Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Breaking 100!

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Today I broke 100. For the first ever time in my short playing time.

To be honest I'm quite surprised it has come so soon. The course I was playing was Kings Links in Aberdeen. For a council run course it is in pretty good condition and still offers one hell of a challenge to both the beginner and the seasoned player.

I had played this course twice before, the first time being my first time playing a full 18 hole course. The initial score I had for this course was a pretty high 121. Which is almost double what the par of the course is, but I didn't let it get me down, as I was just happy to be out playing golf on an 18 hole course, but something inside me knew I could do better.

I returned some three weeks later with a target in my head, a number that I wanted to hit better than. That was to beat my last score and I knew I could do it. In the end I managed to shave a good 17 shots off my previous score totalling 105 for the round. It was so close to breaking that digits that many golfers aim to achieve and it just spurred me on I guess.

Two days later and I was back at Kings Links again. Ready to take on my 100 shot goal. I knew that the only reason I never managed to hit 100 the time before was due to a few silly holes where I shot up into the high single digits for a couple of holes and I didn't want to go the same way this time.

My first tee shot wasn't great, but I didn't let it get me down. I carried on and managed to hit a bogey on the first hole which was the hole that got me a relatively high score the last round.

I continued the round with some pretty shocking tee shots especially into the wind on the back 9, but that was pretty much always salvaged by my short game, making some fantastic putts and even netting myself a birdie on a par 5.

I finished the round on a cool 99. Talk about cutting it close, but I was on a high and I still am whilst writing this.

The lesson to be learnt from this is just focus on something that you want to beat and do it. Remain calm and don't let those bad shots get to you and you can achieve it. Know you can.


Friday, 2 August 2013

Golf membership acquired

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I am very happy to say that I have recently become bought myself an Aberdeen City golf pass. 

This pass will allow me to use all of the City's four 18 hole, one 9 hole and one 6 hole courses, two 9 hole pitch and putt courses and all putting greens and practice areas.  These include:

I am absolutely over the moon at this and it will be my first ever golf membership, so I'm going to be using it to it's full extent and as often as possible. 

I am planning on playing the Kings Links course this Sunday, so will be blogging about that once it happens. I just wish it would come sooner. 

The pass itself cost me only £150 due to me being a student, which is incredible value for money. The normal price without student discount is £334.20 which is still pretty good considering the number of different courses you can have access to. 

I would definitely recommend it to others at the moment, although having not seen any of the other courses than Kings Links, that opinion might change. 

I'll let you know how I get on. 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy

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Incase you're wondering where I've disappeared to, or why I haven't be posting on here. It's because I haven't been playing golf.

I have just moved into a new flat through in the city of Aberdeen in Scotland to be closer to my work, meaning that I just haven't found the time or money to be able to get to the course/range or even a park that I can hit some balls in.

Depressing I know, but hopefully in the coming weeks I'll be getting my hands on an Aberdeen City golf pass which allows me access to a selection of courses ran by the council in Aberdeen, such as Hazelhead, Balnagask and Kings Links. I really can't wait to get out and get practicing again as I know that taking this much time off is just going to be a step backwards in my progress, but hopefully just a small step and not a huge one.

Bare with me folks and I'll be up and running as soon as possible.


Thursday, 27 June 2013

Peterhead Golf Course - 9 Hole review

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For todays post I thought I would review the only course that I've really played so far, due to my inexperience.

This course is the 9 Hole course at Peterhead golf club in north east Scotland. The "new" course was initially established in 1923 as another 18 hole course, but now exists as a 9 hole course. Located right on the coastline of Peterhead it is subject to one hell of a wind and that's on a good day.

The course isn't the most challenging of courses for a regular long-time golfer, but for the likes of me it poses a nice challenge to progress my golfing ability.

Peterhead 9 hole course is a par 31 with a total yardage of 2237. 

The course begins with a par 4 hole that is 264 yards total. The hole is relatively straight with two bunkers to the left side of the green. Nothing too challenging here to be honest. 

The second is also a straight hole with a slight uphill shot to get to the green measuring 214 yards. A bunker to the left and right of the green with a lip to the back of the green. Again a relatively simple hole for a well versed golfer reflected in the par of 3. 

The third is a short 136 yard, but that's not to say it's an easy hole as you have to hit over a gully, one which has stolen a few balls from many the player. Although you can aim slightly to the right and play around it, most golfers will play for the green off the tee, but you have to be wary of the right side bunker just beside the green. The par for this hole is 3.

Hole 4 takes you down a steep hill with the green sitting 155 yards away. This hole has thick gorse to the right side of the slope with a bunker to the back left of the green and a river just beyond that. A small water hazard used to exist at the bottom left of the hill, but has since dried up and not been maintained unfortunately. 

