Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Product Review - Ping Sigma G Wolverine

Welcome to another product review and this one looks at the Ping Sigma Wolverine putter. This is one of the new Sigma range of sixteen putters (in the UK) and has been available in the shops for the last few months. Unlike the previous release, "Vault" which had a milled face, with the Sigma G range Ping has gone back to an insert.

However, both the milled face and the insert on the Sigma range still has their "Tru Roll" face pattern which varies in depth and dispersion. This is less deep and wider at the sweet spot and then becomes deeper and spaced tighter for off centre hits which Ping claim speeds up off centre strikes and leads to less three putts. Now as a fourteen handicapper, the chances of me finding the sweet spot every time is unlikely so it's interesting to see how this plays out

Ping Sigma putter overview

Another new feature, much overdue in my personal opinion is the introduction of a new pistol type grip. I had one of the Cadence Anser's from a few year back and these came with a blue midsize grip (on the standard weighted putters) which I didn't feel comfortable with and I found became very slippery in the wet. This new Sigma G Wolverine comes with a PP60 midsize pistol grip which has a tacky but ribbed feel and sits nicely in the hand.

Ping Sigma G Wolverine
The Wolverine is designed for a straight back and through type of stroke. It's a large mallet type putter and on first sight, there are definite comparisons with the Odyssey Fang putter (below) or the Taylormade Spider (also below)

Odyssey Versa 2 Ball Fang Putter

Taylormade Spider
I've done a video to show the putter in action on my Youtube channel running in conjunction with this blog. I've attached a link to it here (Ping Sigma G Wolverine review). While you'll over there make sure you subscribe to the channel to get ongoing reviews, updates and on course logs and don't forget to thumbs up the video as well. If you have any comments please feel free to leave them under the video and I'll read each one and respond.

In action, it's very stable as you'll see and visually the big head and the distinctive white line makes it very to line the ball up, especially on the crucial short putts. One this you may not be able to pick up from the video sound is that it has a distinctive "ping" off the face. In the test I used both a premium ball (Srixon Z Star xv) and a firmer all (Srixon AD333 tour) and the noise was noticeable /with both balls. While I didn't mind this, clearly this may not be to every players taste.

The putts were from around two feet, five feet and out towards fifteen feet. As I've already mentioned, the putter has this "Tru Roll" polymer insert and while I was happy with the quality of the strike I made on each putt, I can't verify how many came off the centre as I don't have access to SAM Lab technology or similar. I can only describe it as I feel and see it.

Since the video was filmed it's been in my bag and I was pleased with the way it performed (31 putts with a distinctly flaky short game which meant there were very few tap i/n putts for up and down scrambles). Speed control was consistent which I guess you could argue vindicates Ping's claims about this insert and "Tru Roll". Of course I'd argue it was my smooth putting stroke but the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle somewhere/.

As I've done with all my other recent reviews I've broken it down into a couple of key sections

Looks - Visually it's definitely big, but I don't feel it's "in your face" big and no different to most other mallets on the market of similar design. It's clear, single white sight line is very simple but works well. The grey finish works well in the sun and glare is minimised 8/10

Grip - The mid size PP60 pistol grip definitely enhances a soft and light grip pressure and sits nicely in the hand which should promote a smooth action. It fits nicely in the contour of the hand 9/10

Alignment - As well as the vivid white line, the top of the putter does also contain other lines in the grey head which are of varying length. To be honest, I tended to focus solely on the white line and didn't really notice these other alignment aids. That said, the shape and the white line made it very easy to line up. I felt confident the putter was aligned correctly especially on the 2-3 footers on the course and it did provide an element of confidence boosting 7/10

Feel - The insert (and "Tru Roll" design) does give a pleasant, and perhaps more importantly a consistent feel off the face with both a soft and harder ball. As said, I can't vouch for the validity of the "Tru Roll" design but distance control was good. There is a distinct sound off the face that some golfers will find annoying 8/10

Stability - As with most mallets, it's very, very stable. Designed for a golfer with a distinct back and through, straight putting style, it has a large MOI for added accuracy. The shape definitely maximises the perimeter weighting Ping have put on the extremes of the Wolverine

Down behind the ball it sat very nicely and squarely. I've had putters before that will feel as though they are sitting distinctly open or closed and I've always had an inclination to then try and manipulate the face to sit squarer. With the Wolverine, it sits solidly behind the ball and begs to stroke the ball to the hole 9/10

Price - This (and I believe most of the other Sigma range) retail in the region (in the UK) of £169 although I'm sure as the range is now a few months old, deals will start to appear online and in shops. It's comparable in price to some of the similar putters from Ping's main competitors in the putter market and certainly much cheaper than the predecessor, the milled Vault range. 7/10

Overall - The Ping Sigma G Wolverine is a no frills putter. It's decor is plain but efficient and relies on the technology and consistent quality of build that Ping are synonymous for and is a reputation garnished from over 50 years of building top class putters used not only on tours around the world but which have been in the bags of the weekend golfer too.

That said, I couldn't verify the claims of "Tru Roll" as I didn't have a SAM Putting unit (GASP - Sam System to dissect my stroke and show where I struck the ball, However it was a stable, functional putter with a distinct sound, and from a variety of distances performed well. It's definitely one I like and I've a feeling it could be finding it's way into my bag and usurping the current incumbent soon. If you like a bigger mallet style putter then this one is definitely worth trying out 8/10

Friday, 21 April 2017

A Quest For Single Figures Video Update

Welcome back to the Three Off The Tee blog and there's a new video blog for you to enjoy on the Youtube channel running parallel to the blog The "Quest" April update). It's here to update you on "The Quest For Single Figures" and discusses my progress and has some updates over and above my last post on here with details of the first honours board event at Royal Ascot Golf Club played over the Easter weekend.

