Archives for 2017 | Kilburnlad | Golf | Diary


Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 23/11/17

Today was a story of poor play around the greens and terrible putting. Add to that a few not-so-good ground strokes and the result wasn't very impressive. The wind was partly a factor, a squall passing over while we were on the 7th with very strong gusts but fortunately only a few drops of rain. We were on the edge of it. Somebody else got the full treatment!

The 1st wasn't too bad. Certainly better than some recent happenings on this hole. I had a good drive followed by a reasonable 4-iron, only to be thick on the next 4-iron, hitting more mud than ball. The next shot was far better putting me just short of the green in rough to the left. A pathetic gap wedge (I slowed up on the swing!) left me still off the green, although I could putt on. Two more putts for a nett bogey 7.

A longish drive on the 2nd should have allowed me to reach the green for two, but my 8-iron again took too much divot leaving me short. A pitching wedge shot was also just short needing a putt on. I then missed a short putt, the second giving me a nett bogey 6.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 20/11/17

Back to mediocracy and yet again the 1st and 9th cost me dear. After rain it was damp and the course was soft but the day brightened with the occasional fresh wind that felt a bit chilly and affected a couple of holes.

View looking back from Hole 8

My tee shot on the 1st was fine; 155 yards and dead straight. Then I pulled my 4-iron shot left into the trees, where the ball inconveniently came to rest against a trunk, the only shot playable being a back-flip with my 7-iron. This didn't quite clear the trees leaving me with the need to loft my 8-iron, which I managed just clipping the upper branches. A 7-iron shot to the green then went nowhere as the iron dug into the soft ground. My pitching wedge shot then bounced left off the green and at first I thought it had rolled into the sunken bunker. It hadn't, but was resting in light rough right on the edge. My gap wedge was thin but the ball fortunately hit the pin. I then missed the first putt, the second giving me a severely blobbed 9.

Te 2nd was just the opposite. A drive of 173 yards was followed by an 8-iron to the green. Two putts for a par and a nett birdie. Weird game this golf! Read More…

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 16/11/17

After last Thursday's not-so-bad performance, today was a bit of a let down. A damp but mild day with little wind, but the fairways had been spiked for drainage, making the playing surface a little unpredictable at times. But the biggest problem was me. My driving wasn't too bad, give or take a couple of holes, but my trusty 4-iron wasn't behaving itself, and I missed too many gettable putts. Once again terrible scores on the 1st and 9th bookended a not-so-bad performance on the other holes.

My drive went left on the 1st, which wouldn't have been too much of a problem if the ball hadn't hit the trunk of a conifer and bounced further from the fairway. When I got to the ball there was only a sideways shot available, which I left a bit short and had to drop clear of the path. I then completely miss-hit my 4-iron, sending the ball left back into the trees. I had a clear path out but the 7-iron shot lofted a bit too much, the ball just catching the lowest branch of a tree, and dropping dead. The next 4-iron was also hopeless, making only 70 yards and leaving me once again in the rough. A 5-iron from there was short, requiring a pitch to the green, where I then three-putted to round off a thoroughly dispiriting hole. A 10 wasn't a good start and rendered any chance of a good round impossible.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 09/11/17

I'm a bit late with this report because I've been a bit tied up with other things since I went out last Thursday. It was a chilly day but with hardly any wind, making conditions quite favourable. The spiked greens had settled down a bit, and while still somewhat unpredictable, they weren't as bad as on previous occasions. I managed to avoid high scores on both the 1st and the 9th, which have been my nemesis recently. This made for a much more consistent round but interestingly my score was identical to that on the previous Monday, even though my game 'felt' better.

A longish drive on the 1st left me in the rough just off the fairway. My 4-iron out wasn't bad, but the next 4-iron was enormous at just under 160 yards, leaving me a 25 yard pitch to the green for 4. The putt was longish and I needed a second for a nett par 6.

Another good drive on the 2nd stayed out of trouble. My 7-iron wasn't so good, skewing left and stopping short of the bunker. It should have made the green. I then pitched badly and needed to putt on from the front of the green, followed by two more putts for a nett bogey 6. It should have been two shots better than that.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 06/11/17

Once again poor scores on the 1st and the 9th disguised what otherwise was for me quite a good round. However, the dropped shots on those two holes weren't on this occasion because of intrinsically bad strikes, but more a bit of bad luck. So, overall, I feel quite good about the day.

I drove well on the 1st, the ball just creeping into the light rough to the left of the fairway. I got out cleanly with my 5-iron but kept too far left, the ball again settling in light rough. Once again the 5-iron got me out and left me a pitch to the green of about 80 yards. Unfortunately I was just a bit too far left and the ball rolled off the bank to the left off the green into the sunken bunker. My first attempt to exit failed in the heavy sand but I managed it with the next shot, putting me on the green for 6. I needed the putt for a point, but took two for a blobbed 8.

Another good drive on the 2nd left me about 100 yards from the front of the green. My 7-iron was a bit short, requiring a gentle pitch on and two putts for a nett par 5.

Hole 2 from the tee - 06 November 2017

Hole 2 from the tee

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 02/11/17

A disastrous start and an even more disastrous ending, but in between things weren't too bad. A chilly day but with hardly a breath of wind. And the course is in pretty good shape, although they've spiked the greens which makes putting a bit of a lottery.

My drive on the 1st went right into the trees and the ball was lost. I had taken a provisional, which also managed to drift right into the ditch. I took a drop but was now on 4 and hadn't got past the distance of my drive. A couple of good 4-irons got me to within pitching distance but the ball rolled off the left of the green and almost into the bunker. A chip on and one putt left me with a blobbed 9. As I've said, a disastrous start.

I managed to keep the drive on the 2nd away from the ditch and it was quite long at 164 yards. I then put a 7-iron shot into a laurel bush to the left, but fortunately it went through and I could pitch on, albeit the shot was far too long. This resulted in three putts for a nett bogey 6.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 30/10/17

We had perfect conditions today. Although it was colder than of late, there was no discernible wind and the fairways were closely cut and reasonably firm. Winter rules were in place but there was little need to pick up and clean the ball. I didn't start that well but had a good middle section, losing it a bit on the last three holes. But overall I was quite pleased.

My drive on the 1st just managed to roll into the right side ditch, requiring a penalty drop. I then hit a couple of good 4-irons and was left with a simple pitch to the green. One of a number of 'head up' events caused me to shank right, the ball coming to rest on the fringe of the green. A long putt from there left me with a possible point-saving putt, but the ball passed the edge of the hole, leaving me with a second putt and a blobbed 8.

An 177 yard drive on the 2nd was followed by two rubbish irons, both suffering the 'head up' problem, the first skewing left and the second right. I managed to pitch on with the next shot and two-putted for a nett bogey 6, but it should have been a par.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 26/10/17

Things didn't go too badly today although an over-adventurous shot on the 4th resulted in a lost ball, and because we didn't want to delay play I picked up, effectively removing the hole from play. Conditions were still remarkably good and although it wasn't as bright as recently, it wasn't cold and the wind was very light.

A chancy drive on the 1st came close to reaching the right side ditch but just survived. A lacklustre 4‑iron was followed by a better one, and then a pitching wedge to the green. Two putts for a nett par 6. Not a bad start.

The drive on the 2nd was also chancy, but this time I went into the ditch on the right. I dropped but then looked up while taking an 8-iron, topping the ball and sending it a few yards. The next attempt with the same club was better but still short of the green. I pitched on and two-putted but with the penalty drop finished with a blobbed 7.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 16/10/17

Incredibly mild weather for mid-October, all because of Hurricane Ophelia, which while playing havoc in Ireland, simply brought a very pleasant warm wind to southern Britain. A wind that nevertheless caused a few problems on the coarse, particularly where it was blowing across the approach to a hole. As for my play, well it felt worse than last Thursday (which was my return to golf after a few weeks aches and pains recuperation) but in fact I finished with one less shot. I remembered my Game Golf device this time.

The 1st was a bit haphazard. My drive was longish but again just crept into the trees on the left. I got out with my 7-iron but in avoiding the trees went across the fairway into long grass opposite. My 4-iron out wasn't spectacular and neither was the following 5-iron, but I then pitched on for 5. Unfortunately, three putts gave me a blobbed 8.

The elevated tee position on the 2nd has allowed me some long drives recently, and today I made 185 yards, which is good for me. I then thinned the pitching wedge with the ball ending up on the far side of the green in the rough. The chip on left me with two putts for a nett par 5.
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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 12/10/17

After an enforced rest of almost a month, while my back and neck problems calmed down, I ventured out today to see how my aches and pains would bear up on the golf course. It went better than I expected, and more importantly I didn't feel that I had aggravated either of my problems by playing, although that's not to say that they weren't still niggling me a bit.

I forgot to take both my Game Golf device and my Garmin GPS, so no detailed distances today and what I report is what I remember.

I drove well off the 1st tee and although it went left into the edge of the trees I had a good line out. A 7-iron put me back on the fairway but I then pulled a 4-iron shot and we assume that the ball reached the lake. A good 8-iron from the drop position put me just off the right of the green, from where I over-chipped, leaving myself a long putt, which ended up as three! A blobbed 9, but take away the drop and a couple of the putts and it wasn't actually that bad.

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Lakeside Lodge - Manor Course - 18/09/17

I played today but it was pretty much a disaster. My back is still playing up and today was a test to see if I should play the Mad Cats competition on Friday. On today's performance the answer is definitely no!