To get to the 5th you must then travel back uphill where you will then be faced with a 174 yard par 3 with a straight and slight incline. The green is elevated slightly with a slope from back to front. If you don't get up far enough onto the green you will find your ball rolling backwards past you as you walk up to take your next shot. There are bunkers to both the front left and right of the green and a creek running to the left of the rough on the left side of the fairway. There is also thick gorse to the rear of the green to be careful not to overhit it when looking to get past the slope part of the green. Don't forget to say hello to the cows that usually come up to greet you from the adjoining field on the left. 

The par 4, 6th hole is a long 310 yard straight hole with a slight decline so I reckon longer hitters can easily make the green on this one, but beware of the bunkers to the front left and right of the green here. Thick rough lies to both the left and right of the fairway here, so avoid as much as possible. 

The 7th is a longer slight uphill shot to reach the green with bunkers to the right side of the fairway about 200 yards from the tee. The green lies behind two bunkers on both left and right side of the green. Par for this hole is 4. 

The 8th is a straight down with the same bunkers that plague you on the 7th but this time sitting in the rough to the right of the fairway. Out of bounds lies to the left separating the 9 and 18 hole courses. The green can be found 367 yards from the tee with bunkers again to the left and right of the green. 

The final hole is a short 184 yard, par 3. With OOB to the left and right a straight shot down the middle will find you the green as long as you can avoid the two large bunkers that lie to the left and right of the green. 

The course is good fun for someone not looking for too much of a challenge, with a relatively cheap cost. From what I'm aware you can only buy a day ticket for this course which costs £20. The course is pretty flat for a links course and the real challenge of a links course definitely lies with the 18 hole. 

Fingers crossed I can get the 18 hole course reviewed at some point in the future. 


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Top free golf app for Android in 2013

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I have become an avid user of apps on my android phone over the past few years and will pretty much end up integrating them into my daily routine in about every possible aspect I can. This may be sad, but it appears to be the norm these days and the marketplace knows this. Hence the reason there is an app for almost anything you want to search for.

This brings me to the App that I have been using on my android phone in order to track my golf scores, but also has a fantastic number of other features including a GPS rangefinder and all round golf tracker.

The app is called SwingbySwing golf and has opened up my score tracking to a whole new level. Taking me from writing down the scores on a card scoresheet to storing all my previous results in an online account that I can access at any time and see my improvement over a period of time with the click of a button.

There is also a huge database of courses, meaning you can just search for the course you are playing and it will provide you with a GPS overview of the course along with the distances for each hole. This is invaluable in gauging your shot distance and helping you choose the correct club to hit. The price of these units in the shops usually cost a fortune, but to get this basic functionality in your phone is completely free.

There are upgrades that you can pay for to get more in depth tracking such as clubs used, drive direction etc, but it is completely optional and the basic function is more than enough for a beginner like myself.

I would thoroughly recommend this app to any android or iPhone user who is looking for an app that saves them paying a fortune for a stand alone GPS rangefinder.

You can download SwingbySwing by visiting the website here. It is definitely my favourite free golf app for android in 2013. 


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

My best round yet.

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Tonight I decided to give the local 9 hole course a go again after spending the past three weeks or so practicing as much as my time would permit. I have definitely been seeing an improvement in my general striking and direction of my shots over at the practice area, so thought I'd put them to the test.

Usually when I've played the course I end up panicking and mishitting every shot that I take, so I didn't go in with too high an expectation, although I ended up pleasantly surprised.

I've not been doing any practice with my three wood, so decided to play the entire round with just my irons and putter and hitting straight from the ground, not using a tee.

The round started great with my tee shot from the first going right down the centre of the fairway, probably about 210 yards with my three iron, so to start off on that was perfect and hopefully set me up for a good round, but I didn't want to get ahead of myself.

I chipped onto the green and ended up with two putts to make par, which is unfortunate considering I probably should have birdied it, but I'm not complaining as I'm still very new to the game.

Onto the second hole and again teeing off with my three iron I ended up in the rough to the right of the green with a bunker to get over. I ended up trying a flop shot which I had been practicing after watching some tutorial videos on youtube. It came off pretty well and I ended up again on the green with two putts to score +1 on the hole.

The third hole was where I ended up going downhill. The green is on the other side of a gully, so in order to ensure I missed I was probably aiming too much to the right. Hitting an 8 iron off the tee, I ended up in some extremely long gorse bushes about 50 yards to the right of the green. This was an absolute nightmare to get out of and cost me three shots to get out of it and into a decent position to chip up to the green and putt in one. Ended up +3 on that hole.

