Things I learnt from my first outing as Daddy Caddy..

At the advice of his coach, we let Vikram out on his first kids competition today (10th Oct 2015) so that he can get a ‘handicap’. Having just turned 6 (or 16 in his mind), he was looking fwd to this all week. Woke up this morning with a “I dont want to go because I am nervous!!” Quick pep talk and he was out of the door in no time for a 8:45 tee off.. (where do kids get the energy on a weekend).

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The club does kid comps every month for the under-10 kids in the academy. It is played over 9 holes on our Par 3 course. Everyone gets a ‘handicap’ and you can see how you progress. Anyways, my observations about what happened – (disclaimer: will have biases and assumptions)

  1. Kid golf is very stressful for the daddy caddy – esp if Daddy plays golf. Mummy’s are alright (esp if they dont play) because they are there to shepard the kid whereas Daddy is part-coach, part-crowd and part-player.
  2. Not all kids enjoy it and you can sense they are there for the parents. But kids they go thru the phases of loving it and loathing it… so cant judge on that.
  3. Kids learn from each other.. It was my son’s first outing, and he was watching the older kids and their parents speak. On the 7th, he was trying to say, ‘Get on the green’ to his ball and ‘thats bad luck’ to someone who missed the fairway!!!!.. So be careful of what you say at all times.
  4. The kids game is fairly reflective of the adult game. We had slow play in front of us (and a Dad in my group getting increasingly upset), all kit and no swing (kitted out in Galvins and nice clubs, but struggling), some counting errors (was that 6 or 7, lets say 6), mindgames (more from parents than kids), questionable rules interpretation (winter rules when not on fairway), inflated expectation of self (Me: Use a driver; Vikram: I can get there with a iron; then hits the driver and comes short)
  5. Prize giving can be heartbreaking. As it was our first outing, Vikram was not in contention – though he came fairly close to NTP. So when the prizes were given away, he nearly started crying. Life is tough son.. play better next time.
  6. Some kids are just natural… it is fab to watch them play

Overall a good outing and a great learning experience. It is a joy to watch the kids play and the happiness when they score. We had someone who chipped in from about 15y and he was over the moon. Vikram one putted on the last hole and nearly did a victory lap.

Vikram almost had a double bogie round. He shot a 47 over a par 27 course. So I think he will get a official handicap of about 40. He had one par and a couple of bogies and doubles with the rest exceed them. It was a very damp and a bit cold to start and I did not realise that he had a cut in his palm when he had fallen over at school on Friday.

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I must say I was tempted to intervene more, but stayed away. I did have to give him a line on his putt and tee up the ball for him. As he plays more, there will be a tendency to become the helicopter dad from hell.

Having said all that, I must say he was on the green in 1 or 2 on the short holes or 3 for the long ones. His clubs are not suitable for him, because scrooge daddy got him clubs that are too long and he has to choke down on them (Daddy says he will grow into them soon). His putting let him down.. It has improved, he is now aiming for that 2 putt, but gets a 3 putt. Had one 1 putt but no 4 putts.. so can only get better from here…

I have never seen him so focussed/obsessed in a game. He was on a different planet for some reason. During his lessons I have to remind him to take practice swings or check he ball position. Today none of that, suddenly he was doing his practice swing, checking his line and some sharp chipping. After the first 4 holes, I thought one of the Dads would call him a bandit!!!

So for all his efforts the Pro to give him a ‘prize’ for shooting his first par in a competition. The sleeve of Titelist is now resting next to the picture of Rory in his room…I also had to endure that conversation of how he wants to play the Ryder cup when he grows up (inflated view of self)..

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…. Being a kid is a great time to be.

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Playing a downhill bunker shot

I have been generally lucky with bunkers.. usually end up on a flat lie or uphill as the ball tries to escape the bunker. However today my ball just trickled into the greenside bunker and stayed in a downhill position. I had enough place to have both feet in the bunker but no clue which way to play it. I hit a Sand Wedge, but only managed to move the ball further in the bunker into a better lie. Got out from there, but it was another drop shot due to the bunker. So I asked the Golf Monthly forum members for advice… as always The_Coach responded.

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In many ways, the downhill bunker shot is one of the most difficult shots in golf. assuming you’re clear of the lip enough either back of or front of bunker. but it’s a ways easier than most folks think assuming the set-up is good.

You need a wide base, good stance width as the weight will be on the lead leg & you need to maintain balance. ball position will be someways around just front of center, or center if slope steep but not off the front heel as then you’ll never get the club head forwards under the ball you”l hit to far back of it.

  • It is important throughout that the knee flex is kept constant so you keep the vertical head height – so no up & down during the motion. solid base with the width so no sway back off the ball.
  • Spine angle needs to be perpendicular (90º) to the slope, shoulder/hip plane angles have to mirror the angle of the slope & have to stay on the slope angle through the shot – no leaning back trying to help the ball up, or no steep swing into the sand.
  • Need to use most lofted wedge as the slope naturally takes loft off the shot
  • Full body turn as with all bunker shots (can’t just be hands & arm swing)
  • Easier if there’s an early wrist set with the turn back, then keeping constant height enter sand couple inches back of the ball – key though is to swing the club through the sand down the slope.
  • Need to trust the set up, swing down with the slope, not downwards heavily into the sand. still needs a shallow ‘$ bill’ size divot of sand to take the ball out.

