Captains Weekend – Pre Prep

IMG_1319Whilst most people were in work today the Captain, Chairman of Match & Handicap and Chairman of Greens were out and about in the wet conditions working together to set up the course for Mr Captains special weekend in July.

Working together with the Captain both the M&H and Greens committee plan to deliver a weekend course that offers something specially unique, will challenge both young and old, high and low and sets out the biggest club competition of the year from all other majors.

A quick reminder

The list of qualifiers so far is now on the notice board in the locker room.  We would be grateful if everyone that has qualified could indicate their preferred tee time on the sheet or indicate that they are not available for the weekend.

Play well Helsby!

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Gender Free Tees

golfteesMany traditions in Golf remain sacred and unchangeable,  embedded in the culture and beliefs golf club members cling so desperately to.  One of these keeps two large sets of members apart, maintaining a long standing divide that drives us and them thinking. We are of course talking about Tees, the ingrained thinking that Red is for Ladies and Yellow is for Men.

The English Golf Union and Today’s Golfer reported back in 2015 on Sheringham Golf Club being the first and Trentham Park Golf Club being the latest to introduce Gender neutral tees to their courses.  Both clubs have reported an increase in golf participation as a result of the tee change with Trentham reporting a rise in both membership and retention of members particularly from senior Gents and higher handicapped Ladies.

Is this just another fad?

Gender free tees are already becoming common place in America and growing globally.  The idea behind the concept is that everyone is a golfer at any club, regardless of age, gender or ability as such they should be able to move forward or backward as they wish without feeling shame or attaching any stigma to them.  This is all about using the course in a way that benefits all members, all ages and all abilities without investing in the building of new tees or restructuring the course.  Some clubs have gone a step further with play in some comps seeing players use the tee that matches their handicap.

How does a Gender Free Golf Course work?

At present our choice of tee at Helsby is limited, Gentlemen of Helsby, outside of competitions, can currently only utilize the Yellow tee which plays 6055 yards off the stones.  Is this a fair yardage for all abilities? Does the length affect your game? Does it affect your enjoyment of the game?  Well although no true mathematical algorithm or comprehensive report exists to answer these questions, the great golf coach and TV pundit Denis Pugh has offered his thoughts on length of course vs players abilities.  He is on record as saying “Golfers will often visit a golf course and are often given the choice to play off the championship tees, or the usual yellow tees.  This will often result in the majority Teeitspending all day slogging away and finishing with a negative opinion of the course as well as their own game”.  Pugh makes points here that a large amount of us can relate to, we are lucky that Helsby is not a course of great length but a course of guile and shotmanship.  Pugh goes on to suggest a simple mathematical formula that can be applied to a golfer marrying their ability to the length of course that suits them. Pugh suggests that “for maximum enjoyment golfers should be playing courses 28 times their average drive in total length”.  Pughs views are inline with the US Golf Association and PGA of America who are already 5 years into their own non gender specific tee initiative, ‘tee it closer’, which has been well received and widely adopted.  They suggest a similar system to Pughs presented in a tabular format with recommended course ranges against a players driving distance. These ideas certainty provoke thought and discussion and explore a new way for golf courses to assist players in gaining maximum enjoyment.  Everyone would surely agree that hitting 4 iron or 5 wood 2nd shots all day is not much fun.

So taking these systems on board how does Helsby compare?  Well applying Pughs formula a player hitting his drive 216 yards on average will gain the most enjoyment out of the course with a length fitting of their ability.  The American system suggests that actually you would have to be driving on average 225 yards to gain the most enjoyment.  A slight difference here but still a good argument to be made from golf experts that perhaps Helsby, off the yellows and probably more so off the whites, is too long for some members.

So can we now go out and use these systems put forward? if so how do we go about it?

Well at the moment the answer is we can’t (unless we were to play at one of the 30 courses England with gender free tees).  At present even though a course maybe too long for us to enjoy or too short that it feels like a seaside pitch and putt the current traditional static tee sets means its hard luck, we have to just get on with it.

