Read my post on www.golf-
Read my post on www.golf-
Today is the day! We fly to Cape Town for a feast of golf. Before January is out I will have played a dozen sun-kissed golf courses in this most beautiful part of the world. I just can’t wait.
Golf without layers!! Being wrapped up in 6 layers surely can’t do your golf much good. At last it’s time to get the sleeveless tops and skorts out. I am mad enough about golf to have ventured out in horizontal rain and winds strong enough to blow my bag over but sunshine golf is my kind of golf. It’s only 6,000 miles away.
Exactly two years ago, I followed the Garden Route to play 9 of the top 25-ranked courses in all of South Africa. In the coming 2 weeks, I will tick off 3 more of them. It’s a return trip to Cape Town. I enjoyed a fabulous fortnight in the shadow of Table Mountain ‘BG’ (before golf). Six years ago, I took in all the sights from Cape Point to Stellenbosch… strolled on Noordhoek Beach, dined at La Colombe and tasted the vine in Franschhoek. This time it’s golf, golf, golf!
There are 13 rounds in 13 days, all booked and paid for… so don’t go trying to change my mind on any of them! Local knowledge and advice would be very welcome, though. The GolfPeach tour of the Western Cape takes in…
Pearl Valley again!
If I am honest, I’m not expecting quite the same level of Championship tracks that I took on at Humewood, St Francis Bay, Knysna and Fancourt in 2016, but as long as I can feel the rays on my legs you won’t hear, see or read a word of complaint.
Sunny golf is ‘no excuses’ golf. No thermal layers to restrict the shoulder turn, no brollies to blow away, no numbing fingers to warm. There will be ocean breezes to contend with but even they will be welcome to blow away the hangovers from mellow evenings at Paranga, Roca, the Roundhouse, the Foodbarn and (of course) La Colombe. All table reservations are made… just need some of my very favourite big, bold (and er affordable) reds recommending now. I loved the Vergelegen Cab at Fancourt.
In my four years as a golfer, I have been truly privileged to have been able to tread in the historic footsteps of the great players on some of Britain’s finest tests. Still a relative rookie and yet I’ve already played St Andrews, Birkdale, Sunningdale, Old Head, Porthcawl, Celtic Manor, Sandwich, Hoylake, Swinley, Kingsbarns, St Enodoc, Woodhall and (whisper it) Trump. Lucky girl.
But maybe the biggest highlights of all have been the sheer release and luxury of escaping British winters for a weekend or longer to play in Tenerife, Thailand, Dubai, Mauritius and South Africa. Sunshine golf in January feels positively wicked and I do have that self-indulgent side to me! So, if you don’t want to see this grinning golf girl strutting the sun-soaked fairways with bare legs and arms in full, flaunted view… look away until February!
I know that I am now a golfer… not because I have made a birdie on the Old Course at St Andrews, not because my name is on the honours board at my local club, not because I bought my husband a romantic ball marker on our last anniversary. I am a golfer because I have talked out loud to a golf ball, because I have found myself practising my wrist cock in a supermarket queue, because I have cried on a golf course. Read my article on the 10 things they dont tell you about golf on Lady Golfer.com
First what is a roll up? Posting on instagram made me realise it is not a term maybe used much outside the UK.
In theory it works roughly like this: everyone who fancies playing rolls up (turns up) at the club between certain times and you play with whoever else has turned up and has put their name on the roll up list to make up a 4 ball. I think some versions are you roll up at a specific time and then pairs are drawn. At our club on Saturday and Sunday mornings you (in this case men or women – some clubs have men only or women only I believe) roll up between 730am and 10am and play with whoever is there. It can be daunting as there do seem to be groups of people who have (against the spirit of it) already agreed to play together. But on the whole I think it works, as long as you are not too shy!!.
Maybe it’s just our club. But I would love to know how it works in others. I have only ever been a member of one club so I don’t know. What I do know is that not many ladies roll up, in the true sense of the word, on these weekend mornings.
When I first started it didn’t even occur to me that nearly all the ladies leave the Saturday and Sunday morning roll ups to the guys – although they are definitely open to everyone; unless they pre-arrange to meet up with other ladies – or have a pre-arranged foursome.
