Tuesday 21st May
The weather has been pretty good for golfers but incredibly dry for golf courses. Cromer has only had 30% of its expected rainfall this year on the back of a long hot summer in 2018. A couple of our fairways have suffered but in general we are fairing better than most.
Monday 20th May
Always a bonus at this time of the year when the clouds clear late on to allow a stunning end to the day and a lovely walk with the dog.
Sunday 19th May
Completed my 7-part series of blogs on RCGC with an analysis of the current course and how it stacks up to the original 1895 design. You can read the blog here.
Saturday 18th May
I love the long daylight hours at this time of the year – had the practice ground to myself until almost 9pm working on my wedge distances.
Friday 17th May
A day in the office concentrating on marketing – the new version of the brochure is in production and plans need to be updated for social media and print campaigns.
Thursday 16th May
A memorable day for me as I captain the Norfolk GCMA to a 5-1 victory against East Anglia GCMA in the annual match at Thetford Golf Club.
Although the team result was the most important thing, I was especially pleased with my own performance. We had a tough match-up in the fourball match, with opponents playing off scratch and five handicap. I managed to stay in the present well and my putting was solid in a high quality contest which ended in a 2 & 1 victory.
Thetford is a lovely track which has benefitted from some extensive vegetation clearance in the last couple of years. Formally owned by the Crown Estates, they have recently purchased the land which will give them extra freedom to improve the facility.
Wednesday 15th May
Another busy day at RCGC as we hosted the ‘Old Speckled Hen’ Invitational – open to regional Greene King account holders. Another bright sunny day helped to display the course well for our guests.
Tuesday 14th May
Got the copy of the STRI report through today. Some strong back-up for the development work completed and useful suggestions for further work going forwards including the replacement of the astroturf pathways.
Monday 13th May
Some marketing tasks to complete this week – with the new version of the brochure needing work and the summer photo/video shoot to plan.
Sunday 12th May
A quick trip up to the Club in the sunshine for a last chance to practice before my match on Thursday. Course looking fine as usual.
Saturday 11th May
I have my first matchplay event of the season next week and I will be looking to improve upon my generally dismal performances in that form of the game last season. The problems were certainly mental and so it is my attitude and ability to stay in the present that I will be focusing upon.
Friday 10th May
It is a shame that I cannot make the British Masters this year. I enjoyed last year’s event at Walton Heath immensely but Southport is a little too far from Norfolk this time.
I am planning however, a couple of days at Woburn in August to watch the Women’s British Open. I find that I can learn so much from the top ladies and I will be taking my notebook with me to soak up and record some marginal gains.
Thursday 9th May
As a Spurs fan, last night was pretty special.
If we look to take any lessons as a golfer from their performance, the words grit and resilience spring to mind. These are traits that the Tottenham players showed after falling 2-0 behind on the night and are also applicable to most rounds of golf, where inevitably some adversity has to be overcome.
It was also noticeable that Pochettino basically threw tactics out of the window and allowed his players to concentrate on heart and natural skill. This reminds me that sometimes golfers are better ditching their carefully constructed technical swing-thoughts in favour of freewheeling it with an empty mind.
Wednesday 8th May
Finally some decent rain for the course to soak up. Ruined the members Monthly Stableford though.
Also it seemed to bring the wild flowers out for tonight’s walk with Hollie.
Tuesday 7th May
Most PGA Tour courses offer penal designs with trees, thick rough and water hazards creating a very black and white set of results for each shot.
This week’s host course Trinity Forest is different. It deals in shades of grey with no rough, no trees and huge greens. What it does is reward shot-makers with plenty of options from the tee, different ways to get the ball close to the hole and tight lies around the greens. Designed to play firm and fast, lets hope some fresh winds and sunshine test the Pro’s in ways similar to Open venues.
Monday 6th May
A Bank Holiday visit to the National Trust property at Blickling with the family for a nice walk. There used to be a nine-hole course here and they donated one of their trophies to RCGC when it closed down in the 1940’s – it is still played for now.
If you know where to look, you can still make out the fairways between the tree lines.
Sunday 5th May
A sneaky few holes at RCGC this evening. The course is playing amazingly firm and fast for the time of the year. I love it like this. It brings scoring opportunities but if you get on the wrong side of the green or the wrong angle from the tee it becomes very tricky.
Saturday 4th May
My putting stroke has always suffered somewhat from ‘over-rotation’, that is excessive opening of the clubface on the backswing and closing on the follow-through. The most common miss is left, but the push to the right is also in play.
In recent years I have tried various methods to reduce this tendency, including the left below right hand grip, which I have employed for around 2 years now with some success. I hope that I have stumbled upon a useful swing thought – concentrating on keeping the toe end of the putter square to the line – that will enable me to be more consistent with the short stick. The ball seems to be rolling well in practice.
Friday 3rd May
The weather in the UK is very topsy-turvey. After a Sahara like Easter week-end two weeks ago, we are more Arctic conditions for now.
RCGC relies heavily on income from visitors to meet its budgets. May, June and September are the busiest times in this regard and any lost days to the weather in these months can have a serious effect on revenue. Fingers crossed it perks up enough for everybody to enjoy their golf this week-end.
Thursday 2nd May
Thursday is Ladies morning at RCGC and another fine one it was. I wonder in the aftermath of the Equality Act 2010 how many Clubs still reserve a morning or indeed day just for the ladies?
Single sex competitions are fine under this legislation but reserving the tee on the basis of gender at the same time each week is potentially a breach of the act, although it would take a test court case to really make Golf Clubs think about this seriously.
Wednesday 1st May
RCGC was looking fine in the Spring sunshine today for the visit of the STRI. The agronomy report should arrive next week.
Tuesday 30th April
The events come thick and fast at this time of the year at RCGC and today was the Sponsors Am-Am. This is a unique event where every one of the 88 players picks up a prize. It always receives great feedback and players generally leave with a smile.
Monday 29th April
My Hotlist of great English golfing architecture has almost reached 30 courses and I aim to hit 50 by mid-year. Some great hidden gems among the more famous names.
Sunday 28th April
Every year you seem to get the odd HR nightmare crop up. It takes time to build the right team and yet provide enough turnover of people to keep it fresh.
The best piece of advice that I have learnt through the years is to subscribe to a good professional HR service – there are just too many pitfalls these days and you need specialist advice.
Saturday 27th April
I am still playing around with my putting. I have dug out an old centre shafted Yes! putter and will give it a go. I try to keep the putter face square throughout the stroke and the centre shaft should help with this. It is also heavier which I am hoping helps me to get the ball up to the hole more often.
Friday 26th April
The annual BREAK Charity day today at RCGC. Each year we allocate 2/3 days at heavy discounted rates for good causes of which today was certainly one. 24 teams of 4 enjoyed clear weather and fish n chips.
A bonus of these days is the social media coverage generated. Check out the instagram story here….
Thursday 25th April
THE INTERNET IS ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After 10 days in www. wilderness following a house move, we are now back online!
It has been a busy time with not only the move, but at work the General Meeting took place with little controversy.
Sunday 14th April
TIGER WOODS Y’ALL!!!!!
A fantastic day for golf as Tiger claims his 15th Major at Augusta National. What a story and whatever you think of Woods as a character, he has picked himself up and through strength of character has made his way back to the top of the game.
He really does move the needle and his victory is fantastic for the industry.
Saturday 13th April
A big week coming up with a management committee meeting, the General Meeting and oh, I am also moving house. Will look forward to the Bank Holiday weekend.
Today saw the 45th Anniversary of the RG Carter Golf Day at RCGC. Bright but baltic weather with a keen Easterly wind keeping the temperatures down.
Friday 12th April
The Masters App contains a fantastic tracking feature allowing you to follow every player and see 3D recreations and video of every shot. It is groundbreaking and fantastic. Check it out.
Thursday 11th April
Although my recent result at Aldeburgh was ultimately disappointing, I am left with a very nice photo, courtesy of Phillip Vince of Majestic Crystal.
The picture shows me Driving at the 11th, one of the very toughest Par 4’s in the UK. The round was timed nicely to catch the gorse in bloom.
Wednesday 10th April
Making any changes in a traditional century old members club like RCGC is always a challenge. For the past few months we have been using online competition booking for members and through lots of education and practice it has overall proven its value.
Unfortunately no single system can be everything to everybody and sometimes expectations are unreasonable or just selfish.
Tuesday 9th April
A murky old day on the North Norfolk coast, but enough light to check on the progress of the winter work on the 6th hole. The fairway bunker and tee area are almost ready for play.
Monday 8th April
I am enjoying my latest series of blogs picking the ultimate 18 holes through the history of RCGC. Here is 5-time Open Champion JH Taylor teeing off the 3rd hole in my selection.
Behind Taylor is the Royal Links Hotel, a huge and imposing structure sadly lost to a fire in 1949.
Read the first part of my ultimate 18 (including the above hole) here.
Sunday 7th April
Last summer and throughout the winter months, I got into the habit of using my Sunday bag to go play a few twilight holes. With a half set of clubs, a few tees and balls, I LOVED IT. With little focus on score, I played for the thrill of striking the ball and pure fun.
Unfortunately I failed to realise the effect of neglecting my yardages. With no GPS and just a few irons, I did not really care about distance because wherever the ball finished it just created a new challenge.
Over the same period, my approach shots have gone from being statistically the strongest part of my game to statistically the weakest. This is not because my ball-striking has got worse – if anything it has improved – but due to my poor distance judgement meaning my proximity to the hole is poor even on the good shots!
At the end of the day golf is about playing yardages – just look how good the Tour Pros are at getting hole high – so the Sunday bag will have to go away for a while to make way for more productive practice.
Saturday 6th April
An absolutely outstanding day for Women’s Golf today with the final round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on the hallowed turf.
All of the best attributes of our wonderful game were on display – skill, beautiful scenery, friendship and competition. Probably the biggest worldwide audience ever for a women’s amateur event created wonderful exposure and boy did the competitors put on a show.
Friday 5th April
Not long now until the Masters! Time to re-download the app and enjoy the lovely photos.
Thursday 4th April
I have had a couple of days now to reflect on my season opening competitions at Sheringham and Aldeburgh. Here are the strokes gained stats:
Overall, I take the following away:
- My new Driver, Fairway wood and hybrid are an excellent addition to the bag and my confidence in these areas is significantly increased.
- I am very happy with my switch from a Pro V1X to a standard ProV1 golf ball. The performance and flight was excellent.
- The penal pin positions at Aldeburgh did not help my approach stats. The problem in this area though was not my ball-striking which was excellent – but my distance judgement. I need to keep dialling in my club selections between 100-200 yards.
- Given my relative lack of preparation, my short game stats were pretty good. I need more trust in my 58 degree though, especially in the 25-50 yard range.
- I went into the period with low putting confidence. It held up well at Sheringham but the larger, more sloped surfaces at Aldeburgh showed up a weakness. I need to focus my practice on this area of my game.
Wednesday 3rd April
I have never been totally sure of Augusta National as a golf course. I dislike some of the ‘fake’ features such as dyeing the water blue and I am not a big fan of the recent architectural changes such as adding trees and rough.
What I am 100% sure on is that The Masters is the tournament that I look forward to most in the year. With the UK just emerging from winter and the gap from the last Major, anticipation is always high and the snacks will be in for long evenings in front of the TV.
Tuesday 2nd April
The golf course at RCGC is starting to come together for another busy season. The winter has been very dry but overall not too bad. The development work is nearing completion. We can look forward to some firm and fast conditions.
View of 18th green this morning.
Monday 1st April
A very frustrating and disappointing day at Aldeburgh today as I miss out on qualification for the final of the GCS Open Championship at Ganton in May by a single shot.
I hit the ball pretty well but was let down by some silly errors including a miss-club when my GPS was on the wrong hole and a 3-putt from just 3-feet.
I would agree that Aldeburgh is a top level course but it is not one of my favourites. For me there is not enough architectural variety and it would take a significant heather regeneration programme and the addition of a couple of Par 5’s to make my English Hotlist.
Sunday 31st March
The first part of an exciting six-part blog is published today – picking my ultimate 18 holes from the 130 year history of Royal Cromer.
Read Part 1 here.
Saturday 30th March
Switching off is not something that I am good at – being able to relax is indeed a skill, and one that I need to practice. Sometimes you feel guilty not working but in reality down time is essential for your mental health, which in turn is essential for maximum work performance.
Friday 29th March
With a keen interest in the history of RCGC, it is always exciting to discover old photos of the course.
The top photo shows the 8th hole in 2015.
In the bottom photo, taken around 60 years ago, this hole is on the right of the shot. At this point, there were a further two holes to the seaward side, one running parallel and the other playing towards the camera from the hill.
These holes were taken out of play 40 years ago now, in fear of a cliff fall and replaced by new holes (the current 2nd and 3rd). But with the land still mostly present, did the Club jump the gun too early?