This was a bogey event. a tough format that's essentially match play against the course. Keep tuned as there's some good news in there. On top of that it'll update you on some other videos that are coming to the channel soon. I hope you enjoy the update, and don't forget to click on the subscribe button. If you have any comments or ideas on how to progress "The Quest" please put them in the comments box below the video. I'll look at them all and reply.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Quest For Single Figures - Update (5th April 2017)

Welcome back to my slightly revamped blog site. I hope you like it and have had a chance to check out the Three Off The Tee youtube channel that now runs in conjunction with the blog. There's now a link on the front page or you can go to it here (My youtube channel). Please check it out, subscribe and thumbs up the videos. There's a lot to come soon including a couple of putter reviews (Ping Sigma vs Odyssey "O" works) and an Aimpoint video

With all of that out of the way, it's time to update you on my "Quest For Single Figures". Once again, there have been issues, primarily on the health front and so tuition, practice and playing time have been impacted and I've not moved forward as quickly as I'd hoped. That said, I'm now back out and playing regularly again and now the clocks have changed will begin to work on my game, especially the short game with renewed vigour. That's the one area, perhaps bunkers aside, that's still woeful and is causing issues. I had hoped the linear method for pitching and chipping would have resolved this but having not invested any time into this method or indeed what you may consider a more conventional method, both are failing on the course and testing patience and resolve.

Since my last update, there has only been one competitive round, a medal (Royal Ascot Cup qualifier) played in breezy, damp conditions. I have to say, in my defence, I had come back from the latest illness with no time to work on the changes I was still bleeding in from the last lesson I'd had (Live Lesson). I actually started reasonably well and then hit the buffers at our 5th, having been in a green side bunker for three on the par five and walked off with an eight. Don't ask!

I frittered a few more shots away on the front nine to go out in 45 (+10 gross or three over handicap) and was back in a familiar scenario of not trusting what I'd worked on in the lesson, over thinking as a consequence, and getting myself into a world of hurt.

My back nine started with an ugly double bogey which led to a mental meltdown and a string of car crash holes, going double, triple, double from the 12th to the 14th. I managed a couple of pars over the closing few holes, chucked another almost obligatory double bogey in on the 16th for good measure and walked away dazed and confused with a net 79 (+9) which was still good enough for a mid-table 13th place finish in division 2 but of course led to an inevitable 0.1 handicap increase. My statistics for the round (such as they were) are here to peruse.

March 2017 Medal Statistics

Since this medal on the 18th March, I've had another lesson. I spoke in depth with my teaching professional about the video from the previous lesson and in particular how steep the shaft appears to be on the down swing and how trapped it seemed to make me. I had tinkered, as is my way, at the range at trying to lay the club flatter behind me at the start of the transition and down swing to come on a flatter plane and pass more in front of me at impact with a degree of success. My professional looked at the footage and could see the issues (cupped left wrist, high right elbow, and taking the club away outside the line) and we had a productive time sorting this out. Unfortunately, despite having the camera set up and working, the file corrupted and I wasn't able to download it to review at a later date and compare this lesson alongside the previous one as I hoped.

The positive note was the quality of strike which was better. Tempo was, and no doubt will remain an issue, but when I was in a decent rhythm I had so much more time to make a compact swing with the right elbow in particular in a far better position and not "flying". So of course I diligently worked on it on the range and rocked up for the usual Sunday morning roll up, feeling good and seeing some positive returns in practice and ready to compete. What transpired was my lowest point to date on this rocky road to single figures. I walked off after eleven holes. I was crap. Not even that good in all honesty and despite trying to have fun, swing slower and all the things you're suppose to do on an off day, everything went to pot. I was getting more and more wound up to the point where I was aware it was impacting on my playing partners. I didn't want to be there and as the tag line on all the betting adverts on TV says, "When the fun stops, STOP" so I did. I wasn't proud walking off but my head was a mess and I would rather have been anywhere else than enduring another two hours on the course and another seven holes of abject misery.

You would think that after 0.1 back in the medal and then this disaster the "Quest" would be over and I'd come to my senses and admit it's never going to happen. Not on your life dear reader. This stubborn old goat is made of sterner stuff and still has a deep ingrained desire to get to single figures and enjoy proving so many naysayers wrong. It's going to happen.

Of course you have to get back on the horse. I did so with a solo practice round the following week and some structured practice. The solo round was patchy at best, but I then took advantage of playing the back nine last week after work as soon as the clocks changed and that was far more like it. It felt like the old me. I was fortunate to have been invited back to Kingswood (where the Jolly Boys "Play Golf trio of videos on the youtube channel were shot) last Friday and it was a chance for a relaxed social round with no pressures on the swing. I was looking forward to it.

I then made the cardinal golfing error. I only went and boomed a drive down the first, only a foot into the semi rough, hit a pitch from 106 yards to three feet and holed the putt for birdie. It's well known that a round starting in such fine fashion can only go one way and that's down. To be honest I actually held it together reasonably well going out and had 21 points at the turn. That in itself was amazing but add in the condition of the greens, which frankly were a disgrace and it's even more amazing. They were like a ploughed field having been hollow tined but the holes hadn't been filled in properly and some of the grass was allowed to grow in patches. It was a lottery and if I hadn't been on a freebie would have been asking for a refund.

I let things slide on the back nine although these holes run across the top of a valley and played into a stiffening wind. A lost ball didn't help the cause but my last six holes were disappointing and my 33 points could have been so much better. There was some good stuff in there especially off the tee (bar two very wild drives) but the irons again felt off point and out of kilter. The greens were a nightmare and it was a job to two putt, let alone thinking of holing anything of meaning but all in all it did what I wanted from the day and got my game back on something of an even keel

And so to the weekend just gone. I was selected to play in a club match away at Maidenhead Golf Club. This isn't a course I have particularly fond memories of and have always struggled to play well there. The format was pairs, better ball and so I had a wing man in Gordon Barr, a Scotsman off 7 who I've inflicted my recent form on several times in recent months in both roll ups and competitions. I'm not sure what he'd done to deserve another dose but he accepted his fate with a stoic resignation. Maidenhead is one of those course that I simply can't find a way to score on and it somehow doesn't suit my eye and there are very few holes I stand on the tee and feel comfortable.

