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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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