The Joburg Open 2017!!

My 11 days at home went pretty quickly and I was soon back on that Emirates plane heading to South Africa via a quick layover in Dubai!

In my time at home I managed to get two lessons in with Mark, a training session with Rachael, plenty of gym sessions at PureGym, and even got to play some holes at Woodsome, which was great!!

But mixed weather made it tough to get done exactly what I wanted, as you cancel more plans than you make, but having the indoor facilities at Woodsome sure helped!

So, back to South Africa for two weeks and then onto India for a week…. that’s the plan!

JOBURG OPEN

TSHWANE OPEN

INDIAN OPEN

In Joburg I was again fortunate enough to spend the week at my friend Wally’s house; I’ve said this before but he looks after me and Steve like we are part of the family!!

We’re very lucky!

The Joburg Open is a big field, approximately 210 players and it’s played over two courses – the East and the West!

It’s a big event on the Sunshine Tour, so as ever there is a super strong turn out from the South Africans all wanting to claim one of their major trophies!

It’s a great set up and so it was such a shame to see the forecast for the week, and for the first two days it was correct!

We teed off Monday morning in heavy rain, but then somehow got really lucky to play the last 15 holes in no rain and then walk off the course and sit having lunch watching the biggest downpour of rain we had seen in a long time!!

Tuesday was nearly a total wash out, the pro-am was cancelled, and we just nipped in and out of the rain doing bits of practice when we could!

I’d played this event last year, so had played both the courses before, and Wednesday I just played 9 holes and then did some light practice.

Any man will know how hard it is to practise when you’re full of man flu! ;-)

Rest was also key when a long week, bad weather, and very heavy under foot conditions prevailed, so staying off your feet was never a bad thing!

Round one, I was last out of the morning groups, playing with fellow Yorkshireman Marcus Armitage.

We started in showers, then through nine it turned into a pretty constant downpour! After holing out for par on 18 and a pleasing 68 (-4) we headed straight for shelter to then hear the klaxon go and play be suspended for the rest of the day!

For me that was pretty good, I didn’t have to come back the following morning at 6am to complete a few holes and then hang around till late lunch to start round 2.

But I guess it’s swings and roundabouts as I didn’t get to finish round two on Friday, so an early start Saturday beckoned anyway!

It was a 4.15am alarm, a quick breakfast and up to the club to warm up and get ready to be in position at 7am to start my back nine of round 2 on -2 and -6 total!

As it’s such a big field the depth in scoring is always better and a cut of -4 was certain… maybe even -5!

I played solid for 8 holes bar two really poor approach shots which cost me two bogeys, and that had me back at -4 and on the cut mark.

The 18th is always a good chance once you get the drive away, it’s a very reachable par 5.

So with that in mind it wasn’t great to blast it out right into the trees… luckily I got a decent line out and could hit 9 iron within 110 yards of the green.

A gap wedge to 30ft was ok… but to then roll it in down the hill was great and I knew I had safely made the cut and had one last round of the 54-hole tournament to improve on my position!

So after the cut was made, which fell at -4, I had a couple hours before I was back out for the final round.

A solid birdie down the first, and everything felt good… I then went bogey, bogey, bogey and this sounds wrong and like a typical golfer but I only really hit one bad shot!!

The klaxon went again for thunder, I was two over and down the leaderboard in the eighties!!

We got off the course dry, but then witnessed one of the worst downpours of rain ever, the whole place flooded and play again got called off for the day!

That meant one thing…another 4.15am alarm to complete the round the following day!

So up early and at the course, it was 6.30am and I’d nearly finished my warm up for a 7am re-start, the weather was perfect, everyone was pretty happy knowing we were going to get finished…. so then to hear a ref announce that the course was not ready and we had another two hour delay was deflating for everyone.

But at 9am we finally got going, and got finished!

I started birdie, birdie and went on to shoot -2 which was positive and again three rounds under par!

An ok and solid week with the flu (T50th), so hopefully a good rest before the Tshwane Open starts this week in Pretoria!

A huge thanks must go to the greens staff this week who are the true heroes! I cannot imagine the time they must have put into the course this week, the greens were amazing, and the frustrations they must have had seeing bunkers being washed away, then fixing them to only see them washed back away!

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  • JUST IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…..

The response to our Charity Ball this August has been incredible and tickets go on sale March 17th….

More info will follow soon, but thanks to everyone for showing such support and interest in the evening already!

The Charity Ball – hosted by Chris Hanson

Charityball

I am excited to announce that I will be hosting a Charity Ball in aid of Breast Cancer Now, the UK’s largest breast cancer charity dedicated to funding research into this devastating disease, and British Inclusive Golf (BIG) who aim to bring disabled and non-disabled people together on the golf course through a variety of initiatives.

