November 2009

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Well done to Pablo Martin and Richie Ramsey on winning down in South Africa.  Richie played an unbelievable 3-wood second shot into the par-5 18thpablo martin during a playoff against Shiv Kapur to claim the South African Open. And a big shout out to Pablo Martin who became the first man (I think) to win on tour as an amateur and as a professional in the Dunhill last week.  He also came close yesterday until he finally ran out of steam.

Pic: Pablo Martin “Knackered”

Okay so the Tiger Woods “What Really Happened” DVD may not make it to the shops in time for Christmas but I’ve been searching around for a few alternatives. These golfing gift ideas will have you scrambling for your mouse quicker than you can impale your car on a fire hydrant. Most are available in the shops, or online.

Dave Pelz Short Game Clinic

€149 for half day

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The only Dave Pelz short game clinic in Europe is located at the fabulous Killeen Castle in Dunsany, Co. Meath. If your loved one is coming up short in the scoring department this might be the ideal present to transform his or her golf life. Enjoy a crack course in wedge play from 100 yards in followed by a putting clinic from the experts. Click on the Pelz link at www.killeencastle.com

ForeGolf Custom Fitting Session

€50 per half hour

foregolf derek murray

Climb aborad the 40 foot, fully fitted travelling Tour workshop and club testing unit and become a pro for the day. Let master club fitter Derek Murray check all your clubs to ensure you a getting every last yard available. Located near Naas in Kildare, this is a must for any serious golfer. www.foregolf.ie or call 045-430660.

€11 Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.

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The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan is widely regarded as the definitive Bible of the golf swing. First published in 1957, the five lesson’s outlined by Hogan are still as relevant today as they were half a century ago. Starting from the grip, Hogan’s book brings you through the entire golf swing in five simple and expertly delivered lessons accompanied by fantastic hand drawn illustrations. Available on www.amazon.com

 

The Ultimate Golfing Holiday- Oceanico Portugal

clip_image026€584 plus flights

Portugal has some of the finest holiday golf facilities in Europe. We uncovered a gem in the form of this Oceanico golfing special for €600. The deal includes five night’s accommodation with breakfast at the Hotel Do Golf plus four rounds of golf to include the Faldo and O’Connor Courses in Amendoeira, the Victoria Course- venue for the Portugal Masters and the Old Course adjacent to the hotel. The price also includes all tranfers to and from courses and Faro airport. Direct flights are cheap and available from Dublin and Shannon. Oh and did I mention the sunshine? www.oceanicogolf.com/specials

€10-25: Adidas Shoe Bag

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Simple yet effective, this adidas shoe bag will help you in the fight to keep the grass out of your car boot. Using the bag will mean you always know where your shoes are, allowing you to work away, safe in the knowledge that the wheel of your caddy cart isn’t dripping into them for the entire week. To be found in all good golf shops.

€25-30: Cleveland GutBuster Umbrella

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When I mention the GutBuster umbrella why do I suddenly have the mental image of John and Edward prancing around the stage yelling “Who You Gonna Call?” Anyway this umbrella is like none you have ever seen before. The closest model I have seen is Mary Poppins parasol, and we all know that wasn’t real. The GutBuster is big enough to cover the entire fourball and is designed to withstand driving rain and winds up to 60mph. Perfect for next Summer so!

www.onlinegolf.co.uk

€30-35: Mizuno Thermo Body Mock

clip_image006Ladies, transform your man into the perfect physical specimen with this Mizuno Thermo Body Mock. A fusion of wonder-bra and spanks technologies has yielded this armour designed for sub zero temperatures to hold that beer belly in while you unleash fury with the driver. Men, be careful taking them off after; when the jiggly bits flop back out, balancing can be tough

€200- Bushnell Range Finder

clip_image008If you’re unsure of the difference between perception and reality why not spend €200 on a Bushnell Range Finder! Every golfing professional in Christendom has one of these in his bag. They give you an exact yardage for any shot, irrespective of the terrain. An extravagance but if you get the opportunity to play the St Andrews, Augusta or Mission Hills just once, you want to get your yardages right. No one enjoys nailing a five iron only to watch your ball drop 40 yards short of the green. Happy Christmas! www.bushnell.com

€5- Golf Dotz and Footiez

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Ingenious little transfers to personalize golf balls and shoes. No heat guns or degrees in engineering required to put them on either. The perfect stocking filler for mad-about-golf kids. www.golfdotz.com

