I received a lovely email today from someone who had recently discovered the website and he suggested I write something about my future golf plans. As 2019 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting year in my golfing life I’m delighted to do just that. I also thought I would take the opportunity to look back at some of my 2018 highlights. So, thanks Bill for the email and here goes!
Dutch golf needs to be seen to be believed
My trip to the Netherlands back in May was a real highlight of the year. The people were lovely, the courses magnificent and the travelling time between venues made for a very easy trip. The courses were great value too. Utrecht is a world top 100 course for me.
Scotland’s top three courses are hard to beat
Turnberry has vaulted up several top 100 lists to become the number 1 in both Scotland and the UK. I played it for the first time since the changes this year and thought it was phenomenal. However, off the course it is hard to get away from the spectre of Trump and all that that brings. Rounds at St Andrews in March and Muirfield in December reminded me just how wonderful the top Scottish courses are. Neither of those may have the sheer spectacle of Turnberry but, as far as I’m concerned, they haven’t abdicated their top slots completely.
A day trip from London will bring golfing wonders!
We did it as a few days trip but you could just hop on a train from Waterloo station and be teeing it up at Swinley Forest or Sunningdale with an hour or so. I had been looking forward to these two heathlands courses and they didn’t disappoint. What I loved about them was the sheer playability. That Geoff Ogilvy knows a thing or two...
I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers
There have been several ways that I have been grateful to the golfing community in 2018. Following on from my Swinley experience I reached out to a few of the golfing personalities I admire to share their favourite golf courses and was amazed at how generous they were with their time and insights. I will gather them in one place soon but for now just click on their names to read the top tens from Messrs Clayton, Shackelford, Doak, Goss, Gallant, Solomon, Shipnuck, Blair, Mclay Kidd, Herman and Oliver.
Many readers have written to me over the year with kind words of encouragement, offers to host me for a game and sharing thoughts for blogs and trips and I’m grateful to all of them. I’m looking forward to taking a few of you up on your offers in 2019!
And as for my golf…
I won’t pretend that my handicap has tumbled but I think I may be enjoying my golf more than ever. I have struggled off the tee for a long time and that seems to have been sorted out (for the time being). A key reason for that must be the Ping G400 Max I added to my bag a few months ago. It is definitely the most forgiving club I’ve ever used from the tee.
I’ve also decided to give up trying to use on-course technology to track my rounds for stats purposes. Arccos, Gamegolf and Shotscope have all come and gone but were proving too distracting on the golf course. Going forward I’m turning to good old paper and pen with Golfshake so hopefully that’s one less thing to think about on the course.
Courses played in 2018
It’s not been a bad year for me course-wise, although there are still plenty left to go after! This year I played - Archerfield Fidra and Dirleton (home courses), Trump Dubai, Saadiyat Golf Course, Yas Links (academy course at night), Streamsong Blue, The Old Course, North Berwick, Maison Blanche, Utrecht de Pan, Kennemer, Royal Hague, Noordwijske, PGA Catalunya, West Sussex, Swinley Forest, Sunningdale Old. Sunningdale New, Walton Heath, Muirfield.
And the year ahead....
I’m really looking forward to 2019 for several good reasons! I am making a trip to Melbourne with two good friends to play some of the courses I have spent years reading about. All being well we will make it to Royal Melbourne East and West, Kingston Heath, Metropolitan, St Andrew’s Beach, National, Barnbougle Dunes, Lost Farm, Cape Wickham and Ocean Dunes. The logistics of organising golf in Australia isn’t easy - online booking isn’t an innovation they have widely embraced and visiting windows are narrow - but a big thanks to everyone who has offered advice and help. I can’t wait to fight the jet lag on the first tee of Cape Wickham on March 6th!
That will be the main trip of the year but I’ve also got a German jaunt in the works (I really want to see Falkenstein but any other recommendations gratefully received) and need to fill in some other holes in my UK repertoire, including Prestwick which featured in many of the ‘Favourite courses’ lists.
I also need to post about some of the areas I have played golf in but which have yet to make it onto this site. South Africa and Spain in particular stand out like sore thumbs but life has proved too busy to get them written up so far. My New Year’s resolution is to correct that in 2019.
Finally, a big thanks to my wife, Clare. Not also does she proof-read all of my articles before I post, to help make them vaguely readable, she also lets me indulge my passion for this glorious game - I know I’m a lucky, lucky man!