18-holes | Kilburnlad | Golf | Diary

Kilburnlad

Aylesbury Park Golf Club - 17/09/18

We spent a few days at Hartwell House, a very impressive National Trust owned Relais & Chateau hotel, which was only five minutes drive from Aylesbury Vale Golf Course. We had pre-booked but it was very quiet and we enjoyed 18 holes in pleasant weather with nobody holding us up in front, nor pressing us from behind. This is how golf should be.

The 1st hole showed a ditch at 190 yards but it didn't appear anywhere near that far. I took a 7-iron to lay up but soon realised that I should have believed the distance, as I was still a way from the ditch. A weak hybrid shot went left, just missing the ditch but leaving me an 8-iron shot over the edge of trees. I could only hit to the right and the ball ran on, nearly disappearing into the heavy rough. Fortunately it didn't, but my next iron was short, requiring another chip on. Two putts for a 7 gave me a nett bogey, but it was a very shaky start.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 28/08/18

I went out with the women again yesterday having missed my Monday golf because of a family event. This gave me the opportunity to hand in another card and thus fulfil my obligation to submit three cards to maintain a handicap rating. The previous two cards weren't great. Today was a bit better if one ignores the complete and utter disaster on the 15th. Another interesting outcome was that I had a 6 on each of the outgoing 9 holes, bar the par 3, 3rd, where I had a 4. The back 9 wasn't so good.

A straight drive off the 1st tee followed by two similarly straight hybrids allowed me to put an 8-iron shot on the green. I was a couple of inches short of a par, but the knock-in gave me a nett par 6. On the 2nd my drive arced right and the ball bounced into the ditch, which fortunately is still dry. A drop and a couple of iron shots got me to the green, where two putts gave me a nett bogey 6. Yet again my attempt to lay up on the 3rd didn't quite work out with a very short tee shot. I managed to pitch over the bunker but the ball ran off the back of the green. A chip on and one putt for a nett birdie 4.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 17/08/18

I was talked into playing for the third time in a week, another 18 holes and a supplementary card for handicap purposes. It all started so well but quickly deteriorated into probably the worst game of golf I've played since I first picked up a golf club. Embarrassed is an understatement, and on this occasion I certainly shan't be documenting all the finer details. To make matters worse, it was again a painfully slow round with people waiting on every tee. My golf is pretty hopeless but quite frankly some people just shouldn't be on the main course. Both their golf and their golfing etiquette just doesn't merit their presence.

As I've said, things started well with a par on the 1st. My second hybrid shot equalled my drive in length and I was on the green for 4, finishing with a single putt. The euphoria was short-lived. My drive on the 2nd sliced right out-of-bounds. The next drive went into the trees to the left and my first attempt to get out found a tree. Back on the fairway for 5, I put the next shot left into a laurel bush where it was unplayable. A penalty drop for 7, then a pitch to the green and two putts totalled an unbelievable 10. Psychologically I don't think I recovered from this, as on the 3rd I found the bunker and took no less than three shots to get out, giving me an 8 on this par 3. You are probably starting to get the picture.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 14/08/18

Golf two days running, quite unusual for me. The reasons, rain was forecast for my usual Thursday outing, plus I wanted to do 18 holes and complete a supplementary card to go towards maintaining a handicap rating. I played with my wife, Helen, and two of her friends.

Things started well, with me on the green for 4 on the par 5, 1st. I didn't quite manage the par putt, but was down in 6 for a nett par. The 2nd wasn't too bad either. Just short of the green for 2, I overdid the chip, leaving a long putt back off the fringe. Two putts for a nett bogey 6. Taking a hybrid off the 3rd tee left me short and in the bunker. I got out but was only just on the green, leaving a long putt. I needed three in the end for a nett par 5.