Thursday 28th March
Another deadline met today with the accounts booklets approved, printed and posted to the membership in time to meet the 21 day requirement in advance of the General Meeting.
Wednesday 27th March
Was there ever a golf course more suited to matchplay than Austin CC, host to this week’s WGC Matchplay event, featuring 64 of the best players in the world. A plethora of risk/reward fun holes make it a great watch.
Look out for Ryder Cup hopeful Matt Wallace, a gutsy player and potential heir to Ian Poulter’s matchplay crown.
Tuesday 26th March
A very proud day for me as I am elected Captain of the Norfolk Region Golf Club Managers Association (GCMA). It is a 2-year post and I am very excited to get struck in.
The meeting was held at the lovely Sheringham GC and was folowed by an 18 hole competition that was a qualifier for the Fairway Credit Final in September.
I was very pleased with my performance after I steadied myself following an early double-bogey to record 13 straight pars to finish my round. My total of 37 points was good enough for 2nd place and qualification secured.
A stunning sunset was a fitting end to a day to remember.
Monday 25th March
Stress levels are definitely high at the moment. I would not have chosen to move house at the same time as having deadlines for the annual accounts and taking on more responsibility with the GCMA, but you cannot always choose timings in life and it is what it is.
Sunday 24th March
A quick visit to the driving range to fine tune for Tuesday and a long walk with Hollie, avoiding the showers.
Saturday 23rd March
A successful Norfolk PGA Pro-Am at RCGC yesterday. Congratulations to Chase Davis from Eaton GC who took the individual honours with a 68 (-4). Always nice to have the professionals over – they generally spread a positive message about the course back at their own clubs and give plenty of coverage on social media.
Friday 22nd March
A series of late meetings to finalise the accounts as well as an impending house move has thwarted my chance of writing a blog this week.
I will however, be making some additions to my Hotlist – my recommendations for great fun course architecture in England.
Thursday 21st March
I have recently been practicing a ‘chip’ shot with my hybrid. This is a useful shot from just off the green on the tight lies that you get at the seaside.
I use a cross-handed (left below right) putting grip and whilst solid from short range, can make judging long distances or slow greens difficult. The hybrid chip helps to solve this problem – just make sure that you take the time to practice the technique before try it in competition.
I prefer to use my chipping set-up as this allows me to hit down slightly on the ball and achieve a clean and crisp strike. Give it a try.
Wednesday 20th March
Pricing visitor green fee rates at a Club can be a tricky process and is largely determined by what your competitors are charging. It only takes one Club in an area to heavily discount however, and all neighbouring Clubs are affected.
I believe that in general, Clubs have undercharged in the last few years. Maintaining a golf course is an expensive and labour intensive process and this must be paid for. All clubs need to be sensible but brave when setting rates in order for all Clubs to benefit, prosper and invest in their facilities.
Tuesday 19th March
Great to see Rory winning the Players Championship with a gutsy performance.
Read my blog predicting his 2019 here
Monday 18th March
It can be extremely beneficial for future course development to look back on the past. We will be doing some vegetation clearance work on the left of the 15th at RCGC in the next few weeks, helping to bring back the views of the lighthouse from 50 years before (below).
Sunday 17th March
As well as being under-prepared for my upcoming competitions from a golfing point of view, without having completed a full 18 this year I am also lacking from a stamina viewpoint.
And so it was that this afternoon I set off on a brisk paced 6 mile country walk with the dog. It is fair to say that Hollie has fared better than I. My evening is likely to consist of falling asleep in front of the Players Championship on the TV.
Saturday 16th March
The new Members Evening tonight. With over 60 newbies it has been a successful intake over the last 12 months at RCGC.
The key to retention is making people part of a community. As well as the Club as a whole, there are many smaller such communities within and guiding new members towards these is a key part of tonight’s social event.
Friday 15th March
The 2018 accounts pass their first test with approval by the finance committee. Not a big surprise with record revenues across all income streams and well directed expenditure they do not contain anything controversial.
Thursday 14th March
It is an interesting debate as to the merits of Open Competitions for golf clubs. Are they a great way to promote your facility or are they a lot of work without a big pay-off? It probably depends on whether the catering is in-house or not as most of the turnover is from this area.
Anyway, our popular Mixed Open has just 4 spaces remaining.
Wednesday 13th March
I have been wondering recently about the importance of focus to the success of a golf shot. Are many of my poor shots caused by a lack of focus? Would golfers be better to take lessons on concentration rather than swing technique?
As I near to my competitive return, I am really trying to improve this area of my game. I have learnt that the danger in trying too hard to concentrate is that you become tense. In actual fact, when you are properly focused you actually become completely relaxed and the body seems in perfect balance.
Tuesday 12th March
An interesting County Delegates Meeting at Royal Norwich this afternoon. As Golf Clubs become more and more business savvy in order to compete in the modern market, it seems that County Unions across the country are failing to move with them and the goals of the two parties are becoming further and further apart.
Monday 11th March
The Greens committee met today with next winters development work on the agenda. Some exciting plans to improve the holes at the flatter, bottom end of the course as well as some significant changes to the 8th and 13th holes. Full plans and diagrams will be detailed in the coming weeks.
Sunday 10th March
With the rain battering down and threatening to turn to snow, it is a good time to remind myself that British Summer Time is just around the corner and with it some great Sunday evening twilight golf like this…..
Saturday 9th March
There has been a light on the cliffs at Cromer for over 200 years. The current lighthouse was dates from 1833 and replaced the original (below left) that was lost to the sea. The lighthouse forms an iconic backdrop to the 14th hole at RCGC, which opened in 1888.
Friday 8th March
We have received the first draft of the 2018 accounts back from our auditors and so I will be going through them with fine detail before they are presented for approval by the finance committee in a week’s time.
Thursday 7th March
There are lots of fascinating items in the RCGC History room but some of the most popular items are understandably the old hickory clubs. We have clubs stamped with the names of our two earliest Professionals, Wille Aveston and Willie Rush. It is unlikely that these individuals actually made the irons themselves, but rather stamped them for marketing purposes.
Wednesday 6th March
I am currently putting together a report for the committee analysing the fixture list. With 550 playing members and a heavy reliance on revenue from visitors, it is important that the schedule is balanced as best as possible to meet all requirements. The presentation is being prepared for May and there will certainly be some interesting statistics included within.
Tuesday 5th March
It is normally a good sign if low-handicappers want to join your club and so it was a pleasure to welcome 20 year old +3 handicapper Tom Forster as a member of RCGC recently.
Tom has returned to college in the USA until the summer and this week won a tournament in South Carolina with a 12-under par score for 54 holes. It will be great to follow Tom’s progress and he is definitely one to watch.
Monday 4th March
Whilst bingeing on TV sport over the week-end, my attention was drawn to the European Indoor Athletics and in particular the phenomenal performance of Laura Muir in completing the 1500/3000m double.
Laura is an incredible role model for young girls (and boys) and her ability to combine a top level athletics career with full-time training to become a Vet is remarkable and a lesson to us all that anything is possible with dedication, passion and great time management.
Sunday 3rd March
The rubbish weather returned and so an inside day with plenty of reading, writing, watching sport and putting practice on the carpet.
I have to say that when comparing the PGA Tour venue with its European counterpart this week I would much rather play the Greg Norman designed course in Oman than the boring looking and overly penal PGA National in Florida.
In the Ladies Game, the next European superstar notched up another victory. Keep your eyes on Anne Van Dam, the Dutch woman has the best technique I have seen in the female side of the game since a young Michelle Wie and is destined for the top of the game.
Saturday 2nd March
I am resigned to going into my first competition at the end of the month slightly under-golfed, but I am doing what I can with my limited practice time, which is taking on an extra competitive edge and moving away from technical work.
In general my game is OK, although my putting is behind the other areas. This is hardly surprising given my lack of commitment to either a ball, putter or putting grip. I have settled on my combination now and hope this clarity of mind will contribute to an upturn in performance.
Friday 1st March
March is here and the focus turns to the completion of the 2018 accounts and the preparation for the General Meeting in April. Lots of deadlines to meet and a clear focus required.
Thursday 28th February
The amazingly warm weather continues for one more day. A photo from my course walk today showing the evening shadows across the 3rd green.
Wednesday 27th February
The updated long-term forecast was approved by the committee. Evolution rather than revolution is the thinking but still plenty of exciting projects ahead.
Tuesday 26th February
We have a number of favourite ‘selfie’ spots at RCGC which seem to feature heavily on social media, particularly from visitors. The 14th by the lighthouse and 6th by the cliffs are obvious viewpoints, but another popular spot is the 9th tee.
I took a walk out today in the sunshine and the improvements that we made to the teeing areas are starting to settle in well and the area to the left of the green which has been tidied up will also improve the aesthetics once it has grown in.
Monday 25th February
What a difference a year makes! 12 months on from the Beast from the East, we have the Scorcher from the South.
Sunday 24th February
Made the most of the unseasonably warm weather by taking Hollie for a walk and then nipping up to the Club for a few holes later on. The new Clubs are settling in but I think I will be back to the old putter soon!
Photo from my walk today.
Saturday 23rd February
My blog this week highlights a new feature on the site – my HotList of English golf courses showcasing the very best architecture available in the country.
See my latest HotList here.
Friday 22nd February
The cliffs at Cromer have remained relatively stable for the last 50 years, but the history of the course does include a few holes lost to the sea, including the original 11th, a 490 yard uphill monster that ran parallel to the current 6th, with a green set into the hill behind the current 9th tee.
Thursday 21st February
In general, I am not a fan of heavily tree lined courses with lots of dog-legs. I have to admit, however, that watching the top players in the world manufacturing their way around such a tight course in Mexico this week is fun.
Not sure the design of the course will help to grow the game in that country though. Must be frustrating/boring for the average golfer.
Wednesday 20th February
The farce of JB Holmes at Riviera on Sunday prove the limitations of the recent changes to the rules designed to combat slow play. 5 hours 28 minutes to get round. 20 minutes behind the group in front. 15 minutes to putt out on a single green. No penalties or warnings given.
Until the authorities start the sensitive task of targeting the individuals that everybody knows play slowly, snail pace will continue and the risk of losing a generation to the game will be very real.
Tuesday 19th February
Southwold is a well to do Suffolk seaside resort full of great food and beer and a lighthouse. Enjoyed my monkfish and chips washed down with a pint of Adnams brewed next door.
Southwold also has a 9-hole golf course featuring fantastic tee options for front and back nine. No time for that today though!
Monday 18th February
An epically bleak circular walk today between Walberswick and Dunwich on the Suffolk Coast. Out through the marshes and back along the beach.
Was the very epitome of getting away from it all. Lovely!
Sunday 17th February
Away for a few days with Sarah at Dunston Hall to celebrate our birthdays. Managed to sneak out for a quick bit of twilight golf when we arrived.
Saturday 16th February
My blog this week highlights the best of the RCGC Instagram page, the stories behind the images and the strategy behind the stories.
Friday 15th February
The new Clubs are here and they are great!
Fantastic service from Titleist, who built and shipped the Clubs in 3 days. I rushed to the Driving Range last night and the early signs are brilliant. I love the headcovers too!
Thursday 14th February
It is a sad farewell to goalkeeping great and World Cup winner Gordon Banks who passed away this week.
Gordon visited RCGC a number of times. Here he is signing our visitors book and playing our very own ‘Wembley’, the Par 3 9th hole.
The photos were taken in 1998 during a Charity Day at the Club.
Wednesday 13th February
Great to be back on normal greens for the first time in a while after lots of wet weather and frost.
With temperatures getting into double figures and even a touch of sunshine, is the worst of the winter finally over?
Tuesday 12th February
The 17th at RCGC is only 120 yards from the back tees, but miss the green to the left and you will find yourself in one of the ‘Devil’s Pits’. Fancy your chances of getting up and down from here?
Monday 11th February
Anticipation for The Masters is starting to build. Download the excellent app for some great content.
I fancy Spieth to banish his demons this year. He looks refreshed and hungry after a relatively (for him) barren run of form.
Sunday 10th February
Ordering some new clubs is a great (but expensive) way of getting yourself motivated for the golfing season ahead. I am also considering putting my *new* (it lasted two rounds in 2018) putter back into play. Still plenty of time before my first competitive round of the year at the end of March, but plenty to ponder and work on.
Saturday 9th February
The body is absolutely battered today after hitting a lot of balls in my fitting session yesterday and then fighting the gale force wind for a few holes afterwards. On the sofa it is then in front of some 6 Nations action.
The discipline, organisation and grit of the rugby players are traits that all sportsmen and leaders can learn from.
Friday 8th February
Absolutely awesome and fascinating day at the Titleist National Fitting Centre in St Ives today. I learnt so much about my game. Look out for the blog about my experience published Sunday!
Thursday 7th February
There are many deep bunkers at RCGC, but possibly the toughest bunker shots on the course are from any of the 4 traps on the left of the 18th to a back pin position. Literally no margin for error to get the ball close to the hole.
