Sunday 29th March
A very welcome positive message to send to the membership – thank-you to Liam from Golf Vlogs UK for his latest Youtube video featuring Royal Cromer.
Saturday 28th March
Update – Since my last diary entry the Covid-19 epidemic has taken over the country and all golf courses in England have closed their facilities.
I have been working every day to keep the members informed, establish a volunteer scheme to help our most vulnerable members and to plan a financial path for the Club through the situation and to the other side intact.
This has not left me any room in my brain to keep this website updated, but I have now realised that in fact this is good for my own mental health as I write for escapism and it is important that I find time each day for myself – so expect more regular entries.
Saturday 14th March
What else is there to do on a dull Saturday with no live sport to follow?
Watch classic YouTube like the Shells Wonderful World of Golf match between Byron Nelson and Gene Littler from Pine Valley. TV Gold but I always winch when Littler takes a 7 at the infamous Par 3 fifth hole.
Friday 13th March
An unprecedented cancellation of sporting fixtures around the world including the Masters from Augusta in an attempt to slow the progress of the Coronavirus.
In terms of affects at a members club level, we could actually see an increase in rounds from members as there is little else to do and the golf course is a ‘safe’ space. Visitor trade and food and beverage however, could both take a hit.
Wednesday 11th March
Starting to see a bit of a pick-up in new member applications after a slow period during the very wet winter.
Tuesday 10th March
A very worthwhile defibrillator training session today for the staff. Whilst they are quite straightforward to use, a bit of training will give the boost of confidence needed to step forward if the situation ever arose for real.
Monday 9th March
The seriousness of the Covid-19 outbreak is starting to become apparent. Starting to get communications from our Governing Bodies and suppliers with regard to policies and it appears that most are ahead of the Government curve.
Sunday 8th March
There are just a few spaces left in both the Mixed and Senior Opens at RCGC in August. More information here. Be quick if you wish to play!
Saturday 7th March
Another trip to the Driving Range and whilst I have not had the chance to practice too much over the last few weeks, the key areas that I set out to improve over the winter – approach shots from 200-250 yards and 25-75 yard wedge shots – are both showing signs of improvement. Hopefully my stats will reflect as much over the coming months.
Friday 6th March
Back in the archives today and a very exciting find which may well end up in a future blog – no big reveal now but most certainly one for the course architecture nerds!
Thursday 5th March
The major winter development work on the course has now reached the grow-in stage. The team have worked tirelessly in some difficult conditions. Here is the new 8th tee complex which will add to the flow of the round from the 7th green and aesthetic appeal of the hole, which will be around 18 yards longer from the white tees.
Wednesday 4th March
The evenings are really starting to draw out now and maybe Spring is just around the corner. Sunsets like this help to give one hope.
Photo: Anglia Picture Agency
Tuesday 3rd March
We have been finding some great stuff in the archives lately. The latest gem is a scorebook dating from the very beginning of the Club in 1888. Among the entries was a match between legends James Braid and JH Taylor in 1901. Braid was obviously in sensational form, winning the 36 hole match by 11 & 9.
The following day they took on and beat Harry Vardon and home Pro Willie Aveston in a foursomes contest. No doubt it was a profitable couple of days for Braid in particular.
Monday 2nd March
Finally a better week of weather forecast – everything looks better in the sunshine.
Photos:Anglia Picture Agency
Sunday 1st March
The latest Chapter in my series ‘Travels with a Sunday Bag’ covers the Suffolk links at Felixstowe Ferry – one of less than 250 True Links courses currently in play in the world.
Saturday 29th February
The recent prolonged spell of wet and windy weather has not helped my own golfing preparations for the new season. There are a number of things that I do find beneficial to do though when I am stuck at home – these include a specific programme of stretching, putting practice on the carpet, swinging a weighted club in the garden and slow motion swinging to really feel the movement.
These things may not be a complete substitute for actually hitting balls but they just tide you over when time or the weather prevents you from getting to the course.
Friday 28th February
A morning spent at home compiling the minutes from last evening’s committee meeting. I can achieve completion in less than half the time in privacy compared to the open office. Back at the Club for the afternoon shift to catch up on more paperwork from a busy week.
Thursday 27th February
One of the key benefits to getting out of the office yesterday was the networking. It is so valuable to gain knowledge and support from your peers and something that all Golf Club Managers should ensure they have time for.
Wednesday 26th February
Back to Royal Norwich for an excellent day of meetings. In the morning I chaired an open and honest discussion on a range of topics between 18 Golf Club Managers from the Region. The afternoon involved the Norfolk County Golf Union Forum where the County Union updated us on their winter coaching and England Golf matters.
Tuesday 25th February
Coronavirus is going to have a huge effect on the global economy and golf clubs will not be exempt. For now, the advice to members is to follow Home Office Guidelines.
Monday 24th February
The wet spell continues although North Norfolk has not had it anywhere near as bad as other parts of the country. The greens team have done a magnificent job to maintain the planned winter development programme on track. New membership enquiries have seen a drop but that is understandable with many golfers delaying a decision until the better weather.
Sunday 23rd February
No time to blog today unfortunately, but a wet and windy Sunday is the perfect time to catch up with the first three Chapters of my series Travels with a Sunday Bag.
Saturday 22nd February
I always enjoy watching the WGC from Mexico. The course is a pretty unique challenge for the Tour Pros – short and tight. An element that is often lost amongst the power game at the top level these days is creativity – but the tree-lined track this week does seem to bring back some of this as players shape and flight their balls round the angles.
Friday 21st February
Meetings to discuss the renewal of our brewery contract. We are fortunate to have some great local options in the East of England including our current provider Greene King.
Thursday 20th February
Back in the office and the excellent team have ensured that there has been no dramas whilst I was away. Good timing for the first draft of the annual accounts from the auditors to arrive in my inbox. A few queries still required to satisfy, but the results do look positive.
Wednesday 19th February
My short break is finished off with the monthly Am-Am at Great Yarmouth & Caister. Signs of promise with my game but still plenty to work on and a poor day on the greens mean we are outside the prizes.
Tuesday 18th February
Walked across the lovely little 9-holer on common ground in Southwold yesterday. Some great uses of different tees for each nine and a couple of outstanding short holes to start and finish make this a worthwhile visit. Combine with some fish and chips and a pint of locally brewed Adnams ale for an outstanding day out.
Monday 17th February
A day spent in Suffolk with visits to Felmingham Castle and Southwold.
Sunday 16th February
This period between the auditors collecting the accounts paperwork and them sending the first draft is an ideal time to grab a few days away. My base for the next couple of nights is Dunston Hall Hotel on the outskirts of Norwich. Although they have a course, the clubs will be staying at home and the weather forecast is rubbish anyway.
Saturday 15th February
Among the things discussed yesterday was a productive meeting with our usual photographer, Ashley Pickering from Fairway Flyovers. One of the issues with lots of course development is that photographs can get outdated very quickly. Lots of changes for Ashley to capture at RCGC this summer.
Friday 14th February
An excellent day of meetings and learning at Felixstowe Golf Club in Suffolk. This historic links course is about to embark on an exciting project to build a new clubhouse. This will be funded by the building of 5 houses on their existing car-park. The project also includes some important community aspects. These include a cafe and putting green open to all as part of the new facility, which will have a lovely vista overlooking the sea.
Exciting times for them and there is much to learn from their process.
Thursday 13th February
Plenty of cake and even a couple of balloons around the office for my Birthday today. With the course closed due to flooding, it was an excellent opportunity to bring the staff together.
Wednesday 12th February
A very positive meeting at Royal Norwich hosted by Golf Tourism England. Positive steps discussed for some joint marketing of the Norfolk’s Golf Coast brand and some joined up strategy to increase traffic from the Dutch market.
Tuesday 11th February
I am enjoying putting together the Chapters of Travels with a Sunday Bag and there are plenty more stories to come! Here is another shot from my recent photo shoot to promote the series
Monday 10th February
Regular readers of this blog and especially my Hotlist will know how passionate I am about promoting golf in England. I am not the only one. Give EnglandGolfProject a follow on instagram for more of the same!
Sunday 9th February
Storm Ciara and a 4 hour power cut gave me an excuse to skim read Adam Young’s Practice Manual for the third time. Such a good guide for anybody that is serious about reaching their talent level.
Saturday 8th February
I love planning golf trips! Hotels booked today in Devon and London for later in the year to make things feel real.
Friday 7th February
Always a guilty pleasure to watch the AT & T from Pebble Beach. But this is not even the best course in that area. Grab a hot chocolate, relax and give yourself 10 minutes to soak in the incredible Cypress Point.