In the end, my form although again patchy, was enough with Gordon's rugged play, to ensure we got a half having been one down with three to go. I came in a few times with the odd win or a solid putt for a half although I left the course with a slightly bitter taste having saved my best drive until the last and was left with a simple eight iron into the green. With the match all square and the opposition not on the green in two, a decent approach would have given us a good chance to nick a win. As with the round the day before at Kingswood, it was the iron play that had been lacking and my approach came up short into the right hand bunker. I escaped well to about twelve feet and had a putt to win, but it missed left. To be honest the match had been played in good spirits on both sides and a half was perhaps the correct outcome. In the end, it wasn't pivotal as Royal Ascot came out 4-2 winners.

That dear reader brings you fully up to date (are you still with me?). As you can tell, the "Quest" is still stuck in first gear and my game shows no real sign of catching fire soon. I'm taking a more relaxed approach to it all and not forcing it. I'm going to scale down my long game practice, and that will focus on iron play. The remainder is going to be all about putting and the short game which is the real problem areas. With a medal to come this weekend, I'm wholly convinced it will bring anything but another 0.1 (and getting dangerously close to 15) but I live in hope and remain optimistic in my own ability. It's somewhat annoying that the work and time I've invested in my practice and lessons has failed to reap any reward yet but there have been signs over the last two rounds of some good stuff loitering somewhere near the surface. I just have to find a way, much as I did when I filmed the Jolly Boys "Play Golf" (Jolly Boys Round) and simply find a way to get it round. That was my first game after my stay in hospital and while the golf wasn't pretty I got it round enough to score close to handicap. That has to be the focus going forward. If I have to score ugly then I'll do that.

Despite it all, I remain in a golfing happy place. I'm still enjoying the process of trying to get better, enjoying the challenge of playing with card and pencil in hand and enjoying the robust banter of the social games. There is a vast amount of room to improve but I'm taking a far more chilled approach to it all. Meltdowns will be avoided and we'll take the good with the bad. The season is only just starting and so I've a whole summer and many, many more competitions to get the "Quest" back on track and get the handicap heading south back to where it should be. Hopefully by the time I post the next update, everything will be far rosier and I'll have good news to report. Keep your eyes out on here and my youtube channel for the next instalments.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Vistas And Incidents - The Jolly Boys "Play Golf"- The Conclusion

Welcome to the new look Three Off The Tee blog. I hope you like the new design (if you do, or even if you don't please comment at the bottom of this post). I've uploaded the final part of The Jolly Boys "Play Golf" to my youtube channel (Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel) that runs in conjunction with the blog. I've also included the link here (The Jolly Boys Conclusion Upload). Please subscribe to the channel (PLEASE!!) and don't forget to thumbs up the video and post any comments you may have.

Please feel free to visit the channel and look at the other content. I've got a lot more coming soon including an honest review of the Ping Sigma Wolverine Putter and one with an Odyssey O works putter including the micro hinges on the face. As a mid-handicapper I'll give you a totally unbiased opinion of the goo points, any negatives and there will be some footage of me with it to show how it performs in a (very) average golfers hands. Similarly once the Odyssey arrives I'll give you feedback on whether I think it works or their advertising blurb about this "being a new way to roll" doesn't apply to my level of golf.

There will also be an in depth report similar to my other reviews (check out the Suaoki Range finder review here to see what I mean - Suaoki Range Finder) and there are more on course vlogs coming soon. I also want to give a big thumbs up to a guy called Liam Harrison and his youtube channel. A very funny guy from the North of England and a decent player, his channel is here (Golf VlogsUK) and we are hoping to get it on later in the year for a match for £5 a man and it'll be captured on our channels for you to enjoy. There will also be footage from Sunningdale (Old and New courses) and a few others.

Anyway, that's all to come. Back to the final part of The Jolly Boys "Play Golf" at Kingswood Golf Club in Surrey. We have some stunning views over the Surrey countryside and several "incidents" for which you'll need to watch the video to see. As in parts one and two (Part One and Part Two) there are some fantastic shots, some mediocrity and the odd horror shot in there as well. It's my first eighteen holes after illness which is my excuse for my inconsistencies and I need to ensure going forward that my "Quest For Single Figures" golf is much better to start getting those handicap cuts. Again, the "Quest" is for for a further blog and video. Check the channel, check the videos and I hope you enjoy them,

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Birdies And Near Misses - The Jolly Boys "Play Golf" (Part Two)

Welcome along to the second part of the Jolly Boys "Play Golf" (Jolly Boys Part Two) which is basically myself, my best mate Rob Dickman and a golfing mate Yan meandering our way around Kingswood Golf Club near Banstead in Surrey.

This was my first full eighteen holes back after being hospitalised in early February and then struggling to shake off the after effects of the viral infection. I wasn't expecting to play well, and if you've seen part one already, and if not here it is (The Jolly Boys - Part One) you'll know I wasn't to be disappointed on that score.

The Jolly Boys Enjoy Some Post Golf Drinks - They' Had Golfed Hard For Them
Here is part two of The Jolly Boys "Play Golf" (The Jolly Boys - Part Two) and finally there are one or two glimpses of golfers out on the course. I was actually getting it around and making the odd par and plenty of net pars to keep the scoreboard taking over. As the title hints, there is also an outbreak of fine golf and someone comes very close to sticking an approach straight in. You'll have to watch to find out more.

I hope you enjoy this second helping of the Jolly Boys. Please visit my Three Off The Tee youtube channel that ones parallel to this blog here Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel and watch my other content. There is a putter review coming up on the Ping Sigma Wolverine, as well as the conclusion of the Jolly Boys outing to come in the next few days. There is also the latest "Quest For Single Figures" update coming on here and the channel.

