Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

The European Tour schedule 2018 has been announced, which you can see below. But first, a few talking points…

european tour

Image credit: European Tour

 

The (non) European Tour schedule 2018

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve been saying this for years about how it is still a thing that the first event of the season on European soil isn’t until May and how it’s not really a European Tourzzz…

Maybe they should just change the name to, I dunno, the ‘World Tour’, or the ‘Anywhere but the US Tour’?

OK, that might need some work, but if you were to go to every tournament next season, you would visit 30 different countries. The diversity is wonderful to see.

 

New events

Thomas Pieters will host the Belgian Knockout which sees the European Tour continue its trumpeting of new formats.

Meanwhile the Desert Swing now splits into two parts, with the Abu Dhabi Championship and Dubai Desert Classic taking their usual late-January slots, before it returns to the Middle East for a new event – the Oman Classic – and the Qatar Masters a month later.

Also brand new for the Anywhere but the US Tour is the Philippines Golf Championship.

 

Where will the British Masters be held?

There was a concern the British Masters might clash with the FedEx Cup, which could have been problematic for tournament host and PGA Tour stalwart Justin Rose. But he will be pleased to see it is to be held two weeks after the Ryder Cup.

But where will it be? Rumour has it that talks between Rose and Walton Heath are at an advanced stage.

Speaking of which…

 

A few courses still don’t have a venue

Fine for the British Masters, which isn’t until October, but the Indian Open and aforementioned Philippines Golf Championship – both in March – might want to get into gear. Also without a venue so far are China Open, GolfSixes and Italian Open.

Meanwhile there are still a couple of dates to be confirmed, to if you have a few hundred thousand in the bank and fancy your very own golf tournament…

 

Italian moving day

Speaking of the Italian Open, it has moved from its usual September slot back to May to create back-to-back Rolex Series events alongside the BMW PGA Championship, which itself moves to September from 2019 to make space for the PGA Championship – the major, that is.

It’s all very confusing. Anyway, here is the European Tour schedule 2018 in full…

 

European Tour schedule 2018

November 23-26: Hong Kong Open
November 30-December 3: Australian PGA Championship
November 30-December 3: AfrAsia Open
December 7-10: Joburg Open
January 11-14: South African Open
January 12-14: Eurasia Cup
January 18-21: Abu Dhabi Championship
January 25-28: Dubai Desert Classic
February 1-4: Maybank Championship
February 8-11: World Super 6 Perth
February 15-18: Oman Golf Classic
February 22-25: Qatar Masters
March 1-4: Mexico Championship**
March 1-4: Tshwane Open
March 8-11: Indian Open
March 15-18: Philippines Golf Championship
March 21-25: Match Play Championship**
April 5-8: The Masters*

April 12-15: TBC
April 19-22: Trophee Hassan II
April 26-29: China Open
May 5-6: GolfSixes
May 10-13: TBC
May 17-20: Belgian Knockout
May 24-27: BMW PGA Championship***
May 31-June 3: Italian Open***
June 7-10: Austrian Open
June 14-17: US Open*
June 21-24: International Open
June 28-1 July: Open de France***
July 5-8: Irish Open***
July 12-15: Scottish Open***
July 19-22: The Open*
July 26-29: European Open
August 2-5: Bridgestone Invitational**
August 9-12: PGA Championship*
August 8-12: European Golf Team Championships
August 16-19: Nordea Masters
August 23-26: Czech Masters
August 30-September 2: Made in Denmark
September 6-9: European Masters
September 13-16: KLM Open
September 20-23: Portugal Masters
September 28-30: Ryder Cup
October 4-7: Dunhill Links Championship
October 11-14: British Masters
October 18-21: Valderrama Masters
October 25-28: HSBC Championship**
November 1-4: Turkish Open***
November 8-11: Nedbank Golf Challenge***
November 15-18: World Tour Championship***

*Major championship
**World Golf Championship
***Rolex Series event

 

Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

Recently on The Golfers Club, we asked you to tell us your favourite way to watch golf – and why.

We received a flurry of responses – and it turns out television was the overwhelming favourite!

 

watch golf

 

From everything you said, we’re not surprised that television won. It’s getting more and more difficult to get tickets to a big golf tournament these days – and even the smaller ones can be tricky to get to. Television allows you to see every player and every shot from every andgle – all without leaving the sofa! While we would recommend everyone goes to at least one tournament, we can see why the committed fan would enjoy watching golf on TV.

 

Not only that, but of those who picked television as their favourite – it turns out they had a favourite channel as well. Step forward Sky Sports!

