Trooping The Colours: When Orange and White might be the new Green of The Masters

Trooping The Colours: When Orange and White might be the new Green of The Masters

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – FEBRUARY 26: Rickie Fowler of the United States celebrates winning on the 18th green during the final round of The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa on February 26, 2017 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Rickie Fowler’s heart was never in the final day of the Shell Houston Open.  It was as if his double bogey on the eighteenth hole on the third day had sounded his death knell.  We didn’t know it or hear it, or want to hear it, and our expectation was that he would come out, fighting fit, on the final day to make a comeback that saw him drop to three behind the leader at the end of the third day of play.  It never happened and Rickie’s final “Orange” day was one that left his followers somewhat blue.

That final day was a struggle – with a wild drive on the second that resulted in a double bogey and finding water on the fourth to drop yet another shot – before he found a modicum of form with a few late birdies that saw him close with a seventy to tie for third place with Luke List.

Rickie will tell us it was an alignment problem at the beginning of the final day that caused his bad start and he now believes that he has it sorted and under his control with that late run of birdies as proof.

Which is just as well – for round the corner from that Shell Houston Open experience, we have Augusta, The Masters, and the first major of the season.

The perennial big question bubbling on everyone’s lips is who will be the winner and, to make matters as coherently prognostic as the eventual outcome of Brexit or the reign of President Trump, everyone is coherently united on their lack of common agreement on the nature of the course, the type of play, the skills set required for the win and what player possesses those exact skills at this precise moment in time.  In other words, blindfold yourself, spin round three times, and stick a pin in the list of names that form the official field.  You will have the same modicum of success as the top pundits with all their rhyme and reason.  It will also keep you busy while waiting for the Thursday tee-off.

As Augusta throws open its doors to the great unclean of the everyday world for its annual golf-fest Masters season, the professional players of the golfing world are casting their shadows – like giants on stilts – over the coveted jacket.  While nobody rates Danny Willett’s ability to defend his title after an abysmal year that has seen him more weighed down by his win than uplifted, Rory remains hungry and a green jacket short of a grand slam.  With the jury still out on Dustin’s ability to finish four rounds and not choke in a major, the nearest thing to agreement from all interested parties seems to be in the form of Jordan Speith, a former Master and expected winner of last year’s title too – until Augusta’s most iconic hole decided to re-assert its trickery and pound out a new chapter in tournament history by scuppering Speith’s chance at a consecutive green jacket.  The recent sad events that have unfolded in Jason Day’s private life perhaps preclude him from the win (Jason: big shout out for your mum’s continued recovery and a return to bountiful health.), while Japan holds its breath in wondrous anticipation of their own Matsuyama.

Opinion and banter in the lead up to The Masters is all part of the fun and everyone approaches their choices through hardcore statistics, well-rounded debate and reasoned perspective.  I love it but I have never seen much by way of solidly consistent predictions because the mighty course of Augusta takes no prisoners nor respects any pundit’s forecast so, respectfully bowing to the might of the eighteen holes at Magnolia Lane, I am staking my claim to the predictions board and pinning my hopes on little mentioned but ninth ranked golfer on the Official World Golf Ranking list, Rickie Fowler, for the jacket.

I have a thousand reasons to do so but most of all he has my support for all that he brings to golf.

First off the tee then…

He’s hot-to-trot number one in the world of golf fashion stakes.  His cleated high-tops, six-pocketed jogger-style “bicycle clip” pants and continuously daring-dazzle outfits have given him an instantly recognisable silhouette, endeared him to the younger generations and sent the die-hard traditionalists into a yellow funk.  He puts the fun back into the image of golf apparel and I applaud his efforts, especially when I hear the middle-aged spreaders choking on their words and struggling to commentate on his style.

Driving it down the fairway…

Even if you are not a style icon or have not a thread of interest in the “fashionista” stakes, there is a fistful of facts that form the building blocks to Rickie’s character and make him a positive role model.  Although fiercely competitive, he brings the elements of friendship and fun to every tournament.  He loves his family and has a strong bond with his grandpa who taught him to play golf and to treat people with respect.  Rickie emulates his grandfather’s attitude to life and love of people.  He has a Christian faith that is important to him and, for all of Fowler’s “flash” image, he remains old school and grounded.  Those who know him first-hand will testify that he was brought up in a humble home where he was never put on a pedestal.  Before golf came knocking on his door as a career choice, he was already great at Motocross and it was only a triple fracture that ended that career.  Those attributes are the colour of gold.

Crafting the approach shot…

On the threshold of The Masters, Rickie is playing some great golf.  February saw him tie for fourth at the Phoenix Open and then win the Honda Classic.  In March, he posted a couple of top-16 finishes at the WGC Mexico and the Arnold Palmer Invitational and last week, he finished with a tie for third place at the Shell Houston Open, which augurs well for his form.  However, his appearances at previous Masters range from plain cold through medium hot to cool.  He failed to make the top twenty-five from 2011 – 2013 but scored a fifth place tie in 2014 in tough scoring conditions.  2015 saw him tie for twelfth place but his last year’s entry failed to make the cut. That first drive looked more like the Flight of The Bumblebee through the Georgia pines and, by the time he’d come up for air, his first round had carded up a massive eighty and he fared not a lot better with a second round of seventy-three. A resoundingly grey start could only sent his 2016 game into oblivion.

