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 SANTA ANA CC COURSE IS QUITE UNIQUE- MAR 2018

COACHELLA VALLEY COURSES - MAR 2018

TOSHIBA CLASSIC CHAMPIONS TOUR - MAR 2018

ON COURSE CALIFORNIA - MAR 2018

MASTER GARCIA AND SUPER BALL - JAN 1018

PUTTING A PERSEVERANCE PEST IN PESTANA - FEB 2018

I'M BACK DOWN IN AFRICA AND THE SA OPEN 2018

BRITISH SENIOR OPEN - JULY 2017

SUMMER PUTTING AND GREEN READING - MAY 2017

SERGIO'S WIN AT AUGUSTA MASTERS - APRIL 2017

BE CAREFUL REPLACING BALL ON GREEN - APRIL 2017

PROPOSED RULE CHANGES - MARCH 2017

BMW SA OPEN - JAN 2017

WONDERFUL WOODHILL - DEC 2016

HEAVENLY CAPE COURSES - NOV 2016

NORTH DEVON IN NOVEMBER - 2016

UDINE ITALIAN SENIOR OPEN - OCT 2016

COUNTRY CLUBS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA - OCT 2016

TOSHIBA CLASSIC - OCT 2016

PRE RYDER CUP USA 2016

HANBURY MANOR, WOBURN AND PARIS NATIONAL - AUG/SEPT 2016

ARCHERFIELD PUTTING TIPS - JULY 2016

THE SENIOR BRITISH OPEN - JULY 2016

THE OPEN PUTTING - JULY2016

EUROPEAN SENIOR TOUR SWITZERLAND AND GERMANY - EARLY JULY 2016

MY GOLF IN SUSSEX/SURREY - JUNE 2016

EUROPEAN SENIORS IN WALES AND JERSEY - JUNE 2016

2016 US OPEN CHAMPION DUSTIN JOHNSON - A WORTHY WINNER

FROM SERIOUS FUN TO VIRTUAL FUN

TORRENTIAL RAIN AT PGA SENIORS... AND iPING FIT PUTTING TOOL

STUARD 'PUTTING  FOR DOUGH' - MAY 2016

PUTTING IN CENTRAL LONDON - APR 2016

TOUGH GREENS AT THE MASTERS 2016

IT'S NEVER OVER TILL THE LAST GOLFER SWINGS - 20 MAR 2016

SPGU SEAFORD BLATCHINGTON PRO AM - 18 FEB 2016

SENIOR TOUR QUALIFYING SCHOOL 2016 - 28 JAN - 4 FEB 2016

ABU DHABI HSBC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP 21-24 JANUARY 2016

JOHANNESBURG OPEN - 14-17 JANUARY 2016

PUTTING ALIGNMENT TOOLS - 7-10 JANUARY 2016 

FLORA AND FAUNA IN MAURITIUS - DECEMBER 2015 

SANTA ANA CC COURSE IS QUITE UNIQUE - MAR 2018


I arrived early morning to play this newly refurbished course which I had seen in construction about a year ago. I played with Charlie Wilde, Ray Carrasco and a guy called Chester. Greg Hopkins joined our group later when one pulled out. When we turned up, instead of jumping on a cart as one usually does in Orange County California, we were presented with push trolleys to take a stroll. The sky was blue the greens were dewy and the course in all hues of green, resembled a rippling green ocean of waves. The course wends its way through attractive sycamores and other established trees. The cart paths are unobtrusive and the tee markers are log piles - everything very natural.

Each green is unique with its own character and varies in size up to the 160 foot 8th green at the end of the par five which has buried elephants down the left side. The Pure Distinction grass seed gives grain and texture and speed to the greens. Some invasive weeds have been taken out leaving temporary pox marks in the surface which will eventually blend in, but in the meantime does not adversely affect putts - I had a birdie on the 'punchbowl' par three. 

This young course is planted with non-native grasses to replicate wild Scottish rough. You quite expect to see a herd of deer and heather strewn mountains. We did see a couple of coyote running across the fairways. Parts of the course are still growing - but this is a course well worth a visit if you want something more traditional and just a little different from the slick cart golf of other Socal courses.

COACHELLA VALLEY COURSES - MAR 2018 

Palmer Course, PGA West
Indian Springs

The courses in the Coachella Valley, California are pretty awesome. Whether I played a municipal or a private I was always pleasantly rewarded with stunning scenery and good, well maintained greens. I played a couple of municipals; Indian Springs and Indian Palms. Indian Springs was lovely with neat, often flower edged greens. The latter, Indian Palms, was an older style course with 27 holes - three lots of nine to choose from. Cheap, but nonetheless enjoyable for the mid handicap golfer. 

Fun putting at Desert Springs

Then I went to Desert Springs, the Marriott resort where they have two courses; the Palm and the Valley. 

We played the Valley and the greens were kept in good condition...shame my putting was a bit suspect that day! The Desert Springs Marriott has a long fun putting course at its entrance - a course covered in swales and humps, turns and water...meant for family fun. They mow it regularly and maintain it well but the putting surfaces are quite shaggy for a serious putter. It gets you thinking about aim as many holes require you to aim over tilted humps and bumps.

Last year I wrote about a small putting course at La Quinta. I went to see it again and they were refurbishing it adding all manner technological options of laser scoring and nighttime golf darts and golf bocce. Daytime putting should still provide a smooth practice surface for all levels of golfer.

I was in the Coachella valley the week before the ANA LPGA tournament. What an amazing effect being 'on the clock' can have. During the Saturday round, you have to feel for Sung Hyun Park as she collapsed from leading to producing three bogeys and a double on her back nine. She just lost her rhythym and putting needs the tick-tock, prep-rep. Her playing partner, Pernilla Lindberg focussed and stayed strong and in her rhythm, with her putter on fire, as you must have if you are in contention for a major.

TOSHIBA CLASSIC CHAMPIONS TOUR - MAR 2018

Congratulations to Vijay Singh who won this event. 

I had a fascinating time watching at the tricky par 3 17th hole on Saturday as player after player came up short of the green. The hole placement on that day was rather cruel - a 'sucker' pin, and one whole group that I watched all failed to reach the green off the tee.

All three balls short of the green!


ON COURSE CALIFORNIA - MAR 2018

It's nice to play golf in different continents and experience a variety of greens. Some of the latest I have been on are the Rancho San Joaquin municipal course in OC, California and the nicely presented executive Casta del Sol course at Mission Viejo. Both courses have well manicured and challenging practice putting greens.