 

€10-15 Shaft Skinz

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Shaft Skinz are a cool way to “funkify” the boring old shaft on your driver or putter. The brainchild of Irishman Martin Greeves, all that is needed to fit a shaft skinz to your club is a hairdryer and about 60 seconds. Used by the likes of Rory Sabbatini and loads of players on the LPGA tour. Come in a pack of four. www.shaftskinz.com

€20 Premiership Head Covers

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If you want to support your favourite team even on the golf course, then Premiership Head Covers are for you. I have a Spurs one on my driver to celebrate the glory of Peter “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Talent” Crouch. Seriously, these head covers are made of leather and neoprene and are top notch quality. Thus they wont be crumbling like Robbie Keane in front of an open goal! Available in most golf shops.

 

 

€15-20 The V-Towel

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When it comes to golfing inventions the Irish are world leaders. The V-Towel from Vicarious Golf won best golf product a couple of years ago and comes highly recommended. It’s basically a towel and groove scrubber all in one. It clips on your bag and ensures your weaponry is maintained in pristine condition. In most golf shops.

€20 Rick Smith Swing Glove

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There are millions of training aids on the market and to be honest it is really tough to decipher the good from the bad, not to mention the ugly. However one of the best game improvement aids I have come across is the Swing Glove from renowned teacher Rick Smith. One of the fundamentals of golf is to maintain a flat left wrist through impact and this glove teaches you how to feel that. The glove incorporates a removable plastic wedge that keeps your hand in wrist in the right place throughout the swing. From www.swingglove.com and in many shops.

A Fourball Green Fee Voucher

€100 and up.

What can I say about a fourball voucher? Nothing really except to say it’s the one present that is truly appreciated by the golfer. Opening that envelope is the nearest thing we get to uncovering a golden ticket from a Wonka Bar. Marquee suggestions might be Adare, Lough Erne, The K Club, Doonbeg but equally brilliant and possibly a little less expensive options include Dromland Castle, Ballyliffin, The Heritage, Slieve Russell and Portmarnock Hotel and Links.

Electric Golf Caddy

clip_image028€450 and up

The days of putting €4 in a slot only to uncover a dodgy cart with a rickety wheel are gone forever. An electric gglider olf caddy takes all the effort out of getting your clubs around the course allowing you to concentrate on what you do best- attempting to look good. They are also invaluable in the wet. Two of the best makes you will find in shops are Powakaddy (www.powakaddy.com) and Golfglider. Powakaddy are the market leader and have the most advanced technology but Golfglider are tough, sturdy, have a superior after sales service and most importantly are Irish. www.golfglider.com

Pre-Owned Clubs

€50 and up

Everyone knows golf equipment goes out of fashion every five minutes. If you’re not too hung up on getting brand spanking new equipment every time, why not try a set of pre-owned clubs. Every golf shop has a pre-owned section but another online option is Golfbidder. This web based company based in the UK has literally thousands of pre-owned sets at good prices. All are pictured and strictly graded. They will also quote you to take your old sticks off your hands. An increasingly good option now that the Euro Sterling conversion rate is so good. www.golfbidder.co.uk

Oakley Shades

€150 and up

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Oakley are the leader in golf eyewear and whether worn or not adorn the hats of hundreds of touring pros including Henrik Stenson. Premium models include features such as wide peripheral field of vision, removable lenses, cutting fittable and smudge resistance. Hide your fear and look the dog’s in 2010. www.onlinegolf.co.uk

Funky Golf Attire

clip_image032€50 and up

If you’re looking for something a little bit different to wear on the course next season the best option is online, as a plethora of funky golf clothing stores have popped up with something for everyone. Some of the most innovative mainstream brands include J Lindeberg and Puma but the Ian Poulter clothing site www.ianpoulterdesign.com is rapidly increasing its share in the market. Other sites including www.subseventy.co.uk and www.funkygolfgear.com and www.quagmiregolf.com have a decent selection at reasonable prices.

The Garia Luxury Golf Car

€14,000

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The Garia is the Porsche of buggies. Designed by Danish designer Anders Lynge, features include in-built refrigerator, hand-stitched seats, and colour personalisation. Built with a double wishbone front suspension similar to those found in sports cars and inspired by Formula 1 cars. It may set you back €14,000 and trigger an immediate tax audit, but hey you only live once!