If you enjoy the channel I implore, nay beg, you to subscribe and if you like any of the videos please make sure you give it a thumbs up. If you want to make any comments please do so and I'll reply to your thoughts.

Finally, I hope you like the slight revamp of the blog itself and you like the new layout. Again, please comment on the bottom of this blog and let me know what you think. Winner or stinker?

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Quest For Single Figures - Update (Jolly Boys Outing - Part One)

Welcome along to the latest update on the Quest For Single Figures. In truth the whole project has been in hiatus for the last month or so and aside from nine holes I managed to play on my own at Royal Ascot (and captured on film here Royal Ascot vlog) I've not managed to set foot on a golf course.

That isn't to say the project has ground to a complete halt. Granted, recuperating from my illness has taken longer than I thought and the virus took far more out of me than anticipated, but I have had another lesson recently again captured in full glory which has proven a valuable reference tool (Live Lesson). My swing is a million miles from where I want it and where it needs to be and despite the changes from the lesson, I am still struggling. Granted, range time has been at a premium and sessions have been few and far between, and coupled with a lack of playing means my swing has lacked tempo and consistency. I've been working hard on the changes from the last lesson and in particular the changes to the back swing and the tighter coil but there still seems to be issues when I start my transition and in particular the shaft seems very upright coming into impact. I can see this producing a number of issues and it's something I've acutely aware of not only in the full swing but in my pitching as well and I need to find a way to shallow everything out and get the club coming in on a flatter angle and more on plane

Again, having said that, at recent range sessions, I've found a "feel" of rotating my hips faster and swinging far more as I did when I was having lessons under a teaching teaching professional, Rhys Ap Iolo and we were working on the Plane Truth swing (Plane Truth) which had a much flatter takeaway and swing and required the club to exit lower and left. Now it's been a long while since I've been down that road but to be honest this "one plane" swing alleviated a lot of the persistent takeaway issues I've been having as it requires a lower and more inside start. Align this to a quicker rotation and it has "felt" much better and ball striking, direction and dispersion seems to have been better.

Again this isn't something I've had a chance to work on fully or take out onto a course and really try other than a game last Saturday with my best friend, Rob Dickman and his mate Yan, who I've had the pleasure of playing with several times before and is a great golfing companion. We played at Kingswood Golf Club, near Banstead in Surrey and it was purely a social round.

It was really an opportunity to get out on the course and playing, with no expectations and no stress, although I did throw an extra ingredient in the mix by deciding to film all of it. Part one of "The Jolly Boys Golfing" is already on my Youtube channel, also called Three Off The Tee (The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel). Please get yourself over there, and while you are there, click the subscribe button and hit the notification icon to see all of my video content as it becomes live. Don't forget to give the video a thumbs up and please post any comments you have. Be warned both Rob and Yan have a bit of a potty mouth so it may be advisable to keep away from impressionable children. I've posted a link to part one here (The Jolly Boys "Play Golf - Part One") so go ahead and enjoy. If you are a connoisseur of fine golf swings and expect to see dazzling golf I'm afraid you're in for a huge disappointment. If you want to three guys having a laugh, playing some golf and not taking it or life too seriously, it's a fun way to spend a few minutes of your time.

What I learnt from my Kingswood experience is that my game is so out of sorts. I managed to get it round and indeed managed to cobble something like 34 or 35 points including a lost ball on the seventeenth but in overall terms there were a lot of iffy shots in there and it was more to do with the fact that my handicap currently sits at 14 and so I've plenty of shots to play with. I did manage to course manage my way round well and where I hit poor shots, especially off the tee, I managed to get the ball back in play and by and large get it round functionally. I certainly didn't think it was a good ball striking round and as I've alluded to already, there is much, much work still to be done on my swing to get it somewhere that I can trust on the course and more importantly is repeatable enough to transport my handicap downwards.

All things short game also remain areas requiring huge remedial work and again its something I've simply not been well enough to address in recent weeks. On the positive, the clocks change in a few weeks and light evenings are here and I can be at the club each night after work grinding this away, especially the chipping and pitching. I can also get a few holes in regularly and playing is where it's at for 2017 as I move away from trying to work too much on technical things but simply work on what I've been shown in lessons, work that in on the range and then get out and trust it when I play. If I can spend more time on the course and less time on the range or practice ground I think that I'll be more confident of my game when it comes to qualifying competitions and there shouldn't be any hidden surprises lurking that I've not encountered in the sanctuary of a range mat or practice ground.

I had a road map of what I was going to be working on, what I needed to do and how I was going to make serious changes to my game in preparation for the season and beyond to hit the ground running and get that handicap down from 14 to 12 and achieve my first goal for the year. That has take something of a battering and I didn't plan on spending time in hospital sampling the state of the NHS in the UK in 2017 or for it to take so long to recover. I really feel my game is at least a month behind the others at my club who've been able to play on a fully open course for the last six weeks or so (even if the ground conditions have been wet) and that my short game and everything I needed to be ready has stagnated.

That said, dear reader. it is not all doom and gloom. As mentioned, I feel I've a light bulb moment to work with on the range that I can then take into my next lesson and get that firmed up or tweaked (or written off it it's way off the mark, although it doesn't seem to be). I can get back to my short game work with a clear head. I was beginning to get a head full of chocolate frogs, especially with my pitching and practice was dragged down by technical thoughts and a fear of failure fed and developed by a series of fat, heavy strikes, a steep angle of attack and a sense of frustration. That can be wiped away and the slate is clean once more. I have neglected bunker play and chipping (and that showed at Kingswood) and can start afresh on these areas. My putting seems to be holding firm, although I'm not as consistent on the 2-3 feet putts as I was. This can all be rectified. I do have my eye on a new putter, a Ping Sigma Wolverine although this is on hold for now but is something I feel is really right for me. More on that to follow soon

And there you have the latest update. It's a case of a baby steps forward in terms of practical work in practice and on the course, but with shoots of recovery now in full view. There is an air of optimism in my game once more, galvanised by a game on Saturday that turned out far better than it could have done. I am in a happy and more importantly health place. I have a qualifier this coming Saturday (18th) and while I have no expectations, especially as it's a medal round, it's good to have the season upon me.

