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I always enjoy visiting St Andrews, it really is a special place and I never tire of the view across the Swilken Bridge towards the clubhouse. I hope you like my picture below - the overhanging cloud looks very mysterious, as though ET might reappear!

 

I was in Scotland for the Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns Links that's 20 minutes down the road from St Andrews. I first played Kingsbarns about four years ago and when I'm asked the question, "What is your favourite golf course?" Kingsbarns has always ranked as my number one, and when I was fortunate to play it again for a second time earlier this year, nothing has pipped it yet! It was a real shame that not more people decided to attend the event and enjoy the scenery - sparse crowds was not a good advert on TV for our showcase event.

Ricoh over, then I was busy signing off the latest issue of Women & Golf which goes on sale on Friday, the same day that the Solheim Cup begins. I can't wait, there is nothing better than a Solheim or Ryder Cup. I won't be in Iowa, but I hope nobody bothers me next weekend as I'll be glued to the TV. I wonder if there will be any drama this time round - I'm sure all the players will be listening out very carefully as to whether a putt is given! Come on Europe - bring the Cup home...

 

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A big thanks to Naga Munchetty, BBC journalist and presenter, and Women & Golf columnist, and PING for contributing to such a successful reader day at Woburn Golf Club. 

After registering and receiving a luxurious PING goodie bag, 80 ladies enjoyed trying the latest PING clubs on the range and checking out PING clothing before I introduced Naga for an entertaining Q&A. It's a shame that it was Chatham House rules, otherwise I'd be happy to disclose her tales. Well done ladies for asking a variety of questions including her thoughts on the BBC's pay scale, her Strictly experience, the difference between male and female golf coaches, her perfect fourball etc. I was even used as an exhibit ... say no more!

Naga joined each group on the signature hole of the Dukes Course the par-3 3rd, and I joined them on the par-3 12th. The format was best two scores to count from four, but if good enough, our score could contribute to their team score.

I admit, I dd feel the pressue as I wanted to try and do well for every team  Fortunately I did assist on several occasions and managed one birdie on the 155 yard hole, although you would think so too when I'd already played the hole 18 times! If you have read my blogs you'll realise that I don't mind laughing at myself so I can also let you know that there was one impressive cigar moment in the left-hand side greenside bunker and I also shanked a chip from a tee shot into the right-hand side greenside bunker. It was great to meet so many readers, even if most of them don't want to select me as a foursomes partner!

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What an amazing Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Speith delivered drama and one of the best final round performances ever seen. Poor Matt Kuchar (and poor me as I would have received a greater return on my bet if he'd won!) as he did nothing wrong, but there was simply no catching Speith with that eagle and birdie blitz over the closing holes.

I travelled to Birkdale on Tuesday for the Association of Golf Writers dinner. This is always an enjoyable industry affair and this year the AGW Trophy was presented to Henrik Stenson, and Justin Rose received the inaugural Arnold Palmer Open Award. Other players present included Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Rafa Cabrera Bello, and the Masters champion Sergio Garcia. The BBC's Iain Carter did a great job interviewing them.

I'm always slightly embarrassed about having my picture taken with 'celebrities', but I do like Sergio so this was an opportunity that I couldn't resist. I wish him all the very best for his wedding this week.... if only! The next day I had back-to-back meetings before travelling home, but during the day I couldn't resist showing my colleagues this picture of the happy couple!

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I will let you into a secret as to why myself and Samantha Head are laughing in the picture below. It was taken on Monday at Woburn Golf Club during an instruction shoot and the reason for our laughter is because it took Sam a number of takes for one particular video and the more takes, the more frustrated Sam became which was even funnier! I will share the video with you in the near future as I think you will find it funny too!

 

On Wednesday I flew to Glasgow and back for the day as I was invited to play in the pro-am of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Dundonald Links. As I arrived at the club in glorious sunshine and saw that the public car park was already pretty full, the enormity of the event suddenly dawned on me - and if I'm honest, sheer panic at the thought of playing in front of a crowd. Nerves began way before the 1st tee.  I thought it would be a good idea to hit some practice balls, so there I was tightly packed in between the pros, their managers, coaches, and other amateur golfers, with a significant audience watching. Well, I couldn't hit a ball - shanks, tops, all kinds of awful shots - anything other than a good strike. I knew that people weren't interested in me, but it didn't help the situation. I didn't finish the bucket of balls, in fact, I couldn't get off there quick enough!