Thursday 6th February
Early to work today and a chance to get out of the office to shoot some photos for my series of blogs ‘Travels with a Sunday Bag’. Here is one from the collection:
Wednesday 5th February
It is always a red letter day in the diary when the auditors collect the accounts information to take away and analyse. Now we wait for the first draft and the timetable starts to get them out to the membership in time for the General Meeting.
Tuesday 4th February
Very excited to book a unique competition later this year which includes 9 at Royal Worlington and 9 at Flempton on the same day. These two 9 hole gems are just a few miles from one another and what a fantastic opportunity to play both in a tournament!
Check out my blog of the best 9 hole courses in East Anglia.
Monday 3rd February
The weather so far this winter has been wet but mostly playable and the course has been consistently busy. Great for revenue but not so good for course wear and tear. The winter paths are taking a bit of a battering and will need to be managed carefully.
Sunday 2nd February
I am very pleased to introduce my new series of blogs Travels with a Sunday Bag. These stories will combine an element of travel and course reviews. Chapter 1 is now available with plenty more to follow in the coming weeks.
Saturday 1st February
Bright and breezy at Sheringham Park today. From parts you get a great view over towards Sheringham Golf Club in the distance.
Friday 31st January
When I start posting nice sunny Spring photographs on social media, I know that the winter blues are setting in. Here is a preview of Spring:
Thursday 30th January
It has been the busiest January on the course at RCGC that I remember. Reasonable weather and high membership numbers put a strain on the wear and tear of the golf course and make a waiting list more likely.
Wednesday 29th January
Some interesting projects are underway for our History Room including photograph collection and details of the artisan section, which ran from 1929 to 1979 and a commisioned drawing of Old Tom Morris, the original architect.
Tuesday 28th January
RCGC has lost two Past Captains’ already in 2020. Sadly this is the nature of a Club with an average age of 61, but the flag has been at half-mast more than full too often lately.
Monday 27th January
If you follow many Golf Club’s on social media, then you will see that many use the winter months for course development work. Tree clearance and bunker renovations with rough edges seem a particular fashion at the moment. In general you can notice a movement towards low maintenance architecture and that has to be good for the future sustainability of the game.
Sunday 26th January
No time to blog today, so instead another shout out to the important piece on the restoration project at RCGC published last November.
Saturday 25th January
I have taken quite a shine to the recent photos of the new Vokey SM8 wedges. I think it might be time to upgrade my own. I may try a different sole grind this time in my 58 degree as the M Grind has never quite suited.
Friday 24th January
Recent PGA events in Hawaii and Torrey Pines this week really mark the start of the Professional golfing season. It also provides a stark contrast to the grey, dank January in the UK. I am not sure if to view it on TV is great escapism or a quick road to depression.
Thursday 23rd January
Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club have recently hit the headlines with their plans for a £6million development including a new clubhouse.
I will be taking a trip there next month and look forward to hearing about the exciting times ahead for the Suffolk links.
Wednesday 22nd January
Keeping a close eye on the course usage figures.
Peak times throughout 2019 were at 90%+ capacity and at times members have struggled to get on the course during the limited daylight hours of winter. All in all it means that a membership waiting list could be close.
Tuesday 21st January
A trip to the Driving Range last night to complete my winter technical work. From now until I review in August it will just be maintenance, with most of my focus on the feel shots in the short game. I am a week or so behind schedule to complete this work, but I have probably worked harder than since I was a kid for this period of the year. I can feel a good year ahead.
Also met Michael Carrick (ex. Spurs midfielder) whilst I was getting my range token at the hotel reception. He now coaches the Man Utd Youth teams, who are playing Norwich tomorrow in the FA Youth Cup.
Monday 20th January
The Open competitions at RCGC in 2020 are now live for entry on the website.
These represent some of the best value days golf at Cromer. You will have to be quick though – they soon sell out!
Sunday 19th January
Winning at golf requires many factors but it is fair to say that Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods share most of them.
Find out what you can learn from these Major Champions in my latest blog.
Saturday 18th January
Registration for online VAT is now completed and the first return sent by this method. Let’s hope it works! As an accounting package for golf clubs, Croft works very well, particularly in the area of VAT and they were most helpful in the upgrading process.
Friday 17th January
The PGA officially released their 2020 fixtures today and we can now start the marketing process in earnest for the PGA Assistants Championship that we are hosting in June. We have 4 versions of the art deco inspired posters to advertise the tournament. Here is one version:
Thursday 16th January
The main bulk of the annual membership renewal is now done although around 15% of our members now renew outside of the traditional starting date of 1st January. We introduced this policy a few years ago that new members would pay for a year when they joined rather than pro-rata to 1/1 and it seems to work well.
Membership numbers are positive and we could be looking at a waiting list by mid-year.
Wednesday 15th January
Another evening trip to the Driving Range to continue the quest for improvement. The inevitable blind alleys that you go down in this journey are very frustrating and it is easy to get downhearted and feel that you will never improve your current level. I find that keeping a diary of golf – what you are working on, what you are struggling with, what your swing-thoughts are, what is going well etc. can be a useful tool to look back upon in order to guide your best way forwards.
Tuesday 14th January
Making some updates to the Strategic Plan for review at the Finance Meeting next week. Every golf club should have such a document in order to focus committee direction and to give confidence to members for future direction to help with retention.
Monday 13th January
Golf in England is not in a bad place overall as we enter 2020 but as ever there are ups and downs in the industry. Read my annual review of The State of the Game.
Sunday 12th January
Managed to get up the course for a few holes this afternoon. I think that it is vital to still try and combine hitting balls at the range with some play on the course even when you are trying to make some technical changes. The course is the true test of whether you are comfortable with your swing and even if you hit a few terrible shots, I think that it accelerates the learning process.
Saturday 11th January
Lovely muddy walk with the dogs in Bacton Woods this afternoon.
Friday 10th January
I am really enjoying reading Tommy’s Honour. Old Tom must have been an amazing guy – his job role at St Andrews included Head Greenkeeper, Course Architect, Golf Ball maker and Golf Professional responsibilities!
Thursday 9th January
You could say that I am slightly excited about the news that the worlds biggest golf library is to be established in St Andrews with over 30,000 books inside. I can feel a road trip coming on when it opens next year! I may need a month though.
Wednesday 8th January
Finalising the marketing plan for the PGA Assistants’ Championship and working on an art deco style poster to complement the events heritage from the 1930s. Here is one draft:
Tuesday 7th January
The introduction of the World Handicapping System in November will be a huge challenge for golfers and administrators alike with major alterations to the current system. In the UK however, we should be aided by the fact that the new format is already started in the US on 1st January and so any teething problems should hopefully be ironed out by the time we adopt it in this country.
Monday 6th January
I usually only video my swing at this time of the year when I look to make any technical changes. Sometimes I can get a little over analytical which takes away from the natural flow of my technique and video can accentuate this issue. When I do record my swing, I like to place the camera directly down the line as this is the optimum place to analyse the plane of the action.
Down the line with a 3Wood.
Sunday 5th January
My blog will likely take a back seat this month as I use the week-ends to make the technical changes required to my golf swing during the off-season.
It was a hard grind at the range today. I have a habit of falling forwards slightly with my upper body during the transition between backswing and downswing. This makes the plane a bit steep with the final result pulled or heavy strikes. Lots of drills to try to eliminate this habit and plenty of frustration.
Saturday 4th January
In the office again today.
We generally open on Saturdays in late December/early January to allow people to pay their subscriptions. With the increased use of BACS payments and over 100 members now non-January renewals however, this year has been slightly quieter than usual on these days.
Friday 3rd January
Although the weather over Christmas has been mixed with plenty of rain, the course has remained open throughout and with the limited daylight hours there has been a virtually fully booked tee sheet each day. These factors combine to give the course a bit of a battering and make the strategic use of roped off areas important to protect the main walkways for the Spring.
Thursday 2nd January
Back in the office and need to get used to writing 2020 on the paperwork.
Wednesday 1st January 2020
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Lots of personal goals to hit this year. At RCGC overall it will be a transitionary season as we work hard towards the long-term goals but it is also likely to be the year that we re-introduce a membership waiting list for the first time in more than a decade.
Tuesday 31st December
Back in the office and thinking about all the jobs for early 2020. The list includes – close down 2019 accounts. Update RCGC long-term plan. Set up entry for 2020 Open events. Cleanse CDH in preparation for World Handicap System. Ensure we are ready for online VAT return deadline. Action marketing plan for PGA Assistants Championship. Process all standing order membership payments. Chase up late membership renewals.
I have a headache a day early!
Monday 30th December
It is good for the year end cash figures to get as many membership renewals processed as possible and the cheques to the bank before the 1st Jan. We have managed over 300 this year, which is around half of the total number of bills issued due on 1st January.
Sunday 29th December
Looking forward to dipping into one of my Xmas gifts and learning more about Old Tom and his son, especially around the time he designed Royal Cromer.