Wednesday 6th February
As a Manager of a cliff-top golf club with aspirations to improve the course, it is a treat to see the worlds best players compete on two of the best cliff-top courses in the world.
Reading about and watching Torrey Pines, it is clear that the design and conditioning of both courses could be improved. On the other hand, Pebble Beach probably contains the best stretch of cliff-top holes anywhere in the world. It is beneficial to study and learn from their design.
Tuesday 5th February
What on earth was Sergio Garcia thinking when scuffing up and taking divots from those greens in Saudi over the week-end? Kudos to the European Tour for the DQ but why such cloak and dagger over the details? Anyway the guy is almost 40 and maybe it is time that he grows up.
Monday 4th February
I love discovering new bits of history related to RCGC. Just before Christmas we were given this really cool course guide from 1949, written by the Club Professional of the time, Ernie Plummer. There are many interesting things in the guide, including the no longer there huge cross bunker on our signature lighthouse hole.
Sunday 3rd February
Absolutely glorious sunny afternoon on the links but a little Baltic in the shade. Trying to remove some of the rust before my custom-fit session on Friday.
In other news I finally admitted defeat by moving to a Grade 1 all over haircut. Depressing but liberating.
Saturday 2nd February
Writing my blog on the State of the Game 2019 today. There are lots of positives and negatives in the industry at the moment so it should be an interesting and controversial read.
Friday 1st February
The extension to the Pro-Shop got the green light from the committee this week. It will include a swing studio and putting zone incorporating the latest computer technology. These will be great features to benefit members and attract non-members to the Club for lessons and custom-fit sessions, especially in the winter months.
Thursday 31st January
It was a weird afternoon at RCGC today, with the fog rolling in below the level of the cliff. It made for an eerie atmosphere, but some lovely photos.
Wednesday 30th January
The North Sea is a wonderful thing and today it helped to keep the snow away from the coast whilst there was a layer to cover your garden just a mile or so inland.
The monthly management committee meeting took place this evening and among other things, online competition booking got the green light. Even at a traditional club like RCGC, it is important to utilise technology at a sensible pace of change, otherwise you fall behind your competitors.
Tuesday 29th January
Course development is at the very centre of the RCGC long-term plan and we are fortunate to have an outstanding greens team who can complete almost every project in-house. The photos show the recent creation of the left hand fairway bunker on the 6th hole.
Low handicap golfers can carry the current bunker and so the new trap will force them to play down the right side of the hole and risk the cliff edge.
Monday 28th January
An utterly ridiculous 2-shot penalty imposed on Li Haotong yesterday costing him $100,000. For God’s sake it is clear that the caddie was not lining him up but just moving out of the way having read the line of the putt.
Why do the ruling authorities continue to make a laughing stock out of the game? What must non-golfers think? At the same time they continue to be weak on slow play. Golfers just want to keep things simple and fast. Is that so hard?
Sunday 27th January
Some truly outstanding holes included in my top 5 toughest Par 4’s in Norfolk published today.
Read the blog here.
In the real world some huge Norfolk skies were on show as I discovered a great circular walk around White Horse Common near Bacton with Hollie today.
Saturday 26th January
My best range session of the winter today. The long game and mental focus are certainly in a decent place to enter the season, but my lack of on-course game time means my short game will need some sharpening up. With a lack of any indoor facility to practice this area of the game in the region, I am reliant on some good weather to get this side of my game into decent shape.
Friday 25th January
Just finalising the end of year paperwork for our accountants to collect for the auditing process to take place. 2018 showed record revenue across all major areas including membership subscriptions, visitor green fees, buggy hire and bar takings. Having said that there is much to do to reach our long-term goals.
Thursday 24th January
With the cold snap continuing, my golf is certainly undercooked. I hope and plan to get some rust off before I visit the Titleist Fitting Centre on 8th February.
Wednesday 23rd January
Razor sharp twitter account ‘Outspoken Secretary’ certainly hits the mark.
I just wish to put on record that it is not me!
Tuesday 22nd January
Is there anything good about the middle of January?
Frozen windscreens, temporary greens and piles of admin combine to depress even the most positive of golf club managers.
Cheer yourself up by booking some great golf for the summer. I now have Sunningdale confirmed for September so that removes the frown!
Monday 21st January
My latest blog features the most difficult holes in my home County of Norfolk.
Some of the top 10 are just flat out long and difficult designs. Others are made difficult by an element of poor design.
Read the first part of the blog here.
Sunday 20th January
I am looking forward to using science to try to learn more and improve my game in a series of blogs over the Spring & Summer.
Today I learnt the type of benefit that could be achieved. Yesterday I read an online article where an experiment had been conducted to measure the best way to aim in golf. The results had shown a significant advantage to those players that used an intermediate target over those that aimed at the ultimate target, or a point on the horizon.
And so at the Driving Range today, half-way through a particularly inconsistent bucket of balls, I decided to change my traditional technique of using a point on the horizon to aim. Switching to an intermediate target just a few feet in front of the ball immediately showed up that I had been aiming left of the target with my previous technique.
After a few balls to adjust, the results were a much straighter series of shots with all clubs in the bag. 30 years of playing golf and I had never tried this simple aiming strategy before!
Saturday 19th January
I managed to catch a bit of the golf from Abu Dhabi where Shane Lowry captured the title. I have always thought that with his short game he should be in contention more and making Ryder Cup teams. Perhaps this victory will give him the boost to reach that level.
On the flip side, it concerns me a little that somebody can win an event at that level with a fairways hit percentage of just 38% as Lowry did. It just goes to show that accuracy off the tee is no longer that important. Length and holing putts are now the crucial elements for a Pro golfer. I wonder what Ben Hogan would of made of it all?
Friday 18th January
Took a visit out onto the course to see the progress of the winter development work. The 4th tee and surrounds are now growing in well, whilst the new bunker on the 6th fairway is taking shape (photo).
The bunker on the right will be filled in to encourage the golfer to take on the right side of the hole (and the cliff). The option to play left of the left-hand bunkers will remain but this will certainly take away the opportunity to reach the green in 2.
Thursday 17th January
More work on updating the 3-year forecast today. At the centre of the plan is course development. This work is already well underway as the photos show:
The 9th hole is on the left and 18th on the right. Bottom images show the updated hole. Improvements in all areas but still much to do.
Wednesday 16th January
Finishing up preparations for the admin of our 2019 Open events to make entry available on the website.
Are these events worth it for the promotion of a Club, or are we just being busy fools and needlessly offering cut-price golf?
Tuesday 15th January
Early feedback on the new Rules of Golf from the membership is mixed.
Putting with the flag in from long range seems to speed up play. Taking drops from knee height is awkward and weird. Some confusion around touching the sand in bunkers and taking practice swings and also around the stroke and distance local rule.
Monday 14th January
Yesterday I published my Big Golf Quiz 2019.
Category 1: A: Thetford B: Bawburgh C: Eaton D: Ryston Park E: Hunstanton F: Heacham Manor G: Royal West Norfolk H: Kings Lynn I: Feltwell J: Sheringham.
Category 2: A: 17th B: 8th C: 11th D: 10th E: 2nd F: 12th G: 7th H: 3rd I: 13th J: 18th
Category 3: A: Rye B: Ganton C: Woodhall Spa D: The Berkshire E: Royal Liverpool F: Notts G: Cavendish H: Royal West Norfolk I: Hunstanton J: Saunton
Category 4: A: Beef Johnston B: Webb Simpson C: Michelle Wie D: JH Taylor E: Francesco Molinari F: Eddie Pepperell G: Ben Hogan H: Walter Hagen I: Brooke Henderson J: Lexi Thompson
Category 5: A: Hugh Grant B: Catherine Zeta-Jones C: Justin Timberlake D: Jessica Alba E: Mick Hucknall F: Mark Hughes G: Glenn Hoddle H: Denise Van-Outen I: Barack Obama J: Alfonso Ribeiro.
Sunday 13th January
A welcome day of rest.
I am very excited to see, promote and embrace the second golden generation of golf course architecture. Read the wonderful blog by The Fried Egg to learn more.
Saturday 12th January
Another Saturday in the office followed by a few holes of golf.
As outlined in my latest blog, I took up the game in the early 1990’s, just as Drivers were transitioning from persimmon to metal to 460cc titanium.
I have never really made the transition that well myself such as teeing the ball high enough with the modern Driver to launch the ball high with low spin. I am trying to break old habits, embrace modern technique and tee the ball higher!
Friday 11th January
An evening dedicated to the new Rules of golf presented by the entertaining Mike Rees today.
I have not had a chance to get on the course properly myself this year, but on the social media coverage that I have been following, the early conclusions seem to be that putting with the flag in saves time and that knee high drops are awkward.
Thursday 10th January
I am excited to take my blog in a slightly different direction in 2019, combining my addiction to the game with my passion for science – hopefully with conclusions gained to help my game and others. Look out for a different experiment each month.
Wednesday 9th January
I enjoyed writing last weeks blog about some of my favourite clubs, balls and clothing from when I took up the game in the early 1990’s. One of the Clubs that I did not have room to include was my old Tad Moore putter.
Gosh I was fearless with that thing. A lesson though – never sell or swop old putters. I would love to see if the magic was still there!
Read the full blog here.
Tuesday 8th January
Just occasionally as a Golf Club Secretary you secretly wish for a couple of days of bad weather and course closures to allow you to catch up on paperwork and get new employees settled in. Now is that time.
Monday 7th January
A quirk of the World Rankings lifts Justin Rose back up to World Number 1 without even playing. Will his recent switch to Honma Golf Clubs pay-off? For me it is not a risk worth taking to switch at this point in his career. No-matter how many millions he was offered, you only get so many chances to win a major and this is ultimately where he will be judged. Plenty of golfers struggle with major equipment changes and Honma is a bit of an unknown quantity.
Sunday 6th January
A welcome day off.
Is there anything more depressing than watching the golf from Hawaii and then looking out the window to the cold and grey?
Saturday 5th January
Another Saturday in the office. This one is much quieter but at least allowed me to catch up with some work towards the end of year accounts.
Friday 4th January
Its a bit like Groundhog Day at the moment.
Get up. Watch some news about Brexit. Go to work. Process some membership payments. Process some more membership payments. Come home. Dinner. More rubbish about Brexit on the TV. Bed.
And go again….
Thursday 3rd January
Starting to build up some decent content on the RCGC instagram account now, including this beauty titled ‘Four Seasons’
See the full account here.
Wednesday 2nd January
First day of work of 2019, or as I call it ‘Rush Hour’. A non-stop tag team of members wanting to pay their subscriptions and visitors wanting to book their golf day for the summer.
Poor Lynda, an intense introduction to RCGC on her first day in the office. I hope she comes back tomorrow!
Tuesday 1st January 2019
A roast dinner followed by a long walk in the country was a perfect way to start 2019. And we managed to avoid the showers.
Monday 31st December
Another busy day at RCGC. Very good weather for the time of the year makes a big difference in this week more than any other and just provides a top-up on the revenue before year end.
Sunday 30th December
Pretty proud to complete my 47th blog of the year. I started the blog to improve at a skill that I enjoyed at school but have not practiced much since. I think I achieved my aims in this regard.
Read my reflections on 2018 in That Was The Year That Was.
Saturday 29th December
We open the office up on Saturdays at this time of the year to enable members to pay their annual membership and collect their renewal packs.
Managed to nip out for a few holes after work. In 2018, my golf results were perhaps better than my performances as I managed myself and my game well enough to pick up a few top 3 results.
If I want to hit my goal for 2019 of a 1.5 shot improvement per round however, I simply have to hit the ball better. There are some technical and equipment issues that I need to address, but I have a plan to be ready for my first competition of 2019 in late March.
Friday 28th December
Starting to update the 3-year forecast for RCGC in preparation to present to the committee in late January.
We have been lucky enough to hit all of our main targets for 2018 and so the main path remains unaltered. It is important, however, that you always keep things fresh and current and so this is a vital exercise at this time of the year.
Thursday 27th December
Back in the office today. Always a bonus to have some decent weather between Christmas and the New Year as it can help to just top-up revenue before the year-end.
Wednesday 26th December
Boxing Day. Loads of leftover food. Still some wine left. A dog walk. Football on the tele. Perfect.
Tuesday 25th December
A lovely family Christmas Day. We even had a famous visitor for lunch.
Monday 24th December
A half day in the office before home, walk the dog and family movies.
Sunday 23rd December
A visit to the driving range at Sprowston Manor. Took some video of the swing for the first time in ages. This can be useful but can also encourage paralysis by analysis and so must be used carefully.
Saturday 22nd December
My new assistant Lynda is now all signed up and ready to start on 2nd January. A young lady with intelligence, personality and courage. I look forward to helping her adapt to her new environment in the coming months.