Supported by my wife Laura, my caddy Steve Tooby and his wife Tracey, we will hosting the Charity Ball at The Venue, Barkisland on Friday 4 August 2017 from 6.30pm and are hoping to raise over £15,000 towards Breast Cancer Now’s lifesaving research, and to support the drive of BIG to allow golf to continue to be a sport for all.

It promises to be a fun night including pre-dinner drinks, a three course meal, entertainment and guest speakers, amongst many other fundraising activities including an indoor golf practical competition, a casino, and a photo booth where we are hoping to raise lots of money for Breast Cancer Now’s vital research to stop women dying of breast cancer, a cause very close to my heart as thankfully both my own mother, Sue, and mother-in-law, Linda, beat the disease.

Unfortunately, my godmother, Sue Horsfall, recently lost her battle to the disease so we are very keen to make this as successful as we can in her memory.

As an ambassador for the national charity British Inclusive Golf, we aim not only to raise some much needed funds for the fantastic work they do but also help raise awareness of this dedicated charity.

Tickets for the event will go on sale from Friday 17 March on a first come first served basis, priced at £50pp. Full table bookings of 10 people are priced at £500 but will be treated to an exclusive drinks package.

For more information on the event, our limited number of sponsorship packages or to book tickets, please contact FunctionsbyTLC@gmail.com from 17 March 2017.

Thanks in advance

Chris

 

The Dubai Desert Classic!

The final leg of the #desertswing and the final week of a four week stretch of events completed; it felt like a really long time away, but playing well sure made it feel a lot easier. I’d missed the family so much, so it was fantastic that they flew out to Dubai to meet me for the week at the Desert Classic.

Once the event in Qatar had finished I managed to change my flight to an earlier one, which meant I got to the hotel 3 hours sooner and not in the middle of the night.

I still walked through the door well past their bedtime, only to find all three of them sitting at the end of the bed waiting for me to arrive…What a welcome!!!!!!

Laura had actually arrived Saturday evening and had the Sunday at the hotel on her own exploring, so I was pleased to hear before I arrived that “daddy’s travel agent” had booked a really nice hotel!!

So Monday was 100% family day and my first non-golfing day in 3 weeks, time to switch off, be a dad and forget about the day job!!

We had a great day round the pool, on the beach and down to the Dubai Mall in the evening to see the amazing aquarium, Burj Khalifa and the fountains. I think Jess and even Olivia were amazed by the size of the buildings and all the lights on them, it is pretty spectacular!

I’ve been to Dubai a few times now with golf, but it was Laura’s first time and she was pretty amazed, as it wasn’t quite what she expected; for a major city it’s so clean, no litter, no beggars, and everything looks brand new or in the process to soon be brand new.

The service in hotels and restaurants is great, the people are so helpful, can’t do enough for you and I really feel Dubai could be the leader in customer service, they put America to shame for me.

You really feel they want you to come back and first impressions are everything out here!!

But my non-golfing day was soon over, and it was back to work! Jess and Olivia were so excited to get to the course and see their friends in Crèche, and Laura was looking forward to catching up with the many friends she has made on Tour, too.

We had both heard a lot about the Dubai Desert Classic, many players saying it’s the best event of the year…And straight away you can see why!!

Everything was laid on for the players, the courtesy car service was 1st class from Mercedes, the players’ lounge food and service were amazing, the on course food and refreshments were on another level, and the attention to detail was top notch!!!

I can’t imagine the cost of putting this event on…But it’s got to be well into 6 figures!!!

As a player, I can’t thank Golf in Dubai and the European Tour enough for the opportunity to participate!!!

I’ve not even got onto the world class golf course – the Majilas is quality, again like Abu Dhabi the definition is out of this world, the time to just prepare the fairways is mind blowing….

They were cut in checks all the way down, then at the landing zones from say 280 to 300 yards they were then cut in circles like a bull’s eye! I’ve never seen so much preparation go into a course layout….

In practice we stood in the fairway looking at the first green and couldn’t work out what was green and fringe/green surround… The surrounds were again cut in their own design to separate them from the green, it was impressive!!!

I played 18 holes and 9 of those with Jordan Smith, fellow MB Partners’ stablemate; he’s been playing some great stuff lately and you can tell why, his game is solid!! Big things to come this year from him, that’s for sure!!!

So to sum it up, the Majilas is definitely one of my favourite tracks from my 14 months playing on the European Tour, it’s special!!

This week #teamhanson were in full force; it’s great to have support at events and especially when so far from home, it sure makes the event extra special!!

My best mate Ben Johnson was out with Eddy Brown for five days to see Dubai, catch some sun rays, oh and watch me play golf too of course – is was great to have them cheering me along!