On course at Rancho San Joaquin


Casta del Sol practice




I played Arroyo Trabuco where there was also a professional qualifier scheduled. The greens in California don't take quite the same battering from the elements as many European courses and so the conditions were rather pleasant and greens running pretty true with few blemishes.

STOP PRESS! I played in a fund-raiser event at the gorgeous Oak Creek course. Before hand they had a two hole putting challenge to get to a qualifier. Out of a field of maybe 80 folk, I qualified by holing my first and thus shooting 3. Along with the only other qualifier we then had a play off to go through to the $5000 challenge. It was me winning the play-off and putting for the $5000....a 60 foot tricky putt....which I had the perfect line ... but which came up short. I need to read my own advice on www.puttingsmart.com!

And here is a picture of one of the superb putting greens at a beautiful Canyon course in Orange County - private unfortunately for those of us who are not members!







MASTER GARCIA AND THE SUPER BALL

Sergio Garcia didn’t drop a shot on his final day, pulling clear of the pack by 5 shots to win the 2018 Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course in style. Callaway style.  

 

Let’s for a moment roll back to September 2017. At the fourth hole at TPC Boston, during the Dell Technologies tournament 3rd round, a frustrated Garcia broke his putter. The shaft bent thus altering the loft and lie – and it is of course against the rules to change the characteristics of a club during a stipulated round (Rule 4-2). Thus Sergio had to continue the round using his 3-wood, driver and an iron to putt with. It seems his frustrations are now behind him.

Since January 2018 Garcia has signed with Callaway and as part of his equipment change has a new putter in the bag and is playing with a new ball. And immediately he wins the Singapore Open. It was a tournament interrupted by weather delays and breaks in play. Despite his putting wobbling a little on Saturday, at the half way stage of the tournament he said: “My putting and all went great but my speed hasn’t been great on this green so let’s see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.” 

Aged 38, and now in the Callaway camp, he has gone to an all-time best statistic, for at least the last five years, 28.83 (29.53 last year) putts per round; 1.72 putts for greens in regulation (1.77 last year). Garcia’s putting goes from strength to strength. He has confidence and positivity when putting as the ball seems to drop in the hole more consistently. His intention to “be a little more aggressive” going into the final day’s play paid off with a resounding win.

 

It could be his new Odyssey Toulon Azalea putter - Azalea being customised for Sergio and the name a nod to him being 2017 Masters Champion. Odyssey putters are widely used by tour players and are very popular. Or the new Callaway Chrome Soft graphene balls could be the reason for his improvement. The Chrome Soft balls have an outer core developed from graphene, the thinnest and strongest material newly developed by physicists. It is basically an ultra-thin sheet of carbon (only an atom thick) so strong that when it is infused into the outer core it reinforces it. So the outer core can remain strong but be thinner and lighter (still retaining feel) allowing the inner core to be bigger and softer. This combination enhances the characteristics of the golf ball and seems to offer more consistency. Let’s watch to see how the equipment gurus receive these high performing balls.

Meanwhile – congratulations to Sergio and good luck as a new ambassador for Callaway! 

PUTTING PERSEVERANCE PEST IN PESTANA

 

Because of poor green surfaces, birdies at Silves, apart from the feathered variety, were hard to come by.

The 10th at Silves



The annual European Senior Tour School is held at Pestana resorts in the Algarve, Portugal. This year was a bit of a change. There were a couple of hundred 50+ year old aspiring tour players, both pro and amateur, strutting their putting to achieve one of the only 5 spots on offer to play the newly named Staysure Tour for 2018. Personally I really don't think the name has much of a ring about it. And there was nothing sure about the putts this year.

That aside, the gruelling 2 day pre-qualifying rounds were held at Gramacho and Silves about 50km west of Faro. Unfortunately the Silves course where Theale GC UK pro Nick Mitchell was playing with me 'on his bag', was in less than satisfactory condition on the greens. They had suffered a fungal infection in November and were in recovery. This made for bumpy and patchy greens which could ricochet the ball's path like a pinball machine. And so it was for all in the field; luck as much as judgement.

Nick is a neat and methodical player. He did plenty of solid putting practice before each round with his long broom-handled putter which he carefully ensures does not 'anchor' during his stroke. He took time reading each putt thoroughly and carefully. (Check here for one of Nick's methods explained by Barry Lane. The part of the rim of the hole which the ball enters, for which I am hoping Nick will do a short video presentation for puttingsmart soon). But with pitted and scarred greens we could never guarantee the ball would follow the chosen path. This worked in his favour on the first day on the 11th. He putted the ball from just off the green, about 15 feet from the hole. We all watched the little white sphere deflect right and then left, leap a good 3 inches off the surface - twice  or more - and stumble into the hole for birdie!

Silves greens

 

Sand filled craters


The course of true putts never did run smooth


Nick Mitchell, a solid pro who plays a lot on the Senior Masters Tour and in PGA events, likes to keep his stats and although he shot 69 the first day he had 30 putts including two three-putts, compared to the score of 74 the following day which saw him through the pre-Q with 31 putts but only one three-putt. He informed me that his average for the year is 30.1.

Moving on to the 4-day qualifier at Pestana Pinta course, where for the most part his putting was impressive, Nick put up a stoic effort but did not manage to secure one of the all important top 5 spots. May be sour grapes but the Pinta greens were not too great either. The 16th particularly (played in a different order from the usual public layout) was prone to flooding and the surface was speckled. There were poor patches on other greens too. Pestana usually has better standards.

Well done - felicitaciones (2 Argentinians)- to the quintet of golfers who made their cards: Rafael Gomez, John Kemp, Paul Streeter, David Shacklady and Mauricio Molina.

I'M BACK DOWN IN AFRICA AND THE SA OPEN 2018

So I escaped the UK weather yet again and played Wingate Park, the stunning Woodhill GC in Pretoria and the superb and scenic Services GC in Centurion. I wrote about the beautiful and immaculate Woodhill last year (see below 2017) and this year I share photos of the green quality there and at Services GC - where I played a couple of rounds with the nephew of former ladies champion, Penny Grice Whittaker.

 

18th at Woodhill

 

Velvet practice green at Woodhill


Practice at Services


I also went along to watch as English player, Chris Paisley won the recently elevated Sunshine Tour flagship event BMW SA Open 2018 with a magnificent 21 under. The event is included in the European Tour's  Race to Dubai and the field included champions like Mike Weir, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

Jacques Blaauw practises from 6'

Matt Wallace aligns his putts


Jacques Blaauw did plenty putting practice  on 6' putts after making the cut on Friday and eventually tied fourth on -14. Matt Wallace, another Englishman I saw diligently practising his putting with a couple of gizmos, had a satisfactory 38th place finish. 