Ladies European Tour player Kylie Walker had organised a spot for her golf-mad mum Elizabeth as a special birthday present, with Kylie acting as caddie - read more in next week's Women & Golf newsletter and see picture below. Myself and David Connor from Visit Scotland completed the team with the lovely laid-back Russell Knox as our pro.

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The highlight of my week was the Women & Golf Reader Day at Silvermere Golf Complex in Surrey that we ran in association with COBRA PUMA Golf - and in glorious sunshine, what a fantastic day it was.

These ladies were like kids in a sweet shop! If you haven't been to Silvermere, pay a visit and allow several hours to combine a round of golf with a shopping experience. The shop has to be seen to be believed as it not only stocks all the leading brands, but also plenty of sizes. There were also lots of 'oohs and ahhs' when they opened their PUMA shoe bag that included a PUMA belt, visor and glove, some all-important Calypso sun lotion, and a copy of the latest issue of Women & Golf magazine.

After a hearty English Breakfast, a good shop, and an opportunity to try the latest COBRA clubs, they'd already enjoyed a good day out before their round of golf had even begun. It was lovely to meet and start everyone off the 1st tee and the winning team (pictured below) including l-r Ruth Brand, Brigitte Lockwood, Linda Read and Linda Rich, were clearly in the mood to have some fun.

 

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Last week a bunch of media travelled to Sweden, and to Bro Hof Slott Golf Club near Stockholm, to test Motocaddy's latest S5 Connect trolley. Using a free app via your smartphone, the S5 allows the digital display to be used in place of a conventional GPS, showing front, middle and back distances. It was all very straighforward and nice to just glance at the handle for a distance, before grabbing a club out of the bag. Plus it means, one less piece of equipment to charge up!

I'm a terror for checking emails and messages when I'm out on the golf course, but through the display unit, this app can also notify you of missed calls, emails, messages etc - but only if you want to, of course. If I'm going to check my phone anyway, I found it useful to turn the facility on!

The two golf courses at Bro Hof Slott designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr are fantastic. Equally so is the magnificent clubhouse that resembles England's Stoke Park. On the Stadium Course there is water everywhere. It's a lovely looking feature, but this also meant a lot of lost balls for the group, including three for me. The Castle Course is equally pretty although water only comes into play on the last two holes.

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I'm so British, I moan when the weather is cold and wet and now I'm moaning because I'm too hot - as I sit typing with a fan whirring beside me. The trouble is, we go from one extreme to the other, although if I have a choice, I'd much rather play golf in warm weather, or should I say, under the boiling sun, as I did today.

This fourball was planned months ago as myself and the BBC star and Women & Golf columnist Naga Munchetty were joined by two competition winners, Jane Withers and Helen Sleightholme, to play on the Marquess course at Woburn, the venue for last year's Ricoh Women's British Open.

 

With factor 50 on and several bottles of water in our bags, (Naga told me off for not wearing a cap or visor) we had a fabulous game, although it is difficult not to enjoy Woburn even if you're having a shocker of a round. Rather than a straightforward fourball betterball, Helen suggested that we partner each player for six holes - I'll remember this format in future as it was very sociable and enjoyable, just like the cheesy chips that we ordered to go with our post-round salads! It was all so healthy until that point.

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Flaming June! I was cursing flaming weather last Tuesday. It was Women's Golf Day, not just in the UK, but around the world, although the UK must have been the wettest! Women & Golf, in association with American Golf, hosted a day at High Legh Park Golf Club in Cheshire. Despite the awful weather, I was so impressed at the number of ladies that turned up, either to try golf for the first time or play in the 9-hole competition, especially as they hadn't even had to pay to attend, so they could easily have not bothered.

The ladies really enjoyed themselves, and I did too. Cheering any Prosecco challenge winners if they managed to sink three consecutive putts from various lengths and the worthy prize winners, along with a new role -  announcing the ladies and what golf clothes they were wearing as they strutted their stuff for the fashion show. A great success all round, and I believe a few more ladies have now got the golf bug.

