Autumn is really kicking in now and the courses are really looking a picture with all the leaves turning. Spare a thought for our hardworking greenkeepers though as after the golden turning period the leaves start falling off in industrial quantities, leaving guess who to hoover them up.
On a personal front, I have had a really enjoyable late summer run starting in August taking a a David Short Golf Group to Herefordshire and Monmouthshire. It is a part of the country I can't say I had been to before and there were some splendid courses and all of them really rolled out the welcome mat. Personal favourites were The Herefordshire and Ross on Wye which is very Woburn like.
Mentioning wonderful Woburn, I had the great fortune to spend some time there during the Travis Perkins Senior Open. A friend of mine Mick Morely caddies for Senior Tour regular Cesar Monasterio from Argentina and asked if I would come and help Cesar with something we all need help on, putting. We had a great session and then the icing on the cake was to accompany Cesar on the practice round with the Italian legend Constantino Rocca.
It was really interesting observing such great strikes of the ball and I picked up some terrific tips, especially in the short game. I have to say the standard of play is excellent and the organisers certainly give no quarter as they were playing on a 7,000 yard layout.
To show the quality of the swings, I thought I would include another Senior Tour member Pedro Linhart's elegant swing. He came to see me at Mid Herts for a tune up and there is a great deal to admire in this rhythmical movement.
Mentioning the length of the courses, I noted after the Dunhill Links, won in impressive style by Tyrell Hatton, that Gary Player was questioning the distance the ball is going. He has a good point in that for Tournament play potential courses will need to be 8,000 yards to give the top pro's a test, which logistically is very problematic. The Old Course at St Andrews took a real hammering on the last round and Ross Fisher was within a hairs breath of breaking 60. I think it is time for the debate to take place, as personally the idea of extra tees being built and Golf Clubs looking to finance extensions in these difficult times is not an appealing one.
The other subject the R&A are keen to look at too is one of my favourite hobby horses, that of reducing the number of bunkers on the course. On my travels this year it is the one area that many venues struggle with. I feel the amount of work required for the green keeping team to produce nice fairways, good teeing areas and super greens is huge. Then adding keeping on top of bunkers, with the complex story of drainage (guess what the drains get clogged with....sand!) it is too much. Also contemplating really first class courses like Berkhamsted and Royal Ashdown Forest that have no bunkers and if you have played them, you don't feel you're missing anything. By adding in say mounding around the green or bordering the fairway, you offer the half shot penalty that we are looking for, but have easier maintenance for the team. Certainly food for thought and an interesting debate, as our sport is facing challenges on the participation front, so I think we need to review all aspects to become more efficient and appealing to all.
I am looking forward to the winter as it means I go on my travels with David Short Golf and I am certainly looking forward to Tenerife in November and you will be glad to know that I will share some pictures with you!!!
Enjoy your golfing wherever you are.
All the best