Chipping it in for the pin…

There are a number of right-to-left doglegs at Augusta National and that necessitates being able to hit a draw.  Rickie drives it straight but his flat swing and shallow connection with the ball allow him to do just that when the need arises.  Putting in fluctuating green speeds will also be a key factor and reigning in any overly aggressive tendencies on medium length putts, especially when the greens are running fast, will be an issue that Rickie will have to take control of but, if stats are what floats your boat, Rickie’s tee-to-green game is fourth on the PGA Tour and his putter is at ninth in strokes gained putting.  He is in the pink with these current stats.

Putting it out there for the win…

But the icing on the cake that makes Rickie the perfect choice for me is all to do with the colour scheme.

First and foremost, I’m Irish and I am all for an Irish Master.  My representatives for the coveted green jacket are Lowry and McIlroy.  I am not banking on Shane for a green keepsake and, although Rory is sporting a relaxed attitude and a fresh approach after weeks of incapacity, he remains a flaky putter and will struggle with those Augusta yellow-flagged pins at some point. He is not my reliable white knight.

Secondly, I’m English – having lived a greater number of years in the UK than I’ve lived in Ireland – and there is only one player for me whose game is admirably suited to Augusta National.  His name is Justin Rose.  This is his twelfth start and he has an excellent record of finishing in the Top Ten, apart from his first ever visit which resulted in a 39th place, but short-game issues still remain and I cannot see him entering a purple patch in time to take this Masters. Besides which, I celebrated in all shades of red, white and blue last year when Danny did us proud.

So next available on the colour spectrum has to be Rickie.  Those of you who are hot on the study of vexillology will have worked out the connection by now.

Arnie wore pink, Tiger red, Player black, and orange – aggressive red made more personable by yellow – is Rickie’s chosen colour.  He usually pairs his orange top with white trousers on the final day.

As he dons the green jacket at the end of the fourth day, I, for one, will laud an American Master aesthetically dressed in the Irish tricolour.  Flag it up and troop those colours, Rickie.  It’s your time to shine and the closest I am likely to come to an “Irish” win in The Masters 2017.

Tiger, Tiger, burning bright…

I have wanted to write a piece on this golfer for some time, not because I am a sports’ reporter or even an amateur golf pundit.  My rating in the grand scale of those who know a thing or two about golf is well below par but I have always followed this golfer, not because I love him – that would be an overstatement – but because he fascinates me.  He fascinates me in much the same way as a moth is drawn to the light: it’s a star-studded flight full of aerial acrobatics and displays but the watcher knows full well that the flight of the protagonist will only end in its own destruction no matter what the display, no matter what the outside interventions.  The power to halt that flight and prevent its eventual outcome is not in the hands of the observer, nor does it appear to be in the hands of the perpetrator either.  Like Icarus who didn’t heed his father’s warning to avoid complacency and hubris and flew too close to the sun, this player seems destined to have had, and lost, the golden gifted wings of golf.  The man who constitutes the legend that is this golfer is called Tiger Woods.

And a legend in his own lifetime is exactly what he is.  That he changed the game beyond anything that came before with his incredibly demanding fitness regime, his passion for practice, and a swing that he executed with such incredible speed and strength that made everyone sit up and take note is beyond dispute.  He is credited with increasing the popularity of his game and the size of the prize money on offer.  He was a leader from his first exiguous outings on the golf course and, even at a tender age, if others wanted to compete in his league, they had to up their game.  That has been his game plan ever since and those skills, ingested in his young years, have translated positively into his professional career. The boy that was born to golf, coached by his single-handicapper father from a tender age, and raised a Buddhist by his mother has wisely used discipline, hard work, focus and competition to drive himself forward to achieve his vision and goals.  He was a man possessed of the highest echelon of self-belief, an unstoppable mix of confidence blended with skill that carried him all the way to the top of his professional tree.  And then, when all was within his grasp, he seemed to open that clenched fist of a lifetime of success and let it slip through his fingers like chaff in the wind.

Even his birth name seems to have singled him out for stardom and if the meaning of the names of a baby can be a portend of the life to come, then Eldrick Tont Woods was destined to impress.  His parents, Earl and Kultida Woods, formed a unique name that began and ended with the initials of their first names, although there is a suggestion that the root of his name is to be found in the Old English Aildric, which means “old and wise leader”.  His second name, Tont, reflects his mother’s Thai origins and means “serious-minded and mature”.  However, his father appears to have alternated between the nicknames of Tiger and Sam, the former in homage of a Vietnam War colleague and friend and the latter simply because Earl thought his son looked like a Sam.  Tiger named his own daughter Sam as a reverse tribute to his father.

As a clean-cut sportsman, he ignited opinion.  When that carefully crafted exterior presented to the outside world came crashing down round a fire hydrant, he inflamed widespread interest.  When he struggled with injuries, he amassed support and respect.  When he tumbled from grace and the rankings, he made us groan in pain.  Wittingly or unwittingly, there is one thing Tiger has never achieved with his fandom: he has never commandeered mass rejection.  Despite his ups and downs, he incites a loyal following and, such is his halo effect that, upon announcing his long anticipated return to golf, television viewing and ticket sales have raced to a peak.  Tiger does not attract the dedicated golf aficionado alone – he has the capacity to attract the journeyman fan, the wavering follower, and even the plain disinterested.  He is alone and above the rest of his field in this achievement and has the equally rare distinction of achieving such a celebrity status that he is instantly and internationally recognisable by that single name of Tiger.  It is a brand – like Madonna, Elvis or Bowie.