Saturday 28th December
A visit to Carrow Road to see my beloved Tottenham Hotspur draw 2-2 with Norwich City.
I am glad that I play an individual sport as it must be very frustrating for some of the Spurs players to turn in consistently impressive performances but be let down by some silly individual mistakes by team-mates. In golf you do not really have anybody else to blame.
Friday 27th December
Back in the office and suddenly the decorations take on a slightly tired look. Membership renewals take up the vast majority of the time at this point in the year and we have got through around 250 so far. Noticing more members paying by BACS and less by cheque than in previous years. Not surprising really – I wouldn’t be able to tell you where my cheque book is it is used so infrequently these days.
Thursday 26th December
Having football available on Amazon is dangerous. Several hours of viewing was essential Boxing Day activity.
Wednesday 25th December
MERRY CHRISTMAS! A perfect day and even managed to get to the beach before eating my own bodyweight for lunch.
Tuesday 24th December
A lovely Christmas Eve with the family enjoying that most festive of movies, Die Hard 2.
Monday 23rd December
I love to plan and so this time of the year is perfect. Lots of goals for my personal life in 2020 and it is also time to update the rolling long-term plan for RCGC.
Sunday 22nd December
Part 2 completes my blog on the photographs of the year and the stories behind them.
Saturday 21st December
My brother and his family are visiting from New Zealand and it is a pleasure to show them the North Norfolk coast. The sun even showed its face for a while….
Friday 20th December
With my last competitive round in the books for 2019, it is time to start planning improvements for 2020. A couple of areas have been identified to aid the cause and I will be practicing hard when time allows. A full blog will follow next week outlining the evaluation process I follow.
Thursday 19th December
We usually do the payroll a week early in December so that everybody has cash for the big day and that task was completed today. A small team combine to produce some outstanding results and they all deserve huge credit.
Wednesday 18th December
The last round of the year and a niggling muscle injury leads to a slow start but things loosen up after a few holes and some decent golf ensues to combine for 43 points in the Great Yarmouth Am-Am.
Tuesday 17th December
RCGC still owns a piece of land along the coast underneath the lighthouse where the original clubhouse was sited called Happy Valley (pictured). I reckon you could design a great downhill short hole from beside the lighthouse and then a tough 300 yard Par 4 back up the hill with the green alongside the cliff edge.
Monday 16th December
Starting to plan the marketing campaign for our hosting of the PGA Assistants Championship next year. Exciting times!
Sunday 15th December
I have shared loads of great pictures this year, but which were my favourites and why? Read Part 1 of my Best Photographs of 2019.
Saturday 14th December
Popped up to the course for a few holes this afternoon but only managed 4 as feeling a bit poorly. Managed to hit a few good ones with my new 3-iron though. The start of a long love affair or just a brief fling?
Friday 13th December
The week is finished at the Vets Christmas Lunch. Always a pleasure to be invited and a great demonstration of how important communities are to membership satisfaction and retainment.
Thursday 12th December
It is with some relief that the 2020 members diaries have arrived. No plastic covers this year as we will ask that last years are recycled. I wonder how many people will forget and throw the old ones away?
Wednesday 11th December
A rare sunny morning and everything looks better.
Tuesday 10th December
A long Par 3 would not be my favourite type of hole but nevertheless there is something quite satisfying about striking a long iron or wood onto the middle of a green.
Check out my favourite long ‘short’ holes in Norfolk here.
Monday 9th December
I am really looking forwards to seeing how the Presidents Cup teams tackle the Royal Melbourne layout this week. Fingers crossed it is playing firm and fast.
Sunday 8th December
The best ideas are almost always stolen from other people and so it was that I spent a couple of hours this afternoon checking out the best format ideas from other Golf Club websites to incorporate into our own.
Saturday 7th December
A day of recovery from the night before but also some time to reflect on my range session from Wednesday evening. I know that I am swinging well these days when my left hip starts to ache after a bucket of balls – it shows that I am clearing through the ball correctly.
This area of my body is a physical weakness and without a specific stretching routine would really restrict my capabilities. It is essential for swing coaches these days to make sure that any of their pupils that have goals to reach their potential have a full physical screening. If not, then they could be asking something of them of which they are not physically capable.
Friday 6th December
The annual staff Christmas Party is a great opportunity to bring the whole team together and boost morale. The number 1 rule for the day though – no photos!
Thursday 5th December
Up early to cover the clubhouse cleaning shortage but had time for an early walk to catch a brilliant sunrise.
Wednesday 4th December
I have been analysing the tee usage figures from the 2019 season. With peak times nearing fully booked status across the summer, this will be an area that will play a large role in shaping strategy moving forwards.
Tuesday 3rd December
Updated the constitution following a couple of changes agreed at the AGM. Governance was a hot topic at the recent GCMA Conference and as more clubs have to admit that they need to be run as a business due to the increasingly competitive marketplace this is likely to continue.
Monday 2nd December
Finally got the annual bills in the post and the sun came out. Happy days!
Sunday 1st December
Very jealous this week of those fortunate souls that got the chance to play The Old Course with reverse routing – so 1st tee to 17th green, 18th tee to 2nd green etc. for two days only. What a bucket list thing!
Meanwhile back in Norfolk, moody skies and rainbows met me over the course whilst trying the new utility iron out for a few holes this afternoon.
Saturday 30th November
I have decided to make a change to my set make-up by replacing my hybrid with a utility iron. I gave the hybrid a good go, but the statistics with that club do not make great reading.
Whilst the utility iron is marginally less forgiving, it should give me a stronger ball flight (trackman shows a 2 yard reduction in peak height) and more workability on those crucial approaches from around 200 yards.
Friday 29th November
A final push to get the annual bill run completed and ready to send. We now have over a hundred members that do not renew on 1st January following the change in policy for new members to pay a year upfront when joining rather than the pro-rata fees until the end of the year. That does still leave over 600 bills to organise now though!
Thursday 28th November
Always depressing to cancel events and today was one of those days. The course was unfortunately too wet for the planned 120 players in the Norfolk Alliance, with the competition rescheduled for March.
Wednesday 27th November
Another AGM in the record books at RCGC (The 132nd). A turnout of around 70 members on a wet night is not too bad but it would be great to be able to engage a higher percentage of the membership in these important decisions.
Tuesday 26th November
More rain in what has been a very wet period. Delays to the winter work and all round frustration.
Monday 25th November
Another memory from the recent GCMA Conference was the brave and heartfelt presentation from Steve Smith from Aston Wood Golf Club, who lay out the struggles he has had with his own mental health, which led to getting into trouble with the police and suicidal thoughts.
It is easy for golf clubs to ignore the mental wellbeing of their employees but I feel this topic will get more focus over the next few years. It is good to see the GCMA attempts to put a helpline for its members in place.
Sunday 24th November
No time for a full blog this week but the latest addition to my Hotlist has been added. This one is a 9-hole gem in Suffolk.
The list now totals 43 and I hope to make 50 by the year end.
Saturday 23rd November
Working from home this morning to complete some meeting minutes.
Friday 22nd November
Always a pleasure to visit Hunstanton Golf Club today. One of my favourite aspects of the routing is how you look back along the coast for the closing stretch with great views of the lovely clubhouse as you play in.
Thursday 21st November
One of the most interesting new golf course projects in England this year has been the relocation of Royal Norwich following the sale of their original course for housing development. It is particularly fascinating to see their branding approach, with ‘Golf Club’ removed from their title in order to promote the destination as more than just golf.
I have not had the pleasure of playing the new course yet but I have a visit planned for the Spring. Read more about the project on their website.
Wednesday 20th November
This time of the year means the publication of a raft of ‘best courses’ rankings. These provide great reading and debate for the long dark evenings. One of the most respected is Golf.com’s Top 100 in the World.
It is great to see courses chosen on architectural merit and it is a superb analysis.
Tuesday 19th November
Took a trip out to see the progress of the winter course development and the new 8th tee is making progress. The increased elevation of the back tee certainly adds a more epic scale to the tee shot.
Monday 18th November
Starting to prepare the annual membership bill run. This is the only time in the year that we now send the whole membership information through the post rather than by email. It is certainly a lot more expensive and time consuming to do it this way and will perhaps be the last year that this method is used.
Sunday 17th November
Managed to nip up for a few holes this afternoon to keep things ticking over. It was great to be hitting balls but you long for the summer days when the course played firm and fast.
Saturday 16th November
Among the interesting seminars that I attended this week was one by Fred Popp explaining how his company Team Up helped to rebrand the Open a few years ago. Among the key points was a change in colour from green to blue, the creation of the iconic logo with the claret jug inside the O, and the key concept of ‘The Peoples Open’.
Together with the talk from Ross Matheson from the All England Tennis Club, it was fascinating to see how it was possible to retain the rich heritage of a tournament/club whilst still creating a modern competitive brand for today’s world.
