DO THE GREENLANDERS complain when there is no grass on their course?  No, they put a flag in the ice, use orange balls and get on with it.  Ice golf, which takes it’s roots back to 17th century Holland, is very much alive and well in the Arctic Circle.

The World Ice Golf Championship has been played since 1999 and draws an international field.  Played in April on a small island called Uummannaq, off Greenland, the 36 hole tournament (promoted by Drambuie, it goes well with ice) sees golfers hitting the course in -50 degree temperatures.

The greens are “whites” with smoothed down surfaces.  Icebergs feature in the background, along with the odd strolling  polar bear.

Because the course is built on a moving glacier the “whites” can only be cut a few days before the tournament in case they crack, The playing surface could be described as variable, with 2cm of frozen powder snow lying on an ice sheet.  It’s advisable to shallow out your angle of attack, to avoid broken wrists.  As my old gran used to say, there are definitely more out than in.

THE FALDO SERIES Europe 2019 took place on the Al Ain course, Abu Dhabi.  The champion was Arron Edwards-Hill (20) from Chelmsford Golf Course, who overcame a 4-shot deficit on the final day to win the trophy by  2 shots from S. Africa’s Dylan Melville, who also won  the under 16 trophy.

Showing experience beyond his years Edwards-Hill shot 3 rounds in the 60’s on the tricky Al Ain course, and started his final back nine with 5 straight birdies to finish with a 64.  Sir Nick, who presented the trophy,  said: “I am proud the Faldo Series has grown in 23 years to be the standard event in junior golf, and  I am so impressed by the quality of these guys.”

TOP OF MY CHRISTMAS LIST was “Now for the Back Nine” written by former Ryder Cup Player and renowned coach Peter Dawson, who at 69 has seen it all and done a fair amount of it.  Suffering from arthritis, and having had two knee replacements, he decided golfers who weren’t quite as nimble as they used to be could do with a book to help them get the most out of their game.

“I couldn’t do now what half the youngsters are being taught, I can’t swing the way I used to in the 70’s. I realised I had to adapt my swing to work within my limitations,” said Peter.   The book has tips and advice to seniors on how to rediscover some of those yards lost over the years.

With photographs and anecdotes from his career, and contributions from Peter Alliss and Tony Jacklin, Peter Dawson’s book makes enjoyable reading, and helps us Grumpy old Golfers still enjoy our beloved game. Hopefully it will help the still-keen players who, to paraphrase Mr. Morecambe, are playing all the right shots but not necessarily in the right order.

THE NEW WORLD HANDICAP SYSTEM will be introduced this year, and England Golf are touring the UK with a road show to explain how it will work. The new system being launched in several countries  under the R & A’s jurisdiction will unite the six current handicap indexes operating around the world into one global system.

It aims to provide a fairer way of calculating players’ handicaps by taking their best 8 rounds from 20.  These can include scores from competitions or social games played over 9 or 18 holes, taking into account the slope index and course rating. Spain, never a country to rush things, estimates their Royal Golf Federation will have the system up and running sometime this year!

IT’s BEEN ANOTHER GREAT YEAR  for golf.  Tiger Woods’s memorable win at the 83rd Masters in April, Rory winning the Tour Championship and Fedex Cup at Eastlake in August and of course Shane Lowry’s unforgettable British Open at Royal Portrush in July all made for some terrific golf-viewing.  Here’s to more great golf in 2020.

Until next time: Happy New Year and Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs.  Tel 638 859 475.

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