I'm not ready. Not by a long way. I am even prepared for the handicap to go out further to 15 in the coming weeks as I get my game in order but I have a steadfast, nay dogmatic, belief in what I can do, what I can produce and what I can achieve. If that means I have to go from 15-12 first then so be it. I can do that. I WILL do that. Once I get back to my 2016 level of 12, I can reassess, see what is that isn't working, take action to improve my weak areas and bolster my strengths and go again. I've always said The Quest For Single Figures is a long term project and may and may not be achieved this year. If not 2017 then maybe next year or the year after. Fear not reader, it is going to happen.

I hope you've enjoyed the latest update and you'll follow me as the season progresses. I hope you managed to view the Youtube offerings and that you enjoyed these as well. Please subscribe to both this blog and the Youtube channel and don't forget to thumbs up the videos and comment on both the blog and the videos. In the meantime, as Spring is upon us and the Masters is on the horizon, let me wish you all well for your own golfing exploits in 2017 and I hope you achieve whatever golfing goals you've set and that you play well, have fun and that the golfing gods treat you well.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

First Ever On Course Video Log - It Was A Bit Breezy

Today I decided to venture out and play a few holes at Royal Ascot and see a) how I felt physically and b) how I played and decided to film my first ever on course vlog. Conditions were really hard and as you can tell when you watch it, the wind was howling and it was very hard going.

I won't spoil it for you but all things considered it went better than I hoped on all counts although it has yet again highlighted my short game woes and it remains a whole facet of the game that's holding me back and is in my head now as well as technically inept. I need to find someone in the Berkshire area who can help as I want a separate pair of eyes on this facet so if anyone knows a short game specialist please post in the comments section of the video. Also, if you like the video don't forget to give it a thumbs up and don't forget to subscribe as well to see more video content.

For now though here's the link to the video and I hope you enjoy my humble offering of a first ever on course vlog in difficult conditions (Royal Ascot Golf Club Vlog). I've learnt a few things doing it, apart from it's hard on your own and you really need a partner to help hold the camera and so I hope the future ones begin to improve in quality. Enjoy

Saturday, 25 February 2017

New Youtube Video

If you are a regular follower, you'll know that there is now a youtube channel that runs in conjunction with this blog which you can find here (Three Off The Tee Website). Please feel free to visit it and if you like what you see don't forget to hit the subscribe button.

There's a new video today. As you'll know from my last blog post, I've had a few health issues recently that necessitated a stay in hospital and I'm struggling now with post viral fatigue. My immune system and body is shot and I'm struggling with tiredness and exhaustion which has laid me low and meant no golf and no practice. I did try to hit balls at the range but I was tired after only a few balls and was forced to give up as there was no way I could have a constructive practice session. The good news is I'm getting better and stronger and so will hopefully be hitting the range again soon. Indeed I've got a lesson booked with Andy Piper at Lavender Golf Centre in Ascot on Wednesday and so hopefully I can get my swing on track and can then crack on and work on my game and get back on the course.

Anyway, I digress (as is the norm) and back the video. I've done a "what's in the bag" but not the standard version, looking at what clubs I use. This features my practice bag. As a regular reader (as you should be by now!) you'll know I love my lessons and then getting out and working on my game. Some may say I do too much work on my game. They may have a point but it's what I like and I feel it still benefits me when I get on the course so for now I'm sticking with it. Over the years I've accumulated many training aids and gadgets hoping they'd help improve my game. Sadly, many have been a waste of time and not given what the blurb promised and so have been quickly discarded. However there are some that have stood the test of time and have been in the practice bag for a while and there are one or two recent additions.

What's In The Practice Bag?
This video explains what they are, how they work and what they've done for my game and includes a few links to other websites or youtube videos to give you further information. I hope you find it useful and informative and that there may be one or two things in the bag that may hope your own practice. The video can be found here (What's In The Bag). Enjoy it and don't forget to click the subscribe button to view my future video content and if you have any comments about the video (or any of the other ones already there) please feel free to put them in the box below the video.

Hopefully with the better weather (in the UK at least) on the way and the start of the season imminent, along with the Masters being around the corner, I can get out and play and practice again soon and make up for lost time. I'll be recording my progress here and on youtube for your entertainment (the road to single figures has already had many, many ups and downs to date and there's sure to be more). In the meantime, watch the video.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Quest For Single Figures 2017 - Update

This is the third (or is it fourth) time I've sat down to compose my latest blog to update you on "The Quest For Single Figures" but life has had more twists lately than the latest John Grisham thriller. It's been a real roller coaster and sadly news is not good. If you read my trials and tribulations on a regular basis you'll know that last February I was hospitalised (https://threeoffthetee.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/stuttering-false-start.html) which totally put back a fine Winter of work on my game, and with which, if I suffered the lingering effects all season, I wrote last year off as a result, but which was acting as an inspiration going forward in 2017, doubly determined to get back to a starting point of 12 and then crashing through to single figures.

I even played last weekend (Saturday 4th February) in my first competition of the year, on a fully open course. More of which in the reams to follow. It was actually looking rather positive. The bad news is I was then hospitalised on Sunday, and kept in for two days with what was initially thought to be pneumonia but was thankfully diagnosed as severe influenza. Not your man flu variety. This was the real thing and not something I'd wish on anyone, anywhere. It's knocked me sideways and then some. On the upside, I'm now recuperating at home. On the negative, there will be no golf or practice in the foreseeable future. Yet again, as last year, all forward momentum has stopped dead in its tracks. That isn't to say the "Quest For Single Figures" is dead in the water. No chance. Not for a single moment. It may take a tad longer in 2017 to kick back to 12 and then down again, but once fully recuperated  and fighting fit, I'm going to be chomping at the bit, to get out and work on my game and play again, and SO fired up to get going. It could be a potent mix

Aside from all of the above, it's been a funny old time lately. We've experienced some wet conditions and some sub-zero temperatures recently which has done little to entice me onto a golf course. As you may be aware, I am now live on Youtube on a channel also called Three Off The Tee (The Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel link) which has received some rather pleasing comments and already opened one or two doors for some future content and opportunities. It's also taken more time to get sorted than I thought being something of technical luddite but now it's up and running with some decent content to peruse, please avail yourself and don't forget to click the subscribe button while you are there.