My sponsor David from DPPublicity, his family and good friend Gareth were also out to support me too which was great, I really can’t thank them enough!!

Then some more friends I’ve met along the way, Alan Birchall, Mike Kenyan, Neil Tempest and another MB Stablemate Nick Marsh, also made it onto the fairways to cheer me on!!!

So two great days of preparation completed in perfect weather, I was then ready for what the forecast said was going to be a tricky two days in the wind!!

Now that was an understatement, and I certainly got lucky with the side of the draw I was on! If you follow many golfers on Twitter you would have soon seen the uproar and disappointment from some players and caddies of how the Tour handled the weather conditions…

Many said it was one of the most one-sided draws in history! Maybe it was, but complaining doesn’t get you anywhere and it certainly doesn’t change the decision that’s been made….

My take is… I was lucky to be that side of the draw, but over the course of my career, like 99% of golfers, we have all had good and bad sides of the draw, it happens, it just depends how you deal with them!!

The biggest complaint was that the morning players on Friday felt the weather in the afternoon was equal to what they had played in… But from what I heard and read in the Tour’s defence was that five trees had blown down, the roofs of some camera towers had come off, and gusts had gone from 27mph to 35mph….

So it was mainly a health and safety decision, I guess.

Round one for me ended pretty average after making a good start; I was -2 through 4 holes and just made some pretty simple errors from there to end the day on +2 and shoot 74.

Disappointing, but not out of the event at all and actually holed out well on 16 and 17 to keep some momentum for round 2.

Scoring was going backwards in round 2 for most people, as I mentioned the wind was up, sand was blowing everywhere, people were taking shelter and golf balls were moving on the greens!

On 17 my playing partner raced his putt 5ft past to then see it blow 4ft back towards the hole – that’s helpful, ha ha!! Easy par save!!

We finished out on 18, our 9th, and then the klaxon went, that was it for the day, play suspended and back for a 7.30am on the course re-start!!

On return the following day I needed to make some birdies, probably two at least to make the weekend. A great sand save on the first and then a perfect birdie 3 down the next, I was in good shape.

A birdie chance down the next five holes and playing some good stuff – nothing dropped! Two holes to go to make two chances and see what happens….

A shocking swing off the tee down 8 and at best I found myself with an 8ft putt for par, I missed that, which meant a birdie down the tough 9th would give me an outside chance at best of making the cut.

It’s a pretty gut wrenching feeling when you know it’s kind of out of reach, but pride keeps you going and I’ve always said I would rather miss the cut by one than two!!

The best drive of the day and an 8 iron to 4 feet got me my birdie, a bit of self-pride but also the feeling that it was probably a pointless birdie…. In the end I did miss the cut by one and that was the end of my desert swing!!

Overall, it’s been a fantastic four weeks of golf, 26th in SA, 23rd in Abu Dhabi, 18th in Qatar and M/C by 1 shot to finish in Dubai.

In that spell I also reached a career high 300 in the World Golf rankings!

I’ve shown many promising signs in my game and as always highlighted some areas that need to become more consistent. I’m already looking forward to sitting down with my coach Mark, as we always do, and putting together a plan to make me a better golfer!!

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Another special part of the Desert Classic is “Pink Friday” and the reception it gets is terrific, they turn the whole place pink – score boards, caddie bibs, players wear pink, everyone wears a pink ribbon, pink hats get handed out etc etc etc….

It’s just a great day for breast cancer awareness and a charity that is not just close to my family’s heart but many of yours too, I’m sure.

So there is no better time to announce the charity dinner/evening that my wife Laura, my caddy Steve and his wife Tracey, and I had already planned prior to “Pink Friday”.

The official launch of the dinner will soon follow with more details, but it would be amazing if any of you could support our evening either in person on the night, or be able to contribute in some way towards the event.

Tables will go on sale soon along with individual tickets and sponsorship packages for the evening.

The event will be raising a 50/50 charity split between Breast Cancer and BIG, British Inclusive Golf, the charity for whom I am an ambassador.

Friday 4th August 2017

The Venue, Bowers Mill

Barkisland

Halifax

Welcome drinks, 3 course meal, live entertainment, evening games, raffle, silent auction and much, much more!!

As I said, more details will soon follow, but I just wanted to give my blog readers the ‘heads up’ before it is officially launched on social media and in the press.

If you would like any information in the meantime about the evening, please don’t hesitate to contact Laura on laurahanson1@me.com

You’ve got a few weeks off before my next blog, so thanks as ever for the support over the last four weeks!!

My schedule now looks like:

Joburg Open, South Africa

Tshwane Open, South Africa

Indian Open

The Desert Swing part 2 + competition time….!!