Even the tricky 4th went quite well. I was on the green for 4 and two-putted for a nett par 6. Things started to go wrong on the 5th, where I again found a bunker and needed two shots to get out. My chip on was then good but I just missed the putt, leaving me with a blobbed 6. I survived the 6th, where despite a poor second shot I was on for three, two putting for a nett par 5. The 7th was then a mini-disaster. I topped the drive, which made only about 60 yards. Two not-so-good hybrids got me within an 8-iron shot to the green, but I shanked it right. The next one was good, but I was now on 5 and three putts for 8 meant another blob.

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Rutland Water Golf Club - 03/08/18

I played at Rutland Water last July and didn't have a particularly good experience, the back nine being somewhat of a disaster. So for my first Mad Cats' outing this year perhaps Rutland wasn't the best choice. At least this time I didn't freeze, the seemingly never ending hot weather making sure of that. It was, in fact, quite gruelling. The course played well considering the long dry period although the rock-hard fairways didn't help some of my ground shots. And the greens were difficult to hold. On a few occasions what appeared to be good shots, pitching well before the green, ran on and then promptly ran off again. Very frustrating.

On the plus side this time I managed a fairly controlled front nine, coming in on 54, just one better than last year, and again only blobbing one hole. The highlight was on the par 3, 4th, which I parred and also won the nearest-the-hole competition with my hybrid tee shot. My first ever 'win' at the Mad Cats. A box of three golf balls, which almost compensated for the four balls lost over the day. Read More…

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 - 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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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 - 15/08/17

After yesterday's abject performance I decided to join Helen today and play 18 holes with 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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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 - 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 - 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 -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.

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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.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 20/10/16

With the weather being not at all bad for mid October, I decided to put in a card for 18 holes today. It was windy, and rain threatened at times, but other than a very brief shower we kept dry.

I started well, playing what for me was controlled golf, but a mini disaster on the 5th must have unnerved me, as things then deteriorated. The back nine was even worse!

My 5-wood tee shot on the 1st rolled in the ditch, but two good hybrids from the drop position left me with a 9-iron chip, which was perfect, leaving a short putt for a nett par 6. It would have been a par if I hadn't rolled in the ditch.

The 2nd and 3rd were uneventful, each resulting in nett pars. The 4th wasn't too bad either, although a fluffed chip left me with a nett bogey 7, which so easily could have been another nett par. A good tee shot on the 5th was just short and landed in the bunker, in a hole that somebody had kindly left for me. I was thin with the sand iron and the ball went out of bounds on the far side of the green. I dropped in the bunker, the ball inconveniently sinking in the sand. To cut a sad story short, it took me three to get out, which meant that the bunker had cost me 5 shots. I still needed to chip on and then had two putts for an inglorious 9 !

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 03/10/16

A new strategy today after the problems I had off the tee on Thursday. I decided to tee off with my 20 degree hybrid. Because of a misunderstanding over our tee time I had a chance to go on the range with 40 balls and the hybrid was working fine, as were my irons after a bit of adjustment to set up.

The usual desire to avoid the ditch on the right caused me to go left on the 1st, ending up just over the path on the edge of the trees. I didn't make good contact with the ball but was back on the fairway. A long 5-wood (178 yards) set me up for an 8-iron pitch to the green. This left me a long putt and in fact I needed three to get down, my only three-putt of the day. So it was a 7 for a nett bogey.

The hybrid didn't work on the 2nd, my first shot going out of bounds to the right. The second stayed on the fairway and a good 27 degree hybrid put me at the back fringe of the green. Two putts for a nett bogey, which wasn't bad after three off the tee.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 29/09/16

I haven't put in any cards this year for the purposes of maintaining my handicap, so as we move into autumn it's time to play a few 18 hole rounds and submit cards. After last Friday's somewhat poor performance at Rushden I thought things must look up. It started well enough with a par on the 1st, but thereafter, give or take a few flashes of brilliance, things didn't go too well. I lost count of the number of bunkers I ended up in, and I also managed quite a few excursions into trees, where on most occasions the lie was awful.