Four Lads In A Jumbo 2009- The Oceanico Portugal Golf Holiday

Four lads in a jumbo is back. To the uninitiated, “Four lads in a Jumbo” is meant to be a clever golfing version of the BBC’s “Four Men In a Boat” starring Dara (Ahhhh) O’Briain, Rory McGrath (Neanderthal looking guy) and Gryf Rhys Jones (no not your man in the knickers from Notting Hill, the guy from Alas Smith and Jones). In it they squash into a boat and negotiate some waterway of unearthly beauty with hilarious consequences. Our version, “Four Lads In a Jumbo” is based on the premise of a four guys jetting off in a a jumbo for a golfing holiday, uncovering some courses of unimaginable beauty at unbeatable prices, all again with hilarious consequences. Well kind of. When I say “four lads”, I mean myself and my mate Johnny, and when I say “jumbo” I mean a Ryanair sardine tin with the seats welded in the “upright” position.

This year we hit off for Portugal on a mission to discover the Oceancio courses. Ever since I saw the ad with Nick Faldo and Christy O’Connor chipping balls, I have been intrigued. The ad has Christy and Nick, (I mean Sir Nick) in a kind of “duelling banjo’s” scenario, only with wedges. Faldo goes first, pitching 20 or so balls onto a green about 50 yards away, each ball rolling out precisely to create a perfectly straight line of white dots. Then Christy chips his bucket. The camera does a close up of his balls rolling out; on the face of it they seem to be stopping in random order around the green, but then the camera pans out to reveal the words “not bad” spelled out by Christy’s Pro-V1’s. Bloody excellent I would say.

The Set Up

amendoire small Oceanico itself is not a course. It is the name of the company that owns seven (or is it eight, I cant remember) courses in the Algarve region. We played four of them. The flagship course is Victoria, in Vilamoura, home of the Portugal Masters and for my money the best of them. The other course we played in Vilamoura was the “Old” course. The remaining two courses on our Oceanico adventure, namely the “O’Connor” and “Faldo” courses are situated at the Amendoeira resort about 35 minutes away from Vilamoura.

Getting There

Michael-OLeary-Ryanair-CEO Ryanair fly direct from Dublin or Shannon to Faro. The experience is not pleasant, jockeying for position in queues, bags being checked for exact weights and then there’s the actual flight. Not to mention those Celtic Tiger buggers who have “priority boarding” sniggering down at you.  Sitting in a Ryanair plane is like being David Blaine, bound upright in a strait jacket for two hours, but hey, it gets you there. As soon as you land, you try to put the flight out of your mind, gather up what shreds of dignity remain and walk away. But hand on, there’s  one more kick in the arse. Sly Mike has decided golf clubs now cost €60 return and are now limited to 15Kg, over which an extortionate excess will be charged. I suppose the lesson here is to travel light. Maybe leave the fifth pair of beige slacks behind. The marina in Villamoura is like a beige slacks festival every night. It’s not pretty.

Car Hire

Drive and Putt - INSIDE BOOK (2008).indd When you google “car hire” all the big players come up first. They have the dearest fares and the hidden excesses. We used a company well down the search hits page called “Yor Car”. The price they give is fully inclusive of all charges and you don’t pay until you get there. We booked one of the smallest kinds of car, a Seat Leon. When you exit the baggage reclaim in Faro, just walk left to the Café area where you will find all the reps from the teeny car hire companies sitting around drinking coffee. Our car cost about €120 all inclusive for the week (it’s cheaper to pay by cash) and when we signed a few autographs we were introduced to our charcoal Leon. We christened it “The Cowen-Mobile” because it wasn’t the quickest “going-forward”. And like Mr Cowen, this rental car wasn’t in pristine condition by any means, it had been in more minor scrapes than Steve Collins, but you know what, we loved that. Yor Car aren’t bothered about charging customers exorbitant fees for a scratch here or a bump there. That takes away a whole heap of rental car driving pressure straight away. It may have had the well scuffed up look, and needed a headlamp bulb, which in fairness the rep stuck in after his coffee under a street light, but it went. The deal with the petrol is you get the tank half full and leave it back half full, which again is fair. When you drop the car back you stick the keys under the visor and walk away. There’s no guy in a suit with a clip board marking X’s in a schematic of a car (at the mere notion of a scratch) and rubbing his hands with glee. I would use Yor Car again tomorrow; I might pay a few quid extra for a better class of car though.