The fourth is a downhill shot, so stepping up with my 8 iron I tee'd off this time ending up in the rough again about 50 yards to the left of the green. I managed to chip out, but overshot the green and had to chip from behind the green to get on. I holed the ball with one putt giving me another +1 on that hole.

The fifth is a long straight uphill fairway with a sloping green that if you end up too much at the front will roll back down about 50 yards so overshooting was my aim. I ended up again about 50 yards to the right of the green in some thick rough which chipping out of caused me a small problem of hitting the ball too hard, straight over the green and into rough at the other side. I chipped from the rough into a bunker and then from the bunker onto the green. It took me one short putt of about 3ft to finish the fifth with a +2.

The sixth hole, I tee'd off again with my three iron and ended up right down the middle of the fairway about 45 yards short of the green. A small chip up onto the green left me with a relatively easy putt for birdie, but I rushed the shot and ended up taking two putts making par on the hole.

The seventh I ended up slicing over onto the fairway of the adjacent eighth hole after ending up in the rough to the right of the fairway on my tee shot. My third shot chipped up to behind the green, I chipped from there onto the green for an easy putt to make +1.

The eighth, I tee'd off and again ended up on the adjacent fairway of the seventh, so pulled out my five iron and couldn't have hit a better second shot if I had wanted to, landing at the edge of the green. A quick two putts and I managed to save par.

Finishing off the round I hit the rough to the right of the green, narrowly missing the bunker from the tee. A chip to the left of the bunker left me an easy putt which I unfortunately missed, meaning I missed the chance to finish on a par, leaving me with +1 on the final hole.

My score for the round was 40 where the par was 31, so to finish on +9 is something I am extremely pleased about given my best score so far has been a questionable "48". This has definitely left me finishing tonight on a high and eager to get back out onto the course.

I'd like to thank all those who gave me advice about my mental game when stepping onto the course. Whether I took it on board and put it into practice subliminally or not, it seems to have helped me relax when playing a round.

You can view my SwingbySwing scorecard for the round here.

Friday, 14 June 2013

My predictions for the US Open 2013

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We are now into the second day of the US Open and beginning how the golfers are playing. I have decided to give my predictions for the top six finishers for the US Open 2013.

Winner : Phil Mickelson - He has got off to a great start and seems to be playing pretty well so far. Having never won the US Open I have a feeling this could be his year and would be pretty happy to see him win. After finishing second a number of times, I reckon 2013 will be the year of the "Lefty".

2nd : Luke Donald - I think Luke has a good chance to place this year after his starting performance. Although things can change a lot I still believe he'll finish with at least a top 6 place.

3rd : Tiger Woods - Although he has been tipped to win, he has been complaining of a pain in his elbow, possibly tendonitis which has played a bit part in his first round leaving him a bit behind. His second round has just begun and he's currently 1 under. I have faith that he can improve on his game and will end up at least in the top 3, but won't do enough to win it.

4th : Rory McIlroy - Having also had a stuttered start, I can see Rory appearing in the top 6, where he places will be a hard call, but I can definitely see him in there. Rory is a quality golfer and will no doubt pick up his game being paired with Woods and Scott.

5th : Adam Scott - He's off to a not bad start and is currently sitting in a better position than Tiger, but whether he'll be able to hold that position I'm not sure. His game has been up and down so far.

6th : KJ Choi - He's sitting quite high up after the first round and has got off to a pretty good start with his second, so he seems to be playing pretty well. This is why I'm going to put him in my top 6.

I'd love to hear your choices for top six finishers at the US open 2013, so feel free to leave them in the comments.

The mental part of the game.

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One of the main things I'm starting to find when playing golf is that whenever I seem to step onto a course I choke and my shots begin to head in every direction other than where I want them to go.

My shot accuracy has improved at the range a lot since I had my first lesson, but I just seem to overthink when it comes to playing on a course and my shots are constantly thinned, sliced or anything other than what I want it to be like.

I don't rush my shots on the course, but for some reason I just can't seem to connect with them as well as I can at the range, so I'm putting it down to some sort of mental inhibition rather than a physical one.

The only problem is, I don't know how to get past this problem. I know it will take a lot of practice to get myself better at golf, but god it isn't cheap to get onto a course and get the practice in, which is why I end up at the range. More than likely this is only going to promote my mental block by reinforcing that I can hit the ball fine at the range and then when I get onto the course it's all over the place again.

I don't want to resort to just spending all my time at the range because I enjoy it and don't get frustrated, so any tips of getting past this mental block is definitely appreciated.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Age is starting to show.