Friday 15th November
RCGC hosted 19 teams for the Norfolk Region PGA Pro-Am today. A brutal North-Easterly made scoring very difficult and the winning score of 75 was a great knock in the conditions.
Thursday 14th November
Postal voting or more accurately voting in absentia is now a part of the RCGC Constitution for General Meetings. This was hotly debated prior to its introduction in 2017 but I would say that on the evidence so far, there are no signs of the negative aspects suggested such as hitting attendance at the meetings or block voting on a particular topic.
Wednesday 13th November
Was slightly slow to rise this morning after getting back late following a 5 hour journey home from the Cotswolds.
After dinner I had the chance to write up some of my notes from the last couple of days, with my key takeaways highlighted as:
- Efficient Governance is the platform for a successful Club.
- A dynamic Strategic Plan is crucial to focus staff and committee in the same direction.
- Speaking and listening to fellow Managers and industry experts is a key to both growth and good mental health.
Tuesday 12th November
Another brilliant day of learning and networking.
Highlights today for me were the benchmarking project by Kevin Fish and the advice on Governance by Rob Hill. A wonderful chance to gain plenty of golden nuggets of information to improve both myself and the Club.
Monday 11th November
A very busy day of keynote speeches and breakout seminars followed by the Gala Dinner.
Highlights included a fantastic presentation by Ross Matheson, the GM of the All England Tennis Club and some great advice on staying BUZZED by the brilliantly manic Gregg Patterson.
Sunday 10th November
A long drive to the Cotswold Water Park, site of the 2019 GCMA National Conference.
A fun evening catching up with friends, suppliers and new contacts. Also great to meet The Jazzy Golfer who shared some great insight into the benefits of social media and some of the invisible barriers to participation in the sport.
Saturday 9th November
For anybody interested in golf course architecture, check out the new website by Evalu18, which is well put together and contains loads of great courses to visit in the UK, including many lesser known names
Friday 8th November
The progress on the winter course development work has been quite remarkable. The team have now moved on to start the creation of the new 8th tee and the shaping work on the approach to the Par 3 13th hole. I cannot wait to see the finished results!
Thursday 7th November
A day spent on the accounts. It usually takes around 2 weeks to close off the previous month but the time spent is important to reconcile both the bank and cash accounts to the penny.
As an accounting software provider Croft looks kind of retro but is perfect for somebody not from an accounting background because it deals very well with the intricate tax rules for a members golf club.
Wednesday 6th November
The 2020 calendars are going well and are a relatively inexpensive way to promote the Club.
Tuesday 5th November
An excellent day spent at Bawburgh Golf Club.
In the morning I chaired a working meeting of the Norfolk GCMA where many positive ideas were shared.After lunch was the Forum where the Golf Club Managers meet with the County Golf Union. Again a positive sense of discussion was achieved.
It is very easy to get wrapped up in your own Club’s affairs but an important sense of perspective can often be reached by chatting with other Club Manager’s.
Monday 4th November
We decided to offer free postcards to all who visited the Club this summer and the marketing ploy seems to have been successful, with hundreds taken.
The most popular design? ‘Four Seasons’.
Sunday 3rd November
A perfect Sunday.
Driving range – long walk with the dogs – Roast dinner with the family – A glass of wine and a good book.
Saturday 2nd November
It is now the end of my competitive golfing season but there is no time to rest as I plan for a successful 2020. With a few wins in September behind me, I enter the off-season with confidence but I also know that there are many areas of my game that require improvement if I am going to lower my stroke average next year.
Friday 1st November
Draft two of the 2020 members diary is back to the printers. With the fixture list, adverts from suppliers and trophy winners all included in the make-up, this is a more complicated document to get right than you may think.
It is perhaps a little old-school to give out paper diaries in this day and age but a majority of our membership still use them regularly. This is the first year that we have not included the plastic cover in the order, with members asked to re-use last years version which was printed without a date.
Thursday 31st October
The most controversial aspect of any course development works is in tree clearance. I have heard it said that the best way to deal with this is to clear the trees and then deal with any backlash but I am not too sure about this.
I would say that proper education and communication with interested parties backed up by relevant experts in the field is the way forward.
Wednesday 30th October
Thw winter course development work programme at RCGC continues apace. The areas between 4th/12th and 6th/10th have now been scraped back, shaped and hydro-seeded all on schedule to be back in play by the Spring.
Tuesday 29th October
It is the formal Annual Dinner this week-end at RCGC and the thorny issue of the table-plan rears its head again. Nobody wants to sit next to the doorway!
Monday 28th October
An interesting and worthwhile guide to the governance of Golf Clubs released today as a collaborative effort from several organisations including the GCMA and the R & A.
With many clubs in the UK already past their centenary, it is perhaps easier politically not to modernise but those that have are generally in a better position to make efficient decisions and keep pace with the ever-changing industry trends.
Sunday 27th October
A worsening bout of man-flu prevented a planned trip to the driving range, but without a game for 3 weeks I can afford to put my feet up and watch some sport this week-end.
Saturday 26th October
I have now added Sunningdale (New) to my Hotlist of great courses in England. A serious test of golf but visually stunning and the lunch is spectacular.
Friday 25th October
We got the official photographs through from the Sunningdale trip. I love the one below. I may outline the full back story in an upcoming blog but suffice to say the reaction followed my escape from one of the fearsome bunkers on the New Course.
Thursday 24th October
Back in the office. The day after being away for a period is often filled by catching up with other staff and what is going on. Not much paperwork completed therefore, but we did order the 2020 calendars.
Wednesday 23rd October
The monthly Am-Am at Great Yarmouth & Caister and despite a tired mind and body from the London trip, my partner and I combined perfectly for 46 points and a place at the top of the leaderboard.
Tuesday 22nd October
A walk around the lovely Virginia Water before the long trip back to Norfolk.
Monday 21st October
An epic day at the magnificent Sunningdale Golf Club. The event was a qualifier for the Golf Club Secretary Open Championship. A field of 60 Golf Club Managers took on the New Course in drizzly conditions.
The course is wonderfully designed and conditioned. The combination of wet conditions and lots of raised greens with false fronts led to the layout playing every inch of its yardage. A hard fought 35 points was enough to take the honours and qualify for the Final at Saunton in May 2020.
Sunday 20th October
A look around the Queens abode at Windsor. Caught a glimpse of the Royal Household Golf course, a 9-Hole layout within the grounds of the Castle. Looked a fairly basic course with lots of mature trees and few bunkers. You can see it from inside the State Rooms at the back of the house but unfortunately I was not allowed to take any photos from inside so had to make do with some beefeaters.
Saturday 19th October
A day of travel to Ascot and an afternoon walk around Windsor.
Missed the annual prize giving at the Club which I understand was attended by a record breaking 110 people.
Friday 18th October
The updated course development plan has now been released to the membership and is shown hole by hole in visual form in the Club foyer. We may well follow it up with a professional video, which is a key marketing tool these days.
Thursday 17th October
Work has now begun on the ground between the 6th and 10th fairways. Photos show the stage before the shaping work has begun.
Wednesday 16th October
Another late meeting but agreement on the proposed budget and subscription rates for 2020 to take to the AGM next month.
Tuesday 15th October
Another long day in the office followed by a late finance meeting. It is at this time of year that a Golf Club Manager really learns the benefits of coffee.
Monday 14th October
The winter work continues apace and the art of shaping has begun between the 4th and 12th fairways. This is a real skill as it needs to look as if it is completely natural.
Sunday 13th October
A week-end off golf and in front of the rugby World Cup. Remarkable discipline and sportsmanship shown by these top teams can be a lesson for a lot of other sports.
Saturday 12th October
I am starting to fill up my England wall map with the dots of courses I have played. Still a plenty few stuck in the back of my memory though!
Friday 11th October
Back in the office and a day of work and meetings towards the 2020 budget and subscription rates. Some positive progress made with a view to getting approval at next weeks committee meetings.
Thursday 10th October
An excellent day of learning and networking at the Autumn meeting of the Norfolk GCMA at Barnham Broom. It is a real honour to Captain the region this year and I enjoyed chairing the meeting and organising the golf.
The afternoon round was interesting – a composite of the two courses was in play due to the wet weather flooding the other holes. Naturally the conditions were playing long but some solid golf and 36 points was enough to pick up the day’s first place and also the prize for the combined scores from the Spring and Autumn meetings.
A handsome trophy to put on the mantelpiece.
Wednesday 9th October
It has been a very wet period for North Norfolk in the last couple of weeks. On Sunday alone we had around 60mm of rain, which is what you would expect in the whole of October here. The course has held up OK apart from the bunkers, some of which have been out of play.
Tuesday 8th October
Perception is a strange thing.