 

watch golf

 

 

We must admit, this one surprised us. After years of enjoying watching golf on both BBC and Sky Sports – we thought the BBC coverage being free might ‘swing’ it, but it turns out the majority of you prefer Sky Sports. More tournaments and a far bigger budget means the coverage is far more in-depth, meaning there’s more action to enjoy! 

 

Thanks to everyone who gave us their thoughts on how they love to watch golf. As promised, we picked out the five best responses below, each of which will be getting a Mizuno Cap – no matter whether you chose television, live or the BBC!

 

Martyn – Live

At the course. You can soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a good walk at the same time!

 

Vivienne – Television

Television. I find that I can actually learn to adapt my game through watching how the professionals play in various conditions & courses.

 

Chris – Television

Terrestrial TV gives better access to all and hopefully encourages children to take up the game!

 

Garry – Live

Live, because you are right in the atmosphere, with the best players in the world and the whole crowd.

 

Mike – Live

Live, especially British Open action in the flesh.  From the links of Royal Birkdale and Royal Liverpool, plus attending the 2016 US Open at Oakmont – there is no substitute for watching the top players, and how they conduct themselves live on the course, truly wonderous!

 

Posted by & filed under Feature Articles, Golf Equipment, Reviews.

TaylorMade P790 irons review – First impressions

TaylorMade

Image credit: TaylorMade

 

These first appeared as long irons in the bags of a few TaylorMade staff players, but I was delighted to learn that they are available as a full set. And what a delight they are to look at. A really clean and stylish design gives the P790 off-the-charts shelf appeal.

These irons do form part of TaylorMade’s ‘players’ family of irons along with the P770, P750 and P730 but they are more in the middle of the P and M families for me. The size of these irons will give them wide-ranging appeal – anything from low single figures to high teens will be happy looking down on these. The price might reduce that audience slightly – as these are coming in at just over £1,000 for a full set.

It’s a similar route Callaway took with their Epic irons but they haven’t gone quite as far with the pricing. But there’s some serious technology and materials being used here which is why they will cost more than your average set.

 

TaylorMade P790 irons review – The technology

 

TaylorMade

TaylorMade say these irons are offering distance but in a ‘players’ format. There’s a hollow, forged construction with a bit of tungsten for added stability and come cool new material inside the head. Something called Speedfoam is injected into it, which improves the sound and feel but without reducing ball speed off the face.

There’s a very thin carbon steel face which can still flex a lot at impact. We still have the speed pocket in the sole as in the M1 and M2 irons. So this is an iron that has heaps of technology to help improve performance but in a clean look which will appeal to better players.

There’s also a new superlight Dynamic Gold shaft available in these irons which was in the samples I tested. According to TaylorMade, “with P790, we created a forged distance iron that meets the demands of better players and delivers consistent performance for the aspirational golfer. “By combining our new speedfoam with a wrapped face construction, we have engineered an iron that is as beautiful as it is powerful.”

 

TaylorMade P790 irons review – The results

 

TaylorMade
From the first shot to the last, I was incredibly impressed by these. They look stunning but perform even better. I immediately noticed a jump up in ball speeds and carry from my current irons and all with a lovely sound and feel off the face. I was actually taken aback at how good these irons were.

The ball speed was up 4mph on average compare to my current gamer irons which are the Ping G400. This resulted in a greater average carry too. And before you say it, the lofts on the P790 are actually half a degree weaker than the G400. Yes 30.5˚ is very strong for a ‘players’ 7-iron but it’s about standard in the ‘helpful’ irons category. On a really, really good shot there wasn’t much in it, but I felt I was getting more carry and speed more often with the P790 which was a surprise to me.

The only problem with these irons for me would be re-evaluating how far I hit them as would normally pull out a 7-iron when faced with a 150-yard shot. I’d be tempted to pull out a 7-iron if faced with a 165-yard shot if I was carrying the P790. That can only be a good thing as I’d back myself to be more accurate with a 7-iron than a 6-iron.

 

TaylorMade P790 irons verdict:

I’ve never really raved about TaylorMade irons previously. I loved the performance of the M2 but found them very bulky with a less than pleasing sound off the face. The M1 were much more up my street but still have more of a ‘game-improvement’ feel about them. I play off 17 so do need all the help I can get but I still crave an iron that looks proper. And I’m a big believer in using an iron that you like the sound and feel of.

Golf should be enjoyable, you play a lot of money for clubs so why would you want to use something that you didn’t like the look, sound and feel of? The P790 are ticking all the boxes for me and are hands-down the best TaylorMade irons I have ever hit and easily one of the best from any brand I have hit this year. I was also a big fan of the new lightweight Dynamic Gold shaft. It felt premium and was really easy for me to swing – a definite factor in helping me hit good shots.