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As my time of being a golf enthusiast goes on, I am beginning to realise more and more that I am not as young as I  used to be and my life experiences have taken a toll on my abilities.

My wrists for example are wrecked due to years of skating and after one event in particular where I dislocated and fractured my left wrist. It has left me with a strange pressure in my wrist if it makes an awkward movement that it perhaps used to be able to do with ease. This has been noticeable in my golfing and can flare up after playing for a continued period of time. There's not really much I can do about it to be honest, apart from grin and bear it.

I have also been experiencing a bit of discomfort under my left shoulder blade, but put it down to incorrect swings in my first few weeks and have inflamed the muscles around that area. The problem has all but gone now, but can show that if you're doing things incorrectly that you presume to be right then it can have an adverse effect on not only your golfing ability but your health in general.

This is why I booked my first lesson with the local PGA pro to assess my swing and hopefully rid me of some of my bad habits.

The lesson went extremely well with the coach pointing out that I have some very good points in my swing that could be built on. My main problem appeared to be my balance which was centred very much towards my toes, resulting in balance problems on follow through and one heck of a slice. This was corrected by positioning my body weight more evenly spread over by entire foot.

I also had the problem of having no flex in my right knee during my backswing. This resulted in my head moving all over the place and just generally wasn't something I wanted to have. The coach corrected this by ensuring that I had my right knee flexed during the swing. The drill used to sort this out was to keep my right heel from touching the ground throughout the whole movement, meaning that my leg was constantly flexed.

I have been practicing these movements religiously and have seen a massive improvement in my ball flight, from a fade/slice to a much straighter flight.

My problem now is my directionality. I seem to think I'm aiming directly at the target but the ball always ends up slightly left or slightly right of the target. Whether this is attributed to my swing path or just my general sense of direction I'm not sure.

I'll be saving those problems for the next time I see the coach, but for now, I can't recommend getting a golf lesson with your local pro if you are a relatively new golfer, or even if you're an experienced player looking to improve your game. It really is worth it.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Wilson Staff Di7 Irons

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After spending the last few weeks fighting with my Titleist AC-108, I decided that they weren't the clubs for me, which is the unfortunate side of buying online. They may be cheap, but if they aren't suited to you and you haven't had a chance to try them before buying, then you've just wasted however much money you've spent on them.

My problem with these clubs were that the heads were just far too small, or at least in my mind they were and I couldn't look past it. It was affecting my swing constantly and whenever it came to using a longer iron that didn't have a high degree of loft, I was screwed. Topping, slicing, shanking, you name it, I was doing it.

I ended up having a look around and read up about game improvement irons, which have more loft and a cavity back, which to my understanding help you get the ball higher and further.

I went into my local golf shop in Aberdeen and when browsing the shelves, noticed a second hand pair of Wilson Di7 irons, consisting of 3-SW for only £100. Now these things were in pristine condition and looked as if they had never even seen a golf ball, let alone hit one.
I asked the guy in the shop if they could put them to the side for me, whilst I decided what to do and researched them a bit more. They kindly obliged and off I went to begin getting as much information about the clubs as I could, as well as pricing them up elsewhere to see if I was really getting a bargain or not.

From looking around on sites such as eBay, I soon found that a set of these irons were going for roughly around £140-£200 and that was only for a 4-PW, so to get the extra couple of clubs at even less than that seemed almost too good to be true and my assumption was that the irons must not be too great, but even reviews were saying that they were a dream to hit and definitely helped improve other beginners game.

I had learned my lesson of not being able to try them from buying online, so when I went into the store I asked if I could give them a hit before buying them and they were more than happy to let me do so.
Hitting them felt great and I was managing to get the ball in the air on the simulator. I decided to go ahead and buy them and have definitely felt that my iron shots have improved. They may not be perfect, but at least I'm actually hitting the ball a bit more consistently on my longer irons now.

I'll have to report back once I've used them for a longer period of time, but at least for now, it's looking promising.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Trying to cure my slice

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After self diagnosing myself with one hell of a horrible slice I decided to research online as to what could be the cause and was fortunate to stumble across a few fantastic video tutorials and guides about correcting your slice.

Some were saying to just aim more to the left, but I didn't want to go through life always having to aim about 40/45 degrees left of target just to compensate for my slice. I wanted to actually have the ability to aim at the target that I want the ball to travel to and hit it there.

After filming my swing in the garage from behind, I realised that almost everything that could be wrong with it, was. My arms were all over the place meaning that my swing plane was all off. My weight distribution was all wrong and my head moved a lot more than it should be.