I didn't start off too bad, getting a 4 on the par 3, 1st. Then on the 2nd I had a good drive, only to thin my pitching wedge shot along the ground and into the bunker. I got out and then shanked my gap wedge, the first of a number of shanks today that left me wondering whether I should bother. I ended up with a 7 on the 2nd. My pitching wedge shot across the lake on the 3rd, although good for length, went left into the trees, and a I eventually finished with a 5 on this par 3.

My drive on the 4th went left into the edge of the trees, settling near some loose stacked timber. I took a free drop and hit a 7-iron shot to safety further along the fairway. I then put a good 5-iron shot into a bunker. I came out with the pitching wedge, taking no sand and going some 80 yards into heavy rough on the far side of the green. It took ages to find the ball, and we found three others before mine. I pitched on and two-putted for an 8, including a penalty drop from the heavy rough.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 14/09/17

Another 18 holes today, which may not have been a good idea as I'm suffering quite a lot of sciatica at the moment from an old back injury. It hurts more when I walk than when I am taking shots, but I suspect that it's restricting my movement somewhat. You won't be surprised to hear, therefore, that today wasn't much to write home about. Most of the problems were around the green, where the generally softer ground after heavy rain led to a number of duff chips.

I started with a good drive on the 1st, although it crept off the fairway into light rough. A couple of 5-irons left me with an 8-iron chip, then two putts for a nett par 6: not too bad a start. My drive on the 2nd was also good, followed by a disappointing 8-iron that didn't reach the green. I chipped on for 3 but then three-putted for a nett bogey 6. The 3rd was a bit of a disaster. My 5-wood off the tee was topped and only made just over 50 yards. I then took my pitching wedge and the ball clipped the top of the bunker, but fell back in rather than flipping past. I got out of the bunker but then three-putted again for a nett bogey 6.

The 4th didn't go well either. After a long drive (180 yards) I put a bit of a slice on a 6-iron putting me in rough and leaving me short of where I had hoped to be. I then shanked an 8-iron leaving me under the branches of a small tree. An awkward clearance from there left me needing a chip on, but I caught ground before the ball with my gap wedge and was still off the green. I putted on and then two-putted for a blobbed 8. Fortunately the 5th was better, a somewhat lucky 5-wood off the tee just missed the bunker and ended up pin-high on the green. Two putts for a par and nett birdie.

Hole 5 - 14 September 2017

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 12/09/17

Yesterday I played a friendly Texas Scramble. Following a successful scramble to celebrate the 70th birthday of one of my regular playing companions, it was decided to organise another three such matches this year, this being the third.

The four-ball teams are usually made up of three men and one woman, although on this occasion one team was two and two. In my team the two other men, Dave and Arthur, were playing off 14 and 17 respectively. This meant that I shouldn't have had much to do, provided I managed four good drives and contributed on and around the greens.

I had a very good drive on the 1st but it wasn't a patch on those of the low handicap players. A trend that was to more or less continue. They were hitting rescue clubs around 200 yards on the fairway so it didn't leave me, or Celia our woman team member, with much to do, my best 5-iron shots only making around 150 yards.

We actually finished with a scratch round. Having birdied the 1st, we then went on to par everything bar the 4th on the front nine. Even on the 4th we were only about 10 yards from the green after two shots, but none of the chips was good enough to ensure a single putt, leaving us with a bogey.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 07/09/17

I felt confident before going out today. My drives have been reasonably consistent lately and I am feeling better about my recently acquired Wilson Staff irons. What could go wrong?

Well, it started to go wrong on the 1st tee. My drive went left into the trees but fortunately bounced out onto the path. I took a free drop and then tried for a long hit with my 5-wood, only to go partially over the top of the ball and gain only about 70 yards. Now in the rough, I took my 5-iron, which wasn't that long, but taking it again I hit 152 yards, leaving me a gap wedge pitch to the green. Two putts for a nett bogey 7. On the 2nd I again drove left into the trees, and again it bounced out. But I pulled the following 5-iron shot sending the ball back into the trees. I managed to play a 7-iron out, leaving me a gap wedge onto the green. But I was long and had to putt back, a single on-green putt then giving me a blobbed 7. Not a good start.

I took the driver on the short 3rd, going slightly long, from where I pitched back and two-putted for a nett birdie 4. A long straight drive on the 4th took me a shade under 200 yards. I took the pitching wedge to lay up short of the lake but pushed it a bit left, leaving a shot over the side of the lake. I took the 5-iron and hit it well, but it was long. An 8-iron chip back was unfortunately followed by three putts for a nett bogey 7. A bit of luck on the 5th as my driver shot went through the bunker and onto the green. A good first putt across the undulating green left me a tap-in for a par, nett birdie.

Hole 5 - 07 September 2017

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Lakeside Lodge - Manor Course - 04/09/17

The main course was booked throughout the morning so we were obliged either to wait until after lunch or play the Manor course. No choice really. I like the Manor but today I wanted to try out my 5-wood off the fairway, and the Manor isn't the best place to experiment. It's a narrow course and doesn't treat wayward shots kindly. In the early days of my golf I often played the Manor, and equally often spent a lot of time in trees. On a couple of holes today I was treated to a bit of nostalgia as I found myself in much the same situation.

Having taken a couple of my hybrids out of the bag, the 1st presented a bit of a challenge as I didn't have the club that I would usually use. I'm a bit unpredictable playing irons off tees but today I took the 7-iron and hit a perfect length shot, the only problem being it was right and landed in a bunker. I played out but then slowed up on a delicate gap wedge shot, not making the green. However, I putted on and holed the ball for a nett par 4.

My drive on the 2nd was just about perfect in both direction and distance. A gap wedge onto the green for two and two putts for a par 4, nett eagle.

Hole 3 - 04 September 2017

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 31/08/17

I played 18 holes today as the weather was just about perfect; warm but not too hot and hardly any wind at the start, although it became a bit breezy later. It also was an opportunity to put in a supplementary scorecard, which is now my third this year and thus fulfils my obligations regarding maintaining a handicap at the club. Not that today's score will improve my handicap! Unwisely, perhaps, I chose today to try out a few things. Namely using longer irons instead of the hybrids, and I had also put my 5-wood back in the bag.

My drive on the 1st crossed the path to the left into light rough. I played out with a 6-iron then hit a very mediocre hybrid. I had left one hybrid in the bag, my 20 degree Ping G20. It used to be a very consistent club but lately I keep having poor shots with it. My next pitching wedge shot was well short, needing another to get on. Then with three putts and it was a blobbed 8. Not an auspicious start. The 2nd was better, with a 190 yard drive that went just off the fairway to the right, but thankfully didn't end up in the notorious ditch. My gap wedge was then short but an 8-iron chip and two putts gave me a nett par 5.

The ball landed in the front bunker on the 3rd. I played out onto the green, but then three-putted for a nett par 5. I was again in a bunker on the 4th. The lip was high so I took my pitching wedge and only made about 35 yards. I took the pitching wedge again to lay up short of the lake, and once more to pitch to the green. I was actually off to the left and chipped up with the gap wedge, two-putting for a nett bogey 7.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 29/08/17

I rarely play two days on the trot but Helen asked me to join her today and the weather was still fine, so off we went. It was a lot quieter than yesterday and some people we know let us go off before them, as they were a three-ball. This meant we had a fairly brisk round, only occasionally having to wait for the two-ball in front.

I put my drive into the trees to the left on the 1st and we couldn't find the ball. Conscious that we had been allowed to play off in front of the three-ball, I didn't want to hold them up, so took a drop rather than continuing the search. This meant a 2 shot penalty for the lost ball. I decided at this point that I would try a few experiments rather than aim for a low-scoring round, as the 1st clearly wasn't going to work out too well. After taking a hybrid from the drop, I thought I would try the 4-iron rather than another hybrid shot. I've been playing the irons better lately and was thinking that if the longer irons were working, I could use these instead of the equivalent hybrids, which have been a bit hit and miss lately. As it was, the 4-iron shot matched the sort of distance I would expect from my 23 degree hybrid. Two pitching wedge shots followed by two putts left me with a 9 on this hole, including the two-shot penalty.

My drive was long to the middle of the fairway on the 2nd. A pitching wedge shot was then on the green, but long. Two putts for a par and nett birdie. I went into the bunker on the 3rd and took too little sand with my wedge, the ball crossing the green to the far side rough. After an 8-iron chip back I needed three putts to finish with a nett bogey 6.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 28/08/17

Well, it certainly was busy at the course today, being a bank holiday. The buggies were lining up like a wagon train and it was amazing that we had managed to get an 11:08 tee time. It was clearly going to be a bit slow out there, but the weather was fine with warm sun and little wind, although a breeze got up later in the round.

Yet again things were going well until I managed to screw it up with a disastrous 8th, followed by a not-much-better 9th. If I could get round the course without messing up a hole I think I could consistently come in with under 50 for nine holes.

The drive on the 1st was turning a bit right and ran into the ditch. After a penalty drop I played a couple of hybrids, leaving me an 8-iron pitch, which I thinned a bit but it wasn't too long, stopping just off the right of the green. A putt on and a single putt for a nett bogey 7. On the 2nd I always steer the drive left because of the ditch to the right, and today it just missed the trees coming to rest centre fairway at 185 yards. My 8-iron was again a bit thin, settling off the back of the green. A 7-iron chip-and-run and two putts for a nett par 5.