As already mentioned, I parred the 1st. In fact it was the only hole I parred. A reasonable 5-wood off the tee, two good hybrid shots, 7-iron chip and a long single putt.

Hole 1 - 29 September 2016

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Rushden Golf Course - 23/09/16

Today was the Mad Cats outing to Rushden, a new course for me. It wasn't a very satisfying day for a number of reasons, my performance being just one of them. I was in the last group out, which meant a wait of over one and a half hours before teeing off, which is never good. We were a male four-ball following a female four-ball. It was slow, very slow, the round taking just under 5 hours. At least the weather was good, although the wind freshened as we played.

My first problem was that my Garmin device seemed to be showing a different course to the one that I was playing. I later found out that the course had been redesigned, the back nine clearly being very different from the front. When I got home I updated the Garmin over the internet, but it was a bit too late. So I had no distances to work with which resulted in quite a few misjudged shots. Add to that some pretty awful shots and you probably get the picture.

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Durham City Golf Club - 15/08/16

We took our clubs to Durham and played the Durham City course with Helen's mum, who's recently joined, having only taken up golf a couple of years ago. On a beautiful sunny day we teed off at 13.24 on this picturesque and well-maintained course. What could go wrong?

I took my 5-wood and left the driver at home. On the 1st, a par 5, the tee shot went a little right but the next 5-wood was a corker at 184 yards. Unfortunately I then put a hybrid shot into the trees to the right but managed to play out with a 7-iron, and then chip on with the same club for 5. Two putts gave me a nett bogey 7. Not a bad start.

The second is a par 3 and my 5-wood again went right. I chipped on with the 7-iron but needed three putts to finish for a nett bogey 5.

The 3rd has the River Browny running along the right so I forsook the 5-wood and teed off with my 20 degree hybrid. It went over trees to the left but when I reached the ball it wasn't in trouble. Trees impeded a forward shot so I chipped out to the middle of the fairway. Another good 5-wood got me just short of the green from where I pitched on with the 9-iron and two putted for a nett bogey 6. So far, so good.

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Corby Priors Hall - 29/07/16

I came close to winning a prize today and it was only a couple of silly mistakes that robbed me of it. This was my second time at Corby and while the 1st tee is memorable, located as it is at the top of a hill, I couldn't remember much about most of the other holes, although I recognised them as we went around. It was drizzling as we started but this cleared quickly and after a mixture of cloud and sun during the morning it became very warm after midday.

People were having trouble off the first tee, but I landed just off the fairway to the right and then put my next hybrid shot just short of the green. A 7-iron chip and one putt for a par was a very good start and a nett birdie for 3 points.

By contrast the 2nd was very sad. A good 180 yard drive was again followed by a good hybrid leaving me 50 yards from the green. I then shanked my 9-iron into the bunker to the right. The bunkers on this course aren't friendly and I proceeded to have three unsuccessful attempts to get out before picking up for a blob. My auspicious start had been immediately nullified.

I recovered with a 6 on the par 5, 3rd, a nett par. I kept out of trouble all the way, with a drive, two 5-woods, a 9-iron, 7-iron and one putt.

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Tydd St Giles Golf & Country Club - 01/07/16

The second outing this year for the Mad Cats seniors' group. And a new course for me.

There were nine four-ball groups playing today and the club gave us a good breakfast before we started and a very enjoyable meal after we played. I went out in the second group of two men and two women.

It was a Stableford individual competition for small prizes. Because of this I picked up on holes 6 and 17 and didn't putt out. My Game Golf system doesn't really cater for Stableford, where you occasionally pick up, as it records stroke play. Therefore, for the purposes of completing the Game Golf scorecard I have added shots based on an assumed putting out total, but officially only the Stableford score is valid.