I was quite surprised after landing in Doha and driving to the hotel Sunday evening, as I don’t think I expected it to be so built up; everything looked pretty new – I expected more desert and less high rise.

But I guess it’s the ‘World Cup’ effect, if it ever goes ahead, who knows, but they’re sure building for it!!

The skyline driving to the hotel that evening was rather impressive; it’s pretty much a coastal road around the bays and every high rise building is lit up along the way!!

And this is not Blackpool illuminations, this is really tasteful and well thought out!!

The Tour has been coming here for 20 years now, and you soon realise after speaking to the players and caddies that Qatar is pretty much like all the other Middle East countries…it has totally transformed over the years!!

THE COURSE….

Again, another desert course but if possible it felt to be more in the desert this week, lots of waste land around the course; it looked a bit scruffier on the eye, and nowhere near the definition we had the week before in Abu Dhabi.

But in their defence the fairways were struck by disease before Christmas, hence the reason it was preferred lies, but in general it just looked more rugged and off terrain, where as in Abu Dhabi any wasteland is landscaped, gardened and all the sand is raked. Here it wasn’t but it was equally effective.

I did like it, though; it was very windy and a very different challenge to Abu Dhabi; big slopes on the greens, but in the wind you have to control your ball well to get into the pin positions and be careful at times you’re not above the hole as the wind makes them super firm and fast!!!

As we got there Sunday night again, I had three days’ preparation, and as much as you do need some downtime I find it hard to take. You’re near the course, there is not too much to do around the hotel, so you end up at the course practising.

But my game felt in good shape, no coach with me this time, but with Trackman it’s easy to send data and videos back to Mark in Leeds and make sure the swing is ticking over nicely.

The front nine in round one I struggled a bit from the tee, but when in position I did hit a couple of really good iron shots and nearly holed out for an Ace on the 17th.

The back nine I was a little better off the tee, but again I hit a couple of really good iron shots, and nearly holed out for an Ace for the second time on the 8th, so a cheeky tap in birdie there and then a solid par up the last, I signed for 68 (-4).

A very pleasing start when my game didn’t feel 100%…

Round two started off pretty similar, some distinctly average driving but never too far out of position. I stayed super patient and when off the fairway I took middle of the green as a good shot.

Walking to the tenth a fresh swing thought clicked, and that timed nicely with an easy par 5 tee shot with wind down off the right, I hit a much better shot and it filled me with confidence. An up and down birdie and everything felt a lot better.

Then I got my reward for being patient down the next; in the semi off the tee, I hit my best shot of the day, I say it was my best shot as I was super disciplined with wedge to go left of the pin to 20ft… then the reward… I holed it for birdie!!

I parred in from there without much bother and was pretty happy to sign for 69 (-3) and be in the mix for the weekend!!

So after a 4am alarm for round 2 and a 6.50am tee off, we were back in the clubhouse before 12 and just missed out on a second breakfast. But a good feed, a bit of a chill, some time to get the stats in the system and a quick de-brief with the coach, we then headed back out for some practice to get the driver fine-tuned!!

A job well done and my thoughts were right, so it would be nice to take those feelings to the course the next day, but as we all know with golf, if you get out of bed the wrong side you’re never too sure which swing you might have – ha ha!!!

Once you’ve solved one puzzle there is always another that needs solving!!!!

The above couldn’t have been more true; in round 3 I must have had one of my best driving rounds of the year, but together with the worst putting round in 18 months. That’s golf – and a battling finish left me shooting 73 (+1) and because of a tricky afternoon wind, I didn’t fall too far down the leader board.

T23rd with one round to go! Here goes….

The perfect start, birdie, birdie to get some early momentum! Ball striking felt great and I’d holed a few putts to start with… Could this be the day it all came together??

A great shot into 3 but I missed from 12 feet, but all is still good and a few pars later I was standing in the middle of the 6th fairway ready to press on! A poor shot and lack of focus, I made my first bogey which was disappointing from such a good position, but a nice bounce back with birdie birdie and it was soon forgotten.

Back to back par fives with the tees moved up, probably two of the best chances on the course today, par, par…. That didn’t go to plan and then followed that rubbish with two bad bogeys!!!!

In four holes a great round soon looked like it was going to be distinctly average!!

But a quick pep talk from Steve (which I can’t elaborate on here!) and I bounced back again, holing from 30ft on 13, 8ft on 15, drove the green on 16 and made birdie!

So, soon back to -4 for the round with two good chances to come, I then lipped out on 17 from 15 feet, then smashed a drive down 18 leaving me 5 iron to the back half of the par 5 green.

That still left me a 65 foot putt as the green is huge and super slow up the hill; I shaved the hole but ran it 5ft past…

Disappointing to miss the return putt as I had three putted it in round 3 too, but very pleasing to post 68 (-4) and move up the board to T18th and record my 4th top 25 in five events this season.