Directions

The best job is to bring your Sat-Nav with you to Portugal.  If you have a sat-nav on your phone and intend using it on your trip remember a couple of things. Firstly you may need to download the mapping of Portugal onto your device from a disk on online store. You need usually need a licence to use the sat-nav in Portugal. Nokia have a 7 day free licence which you can access through their web page or you can pay a €1 daily fee to use the service while abroad. Nokia users should also bear in mind that to search a destination on a Sat Phone, the phone must access the internet. It all adds up. I recommend getting a good old fashioned map of the area. The signage in Portugal is plentiful but utterly confusing. They seem to have an aversion to putting signs on T-junctions. Even though we both had sat-nav on our phones, we ended up getting a map and relying on that.

Getting To The Courses

The majority of the Oceanico courses are dotted around the outskirts of Vilamoura, though the road signage does its level best again to fool you. Okay, the sign may say “Campo do Golfes”, but the only problem is it doesn’t say which bloomin’ Golfes you’re heading for. They might only be five or ten minutes away, but that can easily turn into 25 if you’re not heading in the right direction. My advice here is to do a bit of planning on google maps, and plot the route from your hotel to the desired course.

Getting to the Amendoeira resort is quite simple. It’s 35 kms from Vilamoura and basically from the town you head for the A22 motorway. You get onto the A22 heading for Portimao/Lagoa direction. You then take the number 8 exit, signposted Algoz. When you take this exit, you get a great view of the Oceanico Amendoeira resort, the courses and the fantastic clubhouse. Having taken the exit and seen the courses in the distance, just follow the sign for Silves to bring you to the entrance.

A Good Base and Where To Stay

vilamoura Most golfers base themselves in Vilamoura. It’s a surprisingly big town, but has one main gathering point, the marina. There are loads of hotels by the marina but they are priced accordingly. We stayed in the Aparthotel do Golfe which is situated away from the Marina, right beside the Old Course. For €20 quid a night, we had our own studio apartment, which was spacious, spotlessly clean and modern.

Pic: The Marina in Vilamoura.

The Aparthotel do Golfes hotel is ranked near the top of the Trip Advisor listing and is the choice ofaparthotel do golfe vilamoura everyone “in the know”. We booked over the internet  (use 1800hotels.com or booking.com) having googled the name and looked through the deals. The hotel is ideal for all the Vilamoura courses and a taxi into the Marina is about €5 each way.

Where To Go In Vilamoura

Along the Marina strip, there are loads of restaurants and bars. Food is reasonably priced and menu’s displayed outside by all. For a treat I recommend the Dom Miguel restaurant, it’s not on the main strip, but literally two minutes walk away. Pic: Aparthotel do Golfe, Vilamoura

The food there is a little more expensive than elsewhere, but still far cheaper than Irish prices.

marina vilamoura For drinks the main pub is the Irish Cabin, a super pub of sorts, with live music every night. Further down is O’Neills, a small but busy hostelry. The pub I enjoyed most was Rui’s Bar, just behind the Cabin. The resident musician there is a guy called Ciaran Fox from Shannon. During the main season he has his house band and mixes songs with humour.

Pic: Vilamoura Marina at Night. He has that rare talent of engaging instantly with all the people, moulding with ease a homely atmosphere of friends having a drink and a sing-song. Ciaran also has a great gimmick of asking the audience to shout up requests for songs with the sole aim of immediately ridiculing the responses. On one occasion where he asked for requests, one guy shouted up, ”Midnight In Moscow”. Fox turned to him, glanced at his watch and said “I’m not 100% sure, but I’ll take your word for it!” Oh Yes, one last thing on this. In Portugal they like to drink pints of “Super Bock”. If you’re offered any, politely decline. Its Probably the worst lager in the world! We should have figured that out by the silly name, before we drank several units.

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A pic of Johnny Lydon, Pelle Edberg and Johan Edfors and me after about a dozen “Boks”, each and every one of which we regretted the following day. As for the boys Edberg and Edfors didn’t break par for weeks after and vowed never to drink with Irish lads again.