His life beyond the course revolves around his love for the Transformers and comic book heroes.  He is an insomniac who reads books on physics and cosmology.  When he is not texting friends deep in the small hours of the night, he is playing video games.  His passion for the Navy SEALs is the stuff of boy hero-worship and stems from his fixation with his father’s profession, the military, and it is to the military he turned, and the SEALs in particular, as he struggled to come to terms with the death of his father in 2006 – a person he missed not only as a father but as the man himself who was his best friend and confidante.  He has nursed a long-held desire to be a SEAL, training with them over a sustained period.  That Tiger sustained many injuries is beyond doubt but much has been made of the power of his swing and driving the ball a country mile as the enemies of his body.  Very little attention has been given to the idea that as much injury may have been sustained in the programmes of intense training he undertook with the Navy – carrying thirty pound ammunition boxes while running uphill, the regular four-mile timed stints of running in combat boots, the high weight, low reps weight-lifting and the body slamming, bruise-inducing training of CQD (Close Quarters Defence).  In the end, golf won out and so did the physical and mental scars.

The loss of his father was a huge body blow to Tiger.  It was a new experience for him to deal with loss and grief, even death itself.  They were factors over which he had no control and Tiger displays all the hallmarks of someone who lives by the dictum of control to achieve the ultimate state of perfection. The one man he could always turn to for mentoring and guidance had gone.  Earl accompanied Tiger to many tournaments, often not setting foot on the golf course, but electing to stay behind at the accommodation just to be on hand for his son.  The death of his father left Tiger alone and with a problem he had to work out for himself.  And in this, Tiger, the intensely private man, the nerdy man, the bookish, boorish man, failed.  He had no precedent to measure this experience against.  The painful reminders of his father’s absence on the range or on the golf course were hazards he needed to avoid but his very career hung on the need to expose himself to those measures on a daily basis.  It was not only the requirement of his professional career but literally all he had known from his toddler years onwards.  In grieving for his deceased parent, Tiger was caught between a rock and a hard place.  His futile attempts to escape – the Navy bonding sessions, the extra-marital affairs, the partying – turned into distractions that ultimately wrecked his marriage and his career and did not fill the empty hollow of loneliness.  Earl truly believed his son was destined to change the course of humanity as the Chosen One.  His mother called him the Universal Child who could bind all races together but the golden-winged Icarus flew too close to the sun and all his life exploded round him while the man himself imploded.  For the first time, this perfectionist had to face his imperfections and shortcomings.

But Tiger is back with an adapted swing of reduced force.  On his first outing at the Hero World Challenge, he scored more birdies than anybody; he also scored more bogeys.  The desire to win is still alive but it remains to be seen if he is riding the crest of an assured comeback and if the supreme self-belief has returned.  Despite the hype and the increase in television ratings and the surge of interest, he appears as a shadow of his former glory – more mortal, more vulnerable, less assured.  He knows it’s his last outing.  His close friend, Notah Begay, says so.  His road of mourning has been an unconventional one, permitted to be so by privilege and prestige and celebrity status.  It is a road that many could not afford to pursue but, in the end, he paid the ultimate price.

The armchair psychologists have been out in force too, dialling in on their ability to diagnose from afar.  Some are plain whacky or funny and some seem to show well-deduced and logical conclusions.  The diagnosis taking centre stage appears to be Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, a disorder characteristic of personalities who are intellectual, emotionally distant, perfectionists, who display tight control of their environment, and are extremely sharp at using logic to explain behaviours and thoughts.  This is Tiger in a nutshell.  The corollary to that, according to the armchair psychologists, is to accept that emotional vulnerabilities are normal aspects of everyday life and to realize that, in letting go of his perfectionist, obsessive streak, he can gain even greater control of his game and his life.  Be that as it may, who has considered that if Tiger were to vent his frustration on the course, he would be lambasted by the highest and lowest of opinions for bringing the “gentlemanly” game of golf into disrepute with his puerile behaviour?  You need only look at some of the mild antics of Speith and McIlroy – a club flung here or there, a sulky face at a missed shot, a slightly sullen interview or imperfect body language – and you can see why Tiger, an introvert by nature, would not want to display a single emotion in public.  His status in the game would release a firestorm of media opinion at the slightest emotional reaction. Michael Bamberger wrote a book – “Men in Green” – and in that book, he quotes Palmer, Nicklaus and Watson.  They all say the same thing in their own individual way: they would never trade places with Tiger Woods for all the money in the world.

Perhaps it is not the combined forces of the other professional golfers in the field that are Tiger’s opponents.  Perhaps that award goes to the conflict within him and to the demons that haunt him.  This is Planet Tiger and the corrosive nature of fame – and how much he has dealt with those demons is a question none of us know the undiluted answer to.  At best, we are left with a guesstimate.  Life with Tiger is one long question without much by way of a definitive answer but, as Tiger himself has come to acknowledge, the question is sometimes the only answer.