BRITISH SENIOR OPEN - JULY 2017

The weather at Royal Porthcawl in South Wales was brutal. Winds tore over the course at 35 mph and squalls and heavy rain battered the field. Links greens are notorious for drying out quickly and play continued in these challenging conditions. I was caddying for Mauricio Molina, a confident Argentinian player, newly turned 50 and making an impressive debut in Wales.

Carlos Franco practises

He spent lengthy periods on the putting green practising really long putts - a sensible drill considering the length of some of the greens round the course. His judgement of pace was superb. Mauricio appeared so relaxed over his putting - he kind of just addressed the ball and hit it with an easy strike. It was not a putt of beauty or technically precise but the outcome was nearly always there or there about! Casual, I would say!  Carlos Franco also looked pretty natural, easy and casual with his putting stroke during practice.

During the round Mauricio intently studied his upcoming putt from both ends and both sides, internalising each twitch the ball would make and each break the topography would cause. Wind too was a consideration and his careful judgement meant that he rolled the ball, if not in the hole, then inside 18" for a tap in. He made each putt look easy, no fuss. We lead on the first day, including a 12' putt for eagle on the 18th, and were still up there after the second round. Bernhard Langer, using his trademark long handled putter held away from his chest, came through to ultimately win.

SUMMER PUTTING AND GREEN READING - MAY 2017

In the Northern hemisphere we are now getting hot summer days, accompanied by some days of torrential, lashing rain. This reminds me to mention the fairly obvious, but sometimes overlooked fact that greens respond slightly differently whether they are dried out or damp. Practise before your round to ensure you have an idea of their speed. If they get baked dry then they obviously run much quicker and you can choose to allow for more break or roll firmly at the hole. So hard and fast greens. And if it suits your style, remember to keep your wrists unbroken.

I have also been checking out the videos from Vector putting. Now Vector Putting, LLC had some kind of legal wrangle with Aimpoint as their theories are along the same lines (intentional pun!). But I must say I like this clear and easy to understand 2 minute video about Vector putting.

For me there is no substitute for practising putting on a grass surface, enjoying nature and smelling the flowers as at Pyecombe, my Downland golf club in Sussex.


But if you need some confidence building using technical help, alignment gizmos, measurement of pace and roll then there are plenty of mats and training aids to choose from Wellputt.

Keeping putting simple for summer you may want to boost your confidence by checking out my short articles on 'Natural Putting' and 'The Putting Touch' at my other website; www.birdiespin.wordpress.com

 SERGIO'S WIN AT AUGUSTA MASTERS 2017

Sergio Garcia gana su chaqueta verde!

 



  

Sergio's claw grip

After an illustrious career to date, Sergio Garcia has finally broken into the 'Major' ranks with his amazing win over Justin Rose at the 2017 Augusta Masters.  The two of them left the chasing pack trailing for a thrilling finale. Both used the claw grip (shown in photo) for their putting. Justin Rose used the Aimpoint method to line up most of his putts before placing his hands in a 'claw' on his 'Flat Cat' putter grip. In the final round Rose had 29 putts - including a 3-putt - and Sergio has 32 putts. Both came in on three under for the day.

Rory McIlroy, tied 7th and also on 3 under for the day, interestingly never appears to take a practice putt during a round. He just steps up to his putt, places his putter behind the ball and strokes it.

Final day pin placements

Augusta National greens are notorious for their speed, swales and difficulty. Knowing and acting upon daily pin placements is paramount for the players. With Sergio's short iron accuracy he was able to land in the correct section of the green to get the ball to roll close so many times.

 

There are a couple of great Masters video clips here, on the Masters twitter site, of Sergio's two most memorable and exciting putts (for me) in that final round - the winning 14' putt for eagle on No 15 and his winning putt for birdie on the first play off hole. Check out el maestro at work.

So Sergio, recently lying 190th in the PGA Tour Stats, conquers Augusta greens which are arguably some of the toughest you'll find anywhere. The putts he missed hinted at doubt and, from the grass level slow-mo TV coverage, I spotted a slightly twisted and twitching putter face pushing the ball through to wobble off-line or come up short.  Those marvellous putts he rolled into the cup were with surety and conviction. Now a Masters Champion and now a master putter. Be cool and confident Sergio - you're on a roll!

 

BE CAREFUL REPLACING BALL ON GREEN - APRIL 2017

First Tyrell Hutton at the WGC-Dell Matchplay last month (click here for more)...and now LPGA player Lexi Thomson at the Rancho Mirage ANA Inspiration; Both have been hit hard by rules infringement while not replacing their ball with enough precision on the green.

On the 17th hole in the third round (Saturday) Lexi had apparently, unintentionally, replaced her ball an inch away from its original position, for a one foot putt.  She was not told about this until the following day during her final round. A TV viewer had phoned in to alert the rules officials who had to issue Lexi with four penalty points in total; two for the breach of rule 20-7c and two for signing a wrong score on her card. Naturally upset, Lexi, who is currently ranked second in the LPGA money list declared: "This is ridiculous.... Is this  a joke?"

 

 

 

The proposed rules changes for 2019 should alleviate such situations. Tweeted support for Lexi's predicament queried whether TV viewers should be involved in the game's rules.

 

PROPOSED RULE CHANGES - MARCH 2017

PuttingSmart has covered this exciting news about proposed rule changes on Some Rules Explained page. From here you can also  see how to contact the R&A or USGA to give your thoughts and opinions. Any changes are not due to happen until 1st January 2019.

BMW SA OPEN - JAN 2017

At the invitation of Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy was playing at Glendower in the 2017 SA Open, alongside Sir Nick Faldo and a generally strong and illustrious field.  Although Ernie and Nick didn't make the cut, I was lucky enough to be there on the final day and watch Graeme Storm hold his nerve with a putt on the 3rd play-off hole against Rory.

3rd Glendower - par 3 two-tier green with flag back left (water left)

 

As it was the final day the pin positions were tough - tucked near the edge of the green just beside the water and bunkers! The 3rd hole was over 200 yards, so finding the flag involved quite a bit of luck!

6th Glendower - par 3, hole front right


Then there was the 10th par 4 with a second shot over water. The pin was tucked behind the bunker at the front left and Rory, played safe and had a long putt from the right of the green.

