Saturday 19th May
With an early start and a long day of travel and golf ahead tomorrow, my latest blog is published a day early today.
You can read Part 1 of my top 10 most terrifying golf holes in Norfolk here.
Also today when attempting to talk some sense into my Driver, or actually threatening to snap it in two, I noticed that it was not on the setting that I had thought. Whilst you do need a degree these days to understand all of the custom options, this is a rookie error but might go some way to explain my poor form with this club.
Friday 18th May
My first match-play defeat of the season as my partner and I slipped to a comfortable 3 & 2 defeat when representing Norfolk Secretaries against our East Anglian counterparts. Kudos to the team at host Club Newton Green who did a great job in presenting the course and the catering was excellent.
I am pretty frustrated by my own performance but the great news is that the worse I play, the more I learn.
Thursday 17th May
Communities are the lifeblood of membership retention – friendship, regular golf and routine all keep people connected to the Club and ensure good value for their membership fees. But allowing any single group to have a disproportionate influence or amount of tee bookings can be hugely detrimental to the health of any Club.
How to keep the balance? Not easy and no single answer but ensuring there are regular ‘whole Club’ events including Juniors, Ladies, Gents and Seniors playing together must be part of the perfect scenario.
Wednesday 16th May
Although my stroke average and golf results so far this year have been generally good, I have been frustrated by my consistency or lack of with my Driver – I have often opted for my 3Wood from the tee.
When faced with such challenges, my defacto response has always been to tinker with my technique. This has often led to the situation getting worse, as I was reminded at the Driving Range tonight. Fortunately I have read the wonderful work of Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott (google their books – they are great) enough to remind myself that Balance, Tempo and Tension (BTT) are the building blocks of great shot-making. For me,a smooth, easy tempo during my pre-shot routine is key to achieve great BTT throughout my swing.
And so with 4 rounds across 4 courses and 3 counties in the next 5 days, creating this easy rhythm to my set-up will be my main thought. Lets see how I get on – I am up for the challenge.
Tuesday 15th May
Currently sitting near the top of my in-tray is data protection regulation, insurance schedules and renewal of the lease for some land we own. Who says the life of a Golf Club Manager is not rock n’ roll!
Monday 14th May
Published my first tournament review today – a recap of the PLAYERS Championship from Sawgrass. I wanted to test myself as a journalist would with a deadline to meet. I will repeat for the other major events on the US & PGA Tours. Although the pressure of a deadline was the exact opposite reason that I decided to start the website, I actually quite enjoyed it.
Sunday 13th May
Played my first ‘competitive’ match-play fixture in 2018 today. I am sure that sports psychologists would recommend a more ‘in-your-face’ fist-pumping attitude when compared to stroke-play. In my younger days, this felt natural, but with less to prove these days such ‘gamesmanship’ does not feel right.
Anyway, a relaxed outlook seemed to work OK today, with a 5&4 victory moving us through to the 2nd Round.
Saturday 12th May
Took Evie to the Race for Life 5k ‘Muddy Kids’ run today. Great fun.
What struck me most was the incredible atmosphere – so much laughing and fun – and if anybody was struggling, there was always somebody there to encourage, cajole and support.
I can’t help thinking that this is how it should be at Golf Clubs. We do occasionally create similar conditions, but too often get bogged down in details and perhaps forget to enjoy the moment and realise how lucky we are.
Friday 11th May
Another day of work on the upcoming GDPR – Data Protection Policy, Internal Standards Statement, Data Breach Policy, Data Processing Register and Data Breach Register all compiled ready to explain to the Club Officers next week.
Thursday 10th May
Got the draw through for the GCS Open Championship at Formby in 10 days time. Very excited to be playing with Stuart Leech, the GM at Formby who also happens to be a scratch golfer. What a great learning opportunity to be alongside such a good player on their home track. It will be an incredible chance to benchmark my game. I cannot wait.
Wednesday 9th May
Was there ever a more dry subject than data protection? Been working through the details of the upcoming GDPR deadline – there is a huge amount of information available but given that we do not know how the ICO will apply a number of areas until after the 25th May start date, much of the detail is frustratingly grey.
My suspicion is that there will be whole industry generated by the new regulations including much work for the ‘no-win, no-fee’ type lawyer. It is therefore important that all businesses take the time to work through their policies and procedures to ensure compliance.
Tuesday 8th May
My next blog will be delayed until early next week to allow my first tournament review – of the PLAYERS Championship from Sawgrass. In other content, I will be focusing on a course that sits high on the hill above one of my favourite places in the UK – the spectacular city of Bath. Look out for photographs and a full course review of Bath Golf Club in the coming days.
Monday 7th May
Not really sold on the idea of GolfSixes as played over the week-end by the European Tour at Centurion Golf Club. Seemed a bit gimmicky and uncool. And using one of the most exclusive Golf Clubs in the country to promote non-exclusivity is just a joke. Take away the free tickets to schoolkids and the number of spectators would also have been minimal.
The one aspect that was fantastic was the inclusion of the women’s teams – both of which made the quarter-finals. Surely this can be done more – and in a format that does not water down the game so much.
Sunday 6th May
Managed a quick 18 at RCGC with the father-in-law. Was lovely to play in short sleeves. I very rarely keep score during practice rounds these days, preferring instead to use them as extended practice sessions. It was a useful tune-up for a busy period of competitive golf later in the month.
Saturday 5th May
Fascinating to follow the unfolding saga being played out in the media from Cottrell Park Golf Club. As far as I can tell, the timeline goes something like:
- Lady member that works Monday to Friday objects to amount of men only tee slots on a Saturday. Brings motion to change policy to the AGM, which gets rejected by the membership.
- Media storm breaks out
- Owner of the facility digs out a forgotten bye-law from 1998 that allows ladies to play anytime on a Saturday.
