Barney's November Newsletter
November is doing what it's supposed to do and offering us grey, short days, so roll on Christmas I say. Although time for our golf in the UK is curtailed, the professional tours are still in full swing and the European Tour started its 2019 season last week!
It has been the month of the comeback with the first wins for five years for forty somethings Lee Westwood and Matt Kucher. The "Kuch" as he is affectionately known, along with what sounds like booing from the crowd, then announced that "Forty is the new Twenty" given to his sprightly play. That is good news for those of us nearer 60 as clearly we must now be the new 40s, as to what that makes 20 year olds, as our American friends would say "Go Figure". The following week in the season ending Tour Championship in Dubai, after many travails Danny Willett recorded his first win since the Masters in 2016. If ever there was a case of "form is temporary, class is permanent" this was it. I think we will see a lot more of him in 2019 as his star continues to rise.
A much longer wait between wins was that of Charles Howell III who had not won since 2007. However, a change of equipment (who doesn't respond to new clubs) and a positive putt in the playoff brought him a win that was long overdue. His fans (I stress the American ones) call him Chucky Three Sticks and he is another one to look out for 2019 and now qualifies for the Masters. As he was born in Augusta there may be a spot of star alignment next April?
I too have been fortunate to miss a fortnight of UK weather in November with a trip for David Short Golf to Tenerife. The first week was staying at the marvellous Hacienda Del Conde and playing the spectacular Seve designed Buenavista
This was a golf and coaching week with coaching in the mornings and playing the course in the afternoons. Mid Herts member Christine Colt joined us and I think given the form she showed will be taking some shots off her handicap next year.
The second week I moved down to Las Americas in the south to host a twenty strong group of golfers playing the excellent courses around there. At a pleasing temperature of between 22c and 24c each day, the shorts got an airing every day, it was like our summer! I am back home until Christmas and then off to Portugal for a couple of festive tours which Jennie and I are looking forward to.
On a sad note I see Potters Bar Golf Club closed its gates and after 100 years no golf will be played there again. I spent a couple of very happy years there as an assistant in the early eighties (see me with hair on the left!!), it was a vibrant club and famously had Tony Jacklin there as an assistant and then its touring Professional. I am pretty sure he was attached to Potters Bar when he won his Open and US Open. Unfortunately it is a trend with over 50 clubs closing since January 2017 and the amount of registered golfers down by approximately 40,000. There are signed that the clubs with welcoming attitudes not just on membership but crucially on green fees and society business are bucking the trend. I know the R&A are behind developing our wonderful game and hopefully the 9 hole courses and ranges can enthuse the new generation so that they can come to the golf clubs who will take up the baton of inclusive golf for all. With the exercise benefits, social interaction and the fun to be had, golf has plenty to offer.
With this in mind and with our American friends having recently celebrated Thanksgiving, I thought I would give a small list of things that I am thankful for from golf.
1. Friendships made through our game. Golf brings into our lives all sorts of different people, adding to the spice of our lives.
2. Different formats of play. From Better Ball, Matchplay, Foursomes, Stablefords, Bogey (yes even bogey) to the challenge of the odd medal, each format brings different challenges and ultimately different fun each time we play.
3. Links Golf. There is nothing like setting out on a rugged seaside links and enjoying the unique challenge they offer. I love the way when you get there the starter says "oh it's windy today" like it's a surprise, as by my reckoning that's what you play in 364 days a year by the sea! The views are often breathtaking and whilst the wind no longer ruffles my hair, I like what it does to my ball whilst driving down wind.
4. For me a career that keeps giving. I feel very blessed to spend my days knocking around golf courses with my favourite people, other golfers. Even after giving 40,000 lessons I am still enthused with helping golfers with their games and discussing strategy, swing techniques and how to improve. Even in this last week I had five new students start with me and saw two students who have known for over 20 years.
I had about another 25 plus things to add but the editor (Mrs P) told me to leave it at four. If you would like to share your golf related thanks, I am all ears!
Enjoy your golf wherever you play.
All the best