Glendower 10th


Rory putting across the 10th green


Inspired by the pros, I went to play Waterkloof Golf course in Pretoria, where the pros will return for the Tshwane Open in early March 2017. I started on the tenth and to be honest I found these back nine holes quite unremarkable with 'easy' wide open fairways and big greens. The front nine was more of a test. And the greens were super slick.

Nice view from the practice green, Waterkloof.

 

The 18th Waterkloof.


 

 


WONDERFUL WOODHILL  - DEC 2016

Good putt. A local yellow mongoose encourages us.

Voted the best course in Pretoria 2016, I was lucky enough to join in a fourball with one of the resident pros, Andre. I thought the greens were in fantastic shape, like a Persian silk carpet. Yet Andre informed me that they were kept 'long' otherwise they would burn up in the fierce summer heat. Heavy rain falls almost daily in Pretoria often during the night, but not enough to stop burn. It keeps the greens green and lush. 

Par 3 sixteenth

We were forecast rain half way through our round, which in Africa usually means lightening storms that involve a rapid exodus from the course. However the sun shone, a light wind cooled us for eighteen holes and it was just perfect. 




This is an enjoyable parkland course to play - with numerous varieties of birds strolling across the fairways, beautiful indigenous bushveld and environmentally sensitive areas. It is built on the site of an old dairy farm and still has some attractive ruins of the old dairy buildings. The back nine is more wooded than the wider front nine which boasts views over Pretoria and beyond. The chance of spotting friendly mongeese sunning themselves and rabbits lolloping around the eighth hole wooded glade is inevitable.

There is some kind of theme going on for me in South Africa because this is another Peter Matkovich designed course (like Pinnacle Point and De Zazle below). It has some 'kind', wide fairways and some more challenging holes and nice scenery. Having played host to the a PGA Championship and a Ladies PGA Championship, and with its expansive greens, it is a test for every standard of golfer.

As for my game, I tend to keep shtum to my playing partners about hosting this putting website until I see how my putting is for the day! Well I rattled in more than half a dozen 8- 12 footers with confidence and so at the 19th I was able to tell them about puttingsmart.com! 

HEAVENLY CAPE COURSES - NOV 2016

I was blessed to experience the perfect, pristine putting greens at Pinnacle Point and Pezula Championship courses along the Garden Route in South Africa's Cape. Both were pretty and panoramic, posh and peachy! ...And both among the top rated courses in South Africa. Phenomenal.

At Pinnacle Point (Mossel Bay) I was lucky enough to play with Bertus Smit, winner of the Ryder Cup Wales Senior Open 2009. The 180+ degree sea views from the whole course were breathtaking with many putting greens backed by the stunning seascape of the Indian Ocean. 

This could be intimidating and playing for accuracy on the safe side of the green was a consideration for my level of golf. 

It is a wonderful course, with well maintained speedy greens that I can thoroughly recommend. Designed by Peter Matkovich in 2006 it is ecologically responsible boasting protected natural flora and fauna. It wends its way across the beautiful cliff top's hilly terrain.



Pezula Championship course is another phenomenal course with fantastic, true greens which were exciting and interesting. They each had unique challenges with swales and tiers, bumps and humps, surrounding hazards ... and distracting scenic views!




Each fairway lead you to a special and pristine green. That could be framed by European woodland or rolling parkland style, surrounded by 'fynbos' the spectacular natural shrubland or open links-style hummocks. Take a virtual tour here and witness the beauty for yourself.

Pezula Clubhouse, perched on a cliff top above Knysna Heads, also offers a friendly welcome from Jason Vermeulen. So if you need a lesson before tackling this stunning course this is the place to come.  www.pezulagolf.com 

De Zalze Golf course was my final course in the Cape. Rather spoilt from the two mentioned above I could describe this course as 'nice'! Maybe because it is inland. Nonetheless it had some great scenery. It is another Peter Matkovich design and really deserves more than simply 'nice' with its fabulous sweeping views over vineyards and mountains and the beautiful Blaauwklippen River making an appearance at several holes.



The layout takes you on a winding journey through the lovely De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate terrain and the putting greens are a breath of normality for the average golfer. The putting surfaces offer straightforward putting (what you see is what you get) and the attractive holes are varied and very enjoyable. Likewise the wine tastings that followed at the 19th!

NORTH DEVON IN NOVEMBER - 2016

Autumn at Libbaton

 

Wind at Libbaton


Leaves on the green


Royal North Devon (with sheep!)


I visited North Devon in November which should be a cold and frosty time of year in the UK. It was glorious! I played a friendly game at a nice parkland course, Libbaton, which had some very long par 4s. The leaves which were strewn on several greens (as in the photo) can be moved before taking your putt. Try not to touch the putting surface as you remove them though. In tournaments they often come out with the 'blowers' to keep the greens clear.

I didn't get to play at the celebrated Royal North Devon but we visited and met Head pro Mike Wilson who has a great putting site called Lose the Yips which is worth a visit for putting drills even if you don't have the yips! The RND course looked lovely in the sun, fairways kept short by the nibbling sheep. It claims to be the oldest course in England. I disputed this, citing Blackheath. Mike told me that RND still has the original course. And on the opposite side of the estuary is the famous Saunton Sands course....next time I intend to play both these enticing links courses!

UDINE ITALIAN SENIOR OPEN - OCT 2016

16th green, Udine

Well done Welshman, Stephen Dodd snaking a 15 foot big break right to left putt into the final hole at the Villaverde Resort in Udine for a 9-under win at the Senior Italian Open. The European Senior Tour event was scarred by torrential rain early in the week, leaving the course soggy but with remarkably resilient greens. Balls were plugging and had no or little run out, but the putting surfaces were quite true. I saw many lip-outs which strangely gathered pace after flirting with the hole, so judging pace to drop into the cup was necessary.

COUNTRY CLUBS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA - OCT 2016

Staying in Southern California I was lucky enough to get a chance to play the Newport Beach Country Club which had only days before seen 62 year old Jay Haas shoot the winning -16 over three days at the Toshiba Classic. The greens were still slick and the course in great condition. Birdi-able as you can see in the photo!

 

I visited some golf pros and came across a few more putting aids to share with you.

One here called the orange whip trainer is a practice putter with a bendy shaft which helps you practise tempo and pace in your stroke. This is so necessary for a true roll of the ball instead of a jerky collision against the ball. At the top of the shaft is a counterweight encouraging the 'push-roll' and holds back the wrists from forcing the stroke.