- As there have been a number of rule book updates since 1998, the members committee state that the 1998 bye-law no longer applies. An EGM is called with a couple of options to provide more equal opportunities for ladies on the week-end. All motions are rejected by the meeting.
- The owner states that as there is no record of the 1998 bye-law being overturned and the recent EGM did not affect this law specifically, then it was technically still in place.
It will obviously be interesting to see the membership committees next move. It strikes me that the whole thing is a farce and painting Golf Clubs as outdated both in values and structure.
I would seriously question the competence of the membership committees Chairperson. It is blatantly obvious that they need to sit down with the owner to find a solution that allows females equal access on the week-ends. Part of me wishes that the lady member in question would take the matter to court to ensure the whole game gets a necessary shake-up.
Friday 4th May
As a manager, one of the best feelings is when your team is working at near capacity, things are running smoothly, complications are met with heart and compassion and customers have an awesome experience.
And so it was today, with Pro-Shop, Bar Staff, Office, Greenstaff, Catering and Starter working in unison to present RCGC at its best on a sunny Friday with members and visitors from all over the country enjoying their day.
Thursday 3rd May
Remarkable turn of events at Cottrell Park Golf Club in Wales, where the members called an EGM to overturn the owners decision to allow women to play in tee-times previously reserved for men on Saturday mornings.
Not surprisingly this is all over social media and news websites. Legal action under the Equality Act is being threatened. If it does go to court, maybe it could act as a welcome game changer in the quest for equality.
Read more about this story here.
Wednesday 2nd May
Had a surprise visit yesterday from Hubert Mayer, a German photographer who just happens to be Bernard Langer’s cousin. Hubert is in the UK working for the German PGA and visiting the ‘hidden gems’ to play and photograph.
Hubert enjoyed the course and we look forward to seeing his photos.
Tuesday 1st May
Well so far this year we have had oodles of rain, the Beast from the East and days of sea fog. Our three biggest events of the year so far – the European Amateur Golf Tour, the Sponsored Am-Am and the BREAK Charity Day have all been affected one way or another. CAN WE PLEASE JUST GET THE SEASON STARTED?!
Monday 30th April
The last day of April and Rain,Rain,Rain. A months worth of precipitation in one day and things are very wet in Norfolk. The combination of Spring Tides and strong Northerly winds also brings the chance for coastal flooding and erosion. Hopefully everybody stays safe and no coastal houses (or golf holes) are lost to the sea.
Sunday 29th April
I love golf courses that have a unique quality to them – if I can recognise a course from a single photo then I think that is a good thing.
My blog this week highlights courses from Hampshire, Glouctershire and Lincolnshire that make my top 3 most quirky courses in England. They are so much fun to play – but you have to take a sense of humour!
Read the blog here.
Saturday 28th April
Booked to play in the GCMA National Golf Day at Broadstone Golf Club near Bournemouth in June today. Cannot wait to play a course that I have wanted to see for ages. Will try to combine it with a game at Parkstone for an excellent trip.
Friday 27th April
RCGC allows three externally run Charity events on the course each year and today we hosted 24 teams of 4 playing in aid of BREAK. These events always create a special atmosphere and despite constant rain, all players made it round to the finish and helped to raise a significant amount for the great cause.
Thursday 26th April
Attended an interesting seminar at the GCMA National Conference last year regarding politics in the workplace, and nowhere is this more relevant than a members golf club. With a carousal of volunteers from all backgrounds joining and leaving committees, it is a minefield for any secretary/manager to tiptoe across.
In my experience, all Clubs structure themselves slightly differently, but no matter the exact size or make-up of the committee, the key to success lies in combining supportive volunteers with talented and well-trained professionals.
Wednesday 25th April
Say what you like about Facebook – but it is certainly a marketing powerhouse. Placed a recruitment advert for a bar assistant on the paid ads today and got almost instant results. No wonder newspapers are struggling for revenue.
Tuesday 24th April
Without a bottomless pit of cash and with only a limited number of income streams all golf clubs face the difficult choice of what major items of expenditure to prioritize.
RCGC has been very successful by focusing its major investment each year on course development and I don’t see that changing for a few years yet.
Monday 23rd April
With a mini-break in my competitive golf outings, it gives me a chance to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of my game to obtain a focus for my practice. My proximity to the hole figures for 2018 make some interesting reading:
- 0-25yds – 8.2ft
- 25-50yds – 25.8ft
- 50-75yds – 19.5ft
- 75-100yds – 23.4ft
- 100-150yds – 29.6ft
- 150-200yds – 42.4ft
It is pretty clear that I have a weakness from 25-50yds and so I will devote some practice time to these distances.
Sunday 22nd April
Had a lot of fun writing my blog this week. It is all about the self-talk that goes on in my head as I am playing golf. I hope that a lot of golfers can relate and that it makes you laugh.
Saturday 21st April
Happy to say that the General Meeting passed smoothly last evening. Always a relief as there is a terrific amount of work that goes into it. Also it tends to mark the start of the part of the golfing season where the bigger events are held and lots of visitors are coming to the Club which adds an extra element to the atmosphere.
Friday 20th April
Managed to get out of the office for a break at lunchtime today and took a trip into town. Cromer was looking lovely in the sunshine.
Thursday 19th April
Finally the weather allows for shirt sleeves and social media is awash with photos of sunny golf courses. Here is one more from RCGC…..
Wednesday 18th April
Played the latest round of the Yarmouth Pairs today. Was lovely to play in the sunshine and warm temperatures. Found concentration hard as thinking about work a lot this week due to General Meeting – but had made a commitment to play and still enjoyed it. Played nicely on the back 9 to salvage a score.
Tuesday 17th April
Preparing for the General Meeting. This year we will be giving out some graphs to highlight income and expenditure changes during the last 10 years. Interesting to see the trends – with visitor green fees becoming ever more important to the business model.
