Saturday, February 12, 2011


Well I had a rare third week in a row of golf – this time at Paarl Golf Course. Once again it turned out to be a hot day, topping out at about 34 degrees, although it felt more like forty on the course.
Tip: When you expect to play on a hot day, leave a water bottle full of water (or energy drink) in the freezer over night. Mine melted completely just as I stepped onto the 18th – the ice providing a much needed cool drink throughout the day.

I’ve never really done too well at this course, but was optimistic following my performance at Worcester.
Paarl Golf course has 27 holes, and we got stuck with the Boschenmeer eighteen (10 – 27). The Boshenmeer nine (19 – 27) imo is a bit more difficult than the standard course, so keep this in mind if you’re given a choice of which eighteen to play.

The practice facilities are very good, with quite a few greens available for honing your putting and chipping game. There’s also a driving range available if you need to flex the longer irons before the game.


The front nine got off to a rough start with a snap hook – luckily I was just short of the water:


It was pretty much the same for the rest of the nine. My swing balance on the tee was atrocious, resulting in anything from a heavy draw to a hook.
Something amuzing – on three occasions 3 of our 4-ball tee shots landed a few meters apart.
On the first occasion – we all found a bunker: (my ball is hiding behind the lip on the left)


The second was a short part four – where a Driver, 3 hybrid and 5 iron all landed like so:

SDC11064 - Copy

The third was a short par three (playing 100m), we all pulled left – my chip just lipped out:


If nothing else, the scenery is something to take in while walking the course:





The back nine went a bit better, and for the second week running I closed with a 39 – despite a horrid last hole which was only saved by a decent putt. There were a few missed opportunities, and a few good approaches:


… sadly the putt was missed Sad smile.

The course is in great shape considering the amount of heat this region gets in the summer months. Play was rather slow on the day though, so be prepared to spend a fair amount of time waiting on the boxes.
The clubhouse food is great, and the service good, if a bit on the slow side.  If you haven’t played here before, it’s well worth the visit to play such a well conditioned course. I’ll be giving it a skip for a while until I’m more confident in my swing off the tee.

Here’s the album with all the pics from the day:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Worcester Golf Course–05/02/2011

It’s been a little over a year since I last visited Worcester (a Gary Player Course Design), but since it’s my home club this year, and I had a free round for joining, I thought I’d make the hour drive out from Cape Town and play there. Our tee time was 6:30, so it was a rather early morning – but rather that than have to play in the 33 degree heat that was forecast for the day. This was also the first game after I’d had a few of my clubs custom fit, so I was looking forward to not having to spend as much time in the fynbos as I usually do at Worcester. The drive up was very pleasant – the views are magnificent, and the huguenot tunnel is always a novelty.

Some pics before tee-off:

From the club-house:


Down the first hole:


Morning Sunrise:


I was quite eager to see how the new Driver setup was going to work out – needless to say I was a little disappointed to see the first drive blocked out about 30 meters right of the fairway past the local driving range. Luckily the distance was pretty good, and I had an easy SW into the green – PAR. So far so good, and with views like these – I had a feeling it was going to be a good day:


Now with the previous driver length, I had developed a swing specific to the driver, which, as it turned out, wasn’t working so well with the new shortened length. After 3 holes of the old swing not working out (and a double bogey on the 3rd), I decided to revert back to my traditional swing that I use for all my other clubs, and lo and behold – a 260m driver on the stroke 1 hole! (the first of a few for the day).
The view from the tee box was also something to behold:



from the fairway:


… and one of the better looking par 3’s I know of:


By the 8th hole Par 5, I was only 3 over par, and had landed in GIR, but some sadistic green keeper had put the pin on the edge of a down slope, hence affording me the time to practice my putting with a 4-putt double bogey! I managed to par 6 of the 9 holes and lost zero balls so far to the fynbos, so I was feeling pretty good about my club adjustments.

A word of warning to those who haven’t been to worcester golf course – be prepared to see a lot of this:


So the day had gone pretty good so far, and the icing on the cake that confirmed that changes I had made to the clubs, was a 260m drive and putt for Eagle on the final Par 5 hole – which sadly I missed, but was grateful for the opportunity – and ending with a birdy and closing 39 is never a bad thing Smile.