68, 69, 73, 68 (-10) T18th

Then it was a quick flight to Dubai, and I’ve never been more excited to get on a plane. It was three weeks since I saw my family and they were in Dubai waiting to see me and spend a week together at the Dubai Desert Classic.

I’ve only heard how amazing this event is, how busy it gets, how good the course is, and this year it has the Tiger factor too – I can’t wait!!!!

MAX GOLF PROTEIN COMPETITION – www.maxgolfprotein.com

This week we have a great competition from one of my sponsors MAX GOLF PROTEIN and if you would like to be in with a chance to win a crate of their fantastic Max Protein shakes, then just answer the question below and send it to me on hansonprogolf@googlemail.com

Or…

– on Twitter (@MaxGolfProtein) just tweet them #hansonprizedraw and your answer

– on Facebook (Max Golf Protein) just post on their page #hansonprizedraw and your answer

Question:

How many birdies did Chris have in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters?

*entries close Thursday 2nd February from the Dubai Desert Classic, with winner to be announced during the week of the comeptition*

The start of the #desertswing

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited to play my first desert swing!

HSBC ABU DHABI CHAMPIONSHIP

COMMERCIAL BANK QATAR MASTERS

OMEGA DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC

Having watched these events on TV for many years, it’s amazing to finally be in the field.

So, on arriving in Abu Dhabi early Monday morning I headed off to the hotel, chilled out, had a great workout and waited for Steve to arrive on his flight – this week, thankfully, he only needed two flights to get there!!

Steve picked me up from the hotel and we headed up to the course for a late afternoon practice and to get my bearings at a venue I had never been to before.

The first thing you do is head to the tournament office, sign in and check for anything new, not that there ever is…

But this week there was something new…and I was so proud to receive my membership credentials for the second year running!!!

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Tuesday morning, first thing, we met my coach Mark up at the course, and after a quick warm up we headed straight out with Daniel Im for 18 holes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a course so well defined; the attention to detail was world class!!!

I really enjoyed the layout – again, a proper test where if you drive the ball well you have plenty of scoring chances but slightly out of position and it becomes tricky!

So, two great practice days done, some great range work in a totally relaxed environment, a DJ on the range, playing constant chilled out music, perfect weather, great facilities and I can even say great company, as along with Mark was my manager Duncan and good friend Toby Garrett.

It seems every week on the European Tour there are new experiences and different opportunities, and this week was no different. Myself and nine other players assembled on the 18th fairway in front of the famous clubhouse to do a Footjoy photoshoot and advert for the new ProSL shoe – pretty cool to be involved!

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First round I played ok but got myself out of position a few times off the tee; you can’t do that out here and in the end -1 was probably a pretty good score in relation to how I played.

It is, of course, disappointing to finish the way I did down nine, but I knew with Mark’s reassurance not to let one shot bother me as my game was quite close; I just had to forget that hole and move on.

But that’s easier said than done when you get a dozen messages and tweets asking what happened down nine or asking my favourite question… “why did you do that?”

So, a fresh start for day two, and what a day it was; to post a bogey free 66 (-6) on my first trip to the desert was pretty special and a round I’m very proud of, especially finishing birdie, eagle to round it off!

So, to move up the leaderboard in round 2 to T12th and into contention was great; it was again time for some weekend golf.

If I thought I was out of position in round 1, then in round 3 it felt like I was all over the place!!

It didn’t feel like me holding the club, and with no positive feelings and a much trickier wind to deal with, it was going to be tough.

Somehow I hung in, holed some putts and in the end had a great chance to break par, only to three putt the last from distance for par, to fall just short. But that felt like I had stolen a score – to shoot level was pretty good and kept me within the top 30.

Round 4 I felt a lot better about my game. After making a good par save on the first I then played some solid stuff and hit some very encouraging shots, and I was in position off the tee too!!

Two sloppy bogeys on 13/14 set me back and really p***ed me off… and all I could think was how can I be scoring worse than yesterday but be playing so much better – but that’s golf!!!!

A great birdie on the par 3 15th and then a perfect drive up the last set me up for a birdie to finish and moved me back up a little to 23rd!!

Am I happy???

Yes, of course! My first trip to the desert and quite possibly one of the strongest fields I have played in, so to come out 23rd is pleasing. But I know I’ve left a lot out there; as players, we all make silly mistakes at times, and we all make bad swings, but the BEST players manage their mistakes better and make fewer of them in the first place…

Learning from this and staying patient/disciplined is the key to taking my game to the next level, and that’s certainly something I’m striving to achieve!!

Bring on Qatar!!!

