It's hard to believe we are in the second half of the year already and the sport this summer has been terrific. I really enjoyed the Women's Football World Cup. Wimbledon was a triumph and rain free. As for England winning the Cricket World Cup our cup runneth over.
The Open Championship has a different dynamic, perhaps as it is now the final Major this year. Predictably the predictions of who is going to win start flooding in. Don't worry I am about to add my ten penneth and great news that Portrush in Northern Ireland is hosting the event for the first time since 1951. For many of us who can't remember the dark days of the troubles, this is a significant moment in NI's history and for me shows how sport can bring us together.
Perhaps as an omen for a Home winner, the last winner was Max Faulkner from Bexhill on Sea, a colourful character in the mould of an Ian Poulter. Max was a promising player in the late 1930s. The war curtailed his golf and during the 6 years (he served in the RAF) he managed to play once, however in his first competitive round in September 1945 he finished 2nd. When The Open came to Portrush he hit a rich vein of form, that resulted in a 6 shot lead after 3 rounds. Such was his confidence, on the way to the 1st tee in the last round he signed a golf ball with "Max Faulkner 1951 Open Champion" on it. Although instantly regretting doing that, he hung on to win by 2 shots!
So to The Open predictions.... Clearly the emotional favourite will be Rory and certainly if he can get off to a good start Irish eyes will be smiling. As an each way idea Eddie Pepperell is a good bet, he loves links golf and finished 6th in last years Open. But my choice for the winner is Jon Rahm. His recent win in the Irish Open (his second btw) proves his love for the country and like Max Faulkner he is a colourful character, perhaps not in dress but in his barn storming play and combustable temperament. He has shown he has plenty of nerve in the Ryder Cup, so this could be his moment to shine on the Major stage.
I have been very busy on the coaching front at home and had a terrific selection of students past and new. On the golf holiday front, my wife Jennie and I hosted a really fun trip to Biarritz. If you get the chance, do go as the town is charming with lots of French (Basque) flair for food and choice of fourteen golf courses in the region. We played five including Barritz Le Phare GC which was built in 1888 by Tom and Willie Dunn (top English Architects of their time) and is a classic layout along the lines of Mid Herts in fact, to Moliets GC designed by Robert Trent Jones, a spectacular course starting in the forest and then winding down to the sea. Our 20 golfers had a great trip and we will definitely plan a return in the not too distant future.
The recent firmer conditions have certainly made holding the greens more difficult, so I thought I would pop in some tips from a recent article on the art of chipping which may come in useful.
Enjoy your golf wherever you are.
All the best
Fellow of the PGA