Clocks have sprung forwards and officially summer time is here (with predictable cooler temperatures and for the golfing world the unofficial start to the season begins with this weeks Masters.
The powers that be there are steadily turning The Masters into a festival of golf. A few years ago they brought in the great idea of Drive, Chip and Putt tournament for various age groups of boys and girls from age 7 upwards. There are regional heats and the winners head for Augusta's hallowed turf for the final on the Sunday proceeding the Masters.
Then this year the Augusta National's Women's Amateur was held, with two rounds on a course nearby, then the final round on Augusta itself. Leading women's amateur Jennifer Kupcho beat Maria Fassi by two shots and had a spectacular back nine with an eagle and four birdies. The patrons (as they are known there) turned out in good numbers to watch this high level golf. A piece of local interest in that Alice Hewson from Berkhamsted GC finished a very creditable 10th and continues to play first class golf at college in America.
The main event brings in an estimated $120 million the Augusta Metro area, its numbers as to the golf business are less well defined. Sometimes for an individual golf product, exposure at Augusta can be transformational. When Jack Nicklaus won in 1986 he used a prototype putter, the MacGregor Response, this led to remarkable sales from a handful to numbers in six figures. In 2010 the ever cool Fred Couples literally changed the golf shoe business, where he debuted the spikeless Ecco hybrid. Speaking of the languid one, good to hear even though he is 59, he intends playing in the event for the foreseeable (Mrs P is elated at that news!)
So to possible winners... This year so many of the top players are or have been in terrific form, so it is even more difficult to choose than normal. Certainly the Europeans look strong with Rose, Fleetwood and Molinari all looking good although I feel that this is Rory's time and this is the year he completes the Grand Slam. It's funny how in 2011 it looked like with a four shot lead this would be his first, however a shaky final day put paid to that. He then won 4 Majors out the next 15 and his form recently is certainly trending in the right direction. For a dark horse bet, I like the look of Mark Leishman. He has been close in a few Majors and has a good record at The Masters so well worth an each way flutter.
All the members of Moor Park GC will be glued to the screen as their own Matt Wallace will be competing for the first time. He is firmly cemented in the World Top 50, so look out for this former Hertfordshire County golfer to have a run in a Major this year.
For me it has been another fortunate winter with visits to California and more recently Morocco and my favourite Portugal. Looking forward to the Spring / Summer here and really impressed with all the winter work the brilliant Mid Herts Green Keeping team have been doing.
As a final note, it may have escaped your notice but after a brief absence of 35 years, my favourite football team, Watford will be back at Wembley in the FA cup final on May 18. There is the small challenge of over coming Manchester City, which is along David and Goliath lines, however hope springs eternal....
Enjoy your golf wherever you are playing.
All the best
Editors Note. Forgot to Publish March Newsletter, but you can find it here