For example, I have never considered myself a particularly good putter but other people sometimes remark positively about this part of my game and the statistics would indicate that this is a solid area of my game and often the strongest aspect.
So, if I perceived myself as a fantastic putter, would this automatically improve my performance in this area? If I improved my performance, would this also improve my perception of my ability?
I think that one aspect of my putting that would improve if I had higher self-confidence would be my long putting as I would be less anxious about 3 putting and perhaps get a few more past (and in) the hole.
Monday 7th October
I am passionate about the promotion of golf in England – a country which is in the shadows of Ireland and Scotland in global golf tourism terms.
As such, the order is made from Amazon for the map for the wall of my study so that I can properly document my golfing journey around this amazing isle.
Sunday 6th October
A cleaning crisis at RCGC today meant that I had an early alarm call and a 6am date with the hoover to tidy up from last nights party.
Kind of blunted my appetite to write a blog so instead I made some upgrades to my Hotlist including the entry of the 40th course to the ranking.
Saturday 5th October
Barnet Rugby Club Golf Society visited RCGC today for their 72nd year in a row.
Always a fun day and evening with great friends.
Friday 4th October
It was lovely to welcome a group from my old club Feltwell at RCGC today. I joined them for a game and although the scoring was not great, I can be pleased with the recent developments in my game.
The course was playing long and wet after the recent heavy rain which are not my favourite conditions but it is still a pleasure to get out and whack the ball.
Thursday 3rd October
The 3rd hole at RCGC is one of the newest holes on the layout, being 40 years old this year. If there was ever any doubt as to how this hole has developed, then these photos will demonstrate the progress made.
Wednesday 2nd October
Preparations are starting to be made for the winter development work to commence in earnest next week. The priorities this winter will be to break up the rough between 4/12 and 6/10 in order to create more undulating lies and a new tee complex for the 8th hole.
Tuesday 1st October
The deadlines start to come thick and fast at this time of the year. I need to finish off the September accounts as soon as possible to provide as much information as possible for the forecasted end of year accounts and the 2020 budget/subscription rates in advance of the AGM next month.
Monday 30th September
My latest blog completed the best short Par 3 holes in Norfolk. Some great architecture on show in the top 5 published yesterday.
Sunday 29th September
Managed to dodge the heavy showers for a few holes this afternoon in what may be my last week-end evening practice of the year due to lack of daylight.
Played just 4 holes but managed to achieve all of the goals that I set out to do. It is amazing how many of my best and most productive practice sessions through the years have also been some of my shortest.
Saturday 28th September
Another visit to the range today. My technique is starting to look and feel better than it has for years following recent technical changes. Whether or not I can pull it together in time for success in my October competitions remains to be seen, but certainly good things are on the horizon.
Friday 27th September
Starting to work out the proposed subscription rates for 2020 based on budgeted income and expenditure. Also brainstorming some ideas for added membership benefits involving the soon to open new indoor swing and putting facility.
Thursday 26th September
The current 19th hole at RCGC was built in 1913. It has seen various extensions over the years to what we have today. Here is a good comparison between 1969 and 2019.
Wednesday 25th September
The greenstaff did an amazing job to get the course open by 8am following the storms. Not surprisingly the bunkers were out of play but I think a few of the golfers that enjoyed the course today were secretly happy about that.
Tuesday 24th September
An absolutely biblical thunderstorm in Cromer this evening. Never seen the likes of it and plenty of clearing up work will be required in the morning.
Monday 23rd September
I am not usually one to make technical swing changes whilst still in the golf season, but my recent form has led to desperate measures. Anyway I am finally tackling some long-standing issues with my leg and hip action through the downswing and it feels pretty good. As ever, the proof will be when I return to competitive action next month.
Sunday 22nd September
My blog this week focuses on an increasingly rare beast – the short Par 3. For this list holes needed to measure less than 150 yards from the back tees and the choice from the 30 or so courses in Norfolk was surprisingly sparse. With the right green complex, holes of little length are great fun for golfers of all abilities.
Read Part 1 covering positions 10 to 6 here.
Saturday 21st September
We received our autumn report from the agronomist at the STRI this week. This report covered some measurements on the greens including speed, firmness and trueness. Lots of stats and ideas to digest but in general it provides evidence of the progress that is being made, with most measures reflecting tournament quality surfaces for every day play.
Friday 20th September
Spent a little while today putting together some stats on visitor green fee yields, courtesy golf and course usage. With both membership numbers and visitor groups increasing some interesting numbers are being produced which will require careful analysis by the finance committee.
Thursday 19th September
One of the challenges of design and marketing at RCGC is that the course does not easily fit into a clear category. It is not a links, or a heathland, or a parkland. Establishing a clear identity therefore both in architecture and the marketing strategy will be key to the continuation of the rise up the national rankings.
Wednesday 18th September
Although the onset of autumn means the sad goodbyes to light evenings and twilight golf, I am looking forward to the programme of GCMA meetings in the diary. Lots of good learning to be done.
Tuesday 17th September
If there is one thing that I have learnt in this industry it is that all golf clubs are different and require vastly different strategies to be successful. There is a danger therefore in generic articles in magazines or guidance from governing bodies in that what works for one club may be a disaster for another. And therein lies the skill of a good golf club manager – guide the ship in the right direction!
Monday 16th September
September is a great time of the year to enjoy RCGC in some of its best condition and some of the busiest days of the year in the next couple of weeks reflect that.
Sunday 15th September
What an incredible finish to the Solheim Cup! The two sides were so evenly matched but Europe really snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by winning the final 3 matches. Even though they lost, Juli Inkster did a fantastic job with her team on away soil with half the team made up of rookies. In Nelly Korda and Angel Yin it looks like they could have two young players to take on the Asian dominance of the LPGA.
I understand why they play the event on courses like the Centenary, but these 1990’s large scale designs really do not reflect the best of British golf. Imagine the event at somewhere like Turnberry or indeed on the Kings course at Gleneagles.
Saturday 14th September
More reading material arrived today – the dark nights must be coming.
Friday 13th September
One of the most ambitious course builds in the country opens next week and it is just down the road at Royal Norwich. Having sold the century old original course for housing, they purchased another course, ripped it to shreds and rebuilt it. It is interesting and brave. A top class parkland course will add to an already strong golfing line-up in Norfolk.
Thursday 12th September
LET Pro Becky Morgan was at RCGC yesterday as part of a Yonex demonstration and she was a joy. A winner last year at the Indian Open and her short game masterclass demonstrated exactly how she did it.
Wednesday 11th September
Finally some short game magic from my clubs and the difference is huge. 43 points and victory in the Am-Am at Great Yarmouth and Caister.
Tuesday 10th September
We are striving hard to reduce discounted green fees at RCGC and are fortunate that we have the product to justify a premium price. Nevertheless it is important to offer the golfer a choice and our twilight rates (from 2pm) have proven popular and are available online.
Check out availability here.
Monday 9th September
I am really looking forward to following the Solheim Cup from Gleneagles this week. After seeing up close most of the players involved at this years Womens Open at Woburn, the teams look closely matched. You do have to say, though, that an Asian team would comfortably beat both sides. Nevertheless that is not the point and the Europeans will be looking to take down Lexi Thompson early as she is the spiritual American leader.
Sunday 8th September
No blog this week – family stuff took priority – but will be back next week.
Working hard on the practice ground tonight – some long overdue technical changes to my pitching and chipping techniques to make natural.
Saturday 7th September
The lack of media coverage of the Walker Cup from Royal Liverpool this week-end is shocking. With many of the top young players in the world competing in an intriguing contest with a great format for the TV, I cannot help but feel that a perfect opportunity to promote the game has been missed.
Friday 6th September
Back in the office and final preparations for this week-ends Gold Coast Cup. This trophy has been played since 1932 as a 36-Hole Mens Open event. This year we have 69 competitors from all over the East Region.
The main decision for the greenstaff will be whether to roll the greens in the morning. Already running at 10.5 and with a stiff breeze forecast, there may be a danger of balls being blown off the surfaces if we are not careful.
Thursday 5th September
I am a big fan of using some practice time to make swings (normal speed and slow motion) without a ball. This allows movements to be felt and changed without the pressure of where the ball has gone and can make swing changes much easier. A word of advice though – you look a bit silly doing it in the supermarket or waiting for the bus.
Another piece of advice when considering reasons for faults is to consider your physical limitations. My own weak point is a dodgy left hip and my current technical struggles with chipping and pitching can be traced to a protection of this area in the motion. If you take lessons from a PGA Pro, it is important that they are aware of such issues otherwise they could hinder rather than help. For serious golfers, a proper physical screening is essential to maximise potential.
Wednesday 4th September
An excellent day (and evening) at The Oxfordshire for the Fairway Credit National Final. My ball striking was very good in blustery conditions but unfortunately another short game horror show left me in the pack rather than challenging for prizes.