Friday 21st December
2019 is fast approaching and with it a few significant changes in the Rules of Golf. Lots of information has been sent to the membership, but as ever there are bound to be a few teething problems.
Thursday 20th December
Thoughts turn to the end of year accounts and making sure that we get as much of the subscription cash and cheques down to the bank before the 31st December to help the Balance Sheet. I am looking forward to returning to a full compliment in the office at this busy time.
Wednesday 19th December
Hosted the Norfolk PGA Pro-Am at RCGC today. I played in a team with our Professional Lee Patterson and we just missed out on top spot, finishing second on countback.
I have to say that the course was playing fantastically for the time of the year, full credit to our team of greenstaff.
Tuesday 18th December
I have not really had the chance to get into Christmas yet, but things just settle down a little bit until the New Year at work now, so lets hope to feel that spirit!
Monday 17th December
I enjoyed my recap of my favourite photos of the year.
See Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
This image was not included but I like it anyway.
It shows an unusual view towards the 15th green from the 14th fairway.
Sunday 16th December
Another grind at the Driving Range. Debating whether to make a trip to the Titleist National Fitting Centre in the New Year in Cambridgeshire to try out new Drivers.
I have been to this facility before and it contains an excellent combination of technology and a wide range of demo options for trial as well as highly trained club fitters.
Saturday 15th December
I popped up to the Club today to see the Junior Prizegiving/Christmas Party and it was inspiring to watch the kids passion, fun and excitement. Also slightly weird to watch Santa do the floss!
Friday 14th December
Until we appoint Kathy’s replacement we are short-staffed in the office and it meant I was on my own today. It can get quite mad in this situation as you try to answer the phone, respond to face to face enquiries and get on with your normal work. It is pleasing and depressing at the same time to see the pile of membership renewals pile up quicker than you can process them.
Thursday 13th December
An excellent regional GCMA working meeting today held at the St Georges Whisky Distillery near Thetford. Lots of positive discussion about a range of topics.
The day also included a tour of the distillery. Learnt lots about the process of making whisky. I never realised that it evaporates in the barrel over time and this is why 30 or 40 year old editions are so expensive – there is hardly any left!
Wednesday 12th December
Working hard at a heavy time of year for admin, especially being short-staffed in the office with Kathy gone off on her travels and the newbie not yet in place.
Tuesday 11th December
Sometimes the beauty of the early mornings here does take your breath away. Today was cold (just above freezing), but with no wind it did not feel too bad. This shot was taken from behind the 18th green at about 8.30am.
Monday 10th December
The recruitment process for the new admin/marketing assistant has now moved on to 2nd interview stage, where the remaining candidates will spend a couple of hours in the office in a much more informal way. I have to say that I am a fan of this and find much greater benefit to finding out about the true person than in a very formal environment.
Sunday 9th December
Xmas Social Golf this afternoon followed by food, a band and carols.
I do think that there is more and more demand for this type of relaxed competition rather than a constant stream of medals and stablefords. It is something that Clubs need to consider when reviewing their fixture lists.
Saturday 8th December
Not really moved off the sofa today after the celebrations last night.
Friday 7th December
The annual staff Xmas party today. We are blessed with an excellent team here at RCGC and today offers a deserved chance to let their hair down.
Thursday 6th December
The 17th at RCGC is only a short Par 3, but if you miss the green to the left you will find yourself in one of the ‘Devil’s Pits’, a pair of deep depressions incorporating a terrifying bunker.
Do you fancy your chances of getting up and down from here?
Wednesday 5th December
Golf Club’s across the country raise thousands for Charity every year and RCGC is no exception. 2018 was a very fine effort with Club Captain Mick Baxter and Ladies Captain Alex Mournian combining to raise £7000 for their chosen charity, Big C.
The total was swelled by over £2000 from a sponsored sky-dive from two very brave employees Kathy & Charlotte. Congratulations to all involved.
Tuesday 4th December
It was a stunningly clear morning today. Lots of photos at RCGC feature the view over the North Sea, but here is one taken this morning from the 16th fairway of the 17th green and beyond to Eastern Cromer.
Monday 3rd December
RCGC has finally got the instagram page up and running. Find it here.
Sunday 2nd December
My blog this week examines the process of evaluating your golf game in order to develop the most efficient pathway to improve. Probably one for golf nerds only, but if you want to check it out, you can find it here.
Saturday 1st December
An early visit to the Club to watch newly elected Captains Will and Barbara Drive-In. Once again the weather was on our side with the rain keeping off. There was a nice crowd to enjoy mulled wine and mince pies, and the Drives were straight and true.
Friday 30th November
A trip out to see the progress on the winter work and progress has been swift. Digger work is now complete on the 4th tee and the 10th tee/11th surrounds works and both areas have been hydro-seeded. This is a new process to me but should insulate the grass seed and encourage growth.
Plenty of gorse, bunker and vegetation work for the team to move onto next.
Thursday 29th November
108 players at RCGC for the Norfolk Alliance today. The biggest field they have attracted anywhere for a couple of years apparently. The forecast wind did not reach expected levels and the Southerly direction meant it was mild so conditions were not as bad as expected. 3 tied at +1 for lowest Professional score including home player Lee Patterson.
Wednesday 28th November
Another long day completed by a fairly routine Annual General Meeting. We should be thankful for that.
I managed to get out of the office for an hour before the late meeting to enjoy fish and chips on the pier. Lovely.
Tuesday 27th November
Delighted to have games at Aldeburgh and Sunningdale booked for 2019. Also hoping to qualify to play at Ganton as well as visiting Royal Birkdale and Hoylake during Walker Cup week in September.
Monday 26th November
A late finish tonight with the Management Committee meeting starts off a pretty relentless week. Some member disciplinary issues to deal with makes a hard few days just that bit more difficult.
Sunday 25th November
Some forward planning for a busy and always slightly frantic week that includes the final Management Committee meeting for the present group and the Annual General Meeting.
Saturday 24th November
My ploy to bring forward and complete my ‘winter’ technical swing work in my recent 3-week break from competitive play has just about paid dividends despite some minor physical niggles caused by the extra practice.
I now feel in a good place to concentrate on other, non-technical marginal gains over the next 4 months including physical fitness, short-game variety and clubbing distances in order to bring my scoring average down in 2019.
Friday 23rd November
Played in a Norfolk PGA Pro-Am today alongside RCGC Professional Lee Patterson at Sheringham Golf Club. The day was dank but still, with the course playing long from the back tees. Lee finished T-4 in the individual Pros with Level Par.
I was happy with my ball striking which was much improved on recent efforts. My score was an approximate +4 – a good recovery after being three over through four holes.
Thursday 22nd November
It is always an important date in the year when the draft of the members diary is agreed with the printers. Of course, with fixture details or members contact details changing constantly, the paper diary is virtually out-of-date as soon as it arrives, but it is still a relief to hit deadlines and get it out there.
Wednesday 21st November
At this time of the year we often reflect on what we have seen and done during the previous 11/12 months. Perhaps my favourite memory from watching the Pro’s in 2018 was Georgia Hall winning the Ladies British Open at Royal Lytham. Such poise and skill under pressure and just topping the Ryder Cup for me.
Tuesday 20th November
I find ‘The Match’ between Tiger & Phil a little grotesque and have no idea why Tiger in particular would want to do it. It is a shame that it will overshadow a great event on a fantastic golf course this week in the World Cup of Golf in Australia.
Monday 19th November
It can be quite depressing and extremely de-motivating to receive thoughtless comments on Club social media output.
I am sure that the individuals posting these type of messages do not have any idea the effect on staff that are generally going over and above their job specifications in order to keep people updated and promote the Club.
Sunday 18th November
A morning sorting through candidates for our admin/marketing assistant (now more than 70 candidates!)
Managed to sneak out for a few holes before darkness fell after lunch. Bright and breezy with plenty of white horses on the North Sea.
Saturday 17th November
Today I learnt the benefits of taking notes on your golf game.
After struggling with my driving, irons and general ball striking in the second half of the season, I have been trying to make some technical changes in the last couple of weeks. All I really have to show for it is frustration and repetitive strain injuries.
Today I re-read my notes from earlier in the season when I was playing well. A return to familiar swing thoughts and generally keeping things simple led to a good range session, a bit of confidence and happiness!
Friday 16th November
A week of behind the scenes preparations – AGM, membership renewals, Kathys replacement, committee meetings and marketing plans. The real guts of being a General Manager.
Thursday 15th November
Postal voting is now open for our AGM, with 5 candidates for 3 committee spaces as well as the usual officers and subscription rates to vote on.
This was introduced a couple of years ago and it is fair to say that opinion was split to its merits. I have to say that the evidence so far is positive, with more votes being cast without any noticeable effect on attendance figures on the evening.
Wednesday 14th November
It is the gruelling 6-round European Tour School this week with 156 players competing for just 25 places on next years circuit. I think that Sky miss a trick not covering this event in more detail as there are some great stories and much more drama than most run-of-the mill Tour events generate.
Tuesday 13th November
Sometimes nature is amazing and as golfers we are in a great place to appreciate that. Took this photo whilst out on a walk with Hollie the other day.
Monday 12th November
I have made a pretty basic and stupid error by getting injured by overpractice whilst trying to implement movement pattern changes.
It is so easy to go beyond your physical capabilities in the quest for improvement. My issue is likely a minor muscle problem in my neck/shoulder but I will still miss a few days repetitions that would have helped with my swing changes.
Nobody is better to advise on the physical side of golf than the Titleist Performance Institute. Follow them on twitter here.
Sunday 11th November
Saturday 10th November
For some reason, we do not have many good photos of the par 3 17th in our collection. Here is one I took yesterday on my way to see the 4th tee development.
This is a gorgeous little hole which I call ‘The Devils Work’ due to the dramatic drop-off on the left of the green into ‘The pit of Hell’.
Friday 9th November
The winter work on the 4th tee is now showing significant progress. The photo on the right was taken a couple of weeks ago and the one on the left today.
The back of the tee has been raised (there will be 3 tiers) and you can see the difference it has made to the view with golfers now able to see the fairway from the tee.
Thursday 8th November
More than 50 applications already for our vacant admin/marketing assistant role. Lots of CV’s to sort through!
Wednesday 7th November
I have aches and pains in several areas after hitting lots of range balls on Sunday & Monday. I must be getting old.
Practice for the next few days is therefore restricted to swinging without a club in the house. Actually I can recommend this approach as it takes away the focus on results and can therefore make changing movement patterns easier.
Tuesday 6th November
It is difficult to find a corner to place anything in the office at the moment, with piles of paper everywhere in preparation for the AGM, postal voting and subscription invoices.
Monday 5th November
Have managed to hit around 300 balls yesterday and this evening at the driving range, working on the technical changes identified as part of my plan developed on Saturday.
I was ready to go away in a corner and cry half way through my bucket of balls yesterday, but perserverance prevailed and I am really excited with the changes. My next game is not until the end of the month so it gives me a window to bed in the alterations so I am ready to work my butt off to be ready for that.
Sunday 4th November
An entertaining Winter Ball at the Club last night, where the bar takings would have been healthy.
Saturday 3rd November
A really good analysis and planning session today to set my golf improvement targets for 2019.
The ‘My Round Pro’ stats show an improvement in strokes gained short game from -0.9 to +0.27 in the period from July compared to the first half of the year, an improvement of more than a stroke per round. This shows that the work I have been doing is paying dividends.
To counter this, both my strokes gained driving (+0.32 to +0.17) and my strokes gained approach (+0.77 to +0.11) have fallen during the second half of the year as my practice time has been focused on the short game.
The trick now is to maintain my short game improvements whilst bringing my ball-striking back to previous levels (and beyond). I now have plans in place to achieve this before season opening games at Sheringham and Aldeburgh in the Spring of 2019.
Friday 2nd November
Being a good manager and achieving great results is largely about creating and maintaining a top team of people around you. It is not simply a case of recruiting the right people and then sitting back though as even good staff can become a negative influence if they become lackadaisical after being there a while. So it is a constant balancing act.
Thursday 1st November
Back in the office and sorting out recruitment procedure for our new admin/marketing assistant. Details here.
Already received half a dozen applicants this afternoon so it looks like I could have a lot of CV’s to sort through.
Wednesday 31st October
Played in the Caister Pairs today. A bang average 35 points on my own ball on a good day for scoring. There were some positives to take:
- I experimented with a different golf ball (Pro V1x) from my usual Callaway Chrome Soft and I found it held its line well in the wind and felt great around the greens. The change could be permanent.
- My chipping and putting was probably as good as it has been all year, with some technical and mental changes paying dividends.
- My improvement goals for the winter are becoming clearer.
Tuesday 30th October
I am gutted to be losing my admin & marketing assistant Kathy, who is leaving to travel Asia and Australia. Kathy has been with us for two years and has made a big impression with her skill and personality. I think we have made a good team and we are losing a great asset.
Nevertheless there is a fantastic employment opportunity for somebody. Look out for the advert later this week.