As you will know from my post on here (and the live lesson video -  Live Lesson) I had a swing MOT recently with Andy Piper at Lavender Golf Centre. It was a productive session with one or two points to go away and work on, particularly with the driver which hasn't been behaving as well as I'd have liked. Also, there had been issues with my irons and in particular a lack of hip rotation and more of a slide. I had such cunning plans in my head to diligently hit the local range and work on these issues, but having braved the elements on the way home from work, there was no way I was standing on a freezing cold range, "Quest For Single Figures" or not. That said, I managed to finally summon the enthusiasm, as I knew I had to get out and playing more, having only played once in 2017 and not particularly successfully. As practice sessions go, this one was rather pleasing and there was a lot of good stuff, both with my irons and also the driver and I was looking forward to playing in the Saturday roll up.

Royal Ascot Golf Club has been on temporary greens for a while as the daily frosts have done their work and the greens had been frozen, not just on the surface but deep into the root. It was thus on Saturday too and as a rule I hate, no loathe, playing on temporary greens and would rather practice elsewhere than traipse around a course to tiny greens cut on the edges of fairways. Even more so when there is rain forecast. However I rocked up as planned and despite a rogue shower, predictably as I stood on the first tee to play my opening shot, we got away with it. The rain didn't last long and all in all the conditions were rather agreeable for the time of year.

I actually played okay for my 34 points. Nothing too spectacular but the driver was very good for me, hitting 8/12 fairways. I had two really bad drives on the tenth and eighteenth but other than that it was working well and my distances for the time of year were quite pleasing. On the down side, and as you'll know if you're a regular reader, there is normally a down side, my irons weren't as good. In fact they were rather disappointing and I couldn't replicate what I'd done the night before in practice in any shape or form. I got it round with them, but maybe only a couple of my iron shots left a satisfying feeling after I hit them. Akin to that I was trying to battle on with a more conventional pitching technique which is something I've dallied with over the winter period. It wasn't functional. It didn't work.

All that being said, I had one horror hole, the seventeenth where I hooked a tee shot out of bounds but other than that, and bearing in mind firing to temporary greens is always far more fiddly than a normal approach, I moved the ball round. I didn't have too many swing thoughts in my head, a step forward in itself and really enjoyed the company of my playing partners. That bodes well for the season and I just need to have clarity of thought in the next competition.

So far so good then. Progress being made, even if the chance to get handicap cuts have yet to materialise. I didn't have a chance to play on the Sunday (Jan 29th) but took myself to the practice ground early with the intention of working on my irons and in particular the takeaway which is still to far outside the line and disconnected as you'll see in the early shots on the live lesson footage.

This is when I find golf such a frustrating, nay gut clenching annoying game. I know what I am trying to do. I can do it in rehearsal and take the practice swing back nicely. Stick club behind the ball, stick a camera on to capture it and lo, old habits manifest and I'm constantly fighting the club to get it back and through in a way to propel the ball somewhere near target. It was not a good session as you'll see from the latest upload on the Youtube channel. Get over and see what you think. Better still comment below the video and let me know what you think.

I had two goals for the practice session, to work on the stuff from the lesson and also do some work on my pitching. This had been excruciatingly bad the day before and has been a constant theme on here. I've tried, heavens know I've tried, to pitch conventionally. My efforts though are so poor and I look like a volt of electricity is passing through me with each one. So out of sync, so poor technically, especially in terms of arms and body rotating together and if I am being brutally honest, I have zero confidence with it on the course.

I prefer the linear method (search on the blog and you'll see plenty on this) and as you can see from the practice footage, I reverted to this part way through. Now bearing in mind I haven't tried this for several months and taking out the first effort which was fat and horrid, you'll see the difference in the quality of strike and distance control between this and my "normal" efforts which is the proverbial chalk and cheese.

All in all it wasn't my greatest session. With heavy rain forecast, I always felt I was on a deadline and feel that everything I did felt rushed. My tempo in the long swing was much quicker than my lesson and even quicker than it had been on the course the day before. That's always an issue for me and along with the club initially travelling away from my body and the target line is a bad start to any swing.

As I mentioned what will have seemed hours ago, I managed to play in the monthly stableford which was last weekend (February 4th). I was already feeling unwell, having struggled in work on the Friday with what I assumed was a simple cold. How wrong I was. Anyway, that aside, I managed a solid 34 points which gave me a 6th place finish in division two. I haven't played much as I've said and practice hadn't been going as well as I'd hoped since my swing MOT lesson. Some range sessions had given tantalising moments of hope and others, especially on camera, clearly highlighted there is much to work on.

The driver worked a treat. Surprising but what a difference the game is playing from short grass regularly. I wasn't swinging well and the warm up hadn't gone well. I started with an ugly double, an outrageous putt to salvage par after a dodgy pitch, using the linear method at the second and repeated the feat at the fourth having gone over the green with an approach from 105 yards. There were hiccups including a nasty three putt at the eighth having hit the green on the 139 yard par three. I found the fairway on the ninth, blocked my approach right and left a downhill lie, off a bare muddy lie over a bunker to a short sided flag. It was fraught with danger and I panicked and thinned it over the green for a book-end double bogey to match the one at the opening hole.