Meanwhile, I shall continue to watch, fascinated.  My instinct tells me he will never achieve another major.  He is done.  His records to date are his final score.  My heart wants much more for him: to equal or break Jack Nicklaus’ record, to achieve peace, happiness and fulfilment in his personal and professional life, and to carry on being the ambassador – no matter how unwillingly – he has been for golf.  It is then my head kicks in.  It is then I think of his ambassadorial role in the wider context of his life, the women, the gambling, the cheating, the carefully crafted image, the public persona, the duplicity, the Team Tiger cover-ups, the conspiracy of silence, the lying, the buying of his way out of indiscretions, the buying of his way into privileged experiences and then I think, “Who cares?”  There is only one way a moth to the light can end.  Fascinating or what?

8 Beginning Blogger Mistakes to Avoid

Many are interested in pursuing blogging but cannot really put 100% commitment to it.  This is because they think that it is enough to get started without realizing that it absolutely requires a big amount of time and attention from you to keep your readers genuinely engaged.  Some of the mistakes encountered by rookie bloggers include the lack of planning.

It is also as essential to never be tempted to compromise quality with quantity. No matter how mountainous the contents that you can come up with are, if they lack value and cannot connect well with your audience, it remains useless. If you want your blog to stand out right from the start, never settle for what is just good enough and always aim for the best.

Think about it this way. When you blog, it is like having a baby that you need to constantly feed or a plant that you need to consistently take care of for them to grow. Give out enlightening information and feed your audience with loads of valuable topics that they can deem useful for their everyday struggles.

Blogging also revolves around the important element of empathy. Hence, the need for connection is always highlighted in any list of guidelines to remember when you decide to blog. What you blog about must be able to develop a sense of connection with your audience.

So start being aware of these blogging faults that you can steer away from ahead of time by reading through the infographic below.

Drive, Chip & Putt at the Masters in Augusta

kayla_gary-player-300x200Drive, Chip & Putt 2017 Qualifying included 27,757 girls and boys registered at 255 local sites across the United States in 2016. The competitors must first finish top 3 in their respective girls and boys age divisions at the local competition level.  Those 6,120 competitors then must finish top 2 at the respective 50 sub-regional competitions. Then, the remaining 800 compete at one of 10 final regional qualifiers.  Consider that there are only 10 regional qualifiers meaning each region consists of multiple states.  Most regional competitors will have to travel out of state to compete for a chance to make it to Augusta.  At this point, only the 1st place finisher in each girls and boys (4) age divisions takes one of the 80 final spots to compete at the national Drive, Chip & Putt competition taking place the week of The Masters in Augusta, April, 2017.

This is also a very long process with weeks or months in between each competition.  Consider, golf tournaments such as the US Women’s Open only require one qualifier to make the cut.  Also, with 18-hole stroke play competition, there’s room for error.  After all, if a player bogeys a hole, it can be made up with a birdie or 2.  However, the Drive, Chip & Putt competition only allows for 9 shots:  3 Drives, 3 Chips and 3 Putts.

This will be the 4th year the PGA of America and the USGA host The Drive, Chip & Putt.  Each year, the program’s reach continues to grow.  It was designed to grow the game of golf among America’s youth and I think they’re doing a spectacular job at it.  It’s not an easy competition, but please don’t let that discourage you or your little one from giving it a try.

Kayla won the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship for her age division in Augusta this past April.  I have to admit, it was AMAZING.  We’re very proud of her and happy that she was able have this experience.  Like I mentioned, do not be discouraged if you are one of probably over 30,000 that hasn’t made it yet.  Kayla didn’t even make it past the very first round the inaugural year.  She then made it to the regional qualifier the 2nd attempt but also didn’t make the cut to Augusta.  But, her 3rd attempt was a charm and a full success.  She finished 1st at local, 1st at sub-regional, 1st at regional and won the championship.

Nalani went with her sister to Augusta this year but sat in the gallery.  Next year however, she will be competing in Augusta and this comes as a significant achievement for her.  The inaugural year of the competition, Nalani actually finished 3rd place at regionals, losing to Kelly Xu who made the cut to Augusta two years in a row.  Nalani then struggled during her 2nd and 3rd attempts.  Her nerves continued to get in the way.  She was again very nervous this year, barely making the cut at locals with a 3rd place finish, then again barely making the cut at sub-regionals with a 2nd place finish.  I thought, well, if she keeps moving up 1 spot, then regionals should work out to be a 1st place finish and that’s exactly what happened.  She was elated!

A lot of what happens in qualifying we sum up as a combination of skill, mental game and luck.  There are a lot of great competitors out there and some days it works out for them while other days it doesn’t.  Depending on the putting green and the chipping lie, one player may be better at one or the other, both, or neither.  Then, some days your driver shot gets kicked inside the OB line or unfortunately bounces outside the OB line.  It happens, it’s golf.

I’ll share a little more of our experience at The Drive, Chip & Putt Championship and how the girls prepared to compete.


SIGNIFICANT OTHERS AND THE BRITISH MASTERSI have two “significant others” in my life.

The first is my son Ciaran, my firstborn child and now a grown man.

Last Friday, he was my chauffeur and chaperon for the day as I headed for Colchester Hospital and a date with a planned foot operation.  At 07.30, we arrived on the ward, me nil by mouth and dying for a cup of decaf tea and Ciaran (that’s Kieran for those of you who are Anglicised) looking like it was the first sunrise he’d seen in his entire 32 years.  I was in Colchester’s orthopaedic department and was seen first by the anaesthetist.