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Corby Priors Hall - 25/08/17

After Thursday's encouraging performance at Lakeside Lodge I was feeling confident as the Mad Cats lined up to tee off at Priors Hall. Last July I almost managed a prize position on this course so hopes were high. The 1st tee is high above the fairway, reflecting that this area was once a large quarry, although all other evidence of this has since been obscured by nature. Conditions were perfect. Warm, with little wind, and if anything a bit too hot later in the day.

On the 1st I drove well but the ball drifted right and rolled towards the tree line after landing. I didn't think that there would be a problem finding it, but our joint efforts failed to do so. Going back to the tee wasn't an option as this would have delayed following groups, so I dropped and took a two point penalty for personal scoring purposes. As far as the Mad Cats' competition was concerned, the lost ball meant the hole was blobbed. Playing out the hole didn't go that well anyway, my hybrid shot after the drop was short and right, landing the in rough. A pitching wedge shot was then equally bad, needing another to get on the green. Two putts gave me an 8. Last year I parred this hole, so my start couldn't have been more discouraging.

Fortunately the 2nd went much better. A good straight drive, that managed to miss both fairway bunkers, was followed a hybrid and pitching wedge, leaving me just off the green. A putt on and two putts for 6 gave me a nett par. Last year I picked up on this hole after three unsuccessful attempts to get out of the green-side bunker. Win some, lose some!

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 24/08/17

If I hadn't pulled the third shot on the 1st today, I would perhaps have had my best ever 9 holes. But if is a word one tends to use a lot in golf, it's what separates what you think you can achieve from what you actually deliver. That aside, my driving was very consistent and I had some good iron shots, so on balance I was more than pleased. Conditions were good, with the fairways recently cut, although the wind stiffened towards the end. And amazingly we didn't have any slow play up front, so we could progress at our normal pace without having to wait around, something that can disrupt your flow.

As I've said, the 1st went a bit wrong. My drive was superb at 190 yards centre fairway. The hybrid second was also good at 160 yards. I then pulled the next hybrid shot, which seemed be heading for the lake. In fact it had stopped in the rough at the side of the lake, but my shot was obstructed by an old section of fence that had been laid on the ground. This gave me a free drop. All I needed to do was play across the bunker onto the slightly elevated green, but I grounded my pitching wedge while making a quarter shot, and the ball went in the bunker. It took me two to get out, from where I putted on to the green, but then needed two more putts to get down for a 9. When you think that my third shot was almost pin high, if I hadn't pulled it I would have been on the green for 3, with the possibility of a 6 at worst. So three or perhaps 4 shots thrown away.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 21/08/17

Another not-so-good day

Today was again one of very slow play. We waited on every tee box, and often before approach shots on the fairway. We've decided to play the Manor Course next week if the Manor car park is as empty as it was today.

I had been practising a modified swing for my iron shots in the garden, and it seemed to have promise. I had also tried the same swing with my hybrids, and it seemed equally as good. But these were 'dry' swings, as I can't hit balls in my small garden. So I had decided to test out the ideas on the range before playing. But the range was closed as they were recovering balls. Best laid plans …

On the 1st I hit a reasonable drive, centre fairway. I then took my hybrid with the 'new' swing, and almost had an air shot, the ball moving a few feet. The next attempt was better but I was still a bit 'thick' on the ball, reducing the distance. It was the same with the next two hybrids, so after 5 shots I was still short of the green. My new idea wasn't quite working out. I then thinned an 8-iron but the ball still made the green. As if enough hadn't gone wrong I then three-putted, ending up with a blobbed 9.

A good drive on the 2nd was just a little too far left, leaving me obstructed a bit by trees for my next shot. I took a 6-iron, keeping the ball low, and this left me a fairly simple pitch to the green, which I made with the gap wedge. The putt was long and I needed two to finish with a nett par 5.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 15/08/17

After yesterday's abject performance I decided to join Helen today and play 18 holes wth her and one of our female friends. To be sociable I went off the red tees with the women, which gives an entirely different perspective to many of the holes, and makes them easier of course. I also scored against the women's hole index numbers for the purpose of Stableford points. My driving continued to hold up and I managed to pull my hybrid and iron shots together, although there were still a few bad ones. Today's problems were mainly around the greens, where on a number of occasions a superb approach was thrown away by some terrible chipping or putting.

A good drive on the 1st crossed the path into the longer grass on the other side. With trees to the front I took an 8-iron back onto the fairway. A hybrid then put me just off the green to the right, from where I putted on and two-putted for 6, a nett par.

On the 2nd I clipped the large tree to the left of the fairway but the ball went through and still made 167 yards. My 8-iron was short and I chipped again with it, two-putting for a nett par 5.

The 3rd is a much shorter hole off the red tee position. I used my 27 degree hybrid but was short and right. I fluffed the 8-iron chip but got on with the second attempt. A single putt gave me a nett birdie 4.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 14/08/17

So today was the day to try out my new irons. Unfortunately it was also the day that I couldn't seem to hit my hybrids, let alone my irons. Golf is the most frustrating game on Earth. For months I left my driver out of the bag because it was too wayward. Having recently put it back in, I'm now driving quite well, and today was a very good driver day. I drove all the holes, including the two par 3s, and didn't have one shot in trouble. A couple were just off the fairway but perfectly playable. But the hybrids and the irons were rubbish.

I found the feel of the forged heads on the new irons entirely different to the Callaway Steelheads that I had been using. They felt 'softer', not seeming to impart as much impact for a given driving force. This resulted generally in my underplaying of shots. No doubt I will get used to them.

On the 1st the ball settled close to the path. I took a drop to avoid standing on the path, which was lower than the grass. Unfortunately the ball rolled into a depression, so I took my new 7-iron rather than the hybrid. The result wasn't great, as I didn't get behind the ball. I then hit a lacklustre hybrid, again not getting behind the ball. The next was better and I pitched on from there with my wedge, but was again thin. However, the ball made the edge of the green almost pin high. I puttedIon and single-putted for a nett bogey 7, not bad considering the haphazard start.

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Bought some new irons

We were in the golf shop at the course yesterday and I spotted some Wilson Staff irons that I thought were new, but as it turned out they were a demo set that had been sent to the shop back when they came to market, but the set was missing a 9-iron.

They are the FG Tour M3 model with black forged heads, and other than a few very minor marks there were no signs of damage or wear on either the faces or the soles. I asked Dave in the shop how much they were, and because it was an incomplete set he said he only wanted a nominal £80. This seemed a bargain to me as they would have been £599 new and, having checked later on eBay, the market place is still asking around £260.

The set is the usual 4I - PW, and the absence of the 9-iron wasn't a deal-breaker. With my level of ability there's not much between a 9 and a pitching wedge and I can keep my existing Callaway 9-iron in the bag if need be.

I paid only a little less for my secondhand Callaway X14 Steelheads in 2014, and they showed much more wear, understandably as this is a model that was released in 2000. And with that purchase there was no pitching wedge. The X14s, despite receiving glowing reviews, were probably never the best iron for my game, and although the M3s are also apparently more mid-handicapper to Pro, I'm hoping that the forged construction may be more forgiving than the X14 steels.

Wilson M3 iron

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 10/08/17

Despite an aching shoulder, some numbness in my left arm and a stiff neck, I decided that I had been sitting indoors too much so ventured out onto the course, promising myself not to 'try too hard' in order to reduce the stress on my various aches and pains. It was a pleasant day with a light wind and plenty of bright spells, so at least I didn't need to battle the elements as well as my infirmities.

I caught the drive clean on the 1st but pushed it left into the trees, a pity as at 185 yards it would have run further along the fairway. I fluffed the shot out although fortunately it still made the fairway but didn't add any distance. I then topped the hybrid, which gained me a paltry 43 yards! The next one was better, after I told myself to keep my eyes on the ball while taking the shot, and after that I put the next just off the right of the green for 5. I putted on and single-putted for 7, a nett bogey. Not bad considering the start.

I was lucky on the 2nd as the drive entered the trees to the left but rolled out to just off the edge of the fairway. My hybrid shot wasn't great but I then pitched on and two-putted for 5, a nett par.
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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 31/07/17

I'm a bit late posting this diary entry because I've been re-theming this web site and I waited until I had finished before adding new content. Added to that, I was in no real rush to review the round, given that it was pretty awful. An old back problem has been playing up recently and I found that I was flagging at Rutland Water the previous Friday. The same happened today, a goodish start and then it all went to bits. I've also some weakness in my left arm and have decided to give the golf a rest for a couple of weeks or so while I get a medical opinion. So this report may be the last for a while.
Hole 2 - 31 July 2017
As I've said, I started quite well, some very poor putting marring what otherwise would have been an excellent first few holes. I was on the green for 4 on the 1st with a par chance, but awful putting left me with a 7 and a nett bogey.

My drive of 193 yards on the 2nd was, by my standards, enormous. I then made the green in 2, and yet again three-putted for a very disappointing nett par 5.

I went right on the 3rd and fluffed a short chip out of a poor lie, getting on with the next for 3. I then once again three-putted for a nett bogey 6. It's a good job I now get two shots on this hole!

A reasonable drive and second on the 4th were then wasted when I put the next shot in the lake. After a penalty drop it took me two more to get on, but at least I only two-putted for a blobbed 8.