Monday 29th October
Whilst at the beach yesterday, my mind drifted to how cool it would be to bring a bag of golf balls and a 7-iron and practice on the hard sand. So good for your ball striking. I guess it brings back memories of the pictures and tales of Seve when I was just getting into the game.
I can’t help thinking though, that if I was to do this at Mundesley, I would probably be arrested.
Sunday 28th October
A bright and breezy walk at Mundesley this afternoon with Sarah and Hollie. Just about managed to avoid the showers.
Saturday 27th October
Our annual prize-giving evening tonight. We have some magnificent silver, some of which is over 200 years old and it is lovely to see it all out together. All of the winners should be congratulated for their achievements.
My favourite picture of the evening though is of 85 year old Billy. Billy stopped playing a few years ago following a stroke, but he was here to support the winners and enjoy a large glass of red wine.
Friday 26th October
Starting to prepare the paperwork for membership renewal invoices. It is the only time that we now send paper copies to all 750 members. Is this still necessary?
The other dilemma relates to how much do you print before the AGM – when everything could be changed? Or do you leave it to after the AGM, meaning that the information will likely be 5-6 days later to the membership?
Thursday 25th October
Took this photo on my way to see the progress of the work on the 4th tee today. It is a rarely photographed angle of the 1st green/2nd tee but I like it.
Wednesday 24th October
Whilst reading this article on the Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic by the consistently brilliant Jonathan Liew of the Independent, my mind drifted to the under utilisation of the eyes in golf. I am want to believe that many players focus too heavily on technique and choke the natural feel that visualisation can provide.
Particularly in the short game, proper focus on the target and use of the eyes to scan the environment, combined with sound technique and trust can lead to incredible results. Check out this old footage of Seve playing in the Ryder Cup. Watch his eyes and you will begin to uncover the secret of his magic.
It is something I will be working on over the winter.
Tuesday 23rd October
The future direction of golf course design and architecture is changing to reflect the demands of modern society. It has a welcome emphasis on sustainability and most of all fun.
Read this great article from the NY Times on Sweetens Cove, a 9-hole course that is helping to literally change the game.
Monday 22nd October
Our winter course development work starts this week with a project to improve the visuals for the golfer from the 4th tee. We have made some useful short videos to explain this and other development work. View them all here.
Sunday 21st October
Almost certainly my last Sunday afternoon golfing of the year with the hour falling back next week. I had hoped to take some great photos but of course the cloud rolled in to ruin the light. I did manage a couple whilst the sun was out.
Saturday 20th October
A quiet day after a week of meetings and deadlines. Watched a bit of the golf from Valderrama. Looks like a very narrow and tough course which makes Sergio’s 64 an incredible score.
Friday 19th October
I quite often go for a quick walk before work to enjoy the morning freshness. Usually I go from the clubhouse, up to the lighthouse, along the cliff, cut across the 13th and 16th, enjoy the view from the 17th and return up the 18th fairway. Today was lovely.
Managed to get the AGM paperwork out to allow a stress free week-end.
Thursday 18th October
Spent the morning at home drafting up the minutes from yesterdays meetings. Headed to work later on to sort out the paperwork for the AGM. The constitution sets a deadline of 35 days for the notice to be relayed to the membership so that gives me a couple of days to finalise, post and email the information to our c.750 members.
Wednesday 17th October
A long afternoon of meetings to agree the budget for 2019 and therefore to set the subscription rates. These will now be published to the membership in advance of a vote at the AGM on 28/11.
Tuesday 16th October
A visit to Gog Magog Golf Club today with our Bar Manager Jamie. These visits to other Clubs are always worthwhile. The Gogs is a 36 hole complex with a busy food and beverage operation so there was plenty to observe and learn.
It was also an excellent time of the year to play the course with the many trees lovely shades of autumnal colours. Unfortunately I left my phone in the car so there were no photos. The golf was an improvement on recent efforts with 36 points despite a terrible start.
Monday 15th October
Took delivery of our first 50 copies of the 2019 calendar today. Will be giving a few away but also on sale for £10. Quite happy with the finished product despite a last minute change of supplier.
Sunday 14th October
A trip to the driving range today inspired by yesterdays golf and trying to rectify a fairly lacklustre couple of months for my game. Not a perfect session but came away knowing the reasons for the bad shots and how to avoid them. Also swopped back to the old putter and immediately felt more comfortable with the lighter weight. Will review this area again at the end of the month.
Also really pleased to watch Eddie Pepperell hang on for a deserved victory at Walton Heath. He dug in with difficult conditions and the victory will open a lot of doors as he enters the World top 50.
Saturday 13th October
A 4.30am alarm call this morning for arrival at the wonderful Walton Heath Golf Club at first light (photo) for a day at the British Masters. Look out for my blog tomorrow for the full story of the day.
Friday 12th October
As golfers across the country wind down their seasons in preparation for the clocks falling back, Golf Club Managers (at least those with a 31/12 end of financial year) rev up for a busy period.
The next few weeks are full of deadlines – AGM paperwork, 2019 diary, prize-giving, annual accounts and 2019 budgets to name a few.
Thursday 11th October
Played in a Ryder-Cup style match-play event today between members here at RCGC. Enjoyed the afternoon immensely and managed to win our match. Having said that, I relied almost exclusively on an in-form partner in the 4BBB format and today added to a number of shocking match-play performances this season.
Reflecting this evening on possible reasons I have concluded that in strokeplay I manage to stay ‘in the present’ quite well, stay relaxed and not get too far ahead of myself. In matchplay I seem to push too hard, focus too much on my opponents and generally let my mind race ahead. Definitely something to work on and improve for 2019.
Wednesday 10th October
Putting together the budgets for 2019 and the proposed subscription rates ready for presentation to the finance committee next week. Utility costs are perhaps the biggest headache from an expenditure point of view. We have recently renewed our electricity contract after a 3-year fixed deal and the increases are eye-watering.
I am also concerned about the costs of laundry and particularly the 50+ towels that have gone ‘missing’ from the Gents Changing rooms this year. How long should the Golf Club keep funding this luxury?
Tuesday 9th October
Excellent GCMA Norfolk meeting today at Wensum Valley Golf & Hotel. Great networking and interesting talks from Rainbird and England Golf. The hotel has been extended since I last visited and was looking really smart.
Undulating, bumpy greens kept a lid on the afternoon scoring and so 34 points was enough to take 1st place. Very happy with my wedge play, which for the first time in years was probably the best part of my game. A few missed short putts cost me a low score but a win is a win!
Monday 8th October
I have games planned at Wensum Valley, RCGC, Gog Magog and Great Yarmouth during October and so this is a great chance to finish off the season in style. Hopefully I can see some results from the wedge practice I have been undertaking.
Whatever the performances are like, I will be using the stats from these rounds to refine my improvement goals for the winter period.
Sunday 7th October
Autumn is my favourite time of the year. We are lucky to have a number of long distance footpaths near where we live that show off the colours beautifully.
Photos taken from my walk with Hollie today on and around the Weavers Way, that runs from Cromer to Great Yarmouth. My walk today was from North Walsham to Felmingham and back.
Saturday 6th October
A depressingly grey and wet day for the 71st visit of the Barnet Rugby Club Golf Society to RCGC. Whilst the conditions may encourage a few of the matches to finish early, time in the bar will not be wasted.
Friday 5th October
Creating high quality promotional videos is one thing but they only become value for money if you can get them seen by thousands of people.
This is where social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook come into their own. Quick and free (although the paid ads on facebook are also value for money), with a bit of intelligent posting you can reach a huge audience instantly. So many Golf Clubs ignore social media and I think they are missing a trick.
Thursday 4th October
The course development videos are now live on the RCGC website.
These professionally made short clips are great ways to get messages to a large number of people very quickly. Fun and interesting, slightly cheesy with great visuals, they have achieved all that I wanted them too.
Click here to see the finished articles.
Wednesday 3rd October
Autumn is really setting in now at RCGC. The course is still in superb condition. Photo of 18th green this morning.
Tuesday 2nd October
Today saw the replay of our annual Am-Am, which was abandoned in May after 3 holes due to thick fog. 21 teams played in a best two from four scoring format and uniquely everybody wins a prize!
It is perfect to mix some serious individual competition with some more relaxed, social outings and this fell firmly in the latter category.
Monday 1st October
Amongst other things, we were finishing off the first Royal Cromer calendar today. Not easy to pick 12 photos from the vast collection we hold, but we have tried to capture the feel of the month in each one.
I am sure you can guess the month that the below photo will represent.
Sunday 30th September
Europe deservedly win back the Ryder Cup with a thumping 17.5 – 11.5 victory. Is it all Tiger’s fault?
Now to make it clear – I think Woods was slightly unlucky to go 0-4 this week. He had two out of form partners in Reed and DeChambeau, and from what I watched, there were players that played worse overall but won points. But has he inspired a generation of ‘bomb and gauge’ players unable to adapt and grind their way around a layout such as Le Golf National?
Where have the ‘steady’ and passionate American players gone? Think Pavin, Stricker, Leonard, Furyk, Floyd and compare them to Dustin Johnson, Finau, Bubba Watson, Koepka & Fowler. The 2018 team is perhaps more talented, but who would you rather have on your team to grind out a match-play victory on a tough course?
Saturday 29th September
Thoughts from day 2 of the Ryder Cup:
- The Americans have still not come to terms with the course set-up.
- Frankie Molinari has had a transformation in his self-confidence and looks a potential world number 1.
- Spirited fightback from the USA this afternoon and they do not look beaten quite yet.
- Jordan Spieth must be the most annoying golfer to play against when his putting is hot.
- Windy conditions would help the Europeans tomorrow.
- I hate to admit it, but I quite liked the Europeans ‘rust’ colored shirts.
Friday 28th September
Ryder Cup Day 1 recap:
Europe take a 5-3 lead following a 4-0 Foursomes whitewash.
Make no mistake, this American team is in a spot of bother. They seem ill equipped to put together even a single decent foursomes pairing and it would be a surprise if Europe do not trounce them again in this format tomorrow. What Furyk would give to have a Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker or even himself available in the alternate shot format.
The course set-up clearly favours the ‘solid’ European players (Rory aside) against the ‘flashy’ Americans and it is clearly game-on with the underdogs on top.
Thursday 27th September
The sunny weather has allowed filming of our new promotional videos to be completed this week. We should have the results in 1-2 weeks so watch this space…..
Wednesday 26th September
It is a huge bonus to get lovely sunny weeks of weather in late September and helps to keep the green fees flowing in. Here are a few pics taken in the last few days:
Tuesday 25th September
No escaping from Ryder Cup fever this week. I have to admit that, from the pictures that I have seen, I would not rush out to play Le Golf National, but it will play a crucial part if Europe are to prevail. Look for the long hitters to be punished severely for a wayward tee shot.
Another crucial aspect that may have a bearing is that the Americans play 8 different golf balls between them. If Europe is to win, then the alternate shot foursomes will be crucial.
Monday 24th September
Great to see golf as the leading article on newspaper back pages and sporting news bulletins. Tiger Woods is a character that reaches way beyond the sport as one of the most recognisable people on the planet.
And as if the Ryder Cup needed any more hype! It should be a rowdy week.
Sunday 23rd September
Only one story to dominate the golfing world today – Tiger’s 80th career victory and first for 5 years at the Tour Championship. The amazing crowd scenes and a 200% increase in TV viewers confirm the Tiger effect is real.
In truth, the victory had been coming, with consistent finishes for the American throughout the summer. Whilst I am not usually a fan of the ‘he won it because he wanted it more’ theory – it seems overly simplistic and almost derogatory to me – on this occasion the saying seems apt, with Tiger’s sheer willpower the key to beating the field – many of which were on cruise control at the end of the season.
Saturday 22nd September
Another couple of hours grind at the short game practice area today. I enjoy the solitude and the process of trying to improve. I have been working on some technical changes in pitching, chipping and bunker shots. Some changes will work and some will not but signs are positive so far.
Friday 21st September
Lots of discussion around the 2019 fixture list at the moment. It is always difficult when sections of the Club pull in different directions and perhaps against the best interests of the Club.
What constitutes the best balance between holding enough competitions to keep the competitive members happy, whilst allowing time for social golfing members and vital income from visiting groups?
Every Club will have a different business model but I think in general it is important to consider the stats, that are easily available these days, on how and when members play, create a medium term plan or vision for the fixture list, and review it annually.
Thursday 20th September
More Royal visitors today from across the globe including Ascot, Jersey, Duff House, Perth, Mayfair (Canada), Quebec and Hobart.
Storm Ali made for sporty conditions but everybody seemed to have fun but looked very tired when they returned to the clubhouse!
Wednesday 19th September
Congratulations are due to Royal Norwich, who celebrate their 125th birthday this week. They are relocating to a newly designed course next year after selling the existing one for housing and it is an exciting move that could create a top class parkland course for Norfolk.