There are certain ways to ask a demanding question of anyone and the art is to ask it in such a manner that ensures it will rank well in the annals of social politeness. Being educated by the Sisters of What-Mercy!, you learn the subtleties of those approaches at a very young age.  It was what Darwin meant when he talked about “survival of the fittest”. Those years of learning deserted me in one fell swoop as I cast my eyes on that consultant anaesthetist. He looked young enough to be my son and I wondered if he was suitably experienced to see my vital signs through an operation.  I can only blame the leprechauns operating a no-holes-barred policy in my brain as I pole-axed him with a lancing gaze and asked him if he was actually old enough to take my airway.  For the uninitiated: keeping an airway viable during the administration of an anaesthetic is vital to staying alive.  When he stopped laughing, he assured me he’d been doing his job for thirty years and all would be well.  I still don’t believe him.

The admitting nurse then came to review me and wanted to know if I’d ever been suspected of having CJD.  In my book, there is only one way to answer that sort of daft question so I trotted out my standard reply.  “I have often been called a mad cow but no one has ever considered me as full blown CJD yet”.  I don’t know why her shoulders were shaking and she dropped her pen on the floor but she seemed to lose concentration after that and she couldn’t finish her routine set of questions.  At this point I should report that my son did not know whether to die from laughter or embarrassment and kept his face buried in his hands.  There are points in life when you know your children would like to disown you – I think this might have been one of them – for, on her departure, he reminded me that I was to keep silent and only answer the questions in a suitably contained and mature manner.  As I consider my children among the best of my teachers, I took his words to heart and resolved to keep quiet.

That’s when I was seen by a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) prevention nurse who explained to me very nicely what a DVT, pulmonary embolism and cerebral vascular accident can do to the body and how to prevent it all happening – then she actually read my notes and realised what I did for a living.  At that point, she crept away quite sheepishly.  I still got in trouble with Ciaran even though I’d said not a word to this nurse but smiled and nodded as if I was interested throughout her spiel.  There is no pleasing that son of mine.

All was now ready for me to go to theatres…

…and that’s when I was told my consultant had phoned in sick…

… which is how I came to be foot loose and fancy free at the back end of last weekend…

Instead of the required post-op pose of “toes above nose”, I found myself still on my feet with nothing planned to do.  And those feet were itching to do something.  That’s when I fell into the clutches of my other “significant other”.

He’s my grandson and I care not a hoot when I say in a totally biased fashion that he is drop-dead gorgeous.  He is five and I get to be five, too, when we tag along together.  I have worked very hard at being a grandmother and, after years of watching me interact with him, my children have labelled me well.  In the family circle, I am referred to as “soft-touch Nanna”.  I wear it well.

And so it came to pass that we found ourselves, me and little legs, on our way to The Grove, near Watford, in a sheets-of-rain deluge on Sunday morning for the final day of the British Masters tournament.  My back seat driver was in fine fettle as we wended our way along the motorway and he was uber excited to be heading for his first-ever live tournament.  Meanwhile, as driver, I was contemplating the horrendous drive and thinking: should have stayed at home and watched it from the comfort of my sofa.

The British Masters was founded in 1946 and was originally known as the Dunlop Masters, which, in turn, was a continuation of the Dunlop-Metropolitan Tournament that began life before World War II.  It was designed as a seventy-two-hole end-of-season event with a restricted field and was held every year up to 2008.  It has been held at many prestigious courses around the UK and, despite its numerous name changes, was one of the most lucrative events on the European Tour.

It disappeared for five years, making its comeback on the European Tour’s schedule in 2015, where it was hosted by Ian Poulter at Woburn from 8-11 October.  I was privileged to be at that event and follow young Matt Fitzpatrick as he won his maiden professional title.  This year, tournament ambassador and a former world number one, Luke Donald, chose The Grove to host the Sky-supported 2016 British Masters.

This is where we were headed and I had in my charge one excited little boy.  “Will Rory be there?” was the first inquiry.  When I responded in the negative, back came the next question “Are we going to see Justin Rose?”  I explained why Justin would not be playing so the next question was “Well, I want to see Jordan Speiff.  Will he be there?”  Sorry, Jordan, but your surname is just a tad too much of a tongue-twister for my grandson.  Finley was becoming dejected with my constant negative responses so I took charge of the flow of conversation and said, “You will see Andrew Johnston”.  In the rear-view mirror, I watched the penny of dawning knowledge drop all the way from the top to the bottom of the well and saw his cherub face light up and eyes pop.  We both shouted together “Beeeeeeef!”.

Suffice it to say it was a totally successful outing.  I had one reservation going there.  My grandson is the sort of child who asks a thousand piercing questions in a nanosecond and expects a thousand perceptive answers in the same time space.  He keeps me young and my brain working.  I love it but I wondered how he would cope with the respectful silence that should accompany each player’s shot.  It never presented as a problem.  He was so enthralled by the “live” action on the tee boxes, fairways and greens, the use of different clubs, and swing versus putting techniques, that he remained uncommonly silent for long periods.

At one point, Finley was poised so close to the passageway of Beef from one hole to the next that he could have reached out his hand and touched him but Finley was overawed by the moment and is just a tad reserved in the presence of someone who is not of his immediate circle of family and friends.  I tweeted this reservation to Beef the next day and, as sure as night follows day, back came a wonderful “Hi Finley” greeting from Beef.  He is the man!  Finley and I respect this golfer.

As to my foot op…

…just don’t ask.