 

SOMETHING NEW – for anyone on Facebook who would like to see live updates, videos and photos from my journey on the European Tour, then please check out my new Facebook page “Chris Hanson Golf” click here…

Chris Hanson Golf

Chris Hanson Golf

NEWS FLASH – exciting stuff!!!

After a successful 2016 season on the European Tour, where Chris finished 108th on the Order of Merit and secured his playing rights for the following season, Abzorb pledged their continued support for 2017.

Chris will again wear the Abzorb logo on his collar and golf bag panel throughout the year whilst playing worldwide on the European Tour in over 25 events.

Chris: “I can’t thank Abzorb and Steve Beeby enough for their support in my rookie season on the European Tour; having their support had a huge impact on my performance throughout the year and retaining my Tour card for the 2017 season.”

The new season soon kicks off in South Africa followed by the famous Middle East swing, including the Dubai Desert Classic where Tiger Woods has also committed to play.

Steve Beeby: “It’s been great to watch Chris progress through the year with some fantastic finishes in top quality fields and we are delighted to be associated with a local European Tour golfer.”

www.abzorb.co.uk

Abzorb!

Abzorb!

With Steve Beeby of Abzorb

With Steve Beeby of Abzorb

The incredible SA Open!

I don’t know why but the trip out to South Africa this time felt really long, but it wasn’t any different from past trips!

Two 7-hour flights and a 4-hour stop-over in Dubai broke it up…I managed to sleep on most of the second flight, so on landing I headed straight to the golf course to get some practice done.

The plan was to meet Steve in the airport, get to the course, have lunch, then work out some yardages, check the altitude and send some swing footage to my coach Mark back home!

But the plan slightly altered – for Steve anyway…he’s possibly got deeper pockets and shorter arms than me and in trying to save a few quid he had booked a four-flight journey to get to SA!

Manchester > Amsterdam > Abu Dhabi > Doha > Joburg

Quite some journey, but then he was told in Doha that his flight has been ‘over sold’ (this surprisingly happens quite a bit) and the only option he had, if he wanted to arrive Monday, was to fly to Namibia and then onto Joburg!!!

So five flights and pretty much 40 hours’ of travel, he finally made it to the course and not surprisingly was as happy as ever and not fazed by his marathon journey in the slightest!

He is probably the only person I know in this current day and age who could sit by himself for 40 hours with no wifi, no phone and not talk to anyone!! No one enjoys their own company more, and that’s a fantastic trait/skill to have as a player or caddy when constantly on the move around the world!!

It would be amazing to actually know how many hours we’ve both spent sitting in airports or on flights trying to pass time.

Back to the golf…

This week I was selected to play in the pro-am, and that worked perfectly for me to use it as my practice round but also to be able to have some competitive practice and try make some birdies!

I had a great team too, three brothers, all members at Glendower, all very competitive and fantastic company!

We shot -10 on the day, but more importantly had a really fun time and I managed to get some good constructive practice done.

And then me and Steve even managed an invite Friday evening to join their family for dinner at the local Italian, which was brilliant!

So, a little bit of light practice and physio after the pro-am and we headed back to our accommodation for the week!

Me and Steve have some great friends out in South Africa – Waleed and his family have once again put us up for the week; they live on the estate at the course so location is perfect, and this week they were actually on holiday till the Saturday, so for them to leave us their house keys and car is an amazing gesture, we really can’t thank them enough!

Glendower and BMW put on a great event here at The SA OPEN, the grandstands around 18 are outstanding, the hospitality is first class…but this year it was slightly different, there was a different feel to the event…

It’s Wednesday and the crowds are lining the fairways, you can hear cheers on the course like it’s a Sunday afternoon, and there is hustle and bustle everywhere…

…even players are stopping to watch a certain someone!!

Rory is in town!

We don’t think he’s on appearance money this week, the story that he’s playing in return for Ernie playing in the Irish Open last year seems pretty legit…

But I can tell you now…if you were here you would soon realise why the top guys in the world get paid big appearance money!

They drag in the crowds, and drag them in by the thousands…this week parents have taken their children out of school to see Rory as they may never see him again in SA, that’s how big a deal it has been.

That’s the sheer pulling power of McIlroy, and I would say only Tiger would draw a bigger crowd!

So after three days’ preparation I was ready for another challenge. I really liked the course, the rough is that horrible Kikuyu grass – so you must avoid it – and the fairways are really tight too!!! You get rewarded if you drive it well as there are plenty of chances from the fairways with the greens being so pure and very receptive!

I got off to a nice start in round one playing some really steady stuff, I was -4 through 13 holes and cruising along, but I hit a poor shot into the 5th and deserved to make bogey, so that was fine, but then to find the water with my approach shot on the 9th, my last hole, and make double was very disappointing!!!!