Into the wind on the 5th I took the driver and hit a lovely straight shot to the back of the green. Then, as you might have already guessed, I three-putted for a nett par 4.

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Rutland Water Golf Club - 28/07/17

As I foretold in my previous report, yesterday I went to Rutland Water with the Mad Cats' society. A day full of promise, having watched the fly-over of the 18-hole championship course on the web site, amusingly narrated by Peter Alliss. The weather forecast was for a bright and breezy day, so I wore a light shirt and a sleeveless pullover. Well, as is often the case of late, the forecast was woefully wrong. It was heavily overcast and at times the 'breeze' made it difficult to maintain ones balance when trying to tee off. And there was a constant threat of light drizzle but fortunately we suffered only one brief shower.

Add to this uninviting ambiance the fact that our round took no less than five and a quarter hours, and you will not be surprised that I got very cold, and about midway through the back nine I think I psychologically gave up. Things had been going wrong and with all the adverse influences of weather and personal comfort I think my concentration just drifted away. The result, a fairly average front nine and an absolutely disastrous return.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 27/07/17

I nearly managed a good round today but after seven holes with no real disasters, I threw it all away at the 8th. Conditions were good with the weather starting off a bit overcast but brightening by the end of the round. There was a bit of a breeze but I didn't find that it affected me to much. I had the driver in the bag again today but a few balls on the range with it before teeing off weren't that inspiring.

I took the driver on the 1st even though it was risky, with the ditch and trees close on the right and more trees to the left. It wasn't a very positive hit but pulled around from the right to land mid-fairway at about 130 yards. My hybrid usually goes further! The next two hybrids were also pretty weak but then I managed to pitch on with my 8-iron. Two putts for a nett par 6.

I didn't risk the driver on the 2nd with its sloping bank into the all-catching ditch on the right. My 20 degree hybrid did a good job at 153 yards, centre fairway. I then used the 27 degree hybrid and put the second at the back of the green. Two putts and a par 4, nett birdie. Read More…

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 20/07/17

We arrived at the course today in torrential rain. So much for the light rain predictions from BBC weather. Those who had been out had for the most part walked in - drenched. However, at around our 11.00 am tee time the rain eased and by the time we teed off about ten minutes later it had stopped.

I had a few swings on the driving range yesterday and had brought my driver out of storage. Surprisingly it had performed well, so today I decided to give it a try. Just to reinforce the generally held view that what happens on the driving range doesn't necessarily translate to the course, I put my drive on the 1st into the left side trees. At least I didn't slice, which was what I used to do far too often with this club. I chipped out from the trees but my next couple of hybrids weren't that long, so I eventually chipped on for 5. Two putts would have rescued a point but it took me three, for an 8 and a blob.

I bravely took the driver again on the 2nd, risking the right side ditch. I needn't have worried, the ball careering into the large conifer on the left. We didn't see it drop but amazingly as we walked up the fairway we found the ball some 20 yards further on, it having gone through the conifer and come to rest back on the fairway. A bit of luck. My next hybrid was lacklustre again, needing a chip on, but then another three-putt finish left me with a nett bogey 6. Not a great start.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 13/07/17

It was 18 holes today and a supplementary scorecard was submitted towards maintaining my handicap. A very pleasant day with a fair amount of light cloud and sunny intervals, and a light wind that didn't cause any problems. We played as a four-ball and fortunately we weren't held up in front. There were two-balls following us and we let one pair through on the 5th.

The 1st went well, with a tee shot just shy of 160 yards, followed by a couple of reasonable hybrids and a pitching wedge onto the green. Two putts gave me a nett par 6. If only I could always start like that.

As is often the case, I put my tee shot on the 2nd into the trees to the left. I found the ball easily and played out with a gentle 7-iron. My next hybrid was short of the green, needing a chip and two-putts for a nett bogey 6.

On the 3rd the tee shot was short and off to the right, but not worryingly so. I pitched up and nearly got the par, settling for two putts and a nett birdie 4.

I came down on top of the ball on the 4th tee, the shot only making 65 yards. The next hybrid was good and I laid up with my 9-iron to take the lake out of play. I was then short with my 27 degree hybrid trying to play a three-quarter shot. I should have taken my 8-iron but was worried about accuracy with the lake close on the left. I then pitched long and had to chip back, two putts making it a blobbed 8.

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Lakeside Lodge - Manor Course - 11/07/17

I played the Manor course today and things didn't go that well. It was a fresher day than of late with rain threatening, and quite a strong breeze was evident on the less sheltered holes. I like the Manor course but it demands accuracy, being generally quite narrow with plenty of trees to welcome stray balls. Today I wasn't accurate and I paid the price.

On the now shorter 1st I found the bunker on the right and took two to get to the green. With two putts it was a nett bogey 5.

I went into the right side trees on the 2nd and played an air shot on my first attempt to get out from under low branches. The next didn't clear the trees but I managed to get clear with the third. A pitching wedge to the green and two putts for a nett bogey 7.

I cleared the lake and put the ball on the green on the 3rd, but the putt was very long and I needed three for a nett par 4.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 06/07/17

My usual 9-hole Thursday outing, making it the third game this week, which is unusual. Another humid day but with a fresh breeze and thunder audible in the distance, but fortunately it stayed dry for us. As has become commonplace on Thursdays, we had a slow round following other groups. Players' etiquette is sadly lacking in many cases and the fact that they are playing slow seems not to trouble them in the slightest.

After birdying the 1st off the red tee on Tuesday, today didn't go anywhere near as well. I topped the ball on the tee shot and only made about 80 yards, just past the ladies tee. The second was better, but I then went too far left and presume that the ball rolled into the lake, as I couldn't find it. I dropped and put an 8-iron shot just off the green, chipped on and two-putted for a blobbed 8.

On the 2nd my tee shot went well into the left side trees, from where I chipped out sideways. Playing for the green I then went right, the ball stopping just short of the bunker. I then 'slowed down' on my lob wedge shot and put the ball in the bunker! I took a sand wedge out and two putts for a blobbed 7. Not a good start.

My tee shot drifted right on the 3rd, possibly because of the cross wind as the shot appeared true when it left the club face. I pitched up and two-putted for a nett birdie 4.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 04/07/17

I played with Helen and two other women today, and to be sociable went off the red tees with them. Another warm and humid day with little wind, but the cloud cover protected us from direct sun.

After a good 150 yard tee shot on the 1st, I hit a really good second of 184 yards. This left me a 50 yard pitch to the green, which was good, and I then sank a fairly long putt for a birdie 4. What a start!

Hole 1 - 04 July 2017

I had another good tee shot on the 2nd but took ground on my next shot, which sent the ball right and I was short of the green. My pitch was then too strong sending the ball off the far side of the green, from where I chipped back with my 8-iron and single-putted for 5, a nett par.

I put the ball on the green with my 27 degree hybrid on the 3rd and two-putted for a par.

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Lakeside Lodge - Manor Course - 03/07/17

We hadn't booked a tee time on the Lodge Course today so went up to the Manor. I rather like the Manor. It's usually less busy than the Lodge and I find it more varied. It's also quite a narrow course that demands a degree of accuracy.

The 1st tee is now further forward, the owner having developed a couple of houses where the men's tee used to be. Now you tee off over one lake, rather than the two lakes as before. It's in fact the former ladies tee. At 115 yards it's short with a lake immediately behind the green. My 27 degree hybrid did the job, the ball settling just off the right of the green. I putted on and single putted for a par, a nett birdie.

After a reasonable tee shot on the 2nd my 9-iron was short. This green also has a lake immediately behind it, so short is better than long. I decided to try the lob wedge, which I put in the bag after my trip to Pavenham last Friday. I struck the ground a bit behind the ball with the result that the ball went only a few yards. I then did the same thing again. In fairness it's a club I was lent and I've never used it before. Still short of the green I putted on then two-putted for a bogey 7.

The 3rd is a 90 yard par 3, over a lake. I've put many a ball in that lake, and had taken to using my hybrid to ensure that I cleared it. However, with my iron play improving of late I went with my 8-iron and got over, but went off the right side of the green. A more successful lob wedge put me back on and I two-putted for a nett par 4.

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Pavenham Park - 30/06/17

Today was the Mad Cats' outing and we went to Pavenham Park, near Bedford, a course I hadn't played before. The Mad Cats is a group of senior club members that has an away day every month to different courses, with a friendly competition and small prizes, plus the honour of the Mad Cats' trophy for the overall winner. All good fun and there is a meal at the end of play.

Pavenham is a championship grade course and in its publicity it states:

"The final challenge is to master and understand the unique USPGA style greens which offer the golfer a glimpse of the banks and slopes associated with Augusta National."

If you can putt at Pavenham Park, you can putt anywhere!

Well, they weren't kidding. I played probably one of my best games for a Mad Cats' outing in terms of teeing off and approaches to the greens, but the putting was incredibly difficult. I had six 3-putts and one 4-putt, with a total putting score of 40. This meant that there were a number of holes that were blobbed purely because of the putting. I also had some really good iron shots onto the greens, much better than average, but in many cases the ball just ran down the slope of the green and onto the fringe. These greens need wedge play and backspin, the first not currently being in my bag, and the second being beyond my capabilities. Chip-and-run doesn't work!