February 2017 statistics

For the second weekend running I missed the 10th hole well to the right. I was fortunate to find a lie, get it forward and make a net par. I was missing a lot of greens but found one at the 186 yard 13th for a solid par and my back nine was ticking over nicely. I was finding a way to score which is something I've been harping on about for ages. Not swinging well (driver aside) and still scoring. Progress!!!!!

Alas dear reader there always seems to be a sting in the tail and today would be no different. Many of you will know that I've struggled in the last few seasons with killer holes, real horror shows from nowhere to blight otherwise acceptable rounds. I stood on the last, knowing that a par five would give me solid 36 points. I hit another fairway. Step one completed. The second was uphill but I was hitting directly into the sun. I thought I actually made a good swing, but never saw it leave the club face. Sadly my playing partners did and all said it had gone straight right into territory where nasty creatures may lie. I never found it and ended the back nine with a double bogey. At least there was a degree of symmetry. Had I made 36 points I would perhaps squeezed into a top three spot, not bad for an opening salvo, especially given how I felt. On the day, I was always going to be short of the division winner on 40 points and second place on 38. I'll take my top six though and no handicap damage, but no cut either.

I'm feeling an air of urgency. Time is passing me by and I've played such little golf, only twice on a full course. I've only had one lesson all winter. The work I do on the range IS showing some forward movement but I've simply not had a chance to play and translate this to the course often enough. I have started to do some NLP work to get the sub-conscious mind working better for me but again I've not had a chance to test this with card and pencil in hand often enough..

And so dear reader there you have it. As always, nothing is straightforward and it's another roller coaster ride. Sadly, at the moment I am under strict doctors orders to remain in the warm, rest and recuperate and have been warned it could be another 3-4 weeks before I am fully recovered. That means for now, absolutely no playing and no range time. To be honest as I sit here typing, I have zero energy anyway. As I get better, I have some plans to utilise some of my putting aids and at least work on my stroke. I will also be doing an unusual "what's in the bag" once I can talk into a camera without constant coughing, which will be up on my Youtube channel in the next week or so. Please take pity on this poor invalid and check it out when it arrives.

It wasn't quite the blog I wanted to be writing, and having to have redo several parts, several times, but it is what it is and it's something I have to deal with and come back from fitter and stronger. I'll learn the lessons from my issues last year and ensure I am playing and working on my game from a stronger staring point in terms of my health. On the plus side, at least the warmer weather and longer nights will be close to hand. I'll be back and this "Quest For Single Figures" ain't over my a long chalk

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Live Golf Lesson

Yesterday I had a golf lesson with Andy Piper at Lavender Golf Centre. It was the first of a series of six I've got booked and was basically nothing more than a swing MOT to make sure the basics are in place and to just make a few tweaks here and there. It's now live in full on my Youtube Channel, also called Three Off the Tee (to make life easy) (Three Off The Tee Youtube link). Apologies for the darkness on the film and the residual noise but we were on an open bay at a busy range, and the lighting wasn't fantastic. That said, the quality is good enough to see the swing clearly and the issues as they arise throughout. Again the sound quality is patchy but you can still understand the points Andy is trying to get over.

A very interesting half an hour and to be honest not much changed to get things working better. The biggest issue was a separation at the takeaway causing the club to be too high, with subsequent adjustments required to get the club back to square. Timed well and it worked, but if the timing was out, it caused a number of different misses.

We were working with a seven iron and it only took a couple of swings for Andy to pick up on the separation fault, along with a slide of the hips without turning which was causing the flippy hands and the misses, mainly left but with the odd right hand one thrown in as well.

As you will see if you get over to the Youtube channel and see the video (and when you do, please subscribe), Andy placed a toy frog (no idea where that came from other than the depths of his bag) to stop me going to wide on the way back although a head cover would work equally as well and not perhaps looked as conspicuous. Either way it did the trick and I could really feel when I made contact on the way back and over the course of a few swings got the feeling of taking it back better. It's still going to need work as I've managed to ingrain this fault nice and deeply.

I need to be careful, as pointed out on the film, that I don't then become to quick with the hands and get too snatched and quick. You'll see a couple fly high and right when I do which is a familiar site to me when this happens. In essence I'm looking for a slow, consistent takeaway, good wrist hinge and swing to the top. From there I need to make a good rotation, without any hint of hip slide and through to impact, release and on and up to the follow through.

I've been struggling with big misses right, including a slice with the driver, and so we spent the last fifteen minutes of the lesson looking at that. We've tweaked set up to stand taller and therefore swing on a flatter plane. I need to keep focused on making a better takeaway, without getting too flippy with the hands while ensuring the club comes back more inside and not wide and separated. From there, with the driver I need to stay behind the ball and not slide the hips and look to make a more rotational turn.

Again, from the footage, you'll see that I have a habit of getting two out of three elements of what we were working on, and would usually go back better, and then either not stay behind, and lose it right as a result, or do that but then fail to rotate and so get active with the hands and flip it left again. That said, there are some clips where it all comes together. This is what I need to do regularly to improve on the 47% fairways in regulation I managed last year. Get the ball in play more often, should make it easier to hit greens, and from there make scoring easier. That's the plan

As it was only an MOT, we didn't go into great depth. I haven't played or practiced too much, primarily been fog bound or frozen in the midst of a chilly December and January. I'll start getting into the golf again as the weather improves, seeing no point standing on a freezing range, just because I can. Once that happens, each lesson will take one area of my game and work on it in more depth.

I hope you enjoy this insight into my swing and get a feel for the issues and that you go over to Youtube and have a look at it (despite the quality). Please feel free to like it and more importantly, please subscribe

Saturday, 21 January 2017

It's Live

My Youtube channel now has it's first content. Please log onto Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel
to see the first video, an introduction to myself, why the "Quest For Single Figures" is so important to me and what you can expect going forward in terms of content.