Tuesday 18th September
Member owned Golf Clubs are funny beasts – they need to be run like a business but many people do not consider them a business. There are rafts of committees and individual personalities that come and go year on year and most topics go around and around and come back every few years.
In my experience, the ideal scenario is between 5 and 7 members on the committee who care deeply for the Club, consider decisions for the Club as a whole rather than individuals or sections and overall let the staff use their initiative around a consistent long-term plan.
Monday 17th September
This period is one of the busiest for a golf club manager. Whilst the course and clubhouse are still very busy with golfers, there are a number of admin issues to deal with – 2019 diary, 130th anniversary dinner, 2019 fixture list, trophy presentation evening, online booking trial to name but a few. Busy days!
Sunday 16th September
Watched the last round of the Ladies Evian Masters today. Pleased for Angela Stanford but sad for Amy Olsen who made double at the last to lose by one after holding it together admirably throughout the day.
The average woman tour pro will hit the ball about the same distance as I do. It is tempting therefore to think that I could compete with them on a level playing field. The reality is that they would beat me by 4-6 shots per round on average. The main differences are in their amazing consistency (fairways hit) and their wedge play (proximity to the hole from <100yards).
Saturday 15th September
A rare Saturday round for me today as part of the Team Stableford competition. Some rust after several weeks without much golf led to a predictable performance without too many bright spots, although my revamped chipping technique worked well, and the round will stand me in good stead for the coming weeks.
Friday 14th September
From a course set-up point of view, the updated 2019 rules of golf ask a couple of interesting questions:
- Do you designate any new areas as ‘hazards’ with red stakes to allow players to drop beside the area the ball was lost rather than go back to where they played their previous shot? For example, at RCGC we have a number of blind shots – should we change areas of gorse or long rough that are unseen from the tee to hazards?
- With players now able to putt with the flagstick in the hole without penalty, do you consider thinner pins so there is no reason to remove them? At Cromer, with the exposed cliff-top location, we have little choice but to use heavy, thick flagpoles otherwise they would just blow away – so this will not change.
Thursday 13th September
The Ryder Cup teams are all set and despite the Europeans looking as strong as they have for a decade or more, the Americans will start as clear favourites.
The way that Captain Bjorn sets the course up could be crucial for European hopes. Expect narrow fairways with hazards set around 310 yards from the tee to catch the US big hitters like Johnson, Watson et al.
Look for important weeks from the consistent, straight hitters on the European side particularly Rose, Garcia, Stenson, Fleetwood, Noren, Hatton & Casey. Bjorn will hope that these players can dominate the Foursomes format and tip the scales in Europe’s favour.
Wednesday 12th September
The new Rules booklets have arrived at RCGC, to distribute to members prior to them coming into force on 1/1/2019. There are some significant changes, mainly designed to speed up play or simplify the processes. Will they be an improvement? Time will tell but I expect that in the main the updates will help the game – and after all the rules and rule book is currently so complicated and laughable that the R & A could not make them any worse.
The R & A have updated their website and mobile app to help guide golfers through the transition in rules. Read more here.
Tuesday 11th September
Absolutely chuffed for Justin Rose to reach World Number 1. It has been a pleasure to watch his progress from talented amateur to the very top of the tree. I have been fortunate to watch Rose live a few times and his ball-striking stands out above a very high level of competition. He is such a great ambassador for the game and this country is lucky to call him one of our own.
Monday 10th September
I have really enjoyed my quest to rediscover the original 18 holes at RCGC.
The layout is brilliantly routed with constant changes of direction keeping the golfer guessing regarding the ever-present wind. The natural undulations are used cleverly to create interest and drama.
Read about the front 9 here
The details of the back 9 are here
Here is a visual of the layout from 1905, hand drawn:
Sunday 9th September
Visited the practice area at RCGC today to practice my chipping and bunker shots. Like the vast majority of century old Clubs, Cromer is not blessed with the excess land required for a top-class practice facility but we have nevertheless worked diligently to make the best of what we have.
The chipping and bunker area beside the practice field is remote from the clubhouse and secluded away which is perfect for a stress free session.
In truth I have deliberately spent more of my practice time on the course this year and indeed found great benefit in doing so. Today, however, I wanted to experiment with subtle changes to technique and the practice area was the ideal place to maximise repetitions.
Saturday 8th September
Working at a member owned Golf Club with its traditional structure which thrusts well meaning but unqualified volunteers into positions of authority is unique, challenging and often frustrating. It is also tremendously rewarding, great fun and a great learning curve in workplace politics, relationships and influence for managers.
If I could change just one thing about the process of recruitment in this process, it would be that Clubs take more account of individuals skills when appointing them into specific positions. Golf Clubs, after all, have to be run as businesses in this competitive age.
Friday 7th September
Today at RCGC we welcomed visitors from Australia, South Africa, America and Canada. Lovely to meet folks from all over the world and listen to their experiences.
Thursday 6th September
Weather permitting, we are looking forward to Rob & Ashley visiting tomorrow to put together some promotional videos based around our course conditioning and development.
Short videos are such a great way of putting quality marketing across a very flexible range of platforms including our own, and partners websites as well as social media.
Check out the RCGC Overview video produced a couple of years ago here
Wednesday 5th September
Piecing together the 2019 diary makes you feel like you are wishing the rest of 2018 away. Needs must, however, and with the number of visitors booking for next year steadily increasing, it is vital that the Club and County fixtures get included asap in order to avoid embarrassing over-booking issues.
Tuesday 4th September
September, along with May and June, are our busiest months for visiting groups. Although Cromer itself is rammed with tourists throughout the school holidays, the higher prices for accommodation put off the touring golfers.
Monday 3rd September
We are starting a 3 month trial of online competition booking in October with the first events going ‘live’ this week. Of course I am expecting some teething problems but it has to be the preferred method of booking given it is 2018 right?
Sunday 2nd September
It has been a while since I had the chance for a few holes on a Sunday afternoon so it was a pleasure to pop out today. The views never get tiresome.
Saturday 1st September
Our Mens Open for the Gold Coast Cup was first played in 1932 and so it was the 86th edition today, with players from all over the East of England and beyond competing over 36 holes of medal. Despite perfect conditions, the scoring is generally not too low as the course is stretched to its limit and pin positions are set to challenge.
All in all, net 141 from an 8 handicap was solid golf from winner Kelvin Burns (Great Yarmouth & Caister) pictured below with Club Captain Mick Baxter
Friday 31st August
The Junior Open creates a unique and vibrant atmosphere in the season and this morning was a hive of activity as the little and not so little juniors scurried to get ready for action.
Thursday 30th August
Excited to get back to my usual blogging schedule this week. It will be the first of a two-part series and has required the most research of any blog so far. Nevertheless it is a subject that I have become interested in over the last couple of years and so cannot wait to finish it and publish.
Wednesday 29th August
Decided to trial a new, heavier style mallet putter (Odyssey Marxman) to combat my weakness on slower greens. Is it the solution? I will practice for the next few days before deciding on the purchase.
Tuesday 28th August
Wow! Going back to work after a Bank Holiday week-end is always hectic. Going back after a weeks holiday and a Bank Holiday is manic!
Brain is frazzled but on the positive side of things it should get me back up to pace quickly.
Monday 27th August
Well the scales do not lie and they suggest that I have indulged in enough food and drink to sink a small battleship.
The health kick starts here – more golf required!
Sunday 26th August
As my most welcome of summer breaks nears its end, thoughts turn back to work and a busy September. The upcoming agenda includes staff appraisals, marketing videos, 2019 fixture list and end of year financial forecasts for the AGM.
Saturday 25th August
August is the month of the Open’s at RCGC, with the Mixed and Senior editions already in the book and the Gents 36 hole Gold Coast Cup next week-end. Also great to see the numbers in the Junior Open healthy this year.
These events are superb value and a fantastic way to play RCGC under tournament conditions.
Friday 24th August
With the Majors completed and the Ryder Cup teams almost finalised, focus starts to turn to the contest in Paris.
The Americans have a potential issue to deal with in Tiger Woods. Their team has gelled brilliantly as a unit in the years that he has been absent. With his likely return to the side, Captain Furyk has the tricky task of finding him a partner. Also with his back surgery, can he complete 36 holes a day? If not, will Furyk have the gumption to rest him? Whatever happens, it will likely create attention and headlines that some of the team probably would wish to avoid.
Read my prediction for the final outcome here.
Thursday 23rd August
An evening at the stunning Buxton Opera House to watch High Society was the perfect way to finish our break.
Wednesday 22nd August
I love a good walk. Give me an empty field and a dog and I am one happy human. Although I can never picture myself with walking poles and a cagoule, I regularly complete 6-7 mile strolls with Hollie back home in Norfolk.
This week I discovered that Derbyshire is quite different to Norfolk. Here 4 miles is enough for anybody who is not a mountain goat. The hills are steep and plentiful. Makes for some lovely photos though – here is a selection from the last few days:
Tuesday 21st August
Standing on the 10th tee yesterday having hit all 9 greens in regulation yet being 2 over Par left me to reflect upon my inability to putt on either slow or heavily sloped greens. With a combination of both, Cavendish showed up a big weakness.
The problem that I have is that the greens at Cromer are generally small, quite flat and reasonably paced. So if I want to improve this weakness in my game – how am I to practice? This highlights an issue for aspiring junior golfers – make sure that you have access to a great short game facility that tests all aspects of this part of your game.
Monday 20th August
It was a pleasure to find the time to play a quick 18 at Cavendish Golf Club today. Great routing and design. Not long in total yardage but offered enough opportunities to hit Driver to keep you satisfied. Generally quite wide from the tee but the angles into some great green complexes were important.
Genuinely one of the most fun courses in England set within stunning scenery.
Sunday 19th August
The ability to properly relax and switch-off is certainly a skill. Some people seem to be genetically disposed to it and there are a million self-help books to advise you how to do it. The inability to switch off is certainly the root cause of many mental health issues.
A rainy Sunday in the Peak District whilst on holiday is most definitely a good time to practice this skill. I feel like my life would benefit from a bit more practice in this area.
Saturday 18th August
Lovely views from 600 feet up at Soloman’s Temple on the outskirts of Buxton. Just crying out for a golf course to be layed out!
Friday 17th August
Spending 5 hours on the A17 is the perfect way to spend the first day of your holidays. Said no-one. Ever.
To be fair – at first viewing Buxton appears to be worth the trip. The last bit of the drive was lovely – up hills and down dales. Very different from Norfolk. Buxton has got a gorgeous park and lots of pubs. Perfect.
Thursday 16th August
There will be a couple of weeks break from the blog from me as I go on my summer holidays. Looking forward to getting to the Peak District (Buxton) for a well earned break. Hopefully getting the chance to play at Cavendish so will report on that. I will keep the diary up to date depending on WiFi!
Wednesday 15th August
Cromer Carnival brings 10,000 people to the town every year and one of the annual highlights is the visit of the Red Arrows. Up on the cliff along the 14th hole is a great place to watch the show (photos do not do them justice!)
Tuesday 14th August
Beginning to think that closing the course for 3 days for course maintenance may be the best way to balance things. Will consider for next year.
Monday 13th August
The start of course maintenance week with the greenstaff working long and punishing hours to complete vital work on the green surfaces.
Also known as nightmare week for club managers trying to balance the needs of the course with the demands of members and visitors. As with most things, my experience has proven to me that good communication is the way to make things easier for yourself.
Sunday 12th August
The updated RCGC website went live this week. Whilst the content is largely unchanged, the new format needed quite a lot of tweaking to look organised and fresh.
Check out the updated site here.
Saturday 11th August
Fair play to the organisers of the European Championship Golf Event – Mixed Foursomes Strokeplay, teams of 4, combined score would not have been the obvious choice of format to include in this inaugural playing of this multi-sport event.
Whilst the field lacked star quality (Georgia Hall & Laura Davies aside), it created enough excitement to be judged a success and the Par 5, Par 3, Par 5 finish at Gleneagles certainly helped crank up the drama. Congratulations to the medal winners and also to the organisers for being brave in their format selections.
Friday 10th August
Today we hosted a Charity Golf Day for Holt Rotary Club, raising valuable funds for the East Anglian Children’s Hospital (EACH). I played in the last group out and we definitely got the worst of the weather with consistent heavy rain.
As we reached the 14th tee, the weather cleared out to sea, leaving us with blue skies and this wonderful view:
Thursday 9th August
Some proper steady rain today for the first time in what seems like months. Not great timing for the Ladies, who competed in their 36-hole Championship. It did, I guess, help to identify the most mentally tough competitor!
Wednesday 8th August
This time of the year gives you a little space to complete some jobs that you do not have time for in the busier months. Today it was tidying and clearing out the filing cabinet. Strangely fulfilling!
Tuesday 7th August
Another 30 degree plus day which makes the office a very difficult place to work. A positive meeting with the Ladies committee to discuss the upcoming online competition booking trial.