Video: Ciaran Fox in Action in Rui’s Bar, Vilamoura

Golf Cost

It really bugs me when people go on about “rack rates” in golf courses. They are supposedly the ‘walk in off the street’ green fees for a course. They don’t really apply when you’re travelling abroad to play off- you usually have the golf organized beforehand. And that’s really the way Oceanico operate. If you log onto www.oceanicogolf.com you will find all the packages and special offers on the homepage. I don’t want to go into too much detail with prices, because I want this review to stay relevant over time, but at time of writing there are offers there including four rounds of golf on the best courses, hotel accommodation, transfers from Vilamoura to the courses and airport all for under €600. That’s as cheap as chips. If you did add up the “rack rates” alone for the four golf courses,  you wouldn’t have much change without even thinking of accommodation!  My advice is to bang off an e-mail to Oceanico and they will send you loads of options all priced and broken down clearly.

The Vilamoura Courses

The Old Course

 4.0.1 We played the old course in the middle of our itinerary but I advise you to play it first. The Old Course is literally yards from the Hotel do Golfe and winds its way through a forest of umbrella pines. Opened in 1969 it is one of oldest courses in the region. An avid golfer, who appreciates good course layouts can immediately see how this course, would, in the past, have required all the shots. Unfortunately with today’s ballistic weaponry, a long player can unlock all the defences except for maybe the umbrella pines, the last soldiers of the resistance left to defend the old lady. But that’s not say they don’t claim the odd victory in the war.

The condition of the course is as you would expect from Oceanico, immaculate. The greens are like small little dartboards, reasonably fast, and as Spandau Ballet sang “So True”. The truth is however, the Old Course is now more a warm-up before the big games at Victoria, Faldo and O’Connor. It’s kind of like the Minor game before the All-Ireland Senior final, very enjoyable at the time, but you will look back in a few years and only remember the Seniors. Having said that, I do remember the sixth hole. A 233 yard par-3 with about a 40 yard drop that is just impossible to club. Johnny hit the sweetest hybrid in there, it touched the outer atmosphere before hammering back to Earth about six foot from the pin. Birdie. Though the round ends with a pretty featureless hole, all in all, the Old Course was an enjoyable jaunt, the only pity is that modern drivers are able to smash the Old Course’s locks that guard the score. Now if they took your driver off you going in the gate, it would have been a different story entirely.

The post mortem was carried out in the clubhouse which is small and quaint, with very reasonably priced food. I do however recall that a pint of beer was around €5, way more expensive than anywhere else we went. Did the Old Course give me a warm fuzzy glow? Maybe not, but it’s always warm and the umbrella pines are substitute aplenty  for warm fuzz.

The Victoria Course

At the Portugal Masters in 2009, Lee Westwood’s wLee westwood-001inning score for four rounds was 23 under. However if you think for even a milli-second that this fact makes this course in any way easy, you are sadly mistaken. Unless of course you can drive the ball 320 yards arrow straight and take an average of 26 putts a round. Then it’s easy. If I recall correctly, and I’m cutting and pasting here, Westwood hit every fairway on the final day and 87% of the greens in regulation overall.

Pic: With Lee Westwood after his Portugal Masters win on the Victoria Course

The Victoria course is excellent in so many ways. Though not set in terribly undulating terrain there are subtle rolls on the fairways and hollows and run-offs in front of and around most greens. Not to mention water.  If you’re not playing the kind of target golf the pros do, be sure to bring the full compliment of wedges as they will be needed. Also of all four courses we played, the rough was most severe in Victoria. And it is tough to hit out of that raw broccoli they call “rough” in Portugal. Lucky that day, I happened to be blessed by the Greek God of chipping- “Upandoonis”, and I made more saves than Shay Given and Davy Fitzgerald combined. Nice!

oceanico victoria The last three holes at Victoria are real TV drama holes, not unlike Sawgrass. The 16th is a 209 yard par 3, which is visually very deceptive. The 17th is a risk reward 593 yard par five. If you want to go for the green in two you need a serious carry off the tee. But that would be too easy so they stuck in a whole pile of water just to make it interesting. If you do manage the drive and decide to go for it in two, remember that the green is a narrow target, protected by water on the front and on the right with trees and even more broccoli and trees behind. Water also plays a huge part in the 18th (pictured) ,a 465 yard par four. It is what the Portuguese might call a “beach” of all hole; water down the left and sand down the right off the tee, before you again have to skirt the water with the approach. If you make par there, it’s more than Padraig Harrington could do, and he is good.