 

 

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Three rounds in three days at the fabulous Quinta do Lago resort in Portugal -  you'll be able to read about my experience in the next issue of Women & Golf. That's what my golf is like nowadays, all or nothing. I won't be picking up a golf club for a few weeks now. That's my excuse for playing inconsistently, although the truth of the matter was demonstrated at the resort's Paul McGinley TaylorMade Academy. It's not the first time that I have seen my swing, I didn't like it then either! The camera never lies, the only positive comment as shown below, is that I keep my head nice and still - oh well, plenty to work on when I can find the time. If an opportunity arises to have your swing recorded, then take it, as when you can see your faults, many of which you don't even realise, it helps you to understand and address them more easily.

After arriving home late on Tuesday evening, I was looking forward to the following day and one of my favourite events of the year - the Golf Foundation's annual awards ceremony at Wentworth. It is wonderful to hear so many inspirational stories of how golf clubs, club members, coaches and volunteers have helped to change kids' lives through golf. This year was no exception and the story of how an autistic youngster spoke his first words in public when he managed to strike a good shot brought a tear to my eye. See the image below - congratulations to all the winners.

 

 

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I've just finished packing as I'm off to Portugal tomorrow for a two-night press trip. It's an early flight and I have to leave home even earlier, 4.30ish, as months ago I committed to taking care of two cockapoos for the night, brothers Seve and Rafa (the family are golf and tennis fans.) I've got to drop them back at my friend's house on the way to the airport - just what you need in the early hours, although how can I possibly refuse these two!

This is my second visit to the Algarve within the last two weeks and on my last trip my meeting conicided with the European Tour tournament at Morgado Golf Resort in Portimao. I was fortunate to play in the pro-am with Englishman Simon Khan.  I knew that he was local to me, but it then transpired that we went to the same schools and have mutual friends, so it was a round down memory lane.  At least I played so much better than when I last posted my blog.

On Wednesday I attended the SSE Women's Invitational event at Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club and what an interesting and thought provoking day it was with discussions on flexible working, the best way to network, and a highlight in the evening was a panel discussion with Sir Clive Woodward, Olympians Sam Quek and Jazmin Sawyers and Ladies European Tour rookie Inci Mehmet. The love.golf programme provided golf for beginners, while experienced golfers headed out for 9 holes. There was also styling by Harvey Nichols and I really wish I'd taken the opportunity to test drive an Aston Martin - perhaps next time!

I really need to try and get some sleep now!

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Congratulations to Anna McKay from the Crail Golfing Society. Just thirteen-years-old, she won the Fife women's county championship and is possibly the youngest ever winner of the title and clearly a great ambassador for girls' golf in Scotland.

If only I could have played as well as her when I visited The Grove in Hertfordshire earlier this week to celebrate the opening of their new golfers' lounge - much needed to accommodate all their golfing groups. It was one of those days when the harder I tried, the worse I got! Playing with guys doesn't usually faze me, but on this occasion, because I wasn't holding my own and rarely contributing to the team score, I did feel slightly intimidated. That said, I'd probably have felt the same way if I was playing with three other women.

One of the gentleman in my fourball was BBC news presenter Dan Walker and what a gent he is, and a fantastic golfer. At 6ft 6ins, I didn't realise he was so tall - see pic below. It's not surprising that he regularly wins the longest drive prize and this day was no exception - just another 300 yards! As Dan had to dash back to Manchester after the round, the only consolation for my rubbish golf was that I could drown my sorrows with his prize of a bottle of champagne!  I really do need to start practising to improve my golf.

Until the next round ....

 

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On Easter Monday I flew to Scotland for a double whammy, a media preview event for this year's Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns Links with Charley Hull in attendance, and 'looking ahead' to the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles - an invitation I couldn't refuse!