Some more views from the back 9:




We finished the round about 10am, just in time to miss the intense mid-day sun. On the way out I ran into my dream car:


… and after a long morning in the sun, one of these went down pretty well:


Before I go, some pics an ex colleague took of the course in the winter time:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Driver Custom Fitting

A colleague of mine returned from getting just about all his clubs custom fit. After doing a bit of reading up on the subject, I wondered why more golfers haven’t considered the option, especially when it comes to the Driver.

I’ve recently read a fair amount (and have come to realize through my own experience in trying to get a club selection together) about the fact that the marketing of clubs are starting to dominant a club’s manufacturing and design, as apposed to making the club practically easier to play with for the everyday hacker - which is most of us that buy the equipment.
Nothing illustrates this point more plainly than the tendencies of clubs to employ increasingly longer shafts. My old Spalding 5 iron is a good 2 inches shorter than my Taylormade Burner Tour 5 iron. The Marketing fobs would tell you that this gives you more club head speed, and thus your ball will travel further. This is true, IF you can manage to hit it as consistently as a club that is shorter, which face it, most of us mere mortals cannot. Not only are we conned into hitting more inconsistent shots (only to be kept motivated by the 1-in-10 that we actually middle), but are lead into the trap of creating a massive distance divide in the shorter end of the club spectrum.
So practically for me what used to be a 20m meter gap between my SW and PW (nicely filled with a GW), is now a 30m gap!
This necessitates another wedge to fill the gap, and dumping a long iron which I have less of a need for. The result being that I’m left with exactly the same club setup, just different number on the bottom of the club.

Now take this marketing foobar to arguably the most important club in the bag – the Driver. I say arguably, because  most people think it’s the putter – but I’m of the opinion that what use is the putter, if your driver doesn’t even give you the chance to get to the green! Put another way, given the choice, would you not rather have Tiger’s driving skill than his putting?

Interesting fact – the average length of a Driver on tour is 44,5 inches. Imagine my distress when seeing the average driver length that is sold on the shop floor – easily about an inch longer than what the pros use. A case in point is my current driver – the Callaway FT-i – touted as one of the most forgiving drivers yet (and the reason why it’s in my bag) – it’s shaft is 45,75 inches long! Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I’m going to have more difficulty hitting a club that’s a full 1.25 inches longer than the average length on tour. Here’s the kicker – according to some sources, that extra length doesn’t give you much more than a few yards in extra distance, even if you do manage to middle it.
Now my question is this: Would I rather hit it more consistently, or a few yards further. My answer is (as should anyone who take’s their golf seriously), is definitely consistency.
So I thought I’d go for a custom fitting for my Driver:

I took my Driver in to golfscience, a local company specialising in club fitting. The process started off with a series of measurements of my current Driver – Shaft stiffness, MOI, COR, Length, Face Angle, Grip Width etc. Interestingly even though the number stamped on my Driver is 10 degrees of loft, it turned out to be closer to 11,5 degrees from the centre of the face. Also, the further up the face, the more the angle of loft increases.
After all the measurements, I set about hitting some balls on the launch monitor. I was quite surprised to see my swing speed average out at about 105 mph – topping out at 116 mph when asked to “give it a whack”. What was rather insightful was the video feedback from the cameras directly behind me and across from me. Turns out my down swing is rather “inside the line”, resulting in my tendencies to hit hook and block shots. Also, from the video evidence, my release (one of the 4 factors used to determine the shaft bend profile) was rather late, resulting in quite a bit of bend on the shaft when beginning the down swing. If you haven’t had your golf swing recorded on video before, I highly recommend it. If you’re looking for a digicam to do the work, I recommend casio’s line of high-speed cameras. They can take high speed video (up to 1000 fps) without breaking the bank.
What was also interesting was the use of impact tape on the face of the Driver – turns out I hit the ball quite high on the face more often than not – resulting in high launch angles.
After my session in the net, we sat down and analysed the data and I was recommended the following:

1) The first and most obvious change, was to shorten the Driver down to a manageable 44,5 inches.
2) Get a smaller grip. Turns out my grip is way too thick for my rather small hands
3) The stock shaft is about a 90% fit for my swing, although because of my release, I could use a little more stiffness in the tip
4) The face launch angle is 1 degree to high – I would reach optimum distance with a 10 degree (true measurement) face.

In short, if would like to improve your game, go for a swing analysis at your qualified local custom fitter. If nothing else, you’ll gain a better understanding of your swing, and what to look out for when purchasing your next set of clubs.

Happy Golfing!