The curved face helps to make solid contact in the centre.


This whippy shaft helps a stroke to have natural acceleration without using your wrists. It trains your arms to swing in unison with the shaft.


 



 And here is a great little pocket-sized invention of elastic string and two small cleats that can be twisted into a practice putting green to provide a straight putt line to practise against.

 


Santa Ana Country Club is having a massive and impressive refurb! The whole of the course has been changed and redesigned by Jay Blasi, to reflect golf of the Golden Age. Charlie Wilde is doing a great job implementing this new look and it is looking fabulous so far. I hope I can get back to try it when it reopens.

Course still being prepared

 

Santa Ana pure putting surface


Interesting greens - still settling in


The grass used for the putting greens is a new Bent Grass called 'Pure Distinction' and  it fights the invasive Poa. The roots are 5"-6" deep. Chunks of turf are being cut and pasted to form the undulating and interesting greens, including a 'Biarritz' Green on the 8th which is a green featuring a deep swale bisecting it.

TOSHIBA CLASSIC - OCT 2016

Well Europe got beaten in the Ryder Cup! The number of times I heard the TV commentators refer to how it all comes down to the putting says a great deal about the importance of putts going in. ...And USA were sinking more than Europe.

Now today I have been to the attractive Newport Beach Country Club in Southern California with a host of past champions teeing it up in the Toshiba Classic. The greens were lightning fast and the best way to ensure the birdies was to spin the ball back to within a few feet of the hole.

Three putting happened for too many too much and hence their scores reflected this.  For those of us 'mere mortals' (amateurs) it is refreshing to know that pros cannot always guarantee 2-putts or less. Those who could guide their ball into the hole confidently had the advantage.

Jay Haas leads the tournament after two rounds with a super 15 under par. Last week he tied fourth for the 'one-putt percentage'. For those of you who love statistics take a look at the detailed PGA Tour of Champions putting stats which cover all sorts of variables.

Carlos Franco drained a 14 foot putt to 'save' bogey after an OB, three off the tee.

 

 

 

 

PRE RYDER CUP USA -2016

So sad to hear about legend, Arnold Palmer. What a great legacy he left in charisma, ability, example, achievement ... and quotes:  - "Putting is like wisdom - partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience." Here is another great saying of how to approach the great game: "...Concentration, confidence, competitive urge, capacity for enjoyment...."

I happen to be in California and getting the pre Ryder Cup TV from NBC. This year it will be played at Hazeltine National Golf Course Minnesota. Davis Love explains how putting is paramount to the team choices.

 

I have been lucky enough to play a few times into my trip so far. Shady Canyon in Southern California has some of the purest greens I have ever played/seen.  The grass was like a Persian carpet, flawless, lush and even. Then I tried out The Navy course, The Destroyer, which Tiger Woods grew up playing on. They were working on some greens and we had fun 'putting' over long grass on temporary uncut greens. The long grass was so unpredictable and sent the ball bouncing offline at different speeds which just reinforced that in nature it is tough to expect perfection of your every roll. The finished greens on the Destroyer course were in nice condition and enjoyable to play.

Here's a bit of action from the 2104 Ryder Cup to whet your appetite for the Hazeltine challenge.

 

HANBURY MANOR, WOBURN AND PARIS NATIONAL - AUG/SEPT 2016

So four weeks travelling with the European Senior Tour has meant too long away from my computer. However the talk and buzz and practise of putting never ceases. Hanbury Manor was a new and lovely course on our circuit with great putting facilities. Gary Marks took the trophy.

At Woburn, the Travis Perkins Masters some of the pros decided there was almost too much grass on the greens of the Duke's course and it affected the nap making it pretty tough to putt. The greens were very lush and well maintained, so not really a complaint! Well done Andre Bossert for a great win.

Le Golf National, Paris

Le Golf National just South West of Paris will host the 2018 Ryder Cup and many great players, including a dozen former Ryder Cup players were in the field for the inaugural Paris Legends Championship - won by Magnus Atlevi. It is a beautiful course with some tough greens to approach, bordered by water, bunkers and swales.


ARCHERFIELD PUTTING TIPS - JULY 2016

The 'Prostate Cancer Scottish Open' was held on the wonderful golf mecca East coast of Scotland, South of Edinburgh, which is overflowing with amazing courses such as North Berwick and Muirfield. The Senior tournament was at Archerfield, the relatively young dynamic course; situated within a beautiful estate and boasting fantastic views over the Firth of Forth. The clubhouse is elegant and friendly and the course, interesting and challenging. 

Drawn in the group with Ronan Rafferty, I witnessed his two starting rounds totalling 14 under par. It made me ponder the fact that sometimes putts just fall in from any distance, and for others, they can just lip out or stay a couple of inches short or hang on the edge (as they did for my player on the first day) - and that can make a huge difference to the score. Be patient, keep a smooth and solid roll and they will drop! Ronan's mantra, when coaching his amateur partner over a putt was: 'Look into the back of the cup... focus on the back edge of the hole'.

I spoke to another Irish legend, Eamonn Darcy, as he practised his putting pre tournament. His tip was to release the putterhead towards the hole....to imagine you are trying to send the putterhead towards the hole. This tip is sound as it should encourage you to continue your stroke with the putter face travelling solidly through the putt.

I had the chance to pass North Berwick on a hot and sunny day and was happy to see so many people - golfers and non-golfers - enjoying their time on the public links putting green that spreads along the seafront.

 

 

 


THE SENIOR BRITISH OPEN - JULY 2016

As usual there was a strong field of stars and champions at the British Senior Open. Only a couple of the guys nowadays using long putters. Bernhard Langer is one of those and I took some photos of his right-hand lead style as he maintains a gap between grip and body to avoid the 'illegal' anchoring.

 

 

 



I came across Holly Aitchison, an LET player who was touting the relatively new 'Greens' books. They detail every few inches of each green, supposedly helping your putting, enhancing your read and taking doubt away. I guess it helps confirm a putt line, but in my opinion nothing is better than a good study of the moment of the upcoming putt, informed intuition, natural feel and practised touch. Simplicity. Here are a couple of the pages so you can make your own mind up: Confusing, confirming, confidence building or creativity-supressing?

 


These uber-detailed plans cannot allow for pace and weather conditions but they chart every nuance at every turn. Such detail can be compiled using GPS, aerial mapping or manually with levelling devices.