 

Details

Available: October 16

Set: Available 3-PW with AW and SW

Shafts: True Temper’s Dynamic Gold 105 steel, UST Mamiya’s Recoil 760/780 ES SmacWrap graphite

SRP: Seven irons £1,049/£1,299 (steel/graphite)

 

Posted by & filed under Blog, Debates.

“I think he has an opportunity to win 15 or 20 majors or whatever he wants to do if he wants to keep playing. I love his swing, I love his rhythm, I love his moxie. He’s got a little swagger there, it’s a little bit cocky but not offensive.”

When Jack Nicklaus speaks we all sit up and listen so when he suggested, at the back end of 2014, that Rory McIlroy could surpass his major tally of 18 then we could all begin to wonder if he could genuinely be the best ever. The GOAT.

McIlroy

Image credit: Adam Cairns/AP

 

Nicklaus isn’t one to get carried away like the rest of us, he’s done and seen it all before, but the facts were right there. The boy wonder’s first two majors came courtesy of eight-shot triumphs, his next two, in 2014, came after battling it out against the best in the business: Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson. In between the Open and PGA wins there was also a first WGC title at Firestone, all in the space of four weeks.

Three years and 12 majors later – 4-9-DNP-17-10-MC-5-MC-7-MC-5-22 – we are all wondering where the next tour win is going to come from. The closest he has got to the winner in that period is five shots back. The last victory came at the Tour Championship last September.

I have been lucky enough to interview McIlroy a couple of times. The first time he was still a teenager and full of puppy fat and facial bum fluff, as well as the owner of the most remarkable rapid swing on a range packed with seasoned European Tour pros. Looking along a line of similarly rhythmical movements one stood out, that of the 18-year-old from Northern Ireland, both for the speed and balance as well as the repetitive thud of the ball meeting the 150-yard board in the distance.

The second time was a week after that win at Valhalla in 2014, the last of his major successes. It took place in New York to mark the launch of some new Nike clubs and Tiger Woods, who had begun 2014 as the world No. 1, was also present. Nobody said as much but it seemed to be a handing over of the baton, one player very much on the up, the other unable to hit any balls at the launch and struggling with his back.

This year it has become a weekly guessing game as to what is not clicking for McIlroy. At Augusta he said: “It was quite a consistent, steady Masters for me. I felt like I had an opportunity on Saturday to shoot something in the mid to high 60s and I didn’t quite do that.” As for the early-season rib problems he saw those as more of a positive than negative.

“I feel the time off was more of a blessing. I got to work on some stuff in my short game. I felt as comfortable on the greens here as I ever had, even though I had a couple of three putts. Every time I come back here I’m more and more comfortable.” Erin Hills and his first major as a married man brought an opening 78, despite an early eagle, and a third US Open missed cut since his runaway victory in 2011.

“I hit the fairway on the 10th, and I didn’t hit one on the way in. You cannot play this course if you’re not in position off the tee. Obviously, I paid the price for that.” The rib, he added, was not to blame despite having to miss Wentworth the previous month. As for the Open, at times McIlroy’s golf was sensational. But to begin with it was ordinary at best. After his opening round he admitted, to his great credit as always for telling it like it is, to feeling anxious and nervous.

By the end of the week he said it was his iron play that had mainly let him down, no mention of the putter, the rib or the weather. It proved to be the final outing for his long-time caddie JP Fitzgerald.

McIlroy

Image credit: Tyler Lecka/Getty Images

 

Quail Hollow was supposed to be something of a tap-in for McIlroy. Rounds of 66-62 over the weekend in 2010, his first PGA Tour success, and a seven-shot demolition two years ago, which included a third-round 61, meant that he would line up as the favourite for the week albeit on a toughened-up layout. The 20-1 odds available at Birkdale were now down to sevens.

Fifth last week at the Bridgestone, pounding his 3-wood more 300 yards on the range at the start of the week, all the stars seemed to be aligned.

But the numbers on the course didn’t add up. He was second for driving distance but 124th for accuracy off the tee. His total putts were outside the top 50, he was 84th for approaching the green.

But while we all try to calculate the glitch that is short-circuiting his golf McIlroy might now be out for the rest of the year.

The rib problem that he picked up after testing out all that new equipment at the start of the year is still troubling him, something that a few have been whispering for some time.

After signing off his 2017 majors with a 68 McIlroy revealed all, speaking in a resigned manner that we might not see him for quite a while. The hunt for a new caddie can wait.