I started brilliantly. Having put my drive a little left I took a hybrid and played over trees to almost reach the 1st green. A perfect 7-iron chip-and-run left me with an easy putt for a par 4, a nett birdie and 3 points. The 2nd was just as good, having reached the green in two, I two-putted for another par 4, and 3 more points.
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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 09/06/16

There are usually two groups of us who play on Thursdays, one men and the other women. My usual playing partners were away today so I played with the women. After a slightly chilly start the sun broke through and it was a very warm day with little wind. Also, quite unusually, we were on our own for nearly the whole round, with the nearest group a couple of holes in front and no sign of anybody behind. This made for a very calm and tranquil day, only punctuated by bird calls, including a very persistent cuckoo.

On the 1st a drive and two 5-woods, each of around 145 yards, got me to pitching distance of the green, which I reached, only to spoil things with three putts for a nett bogey 7. My drive on the second strayed too close to the sloping bank on the right and the ball rolled into the water-filled ditch. I took a drop but didn't hit the next shot very well, leaving me a lot to do to pitch on. In fact I needed two shots to get to the green and two-putted for another 7, but this time a blob.

It gets better - read on!

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 30/05/16

Back from holiday and my first time on the golf course for nearly a month to play in a charity friendly competition. We were playing as a four-ball, me and three women. It was a full handicap competition with two scores counting on the par 5s, three on the par 4s and all four on the par 3s.

It was a split start with some of us teeing off on hole 10. I didn't mind this as this hole is far more forgiving than the 1st. However, the tee shot was a feeble miss-hit that went just over 70 yards into the rough and trees on the left. My 8-iron attempt to get out managed under 40 yards but then I hit my 5-wood 125 yards to get back in contention. The next 5-wood wasn't so good, clipping trees and making only 55 yards. Now on four, I needed to get down in three more shots to save a point. A good hybrid shot got me just off the green followed by a sweet 7-iron chip-and-run giving me a simple putt for nett-bogey 7.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 02/05/16

Today I played an Irish 4 ball club competition. In case you don't know what that is, as I didn't, a 4-person team plays to their normal Stableford handicaps and the scoring is as follows:

Holes 1-6: score of a player with highest Stableford points.
Holes 7-11: scores of two highest scoring players.
Holes 12-15: scores of three highest scoring players.
Holes 16-17: all four scores.

Needless to say, for the later holes we didn't always have enough scoring players to contribute!

The weather forecast had been threatening but we managed to complete the course before the rain arrived, although play was terribly slow with us having to wait on nearly every hole before teeing off or playing to the green. The wind freshened considerably throughout the game and was a factor on a number of holes.

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Bourn Golf & Leisure Club - 21/04/16

Today was the first outing of the season with the 'Mad Cats', so named because they used to meet in the pub of that name near to the Lakeside Lodge course. It's a seniors' club that plays once a month at different courses, which offers the opportunity to try new challenges.

I hadn't played the Bourn course previously and for me it turned out to be a mixture of success and failure. The weather was kind. Not a lot of sun but it was bright and the wind wasn't too troublesome.

The par 3, 1st sets an immediate challenge with a water-filled ditch in front of the green. I opted for my driver, which unsurprisingly overshot the green but not by much. A chip back on and two putts for a 4 gave me a nett par and two points.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 09/04/16

On Saturday I played in a friendly club competition. It was mixed pairs and my playing partner was one of Helen's friends who had wanted to play but didn't have a partner, so I obliged. It was Stableford better-ball, meaning that we took the score of the player in the pair who recorded the highest Stableford points for each hole. Unfortunately we were required to play to 90% of our normal handicap, and as I play off an entirely unrealistic 24, which I've never managed to play to, this meant I was reduced to 22. In other words there were only four holes where I benefitted from two additional strokes, the remainder only giving me one. This meant that to score I was limited to a maximum of two over par on most holes. Much easier said than done. My partner, Wendy, was playing off 35, this having been reduced to 33. You won't be surprised to hear, therefore, that she did most of the scoring. Out of our total of 35 I only contributed 4, these being holes that she blobbed.