Monday 6th August
The summer sees a drop-off on the admin side of things and so is a good time to review other areas. This week will see an overhaul of our IT – with a more powerful server and new PC machines installed. This week will also see work on upgrading the website and preparation for the promotional course development videos.
Sunday 5th August
As I was chilling with the family at the beach, Georgia Hall was turning in an incredible performance to win her first Major title at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
She held herself together with admirable poise under the most intense scrutiny. Very well played and we look forward to seeing you back at RCGC soon!
Saturday 4th August
I really enjoyed watching the Women’s British Open from Royal Lytham on the TV today. The length of the courses and the distance the top players hit the ball is more relatable than the top men to my own game so there is always something to learn.
Of course I was cheering on home hope Georgia Hall. Although she hails from Dorset, Georgia has visited and played at Cromer many times as she is friends with some of our members. She certainly put in a gutsy performance today and looks ready to win her first major.
Friday 3rd August
Great to welcome 60 players as part of the Mizuno Pairs East Anglian Tour today. This is a national event that visits some very fine venues. Congratulations to the winners who amassed an amazing 46 points.
Thursday 2nd August
In terms of visitor numbers, May, June and September are our busiest months. This surprises some people, who assume that August would be the key month. In reality, the majority of our visiting groups are on a ‘tour’ with accommodation more affordable outside of the school holidays.
Wednesday 1st August
Had a productive visit from Neil McClusky from Club Systems today – helping to manage the upgrade to our server, learning new features of our membership software and discussing upgrades to our website.
Tuesday 31st July
Tickets for our black tie 130th Anniversary Dinner are selling well and attendees are looking forward to hearing from after-dinner speaker David Greer, who very recently returned from a year at sea competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Monday 30th July
We created the History Room at Cromer 18 months ago and are always looking to add new pieces. We have recently found a newspaper article in the British Library archive from 1895 that details a match at RCGC between reigning Open Champion JH Taylor and Sandy Herd, a Scottish Golfer that finished runner-up in the Open in that year and went one better in 1902 at Hoylake.
The occasion was to mark the expansion of RCGC to 18 holes. The newspaper article notes that the match was memorable for both players hitting the clubhouse with their approach shots on the final hole.
Quiz answers from Friday 27/7:
A. Bawburgh B. Heacham Manor C. Sheringham D. Hunstanton E. Thetford F. Great Yarmouth & Caister G. Kings Lynn H. Feltwell
Sunday 29th July
Another epic adventure with Evie today as Sarah blindfolded us and drove us around 10 miles to a mystery location – the challenge being to get home safely by any means.
Well 5 hours, 25,000 steps, 3 wrong-turns, hailstones, a Norfolk bog, a festival, a pub and a train journey later and we were home.
At one point we were stuck in a bog like the horse from The NeverEndingStory. Great fun.
Saturday 28th July
A welcome day off after a week of sweltering weather turned the office into a furnace and night-times into no sleep zones.
Friday 27th July
The very first Norfolk Day today and we had a selection of Norfolk food and beverages on offer, a Norfolk Quiz and a 9-Hole golf competition. A section of the quiz required entrants to name the Norfolk golf course from a single picture. See if you can recognise the ones below:
Answers revealed as part of Mondays diary entry.
Thursday 26th July
Over the years I have built up a significant collection of golfing literature. Starting this week-end I will be regularly adding authors to my encyclopedia including short reviews and recommendations.
Wednesday 25th July
Every year we allocate 3 days to externally run Charity events with heavily discounted green fees. Today the North Norfolk Rotary Club ran an excellent day with around 100 players raising funds for the Holt Youth Project .
It was interesting to meet Nigel Worthington, the former footballer who appeared for Northern Ireland in the 1986 World Cup and later went on to manage them. Nigel lives in Norfolk and has been a supporter of the Holt Youth Project for many years.
Tuesday 24th July
Limited marketing budgets throw up some interesting dilemmas – do you invest in self-generated marketing tools (website,social media, photography, videos etc.) or use adverts in external magazines/websites to generate business? Likewise is it better to organise your own ‘Open’ days or allow external events (Charity Days/PGA events etc) to generate the similar benefits for you?
My inclination is that investing in photography, controlling your own digital output and encouraging independent events (eg. Mizuno Pairs) offers better value in cash and/or time than the other options.
Monday 23rd July
My blog this week once again throws the focus on golf in Norfolk and the best Par 5 holes. Part 1 covers positions 10-6 in my ranking and includes some fine holes from some of the lesser known courses in the County.
Read Part 1 of my Top 10 Par 5’s in Norfolk here.
Sunday 22nd July
A great day following The Open final round. Credit should be given to The R & A for a wonderful Championships. The course set-up was fantastic – hard but fair. The sheer volume of volunteers at this event is vast but the organisation was top class. There was also very good live coverage on the Open website for those without Sky.
Without much question, the course identified the best player in the world right now. Francesco Molinari has transformed his mental toughness and putting to become truly a world class player. For the golfing purist, his game is a dream – technically excellent – balance and tempo perfect. He has worked hard with his coaches to find a putter and putting technique that holds up under pressure and he plots his way around the course with great skill. A worthy Champion Golfer of the Year.
Saturday 21st July
It has been a summer where the hot, dry conditions have tended to turn most things a shade of yellowy brown. It was nice to see some contrasting colours tonight therefore on my walk with Hollie to Felmingham Heath.
Friday 20th July
Been reviewing the half year budget figures this week. It has been a strange year of weather related issues – with revenue hitting the buffers during the ‘Beast from the East’ before picking up during the recent hot, dry spell. Overall it has been a very good 6 months, with bar takings and the take-up of Country Membership the highlights from a revenue standpoint. On the expenditure side we have continued to invest heavily on the course including new tee markers, with the brand new washdown facility soon to be installed.
Thursday 19th July
I really loved watching the Open today. The players were using a variety of strategies around the sun-baked links but all required creativity, patience and great shot-making. I have attended the Open a few times and I wish I was there this week, but you learn a terrific amount by watching it on the TV, particularly the short game techniques.
Wednesday 18th July
Started to put together some ideas for a Royal Cromer 2019 Calendar. Seems like a good marketing opportunity and there are plenty of online sites that will produce excellent quality products. Without giving too much away, this is the November image:
Tuesday 17th July
The current prolonged dry spell of weather is making for playing conditions unlike anything that many golfers will have ever experienced before. On the plus side, holes play short and you often do not need to risk hitting a Driver. On the other hand, the conditions often make judging your approach shots more difficult and if you miss on the wrong side of the green, then making an up and down sometimes becomes almost impossible on the firm ground.
Overall the conditions encourage creativity and make course management an even more important than usual element of success. It will be interesting to see how the best players in the world cope with the unique conditions at Carnoustie this week.
Monday 16th July
I enjoyed putting my blog together last week. Humour is not my natural ground so it was fun to give it a go.
Read my account of A Mad,Mad Summer here.
Sunday 15th July
Another wonderful sunny and hot day for Captains Day. 140 players made up the field with donations and a raffle generating almost £1200 for The Big C. As a bonus, I managed to score a tidy 71 (-1) for 41 points and overall 3rd place. A great day was had, as always with the unsung volunteers and staff working long hours helping to make the day possible.
Saturday 14th July
I have never really had much success in Foursomes play. It is strange because on paper my game would seem to suit this format. One of the keys to my game is rhythm and Foursomes just seems to mess this up. And so it was that the Ladies Captain and I lost our quarter-final knockout match today. Disappointing but the better pair won on the day.
Friday 13th July
Classic stats from yesterdays round at Mundesley:
Actually one of my best ball-striking rounds of the season with 15 Greens in Regulation. Given it was my first time there, I cannot be displeased.
Thursday 12th July
Played Mundesley Golf Club for the first time today. My impressions were that it was a fun layout with several tricky green complexes. With tee and greens close together we were round (as a 4 ball) in just over 3 hours. In this sense it is interesting that this 117 year old design is a great example of how modern, shorter courses can be layed out.
Wednesday 11th July
England may have lost in the semi-final of the World Cup today but for managers in all industries there has been much to learn about the way Southgate has gone about the job, particularly in the way that he has managed to change the culture. It is true that the days of the tyrannical leader have long since passed as an effective way to maximise the potential of a team and the quiet, confident, trusting manner of Southgate’s leadership is an example to all.
Tuesday 10th July
We have two 15 year-old work experience students with us this week from Cromer Academy. I have to say that both are articulate, bright and intelligent – a credit to their school and parents.
I remember that many years ago I also did my work experience at my local Golf Club – spending a few days with each department. My memories following that week were that I definitely wanted to work in the golf industry and definitely did not want to be a greenkeeper.
Monday 9th July
Quite like this black and white photo taken yesterday looking into the evening sun.
The photo shows the tee shot on the 6th hole at Royal Cromer and I like how you can see the pier in the distance.
Sunday 8th July
View from 14th tee this evening
Saturday 7th July
Never had a sports or any other event decimate the tee sheet like today. Golfers were cancelling or desperately attempting to move their tee-times forward in order to keep free their afternoon to watch England in the World Cup. With the heatwave and the football, this feels like a special summer. Come on England!
Friday 6th July
Despite the prolonged hot and dry spell, the course continues to be in great shape. A combination of properly timed wetting agent application and an excellent irrigation system enables us to maintain top class playing conditions, as the photos taken this week show:
Thursday 5th July
The aftermath of the fire:
It was started accidentally by somebody camping near the base of the cliff and soon spread up the cliff aided by the breeze off the sea. It was finally brought under control just yards from the top of the cliff. It was alongside our 14th fairway and very close to the lighthouse.
The emergency crews stayed all through the night to check for outbreaks and we are truly thankful for their incredible bravery and efforts to save further damage.
Wednesday 4th July
Not an average day today – a large fire broke out on scrubland on the cliff beside our 14th hole. Six firecrews were involved and they did a fantastic job in sweltering conditions over the course of several hours to get the blaze under control.
Fortunately we were able to help a little by providing some water from our irrigation system to fill the tanks of the fire engines. The firemen and coastguards worked in oppressive, smoky conditions on the dangerous cliff slope.
See the report (with video) from the local press, including my short interview here.
Tuesday 3rd July
Today we hosted Day 1 of the PGA East Region Summer Classic – a Pro/Amateur Pairs event that concludes tomorrow at Sheringham. Today’s format was Greensomes with a fairly modest 40 points leading the way as a keen breeze kept scores down.
Photo on right shows RCGC Professional Lee Patterson starting his round watched by Club Captain Mick Baxter.
Monday 2nd July
Wins on both sides of the Atlantic this week-end for Molinari and Noren strengthens the European teams confidence ahead of the Ryder Cup – but will Molinari’s decision to skip the French Open at Le Golf National hurt his chances of selection if he needs a wildcard?
Read my prediction for the result of this years Europe v USA contest here
Sunday 1st July
Really enjoy the Sunday evenings that I manage to get out and play a few holes. This summer so far has been excellent with the sunny weather. The wind often dies down at this late time of day and the sea resembles a duck pond. With the course virtually empty it is a great chance to practice in a ‘real’ situation which can be more beneficial than the driving range.
A couple of photos from tonight:
Saturday 30th June
After a football related 2-week break, I will return to my usual blogging schedule tomorrow. This weeks will focus on course presentation, inspired by the last few years development at RCGC.
Friday 29th June
We are currently in the middle of a very hot and dry spell (although it has been a bit cooler at the coast). The course is playing very firm and we have a smoking ban in place to guard against fire. Fortunately we invested heavily in an excellent irrigation system a few years ago so we can get some water onto the playing surfaces.
The conditions really make you think about club selection with course management the key nomatter your handicap.
Thursday 28th June
The French Open on the European Tour starts today with the main interest being that it is played over the Le Golf National course in Paris that will stage the Ryder Cup in a couple of months time. I attended an interesting talk with Paul Armitage (GM at Le Golf National) at the GCMA Conference last year. Amongst other things, Paul was telling us about the challenges of hosting two major tournaments within a few weeks.
Follow the progress of the French Open on the European Tour’s excellent social media coverage here.
Wednesday 27th June
Some welcome progress on equal opportunities from today’s Management Committee meeting including plans for a couple of week-end events next year where women and men compete against each other.
Tuesday 26th June
Day 1 of our 2 day visit from XACT to conduct our annual Health & Safety audit. Not the most exciting of subjects but vital for any business. These visits can seem a chore but form a vital focus for the year round maintenance of the clubhouse and course.
Monday 25th June
This is a fantastic time of the year to meet new people, with golfers from all over the world including Australia, USA, Netherlands, Germany and all over the UK visiting Cromer in the last couple of weeks. Some great stories and feedback.
Sunday 24th June
Managed to get out and play a few holes after the Championship was finished and glad that I did. Not only did I manage to strike the ball as well as I have done all year, but the course and conditions were just about perfect – the sea like a duck pond, the course firm but fair and the greens smooth and slick.