So a sour taste to my round but overall a great start to the year and nice to post the first sub-par round of the year, especially when I’ve not really been on grass for four weeks, and I’ve only played twice…

Round 2, I knew the scoring would be similar so I had to go out and post a number, the cut was going to be level at worst and in the end fell at -1…but I was there to press up the leaderboard, make a charge and really compete this week!

Again a pretty solid all round performance, a couple of poor bogeys, maybe a little bit of winter rust or a few bad decisions, but that will only improve with playing more! After 15 holes we got called off the course for thunder and had to resume the following morning, and looking back for me that may have been a good thing… after a shocking three putt bogey on 15 my head needed clearing to play the last three.

On the return I started with a bogey but made a great birdie up 18 to feel a lot happier about my round and pretty content with 69 (-3).

We had just under two hours’ turn around and went back out to start round three. I played lovely and to post a 66 (-6) with no bogeys in my first tournament back just shows there is not much winter rust to dust off! That score boosted me up the leaderboard into 16th and set up for a great last round.

It would have been nice to keep up the under par rounds for the year but a disappointing 74 (+2) to finish the week meant I fell back into 26th place.

Am I happy….? Yes and no… I played some great stuff throughout the week, but I guess as a professional you always want more! And that’s how it should be, you always want to get better, score better and finish higher, and that poor last round has given me another kick up the butt to keep working harder, as did the missed cut in Hong Kong!

My week in numbers!

My week in numbers!

Having a look back through my scores and thinking about how the course played, I really didn’t make the most of the par 5’s throughout the week, I played the 4 par fives in -6 for the week, with three of those holes reachable with irons and the other reachable depending on the wind, so that is realistically 16 very good birdie/eagle chances.

You’ve only got to look at Rory and Jordan Smith’s cards to see they both played them in -13, and in round 4 Jeff Winther made 3 eagles on the par 5’s.

But another good week overall and something to keep building on going forward over the next three weeks in the Desert Swing!

I’m not sure I ever thought I would be teeing it up in the Dubai Desert Classic and playing the Desert Swing events, so they are three events I’m very excited to get stuck into, especially now Tiger has committed to playing the Classic!

Back on the road – 2017!

This may sound like a crazy thing to say, but sometimes missing a cut can be a good thing, or perhaps just a blessing in disguise…

After a solid start to the season in South Africa, the following week in Hong Kong could of course have gone better, and if it had, for example, and I’d cruised through to the weekend and picked up a nice cheque, I may well have come home for winter and rested on my laurels, felt everything was tip top and just ticked over waiting for the SA Open to start!!

So, missing the cut, and missing it comfortably, gave me the kick up the a**e I needed to work harder than ever over the Christmas period and also make sure I’ve improved as a player for 2017!!

On returning from Hong Kong I got stuck straight back into my fitness training and let the clubs take the back seat for a few days so that I could enjoy some much-needed family time…and then the next step before I got practising again was to sit down with my coach Mark!

We had a great season de-brief, planned out the next four weeks and set some targets for this period of development time.

So, to get me back into it, the first test of my game and the ‘biggest’ game of the year, was the Woodsome Hall Christmas Texas Scramble! John Eyre had asked me to team up with him and Adam from the shop months back, and what I thought was going to be a leisurely stroll round, ended up being a super-competitive 9-hole competition where our team had the support from 20 members walking round hoping to enjoy some good golf!!

It was a great day out, really good fun and was followed up with some great banter, many Christmas pints, and a few hours chatting golf with lots of the fantastic members!!

As a team, we posted -7 for nine holes, and somehow I felt we got pretty lucky with the handicap system and only had to give back +0.4 shots to the field…but that cost us and we were taken down by the three bandits in the picture below – well played guys!!

Maybe next year!!

Quite a bit of my time in these four weeks has been taken up with some very thorough club testing. I’ve felt for a while that I wanted to try a new shaft and even a new head combination in my irons, and really wanted to find a set up that launch higher and fly stronger.

I can safely say I found that – I have really settled well into my new Srixon irons and cannot wait to get them into competition. You can check them out in John’s shop at Woodsome too, he stocks the same set!

I decided to go for the combo set where they go from a forged cavity to a slightly bigger forged cavity from 6 iron up to 4 iron, and then into a driving club in the 3 iron. The irons really do look great; they feel like a soft forged blade and with the new shaft option they perform great!!

MY IRON SPECS

Shaft: KBS C-TAPER X LITE

Grips: GOLF PRIDE, TOUR VELVET ROUND, 3 LAYERS TAPE

Irons: FORGED Z 765 (PW-7 iron) FORGED Z 565 (6-4 iron) Z U65 3/2 iron)

Some of you may wonder where and how can I do so much thorough club testing in the UK at this time of year, as the weather is so poor and ground conditions are not ideal for testing either.