Fairway Credit were the sponsors and put on a fantastic day and evening of entertainment. They provide the finance for members to pay their golf subscriptions monthly and are a great company to work with.
The Oxfordshire is a lovely venue. I certainly came away with several things that I can pinch from a customer service standpoint.
Tuesday 3rd September
A day of travel to the Oxford area and a twilight 18 at Magnolia Park Golf Club. A fun design and great preparation for tomorrows competition. One of the things that I did notice today was the constant traffic noise from the nearby M40. I guess we are spoilt in Norfolk in that respect.
Monday 2nd September
A day of getting things in order before a few days out of the office. Starting to ramp up preparations for next years budget and subscription rates as well as finalising the fixture list.
Sunday 1st September
I was speaking to somebody last week who recommended a particular book by Prof Steve Peters to help with controlling my thought processes and promote general wellbeing.
I am a bit late to the party with this as it is a few years old. Early indications are that it simplifies a very complex process brilliantly and could help me a lot.
Saturday 31st August
A fun vlogging session with Ashley this evening. Speaking in front of a camera is a learned skill and I perhaps need some practice. I hope Ashley’s editing skills are good.
Friday 30th August
Another busy day at RCGC. A lovely mixture of members and visitors all enjoying the sunshine.
In other news, RCGC has been confirmed as the venue for the 2020 National PGA Assistants Championships, an event won in the past by names such as Peter Alliss and Tony Jacklin. It will be a huge honour for the club to host such a major Championship and from a personal point of view I look forward to the logistical challenges that it presents.
Thursday 29th August
Ashley has scheduled to come down on Saturday to film me as part of a mini course vlog. I am not sure that it is my calling in life but I am excited to try a new skill.
Wednesday 28th August
Last night saw the monthly Management Committee meeting and the nominations for the new Vice-Captains. And the process starts again……
The management structure at RCGC has been virtually unaltered for 131 years since the Club began. This either means that things have worked perfectly, or we are dreadfully out of touch with the modern world. Overall things seem OK!
Tuesday 27th August
The day after a Bank Holiday week-end is always office carnage. Why is it these days that members always choose to come in with fiddly little issues? Head spinning by day end.
Monday 26th August
It is noticeable how the techniques of some of the new guys on the PGA Tour are quite unconventional and seem to focus on power generation above all else.
I believe this is a consequence of instructors realising that the modern equipment offers such forgiveness that precision can come after power. I started golf in the era of the persimmon driver where the penalty for missing the middle of the Club was such loss of distance and direction that hitting the sweet spot was the focus of the learning process and a set sequence of controlled movement positions were the best way to achieve this.
Nowadays coaches will teach speed over precision and who can blame them – the results are there for all to see? But is this the best thing for the future of the game and particularly classic courses?
Sunday 25th August
A stunning evening for a few holes at RCGC. Probably my best ball striking session this year. It is amazing what a bit of clarification from the video and a 15 minute speed session with a weighted club can do. The crispness of strike and distance was back to where it should be.
Saturday 24th August
A grind at the Driving Range today. My last resort when struggling with my ball-striking is the video camera (phone) and a visual analysis of my swing.
What I saw shocked me a little. The swing positions were ok, but the lack of flexibility and speed in the swing was noticeable when compared with old footage. Some recent issues with muscle tension in the left hip up to the shoulder could help to explain the shortening of my backswing. I have a custom stretching routine for golf but have been slacking lately and it shows. The video has given me fresh motivation. I will also be digging out the weighted club for some speed training.
Friday 23rd August
The Seniors Open for the Poppyland Trophy today at RCGC. 72 players over the age of 55 from all over the East of England competing for the prizes. An excellent event but am still undecided whether the Pro’s outway the Con’s given the discounted entry fees and the hinderence to our members.
Thursday 22nd August
Advanced green fee bookings for 2020 are very healthy with a number of important groups already booked and a big tournament in the piping subject to committee agreement next week.
With membership numbers also healthy, revenue figures look robust. With the new Royal Norwich opening in a few weeks, the market for golf membership in Norfolk will be shaken up and so it is important to be in a strong position.
Wednesday 21st August
It was lovely to play some firm and fast links golf today at Great Yarmouth and Caister in their monthly Am-Am.
My performance, however was in large parts dreadful. As usual with golf there is nobody to blame but yourself and it is clear that my 4-week break between competitions has not been used wisely. Instead of flip-flopping about trying to find the perfect swing-thought, I should probably have spent a little more time on the feel wedges and long putts as they were absolutely shockingly poor today.
Tuesday 20th August
August is usually a quiet month for RCGC – with members on holiday and visiting golf tours staying away due to the increased price of hotel stays. This year however, has been unusually busy and with staff holidays the team have pulled together to keep the show on the road.
Monday 19th August
It feels as though there are a couple of topics in professional golf that may be reaching a tipping point.
Firstly setting up courses ever longer with narrow fairways is both boring and assuming soft greens does not stop a barrage of birdies in a bomb and gauge fashion. The tours need to be more imaginative with their course choice and set-up. The US Amateur at Pinehurst No 2 showed how that it could be done with firm, fast greens and tightly mown run-offs providing an imaginative challenge.
Secondly with the European Tour announcing further steps to combat slow play we may finally realise that playing quickly is a skill in itself.
Sunday 18th August
I am continuing to work hard on my game in advance of the upcoming run of competitions. Finally settled on my swing-thoughts and will now concentrate fully on scoring.
Saturday 17th August
Managed to nip up to the course for a few holes and caught the golden hour – nobody else around – golfing heaven!
Friday 16th August
There has been an autumnal feel to the weather in recent days and the heath at Felmingham is starting to show signs of the change of season in its colours. I wish I could build a short course here – with its natural heath and undulations it would be awesome!
Thursday 15th August
Another meeting about the fixture list. Committees can often be frustrating in the time they take to make decisions, but this particular topic is worth being patient about, as getting the balance of fixtures right can make a huge difference to the business as a whole, its efficiency, membership retention and revenue generation.
Wednesday 14th August
The greenstaff have all put a huge shift in to apply 50 tonnes of sand to the greens prior to the scheduled rains arriving at lunchtime.
Tuesday 13th August
There are a few favourite spots on the course for selfies or instagram posts including the signature 14th, the Par 3 9th and the 6th hole looking towards the lighthouse. This is a more unusual angle, looking towards Overstrand towards the 6th tee. Lovely, though.
Monday 12th August
The start of course maintenance week – a vital time to carry out essential work to the greens. Also an absolute nightmare for Club Managers with grumpy and stay away members and a lack of cash flow.
Sunday 11th August
Managed a few holes this evening. I have added an extra fixture to my diary in August at Great Yarmouth. I usually take the school holidays off competitive golf, but with an important final at The Oxfordshire in the first week of September, I need to get my game up to speed. Will be concentrating on the fundamentals of Tempo – Tension – Balance between now and then.
Saturday 10th August
An inspiring afternoon watching the RCGC Juniors competing for the Norfolk County Inter-Club KK Smith Trophy against Kings Lynn at Royal Norwich GC.
With all 4 Cromer players taking on lower handicapped opponents, they showed remarkable composure, skill and poise to maintain their focus and game plan even under pressure on the last few holes to claw a narrow victory against the odds.
Friday 9th August
For those visiting Cromer and looking for restaurant recommendations – the Thai is excellent. Sarah and I went this evening and managed to catch the most wonderful sunset on our way back to the station.
Thursday 8th August
I will be making upgrades to my Hotlist – the very best of English golf course architecture – over the coming weeks – adding green fees, website links and course architects to each entry, as well as putting some new courses on the list.
Wednesday 7th August
The school holidays are a relatively quiet time of the year at RCGC – but the hamster wheel never really stops with thoughts turning to the 2020 budgets and fixture lists.
Tuesday 6th August
A final thought on the Women’s Open from the week-end – the hordes of youngsters that turned out to watch could not have had a better role model than the deserving victor Hinako Shibuno – the young Japanese star was fun, played quick and actually looked like she was enjoying herself – a breath of fresh air. I have seen her impact compared to a young Seve and I can see the similarities. I just hope that she can maintain her carefree attitude as the vast wealth and opportunities are put in front of her.
Monday 5th August
The first day back in the office always flies by without too much chance to catch up with paperwork and today was no exception.
Sunday 4th August
After two very long days a quiet one is required.
That dread when you open your emails for the first time after a week off was evident this evening but nothing too bad fortunately.
Saturday 3rd August
Another great day at the golf. I have managed to follow quite a few players and my step count is similar to a marathon runners. One of my favourites is Anne Van Dam – such graceful power. Here she is ripping one up the 18th this afternoon after a 3-putt on the previous green. Controlled fury. Read my blog about my experiences here.