Monday 16th April
This week always feels transitional within the year as it finishes with the Finance General Meeting and also as the number of visitors starts to increase after the winter. With the weather forecast looking positive for the first time this year hopefully it really will mark the start of a fresh season.
Sunday 15th April
Visited Sheringham Park for a walk with the family today. We are lucky to have a number of fantastic National Trust properties within a short drive. Whilst the low cloud prevented the fantastic views across to Sheringham Golf Club, the rhododendrons were starting to flower – perhaps Spring is just around the corner after all.
Saturday 14th April
Managed to have a little time to myself today for the first occasion for ages. Enjoyed a little reading and also writing my blog for publication tomorrow.
Friday 13th April
Posted my review of Hunstanton today – a serious golfer’s Links course.
The leaderboard of courses is building up and shows that many tracks are closely matched with just a small number of percentage points between them. This is not surprising as many of the courses that I have rated feature in prominent top 100 lists.
The nature of my ranking system also means that in order to improve by just 1%, a course will need to improve a single hole by 2 points, or 2 holes by a point each. This is not easy and would require some serious course development.
Thursday 12th April
3 days of fog now at RCGC and I am definitely getting a sort of claustrophobia – not helped by being constantly asked when the course will be open.
Wednesday 11th April
Really interesting seminar today held at Royal Norwich GC about the changes in Data Protection Legislation. Well, as interesting as this rather dry subject can be!
More paperwork will be required but if it stops me getting incessant emails trying to sell me stuff I do not want then it will be worth it.
Tuesday 10th April
A look at the Strokes Gained from yesterday:
After a couple of iffy drives early on, I took a cautious strategy from the tee with a lot of 3 Woods. Solid approach play and putting allowed me to keep my round going on a tough course. Notts (Hollinwell) is magnificent. Full review to follow next week.
Monday 9th April
Super proud of myself today as I managed to overcome a long journey, sore back and an early double bogey to post 38 points at Notts to take victory in the Golf Club Secretary Open Championship qualifier against a large and strong field.
I will take a proper look at the stats tomorrow but the only one that really matters is the W that takes me through to the final next month at Formby.
Sunday 8th April
Like most Brits, I will be supporting for Rory McIlroy in the Masters tonight. Like most Brits, even if Rory comes up short, I would rather anybody else pulls on the Green Jacket than pumped up Yank Patrick Reed.
Nevertheless, I have to admit that there are aspects of Reed’s game that I admire. His tempo and balance remain smooth and unchanged no matter the situation. His strategy is nice and simple – 99% of his shots are hit with a consistent draw and he trusts his short game and putting to get the job done. His perseverance and grit in times of adversity are admirable.
There are lessons for all of us there. But c’mon RORY!!
Saturday 7th April
The main purpose of yesterday’s visit to Hunstanton was the Norfolk GCMA Annual General Meeting. I really value this community and was delighted to be elected Vice-Captain for the region.
The course at Hunstanton was playing well with the greens amongst the most consistently firm, fast and true in the country. Full review will be posted next week.
Friday 6th April
Golf can be cruel at times.
Standing on the 11th tee in a 20+ mph wind with 9 pars and a birdie on the card, I had a chance to register one of my best ever rounds. Several mental errors later my round had unravelled in a flurry of dropped shots.
I did manage to hold on just enough for second place in the competition and I certainly learnt some lessons for the future, so positives can be taken – but I definitely missed a chance for something special.
Thursday 5th April
Back update: Managed to hit a few balls at the driving range tonight. Dull ache in the left hip rather than sharp pain so good to go tomorrow.
Game not as sharp as when I last played 3 weeks ago. My stock shot is a slight draw but my goal going into April was to be confident hitting the ball both ways. The fade is not working at all in practice – so the plan for tomorrow is be patient, stick to the pre-shot routine and keep things simple. Hunstanton is not a course that allows you to score well if any part of your game is off – so I fear it could be a grind!
Wednesday 4th April
Great idea and news for Augusta National to start a Ladies Amateur tournament from 2019. What a chance for those potential competitors! Please start a Golf Club Secretaries tournament next!
Tuesday 3rd April
The build up to every Masters is always strongly hyped, but the narrative around this week’s just feels special. With almost every one of the favourites having a win under their belt this year and Tiger back and playing well, anticipation is huge.
With other sports such as cricket, cycling and athletics shooting themselves in the foot with various cheating scandals, can golf take advantage and get a participation spike on the back of the Masters? All we need now is some decent weather!
Monday 2nd April
Ian Poulter shows that you cannot keep a good man down with a clutch victory in Houston to clinch his place in the Masters this week. He couldn’t do it at Augusta – could he?
The rise of Beau Hossler and particularly the way that he did not back down under pressure shows that the American College system is creating golfers ready to win on Tour as soon as they graduate. For any young aspiring Tour Pro’s, this is surely the system to be in.
Sunday 1st April
Tweaked my back yesterday afternoon loading a skip that we had hired over the Bank Holiday week-end to clear out the garage. Had to cancel golf today and with less than a week before my first proper competition I face a race to be fit.
Saturday 31st March
Planning a golfing trip to Devon and Somerset in July. Devon in particular offers some great golf and much like Norfolk, a pleasing variety of courses. This is one of the only Counties with both a North and South Coast and there are a number of attractive tours for the golfer to consider.
Friday 30th March
As a very traditional 130 year old members Club, Royal Cromer can sometimes be behind the curve in embracing change. This is not always a bad thing as we would not want to lose the values that have made the Club successful to this point.
Nevertheless it is often the case that if you are standing still then the competition is going past you and so we try to slowly but regularly introduce the latest technology or fashions to keep the Club moving forwards. The latest example is the availability of the mypinpoint app. This allows members and visitors to download daily pin placements to their smartphone, adding a professional element to their experience.