My Cup runneth over with the Sandbaggers Cup of Slow Play

slow-play-gjThere are few things in life that rattle my calm or shake my cage too much but the game of golf has managed to supply a couple of words that send me into a flat fried frenzy and make me see life through a red mist.  It’s a subject I lived in blissful unawareness of for all of my years until I took up with the beautiful game and, even when it first fell upon my hemisphere, I paid only a light but respectful cap-tipping nod to it.  However, I have come to hate it, more so because it is a matter that has never been resolved, quite possibly never will, has been flogged to death a million times, resuscitated, and resurrected like the proverbial phoenix to womble its way eternally through every platform of social media that has ever been conceived and is yet to come.  I can’t prove it but it probably exists in a parallel universe where it is designated as a weapon of torture and it seems to travel in a perpetual circle like particles in the Large Hadron Collider.

For me then, the two words of mass destruction are Slow Play.

The first thing you need to know is that it’s out there.  It always has been.  It’s primordial and existed in the Big Bang Soup before it crawled out and took on a life of its own.  The day golf was invented was the day slow play began.  Nobody ever began a sport for the first time ever and played it like they were in the Olympic heights of perfection so it doesn’t matter where you look, starting out is always at a slow pace.  Golf is no exception.  In all sport, some will learn faster than others and that is a matter of talent or time or money or opportunity or even a smacking of luck, which in turn leads to differentiation and, ultimately, competition.  Since competition is all about skill, dexterity and speed of execution, some will be faster and fitter than others.  It’s a given.  Get over it.

The second thing you need to know is that it’s here to stay – it doesn’t matter if you were not around in the garden of golf’s Eden.  If you play golf, once upon a time in la-la-land, you too were a beginner and the important bit is you were slow.  So as long as there is golf, there will always be beginners and there will always be slow play.  It’s another given.  Make room for it on your playing schedule whatever your level.  In everyday parlance, I think we call it forbearance.  Get on with it.

The third thing you need to handle is the need to grow the game.  I am going to make a cracking assumption here.  You want the game to be inclusive, right?  That means all-embracing: gender, non-gender, transgender, straight, gay, lesbian, old, young, middle-aged, colour, non-colour, fit and not-so-able bodied.  The list is by no means complete but you are getting the gist.  We encompass “people-kind” – I’ve coined a new word – with all their imperfections: a warts-and-all embrace.   If you’re really going to grow the game this means slow play is the take-off point and there is no avoiding it.  Give over and get it together.

The fourth thing you need to ponder on is image.  I’m not talking about how cool you look in your Calvin Kleins or how ace you are at the machinations of the golf swing.  Think telly.  Think what we see beamed in to our homes and heads with regularity:  the pro golfers who take time over their shots – and they are many.  Yes, some sit in the doldrums of a putt long enough for me to spring-clean the house, mow the lawns, feed the neighbour’s cat and paint the guest bedroom, but I never moan.  I see it like this – what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and that apt adage adds it up neatly in the astute “action speaks louder than words” axiom.  Whatever our handicap, we forever live in hope of improving our game and we will happily garner all that we glean from the television for use in our game.  We will never reverse the slow play trend unless it is regulated and broadcast into the public domain and brain.  Get my drift here.

The fifth and final thing you need to know is this: if I gathered up all the slow play solutions that have been postulated, turned them into wallpaper and bequeathed the resulting rolls to Queen Elizabeth 2, she could happily wallpaper over Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Hillsborough Castle.  And if she wants a day off from her official residences, she can cut and paste her way through her private residences at Sandringham House, Balmoral Castle, Craigowan Lodge or Deinadamph Lodge and still have a scroll down yardage of roll left over.  The message is… erm – the solutions are not working.  If they were, we would surely not be bantering the topic round like those quarks, anti-quarks and gluons of Hadron’s perpetual circuit.  Get a fix on it.

Do I have a solution to this?  Of course I do.  I wasn’t born yesterday or the day before and it’s taken years to cultivate this level of laissez faire.  My solution, God help us, for slow play is this: take an 18 hole golf course, split it in two lots of nine, divide the handicappers into two categories with fast players going round their nine holes faster than the speed of sound for as many times as they like while the slowbies and newbies and high handicappers haltingly grind round the other nine at their own preamble and speed.  Every few months, swop the nines over to maintain interest.  Mark the speedos from the slow-gos with different coloured tabards and if one class of golfers should cross the great divide onto the wrong nine, let the turf war commence.  Forget the Ryder Cup – handbags, golbags and man bags at dawn duels and we could all fight for the new accolade of the Sandbaggers Cup.  Get out there and try that for size.

Now ma’am, I need a word.  With a solution like that, I expect to be in the dunce’s corner and blacklisted by every golf club in your realm.  I’m not expecting any different treatment on the worldwide fairways either.  My name will be mud.  In all your Crown Estate holdings, d’ya happen to have a wee course in a quiet backwater away from the Corgis and horses that I could meander slowly around, smelling the roses, feeling the whisper of a wind in my hair and allowing the sun to kiss my face and my brain to ponder the permutations and combinations that make up the intriguing game that is golf.  Heaven.  Get back to me please, QE2.