 

“Right now I can feel my left rhomboid going into spasm,” McIlroy said. “It’s sort of the way it has been for the last few weeks. I have upped my practice coming into these events because I wanted to feel like I was in a good place in my game. But right now it’s a tough one because I go out there and play and shoot decent scores, but when I come off the course, I feel my left rhomboid going into spasm. The inside of my left arm goes numb. The more I play, it’s just not allowing that time to heal 100 per cent.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. You might not see my until next year. You might see me in a couple of weeks’ time.”

Coming up is his FedEx Cup defence, then the end-of-season business on the European Tour. But McIlroy’s main thrust, already, is getting ready for Augusta.

“I want to get back into that winner’s circle. You don’t want to be teeing off at 9.45 on the final rounds of a major on a Sunday. That is not where you want to be. The next big thing is April and that’s really what my focus will be on from now until then.”

The good news is he’s got 235 days to get himself sorted.

 

Posted by & filed under Blog, The Open.

Before the Open, we asked you to tell us some of your favourite Open memories. There was a flood of great anecdotes, both touching and humorous – and we’ve listed the best below. In fact, there were so many, we decided there should be two winners this month!

Open Memories

 

Dennis – *Star Answer*

“Carnoustie 1999. We were in the stand by the 18th green and watched Jean Van de Velde infamously squander his 3-shot lead. It was freezing, so my partner and I decided to race back to the hotel and watch the play-off in the warmth of our hotel room on television. The schedule was tight to get back in time, so as we drove to the hotel I dropped my partner off and she got a bottle of wine and two glasses and ran upstairs to our room. About a minute later I ran in to the hotel and legged it upstairs as well. I’m not sure what the hotel staff and people in the bar thought, but I doubt that they thought we were rushing upstairs to watch golf!

Incidentally, Paul Lawrie won the three-way play-off.”

While we can’t guess the reaction of the hotel staff, we can confirm that our reaction when reading this memory was to roar with laughter. Thanks for sharing Dennis – enjoy the 12 balls!

 

David – *Star Answer*

“My favourite memory? When I escorted injured soldiers from Afghanistan around Lytham St Anne’s in 2012. It was an absolute honour.”

Good man, David. We hope they had a good day, and we’re sure you will too with some Titleist TruSoft’s!

 

Open Memories

Image credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Ian

Darren Clarke winning The Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club. His victory showed that you should never give up no matter what life throws at you. Throughout his first wife’s illness and her sad demise Darren showed just what a strong, caring and compassionate person he is.

His strength of character, humility and sense of humour helped him cope with his personal tragedy but also served him well when winning The Open. A more fitting winner there has never been, and one that is an example to us all. No matter what life throws at you, people with Darren’s strength and personality will always win through.

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Ian. After the emotional final moments of the 2006 Ryder Cup, where even the most stiff-lipped of us found ourselves with moist eyes, it was a real cathartic celebration to see Darren finally lift the Claret Jug in 2011. The whole golf world smiled that day.

 

Chris

Nick Faldo’s win against Greg Norman in 1996. Although people talk about it as Greg’s collapse, Nick’s tenacity always seems to be overlooked. If Faldo hadn’t been playing well enough to capitalise on Norman’s mistakes, then the title wouldn’t have gone to the Englishman.

I remember watching the closing stages on the edge of my seat willing Faldo to claw the shots back, which he did, inch by inch getting closer to that illustrious jacket. An awesome competition!

That 1996 Open finish is always on the list of best Open moments for a reason, but we agree that Nick Faldo should get more credit than he does for being ready to pounce. Danny Willett would probably agree from experience at the 2016 Masters too!

 

Open Memories

Image credit: Bob Martin

Russell

When visiting from Zimbabwe, my wife and I were in the stand on the 17th during the final round of the 1994 Open at Turnberry – watching Nick Price sink a fabulous putt to go on to win the Claret Jug.

The icing on the cake was that my godson, Brian Gunson, was Assistant Pro at Turnberry at the time and got drafted in at the last minute to mark the card for Peter Jacobsen. Brian birdied the 18th to rapturous applause from a very appreciative crowd. A never to be forgotten thrill for us to be there for Nick and Brian.

That’s quite a story, Russell. We can only imagine what it must be like to sink a birdie putt on the 18th during an Open, so we’re both amazed and slightly jealous!

 

Deryck

As a callow youth, I attended the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes. This may have been Seve’s first Major triumph, but I spent most of the final day following Peter Oosterhuis – who kept putting his shots amongst the television cables that lined the fairways.

On each occasion, he unfailingly thanked us for spotting his ball before launching it in the general direction of the green. A true gentleman. Tis a shame he never won a major.

It’s always heartening to hear stories of pros who are so friendly and polite with the crowd, not to mention giving the rest of us hope about our game when they keep duffing it! Unfortunately, as you say, his kindness was never rewarded with a major – but at least he created a happy Open memory.