The following was provided by ‘Foxholer’ and is interesting..

If you don’t fall asleep during this vid, there’s some good stuff here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRPAtteXpJg
The bunker used is not incredubly challenging like some can be, so the ‘take the punishment’ of playing sideways or backwards can be true too!

Face of Benross Golf… Who would have thought

When I took up golf about 5 years ago, it was my way to get out of the house and get some fresh air.  I had always admired the game, but never understood it or had a chance to play much (except during my stay in Kuala Lumpur for project work).  Years of playing cricket meant I had some basic hand-eye coordination, but all the wrong type of muscle memory.  If at that time someone had told me that I would be in contention to be the Brand ambassador of a golf club manufacturer, I would PMSLing..

FaceOfBRoss-PosterOver the past 5 years, I have played a few courses and cut my handicap and been active in the Golfing media.  I have come to love the game and my son is getting into it. Last month, Benross ran a competition to look for a Brand Ambassador via their ‘Be the Face of Benross’.  As a middle aged hack, I had little chance of it, but then I tossed my name into the cap and lo and behold, I am in the shortlist of 15!!!

The next round is via Facebook voting.  As some of the other competitors are young & digital savvy millennial, I was expecting they would walk all over the rest of us.  So it is good to see, that my family and friends (and their family and friends) have helped me get to a respectable position on the leaderboard.

Polling closes on 2nd March 2015, so if you read this post prior to that, do vote for me for being the Face of Benross I need votes to finish in the top 5 and qualify for the finals. The voting is via Facebook and it would be great if you can vote for me by hitting ‘Like’ on my photo on the Benross Facebook page. Click on the link http://on.fb.me/1zlc9ie  and hit Like.. Simple. Should take less than 5 seconds and anyone can vote.

Who says middle aged men with full time jobs and high handicaps cant aspire for such things.

Trying to break 100- The 3 Goals Method

Golf is a tough game and it is made tougher by poor technique and poor course management.  While everyone practices the technique, few indulge in any course management.  One reason being that, course management is more of an art than a science.  A member of the Golf Monthly forum (ironically) called ScienceBoy recently posted his views on how to break 100 via course management.  It is equally applicable for breaking 90..

Continue reading

Gaining a single figure handicap..Done. (well almost)

In June 2011, when the RiG and I were the only hackers around the Shey & Maybury courses, I chanced upon a posting on the Hoebridge notice board. This was for the monthly 9-hole Improvers competition. I snapped a pic and sent it to RiG to check his appetite for participating. Shey is a 9-hole, par 33 course. RiG was not very keen as he thought we would be rubbish at it and would end up embarassing ourselves. While there was merit in the argument, I prevailed over RiG and as they say the rest is history. Continue reading

Early September competition

There are going to be 2 competitions this month and the early competition was held last Sunday. Only RiG, VK and I showed up – Sunil being out of practice and Pradeep possibly heading out to his regular haunt near Slough.

VK had an early tee off . As is the tradition with our senior golfers, he arrived at quite late and had to head straight to the 1st hole. He was playing off a 9 handicap and had a par round to end up on 42. This despite a blowout on the 2nd hole makes it quite commendable.

Ritesh and I teed off together at 9:00 a.m. for a 4- ball. When I say together, I mean I teed off along with other 2 while Leighton sought him out from the driving range. He rocked up, as per tradition, a little late to the 1st tee box.

Ritesh started well with a par on the 1st and had a decent 6 on the 2nd hole. It was the 3rd hole though where he showed his true power with a beautiful drive landing at the edge of the green. Of course, it took him 3 more putts to finish the job – so ended up with a par. The 4th hole was unspectacular for him with some poor chips.

This brings us to the 5th hole and the reason I am inspired to write this post. If RiG can summon the same luck while buying lottery tickets, he’d be a very rich man. Normally, 5th is a safe par for RiG but this started out as a nightmare. The first shot barely reached the fairway. The 2nd was badly sliced, but luckily it hit a tree and ended up back on fairway. The 3rd was again sent in wrong direction resulting in a lost ball. Luckily again for RiG, rather than getting the correct ruling of having to drop 2 shots, he was told he could have only 1 shot penalty if he re-attempted the shot. So he played the 4th shot which ended up in the rough next to the green. And then, he hit a chip shot ( right direction, wrong pace). The chip hit the post and the ball just dropped into the hole. RiG ended up with a 5 on the hole.

Contrast this with my approach. I teed off using a 5 iron rather than a driver to give myself a good angle for the approach shot. The 2nd shot was slightly misdirected and it clipped off the edge of green and fell into the bunker. From there I scooped it out on the green. All well so far and then it took me 3 putts to finish the job. So a 6 compared to Ritesh’s 5 – if you ever need proof of life’s unfairness, this was it.

There wasnt much to the rest of the game – I played within my limits and ended up with a score of 47 (-2) while Ritesh ended up with a 44 (par). Luck deserted him on the 6th and 8th where he again had to get the ball out of the trees.

It was a good outing and its almost a year to the day when I had my first game (30th Sept 2011 on Maybury if you want to know). My handicap has gone down to 16 and I expect to play off 15 in the next round.