Video: Victoria Course

The Amendoeira Courses

Video: Amendoeira Clubhouse Tour & O’Connor Course

Before I tell you about the courses in Amendoeira, let me mention the facilities that  surround them, for these are what make the whole experience unforgettable. The Amendoeira resort is basically a small village under construction. Lots of lovely apartments flank the closing holes of the O’Connor course, with a clubhouse of biblical proportions standing at the highest point on the site. You spin down one little road and it  brings you to a beautiful par-3 course, reminiscent of Augusta and fully floodlit. You branch down another road Padraigh%20img%201799%20lrand it brings you to a fitness centre with a gym, various courts, astroturf and grass pitches and training facilities. I don’t think there is any sport that’s not catered for on the site, there is even two international bowls greens adjacent to the clubhouse, one flat and one crowned.

 

Padraig Harrington representing Ireland at the Opening of The Academy Par-3 Course

On entry to the site you drive up the hill to the clubhouse where you will be greeted by a staff member who will take your clubs from you. The next time you see them they will be snugly attached to a buggy equipped with ice cold water, towrangeels, tees and accessories. With a half hour to go before your tee time, you can spin up to the practice ground, which is the best I have ever seen. The whole layout is fantastic, the bays are elevated, you hit down to defined yardages on mini greens below, the  trajectory of the ball crystal clear against the ever blue sky. On the left hand side of the range are half a dozen raised pitching greens with a large chipping green capping it all off. The Callaway fitting centre overlooks the entire range, where those requiring expert fitting and trackman analysis can get well and truly sorted.teams%20IMG_2073%20lr

The Irish Heavyweights (Ahem) vs Team GB at The Academy Grand Opening. 

The O’Connor Course

From the clubhouse you drive past the massive bronze statues of either Christy Junior or Sir Nick, dependant on which course you are playing. It seems there may have been a trade off between the two when it came to deciding who was going to get which area of land to work with. In the end Nick got the more undulating and possibly more interesting golfing terrain whilst Christy got the flat land, but the land that flanks the houses and runs right up to the clubhouse.

If you’ve come to the O’Connor course for the ultimate golfing examination, o'connor course oceanicoyou’re on the wrong wavelength here. This is holiday golf. Christy wants you to have fun. He has left the fairways as wide as the fields in Mitchelstown and the greens as big as in St. Andrews. There are some deft little touches in bunker placement and tiering on the greens that might add a shot or two but nothing too tricky. If the O’Connor course were a radio ad, it would be bright, short, clean and crisp; there would be some terms and conditions, but no nasty shocks. My favourite hole is the 15th, which measures 404 metres from the back tees and demands a long accurate tee shot as the fairway is flanked on both sides by water. On a course that is otherwise generous off the tee, the tee shot at 15th can give you the hee-bee-gee-bee’s. The second shot will need a solid long iron to carry the scrub and reach the green. If you manage a par there, e-mail me. I will be impressed. The 18th is a nice hole too, demanding a right to left tee shot to leave you in a position to reach the devilishly tiered green which sits below the clubhouse. Every punter in the resort will watch you crash and burn here if you’re not careful. It’s a bit like “Gladiator” on that 18th!

The Faldo Course

Where Christy wanted to give you a gentle examination, Nick is more into interrogation. The Faldo course is definitely the tougher test of the two Amendoeira courses and in my opinion, shades it for quality. Designed with a kind of desert feel, tee shots need greater precision, it plays longer, there are more elevation changes and crucially the first time you play it, it may well get the better of you. That’s a pity for holiday golfers who might only get one shot at it, because this course will have you dying to turn the buggy around and do it all over again straight after you play. Its one of those tracks where course management and strategy are required, so bombeoceanico faldo coursers beware. My favourite hole was the 670 yard par five 13th; it wouldn’t be reachable in two if it was on the moon. The back nine is definitely hillier and that little bit harder to score on but overall the Faldo course is another notch on his bedpost of Sir Nick’s jobs well done.

Another nice touch is the way the staff clean your clubs after the round, so that when you collect them out front afterwards, you can actually see the grooves on your irons for the first time since you bought them.