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 29/06/17

I thought today was going to be one when I finally managed to hold things together and get around 9 holes without mishap. I was wrong!

After rain yesterday it was overcast with a bit of wind but otherwise conditions were fine, except for water in some of the bunkers, which fortunately I avoided.

Three good hybrids on the par 5, 1st got me to the back of the green. The pin was at the front so I was left with a very long putt, which I got just right. A shortish putt then gave me a par, a nett birdie. An encouraging start.

The 2nd wasn't so good. My tee shot went left into the trees and I grounded the club on my chip out, leaving me too close to the trees for an attempt at the green. I pitched up a bit further and then played an 8-iron onto the green, with two putts for a nett bogey 6.

I was thin on my tee shot on the 3rd, but luck was with me and the ball missed the bunker and in fact went low and long off the back of the green. I pitched on and two-putted for a nett eagle 4 - this par 3 has been re-indexed and now gives me two shots!

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 22/06/17

We've been away and I hadn't played for a couple of weeks. Even so, I decided to do 18 holes and put in a supplementary card for handicap purposes. This wasn't because I expected to improve my handicap, in fact quite the opposite, but I need to put at least three cards in a year to maintain a handicap rating, and last year I left it until the last moment to do so.

After a blisteringly hot few days the weather had fortunately moderated, and while still warm and sticky the thick cloud and breeze made things much more bearable.

I started well on the 1st with a 165 yard tee shot to the middle of the fairway. The next, however, pulled left and ended up in the trees. After a little safety chip out, I then managed to put the next shot in the ditch to the right. Playing out was a possibility, but looking at the mud I instead decided to take a penalty drop. I put the next shot on the green but three-putted for a very poor 9.

The 2nd didn't start well as I again went into trees on the left. I pitched out and then put my next 9-iron shot on the green, two putting for a nett par 5.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 08/06/17

I'm either not playing enough golf to keep my hand in or I'm just getting progressively worse. My first game since last Thursday and it wasn't good. To be fair, for June the weather wasn't great. It was overcast with the constant feeling that rain was on its way, the wind freshening to strong throughout the morning.

I hit the ground about two inches behind the ball on the 1st, at about 80 yards the shot not reaching the fairway. I then put the next one well left and to compound things it hit a tree and bounced further into the trees. I found the ball at the base of a tree, a short chip being the only option. My next hybrid was good but a bit too close to the left side tree line, catching some branches towards the end of its journey. I then put the next hybrid on the green, pin high, from 165 yards. Golf is certainly a game of highs and lows! Two putts for a nett bogey 7 wasn't a bad outcome considering the start.

The 2nd was worse. A badly hit tee shot went into the left side trees, again requiring a short chip to get out. I then hit a good hybrid to within about 50 yards of the pin but muffed the pitch (slowed down on the ball!), needing another to get on. Three putts then gave be an inglorious 8. And I lost my French Franc ball marker when my cap blew off in the wind.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 01/06/17

Hot, no wind and quiet on the course, all it needed was for me to put a decent round together. You won't be surprised to hear that I didn't manage it.

The 1st started reasonably well, with a straight if not long tee shot. The second hybrid shot was a bit heavy but then I made up lost ground with a clean 168 yard hybrid third. I pitched on with an 8-iron and just missed a par with the first putt, a nett par 6 being acceptable.

The success wasn't very long-lived. On the 2nd, the paranoia of keeping out of the right-side ditch led me to go well into the trees on the left. However, the ball must have bounced off a tree, as we found it laying just outside the tree line. I then proceeded to waste this bit of luck by catching a tree while attempting a low 7-iron, the ball this time bouncing well back into the trees. After chipping out sideways onto the fairway I tried for the green with my 20 degree hybrid. It was good for length but drifted right into the bunker. It took me two to get out of the very 'firm' sand, after which I putted on and single-putted for 8 on this short par 4 that offers a birdie opportunity.

The tee shot went right on the short 3rd but I managed a chip on with my 8-iron and single-putted for a par. This gave me at nett eagle 1, for 4 points, now the hole has had its index reclassified, ridiculously so in my opinion.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 25/05/17

It was probably the hottest day of the year today, with no wind, so it was a bit stifling. Amazingly the course was extremely quiet. Nobody teed off in the half hour before we went, and nobody followed us in at the 9th. Mystifying. You would think with good weather and nobody to delay us, or chase us, things would have been perfect for a good round. Unfortunately my golf didn't take advantage of these favourable circumstances.

I miss-hit the tee shot on the 1st, the ball ending up 80 yards away on the women's tee. Despite this ideal 'lie', the next wasn't great either, nearly catching the ditch on the right and only making about 110 yards. The following shot was worse, at about 90 yards. Finally with the fourth I got some distance, leaving me a pitch to the green. This went left, the ball coming to rest against the grass cut line. The pin was near so I needed a gentle pitch, but the grass behind the ball impeded the club and the ball didn't make the green. I putted on and then single-putted for 8.

The 2nd was worse. I went badly left off the tee, the ball hitting a tree and bouncing back into long grass. I chipped back onto the fairway then messed up the next shot that was supposed to get me near the green. My fourth shot still didn't reach the green on this short par 4. I was on for 5 but then three-putted for another 8.

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Thorpe Wood - 19/05/17

After yesterday's well below par performance at Lakeside Lodge it was with a bit of trepidation that I set off for Thorpe Wood for the monthly Mad Cats' meeting. Although we play for small prizes and the honour of holding the trophy for the month, this is very much a fun affair. But, even so, you don't want to make a complete fool of yourself. The weather gods weren't altogether kind, as it was raining as we teed off, although it moderated on the way round, while always being threatening. This was my first visit to this course in Peterborough. You park on the opposite side of a busy road and crossing with your trolley is hazardous as the ubiquitous fast drivers come round the bends on either side. It really needs some warning signs, not that some drivers would take any notice.

The 1st is a par 3, unusually. This doesn't promote a very quick get away as you really need to wait until the green is clear before teeing off. Not that I needed to worry, my nervy first tee shot striking the ground with the ball only going about 80 yards. The next 9-iron wasn't much better and I wasn't on until the next with a pitching wedge. Two putts for a nett bogey 5. Still, I was away and had scored on the hole, so my nerves settled a bit.

The 2nd started better and after three shots I was just off the green. I putted on and two-putted for a 6, another nett bogey. At least I was scoring.

The 3rd came with a warning when I spoke to a local player in the car park while unpacking. It's a long par at 448 yards and the River Nene runs along the right hand side while there are trees left. The Nene wasn't my problem on the tee shot, which was topped slightly and ran along the ground, coming to rest in a dry ditch that crosses the fairway about 70 yards out. I managed to get out with my pitching wedge, which was adjudged by my co-players as a good shot! I then hit a long hybrid that kept left, as intended, but perhaps a bit too much so, disappearing behind trees. In the event it was safe and another hybrid got to within a 9-iron of the green, which I managed to achieve. I could have rescued a point with two putts, but needed three for a blobbed 8.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 18/05/17

After an encouraging round last Thursday, today I had hoped to keep the good stuff going, plus with a Mad Cats' competition tomorrow I needed to get a bit of practice having not played for a week. I'm sorry to say that the good stuff had again taken a rest, and far from reassuring me for tomorrow, I finished wondering what sort of disaster it may turn out to be.

Off the 1st I went just into the left side trees, which wouldn't have been so bad if the ball hadn't been under low branches and close to a tree trunk. I managed just 20 yards with the clearance but was back on the short stuff. A couple of hybrid shots got me to within pitching distance but I then conspired to mess up two consecutive 8-iron shots. The heavy rain the day before had softened the ground considerably and I dug in with both shots. Another 8-iron finally got me on the green for 7, and with two putts it was a heavily blobbed 9.

The 2nd restored my confidence a bit. A good tee shot landed in a shallow divot hole. I took my 5-iron rather than the hybrid but still didn't connect cleanly, gaining only about 100 yards. However, I pitched on with the pitching wedge and single-putted for a par 4, a nett birdie.

On the 3rd I went right under the trees where a seasonal water hazard often forms. Fortunately there wasn't any water but my shot needed to keep low under willow branches. I took the 7-iron and managed the low shot, but it was long and off the far side of the green. A gentle pitch and two putts for a nett par 5.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 11/05/17

At last, a round without any complete melt-downs. A few mistakes, certainly, but by and large I kept things together.

It was a much milder day, with an occasional breeze that wasn't any trouble. Play was again slow, with waits on most tees up until we reached the 7th, when the groups finally spread out a bit.

I got away on the 1st without any problems. The second shot wasn't that long but I then hit a good third, albeit it strayed left and I was fortunate it hit a fence post at the side of the lake, otherwise it would have gone in. I pitched up but was long, needing two putts to get down for a nett par 6. Not a bad start.

The 2nd was probably the most untidy hole. I miss-hit the tee shot sending it into the trees on the left, but it was a reasonable length. I pitched out with the 7-iron to the centre of the fairway. My next hybrid unfortunately found the left bunker. I got out but it was almost like a shank, ending up on the green but a long way from the pin. I needed three putts to get down, giving me a blobbed 7. It turned out to be my only blob, but after going in the trees, and needing to play out of a bunker, I suppose I can't complain at a 7.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 09/05/17

I played with Helen and two of her friends today and for simplicity played off the red tees. A cloudy windy start, with a bit of a chill, but the wind moderated and although it remained cloudy it became a lot warmer.