Thursday 29th March
Managed to get the accounts pack out to the members today as required by our constitution twenty-one days in advance of the General Meeting. Always a relief when this is achieved and good timing in advance of the Easter Week-end.
Wednesday 28th March
Added some new photography today of Stinchcombe Hill in Gloucestershire. This is truly a little gem of a course with stunning views over the Severn Valley and a very friendly clubhouse.
Tuesday 27th March
Been working with our publishers to complete our 2018/19 brochure. It may seem pretty ‘old-school’ to have hard-backed booklets in this digital age, but if it is done well, a glossy brochure is still an incredibly effective way to reflect the quality of your Club. Backed (of course!) by a digital version, it is an invaluable marketing tool.
Monday 26th March
What a relief it is to reach British Summer Time. And a bit of sunshine to go with it! For Hollie, it means evening walks in the daylight and for me some great wind down time away from it all in the middle of a field!
Sunday 25th March
It was a pleasure to listen to Paul Armitage, GM at Le Golf National, Ryder Cup 2018 venue at last years GCMA National Conference. Among other things, Paul offered insights into the preparation for this years epic contest between USA and Europe.
The 1st tee atmosphere should be very special, with grandstands to house 6,500 spectators being constructed. I was lucky enough to be part of the crowd around the opening tee at Celtic Manor but the scale in Paris will be on another level. Read more here.
Saturday 24th March
As we enter British Summer Time tomorrow and we are just a couple of weeks from my first competitive individual tournaments of the year, it is a good time to evaluate where my game is at.
The Strokes Gained Analysis of my five rounds so far this year shows that most areas of my game are in good shape – the exception being my short game – shots from off the green within 100 yards of the target. Hence I used 80 of my 90 balls at the driving range today for these shots.
It is easy to make excuses but these are the most ‘feel’ based shots and a lack of quality short game practice facilities over the cold winter has not helped. I am hopeful that as we get into the season – allied to hard work in practice – my short game will naturally sharpen up. Time will tell.
Friday 23rd March
Three letters designed to bring joy to a golfer’s soul……BST. British Summer Time starts this weekend and after a long, cold winter by British standards the courses will return to peak condition, we can play golf in less than 12 layers and a quick nine holes after 6pm can become a thing again.
Thursday 22nd March
Added another course review today, making it my tenth. This course is a highlight of any golfers career.
There will be those that do not believe that I should be reviewing courses given my position as a Golf Club Manager. I think that providing the reviews are balanced it should not be an issue – all of the courses that I review are well worth playing and if I can shed some light on courses that you have not previously heard of or played, as well as offering my opinion on the more famous tracks then it can only be positive.
The Course Review page is currently the most viewed on the site, so it is obviously an area that creates interest and controversy!
Wednesday 21st March
The World Championships Matchplay starts today in the States. I always think that the golf course dictates whether or not this format is exciting to watch. The course in Austin looks ideal to create fun matches.
In England, The Belfry created some iconic Matchplay moments with its 10th and 18th holes perfect for the format. I also think that the 17th and 18th at St Andrews would provide an amazing climax for a Ryder Cup.
Tuesday 20th March
The European Amateur Golf Tour made a visit to Royal Cromer today. It was their first visit and they were extremely lucky with the weather that for the first time this year had some resemblance to Spring. The Tour is a very interesting concept and a nice bunch of people.
Monday 19th March
The indoor simulator here at RCGC offers some respite from the brutal cold snap. Whilst no substitute for the actual game it is great to keep you going and is surprisingly flexible – ideal for wedge gaping sessions, custom fitting or as a base for a lesson.
Sunday 18th March
Completed my review of the best short holes in the County by publishing the final part of my Top 10 Par 3’s in Norfolk.
An interesting thought to ponder is what green fee would be charged if, lets say you added a couple of the holes ranked 11-20 to make a 12-hole par 3 layout? I reckon it would be worth £30 – £40 of anybodies money. Quality and value for money is a topic that I will pick up on during next week’s blog.
Saturday 17th March
Our annual new members function is scheduled for this evening. A good turnout is expected with around 80 in total. Membership retention is sometimes overlooked with Club’s focusing on different methods of recruitment.
A crucial element in retaining a member is making sure that they are part of a community, not just of the Club as a whole, but of smaller sections within. Get-together’s such as tonight’s can play an important role in directing new members towards a community that suits them.
Friday 16th March
After the Beast from the East, a mini-beast is due for arrival over the week-end. This weather is getting a bit tiresome now, but oh well at least it gives an excuse for another snow photo.
The photo shows the 15th hole at Royal Cromer. Beautiful but enough now.
Thursday 15th March
When things get a little stressful at work, I like to give myself a break to clear my head and get out of the office for a quiet stroll. Things can’t be too bad though when the walk includes these views:
Wednesday 14th March
Played the latest round of the Yarmouth Pairs today. A perfect links day with bright skies and a two club wind. We also played off the back tees with little run so the course played long. Overall pleased with the progress of my game although the wedges are still not quite as good as I would like.
We finished with a total of 41pts. We had to get away before the presentation so will find out if we made the prizes later in the week.
Tuesday 13th March
More work on the 2017 accounts today, which are nearing completion. Record turnover was recorded last year as well as some areas of major expenditure, mainly on slightly ‘unsexy’ items such as a new boiler, course drainage and kitchen equipment.
Monday 12th March
The R & A have started their press campaign ahead of the drastic re-working of the Rules of Golf to be introduced from 1st January 2019. This is a much needed simplification that will hopefully roll-back years of very clever but practically unworkable additions. More information can be found here.
Sunday 11th March
The first week-end in April is shaping up to be a good one – with competitive rounds at Hunstanton and Notts booked. Very different challenges but what a great way to test my game early in the season. Can’t wait.