I chatted with Russ, an old friend, who caddied for many years for Bob Charles. He told me that Bob's view is: "Putting is all feel...."

THE OPEN PUTTING - JULY 2016

As I write I am preparing to drive to Scotland for the Senior Open at Carnoustie. So just briefly, didn't Phil Mickelson do well with his 63 on the first day? Putts were rolling confidently into the heart of the hole... apart from that last lip-out which was a quirk of nature as Phil had made a great stroke in the right direction and with the right pace. Apparently he had been working on his 'touch', and that is a magical element of putting which will help you find the hole. Knowing you 'can' builds up confidence for the next shot; self-fulfilling prophesy.  

I browsed the stats for putting after the first day and there were a couple of impressive 23 putts for the round among the leaders. However, remember, on links courses, many players putt from off the green and this does not count towards their stats.

Here is a tip from one of the best. Tom Watson once said: "A putt cannot go in the hole if it's short. I'd rather face a four-footer coming back than leave the ball on the front lip." So get that ball to the hole.

EUROPEAN SENIOR TOUR: SWITZERLAND AND GERMANY - EARLY JULY 2016

I am just back from caddying in Europe in hot weather with intermittent rain and, in Germany, gusty winds. First in the beautiful Swiss resort of Bad Ragaz where Tim Thelan won on a score of -10. The putting greens were fairly 'true' influenced by the mountains and rivers that surrounded the pretty course. One of our playing partners claimed his ball had moved a tad as he approached his putt. With Johnson's recent debacle in mind (see below) he called a ruling. He hadn't caused it to move - no penalty. Finished. On the practice green a little hole was cut with a notice of how to complete a drill (see photo).

We moved from the relaxation of Switzerland to the regulation of Germany, an attractive area of lakes and woodlands north-east of Hamburg. WinstonGolf welcomed us onto their inland 'links' course. David Krause's design looks a bit like a lunarscape with pointed sandy-dirt mounds bordering each hole. The undulating fairways and fescue grass greens, each with swales and humps resembling an unmade bed, were challenging and splendid to play. Home-grown Bernhard Langer tied third but claimed he didn't make enough putts in his second round despite an under par score. Well done Andrew Oldcorn for an 8 under par playoff win.

MY GOLF IN SUSSEX/SURREY - JUNE 2016

I played a friendly match at Tyrrells Wood outside Leatherhead, just neighbouring the much anticipated new elite Cherkley Court golf resort on Lord Beaverbrook's magnificent estate.  Tyrrells Wood is a pleasant parkland course but I didn't sink many putts and lost - just! And I had time to fit in a pro-am round on a favourite of mine - a municipal course, Seaford Head, with its stunning views over the Channel. I must have been inspired as I putted well here.

 

 

EUROPEAN SENIORS IN WALES AND JERSEY - JUNE 2016

To start off the year on the European Seniors Tour we headed for Celtic Manor in Wales. It was Lianwei Zhang who conquered the Robert Trent Jones designed Roman Road course, three ahead of the field on 12 under par. The hilly course is characterised by sloping greens which had been prepared with super slippery surfaces!

I was drawn to looking over at the rather fun mini golf, putting challenges which ran beside the 13th hole. Although teeming with children, there is a challenge there for more eager putters too. There were two themed areas of nine holes; 'The Celtic Challenge' and the 'Kingdom of Legends' which claimed to replicate in miniature some famous golf holes of the world.

Celtic Challenge

 

Kingdom of Legends

 

Then the senior players and their caddies headed for the island of Jersey for the next event. La Moye Course is an old faithful on the schedule and a real gem, semi links, usually windy and mostly warm and sunny. A couple of months prior to out arrival the greenkeeper wrote ..."the greens and surrounds where the Poa Annua in the sward remains dormant and weak whilst the finer Fescues and Bents have begun growing and showing better colour and health."  It is a pleasant, well maintained course with lovely views and plenty of challenges with opportunities for eagles. Gordon Manson won after three rounds, on ten under par.

 

2016 US OPEN CHAMPION DUSTIN JOHNSON - A WORTHY WINNER

 19th June 2016 US Open Oakmont CC - His first Major title at stake, Dustin Johnson lightly gripped his Scotty Cameron prototype putter and stood over his TaylorMade Tour Preferred X ball. He faced a 4' slippery left to right sliding putt on the 72nd, the final hole, while clinging to a disputed two- or three-shot lead. This was a similar 4' left to right slider putt to that which he had in 2015 to be in a playoff with Jordan Speith and which he missed, three putting from 12' to go from possible victory to defeat.

Anyhow thankfully this year, 2016, he held his nerve and holed it, winning his first Major with a 4-under-par 276. But his disputed margin of victory due to a possible penalty stroke had hung over Johnson for the final couple of hours of play and could have easily disrupted his round.

At the par four, fifth hole (for which he eventually recorded a bogey) his ball, on the putting green, was deemed to have perhaps/possibly/maybe/unconfirmed/disputably/arguably/dissentingly 'rotated' a couple of millimetres as he prepared to putt. Johnson told the official with sincerity, what he believed happened: "I didn't make the ball move." His playing partner, Lee Westwood saw it "...we agreed," Johnson said. But six holes later as Johnson stood on the 12th tee, USGA officials approached him to say that they would review the ruling after the round, leaving him in score limbo. "There was nothing I could do about it..." Johnson said, "...let's just focus on this next shot. And that's what I did all the way to the house." USGA officials finally made a decision about the 'ball at rest moved' after his round, claiming a potential violation of rule 18.2 (see below). But for those final couple of hours, it must have preyed on Dustin's mind a bit, reminding him of a ruling in 2010 after his round in the PGA Championship which, with a 2 shot penalty, had cost him a chance to playoff.

Johnson's 2016 US Open cool 4' closing birdie on the final 18th made the USGA's final ruling somewhat irrelevant - they enforced a penalty stroke because after studying video footage they claimed it was a 51% or greater chance that he caused the ball to move. Johnson scored a 69, not 68, for a 4-under par total - still a massive achievement on such a demanding course with lightning fast greens and cruel pin positions. His previous experience of often disintegrating putting in the closing stages of a tournament had been put to rest. His ability to deal with unsettling issues and keep his focus has been conquered. And now he is a worthy Major winner. Congratulations DJ!

Rule 18: Ball at rest moved ....18.2 By player, partner, caddie or equipment 

Except as permitted by the Rules, when a player's ball is in play, if

(i) the player, his partner or either of their caddies:

  • lifts or moves the ball
  • touches it purposely (except with a club in the act of addressing the ball), or
  • causes the ball to move, or

 

(ii) the equipment of the player or his partner causes the ball to move, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.