I had the privilege to play Kingsbarns once before a few years ago, and when I have since been asked the question, "What is your favourite golf course?" this Scottish links has been at the top of my list. I'm pleased to say that it remains so. I played ok, but even if you do play rubbish golf, the setting is amazing and it's just such an interesting course. My caddie Steve was really helpful, although I was slightly relieved when he told me that he's new to the job as personally I find experienced caddies can be quite intimidating, probably because I'm not used to having one! No prizes for our team, but what a great round with fellow journos Alistair Tait and Patricia Davies, along with course manager Innes Knight.

 

My last visit to Gleneagles was at least three years ago, and whilst I enjoyed the golf and other facilities, a highlight for me as a labrador lover was the gundog training. No dogs in sight this time but it was a pleasure to meet and play golf with Eilidh Barbour, the new face of BBC's golf coverage, although we certainly didn't burn up the PGA Centenary course, more like it beat us up!

After two nights up north, it was a shame I had to return south to my desk! But I'm really looking forward to returning to Kingsbarns in the summer, it will be a fabulous champtionship.

 

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Like most golf fans I'm feeling a little jaded today after staying up to watch the thrilling final round of the Masters - two amazing golfers in the final pairing (and they were European!) and a class act - it was touching to watch these friends embrace when the final putt dropped. I was disappointed for Justin but overjoyed that Sergio has finally won a major, plus I'd had a bet on him so it was a good night all round!

It was also a busy weekend at ExCel for American Golf's London Golf Show. I was there on Friday with other members of the Women & Golf team and it was lovely to catch up with host and keen golfer, Denise van Outen, who is such a great role model for the modern day women's game. It was also interesting to hear the exploits of Ladies European Tour players Sophie Walker, Amy Boulden and Carly Booth - good luck to them for the rest of the season.

 

In association with American Golf and High Legh Park Golf Club in Cheshire, Women & Golf is supporting a day to celebrate Women's Golf Day on Tuesday 6 June when experiences players and beginners can enjoy a day for 'free' including lessons, competitions and a fashion show - an ideal way to introduce a friend to the game.  I'll look forward to seeing you there.

 

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Before I sit down to watch the final round of the ANA Inspiration, the first women's major of the year, I thought I'd let you know what I've been up to this week. 

Fortunately the weather was kind on Tuesday for an instruction shoot at the The Grove with Katie Dawkins, an experienced instructor, who has previously contributed to Women & Golf magazine. It was a full-on day and photographer Paul Severn took some great images and shot some fun and informative videos so thanks again to you both. As you can see from the picture below, we had plenty of laughs too! When Paul took some new profile pictures of me, I did complain that I should have worn a more uplifting bra - women reading this will totally understand where I'm coming from! Planning is everything eh...

The following day I was at Woburn Golf Club for the launch of Arccos 360 in association with COBRA PUMA Golf. Arccos 360 is a system that allows you to analyse your game by screwing in sensors at the top of the grip of each club, and every time you hit a shot, data is uploaded to an iphone app. To be honest, I'm not really into analytics, especially if it means something else to think about. However, this is so easy to set up and it's no hassle. You don't even have to look at your phone during the round to input scores or take a peek at data (unless you want to, of course). All you have to do is ensure your phone is in your front trouser pocket - fortunately my trousers weren't too tight!

I'm certainly not going to become an analytics geek, but I actually did enjoy fining out how far on average I hit my drives, my approach shots, number of fairways hit, which direction my shots tend to go etc, and I will continue to use this system for my next few rounds to see if I can improve! Arccos 360 is definitely worth considering.

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It's been an interesting week - obviously the main golf news story related to the chaps at Muirfield finally voting to allow women members, and almost immediately the club was reinstated as an Open venue! During a series of TV and radio interviews I explained that it was impossible to celebrate (if that's the right word!) as we would have done 10 months ago when the original vote took place. In fact, surely women should have been accepted at least 10 years ago! So, let's move on now, there's a 2-3 year waiting list for membership at Muirfield and do women really want to join this club anyway?

On a lighter note, I had an enjoyable day overseeing an indoor instruction shoot with PGA Professional, Sarah Smith, from Saffron Walden Golf Club. She did a great job before dashing off for a practice round for the Sunningdale Foursomes, so look out for articles in Women & Golf magazine and videos on this website.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_SarahSmith.jpg

 

England Golf held its inaugural black tie dinner and awards ceremony at Lord's Cricket Ground on Thursday evening. It was a great night, extremely uplifting as the 400 people in the room celebrated individual and team success.