Saturday 10th March
Nipped out to play a few holes this afternoon. Very frustrating conditions – the bunkers are out of play (some still have snow in), several of the fairways are very soggy and a few temporary greens are necessary. As we move towards the middle of March this is unfortunate and leads to grumpy members and lost revenue, but with the exceptional weather conditions we have had it is unavoidable.
Friday 9th March
With all the excitement around Tiger Woods contending at the Valspar on the PGA Tour, it will get lost about just how amazing the golf course looks for the Indian Open on the European Tour.
Thursday 8th March
Added a new course review of Ryston Park. This is a 9 hole course that I have great affection for in that it contains many of the design elements that I enjoy. The flow is great, there are usually options from the tee, conditioning is consistently very good and your 9 should be done in 90 minutes. What’s not to like?
Wednesday 7th March
Downloaded the Masters app today. It includes some great photos of each hole without the crowds in place which makes the course look really different but actually gives you a better feel for the place than you get from the TV.
Tuesday 6th March
With Spring seemingly trying to break the winter grip, it seems a good time to add the best of our winter photography from Royal Cromer. This is perhaps the most difficult season to get good shots, but when you do the reward is fantastic. This year included some significant snow for the first time in a few years and the drone shots in particular are fantastic.
Monday 5th March
Had a good reaction to my latest post, Dear Course Manager (My plea for the future of golf course design).
It is a good sign that there are a lot of people out there who are passionate about the subject. Perhaps more importantly there are a whole new generation of course managers coming through who are extremely knowledgeable about their subject, backed by great research and science from organisations such as the STRI. I think we are in good hands.
Sunday 4th March
If you are not already in touch with the Social Media output from The European Tour, then give them a follow – some of the best, most fun and entertaining accounts in the business.
Saturday 3rd March
Received the first draft of our 2017 accounts from the auditor so spent the morning checking through them. Also a copy of the updated contract for some land that we lease to the District Council. We seem to have avoided the worst of the weather overnight, so things should hopefully return to somewhere approaching normality next week.
Friday 2nd March
Managed to get into the office for a while today. Although the main route in was blocked by a snow drift, the diversion got me to Cromer. Another disappointing casualty of the weather was our sold out restaurant evening. Big kudos to the green-staff who all got into work and cleared snow from several of the shaded greens that were not frozen underneath – vital work to help avoid disease developing.
Thursday 1st March
Working from home for the second day in a row. Norfolk is basically an island today with access on all routes in and out blocked by accidents or impassable and public transport cancelled. All very frustrating for golfers but in reality there are plenty of heroes out there working hard to clear routes and my thoughts are with them.
Wednesday 28th February
Posted some photography from Seminole Golf Club in Florida. This is widely considered the best course in that State and when I played it a few years ago I found out why. The ocean side location is stunning and the course as pure as they come. The bunkers are vast and daunting and the greens run equal to Augusta National at Masters time.
The locker room is also the best I have ever been into – with the honours board for the annual Pro-Member event including winners such as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose. The 2018 edition was held this week with an incredible field. Start sheet below:
Tuesday 27th February
The ‘Beast from the East’ weather system arrived with gusto and snow. The good news – Rob was able to get the drone up for some winter shots. I will post a full selection on the photography page in the next week or so – but here is one to enjoy for now:
Monday 26th February
My blog this week featured advice from Sir Alex Ferguson and what golfers can learn from the former Manchester United manager. Whilst ‘Fergie’ is no hero of mine, his longevity and success in one of the most volatile professions there is surely deserves respect and the lessons that he shares can be of great benefit to all of us.
Read the blog here.
Sunday 25th February
I am very lucky to live here in North Norfolk. As well as great access to the sandy beaches, there are a wide variety of countryside walks to take the dog including a couple of excellent National Trust areas at Blickling and Felbrigg. The pictures below are from Felmingham Heath, a short walk along the Weavers Way footpath from my house, where Hollie and I visited this morning. I reckon I could design a lovely nine hole Par 3 course there!
Saturday 24th February
I have decided to move the Photography page forward by regularly adding photos from the golf courses that I have played. I have started today by adding a selection from The Berkshire, a magnificent 36 hole heath-land facility where the lunch is matched only by Rye on the leader-board of food offerings. I enjoyed a fantastic 18 holes on the Blue course late last summer and it is one that will stay in the memory for many a year. The photos capture the essence of the place well.
Friday 23rd February
It looks like the ‘Beast from the East’ is due to hit us in the next few days. Bleak news for golfers but the real question is ‘Will we finally get our winter photo-shoot done?’
Thursday 22nd February
The publicity for the new Worldwide Handicapping System is in full swing ahead of its proposed introduction in 2020. Whilst my initial thought on this is that it sounds a sensible idea – when I think a little longer I ponder a couple of questions – why did it take 6 years to think up (lots of meetings in sunny climes?) and are the benefits worth disrupting millions of golfers handicaps?
Wednesday 21st February
Delighted to record by far my best ball-striking round of the year today.
Unfortunately, my short putting prevented turning a solid round into a special one, but this early in the year I have to be pleased with the overall progress of my game.
In the Pairs Event we finished with 41pts. We were lying T3rd when we left but there were plenty of pairs still to finish.
Tuesday 20th February
Looking forwards to getting back out on the course tomorrow with another visit to Great Yarmouth Winter Pairs Series. This is a great winter course to test where your game is at. I have been working hard in practice so am keen to get more feedback in a competitive situation.
Monday 19th February
The one season that we are lacking quality photography in here at Royal Cromer is winter. I would really like to get some drone shots with frost/snow but combine the scarcity of the white stuff on the coast with a professional photographers busy schedule and it becomes a difficult ask.
So, as we move towards the longer days and warmer climes, it looks as though another winter may pass without a pro snapper’s visit. I will be posting the best of us amateurs efforts in the next couple of weeks.