If the ball is moved, it must be replaced, unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the  stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.  (...etc)

FROM SERIOUS FUN TO VIRTUAL FUN - May 2016

It was raining (really!) in Southern England so I popped up to pay a visit to a couple of places in Surrey. First I visited putting coach, Paul Williams, at Horne Park Golf Centre, in his indoor putting studio and chatted about the benefits of the Quintic system which measures ball roll as well as data from the putterhead. Paul is a very personable and PGA qualified coach who I feel sure could help you reduce your putt stats.

The rain got heavier (yep, that's England in May!) and I darted into 'LetsGolf' at Horley to have fun on the simulators. You can have much fun playing virtual courses around the world. But what I didn't know was that there is a specific putting practice selection on these big screen 3D simulators which allows you to have 7' - 53' putts. You are given the topography of the putting green and distance. The data records shot distance, ball speed and club path for each putt. And Steve Furlonger, PGA coach, is able to book you a lesson to perfect your performance. 

 

TORRENTIAL RAIN AT PGA SENIORS ... AND iPING FIT PUTTING TOOL - May 2016

Mid May saw Scot, Rob Arnott win the 54-hole Silversea Senior PGA Professional Championship at Foxhills Resort in Surrey. But the tournament got off to a damp start with a deluge bringing an abrupt end to the start of the event and torrential rain relentlessly flooding the courses. So congratulations not only to Rob but to the greens staff who fought back with squeegees to move water from the putting surfaces. The greens on both the Longcross and Bernard Hunt courses were in tip-top condition and ready to play early next morning after the unscheduled 20 hour delay to proceedings.

The delay afforded me time to visit nearby Silvermere's golf facility where they have three outside practice putting greens; a regular lawn by the first tee, an all-weather synthetic area and a fun-for-all landscaped course as you enter. Inside the massive golf store is a private putting studio where they use the iPING putter fitting tool that identifies your stroke type, analyses your impact angle, and measures your tempo. The wireless, go-anywhere iPING app is free to download for anyone, and is used in conjunction with a cradle (about £30) which is for iPhone 4/4s. It is a smart putting improvement gizmo which clips to your putter shaft for practice and records consistency in impact angle and tempo.

STUARD 'PUTTING FOR DOUGH' - MAY 2016

New Orleans was alive with the sound of putts going in last week at the Zurich Classic, TPC Louisiana. 33 year old pro, Brian Stuard knew he "...had a good feel for it..." as he showcased his new Odyssey Marxman Fang Tank putter. He won the PGA tournament in a three-way playoff.

Stuard, who incidentally had managed 395 holes without a three putt, only had 21 putts in round one. On the second hole he sank a 33' putt and on the twelfth he saved par with another 30+' putt. "It was one of those days where it seemed like I was really reading the putts well and luckily they were going in." Out of 44 putts which he faced inside ten feet, 44 rolled into the hole. Amazing Brian! You certainly put on the 'putting for dough' show!

And talking of dough, here is a most wonderful birthday cake for Eddie's birthday. Happy 40th Birthday Eddie Concannon. I wonder if there is a ball in the middle of the cake? Don't take too many slices....just a cut!

 

 

 

 PUTTING IN CENTRAL LONDON - APR 2016

If you work in London you might find it difficult to get to practise as much as you like. But with several basement facilities springing up in Central London, near offices, you have an ideal opportunity to keep your putting honed in your lunch break or after work... and link that with a lively bar atmosphere where you can grab a drink or two with your mates. Not only do qualified pros offer swing and diagnostic lessons on simulators and golf instruction, but there are artificial greens available to putt on.

I visited two such facilities; City Golf at 40 Coleman Street (opposite the Bank of China) and Urban Golf at 12 Smithfield Street (opposite Smithfield market).

Liam McCrossan, the enthusiastic Director of Golf Instruction at the Coleman Street City Golf showed me the facility. I tried the outdoor putting green, funnelled between buildings (which gives some protection from inclement weather) and narrows your focus. We estimated it to run at 7-8 stimp and I was able to sink a couple of 24 feet putts straight off!

The Smithfield Urban Golf had a party on when I was there. There were knots of people gathered in the simulator bays, spilling out, drinks in hand, creating a very lively buzz....but no one on the centre piece indoor putting green. I tried the left hand putter and the right hand putter which were readily available by the green side.

So no excuses for working too hard with no play. City grafters can get membership of one of these places and schedule practice in your busy work routine. 

TOUGH GREENS AT THE MASTERS 2016

Watching the TV coverage of day 3 of the 2016 Masters it seemed to be a compilation of putting clips. Some golfers experiencing extreme good fortune and others extreme bad luck. Augusta National is famed for its fast and undulating greens even without adverse weather. There was an strong north-west wind blowing, gusting to 25 mph and making the putting conditions particularly slippery and tough; very difficult to read and tricky to judge.

It was such a shame to watch Ernie Els six putt on the first hole on the first day at Augusta National. It was a shame to see so many guys 4 putting out there. These are some of the best players in the world so it just goes to show how cruel these greens are.

I felt very sorry watching Justin Thomas on the exposed 7th green putting for par from about 8 feet. He made a good stroke but the ball slithered past the hole and continued for another 40- 45 feet. ...At least he then had an uphill putt!

It was a very unfavourable rule that meant Billy Horschel had to drop out of a water hazard after a solid approach to a flattish area within 10 feet of the flag on the par five 15th hole. He had marked his ball on the green, waited for his partner to putt and then replaced his ball to assess his birdie putt only to watch the wind send it trickling down the bank into the water before he had a chance to address it.  He accepted the situation very bravely and continued calmly. 

Congratulations to Danny Willett on a truly focussed and 'in-the-zone' performance.

If you want to know more about how to achieve 'in-the-zone' check out this link: https://birdiespin.wordpress.com/in-the-zone/ 

IT'S NEVER OVER TILL THE LAST GOLFER SWINGS - 20 MAR 2016

 Have you got your plan ready for the season? Don't amble aimlessly along, rather have a practice plan, a putting improvement goal, and press towards it. Always be prepared to refresh your putting stroke with correct and positive ideas; there is always more you can do. I am thinking about mental practice and attitude to winning. Sometimes you get despondent and think you are not doing well, thinking 'this putt won't make a difference to my bad score'. Keep forging ahead until you have sunk the last putt with confidence.