In case you are struggling to log in for any reason, you should be able to find the video here (Three Off The Tee - All About Me)

I hope you like what you see here and going forward and don't forget to click the subscribe button and follow me on social media (Facebook - Martin Bedborough and Twitter - @hackergolfer)

Getting Into The Digital Age

Finally, and as a long term technophobe, I've taken the plunge and come lurching towards the digital age. If you read my last post you'll know I've set up a Youtube channel (Three Off The Tee Youtube Channel). This is something completely new and exciting and as time goes on, you'll enjoy the video content I upload. The channel is designed to run alongside this blog which will continue in it's current format and I've started off with an introductory video about me and the 2017 Quest For  Single Figures.

So here it is then, my first video so please be gentle with me. Talk about nerve racking. Give me the first tee shot of the day in the monthly medal or a three footer on the last to win a club competition any time. It's a little basic as a starter and I was very self conscious but we've all got to begin somewhere and I hope this gives you all a better idea who I am, what I'm about as a golfer and why this obsession with single figures is so important to me.

I will be breaking the channel content into three distinct section.

Now I know that watching a middle aged, mid-handicap golfer hitting balls inconsistently is never going to be prime time viewing or that engaging, it will serve an important purpose for me and my attempts to improve and reach my objectives. I can visually see what my swing looks like over all facets of the game and as we all know feel versus real are rarely one and the same thing. As an example I did some quick filming at the range while I was working on my pitching. The quality of the video was very poor (too poor to post) given the lack of lighting on the range and the fact it was a a typical cold wet English Winter's day but what it did show is that when I pitch, particularly on anything from 30-50 yards that begin to require longer swings, there is a huge lack of connection between my body and my arms. That would explain the inconsistent nature of my practice off grass and on the course. So simple and so easy to see.

I will be filming all parts of my practice and where necessary showing this to Andy Piper at Lavender Park Golf Centre who teaches me. I have a series of six lessons booked for 2017, the first of which is imminent, but other than these one to ones the only time he may see my swing is if I am working on my game at the range and he's passing on the way to or from a lesson in another bay. He knows all about the Quest For Single Figures, and is a strong supporter of it and feels that with the work we put in this time last year, had I not been ill (and struggled for most of 2016 as a result) then the handicap had every chance of coming down, if not touching single figures. By showing the footage (and it being in a convenient place to view, rather than sending numerous emails and attachments) he's going to look at it and review it with me as part of the lesson plan.

I happen to think however, that by publishing my own foibles in practice on here for you all to see, and given that we (or most of us) all share a common denominator of being handicap golfers, albeit of different standards, it's not only cathartic, but we can share our knowledge and experiences. Some of you may have, or still have similar swing faults and have some excellent drills or tips for improving and changing these. It may be you see my swing (it will be ugly so keep away from young children!!!) and it'll ring some bells with you. I'm going to be filming some parts of my lessons primarily as an aide memoir to see before/after and make sure I don't lapse into old habits.

As I said, watching me hit balls poorly miss putts and chip and pitch in mediocrity isn't going to be riveting viewing and fear not these will be short clips both for your sanity and that of my teaching pro.

On The Course
I am very luck to be playing a number of wonderful courses in 2017 all of which feature in any top 100 UK course listing. These include a day at Sunningdale (Sunningdale Golf Club website) playing both the Old and New courses. I am also playing thirty six holes at the New Zealand Golf Club. This is a very prestigious club in Surrey, that prides itself on keeping itself to itself and doesn't try to compete with any of it's equally famous neighbours including the W's (Woking, West Hill and Worplesdon) and does things it's own way and in it's own time. It promises to be a unique experience. Finally I'll be playing in this years Golf Monthly Forum Help For Heroes charity day which this year is being held at Hankley Common Golf Club (Hankley Common Golf Club website).

I plan to follow in well trodden footsteps and film some footage of these majestic courses, which should be in their prime when I play them in the height of Summer, and also film myself trying to take them on as well as filming some of my playing partners and the exploits at these days that go to make these days such huge fun to play it.

I'm also going to do some filming at my own club, Royal Ascot. I hope to capture some of the fun and games of our weekend roll ups, where the craic is mighty and no quarter ever asked or given. I hope to show me playing a few of my favourite holes (and one or two that often give me grief).

Finally as a member of a golf society, they'll be some days out with these guys as well. The standard of the golf may be patchy at times but again the company is great. Whilst these may not be on any world class courses, each will have their own unique flavour to capture.

As you'll know if you've read this blog on a regular basis, I've given my views on a number of different clubs and golf related products, especially training aids. We're all aware that social media is regularly awash with product reviews of the latest shiny bit of kit, and that there are a plethora of people, usually golf professionals with a massive online presence (Rick Shiels, Mark Crossfield and Peter Finch as prime examples of UK based pro's) that review in massive depth every single piece of kit coming onto the market. Now while I'll never match any of that in my wildest dreams (although what a dream job)  and while these reviews are brilliant in their own right, how realistic are they when they post their own swing data up there to look at? I can't match their swing speeds, spin rates or distances. What I want to do, and is to hit some clubs and film it and give my own impartial opinions, as a handicap golfer, with all the foibles that go along with that fact, based on how I hit them. It's as simple as that. I'll also be keeping an eye out for some training aids and other accessories perhaps not in the mainstream, a bit like the cut price laser rangefinder I did recently (Suaoki Rangefinder Review).

All in all then. a lot to be getting on with and I'm really looking forward to the Youtube channel being something that is fun to do, and hopefully can provide a morsel of enjoyment and fun for the viewer as well. If everything goes as I plan, the Quest For Single Figures will really take shape in 2017. I need a fast start and then a period of conciliation before going down further.

I hope you'll support the channel and subscribe. I'm acutely aware that Youtube is swamped by this sort of content, most of which is started in such good faith and with great intentions and which slowly fizzles and dries up. As you'll see, this blog has already had longevity, a few changes of direction and is still going and that's what I hope from the video content. Only time will tell, but your comments will be a massive help, good, bad or indifferent (aside from the guaranteed idiot posts) and as I said at the very beginning will be crucial to this technological dinosaur doing it, and hopefully doing it well.