Sunday 18th February
Delighted to publish the final part of my blog on Norfolk’s Finest 18. The last six holes contain some real quality including contributions from Hunstanton, Royal Cromer & Thetford.
You can read the blog here.
Saturday 17th February
I feel so sorry for Elise Christie, who had her Olympic dreams shattered again by a fall in the speed skating before being carried off on a stretcher. I think that I would find it hard to compete and train in a sport where years of effort can be wiped out in a second through little fault of your own. I know that you get bad bounces in golf, but generally over the course of 18 holes you end up with the score and result that your play deserves – and competitors can have little influence on each other – it is just you against the course.
I think I will stick to golf.
Friday 16th February
I am convinced that YouTube has a key role to play in connecting people to golf and helping develop the game. The breadth and quality of content is excellent and it is all free to air. I have noticed that in the last year or so, the major professional tours have started to take the platform seriously, with the highlights available growing.
For great production value and course vlogs, check out the Golfholics
For an eye to a future star, and inspiring junior golfers, check out Karl Vilips
Thursday 15th February
A bout of tooth-ache soon ruined the rest I had achieved by the break away as I lay awake most of the night. The unexpected benefit of this insomnia was the opportunity to watch a night full of the Winter Olympics. This event, full of wacky pursuits and luminous clothing, creates a crazy mix of top class competitive sport in spectacular, highly photogenic settings, and even if the rules are unfathomable, it is great entertainment.
Wednesday 14th February
One of the things that was evident at Thetford yesterday was the clearance of many trees and scrubs from alongside many of the holes. Such clearance, particularly when it involves trees, is controversial for many, but there is little doubt that it has benefitted Thetford by clearing the views and improving the aesthetics.
Tuesday 13th February
Took a trip to Thetford Golf Club in South Norfolk today. It is always beneficial to see how other Clubs do things and our Bar Manager and I took notice of how the bar was set up and in their Cask Marque award, something that we are keen to work towards ourselves.
The course itself is both a beauty and a beast, in a gorgeous setting routing through Thetford forest. My full course review will be posted in the next couple of days.
Monday 12th February
Part 2 of ‘Norfolk’s Finest 18’ is now published with the 7th – 12th holes covered. This part contains at least 3 holes that would make ‘Norfolk’s Ultimate 18’, a composite course not bound by my self-imposed restrictions for this particular blog.
I have tried to ‘balance’ the course as much as possible, with this stretch of 6 holes including a reachable Par 5, a proper 3-shot Par 5, dog-legs in both directions, a long straight Par 4 and a Par 3.
See the blog here.
Sunday 11th February
A bracing walk with Sarah along Breydon Water near Burgh Castle today. The scenery is beautiful yet bleak. I can almost guarantee that you will not be passing this remote outpost of East Anglia, but it is well worth stopping if you are in the area.
Saturday 10th February
My base for the next couple of nights is Dunston Hall, a Hotel just South of Norwich.
There is a pleasant ‘resort’ style golf course here that is great for group stay and play breaks. That is not the reason I am here however, some much welcomed r & r with Sarah to recharge the batteries.
Friday 9th February
Posted my review of Royal County Down today. If you ever get the chance to travel to this remote part of the UK, I advise you to drop everything and make the trip. The scenery is spellbinding, the course conditioning exceptional and the front half will probably be the best 9 holes that you will ever play.
See the full review here .
Thursday 8th February
The auditors collected the information today to finalize the accounts for 2017. It was another good year for the Club, under the leadership of our first female Club Captain in 130 years. Visitor green fees in particular were strong, fueled I believe by the improvements to the course, increasing demand for ‘staycations’ rather than going abroad and our work with the other Club’s along the coast to strengthen the ‘Norfolk’s Golf Coast’ brand.
Wednesday 7th February
The snow is all gone and the members returned to the links today for their monthly stableford.
Many of our members have now downloaded the excellent members app – produced by our software suppliers Club Systems – where amongst other things they can check on the course status, live competition scoring and their handicap certificate.
Tuesday 6th February
The snow reached North Norfolk today.
It is 5 years since the last significant snow reached this part of the country and it is quite rare that we even have a frost here on the coast. It remains to be seen how long this dousing will last, but the forecast is for more tonight.
Monday 5th February
For a really great source for the latest club technology that you may not have seen, check out @MyGolfSpy.
Sunday 4th February
Really pleased to publish Part 1 of my blog ‘Norfolks Finest 18′ today. I have to admit that my self-imposed rules of only one hole per course and each hole has to be in its normal place led to the exclusion of many fantastic holes.
Nevertheless, it did ensure that the blog features many courses across the length and breadth of a county that is often undervalued in golfing circles. For anybody with knowledge of the courses in Norfolk, I urge you to have a go at creating your own such layout – it is not as easy as you might think! For those that do not know the courses of Norfolk – come and visit!
Saturday 3rd February
Managed to sneak up the Club around 3pm and amazingly sped around 18 holes in under 2 hours.
Overall it was a good step forward and save for a duffed chip that led to a double bogey, my wedge play did show improvement. Plenty to work on but also plenty to work with.
Friday 2nd February
RCGC celebrates its 130th year of existence in 2018 and I am working with the pro-shop to create a range of merchandise to mark the occasion. Although still in development, I quite like the logo that we are considering:
The silhouette is of the King Edward VII trophy, gifted to the Club by then Prince of Wales in 1888 and played for annually ever since. Hopefully it will create a strong image on shirts, ball markers etc.
Thursday 1st February
Gotta admire the way that the PGA Tour in America create unique selling points around their events. Be it the scenery in Hawaii, island green in Sawgrass or stadium Par 3’s in Arizona, each event manages to sell its different story despite the grind of 72 hole stroke play. The European Tour is starting to achieve similar USP’s, albeit by different formats and innovations such as music on the practice area. The European Tours Social Media output is also industry leading and should be followed for some great content.