Friday 2nd August
A wonderful day at Woburn for the Women’s British Open. I was here in 2016 for the last time this event was staged on the Marquess course and the crowds are significantly bigger this year. The biggest audiences were reserved for the English stars. Here is Charley Hull starting her round.
Wednesday 31st July
One of the joys of some time off work is the chance to read. I have been having some trouble with my low shots recently so was looking for some advice. My teachers today are Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus.
Tuesday 30th July
Popped up to the Club today for a scheduled meeting with a chap who has been involved in a couple of national magazines top 100 rating lists.
I have to say that these people are a bit of a joke. They expect courtesy of the course, spend a lot of time name dropping but seemingly have little course architecture or agronomic knowledge themselves. These rankings sell a lot of magazines and get plenty of coverage and so they are here to stay, but they should be seen for what they are – a bit of bar room banter.
Sunday 28th July
My blog this week looks in some detail at new Open Champion Shane Lowry’s game. Is the first time Major winner set for a golden period or was his Portrush triumph an epic one-off?
Saturday 27th July
The start of a week off. Time for the family, reading and writing. My golf clubs will remain stationary, but my week does culminate with a couple of days at Woburn to watch the Womens British Open.
My main goal is to catch some play from Anne Van Dam, an exciting young European. I also hope to watch Maria Fassa and Nelly Korda, two more young potential Major Champions. If there is some English players on the leaderboard, the atmosphere should be good.
Friday 26th July
The end of a long and very hot week. Was there ever a photo that summed the English summer up better than this one taken this evening whilst out with Hollie.
Thursday 25th July
I picked up this book as an impulse purchase when I was in Norwich the other day.
I am not a big cricket fan and I never saw Mike Brearley play, but I do know his reputation as the best Captain the England Test team ever had. I look forward to reading about some of his leadership techniques.
Wednesday 24th July
Recent clearance of vegetation alongside the 14th green has restored views of the lighthouse from 60 years ago, as these images from 1969 and 2019 show. The only real difference is the radio mast that has now been removed from alongside the lighthouse.
Tuesday 23rd July
As part of our latest photo shoot, we had some shots taken in and around the clubhouse. Here is a nice one of Faye pouring a very welcome pint to quench the thirst in this heat.
Monday 22nd July
As a mini-heatwave sits across the South-East of the country, working in an office without air-con is akin to sitting in an oven. It sort of fries the brain and prevents rational thought. Productivity, then, was low. A perfect day for the monthly Management Committee meeting.
Sunday 21st July
A week-end in front of the tele is worth it following a wonderful Open Championship that had a fairytale winner at an incredible venue. It must do wonders for the golfing tourism in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Saturday 20th July
Thorough and proper evaluation is a crucial aspect of the learning process. In this weeks blog (posted tomorrow) I will be reviewing my golfing stats from the half-year and evaluating them against my targets set back in January.
Friday 19th July
Have you ever seen a course look and play as good as Royal Portrush at The Open?
Wonderful rolling undulations have challenged the players skill and creativity and been fantastic to watch. It just goes to show that you do not need greens running at 14 on the stimp to create a fun and interesting tournament for the Pro’s.
Thursday 18th July
Another good match-play showing this season as I combined with RCGC Professional Lee Patterson for a 4up victory in the second leg of our annual contest against neighbours Mundesley. Sadly the trophy will reside up the coast for the year as Mundesley prevailed by 6 holes in the overall contest.
Wednesday 17th July
An excellent hot summers day for the North Norfolk Rotary Clubs annual Charity Day in aid of the Holt Youth Project. A fun format with the best 2 scores out of 4 and a yellow ball competition thrown into the mix.
It was nice to feel a bit of consistent form with my own game. I had a chance to go bogey free but a poor mental decision and a sloppy 3-putt on the back nine led to my only dropped shots of the round. The ultra strong Pimms at the halfway house perhaps did not help my mental focus!
Anyway a fantastic effort to raise £8,000 on the day.
Tuesday 16th July
It is an important week for my golfing season with matches the next two days. For various reasons my game has never really hit a flow this year yet. However I play over the next couple of days, I will conduct my half-year review at the end of it and compare reality with the goals I set back in January.
Monday 15th July
Finalising the budgets for this winters course development work today. The projects are ambitious but exciting and with the numbers adding up, we can press onwards and upwards in the quest to keep getting better.
Sunday 14th July
Did anybody get up off the sofa today? What a day of sport highlighted by a wonderful cricket World Cup Final. Both the winning England team and the unfortunate runners-up New Zealand featured all of the traits of a winning golfer covered in this week’s blog.
Saturday 13th July
A day at the University of East Anglia to see Evie pick up her award for completing the Scholars Programme – a wonderful initiative to teach state school pupils the skills to apply for top universities.
I have not had the chance to properly look around the UEA Campus before, but its brutal 1960s architecture is actually quite appealing and impressive in a different way to the more traditional architecture of Cambridge Uni.
Friday 12th July
Another long day to complete a busy week. Unfortunately the weather clouded over at just the wrong time and the photography was cancelled at the last minute.
Thursday 11th July
Sometimes the team just needs to graft through difficult days and so it was today with a combination of paternity leave, illness and other absences causing some staff shortages and long hours for those on duty. Some great efforts from all involved meaning members and visitors would not notice any issues.
Wednesday 10th July
A power cut at the Club brings home just how reliant that we are on electricity these days. Save for a bit of filing, there was not much that I could do around the office.
Tuesday 9th July
Presented my report on the fixture list to the committee today. Like a lot of members clubs, we are stuck in 1984 with a glut of single gender or age based competitions. Change is never easy but these type of block bookings by a single section are outdated and harm the growth of the Club.
Monday 8th July
Ashley and Rob will be returning this Friday (weather permitting) to complete the video/photography for the year. This time, I will be the model. Now what to wear?
Sunday 7th July
An absolutely stunning evening on the course and my game is showing positive signs from playing a little more recently. With no tension, even my chipping was crisp. The key will be for me to maintain a relaxed mindset and easy tension and tempo in a competitive situation, helped by a strong pre-shot routine.
Saturday 6th July
We have received some of the photos from our recent session and they fill some of the gaps in our catalogue very well. They will be featured on the Club’s social media widely over the coming weeks, but here is one to go on with – featuring our redeveloped 6th tee area.
Friday 5th July
Very impressed with the hanging baskets from Overstrand Garden Centre this year, looking lovely on the patio in the sunshine.
Thursday 4th July
It is not often in the last 10 years or so when one department of my golfing game has fallen apart completely, but it has happened recently with my chipping and short pitches with a destructive thin or fat shot the usual result.
I believe the underlying issue is technical but it is close to becoming a real mental issue as well, with the ‘yips’ not far away. I will spend the next couple of weeks before my next competitive outing on 17th July working to improve my technique and confidence in this area.
Wednesday 3rd July
40 points at Sheringham today and 78 points overall was only good enough for 11th place, 5 points out of the prizes as we faded on the back nine after a strong opening.
I learnt so much from being able to play with 2 professionals for the last couple of days, and I will reflect on the areas that I need to improve in order to get closer to their level.
Tuesday 2nd July
The first round of the PGA Summer Classic today and an even Par 72 in the Greensomes format is good for 38 points and tied 12th (5 shots behind) heading into the final day tomorrow at Sheringham.
A nervous start and some basic errors gave way to an excellent 3-under par back 9 to keep us in contention, although we will need to go low tomorrow in the better-ball format in order to pick up a prize.
Monday 1st July
Rob & Ashley (Fairway Flyovers) were onsite today to update our photo collection. An excellent session and the weather turned out great. The finished articles should be with us to share in a week or two.
Sunday 30th June
More practice today. I am naturally quite an anxious person but I am amazed the wrecking effect that tension has on my golf swing. The simple check of making sure that I was relaxed throughout the motion led to an amazing improvement in my ball striking today.
Saturday 29th June
I have been added as a late entry to next weeks 2-day Summer Classic Pro-Am to play alongside our professional Lee Patterson as the Captain had to withdraw. Consequently I thought I better get some practice. The course was looking lovely in the late evening and best of all I had it all to myself.
Friday 28th June
These photos comparing 1946 to 2019 show just how much tree growth there has been over the years. A programme of thinning out is underway in order to return some of the playing values to the architects original design and intention.
The large hotel in central photo burnt down in 1949.
Thursday 27th June
I was pleased to improve my match-play record to played 3 won 3 this year with a 4 & 2 win in the annual ‘Bottoms Up’ members match today.
Improving my performances in this form of the game was one of my goals for this season after some dismal displays in 2018. The improvements have purely been down to a better attitude and a focus on my own game rather than worrying what my opponents might do.
Wednesday 26th June
The monthly management meeting today and unfortunately the members disciplinary policy was in full focus.