Thanks

gerry fagan

Pic: Left to Right- Doc, Gerry Fagan and Johnny.  It was Gerry’s idea to loiter outside the Ladies!

Finally, thanks to our contact Ollie Woods who looked after us during our stay and to Oceanico owner Gerry Fagan who treated us like prodigal sons when we snuck into the clubhouse after the Portugal Masters. Gerry is an authority on all things golf and relating to “hips”. Yes “hips”, and don’t even get me started on that one! Anyway before we left we awarded both Ollie and Gerry the highest distinction Mayo can bestow- the “The Order Of The Reek”.

 

tom morris lough erne The ghost of legendary golfer “Old Tom Morris,” The ‘Grand Old Man of Golf’ emerged from the grave recently and made a rather spooky visit to the newly-opened Championship Faldo Course at Lough Erne Golf Resort.

The four time Open Champion who was born and bred in St Andrews and died at the ripe old age of 86 in 1908 was mightily impressed with the work of fellow major winner Sir Nick Faldo. Most notably, Old Tom Morris was astonished at the close resemblance of The Faldo Course to many of the famous “links courses” he played a part in designing including Carnoustie, and Royal County Down.

This is the first time Old Tom has surfaced from his resting place at the Home of Golf in Scotland to inspect a modern championship layout and he walked the entire course as he did in his hey day armed with a feather ball and hickory shafted clubs he was famed for making. Following his ethereal round he was full of praise for the course and said:

“How the modern game has changed in just over 100 years. A great test of golf has been created by Sir Nick Faldo here at Lough Erne and the condition of the course is truly amazing. I should also imagine that there might be a slight change in design fees in 2009 as I charged £1 per day plus expenses for design work back in my day”.

Old Tom was also stunned that The Faldo Course had managed to remain open inspite of the recent deluge of rain which forced many courses to close. The Sand Capped fairways and USGA Spec Greens allow for Tournament Standard All Year round playing conditions and continued usage of Golf Carts. At the Winter rate Green Fee this is sure to prove a real treat for both localOld Tom Morris lough erne and visiting Golfers.

Tiger Woods went to the trouble of posting a statement on his Web site to thank his sponsors, staff and volunteers at the Tiger Challenge, which he unfortunately wasn’t able to make.

While the Cat’Chevron Challenge Golf s away the Mice will play and Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell took advantage in different ways.

Furyk, who closed with a 5-under 67, won his first event since the 2007 Canadian Open. The way he played the final two holes made it clear Furyk has not forgotten how to win.  He canned a tramliner for par on 17 when it looked for all the world like a bogey was as good as he could do. Furyk was in a horrible spot in the bunker well below the 17th green and semi boned his second to 35 feet beyond the hole.  He was hopeful of lagging a tricky putt to 3 feet to make no worse than bogey. Instead, he watched it break sharply to the right over the final few feet and drop into the cup for the jammiest dodger of a par you will ever see. He followed that with a 9-iron to 5 feet on the last before calmly knocking in the birdie putt for a one shot win.

Furyk gives tiger a little lift.  Watch where you putting that finger Jim!

McDowell, the replacement for Woods at this tournament, had to hole out from 18th fairway to tie Furyk, and he very nearly did, his ball narrowly missing the hole. His subsequent  birdie gave him second place alone.

Allenby’s Claw Grip Is The Don

Meanwhile in Sun City South Africa, Robert Allenby claimed his first win in living memory at the Nedbank Challenge.  Allenby did his best to lose the tournament by acting like a “Flamin’ Galla” by taking bogey on the last when a par would have done.

Instead the Summer Bay resident opted for a playoff with “joke a minute” Swede Henrik Stenson.  Allenby whose playoff record reads like Manny Pacqiaou fight record triumphed on the third playoff hole. robert allenby stoked

The playoff was held on the par-4 18th, which both players bogeyed in regulation. Allenby reached the green with his second shot for the first time in seven attempts at the third playoff hole. Stenson, meanwhile, went through the green and then chipped 25 feet past the pin. Allenby two-putted from about 5 feet for the win.

Meanwhile Overnight leader Retief Goosen cemented the worst stat on tour with a 75 to finish fifth in the 12-man field.  He is no. 1 scorer in rounds 1 to 3 on the European Tour and no. 198 in final round scoring. He shrugged off the stat with his usual warm smile.  Not.