Dem Babies…

It’s no secret I have a love/hate relationship with my husband’s career . I’ve made countless entries poking fun at him ,giving him praises and explaining the sultry details of the other woman  (his course ..don’t get to excited) in our marriage . What I haven’t ever really touched on ,is the effect of this industry on KOTS..(Kids of turf ) .

trish-imageLet me rephrase that ..the effect on my KOT.  So here goes . We have a beautiful 12 yr old girl ,who is the epitome of strength, beauty and character.  She was born in Augusta, GA..I’m sure my MOT planned that out. In the beginning of her life ,my MOT was a foreign being to her . He’d leave before the sun came up and arrive home long after it set . There would be a day or 2 that he wouldn’t even get to see her . You’d never know that now,they are best friends ! Thank God!!! In her short 12 yrs on this earth we have moved 4 times . Luckily for her, 3 of those  moves she was a baby and could really careless . Her only basic need was liquid in her sippy cup and an endless supply of fruit snacks . This 4th move actually stung alittle.  Why ? Because we were settled for 9 years . She got to have a normal childhood ,make life long friends and have some type of structure . This 4th move is a new beginning for all of us .

I can’t help but want to praise these babies.  They are so young ,but yet so wise . Most Kot’s know by the age of 3 that Dad works ALOT,hardly ever home before bedtime, but he has really cool stuff at his office .(Golf cart’s, tractors, big mowers etc ) Mommy pretty much runs the show and most importantly when the weather is on,you need to be quite !

I wonder if this “lifestyle” actually takes a  toll on their little minds . Does it make them sad dad isn’t home a lot? trish-image-2Or do they just go on about their lives because they have never known any different ? Do they feel the tightness in the air when Mommy is about to lose her biscuits because she just desperately needs a break ? Or Do they know daddy has a disease on his greens and is being a complete turd ? I’m guessing no to all of the above ! Why ? Because we are raising amazing humans !!!!!! We as Turf Wives are doing everything in our power to pick up the slack without our kids skipping a beat .

I can say this though ..these kids are very strong ,resilient, and smarter than we all think . I also believe being born into this lifestyle, they will be taught to have thick skin, a crazy amazing work ethic ,a sense of wanderlust and adventure. Mostly importantly no matter what ..your family is everything .  

In many ways I feel very fortunate our KOT is being exposed to everything this lifestyle has to offer . Her like every other KOT, they are being taught the sky has no limits ,regardless of your situation and for that ..I am thankful !!!!

Check out Trish’s older blogs as well

Do you Slice your Driver?

Most golfers have a problem slicing their Driver, but not the other clubs. This would, of course, not happen if all the clubs were matched. In a matched set of clubs, all the clubs will go straight, as long as you can hit any one club straight.  So why does the Driver slice? Because the moment of inertia of the Driver is too large compared to its overall weight.  This causes the hands to be too far forward at impact. In other words, you are hitting the ball with an open face.  As your hands are too far forward at impact position they are now on a path towards the left, away from the ball, causing a slice spin.gj-guest-blogger-9-12-16

The large moment of inertia of the modern Driver is mainly caused by the increased length of the Driver.  In an attempt by golf club manufacturers to produce more distance, they have increased the length of the Driver.  This may work for you if you are able to steer the club with your wrists into a position where you can control the ball flight.  Steering should not be necessary.  It complicates the game as you have to steer each club differently, as they are not matched.  If your clubs are properly matched they should all behave as intended with relaxed wrists.  Relaxed wrists will also provide more distance.

Golf club manufacturers are fighting the open face by manufacturing Drivers with a closed face.  However, the slice spin remains as your hands are moving right to left at impact.  Some club manufacturers try to further reduce the slice by adding movable dead weight to the club heads.  The dead weight further increases the moment of inertia of the club which again will add to the problem.  When moving the weights around on the clubhead the center of gravity of the clubhead is no longer aligned with the geometric sweet spot, causing further problems.  This all adds up to a very unstable condition.  It is like trying to balance a ball on top of another ball.

When adding weight to the grip end of the club, your hands will slow down slightly.  And due to the added weight, you body will create more kinetic energy.  This added kinetic energy translates to added club head speed.  Meaning that your club will release faster making your club head catch up with your hands.  The BioMatch method of matching golf clubs calculates the exact weight to be added to each of your clubs for the club head to catch up with your hands exactly at the point of impact.

The BioMatch method calculates the specific weight to be added to the grip end of all your clubs.  The BioMatch system is available online at  The weights that are specified in the BioMatch Report can be ordered by a click of a button.  The weights are easily installed with the accompanying tool.

It is a lot easier to learn and maintain one swing rather than 13.  BioMatch does magic to any golfer´s game.

Check out the two newest additions to our Luxury Villa Golf Portfolio

Just in time to beat the annual haze, we are delighted to announce we have added two more luxury villa’s to the Villa-Golf portfolio.  Check out these awesome properties.  Luxury_Villa_Golf_Portfolio_

“Play with Mates – Stay With Mates”. 

“Nicklaus Villa”
is the ideal base for golf but also an amazing party villa.  9 bedrooms can accommodate 20 guests.  This luxury villa is completely set up for Villa Golfers who want to have a great time.  Ideally located to access Patong, Kamala and the other Phuket party spots you might wish to try BUT there is no real need to leave the villa 🙂 Take a look at some of the awesome pics and stats for the villa as well as our special deals running between now and October. 

“Palmer Villa” 
Also situated between Red Mountain and Patong is ideal for a 4-ball, 3 couples.  (up to 6 guests) Amazing value for money this beautiful Villa is a perfect base for a weekend for golfers and non-golfers alike.  Check out some pics and stats on Palmer – Get in quick and book your luxury weekend from as little as $699 SGD *limited availability*

Drop me a note if you have any questions or are interested to find out more about Luxury Villa golf or any golf holiday right across Asia.