Early rain had cleared and after a grey period it turned out really nice. It was in fact a very pleasant day.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 17/03/16

A terrible start today but after that things settled down to what was an average round. Four holes blobbed, eight nett pars, five nett bogeys, and one true par. The weather was fine with plenty of sun although the north-easterly wind still had a chill to it. The course has dried out quite a bit and the temporary cordons around the greens have been removed, allowing push-trollies to approach.

The 1st was a disaster. My first drive sliced into the trees to the right. I took a provisional that went straight and long, but we found the first ball in the bank of the ditch that runs along the front of the trees. I dropped and played a hybrid that unfortunately ran into the trees on the left, ending up in an almost unplayable position. I managed to get out by back-flipping my 7-iron. A decent 5-wood then drifted right into the rough, from where I pitched on with my 8-iron, but I was already on 6. Two putts gave me a gross 8 and a blob.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 10/03/16

We shouldn't have played today. After yesterday's monsoon the course was saturated, with large areas of standing water. And even where it appeared drier the ground was soft and unforgiving of any slightly thick shots. It was, however, a bit warmer and there was hardly any wind.

I put my drive left on the 1st, which is becoming the standard opening. My shot out of the rough was clean but went too far across the fairway and it took a while to find the ball in the long wet grass. I played out with an 8-iron and then put a hybrid about 50 yards short of the green. An iron and two putts gave me a gross 7 for one point. Not too bad a start considering the haphazard approach.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 04/03/16

Golf two days on the trot! The reason being that after yesterday's game the seniors' captain asked if I would stand in for somebody in the Seniors' Pairs Match. I was a bit unsure but in the end agreed. Two pairs play together and each pair scores by adding their handicap-adjusted Stableford points. It's a high-low handicap pairing and I was paired with a 10 handicapper.

After yet more heavy overnight rain the course was extremely wet and difficult. But the weather was glorious, if a little nippy.

The first drive in any competition is stressful, well it is for me at least. I hit a good shot but it went left towards the path. Unfortunately when I got to the ball it was in an unplayable position nestling up against a tree. So a penalty drop after only one shot! Not a good start, particularly as I ended up with a gross 8, and needed no more than a 7 to score.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 03/03/16

Golf is a crazy game. Last week I thought I was well on the way to upping my game, and today I came back down to earth. Things just weren't working.

It was a cold bright day, becoming noticeably colder later in the afternoon, to the extent that I became chilled. Heavy rain and sleet over the previous day and night had made many of the fairways squelchy, with standing water in many places. I think this impacted my 5-wood shots as I messed up more than I normally would during the course of a game. We were back on the proper tee boxes and my driving wasn't bad although a few went left, which in a couple of cases left me in tricky lies. So that's the excuses out of the way.

It all started so well, a long putt giving me an unusual par on the 1st. A gross 5 (nett par) on the second was then followed by a gross 4 (nett par) on the 3rd. Given the first three holes can be game breakers this was a perfect start for me. The 4th is often my nemesis, and so it was today. I put a long drive left onto the bank, from where I had to play a safe little chip back onto the fairway. I then had two poor hybrid shots, followed by an under-hit chip, requiring a long putt from off the green and two more to sink the ball. All adding up to a gross 9!

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 25/02/16

At one point today I thought that I was going to manage to complete a round without a blob, but I'm afraid I dropped one hole. That said, it was perhaps my best round ever. Certainly my 47 on the front nine beats my previous best of 49.

I mentioned recently that I had modified my swing by trying to keep my right upper arm tight to my body, thus avoiding loose arms that invariably cause the downswing to suffer. On Monday I took my driver to the range to see if this technique would correct the dreaded slice that had caused me to take the driver out of the bag. I only tried 20 balls but the results were encouraging. I tried again on Tuesday, but this time took the driver, 5-wood and 8-iron to the range, playing them repeatedly in sequence to emulate a tee shot, fairway wood and then an iron. Again this went well.