So I went back to the start and began reading about the very basics of golf, as it should be explained to someone who has never ever held a golf club, let alone swung one. It turned out that my grip was extremely strong and baseball style. Now whether this had any play in my slice, I'm not sure. I felt it would be better to start from scratch again and begin with a clean slate. Effectively forgetting everything that I had picked up from when I was younger.

I changed my grip to a neutral interlocked, which felt extremely uncomfortable to begin with, but after a while I actually felt like my hands were naturally going into the position needed. I felt I had a bit more control over the club when swinging, but my progress on the range wasn't showing any dramatic improvement and my slice was still haunting me.

Obviously I still had everything else to correct, but at least I had taken a step towards getting my shots going where I wanted them.

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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Buying Golf Clubs

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I decided that I was definitely going to start playing again and went on the hunt for a set of cheap second hand golf clubs. The usual haunt for second hand goods was on eBay or my local gumtree site.

After searching for a few days and realising that this could be an expensive hobby to take up, I stumbled across a set of Titleist clubs going for dirt cheap and they looked not too bad either. I did a bit of googling, but couldn't really find any information about them. This should have raised a bit of alarm bells, but I was naive and didn't realise what I was getting myself in for. So I bought them. At £30 it was a set of titleist irons, what could go wrong?

I purchased said Titleist AC-108 irons from the seller and they were here within the week. When they arrived they looked exactly as they did in the picture but the heads on them seemed tiny.

Not knowing too much about golf equipment, I think I jumped in too quickly. I didn't want to just write them off immediately without at least giving them a hit, so I decided to head to the range. After hitting some shots, I found them to be quite hard to hit, but I couldn't afford to buy new ones so they would have to make do for the time being. 

I actually grew quite fond of the smaller clubs and could quite easily hit 8-PW without any problems. Anything longer than those, I really struggled with topping the ball and getting good contact. This could have just been down to my swing, but unfortunately once I got the idea in my head that they weren't modern enough for me, I was finding it hard to hit anything remotely decent, but I knew I wouldn't pick up and have a low handicap immediately, so it was time to just grit my teeth and get stuck in. 

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My first round

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I had practiced at the range for about a week before I plucked up the courage to head over to the local golf course. I didn't think I had the confidence or the skill to tackle the full 18 hole course just yet, so opted to play the smaller nine hole. The course is moderately simple with most of it being comprised of straight up and down holes with some rough on either side and a few bunkers. Only a couple of the holes have real hazards in them, one being over a gully and the other is downhill with a water hazard and a river running behind the green.

I went over with an open mind and didn't expect too much of myself. I found this to be the best approach and it turned out right as I was pretty shocking, but knew that this is what would happen due to my relatively new introduction into the world of golf.

I did decide to keep scores though just to see my initial scores and have something to work from.

The round was tracked using the SwingBySwing golf app on my android phone and it worked perfectly for me.

You can see the result of the round here.

The par of the course is 31 and I scored a 48, which I didn't think was too bad for my first time. A lot of my screw ups were due to not taking my time and rushing shots, which resulted in a lot of topping and slicing.

I know that I can learn from this and have begun trying to improve my game by thinking about the shot before just walking up and hitting it as hard as I can in the direction I think it will go, because 9 times out of 10 it resulted in just having to take another shot from some other hazard or rough area.

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Monday, 20 May 2013

I'm Peter, I'm 26 and I'm a beginner golfer

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It was coming to the end of my time of being a student at university and having got to know a few guys in the class, it turned out one of them was a keen golfer. I began wondering why I hadn't kept playing from when I was younger and started to question it even more as the days went on.

I had always quite enjoyed whacking the ball up and down the local park across from my house, but had never really been properly involved in the game.
I was given a junior half set of Regal clubs from my grandparents for my 11th or 12th birthday. The exact year I can't really recall, but I was quite young. A lot of my time was spent just hitting balls back and forth in the park and not really over at the course or getting any lessons.

My dad was a keen golf player in his youth, so taught me what he knew, but again he was never really taught how to play. He just picked up a set of clubs and taught himself to play through trial and error. So any bad habits that he picked up were never addressed and we're in time passed onto me.

I played the local 9 hole course at Peterhead Golf club every couple of months and quite enjoyed it, although never taking it too seriously and keeping scores.

After a while, my interest turned to other things and my clubs were left in the shed to rust away.

Fast forward to 2013 and I'm now a 26 year old man looking to get back into the sport. Luckily my sisters fiance is also a avid golfer, so I had someone to turn to for tips and advice about buying clubs, etc.

I hadn't invested in anything yet, but the seed was planted and I couldn't wait to get myself to the range/course/park again to see if I could still play.

This was just the beginning of my journey. I was on the road to becoming a beginner golf player once again.

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