My tee shot on the 1st was a ground-hugger but still managed 134 yards. The second went to the right into light rough but the third was long at 152 yards, fortunately coming to rest to the left of the green where the slope can easily put you in the bunker. A chip on with the pitching wedge and two putts for a nett par 6.

Another ground hugger off the second tee only made 109 yards. The second was good for length but ended up in the left side bunker. A sand wedge out was short of the green, so I chipped again with the same club and two-putted for a nett bogey 6.

Off the red tee the 3rd isn't much more than 100 yards, but I went right and had to chip up from low ground. A small stick under the ball may have contributed to a thinned pitching wedge sending me over the green. I pitched back on and single putted for a nett birdie 4. I now get two-shots on this hole since they revised the hole index, which is really ridiculous even off the yellow tee.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 04/05/17

Today I nearly managed 9 holes without a disaster, but a couple of wayward shots on the 4th spoilt it. It was a bright but windy day and as has become the norm recently, we were following slow players. I'm not very good, but I sometimes think that some people aren't quite ready for the Lodge Course. Since they closed the Church Course, which was ideal for practice and saw a lot of my early golf, very few people seem to use the Manor Course and most appear on the Lodge. This is resulting in regular slow play.

Three good hybrids on the 1st got me to within 30 yards of the green, from where an accurate pitch left me with a par opportunity. It was a shortish putt that seemed dead on line, only to turn at the last moment. So it was a nett par 6 in the end. A safe tee shot on the 2nd and a second that kept out of trouble left me a pitch to the green and two putts for another nett par.

I tried a bit too hard on the 3rd tee and topped the ball, which ended up among trees about 60 yards forward to the left. From there I intended a lofted 8-iron to the green, but instead hit the ball along the ground. Amazingly it made the green and left me with two putts for a nett birdie 4 (I now get two shots on this hole after the stroke indices were changed). Read More…

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 01/05/17

Another "why do I bother" sort of day. Overcast with the possibility of rain, which happily didn't arrive, there was a bit of a breeze but it wasn't too cold. We had a later tee time than usual as there was a club competition earlier in the morning. Unfortunately the three-ball in front were playing quite slowly, as was the group in front of them, so there was a lot of waiting around.

My hybrid off the 1st tee went left but stayed on the fairway and was just shy of 160 yards. The next wasn't too bad either but the third shot was well short, as was the following 8-iron into the wind. I chipped on and two-putted for a nett bogey 7.

To say the 2nd was a disaster is an understatement. I usually aim left off the tee because of the ditch to the right and the left-to-right slope of the fairway. This time, however, I was well into the trees and we couldn't find the ball. I dropped in the trees and took a two-shot penalty for a lost ball. A gentle chip back onto the centre of the fairway set me up for the next one onto the green - I wish! The ball scooted along the ground coming to rest behind the left bunker. My pitching wedge then dug in, the ball just clearing the bunker but coming to rest right on the edge of it. I tried to chip from there, but the club face caught the face of the bunker, the ball going just inches. Another chip didn't quite make the green. I putted on and two-putted for 11! It was clear at this point that I wasn't going to have a good round.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 27/04/17

The weather forecast for rain 'early afternoon' wasn't promising, the drizzle actually starting when we were on the 2nd hole. On the plus side it wasn't too windy.

The 1st started reasonably. My tee shot went a bit left but was in a good lie in light rough. The next two hybrid shots were good, and an 8-iron put me on the green with a par opportunity. In fact I needed two putts for a nett par 6.

Having avoided the ditch on the 2nd with my tee shot, I caught the ground with my second, the ball skewing right into the ditch! Lost ball. I dropped but playing of the sloping bank I was heavy on the next shot, needing another pitch to get to the green for 4. Two putts and a nett bogey 6.

I hit a cracking tee shot on the 3rd, but unfortunately it went left and sailed into or over the high conifers alongside the 4th tee box. I couldn't find the new ball but did find another that looked almost new. I skipped the hole as I had no idea where my ball had fallen, there being a possibility that it went out of bounds.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course -20/04/17

It was our regular Thursday morning outing today. The weather was overcast and there was a chilly wind but the course was dry after a couple of weeks of very little rain. I didn't start that well, but then improved, before going downhill again over the last three holes.

I was high on the ball off the 1st tee, the shot going left into the trees. I had to play out across the course to avoid the trees, leaving my next shot way off the fairway and again partially obstructed by a tree. I ended up hitting through the branches, again diagonally across the fairway into rough on the far side. From there I finally hit a more direct shot but it again ran into the edge of the rough. I chipped on with the 9-iron and two-putted for an 8, a nett bogey. A very wayward hole!

A good hybrid off the tee on the 2nd got me 162 yards out. The next hybrid was off the back-left of the green. A pitching wedge chip and two putts for a nett par 5. The tee shot drifted right on the 3rd, the ball settling in long grass just short of the green. My chip out wasn't good and I was still just off the green. Another 9-iron chip and two putts for a nett par 5.

My 5-wood off the tee on the 4th drove the fairway bunker. I got out clean with my 9-iron, taking me nearly 100 yards further. From the edge of a bank I took a hybrid and put the ball pin-high for 3, but off the green to the right. I chipped on and two-putted for a nett par 6.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course -17/04/17

A bit of a different report today. Yesterday was the annual Easter Monday Texas Scramble at the club, and I joined Helen and two of her friends as a team. Normally it's four women in their team, so I was honoured to be included. I was, however, required to wear the team's 'bunny ears', thus ensuring that if my golf didn't make a spectacle of me, the ears certainly would.

Easter Bunnies - 17 April 2017

The Texas Scramble is a very forgiving format in that you can take the best shot from each of the four players, although each must take at least four drives. This panned out quite well and we managed to share out the drives equally over the first 16 holes, the final two being open to any player. We didn't expect to win, and we didn't, not even making the top ten teams.

I had a mixed day. Having resurrected my 5-wood last week, and done well with it, on this occasion it was a disaster. I had four or five duff drives, but fortunately it didn't matter as somebody else always obliged.

I had some good fairway shots that definitely helped the team, and a few good putts. But set against that I had my share of bad shots and on four or five occasions I caught the ground as I putted. This rarely happens, and for it to occur so often in one game was disappointing, especially as I had putted well at the start, ensuring a par on Hole 1.

The yellow tees were set well back for this competition and I was amazed to drive the green on the 3rd, where I nearly made a birdie, but we ended up with a par. I also had a perfect shot for our second on the 4th, placing the ball centrally between the lake and the trees for an easy pitch to the green, although I couldn't take it, as the rules don't allow successive shots by the same player.

There were other good shots, including a long hybrid off the tee on the 14th, and I nearly made the green on the 16th par 3. But overall I was a bit disappointed with my play. Fortunately, one of us always had an acceptable shot, so my mistakes didn't unduly affect our performance.

As a measure of what we were up against, talking to a chap afterwards, he said that their team had had a birdie opportunity on every hole bar the 18th, meaning that they had played all those holes to regulation. And they didn't win!

It was good fun with lots of laughs among the curses. We came in with 82 gross. The team handicap was determined by adding each player's handicap and dividing the total by five, giving us 23.6, and thus a nett score of 58.4. The winning team had 50 point something.

It could have been worse, a lot worse!

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 13/04/17

I had been carrying a cold for over a week so for our weekly Thursday round I decided to limit myself to 9 holes. The weather was very kind, not too cold nor too hot, and with a gentle wind. We also didn't have anybody pressing us from behind or any delays up front. In fact I was at one stage wishing I had committed to 18 holes. The first couple of holes weren't that good but things then improved dramatically.

My approach on the 1st wasn't bad, my first two shots gaining me 320 yards. The second, however, ended up in rough and I took a 5-iron out. This left me a 9-iron pitch that was good for length but right of the green in long grass. It's infuriating when being no more than a couple of yards off the green lands you in such a difficult lie. With the pin close I tried to gently chip out of the heavy grass but the club stalled and the ball moved only a couple of feet, but at least it was now on the short grass around the green. I putted on and two putted for 8, a disappointment after such a good approach.

The 2nd went completely wrong. My first tee shot drifted right, bounced on the sloping bank, crossed the ditch and went out of bounds. I took a second off the tee, which seemed to be safe to the left, but I had obviously put a bit of slice on the ball, which curved right and once it reached the sloping bank rolled into the water-filled ditch. Two balls lost on one hole after having not lost any over the previous 45 holes of golf. Such is the 2nd hole on the Lodge Course. I took a drop on the bank and was on the green two shots later, then needing two putts to finish. With the two penalties it was another 8. Not a good start.

I put my tee shot to the right of the green on the 3rd, chipped on and two-putted for a nett birdie 4. The 4th was even better. I had put the 5-wood back in the bag and used it on this hole as there was a bit more space to play with. I hit it well and followed up with a good hybrid, leaving me about 120 yards form the pin. My next hybrid went a bit right but rolled off the bank, allowing me to putt on and single put for a 5. Another nett birdie.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 11/04/17

I played with Helen today and one of her friends. To be sociable I joined them on the ladies' red tees. Although on some holes the two tee positions aren't that far apart, on others it makes a great deal of difference. It was an interesting change if nothing else.
Hole 2 - 11 April 2017
The 1st started brilliantly with a 150 yard hybrid off the tee and a second of almost the same length. An 8-iron pitch then put me on the green but I spoiled things somewhat with three putts for a 6. But a good start nevertheless.