Keep an eye out for our 2017 Tour which will be open to golfers from all around the World and we will take in 10 / 14 days if the best that Vietnam has to offer.

For Golfers – IS Your Tee Height Important?

I watched a professional golfer (who will remain unnamed) set the height of his tee three times on one hole at the Million Dollar Challenge at Sun City – adjusting, adjusting and then finally feeling satisfied with the height he had set, promptly nailed it 3,000 plus miles straight down the fairway with a slight draw, much to the delight of the following gallery.

My initial reaction while watching this was – You my friend are a professional golfer and do this every day as your ‘job’ and you don’t know what tee height you want!!!! But after some reflection came to the conclusion that maybe it was just his way of making sure it was set ’JUST SO’……… or was it???

This was about 1999/2000 and set me on a path to find out what is the best height to set your tee or was there such an elusive beast to help us poor mortals.

Well, this turned out to be one of ‘those’ missions that not only found the answer but has helped many golfers to improve their game over the last 16 odd years or so and that includes my own game (most of the time).

(T-Sets left have  9 height settings, 10 to 50mm – 2 inches)

During my research I read as much as I could from all over to find the answer and it was articles such as these that helped me find what I was looking for and then some. These are some of today’s articles on the same subject from:

Peter Kostis –

Mike Stachura – Golf Digest

Sean Foley –

Robert Cotter – Professional golf ball engineer – Director of golf swing instruction,Instant Golf® –

This is the basics of what comes out of the above articles.

Teeing up the ball properly for a tee shot is crucial to ensuring contact with the sweet or hot spot – placing the ball too high or low may result in an errant or scewed shot. To properly place the ball on the tee, half of the ball should sit above the top of a driver that is resting on the ground. See below left…..

There was and still is a debate as to exactly how high to set your tee to get the optimum drive. The one thing that came through each time was to set it higher rather than too low with a lot of different aspects coming to the fore including how ball spin comes into the equation that affects how far you drive your tee shot and how much roll you get after the ball lands.  Another factor is the difference of where the sweet spot is and where the ‘hot spot’ is on your driver head. The hot spot is said to give you +- 15 yards/meters more on your drive than the sweet spot. Coming from the people in the know, most drivers hot spot is to be found just above the middle of your club face (the sweet spot) and slightly towards the toe of the face. Sounds dangerous but it works and if played well, will give you a slight draw.

Yet to gain the maximum of ‘that’ height setting and to set your mind at rest, you have got to set your tee at the same height consistently. If you don’t set it consistently at the same height for any given club you are going to get different results each time as your club head is going to be approaching the ball at slightly different angles which can result in more spin to your ball and hitting either the sweet or hot spot. We are not talking of huge differences here, 1 to 3 mm can affect your shot, although slightly, it can upset your rhythm and timing. Setting it 5 mm lower than the optimum height for your driver could cost you up to 20 to 40 yards which can make a huge difference in your round. The secret to good golf will always be consistency which includes your tee height settings.

This has always been a problem for the high to medium handicapper – You know you can play some good shots but you need to practice and play more to be able to repeat them consistently. But while that is happening, if you can’t be sure that you are going to hit a good shot, at least make sure that ‘your ball is ready to be hit correctly and consistently’ and off the correct tee height setting.

This is where the T-Set comes into its own. Set up your half ball for your driver – take the ball off the tee – using the T-Set find out which slot the tee fits into – make a note of the height. Using your woods and your hybrid, do the same and make a note of those heights. Now any time you pull your driver or any of your other clubs, slide the tee into the correct height setting and set your tee – done and dusted. No having to guess or fiddle, you have the right (optimum) tee height.

*** There is one slight adjustment when you play into a strong wind, set your tee 5mm lower, place your teed up ball, 2 to 3 balls back in your stance and you are ready to launch. What will happen with this set up, you will be hitting down slightly on the ball which will launch it on a lower trajectory but will still allow the ball to be hit on the sweet spot, so will still give you some distance and it will be easier to control – so if you looking for more control and accuracy, that is where you place it.

Even if you are driving with an iron, set it up. A Pro once said that any time you get the opportunity to tee up your golf ball…… DO IT!!!! The reason is pretty simple. If your ball is on a tee you get to strike the ball with no grass between your blade and the ball, so you get a clean hit. The other thing is that you can also control how much spin you get on a ball.Check the 2 photos below – playing an 8 iron you generally set your tee height at 10mm which means you clip the ball just off the grass the second photo shows the height setting at 15mm which means your club face will slide under the ball and impart a lot of back spin. For this shot to get the same distance as the 10mm setting you are going to have to play through the ball slightly harder because it will climb and spin more. So depending what you require from your shot, normal bounce and forward roll set it at 10mm and for a shot that spins back on the green set it at 15mm. You will find what works for you.

Our motto: ‘Right Height – Right Flight’ Not only do we set your tee height for you, consistently, we give you a hidden divot tool and two (2) sides to brand.

The pitch mark repair tool shown here has two different colors in the photo because it is a 3D printed prototype unit and the blue is painted on. (Did not want it to stick in the body of the unit so did not paint it)

‘Keep it on the short green stuff people – it helps’.

See you on the courses of the world – Enjoy!!!

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Like and Share, many thanks Graham Riley