So are governing bodies looking at this?

We have already seen the CONGU changes that are in the pipeline regarding CSS but even these changes will not change the fact that not all of us can hit the ball 250 yards off the tee.  The CONGU changes are planned to cater for the management of handicaps only, which doesn’t help if you have already reached 28 with no other option than to hit driver driver constantly on the static yellow course you are always forced to play.

Before any changes could be implemented a process would need to be carried out via the union that assesses and grades courses. This would need to be conducted along with a seperate assessment carried out to make all tees lady golfer complient also.

The future

So while it is clear that golf and clubs are adapting like never before the change to non gender specific tees is not simply an overnight operation. There is a strong case put forward for tees of various lengths to exist at courses against the backdrop of traditional and intrinsicly helded beliefs, for this to happen a shared vision must exist.

R&A Pace of Play – Player

time-managementSo the manual is out, is very concise and provides plenty to absorb and investigate as a club. It is broken down into sections, one for clubs and committees and one for the players which focuses on common sense as well as introducing some good concepts for us all to think about.

Here we highlight some of the player pace suggestions put forward by the R&A.

Ready to Play 

Other than match-play the R&A advise that players be encouraged to play out of turn where appropriate rather than adhering strictly to the “farthest from the hole plays first” rule.
This could be:
  • Shorter hitters playing first off the tee or fairway if longer hitters have to wait.
  • Knowing your own abilities and how far you can reasonably hit a golf ball so being better aware when it is safe to play.
  • By playing your shot when someone in your group is assessing their tricky shot.
  • Hitting a shot before helping someone to look for a lost ball.
  • Instead of waiting for a player to walk to the ball they have just chipped over the back of a green, chipping yourself if ready while the other player walks to their ball and assesses their shot.
  • Playing your shot even if a person who has just played from a bunker is still farthest from the hole but is raking the bunker.
  • Being ready to play your shot as soon as the group in front is clear.
There seems to be a lot of common sense practical ideas here we could all adopt very easily, especially the playing out of turn elements.  If we look at this mathematically in terms of time a 3 ball, all shooting the GB&I average of 87, taking 5 seconds a shot less for their round would see them complete it 21 minutes sooner.
Be Aware
We have all done this after becoming so engrossed in our own games.  The R&A stress that it is the duty of all golfers to ‘be aware of their position’ on the golf course.  If your group loses a hole on the group in front it is the responsibility of all your group to make up the time.  If your group cannot keep its position on the course for whatever reason, and is delaying a group or groups behind, you should invite the group behind to play through so that your group can play at the pace it is capable of.  The R&As philosophy on this is pretty sound, stating that “it is likely that the ‘inviting’ group will enjoy its game more without being constantly pressurized by the group behind, and the group that has been allowed to play through will have their enjoyment enhanced”.  Even if a large number of groups are slow it is always considered good etiquette to invite faster golfers through.
General
The R&A have also included some general things for us to consider that could speed up play, such as:
  • If there is any chance the players played ball might be in an area where it is difficult to find, may be out of bounds play a provisional ball.  It is always quicker to play a provisional than look for, loose a ball and walk back to the tee or last played location.
  • Ensuring your bag or trolley is left between the green and the next tee before putting.
  • Marking cards while walking to or being on the tee.
  • No one likes being told but if you are told by numerous people you are a slow player then perhaps you are?  Taking some of the posted points on board or even asking your playing partners why they think you are slow could improve your pace and perhaps help you feel less pressurized from Golfers behind.
  • Taking your shots then chatting with your playing partners as you all walk to your bags or towards your balls.

It is clear from these suggestions and the manual as a whole that the R&A are not asking players to run around the course and complete rounds as fast as they can.  Far from it the R&A guidelines are good practice suggestions that can easily be implemented and taken on board by all golfers regardless of age, sex, ability, size of group, or difficulty of course.  We as golfers have a responsibility to ourselves as well as everyone else on the course to ensure that our great game is enjoyed equally and etiquettely by all.