I had a safe tee shot on the 2nd, hit left to avoid the ditch to the right, and then put my next hybrid shot through the green. I chipped back on and single putted for a par 4.

On the 3rd I put my tee shot in the bunker but played out well, just going off the back of the green. I chipped on and two-putted for a 5.

The 4th was a bit haphazard. My tee shot went into trees to the right. A 7-iron sideways safety shot got me back on the fairway, from where I played two more hybrid shots to just off the green. I stubbed the chip in the long grass, chipped on at the second attempt and then two-putted for an 8.

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Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club - 05/04/17

I'm in catch-up mode at the moment after being away for a week. Dunstanburgh Castle was the second course we played during the week's break in the north of England. It's a true links course among the dunes of the north-east coast, with the imposing ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle in the background. We had a good week for weather but chose to play this course on the windiest day of the week, with the average wind speed in the high teens and at times over 20 mph. It is a challenging course and while one expects wind on a links, it makes for interesting play.

The holes are generally on the long side and the 415 yards 1st was into the wind. My tee shot was weak and I then put the better second over onto the 6th fairway. It should be said, however, that there is only a narrow area of rough between the 1st and the 6th, and at first I didn't actually realise that I had crossed over. The excursion did, however, increase the length of play, but after four shots I was to the right of the green - in rough. My 9-iron chip raced across the fast green requiring another chip from the opposite side, which again crossed the green, requiring me to putt back on. One more putt gave me an 8, and a blob.

You then climb a fairly steep slope to get to the next four holes that are basically on a hill top. A feature of the course is that you are often playing with no sight of the pin, and this was the case on the 2nd. Three middling hybrids got me to within pitching distance, but my 8-iron was short, requiring another putt-on. Two more putts for a 7, and another blob.

I played the 3rd much better, with a 185 yard hybrid off the tee, followed by a 152 yard shot with the same club. A short 9-iron pitch and two putts for a 5 gave me a nett par.

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Durham City Golf Club - 03/04/17

This was the second time we have played the Durham City course. On this occasion we were told that we were still on winter tees. I didn't quite understand what that meant until we got to the 7th, which was closed. This is compensated for by an additional hole between 11 and 12. This, of course, plays havoc with the hole numbering, and while my Garmin GPS device gave the winter course option, my Game Golf device didn't recognise the change. Game Golf, therefore, correctly showed no shots against Hole 7, but then added the shots for the 'additional hole' onto those for Hole 10!

The game didn't start too well. A confusion over the tee time led to me arriving there to find four chaps already waiting. It was just after 10:10 and I had expected to tee off at 10:20. However, they said that we were due to tee off at 10:16; i.e. almost immediately. With no time to warm up, or even take a practice swing, I walked to the tee and promptly took an air shot. I hit the ball with the next attempt, but was thick and took a slice of grass off the nicely prepared tee box. Totally embarrassing, and the shot only went about 70 yards. The rest of 1st was scrappy after that unceremonious start. I took a 9 but that didn't include the air shot as I felt morally entitled to ignore the rushed start.

Things settled down a bit after that, with a 5 on the 2nd (par 3), and a 6 on both the 3rd and 4th par 4s. A 4 on the 5th (par 3) was followed by a 7 on the 6th, this being the stroke index one hole. I then played each of the next three par 4 holes in 6, giving me a total of 55 out, which wasn't too bad after the disaster on the 1st. My tee shots and the majority of my fairway shots were taken with hybrids, the 20 degree club being the most used. I was hitting fairly straight but the distances were down, the average being around 125-130 yards, which isn't that good.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course- 30/03/17

Today was an absolutely glorious day with lots of sun forecast, so I decided to try 18 holes for the first time since last autumn. It turned out not to be a good decision. I took my carry bag and should have really taken my trolly. With a history of back problems, carrying for over four hours isn't to be recommended. But what made things far worse was the fact that it must have been the slowest 18 holes I've ever played. There was a society out in front and things never really spread out. By the time we got to the 16th tee there were three groups waiting to tee off, with another just finishing off on the 15th green behind us. To have effectively four groups bunched like that at the 16th tee is nothing short of ridiculous. All the additional standing and waiting didn't do my back any favours. And towards the end the wind also became very problematic.

My golf wasn't good either. Two +5 holes and four +4s should give you a feel for my level of play! Slow play never helps, of course, nor does a grumbling back, but I made plenty of mistakes as well. I'm not, therefore, proposing to give my usual blow by blow account. I will just summarise it as awful and best forgotten. To be fair, I had been trying out a few subtle changes to my play and that might also have contributed to some of the poor shots. And as things got worse, I experimented all the more, having decided that I might as well use the round for practice and to try a few things, the score already being past redemption.

There were some plus points. I had been experimenting with swinging through in a more linear plane, rather than coming round my body, if that makes sense. This did produce an improvement in the direction of my shots, with less tendency to pull the iron shots. Of course, when trying something different, there will be a few things that don't work.

So I think I may have made a bit of positive progress with technique despite all the problems. But as a round of golf, as I've already said, it's best forgotten.

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 23/03/17

It was really disappointing today. A bright day after heavy overnight rain with a fresh south-westerly wind, so conditions weren't too bad. It was just my golf.

A short tee shot off the 1st stayed out of trouble, with the next two shots being mediocre at best, leaving me in thick grass off to the right. My attempt to dig the ball out with my 5-iron failed on the first attempt, being little more than an air shot. The second attempt wasn't much better but at least put me 70 yards nearer the pin. My 7-iron pitch was slightly long and off the green to the right. I putted on then needed two putts to finish with a blobbed 9.

I looked up on the 2nd, causing my tee shot to be thin and skew left. With a tree obstructing a direct shot to the green, and the perilous ditch to the right, I was cautious and luckily hit a shot that was again thin but hugged the ground and thus avoided the tree. My next hybrid was clean and got me just short of the green. I then made a poor 8-iron chip and needed two putts to finish with a nett bogey 6.

My tee shot on the 3rd arced right but landed safely in light rough short of the green. My 7-iron chip and run dug in the soft ground and left me a very long putt, which I didn't get, ending up with two putts and a nett bogey 5.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 16/03/17

After an absolutely glorious day yesterday, almost like summer, today was overcast and the wind had a chill to it. To begin with the course was very damp because of a heavy dew and the fairway grass was in places a bit longer than it should ideally have been. I had put my 17 degree hybrid in the bag, a club that in the past I have tended to slice, but it does offer a lower trajectory, which is useful in the wind.

The 1st didn't start too well when I put a decent tee shot left, well into the trees. I was left a tricky shot through trees, basically sideways although I managed to get a bit of forward distance. The next couple of hybrids were good, leaving me about 70 yards from the pin. Rather than a lofted 9-iron, today I tried a 7-iron with more of a chip-and-run approach. This worked well and I was only inches short of making a single putt. In the end it was a nett par 7.

Despite just clipping the upper branches of the tall tree on the left, my hybrid tee shot was nearly 160 yards. The next was good for length but turned into the bunker on the right. It took me three attempts to get out, which ruined the hole. My sand wedge was thick with clay afterwards, there being very little sand covering a firmer undersoil. I might have been better trying to pick the ball off with a gap wedge. Once out of the bunker I putted on and then single putted for a blobbed 7.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 09/03/17

A glorious sunny day albeit with a fresh westerly wind that caused a few problems. Also the course wasn't too busy, which was a surprise. After some very mediocre play over the past couple of months, today started off well and at one point I thought I might even complete 9 holes in nett par. But, as they say, I fell at the last.

My tee shot on the 1st wasn't a great start as it went into the left side trees. Fortunately it ran through to a more open patch from where I could get a decent shot, but I didn't strike the ball well and only added 65 yards. The next hybrid was, however, very well hit, taking me forward 164 yards from where I put the next shot just off the green for 4. I putted on and two-putted for a nett par 7.

The 2nd started the same as on my last outing, the ball being taken by the strong left-to-right wind and ending up in the water filled ditch. I took a penalty drop and played a solid shot off the sloping bank that stopped just short of the right bunker. A pitch over with my 9-iron and a single putt rescued a nett par 5, not bad with a penalty.

On the short 3rd I hit nearly 170 yards with my 20 degree hybrid, about as far as I can get with that club. I was off the back of the green from where I chipped short with my 9-iron. Two putts for a nett par 4.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 06/03/17

First game for a couple of weeks and the course was very wet following torrential rain yesterday. The ditches were full of water, so no chance of recovering a stray ball. And the seasonal mini-lake on the 3rd was back for the first time this winter. My Game Golf system threw a wobbly, refusing to download the data. So today it's all from memory.

A bit of luck on the 1st when my tee shot that was heading for the left side trees bounced off one, back on to the fairway. The next couple of hybrids weren't bad leaving me what should have been a simple pitch on to the green. Unfortunately I took more mud than ball and after two attempts was still only on the fringe of the green. I putted on but then needed two more putts for a nett bogey 8.

On the 2nd I found the ditch on the right and lost my ball. A penalty drop and a reasonable hybrid got me to within chipping distance, but I was long and wide, resulting in a three-putt finish for a blobbed 7.