Yes there are exceptions. Perhaps one or two others are happy to just roll up and to be fair perhaps some don’t mind rolling up, they just don’t fancy the randomness of who they might get ! But that is the exception not the rule.
And for many, ladies day on Thursday maybe ticks that ‘rolling up’ box. But I work, so Thursday is not often an option for me. Plus I like to play golf at the weekend. Sometimes my husband is working at the weekends and sometimes not. Sometimes he doesn’t want to play and I do. So I roll up with or without him. I know I probably shocked a few people when four years ago I just rocked on up with my 36 handicap and expected to be able to join in with whichever other random people rolled up that morning. But you know – it was cool, and I never felt that I wasn’t welcome. And it was a great way to meet more people in the club. They could also see I took it seriously and I already had the etiquette drummed into me so (as far as I am aware!!!) to date my female presence has never been an issue.
And the shock has definitely faded, I now play off 18 and I am a regular roller upper – actually an honorary ‘Sunday Boy’, along with a handful of other ladies. I really enjoy playing with the guys – especially the regular Sunday boys (the good, the bad, the ugly and the scratchy – haha you know who you are!!).
I know some ladies just don’t feel that confident about rolling up on their own, but if we all do it more, it will eventually become the norm and no one should feel shy about doing it. I don’t mind being on my own on the red tees on most Saturday and Sunday mornings but it would be fun to sometimes have another lady golfer to team up with and take on the guys!
Please see video review (embedded instagram post) at end of this blog
Nestled between Royal Birkdale and Southport and Ainsdale on the north west coast between Liverpool and Lytham lies a stunning links course, that is possibly not one of the greats only because it is overshadowed by its famous neighbour.
While rumour has it that Royal Birkdale shuns footballers in favour of lawyers, doctors and businessmen for sure Hillside welcomes them with open arms. Famous names like Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hanson and Jim Beglin are amongst its members.
I had the pleasure of playing the course as a guest of Jim Beglin, so I was lucky enough to get a great briefing on each hole – yes from the reds too.
Playing in November meant the men played off forward tees, while their usual tees (the blues) underwent rest and reparation! That meant my red tees were often only 20 yards in front of theirs. No matter, most of the par 4s were so long that I had to resign myself to getting on the green in three on most of them. Fortunately three of the men’s par 4’s (the 1st, 9th and 18th) were par 5’s for ladies, so there was some concession for me during the round.
The front 9 is really good links golf, if not the most outstanding. But when you turn the corner at the halfway hut, you are in for a huge treat. Links golf at its most stunning (and sometimes vicious).
The first tee requires a straight shot – anything too far left will end up out of bounds on the rail way line! There is apparently much banter in the club house about balls with British Rail marked on them.
Click here for Video Review of HillsideThe 10th is said to be one of the best par 3’s in UK. Jim described it to me as : “It is stroke index 18 if you get on the green, stroke index 1 if you don’t”. For sure there was only one good place to land the ball (the green), and if you didn’t make it you were in such trouble (bunkers or rough) your par chance was greatly diminished. For me, it was my best hole, a drive that landed two feet from the hole that had me putting for birdie. A 2 for 4 points. Nice!
The signature 12th hole is dramatic. A long sweeping par four that stretches out below a raised tee, lined by dunes the size of small hills. A long straight drive is required. Watch my video clip to see what happens if you stray left or right (link at start of this blog).
Don’t be deceived by the clear blue skies – a wicked wind sweeps its way up and down the dunes and it is vital to take this into account when selecting your club. Clubbing up 2-3 more is not unheard of!
Keeping the ball in play is also key to a decent score card. The rough is unforgiving. Take an unplayable if in doubt. I made the mistake of trying to chop one out of the rough only to thrust it deeper in.
The last hole is a spectacular par 5 for us ladies (par 4 for the guys). But at just 384 long and with that lovely links fairway sending it bouncing on a par in easy reach of the bigger hitters.
I played Royal Birkdale the following day (review to come!). Another truly spectacular course , and for me one of the best links in the UK. Hillside back 9 is a close rival to Royal Birkdale (Hillside was used in the Open Qualifying Series Final) and anyone visiting the UK and wanting a great links experience should definitely add this to their list!
Click here for Video Review of Hillside Or see instagram post below. Just press play.