Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Welcome one and all. I was going to start off by saying "happy new year" but after the announcement about England going into higher state of lockdown and in particular golf courses shutting then it feels very much as though 2021 is going to be the same as 2020. Nevertheless, lets stay positive so I wish you all all the very best for the new year and I hope whatever goals and ambitions you have, on or off the golf course they come to fruition.
Let's be honest, thank god 2020 has done one. It seemed to linger like a stale odour and had no sense of timing or fun. From the huge national lockdown in the Spring when the weather decided to be at its brilliant best and courses were shut, to that brief period when we could play, and in fourballs, get a drink after and all seemed well again only for another sting in the tail. Another shutdown, and back to two balls (and nine holes only at my home club). And then there were those Covid friendly flags. I was all for keeping safe but the device my club used had a metal frame and a lifting device. All fine and dandy except the ball would strike the frame and bounce out which happened more than once. A source of great amusement when it happened to others but the worse golfing invention ever when your birdie putt refuses to drop and ricochets back from the centre of the hole.. Common sense prevailed after lockdown 2.0 and we got a foam insert that is/was working much better. How I miss the flag dance around the hole. Do you want it in/out? Are you off the green? Is it me to go?
Aside from all of that I had so many plans for last year. If you have followed or seen my youtube channel, also creatively called Three Off The Tee (click here to take a look and why not subscribe if you haven't already done so) then one of the highlights of my golfing year is covering the British Par 3 championship at Nailcote Hall. It is a fantastic course and the likes of former US Open winner Michael Campbell reckons its as tough as it gets in terms of accuracy. If you have never seen the Sky Golf coverage it's worth checking out. I also did a video on some of the key holes (check that video). So why all the hype? Well in 2020 I was due to play in the event on celebrity Tuesday and although I didn't know who I would be playing with I was looking forward to it. It is a fantastic event and should Covid ever recede into history and the 2021 event takes place it is well worth trying to get to. Details can be found here (British Par 3).
I was also planning to go to the European Senior Masters at the Forest of Arden. I was lucky enough to attend for the last few years on a press pass and indeed in 2018 was invited to a Ryder Cup round table chat, that was scheduled to last about ten minutes with some European Ryder Cup stars (Ian Woosnam, Peter Baker, Jean Van De Velde and Thomas Levet) that morphed into nearly forty five minutes of unique and interesting views. I was one of only five journalists allowed in so the video I captured was very special (check it here - Ryder Cup Special)
As you can imagine I had some great content lined up for 2020. Again that never happened. Of course I am acutely aware that everyone, golfer or not, has had plans ruined so I'm not bleating. I am lucky that I had these opportunities in the first place and as we move onto my goals for 2021 (please don't groan so loudly) there are plenty of irons in fires for this year.
My home club Royal Ascot (check the website) did a fantastic job of getting as many major competitions played as possible and I even managed to win a club major, The Jubilee Cup. It's a better ball event and one I have won before although it may have created a problem of its own as I've only ever won a major every ten years (2000, 2010 and 2020) and so could have a long wait for the next although I'll be doing my best to break that run. I was luck enough to play the Golf Monthly Forum Help For Heroes charity day at the fabulous Bearwood Lakes. The day raised over £7,000 this year and the running total is nigh on £150,000 over the years for such a worthy cause. So while 2020 did its best to ruin my golf, there were still some beacons of light in the darkness so I was luckier than many.
Enough of what could have been. That was then. This is now. Of course we are now in lockdown again but lets be honest it's winter golf, and so wet and muddy and the course may actually benefit from the enforced layoff. What do you think. Do you enjoy playing in these conditions? Post a comment below and let me know. I am sure by now you'll have read my first blog. If you haven't then check the inaugural offering (Back In The Game) and it'll give you a taste of what I want this site to be about, how I want you to get involved and also introduced you to "The Quest"
What does my 2021 hold. Well aside from "The Quest" and my continuing pursuit of single figures there is so much more in the pipeline. I want to play as much as I can (so reliant on Covid) and I have some excellent courses lined up including Woking Golf Club, one of the three famous W's in Surrey (along with West Hill and Worplesdon. It is a fantastic heathland course and one I've never played so that should be a great day out. Again they'll be a Golf Monthly Help For Heroes Day at another (as yet to be named course in the South East) which are always a top notch day and raises so much for the charity year on year.
That brings me to my youtube channel. I have some fabulous content planned. Along with my British Par 3, and hopefully I'll have a playing place again this year, and European Senior Masters filming (and a big thanks to Champions UK plc for getting me my press access in previous years and going forward) I will bringing more product reviews (see my product reviews to date here) as soon as I get access to the course again.
I am also keen to find ways to get you involved in some filming in 2021 too and I hope there may be an opportunity via an online publication (which I'm waiting to hear more about) that is due to burst onto the scene at some point this year. As soon as I have any more details I'll make sure I share them with you.
Fear not my faithful reader, we are nearly there but I need to touch on my golfing goals as well. Naturally I want to get to single figures, and we'll have to wait and see how the new world golf handicap plays out in my pursuit of that target. However to get there a few things need to happen.
I need to improve from 100 yards and in. Although I played some good golf in that narrow window between Christmas and lockdown 3.0 (or is it 4.0?) one thing I noticed was how poor my approach shots with the wedges were and how I tended to miss left of the flag, either hitting the edge of the green or missing the green. I am not good enough in the scoring zone from 50 yards and in and my pitching technique is weak. Once we get to chipping this is a recurring source of frustration. It is a well charted story on the former Three Off The Tee blog (Three Off The Tee blog). It will chart a history of of brief moments of optimism and troughs of frustration. I've tried so many techniques including Gary Smith's linear method (see what that's about here) as well as more conventional methods but to no long standing avail.
That has to change. As does my flipping and flopping between putters. I have a "Whats In The Bag" coming explaining what clubs I currently use and why I think the set up is right to get me to single figures. The last one was way back in March 2018 and much has changed in my set up since then. See what I had back then (What's In The Bag 2018 video). The putter is one area that is causing a huge headache. Hopefully you'll leave your own thoughts and bag set-up in the comments section or via my social media and let me know what you use and why and give me some direction on the putter conundrum. For me those short game areas and the putting green are the main focus of my practice attention in 2021.
There you have it. The what might have been, the what is to come and my golfing plans for the year ahead. I'd love to know what plans you have, either to get to your own golfing goals, courses you are planning to play, or gear you are going to buy. Get down in that comments section or on my socials (getting trendy with the youngsters innit!)
Goodbye to 2020 and Covid interrupted golf. Hello to 2021 and interrupted golf but hopefully some short term pain for longer term gain. I'm excited about the new year and for me every year comes with a clean slate, both golfing and personally and it's up to me to paint that slate as vibrantly as possible. Some years I've dabbled with the palette without painting the full picture but this year will be different.
Thanks as always for reading and your continuing support. Please share this blog and the Three-Off-The Tee website to your golfing friends. It really will make a difference and I'm grateful for any help you can give. Stay safe, keep sane in this lockdown and look after your loved ones. We've been here before and got through it and we can do so again. Thanks for reading and I'll be back with another blog soon