A lovely clean hybrid tee shot on the 3rd put me on the green. The first putt was ridiculously short considering I was going for a birdie but I managed to sink the next one for a nett birdie 3.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 20/02/17

An exceptionally mild day for February and if it hadn't been for the wind, which blew up as the round progressed, conditions would have been perfect. We were asked to play the back 9 because of work on the front 9. Having played only 9 holes throughout the winter, it had been quite a while since I had played the second half of the course.

The 10th tee has none of the perils of the 1st, but this didn't stop me hitting an awful tee shot that went about 60 yards left into rough. I then had a small tree in front of me but the 8-iron just cleared it, clipping the top branches on the way and getting me another 100 yards forward. Two good hybrids put me just off the green from where I putted on and then single putted for a nett par 6. Given the start this was a very good result.

I hit a long straight hybrid tee shot on the 11th that made 155 yards. Unfortunately the next wasn't as good, and the following shot only just stopped short of a green-side bunker. My 9-iron pitch was short and I again putted on and single putted in for nett par 6. Not a bad start. Read More…

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 16/02/17

After overnight rain today was very pleasant, almost spring-like save for an occasional freshening wind. The golf, however, remained much the same. Today's problem was the short game.

I aim left off the 1st tee to avoid the ditch on the right, and today I overdid it ending up just off the left of the path. However, I cleared well with a hybrid, and using the same club was about 80 yards from the pin for three. My 8-iron was short and then I thinned the next shot out off rough, leaving me just off the green but a long way from the pin. I putted back on but needed two more putts for a nett bogey 8, disappointing after a good approach.

My tee shot on the 2nd wasn't long but I avoided the ditch to the right and the trees to the left. I was 150 yards from the green but didn't connect well with my hybrid and was short. I pitched on for 3 with my 9-iron and took two putts for a nett par 5.

I was short of the green on the par 3, 3rd, chipping on with my 8-iron and two-putting for a nett par 4. Things were looking a bit better.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 09/02/17

A very cold day, and after some very poor performances lately it was touch and go whether I would play today. But it was dry and I'm not one to give in that easily.

We played as a two-ball, which meant things moved along quite swiftly. A careful tee shot on the 1st almost crept into the ditch but stopped short. I got it out of the rough with my 5-iron, setting me up for a fairway shot, but I miss-hit it and was again in the rough, this time across the path. A good 5-iron clearance put me back into play but I then sliced my hybrid losing the ball in the right hand ditch. After a penalty drop I pitched a 9-iron shot on the green but needed two putts for a 9. Not a good start.

Keeping left on the 2nd I clipped the edge branches of a tree, the ball dropping to the fairway underneath. The next hybrid went right leaving me a pitch over the bunker, which for safety was long. I had to putt back from just off the green, but then single putted for a nett par 5. A bit better.

The tee shot on the 3rd was awful, ending up behind conifers to the left. I managed a low 8-iron out, putting me off the green to the right. An 8-iron chip left me with a gettable putt, which would have been a good result given the poor approach, but in fact I needed two putts for a nett bogey 5.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 02/02/17

After a break of a couple of weeks I returned to the golf course today. I had hoped that some time away would expunge the bad memories of recent rounds and give me a fresh start. In reality nothing had changed and the round was again dispiriting. I don't propose to provide a full summary as most of it isn't worth recounting.

Yet again I found it difficult to maintain decent tee shots, which meant that I started a number of holes with my tee shot having been either ridiculously short or ending up in a poor lie. This in turn led to 'catch up' shots, which invariably go wrong as one tries to make good the awful start. I probably had no more than a handful of good shots today, which makes golf such a frustrating game. These 'good' shots show what you're capable of, but cannot be consistently reproduced. I was mulling over the fact today that if I had spent as much time on any other endeavour as I've spent on golf over the past six or so years, I would probably have a lot more to show for it.

They always say take the good things away from the game and forget the failures. Fine if they are reasonably evenly balanced, but when the good is such a small percentage of the whole it's not an easy philosophy to follow. So what was good? I putted well, with 15 putts overall and no three-putts. I hit two good hybrid shots, 170 yards off the tee on the 9th, before completely screwing up the hole with a final score of 11! The other was a 160 yard shot off the ground on the 7th. I also put a nicely placed 9-iron shot on the 7th green, playing over the bunker. In fact the 7th was probably my best hole, despite a poor tee shot. I also managed a nett par on the 6th. And that was about it. Not much to feel good about but I'll try.

Hole 7 - 02 February 2017

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 19/01/17

Today was another dismal performance. At this rate I may give up. At least it was dry and, with no wind, conditions were favourable. It was even a bit warmer than of late at around 6℃. So what could go wrong? Well quite a lot as it happens.

The 1st was safe if not sparkling and if I had put the first attempt with my 8-iron on the green I could have perhaps got a nett birdie, but I settled for a nett par 7.

The 2nd wasn't quite the fiasco of last Thursday but it was close. My tee shot was short and to the left. I then managed to hit a tree square on with my second, the ball rebounding to a position about 20 yards back from where the drive landed. I put the next one in the ditch and lost my ball. A penalty drop and a decent 8-iron put me just off the green, a 7-iron chip and one putt totalling 7 - a blob.

My tee shot on the 3rd went right into the trees. The ball had settled against a tree trunk and was completely unplayable. A penalty drop was followed by an 8-iron that fell short. A 7-iron chip and two putts for 6 gave me another blob.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 12/01/17

I did play yesterday but it was a disaster. The forecast was for rain and possibly snow so I had originally decided not to play, but my friend Bob talked me into it. As it happens I should have stayed at home. It was very cold and fortunately despite having an 11.15 tee time we were able to get off early as nobody turned up for earlier times.

After a reasonable tee shot on the 1st my game gradually fell apart. I ended up with an 8 on the 1st, which still earned me an undeserved point. My tee shot on the 2nd was appalling, ending up behind a conifer, which I hit with my next shot, the ball dropping under the tree and requiring a backhand flip to clear it. I ended up with a 9 on this short par 4. On the 3rd my nett par 4 was a bit better although the tee shot was again poor. Another fluffed tee shot on the 4th, and an excursion into the trees left me with a 7, which in the circumstances wasn't actually that bad. Another 7 on the 5th after yet another poor tee shot and I was ready to give up.

The 6th was in fact a bit better although the first drops of rain were felt. I managed a nett par 5. On the 7th a 5 also gave me a nett par but the rain was starting to get heavier and I decided to call it a day and walk back to the clubhouse. I've never done that before but I felt my game had been so bad that getting wet to finish the 9 holes just wasn't worth it. I had clocked up 46 shots on 7 holes but it was the fact that I had made so many bad shots that made up my mind not to continue. Let's hope next Monday is better.

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 05/01/17

A freezing morning with weak winter sun and we were on temporary greens. My Game Golf system can't really handle temporary greens since while you can physically reposition the hole and pin on the map, Game Golf then records all putts as off the green and therefore doesn't count them. Furthermore, the so-called temporary greens were just areas of fairway, uneven and frozen, making any attempt at a measured putt meaningless. In fact we adopted a 'gimme' approach for anything reasonably close to the hole. For this reason I'm not going to write a full review of the round as the results are fairly meaningless.

Generally speaking my tee shots were again sadly lacking both in terms of consistency of contact and direction. I think I'll have to get on the driving range as a poor tee shot invariably leaves me with a lot to do if I'm to have a reasonable hole. My fairway shots also suffered from poor direction although were generally better hit than the tee shots, which is weird but seems to be what I do. Chips were more consistent if one ignores the mess I made on the 5th, where a thinned gap wedge on my second shot sent me way past the pin, and two awful 8-irons didn't get me back for a sensible putt, the third 8-iron managing it followed by a putt for a 6.

My score was 55 with 17 putts, which is about average for me at the moment. I actually only blobbed one hole, the 5th as already mentioned, ending up with 13 points. But to be honest it was all quite unsatisfactory. We again had a fairly slow round, which in cold weather doesn't help. In fact I think I was a bit underdressed for the temperature and took a while to warm up after I got home. This may have been a factor in my play although I'm loathe to put too much of the blame there.

Until next Thursday.

Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 02/01/17

The New Year and back to the golf course after a bit of a break. Gastric problems have kept me indoors so it was good to get out into the fresh air. And fresh it was, with a chilly wind to take the edge off the winter sunshine. I checked the handicap book before playing and noted that I was down for 27. I had started a couple of years ago with a 24, which was totally unrealistic, and I had agreed with the handicap secretary to increase it by 2 for this year. What I didn't realise was that I had already crept up to 25, so rather than going to 26 I've gone to 27. I don't mind at all, as 24 was impossible. At least now I may be a bit more competitive, although Bob my playing partner says he's going to buy me a sombrero for the summer - sarcasm for the fact he thinks I will be a bandit on 27.

After the break, and a week of back pains, anything could have happened with my tee shot on the 1st, but using the 20 degree hybrid I made a respectable if not overly long 146 yards. Most importantly it was on the fairway. The next three hybrid shots off the wet ground (it poured all day yesterday) weren't so good, neither was my attempt to pitch on, requiring a second attempt. Two putts and an 8 for a nett bogey with my new handicap.

The 2nd didn't start as well. I sliced with the hybrid, which is unusual, and ended up in the water-filled ditch - lost ball. I dropped and managed a decent recovery off the sloping bank. I then put my 9-iron shot on the green leaving me an easy putt for 5, a nett par, which after a drop was more than acceptable.

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