Such policies for employees are relatively straightforward but for members can get awkward. Guidance must come from the experts and the governing body but it is also important that the generic type documents provided by these people are modified to compliment the management structure of the individual club.
Tuesday 25th June
The refresh of the RCGC course development plan is almost complete. This winter will see some exciting developments to the holes at the flatter Eastern end of the course. The plans will be communicated to the membership soon with some great graphics designed and produced by a member.
Monday 24th June
This week-end saw the Club Championships and all the competitors found it tough with the greens running quick, the tees fully back and the rough up.
At this time of the year the best strategy to play RCGC changes. Normally it is a second shot course but with the rough out the premium on hitting fairways is increased and therefore a more conservative play from the tee is required. Many players fail to adapt their strategy and struggle as a result.
Sunday 23rd June
No blog this week but I have continued to add to my Hotlist – the very best of golf in England.
Saturday 22nd June
I love to compare old photos with new and these two of the 7th hole ‘Punchbowl’ taken 70 years apart are interesting. Significant fairway bunker changes but the green complex remains pretty much the same. It is a shame that we have lost the ‘Ginger Beer Hut’ on the hill.
Friday 21st June
The longest day of the year and the course is in fine shape after the recent rain. The green-staff have worked tirelessly this week to prepare for this week-ends Club Championships.
Thursday 20th June
The monthly finance meeting today, with my report providing a focus each month. Revenue is healthy, particularly membership subscriptions, with a waiting list on the horizon. Capital expenditure projects are on budget and the P & L account is in profit. Overall relatively stress free as we move towards the half-year.
Wednesday 19th June
It was fantastic to get back out onto the course at Barnham Broom today. This is a typical hotel based 36 hole facility that is perfect as the base for a golfbreak.
I managed 35 points which is summed up quite nicely by the strokes gained statistics. Not bad but too rusty with the short irons and around the greens to score as well as I should.
Tuesday 18th June
Finally managed to fill our vacancy for a cleaner with the appointment confirmed today after several rounds of interviews. Almost half of the candidates invited for interview failed to turn up and 90% of those that did made basic errors in self presentation. I despair.
Monday 17th June
Our welcome board is full of visitors names every day at this time of the year as golfers from all over the world come to enjoy some clifftop golf. Today we had a local group – the Society of Norfolk Veteran Ladies – with 60 intrepid players competing for the prizes. The combination of a strong breeze and the rough proved tricky as nobody managed to match their handicap.
Sunday 16th June
I find that the best way to focus your mind on the easily avoidable topic of Health & Safety is to invest in an annual audit from a professional company. With our 2019 visit scheduled in a couple of weeks, I will be making sure the paperwork is up to date and relevant and the monthly checks are all in order.
Saturday 15th June
I am looking forward to getting back out onto the course to compete next Wednesday at Barnham Broom. It has been a difficult year so far with just 3 competitive outings under my belt. In the circumstances my stroke average of just over 75 is admirable but I know I am capable of better. On Wednesday I will look to maintain a great attitude as I know that is the best way to squeeze out the best score possible when my game is rusty.
Friday 14th June
The recent rain has certainly caused an explosion in vegetation growth. Lovely to get back down the heath at Felmingham this evening with the dog.
Thursday 13th June
You have to feel like golf under sells itself. Whilst away last week, I happily paid £10 for one of the kids to do an activity on site for 30 minutes. Nip along to the local golf course for a twilight round and the cost is the same despite the mammoth costs associated with maintaining the facility. Is it just an oversupply of courses or does the industry just need to be stronger?
Wednesday 12th June
A week of a Major Championships is always exciting but particularly when it is being played on the clifftop Pebble Beach. Although overall PB may be a little over-rated in world golf terms, there is little doubt that its stretch of holes along the coast are some of the most spectacular in all of golf.
With small greens and punishing rough, firm conditions will favour great short game players such as Jordan Spieth. If it is soft however, look to the longer bombers such as Rory, Koepka or Dustin Johnson.
Tuesday 11th June
The forecast heavy rains arrived to wash out play for the day. With June being so popular with visitors, any days lost at this time of the season are financially painful. But what can you do about the weather?
Monday 10th June
Returning to the office after a break is always a trauma and the focus now will be to get everything together for the finance committee reports next week.
Sunday 9th June
Managed to get up to RCGC for a few holes late on. Boy has the rain changed the nature of the course since I was last there 10 days ago. Plenty of rough now coming through and the yellowy browns have turned to every shade of green.
Saturday 8th June
There is lots of great golfing content available on YouTube these days. I love watching old tournament coverage. Lately I can recommend anything by the ultra-cool Erik Anders Lang or for golf architecture fans The Fried Egg .
Friday 7th June
Back home today and managed to catch some of the GolfSixes event on the online coverage. As a ‘traditional’ golf fan, this event is not really aimed at me, but nevertheless there was a lot to like. My favourite bits:
- The venue was better than the previous years at Centurion, both in terms of the course design and the more guaranteed sunshine of Portugal.
- The poolside setting of the final hole created some good atmosphere.
- Women playing alongside the men is great.
- The greensomes format with national teams seems to fit the competition well.
There still seems a bit of work to do though, here are my main things to improve:
- The round robin format points system is obviously based on football to add cross sport recognition, but when even the commentators cannot work out what teams need to progress, then there must be an issue.
- It desperately needs some star names to add value. Ian Poulter would be perfect as host and player.
Thursday 6th June
My new hobby of adventure golf traveller continued today with a round on site. This was a 9-hole offering but overall was of greater architectural interest than Crabstix at Cromer. My competitive streak kicked in with a best of the day round of 24.
Wednesday 5th June
The Holiday village at Hopton is a perfect bolthole for a family break with a range of activities on offer including a 9 hole pitch and putt course and direct access to a sandy beach.
Tuesday 4th June
Off to Hopton Holiday Village for a few days away with the family. My evening walk took me through Gorleston Golf Club. There will be no time to play this week but I have played the course before. It is a flattish clifftop track with lovely views. The course does play inland for a couple of holes though in more parkland fare, pictured below.
Monday 3rd June
Evie and I tried out the latest addition to the golfing offering in Cromer this afternoon at Crabstix Adventure Golf on the seafront. A bright start for me was halted by some tricky pin positions on the back 9 and I limped home to a 41 despite two holes-in-one.
I did however, show no mercy to Evie and I gained some consolation for 10 consecutive Parkrun defeats to my 12-year old daughter with a comfortable margin of victory here.
Sunday 2nd June
An evening visit to the National Trust owned Blickling Estate tonight for a walk and a sneaky pint. A 9-Hole course existed here up until WW2 and if you look carefully, you can still make out some of the fairway lines.
Saturday 1st June
Self-reflection is a vitally important cog in the quest for improvement in any major goal. So why is it that we are so poor at giving ourselves the time and space needed for this essential task?
Friday 31st May
This week’s US Women’s Open is being played over the Seth Raynor designed Country Club of Charleston. This is an architecturally fascinating course summarised by the brilliant Fried Egg Golf on YouTube here.
Thursday 30th May
The start of 10 days off – time to take stock, plan, read, play and relax.
Wednesday 29th May
A day to get the wages paid and leave the office in a decent state for some much needed time off. A few things tidied up – new postcards and scorecards ordered, new brochure approved and all committee minutes sent out.
Tuesday 28th May
This is probably my favourite time of the year to photograph the course – when the rough grows up it adds a wonderful definition. Even better when it has that red tint. Here is the right side of the 14th.
Monday 27th May
Called into the office for a couple of hours this morning to catch up on a few jobs and prepare for the interviews to recruit a new cleaner tomorrow.
Sunday 26th May
I managed to get up to the Club for a few holes late on. Nice breezy evening on the coast. It was just me and the lighthouse keepers by the time I got to the 14th.
Saturday 25th May
This photo (taken a couple of days ago) illustrates very well how dry it has been so far this year (and last summer). This is the 14th fairway looking back towards the tee and 15th green. It is one of a couple that are struggling. Other courses are faring far worse – I am aware that Ganton is still on preferred lies, for example. This could, of course, become the new normal and golfers will have to adjust their perceptions of what colour grass should be.
Friday 24th May
An absolutely stunning day here at RCGC offering a perfect opportunity to get out of the office for a stroll and some photos.
Thursday 23rd May
The opening of the new 4th tee complex has been delayed by the lack of rainfall but it is now just a few weeks away from coming back into play. Here is a sneak preview from the back tee – the previously blind drive now showing a beautiful (if intimidating) view of the fairway and bunkers.
Wednesday 22nd May
One of the more quirky aspects of the course at RCGC is the periscope on the 7th tee, used to see over the hill and check if the fairway is clear. Great work this week by our maintenance man Rick in getting it back to full working order and a lick of paint.
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.