Without doubt one of my favourite weeks of the golfing calendar is upon us, The Open Championship. Having just watched an enthralling Scottish Open and our hero Rory coming up Trumps in fantastic style to win, has only increased the anticipation. Very fortunately my wife Jennie and I are going up for a couple of days . Definitely looking forward to seeing the first shot of The Open being struck c6.30am Thursday (not explained that to Mrs P yet!) and then walk with a few groups, then perch behind the fiendish 17th green, a par 3 of only 136yards, but the penalties for missing it are severe.
Clearly Rory will start as favourite and of course won at Hoylake in 2014 which no doubt has lowered his odds some more. The other player who fared well last time is Rickie Fowler and he has found a rich vein of form this year, so well worth a fiver each way. I know my record of predicting winners is a little patchy (polite speak for appalling!) but feel he is ready to win. Home town boy Tommy Fleetwood must be worth a consideration and again his form is trending in the right direction.
Hopefully the really strong winds of the last few weeks will subside a little, as it has made golf really challenging recently.
Speaking of great events in the wind, although Mid Herts is a fair way away from the sea. at our recent brilliant LET Pro Am it felt as if we were bordering the Irish Sea. Hats off to our resident tout pro Hannah Burke for organising 19 friends from the Tour to come and play, including the legendary Dame Laura Davies. Great to see these super players grace our course and I was interested to see the excellent techniques on show. The Dame has such an impressive strike and blessed with a leisurely rhythm, really very inspiring.
The course was in tip top shape, a real credit to Jody and the team and the spread afterwards that Sam and his crew put on was superb. Huge respect to Lily May Humphreys for shooting 69 and keep an eye out for this lady as she is an up and coming star.
With all this golf in the wind, I thought I would pop in a tip as to how to combat it successfully.
Please click this link here. Interestingly a 20mph wind which seems de rigueur at the moment, will take as much as 25yards off a 150yard shot and unfortunately only give us another 12 yards down wind. So first rule - Club Up.
The Open at Hoylake in 2006 is famous for the Tiger Woods stinger, which he used to great effect on the firm conditions that prevailed that week. In fact he only hit the driver once and just used a variety of irons (once hitting a 6 iron 235 yards!) to control his ball. That was in the middle of an incredible spell for Tiger. Between 1999 and 2009 he would win 34% of the events he entered. In that same period he finished 9th or worse 32% of the time. So over a decade he was more likely to win an event than finish below 10th. Sadly injury has kept him out of this Championship and let's hope we see him competing again.
Final game thoughts from Hoylake is that the course has 82 bunkers, so clearly good bunker play will be essential. In fact, I was watching some highlights of previous Open's on their site and noted that when Tony Jacklin won he got up and down from the 11 bunkers he found himself in for the week. Keys for me would be open our stance up, favour weight ratio of 60/40 on the front foot and crucially during the stroke keep it there! When coaching and observing I see all too often players fall back onto their right side in an effort to assist the ball out. Unfortunately, this has the effect of either making the club go in too steep and digging in the sand or catching the ball thin. A final idea is to finish with you hands above the lip of the bunker as that ensures we keep our speed up through the shot. Hope some of these ideas help when you play next.
On the subject of Mid Herts hosting events, we were glad to be part of an important fund raiser for the SANDS (Still birth and neonatal death society) which my good friend Mike Harris, Editor of Golf Monthly teamed up with Broadcaster Genelle Aldred to play one hole at 18 golf clubs in the North London and Hertfordshire Area. They began at Hampstead GC at 5am and continued to various other clubs reaching Mid Herts at 7.40pm. Finally finishing off at Mill Hill which is Genelle's home club. To date this event has raised several thousand pounds, so well done to Mike and Genelle and to all those involved.
Enjoy your golf and Open watching this week.
All the best
Fellow of the PGA