You can view the manual Here

2015 Summer Course Analysis

Everyone who plays at Helsby has a particular hole that suits their eye along with a nemesis they must get through each and ever round.  It would be fair to assume that most players nemesis holes appear somewhere within the closing 6 holes with 17 more than likely holding the overall title.  So it would be interesting to know where the majority struggle, which holes suit everyones eye, which hole gives up the most birdies and which the most bogeys.  Well this is all possible with the hole analysis tool built into our handicap software, we present 2015s Hole by Hole story.

The analysis counts 2037 rounds played and shows no surprises with hole 17 statistically the toughest hole of 2015 playing on average 1.79 shots over par.  There were 150 more double bogeys or worse on 17 than any other hole and only 9 birdies recorded.  17 is followed by the 3rd and 5th holes both playing 1.64 shots over par, although the 5th hole has seen more bogeys and worse than the 3rd, 3 takes overall 2nd spot due the higher other scores it produces.

Maybe surprisingly in the middle of the list is 16 which has given up the second lowest amount of birdies and third lowest par returns.  In contrast 12 is easily the most birdied and eagled hole on the course yet is only the fourth easiest hole.  Surprisingly when it comes to eagles holes 12 & 1 have given up twice as many eagles as the two par 5s.

The easiest holes on the course are 6, 8 and 11 which played a little under 1 shot over par, giving up 20% of the total birdies recorded in 2015.

Breaking down into handicap categories, Cat 1 Golfers found holes 7, 10 and 12 the easiest, Cat 2 10, 11 and 12, with Cat 3 & Cat 4 golfers finding holes 6, 8 and 11 the easiest. It’s Interesting to see that the lowest handicaps prefer and score best on the  the 2 par 5s  and shorter par 4s whereas Cat 2 players prefer and shoot better scores on short par 4s.  Contrasting this are the Cat 3 & 4 golfers who appear to prefer and score better on the par 3s.  Amazingly hole 17 for cat 4 players is only fourth hardest with hole 4 proving the most difficult challenge playing on average 2.42 over par.

Ultimately, while it makes interesting reading, the analysis proves that on 2037 occasions Helsby was challenged and enjoyed by all levels of Golfers.

You can view the full analysis below

2015 Hole Analysis Overall

2015 Hole Analysis – Cat 1

2015 Hole Analysis – Cat 2

2015 Hole Analysis – Cat 3

2015 Hole Analysis – Cat 4

New Blue Course

gx2500-hockey-stick-blue-p65582-14475_imageWe are introducing a new shorter course in play all year round that will also act as Helsby Winter course.

During the summer season it will offer a shorter course to those starting out in golf who may struggle with the longer Yellow and White courses, and in line with many national and international clubs a course easier to play for those struggling with their game.

The new course, during winter, will act as the clubs competition course, as well as the course that the Winter League is contested on.

The biggest change to be aware of is with a new set of stroke indexes assigned solely to this course inline with CONGU recommendations.  CONGU is the Council of National Golf Unions, they dictate how clubs setup competitions, courses and control handicaps in conjunction with R and A.  Like every other Club in England we are bound as a club to adhere to their constitution designed to enable a level playing system for all golfers and golf clubs. Rule 33 – 4 of the R and A rule book requires handicap committees to setup and publish the strokes received at holes guided by CONGU,s Chapter 5. Appendix G to ensure consistency amongst affiliated Clubs.  You can see the full details of this by logging on to English Golf or R and A websites and we will post on the M and H notice board.

This new course will be used for this years Winter League and also winter competitions contested from November onwards. We will dispense with the current reduction of handicaps for handicaps 13 and above in the Winter League To facilitate the change in SI and yard ages we will be producing a simple winter card and a copy is attached to this e-mail.

We hope you enjoy the changes and accept that we are trying to adapt and develop our course. We will monitor over the winter and review how things have progressed. If positive we will be looking to invite Cheshire Golf to measure and formalise the course so that we can categorise it as our all year round Blue Course and allow it to be used for handicap qualification.