But it’s a pretty simple answer – I head across to Wigan to my good friends Nick and Nicola Hibbs at TOUR X, and to put it simply they are the best in the business and they offer what no one else can with regards to club fitting, club building and giving everybody the same Tour player service regardless of handicap!

With two Trackman fitting bays, a putting studio, two Tour approved workshops over 15,000 different club variations in demo heads and shafts, you can’t possibly leave with the wrong set of clubs suited to you!!

I promise you will be blown away as you walk through the door into Nick’s golfing playground, and I know my pictures won’t do it justice, you just have to take a visit yourself if you’re serious about your golf!

As you know, as well as practising at Woodsome, when home I do try to spend a day each week at Oulton with my swing coach Mark Pearson and fitness coach Rachael Tibbs, so to get four visits in with both of them over the Christmas period was great; we made some huge steps with my game and it’s great to see the improvements in both the technical and physical aspects we have been aiming for!!

I was also fortunate enough whilst over there one day to spend some time with the elite players of their junior FUEL GOLF programme; they run an unbelievable training programme for the kids and it was fantastic to answer some questions and hit some shots for the next Rory or Chris Hansons of the game!!

Latest interview with Golfing World @ Woodsome Hall

Latest interview with Golfing World @ Woodsome Hall about how Chris gained his European Tour card at the 2015 Qualifying School and then went on to retain his playing rights for the 2017 season after finishing 108 on the 2016 OOM.

For more videos and interviews please follow the ‘media’ link above

Over and out for 2016!

It was a bit of a mammoth journey to get to Hong Kong and with the few hours extra delays we eventually arrived at the hotel around 1am Tuesday morning!

But with a sleep on the 1st flight, and then a battle to stay awake on the 2nd flight, that set me up for a good sleep in the hotel!

And I woke up feeling pretty good, just not sure what day it was! I polished off a decent breakfast and a really good gym session and was ready for the 10.30am bus to the course which was 30 minutes away!

I had heard the course was decent, a bit old school, tight, very tree lined and you don’t need to hit driver much.

They were right…

And after completing my practice round, I soon decided it’s one of my fave course layouts of the year!! The condition was fantastic, the definition was first class and the way it’s cut out through the trees was fantastic!

The whole set up of the event felt great!

We actually played it as a ‘hybrid’ course, meaning they mix in some holes off the other course to make the tournament course, and what a good job they have done, you really couldn’t tell!!

It was nice to have my Wednesday practice day back this week, as I always have my check list of tasks to complete, and with the greens being very different to last week due to the grain, I pencilled in a bit more time on the short stuff!

So all was set for another week and the second event of the year!

GOLF ROUND UP

There wasn’t much to ’round up’ this week, I only played two rounds and I played both of them pretty poorly!

Off the tee I was solid, my stats had me in position to take advantage of a shorter course…but I didn’t come close to taking much advantage of my good play from the tee.

My proximity from the hole on 2nd shots was below average and from long distance on greens you really couldn’t get to grips, which made it tough!!

From probably my best week on the greens in SA to one of my worst in HK this week, it just shows the difference in the conditions and how I’m really not used to playing in Asia on grainy greens!!

I guess it’s just something you learn more about the more you play, it’s definitely a challenge I’m ready to tackle head on!!

There is one thing I know for certain, the poor result didn’t come from lack of effort; I put some hard work in this week and teeing it up Thursday I felt I had done everything to be ready!!

But a three putt on the first from 18ft didn’t get me off to the best start and straight away rattled my confidence with the pace of the greens.

Until anyone plays on very grainy greens it’s tricky to explain exactly how it changes putting…all I can say is, it’s very different!

Thankfully after my early exit this week I managed to get my flight changed and get in the air Friday night, which then got me home Saturday morning which was fantastic!!

So home sweet home, and the last flight of the year done!

It wasn’t the end to 2016 I wanted on the golf course, but I can’t let that overshadow the fantastic year I have had and the achievement of keeping my card for 2017!

It’s now time for some quality family time, and to enjoy what’s going to be a crazy Christmas now that Olivia too is expecting that man in the red suit to arrive!

Golf wise, I’m sure the weather will not be too conducive to good practice, but I will keep working away at my game in Woodsome’s fantastic indoor facilities and down on the range!

I have some club testing to do, the new Titleist Pro V1 to try, and also I need to send my clubs off for an MOT!!

It’s also great to have this 4-week period over Christmas to keep up my strength and conditioning gains and start the 2017 in South Africa stronger than ever!

What an exciting year ahead…

UP & COMING…

South African Open

HSBC Abu Dhabi

Qatar Masters

Dubai Desert Classic

…I can’t wait to share the journey with you all again!!!