So today the driver was put into action, but not until the 4th, as I'm still wary of the right-hand hazards on both the 1st and 2nd holes.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 16/02/16

Another valiant attempt to do better that came to nowt. I can't blame the weather, which was fine for February, and the course is in fair shape considering what it has had to endure this winter. We are, however, still playing off mats, which can be problematic in terms of getting the tee height right.

The 1st hole didn't go too badly, marred by a three-putt finish, although the spiked green played a part in that, leaving me three over for a gross 8. With the exception of the 8th, the remainder of the front nine wasn't too bad - two bogeys and five double bogeys. The usually tricky 4th was accomplished in 6 (nett par), with me being just off the green for 3. At the 8th a couple of lacklustre approach shots meant I didn't get on the green until my sixth shot, giving me a four-over 8 after two putts.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 11/02/16

A glorious day, sun shining, almost like spring, but it didn't make me play any better. Yet again there were a handful of holes where I managed to run up high scores, while the remaining holes were acceptable for my standard of play.

I had a fairly clean approach to the 1st, but my final shot to the green didn't make it, and the next one ran off to the left into rough. A chip and 2 putts left me with an 8.

The 2nd and 3rd were nett pars but once again things fell apart on the 4th. My approach was fine but the third shot landed on a bank on the right, just inside the tree line. I was only about 70 yards from the green and should have been on for 4, but I shanked the shot and pushed the ball over the bank, requiring a penalty drop, the next shot landing just off the green for 6. A putt onto the green and two more putts gave me a 9.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 09/02/16

Yet another erratic round of golf. A disastrous start, after which I settled down a bit, only to fall apart again on the last two holes of the front nine. The back nine was a lot better, not brilliant, but better. After yesterday's tempest the weather was very kind. There were long spells of sunshine that were quite warming, although the breeze was still there, and it was freshening as we played the back nine.

My tee shot on the 1st was an inelegant miss-hit that sent the ball almost directly to the right into the trees, and out of bounds. So 3 off the tee and the second attempt went into the trees on the left, but at least it covered some distance before so doing. Trying to keep the ball low with my 7-iron, I completely fluffed the shot, although the ball ended up in a better position from where I played out of the trees and up the fairway, but I was now on 5. I got on the green for 7 but three-putted for 10. As I said, a disastrous start.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 28/01/16

Things did not go well today. The weather was fine, which makes a change lately, although the wind was a bit fresh. The greens are open again but we're still off temporary tees. However, the muddy patches that were the temporary tees have now been replaced by mats. The only problem with this is setting up tees on these mats, as it is sometimes difficult to get the right height.

I'm not going to bore you with a blow by blow account as there isn't much to rejoice about. The first three holes didn't go too badly, a nett bogey followed by two nett pars. On the 4th I put my third shot in the lake, thus picking up a penalty, and finished the hole with a gross 8. The 5th wasn't much better as I put the first tee shot out of bounds to the right, but managed a nett bogey. The 6th was a mini disaster; a wayward tee shot and an unlucky bounce on the spiked green, followed by three putts, led to another gross 8. There was slight redemption with a nett par on the 7th, and a nett bogey on the 8th, only to screw up the 9th with a gross 9.

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Lakeside Lodge - Lodge Course - 05/01/16

I don't usually play on Tuesdays but yesterday I joined Helen with some of her friends to play the Lodge Course. An acquaintance of Helen, Paul, joined us: he plays off 7 and offered some helpful tips during the round.

Because of a bit of a mix up we ended up playing as a five-ball, which strictly speaking isn't allowed. But there wasn't anybody behind us. We let a two-ball through at the 10th, and it wasn't until the 16th that anybody else came up behind. So no real harm done.

Although the weather was extremely kind for a January day, no wind, occasional sunshine and not too cold, the ground conditions were as bad as I've ever seen them. It's a wonder that the course is still open. All the men's tee boxes were closed with temporary tee points to the front, often in long grass. However, many of the women's tees were still playable, and where not, they had been combined with the men's temporary tees. So Paul and I decided to play off the women's tees, which also sped things up as we were a five-ball.

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