Saturday 23rd June
Club Championship Week-end at RCGC. Course in spectacular condition – playing firm and fast – just as you would want it.
Friday 22nd June
After a few days reflection, I have been able to look with less emotion at my experience at Broadstone. From a positive point of view it highlighted a couple of areas of my game that do not normally get tested to that extent but were found wanting. This included my long putting on sloping greens, which Broadstone pushed beyond my current limits.
There is much to be said about this kind of training, which creates plenty of errors but ultimately learning. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is a difficult experience, but is crucial for improvement.
Thursday 21st June
Writing this week has taken a back seat as my obsession with the World Cup took hold.
Wednesday 20th June
After 6 months running the website, I have decided to change things up a little. Inspired by a combination of Bramshaws Railway Guides and Wikipedia, I will shortly be combining the photography and review pages and adding in doses of equipment and general golfing info to create a golfing encyclopedia full (I hope) of useful and fun stuff for golfers.
The encyclopedia will focus more on my writing than photography, which was my initial reason for starting the site. I will switch things round in the coming days.
Tuesday 19th June
A combination of tiredness, travel, golf, work and the World Cup have thwarted my attempts at a review of the US Open this week.
Although I was obviously following the players carefully and would have been delighted by a Tommy Fleetwood victory, in truth my main interest was piqued by the extraordinary set-up of an amazing historic course at Shinnecock Hills.
I am not a big fan of thick rough along the fairways but what interested me most was the use of short grass as a hazard around the greens – with the slopes and run-offs befuddling many of the players. I have to admit that the ineffectiveness of the ‘bomb and gauge’ strategy used by many of the top players in the world was a welcome change to the usual PGA Tour narrative.
Monday 18th June
From golfing heaven to golfing hell in less than 24 hours.
The GCMA National Golf Day was held at Broadstone Golf Club, which is a brilliant course on an amazing, huge expanse of land. The problems were firm fairways flanked by punishing rough, huge undulating greens and some fierce pin positions. In the main I played quite well and walked off dazed by an 84.
I would love to have another look at this course but on this day I was well defeated and left frustrated by the set-up.
Sunday 17th June
A tough 5-hour drive South was soon forgotten when I got my first view of Parkstone Golf Club from the patio.
This place is just about my idea of golfing heaven – immaculate and fair set-up, rolling heathland and a great variety of fun and challenging holes. I would not mind owning one of the many huge properties that edge the course either.
Saturday 16th June
Off to the South Coast tomorrow morning. Playing Parkstone on Sunday and then Broadstone in the GCMA National Golf Day on Monday. Really looking forward to playing these two courses for the first time. Reviews to follow next week.
Friday 15th June
This weeks blog will review the US Open from Shinnecock Hills.
It was fascinating to watch the featured group coverage from the US Open website featuring Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas and their efforts to plot their way around a very challenging course where Par is a great score. Shinnecock Hills is a very different proposition to the average PGA Tour course set-up and I for one am enjoying it immensely so far.
Thursday 14th June
Lovely to have a visit from Alistair Beggs from the STRI. As part of this visit he tested the greens for speed, firmness and trueness. In terms of speed, the greens are currently running at 10-10.5 on the stimpmeter with a single cut and roll. We would get them up to 11 for a major tournament but any faster than this and you run the danger of the ball moving if the wind gets up.
For comparison, the speeds at this weeks US Open at Shinnecock will be around 12, whilst the target speeds at the British Open are 9.5 to 10.5.
Wednesday 13th June
Drew Peru and Iran in the staff World Cup sweepstake. Not overly optimistic about their chances. Did a bit of research though and it turns out Peru are pretty good. We will see.
Tuesday 12th June
Visited Ipswich (Purdis Heath) Golf Club yesterday with a group of the members from RCGC. For me this is the best course in Suffolk. It was remarkable to see the vast amount of tree and scrub clearance that they have completed in the last couple of years – helping to return the course to a true heathland feel and appearance.
I would recommend any Golf Club Managers to visit this forward looking Club as they always seem to have something to learn from and take back to your own site. It also emphasizes to me the importance of getting out and seeing other Clubs. The best ideas are usually stolen from elsewhere!
Monday 11th June
Sad to see the GB & I girls so soundly beaten in the Curtis Cup. I managed to watch quite a bit of the action and it seemed to me that the gulf between the teams was one of experience rather than class. Amazing to think that the eight members of the US team have racked up 28 LPGA Major appearances between them already. This must be invaluable learning at such a young age.
Sunday 10th June
My blog this week analyses the game of LPGA Pro Michelle Wie. She is an interesting, wacky character with a superb golf game. Follow her on social media for fascinating insights into her golf and interests away from the course.
You can read the blog here.
Saturday 9th June
Been having a bit of bother since I posted the photos of Saunton Golf Club from the photographer that took them (and sold the rights to the Golf Club). I like to feature great photography from great courses and will always credit and link the photographers site where known.
This website is just a hobby for me and I make zero money from it, although I enjoy keeping and sharing records of the life of a Golf Club Manager and the courses that I have played. I have a particular passion for the promotion of golf in England which I feel is undervalued and I hope that through my reviews and use of photography I can encourage golfers to visit.
Who knows, golf clubs themselves may just be encouraged through this site to use the professional photographers that I feature.
Friday 8th June
The Curtis Cup began today at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in the States. In the early stages it looks like the GB & I girls will find it tough against a very strong and deep American team.
Royal Cromer has strong links with the Curtis Cup – in 1905 we staged the very first international match between the ladies of GB & I and their American counterparts. The match included the Curtis sisters – who many years later came up with the idea for the Curtis Cup. Cromer was the stage for a re-enactment of this event in 1988, when the current Curtis Cup teams from both nations staged a match in period costume.
Thursday 7th June
The European Tours ‘Shot Clock Masters’ started today in Austria with positive reviews from the players and 40 minute faster rounds than this event last year.
With TV companies holding so much sway at the top-level these days and the benefits to them of packing more action into a shorter time, I can see shot clocks becoming more common in both the golf and tennis Pro Tours in the medium term. At grassroots level, where referees and shot clocks are not practical, the adoption could be more troublesome. It is hoped that faster Pro rounds will set the example for amateurs to follow.
Wednesday 6th June
Posted some photos of one of my favourite places in the world today – Saunton in North Devon. With spectacular dunes, huge sandy beaches and two exquisite links courses this is a perfect place for a short golfing break (or to retire to!?).
The East Course in particular is certainly good enough to hold the Open Championship – alas the transport network surrounding the site is nowhere near good enough to get the large crowds to the course. A shame but at least it keeps it quiet enough for those in the know and willing to travel.
See the photos here.
Tuesday 5th June
Sometimes when you work hard and give above and beyond what is expected and create a product and service that is among the highest quality and best value in the country the little criticisms can really hurt. Sometimes you wish that people could take a look at the big picture and avoid pressing send on that email. Sometimes you hope that people will speak to you face to face. Just sometimes.
Monday 4th June
Amazing drama from the US Women’s Open this week-end as Ariya Jutanugarn blew a 7-shot lead on the back 9 before clinching victory from the jaws of defeat in a 4 hole play-off. All the while, even as the tournament was seemingly slipping away from her, the new World No. 1 displayed amazing graze, poise, sportswomanship and no little skill.
Jutanugarn is coached by the wonderful Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott whose work featured in my blog ‘Top 4 Hacks to help your golf game in 2018’.
Read the full blog here.
Sunday 3rd June
Golf journalism has changed a lot in the last few years. Over the next couple of weeks we have visits planned from YouTubers (Golf Vlogs UK), print journalists (Golf Monthly) and freelance website writers (GolfShake).
The amount of freely available high quality golf coverage on YouTube and Social Media these days is fantastic and vital in attracting kids into the game. I do wonder however, how the traditional TV & magazine coverage will maintain their audience and therefore advertising revenue? I for one would rather watch a high quality course vlog from the Golfholics or Mark Crossfield than sit through hours of second round coverage from some repetitive 72 hole strokeplay Tour event.
Saturday 2nd June
During a late evening on-course practice session today I was reminded of the dangers of losing focus on your target. I have been slightly fighting for form over the last few weeks in most areas of my game and my default setting when this happens is to tinker with my technique. I found my best form again today however, by having a clear focus on my target and simply hitting to it.
Imagine it this way – when you screw a bit of paper up and throw it towards the bin, what are you thinking of? It will be your target as your eyes focus on the bin. If your focus changed to thinking about your posture, arm bend or wrist flexion, do you think you would be more or less successful?
Friday 1st June
I am a firm believer that golf is underselling itself. With a huge playing area that is expensive and labour intensive to maintain, selling green fees for £15 does not make economic sense in the long-run. In a similar fashion, I have my doubts that the current trend for ‘flexible’ memberships, where golfers pay very little upfront, is a recipe for financial stability and success for clubs.
Are members clubs, with dozens of matches where visitors are given courtesy also setting themselves up for future financial problems? In my experience, the most resilient and successful clubs are those that avoid discounting to fill the fairways and gain value for every player that visits.
Thursday 31st May
Some very interesting discussions today as I chaired a working group looking at equal opportunities and gender equality at RCGC. I am confident that over time there will be change. I am also sure that it will be slow and slightly painful.
Wednesday 30th May
Interesting to see the media coverage around the release of the Women in Golf Charter by the R & A. Not much fine detail seems to be included – rather just big ideas.
This is fine as a concept but I for one would like to see the Governing Bodies putting more pressure on member clubs to create more equal opportunities. In my experience, most members committees do not even realise their policies are sexist as ‘this is the way that it has always been’. Maybe England Golf could create a set of questions as a ‘test’ of a Clubs equality measures. Help and guidance could be offered to Clubs that ‘fail’ the test. Just a thought.
Tuesday 29th May
Amazing how fate seems to work. A few weeks ago we decided to start giving away a free framed print to those players that are lucky enough to get a hole-in-one at RCGC. The print features an image of the hole concerned with a personal message.
After not having any aces in 6 months or so, we have since had 3 in quick succession. If this run continues, the budget will soon be blown!
Monday 28th May
As another sunny Bank Holiday week-end comes and goes, we can reflect on a month that has brought generally very good weather and excellent revenue. It is a relief to have got the budgets back on track after a myriad of weather issues in the first four months of the year.
Sunday 27th May
Took on an epic adventure with Evie today when we stocked up on supplies and decided to walk to the coast from our house in North Walsham. Probably a journey of about 8 miles. Great fun finding our way through fields. So many laughs and priceless times.
After a few hours we hit the coastline and made our way along the cliffs to Mundesley where we enjoyed a richly deserved ice-cream.
Saturday 26th May
Not had a chance to follow the golf from Wentworth too closely but I have spoken to a couple of people that have gone down there and they have said what a great time they had. I do love watching top players live. I prefer to follow one group round rather than sit in the grandstand as I think I can learn a lot watching their strategy and routines.
Having said that, it is fantastic to get behind a tee box and watch the swing and ball flight down the line. I remember the first time I saw Tiger live. Such speed – almost violent the way he fired his hips through the ball. I also remember being really impressed with the ball flight of Retief Goosen – such easy power.
Friday 25th May
GDPR came into force today and amazingly the world kept turning.
Thursday 24th May
This is a great time of the year for long walks with the dog in the evening. The colours are fantastic – vivid and bright. Here is a shot from last nights walk up by the water towers in North Walsham:
I love the way the grasses seem to wave in the breeze, like a ocean current.
Wednesday 23rd May
Some shots from Formby on Monday including the trophy that narrowly escaped me!
Photos from the wonderful Philip Vince of Majestic Crystal who provided a superb prize table. More photos on Philips site here.
Tuesday 22nd May
Fatigue set in today after a long drive back from Southport getting back to North Walsham just before 11pm.
Perhaps not the day therefore that I would have chosen for a management committee meeting. The good news – business was concluded promptly with little fuss and I was finished in time to pick my little girl up from gymnastics.
Monday 21st May
The big day of the final arrives and what a treat to play Formby Golf Club.
With perfect weather – warm with little breeze – and a perfectly conditioned course, the stage was set for the 60 or so competitors to do battle.
And battle it was – all 90 or so bunkers are brutal – vertical deep faces and funny angles – and the rough was tough but fair. I twice failed to get out of a bunker first time and I had at least three pitch out shots from just off the fairway. Having said that – it was great. I played some super shots and learnt so much about my game.
I plugged away until the end and it turned out that my 33 points was good enough for 3rd place. A pleasing result to round off an awesome couple of days away of superb company, top class golf and great food.
Sunday 20th May
A very early start this morning and a long drive to Southport. There are so many 50mph zones on the M6 now that it should probably be reclassified as a B road.
All of the competitors for tomorrows Golf Club Secretaries Open Championship gathered at Hesketh Golf Club for the warm-up Foursomes event followed by a delicious dinner at Formby Golf Club.
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.