Robert Allenby- “I’m stoked at the win. I cant wait to get back to the Bay to see Alf, Miles and all my friends.”

tiger scars

The police asked Tiger's wife how many times she hit him.  "I don't know exactly...put me down for a 5."

Phil Mickelson contacted Tiger's wife to pick up tips on how to beat Tiger.

What's the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards.

Tiger Woods wasn't seriously injured in the crash, but he's still below par.

What were Tiger Woods and his wife doing out at 2:30 in the morning? They went clubbing

Tiger Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn't decide between a wood and an iron.

Ping just offered Elin an endorsement contract for her own set of drivers; to be named Elin Woods..."clubs you can beat Tiger with."

Tiger just changed his nickname but still kept it in the cat family--his new name?: Cheetah

Tiger was driving an Escalade, can he blame the accident on his caddy?

Hello Mister Woods this is the On Star operator we have detected that an angry person has put a golf club through your window, we are contacting Nike for a new club.

Who among us doesn't hear a car crash and immediately grab the closest golf club we can find??!!

Tiger's new movie: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hydrant.
Tiger Woods owns lots of expensive cars. Now he has a hole in one.
Poor choice; he should have gone with the driver.

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Tiger Woods has just released the following statement on his website:
"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I tiger woods affairam far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.
Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.
But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don't share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions.
Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it's difficult.
I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology."

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2am. Tiger lying on the ground with injuries to the leg and face. Elin standing over him wielding a golf club. The 4x4 planted into a fire hydrant. It all looks pretty suspect doesn’t it? Anyway the fun is in the speculation. Instead of dragging poor Tiger down a back alley over this, has anyone considered that there might be aelin holding club perfectly innocent explanation. It might go something like this.

Explain 2am: Everyone knows Tiger is a champion. And you don’t get to be a champion without hard work. He is so busy practicing up to 18 hours a day that he gets home VERY late every evening.

Explain the lnjuries: Though tired and weary, when he gets home every night at 2am, Tiger makes a special effort to spend some quality time with Elin, teaching her the game of golf in his specially constructed indoor practice area. Though usually Tiger never lets anyone touch his clubs, such is his love for Elin, that he lets her use his 3 iron. What he does not realise is that to the mere mortal, his 3 iron looks like a poker. Anyway having gently arranged her tender fingers on the club into a Vardon grip, Tiger puts down a pristine Nike One Black and takes a step back.  Elin makes a swing, takes an unholy shank, the ball ricocheting off the radiator, hammering of Tiger’s bad leg before heading back and to the left finally smashing into Tiger’s face.  Back and to the left, back and to the left………

Explain the car in the fire hydrant: After the injurious shanking incident, Tiger suggests that they take the lesson outside as it might be less dangerous. Ever the patient professional, Tiger, at this stage looking like Rocky coming out for the 15th round against Apollo Creed and only able to see out of one eye, suggests they create their own par-3 in the driveway to make Elin’s golfing experience as real as possible. The loveable rogue suggests a nearby fire hydrant would be the perfect water hazard and lets out a couple of thousand gallons to “re-create” the famous 17th at Sawgrass. Of course every good par-3 needs a hole-in-one prize, something like a car, and it has to be sitting tiger woods facial injuryout in the middle of the lake. Tiger heads over to the car to move it into the water. As he limps through the darkness and the sodden grass and sits into the car, with the water belting like a thunder storm on the windshield, Tiger realises that instead of recreating the 17th at Sawgrass, he has unwittingly made his front lawn into the first tee of the Ryder Cup at the K Club. A cold sweat breaks out, the pain in the leg is back worse than ever, and Elin looks like Stevie, imploring him to take a 3-iron. “No” says Tiger, “Clarkey is 300 yards up the middle, how hard can it be with driver?”. At that precise moment all Tiger’s driving demons come flooding back and he finds himself on his arse in the lawn, with the car straddling the fire hydrant and Elin standing there with the 3-iron and an “I told you so” look. Pretty simple really.

And the moral of the story? Well there are a few.

You don’t need driver on the 1st at the K Club.

Cavity backs are so much easier to hit than blades.

Never hit a golf ball when there is a radiator nearby.

Bad driving can permeate through the rest of your game, or “life” in Tiger’s case.

As Bob Rotella says: If the last image you have before you hit is the water hazard, you will find the water hazard.

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