My wife Jennie and I had a wonderful festive break with our friends at David Short Golf.
On Xmas day I decided to have a photo of myself on the most photographed hole in Europe, the 17th on the Royal Course at Vale do Lobo.
We are now on our annual visit to Florida and flying here as snow is falling at home still brings a childlike joy to me, which agreed it shouldn't!
In the news recently there has been a lot of activity in Parliament and a bit of chit chat around the "B" word. However on a lighter (and I would say more important) note Westminster hosted the International Congress on Golf and Health and the medically proven physical and mental health benefits.
MPs, representatives from the golfing bodies and health experts met to discuss the findings and the way forwards. The Golf and Health Ambassador, Annika Sorenstam said "Golf is great for the health of all ages and even for spectators too. We need to work together to make the game more accessible". Hear Hear. I am very hopeful that the game of golf is now aware that it needs to bring the game to a new generation of all ages and this discovery of the benefits of our wonderful game will help immensely.
On the new rules front, certainly the most eye catching one is that of leaving the flagstick in when we putt. Certainly in our DSG trip on the first game of 2019 several of our number took up the option. It's funny when I was playing with people doing it, it looked quite normal and then when I watched some golf on tv it looked a bit odd. I must say although the camera work at televised tournaments is tremendous with longer putts it is a real benefit when watching as there is no need to squint at the screen, trying to see where the hole is.
So far the data suggests that on a slow putt, there was no difference in what you do with the flag stick, but it was an advantage on a putt that was going faster at the hole. Essentially the flag acts as a back stop and slows the ball down and allows gravity to pull it into the hole better. Interestingly, golf scientist in chief the wonderful Bryson DeChambeau embraced the new rule, whilst many of his colleagues were feeling a tad self conscious about it. He finished leader in the tournament in Hawaii on the strokes gained in putting category and has just won in terrific style in Dubai, so maybe we need to follow suit? Certainly in a team event, if your partner issues that favourite instruction of "Don't leave it short" you can be confident in the knowledge the flag will help you.
Enjoy your golf when you can and whilst it is not conducive temperatures to go and practice, I suggest some indoor practice will be beneficial. Checking your set up and grip in the mirror is a good start and key things here are having your hands aligned with each other and hips underneath the shoulders, as we often tend to drift them out of position. Push the derriere out a little and keeping a nice flex in the knees with your weight even in the feet.
We are off to California in February, so promise to post some irritating pictures of golf in the sun on Twitter and Facebook!
All the best