Whether or not you are familiar with the Bible, there is a great quote in Philippians 3-13 'But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.' If you have had a bad round so far, keep your concentration. The shot you are on is the one that matters so give it your best. If you have had a great round so far, keep your concentration without letting your thoughts stray ahead. The shot you are on is the one that matters. Strive until you are over the finish line. Don't celebrate early as the athlete in this clip did! 

 

 

SPGU SEAFORD BLATCHINGTON PRO AM - 18 FEB 2016

From time to time I am 'official' starter for the SPGU - Sussex Professional Golfer Union - and was able to chat with some awesome club pros who occasionally venture out from their club lessons and coaching duties to play themselves.

Jason Partridge Head PGA pro from Piltdown told me about recently shooting a score of 64 (Par 70 course) - six under - after hitting seventeen greens. However, stats will be stats and he had a less impressive 30 putts! Which is still pretty fine by average standards, but imagine how low he could have gone with fewer putts. Which, as mentioned by puttingsmart 'Statistics',  shows just how unreliable stats can be as a reflection of your play! Jason also impressed me with a story of matchplay where he had and amazing SEVEN putts in nine holes much to the dismay of his opponent who was beaten quite soon after the turn.

Alan Harrison, PGA club pro, told me how, on approaching a putt, he first visualises a straightforward line for the ball to the hole. Then he considers any factors that may take it off that line, like slope or borrows.

This SPGU pro am event was won Charles Giddins and his team. Charles provided puttingsmart with the great practice tip you will find here. So if you are in the UK and want a fabulous indoor practice mat to practise like a pro, contact Charles. 

SENIOR TOUR QUALIFYING SCHOOL 2016 - 28 JAN - 4 FEB 2016

18th Gramacho

This is always an eventful week as there are two stages and a cut. Pestana Golf in the Algarve presents its courses (Pinta, Silves and Gramacho) nicely and it is down to the weather as to whether the greens are rock-skid hard or receptive. First stage, Gramacho Course, has some huge greens including the massive 195 foot wide 18th.

 

I took time out in between stages to visit the Lagos ProPutting Garden. It was closed but looked quite inviting. A place where you could entertain the family and get some serious rolls going on some of the 30-40 foot holes. Artificial grass, but mostly solid practice holes.

 

The final stage of the Q school was on the Pinta Course. The strong gusting wind affected putting on the final day. I watched Chilean, Angel Fernandez battle and three-putt the tenth hole from five foot. But that said he had only 27 putts - statistically good - in his fairly solid, 6-over round. Scores had disintegrated in the gale and only two in the field managed under par rounds that day. Barry Conser and Gary Marks (well done) were the only two to finish under par for the four-day tournament.

Canadian Ken Tarling and amateur Brad Smith played off for fifth spot. One ending above the hole on the seventeenth (play-off hole) and one below - putts of similar length, about 35 feet. Ken, putting uphill, by far had the advantage as Brad saw his seemingly unstoppable ball slide down the slope, way passed the pin.

Ken Tarling putt - 17th Pinta Course

Brad Smith putt 17th Pinta Course

ABU DHABI HSBC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP 21-24 JANUARY 2016

I had a great first day at the tournament, hanging out at the putting green to watch the intense practice of the pros. Lee Slattery was using a large pin and thread to putt down the target line, set up allowing for the break to the hole.

 

 

 

 Danny Willett (a couple of months prior to becoming Masters champion!) was using this Paul Hurrion's arched device (shown) for direction accuracy.

 


 

 

 


  

On the course I watched Ben Evans pitch a ball to within three feet from just under a hundred yards out on the eighth hole. Great shot Ben, making for an easy birdie.

 

 

 

Darren Clarke practised a 'round the clock' style drill after his round. I watched how he used his forearm to secure the putter (which had a long shaft/grip) and keep it moving in tandem with his arms. Because his putter is at an angle at address, I believe it has 7-8 degrees loft to compensate.

 

 

 

 

Thank you Paula Creamer for a very interesting clinic. It was a shame we didn't have time for the putting element which she was keen to share with us. Tim Henman, who plays off a handicap of plus one, showed us his solid long drive and mentioned that his putting was no good. Hey, Tim - if you play off plus one you must be doing something right! Positive thinking....

 

 

 

 

 JOHANNESBURG OPEN - 14-17 JANUARY 2016

At the putting green during the Johannesburg Open I watched English player, Ben Evans, using a putting aid which he attributed to fellow competitor, Australian, Jason Scrivener. Another alignment device; a T-shape to encourage keeping the putter head square and rolling the ball 'down the line'.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, on the course, Ernie Els was scoring well although I thought he looked a little uncomfortable over his putts. Due to the recent ruling he has had to forgo his long putter and use a standard putter.

However, on the par three 16th hole he made a great downhill putt towards the water. He judged the pace well and left his ball pin-high, level with the hole.

 

PUTTING ALIGNMENT TOOLS - 7-10 JANUARY 2016

The Big Easy ...with me!

 I have just been to the European Tour, BMW South African Open at the beautiful Glendower Golf course in Johannesburg. Thank you pro, Neville Clarke for accompanying us. You  seemed to know everyone!

I had the pleasure of meeting the legendary Ernie Els and finding out about his new charity project www.elsforautism.com

 

  

 I watched the guys practise putting, avidly and with mighty concentration and determination to roll the best and stroke the best. One caddy was holding his player's head 'still' while the shoulders rocks. Others had alignment sticks laid on the surface and here are another couple of alignment tools I spied....

 



Christiaan practises prior to the third round

 Christiaan Bezuidenhout came second on 12 under...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ... while Brandon Stone won (congratulations!), two shots better, and carding 27 birdies in 72 holes! 

The pin position on the 18th hole, final day. It had a 'rise' just behind the hole.

 

FLORA AND FAUNA IN MAURITIUS - DECEMBER 2015

The European Senior Tour finished its year on the beautiful Island of Mauritius at the Constance Belle Mare Plage Legends Course. I caddied for Luis Carbonetti.

We were lying third after the first round, having shot 68. We had Colin Montgomerie in front of us and witnessed his amazing hole-in-one at the 166 yard 17th. He went on to win the tournament. 

The flora and fauna were magnificent.

Indigenous Flamboyant tree behind the putting green

 

The herd of deer were never far away. Hoof prints on the greens had to be dealt with!


 

Ceasr Monasterio putting during a practice round

 

 

Monty approaching the 18th green on the final day.