Wednesday 31st January
Published my review of Painswick Golf Club today. It is a course that I have visited on a few occasions en route to my parents house in the West Country. I am always enticed more to quirky, fun courses than grand, American style resort courses and in this regard Painswick ticks all the boxes and more – a truly bonkers experience on a narrow ridge 900ft up a 3000 year old hill fort in the Cotswolds.
See my review here.
Tuesday 30th January
Monthly Management committee meeting tonight. We generally hold our meetings in our History Room but with 16 members all told – we may need a bigger room! I wonder what the optimum number of committee members would be 7? 9? I guess it depends on the individuals involved.
Monday 29th January
The weather continues to be rubbish – although a spectacular rainbow appeared today:
Sunday 28th January
Published my latest blog today – Top 4 Hacks to help your golf game in 2018 . Really pleased to blog on this subject and share some great sources for further reading.
Next week I will be focusing on some of the best golf available in Norfolk – look out for it next Sunday.
Saturday 27th January
Another grind at the driving range, with around 60 of my 90 practice balls focusing on wedge distances. Being a great believer in science, I have read Dave Pelz’s ‘The Short Game Bible’ from cover to cover many times. Pelz used to work for NASA and applies a depth of science to short game study. I have always used elements of his ‘system’ although never felt comfortable with other bits like the different (weaker) grip. I have started to realise that my tendency to close the clubface and inability to regulate swing speed on partial swings (I get too fast) contribute to my troubles in this area. I will reread Pelz!
Friday 26th January
For a grown man, I am incredibly excited about Tiger’s return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines this week. Although Tiger was not really a hero of mine when I was getting into the game (Nick Faldo had a more similar personality to me and I could relate more to him) I remember watching him live at the Open at Troon in ’97 just after he had won his first Masters. The sheer speed and brutality of his swing was like nothing I had ever seen before and undoubtedly set the tone for the modern tour pro technique. Lets hope that his latest comeback is successful as the whole industry will benefit.
Thursday 25th January
Excited to publish a blog this week-end about improving your game. Although it is not my ‘home ground’, I am looking forward to sharing some fantastic sources for extra reading and learning about skill acquisition and peak performance. Published on Sunday.
Wednesday 24th January
Posted my course review for Rye today – a spectacular experience that beguile’s and occasionally belittles. Looking at the overall score, it is possible that I was a little harsh but this will become apparent as I add more reviews. Anyway it jumps straight to the top of the leader-board!
Tuesday 23rd January
Very interesting thread regarding ladies playing opportunities at Cottrell Park GC that blew up on twitter last night and has been picked up by the golf magazines today. Find the story as reported by National Club Golfer here . Gender equality is an area that many traditional Golf Clubs are still behind the times on. I include Royal Cromer in that number, where, despite electing our first female Club Captain in 129 years in 2016, there is still much to be learned and achieved. Lets hope that media stories like today’s from Cottrell can act as a catalyst for self-reflection and positive action.
Monday 22nd January
Decided to move the Course Reviews page on a little by adding 1 new review per week to include courses that I have played in the last few years. I have also added a leader-board to summarise the overall scores. Please feel free to email your comments or your own reviews.
Sunday 21st January
Delighted to publish the final part of my blog ‘The State of the Game 2018’ today. Overall I believe that golf as an industry is in its best place for several years and my blogs help to explain why I think that is, as well as outlining some of the continuing challenges that the sport faces.
Whilst these blogs had a rather serious and heavy edge to them, I have some lighter issues coming up. As ever, feel free to add your comments to the posts.
Saturday 20th January
More grinding at the Driving Range today and finally a breakthrough on eliminating the damaging pull/hook shots that have been hurting me. I realised that, as a subconscious part of my pre-shot routine, I had been closing the clubface just before I took the Club back. It is amazing that I have been playing the game for almost 30 years and a fault comes down to perhaps the first thing that I was ever taught – aiming the clubface! Anyway the result was 90 balls without a hook in sight. I am also hoping that it will help with my wedge distances but I need more time to test that hypothesis.
Friday 19th January
More focus on course development today with outline plans for the next 4/5 winters discussed and marketing planned. Firmer details will be released later in the year but there will be extensive work on tees, bunkers, vegetation removal and breaking up some ground between holes. Also some very exciting plans that must remain top-secret for now, but if it comes off will help to move the course to another level.
Thursday 18th January
Watching Rory McIlroy in action in the sunshine from Dubai was a good distraction from the grim weather in the UK. With Tiger Woods also shortly to return to the PGA Tour, an interesting and exciting season beckons, which should be great for the game.
Wednesday 17th January
My first golf competition of the year – a Pairs event at Great Yarmouth & Caister Golf Club. Baltic like conditions with clear skies but brisk Westerly winds brought several layers and hand warmers to the fore – perfect links conditions!
Anyway a rather unremarkable round was turned on its head when we managed to finish the round with 6 consecutive 3 pointers to finish with 41 points – good enough for 3rd place in the end. My game overall showed positive signs but there is much hard work ahead if I am to reach top form by April.
SGA shows some work is still required on the wedges but with the gusty wind, judging distances was extremely challenging. Numb hands also increased the difficulty!
Tuesday 16th January
Starting to finalize plans for the marketing budget in 2018. This is an area that many golf clubs only pay a passing respect for. It is of course sometimes difficult to measure the exact effectiveness of any marketing actions but with the variety of low-cost options available these days, it is surely worth the investment and time. Here at Royal Cromer, for example, we saw a rise in turnover of 5% in 2017 helped in no small part by some good quality marketing.
