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.