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The Rules of Golf have dominated this week's golf news and I think the majority of proposed changes are a good idea. You've got six months to have your say, and any new rules won't be implemented until 2019.

What a welcome relief that it has been proposed that caddies will no longer be allowed to line up players once they have taken a stance for a stroke. At events and on TV it has often been painful (and boring) to watch players, unfortunately mainly the female pros, ponder over their alignment for ages with their caddie standing behind them.

The reason for the change is that the ability to line up is a fundamental skill of the game for which the player alone should be responsible - hear, hear!

Women & Golf has just released another reader day at Silvermere Golf Complex in Surrey in association with COBRA PUMA on 6 July. I hope you will join me - I like it when my diary starts filling up.

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I'm back blogging! I'm also out of golf hibernation as other than a few trips to the driving range over the last few months and the odd game, my golf has taken a back seat, largely because of being really busy and some miserable British weather!

There's a load of new equipment around, but being a typical woman, I get more excited about the new spring/summer fashion collections. Our new W&G logoed clothing should arrive next week from Daily Sports and it will be nice to wear a different uniform this year!

I'm also excited about the W&G reader days that we're planning, one at Woburn with PING and Naga Munchetty, and another at Silvermere wth Cobra Puma, do hope you'll be able to join me - you can let me know if you like my outfit!

Until next time, and it won't be long...

 

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It's always a treat to play with great players and I was fortunate to join leading amateurs Sophie Lamb and Inci Mehmet at a media golf day supporting Golfing4Life at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire. Since my last visit to this venue, the new clubhouse has opened which is very impressive and I'd like to return for lunch or dinner in the Galvin restaurant!

I was unfamiliar with this organisation that supports the development of young golfers who might otherwise be unable to fulfil their potential due to financial constraints. It was inspiring to hear Golfing4Life's plans and how they hope to continue to develop their relationship with the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT) and Teen Cancer America (TCA),

Sophie and Inci played some incredible shots and were great company, however, my golf was a lot to be desired as I was simply trying too hard and you know what that means - the harder you try, the worse it gets! Both of these young women are full-time golfers and Inci will be off to Q-School for the Ladies European Tour in December - I shall be following their progress.

Golfing4Life

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So disappointed that Europe lost to the USA, but what a Ryder Cup match it was, and I'll miss watching all that great golf on TV this weekend. There is nothing like the Sunday singles in a Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup match. Listening to US crowd was irritating, but they are part and parcel of the event, adding to the overall atmosphere, and if they's weren't there I'd probably miss them!

On the first day of the Ryder Cup match I was at the stunning Rosapenna Golf Hotel in Donegal, Ireland, a popular resort with American visitors so there was plenty of banter between them and us. My reason for being there was to present the prizes to the ladies competing in the Ladies Pink Tour (see pic below), This three-day event, now in its second year, was a great success and everyone had a ball on and off the golf course - it's easy to have fun in Ireland when the hospitality is so good.

Ireland

I also had some fun a few weeks ago at Lingfield Park when I joined the annual ladies outing from West Essex Golf Club. Located next door to the racecourse, an obvious theme for the evening was a night at the races - say no more!

horse

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If you ever get the opportunity to play in a pro-am, then do it! I've been fortunate to play in two recently, first at the Ricoh Women's British Open at Woburn with Holly Clyburn (below) and then on Sunday at Enfield Golf Club in one of the Jamega Tour events. Here the Women & Golf team was partnered with Tom Speyer, who is already a three-time winner this year.

ricoh

It's so nice to play with 'proper' golfers and you cannot help but be inspired. For them the pro-am is a practice round, so whilst they still take the game seriously, it gives you a chance to get to know the person inside the ropes and if, like on Sunday, enjoy a few beers on the way round! 

I feel that I suddenly become a bit of a stalker as you have a greater interest in that person's performance and if televised, you view the holes in a different light and remember the shots you played - although mine never compare with a pro golfer!

I've already checked the Jamega Tour website and Tom finished -1 after the first round. I'll be stalking him again later, no doubt with the other W&G team members below.

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