Monday 15th January
I was reading an interesting thread on twitter yesterday criticising Sky Sports coverage of the golf, specifically the high cost and the large number of advert breaks. I touched on this topic in my blog The State of the Game – Part 1 where I balanced the criticism against what I considered was excellent groundbreaking coverage utilising new technologies and the huge investment that Sky are making in the game. Perhaps the best balance would be to have a weekly magazine show similar to Football Focus on terrestrial TV about golf – fast paced and light, demonstrating the personality of players as well as giving tips and showing highlights of tournaments. Surely with all the rubbish on Freeview there would be room for this? Or does YouTube already fulfill this purpose?
Sunday 14th January
Managed to get out and play a few holes for the first time in 2018 this afternoon. The things that had troubled me in the second half of last season – the occasional hook from the tee and poor distance control on my wedges – are still not 100% fixed but the changes that I am implementing are starting to make a difference – just need more reps. My first proper competition of the season is not until the first week of April so I still have time if I work hard.
Saturday 13th January
Finishing off Part 2 of my blog ‘The State of the Game – 2018’. This part covers a part of the industry that I have been directly involved in – Golf Club’s and Golf Club Membership. I have touched upon my own experiences of what does and does not work in retaining members and attracting new ones. As ever, please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts.
Friday 12th January
No worries about the fog today! An absolutely stunning day here at the coast. Photos taken at about 8.30am this morning.
Thursday 11th January
There was no play today due to thick sea fog hanging over all day long. I suppose it goes with the territory, but is always frustrating when you can drive 5 miles inland and it is clear. It can last for a few days at a time, so fingers crossed for better tomorrow.
Wednesday 10th January
Managed to get out of the office today for a lovely winter walk with Sarah and our dog Hollie. We visited Blickling Estate, a National Trust property a few miles from home. Surprisingly, Blickling once had a golf course, open between 1891 and 1940 until it closed with the advent of WW2. Here at Cromer we are lucky to still play for an annual trophy donated by Blickling Golf Club when it closed. You can read more about the history of Blickling Golf Club here.
Tuesday 9th January
Some inspiring conversation today discussing the course development plans with our Course Manager. Mark is such a passionate character that you cannot help but be taken along for the ride. Anyway – some exciting plans for the course over the next few years – I will feature them in a future blog.
Monday 8th January
The blog took longer than planned to finish but is finally up! I must become more efficient though as I have a life outside this webpage.
Meanwhile in the real world the weather continues to be Baltic, golfers continue to golf and the memberships continue to be processed. The Club Diary has finally arrived a week late but with much relief.
Sunday 7th January
A day at home sorting out new social media accounts and writing my first blog – please check it out and comment!
Saturday 6th January
Managed to get to the driving range today for a first chance to hit some balls in 2018. Understandably rusty but a pleasure nevertheless to be hitting balls again. I will be covering my top tips for improving your game with limited practice time in an upcoming blog but suffice to say that I am hoping to build on a successful second half of 2017 when my handicap reduced to 3.7 with a bright start to 2018, beginning at Great Yarmouth & Caister Golf Club for a comp on 17th Jan.
Friday 5th January
Another day of grinding away at processing the membership renewals whilst also browsing the international golf news including the furore over Rickie Fowler wearing a untucked Hawaiian shirt on the PGA Tour.
Here at Royal Cromer we recently relaxed our dress code in the clubhouse including allowing smart jeans for the first time. Whilst I believe that there may be a small number of Clubs that suit a very formal dress code surely 95% of Golf Clubs would benefit from a more relaxed attitude. I have never really understood how a very smart pair of jeans could be banned when clubhouses across the country were littered with faded 20 year old chinos. Our experience has been interesting in that many members were very vocally against the changes in the lead up to them being introduced but once they were in place then there has hardly been a murmur. I would urge all golf clubs to consider being brave and just do it.
Thursday 4th January
We have recently embraced the concept of gender free tees – whereby players are encouraged to try different tee options rather than just stick with the traditional men’s or ladies tees.
This is surely an idea to be encouraged but today whilst trying to sort out new scorecards and tee markers it seemed to present plenty of headaches. For example, we now have so many tee options that we need separate Gents and Ladies scorecards – ironic given that the whole idea is to remove gender from the equation! Also the markers for each tee colour will need to include two separate stroke indices (Gents and Ladies) which is bound to confuse!
On a related topic it amazes me how expensive course furniture is – over £7000 for a set of tee markers. I am certain that members do not consider these types of expenditure when considering the reasons for the cost of their annual subscriptions.
Wednesday 3rd January
Storm Eleanor rampaged its way through the County today, but was not enough to prevent our new Veterans Captain from holding his Drive-In. 189 yards into the teeth of the storm is a great effort indeed.
Tuesday 2nd January
The annual scramble for Burns Night tables began today as tickets became available for the 27th January event. Quite why this particular social occasion is the most popular of the year for a Golf Club in rural Norfolk sometimes baffles me!
Dealing with a members disciplinary matter today led me to reflect on how many private Clubs have a proper members disciplinary policy in place. Policies relating to staff are common, but dealing with members is somehow more awkward – a proper policy helps greatly to deal with matters in a professional way and avoid legal disputes. Templates are available through the National Golf Clubs Advisory Association.
Monday 1st January 2018
The turn of the year represents a busy time for all Golf Club Managers especially when it represents the end of the financial year and the start of the new membership year as it does at Royal Cromer.
Golf Clubs have for a while wrestled with the sense of having the annual membership renewal at a time of year when many members are not playing much golf and have just spent out at Christmas. Many Clubs have introduced flexible types of membership partly to combat this issue and almost all Clubs now offer the opportunity to pay subs monthly. Of the current 530 playing members here at Cromer, around 20% use the monthly option and this is increasing year on year.
The golf course is finally back open again after a dreadful week between Christmas and New Year which saw 1/5 of our annual rainfall over the course of 4 days. Despite the course closure, the newly installed drainage worked well and will help restrict course closures to extreme weather conditions.