Author Archives: Chris Hanson

Reflecting….

I don’t have much to write about a cold week at The Home of Golf for the Alfred Dunhill Championship, and on leaving St Andrews for the 3rd time I started to think back to 2006 when I started my first year on the Europro Tour and really didn’t know what I expected from this crazy game.

I dreamed about playing on the European Tour.

Maybe one event, maybe a handful…I guess I wasn’t sure it would ever happen, so to be coming towards the end of my third season as a full member of the European Tour has been for me a pretty incredible achievement in itself!

Playing on the European Tour was my dream, I had it printed on the back of my business cards which I used to hand out trying to attract sponsors, and when I achieved that I just don’t think I knew what the next dream was.

 

Over the last few weeks I’ve had some pretty deep conversations with Laura, my coach Mark, and also Iain my mental/performance coach, but currently acting more like my counsellor or life coach!!

I 100% still have that dream to play on The European Tour, and whilst the year is not over yet I know my back is firmly against the wall!!

So as I was writing this on a flight back to Malaga last Sunday night following the British Masters, to see my family and to get ready for the Andalucia Masters just down the road, I fully understood it was going to take a special week at Valderrama and realistically some good golf at Tour School to keep my playing privileges.

But after recently just writing down and discussing all the different scenarios that could happen over the next few months, it sure painted a much clearer picture and I’m already looking forward to whatever path the next few months take!!!!

I try to be as honest as possible in my blogs, and although my scores don’t always show it, I’m not bullshitting when I say my game feels in good shape!!!

I firmly believe I have a good process in place with my full game, and it’s showing with the quality of many shots I’m hitting. I don’t however feel my process with my putting has been as strong!!

But over the last three events myself and Cyril (Caddy) have worked hard on this and at Walton Heath last week saw some progress on the greens.

I’m pretty excited that if I get my ‘rub of the green’ sometime soon then something special could happen – let’s hope so!!

BRITISH MASTERS SUMMARY

The course was great, they mixed the two courses together, and also changed three par 5’s to par 4’s for the tournament, but the condition was great and the greens were fantastic.

Justin Rose and his team along with the European Tour really put on a fantastic event!

Especially when you get this left in your locker on arrival:

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The food in the players lounge was exceptional too – warm hearty meals, salads, fresh smoothies, homemade flapjacks, and of course the odd cheeky pudding!

Monday to Wednesday the weather was perfect, and as per usual changed for the tournament days…the wind came up and it was strong.

In round one I played so solid, controlled it well, gave myself plenty chances but took none of them making no birdies and just had a two hole slip up on 3&4 which made the round look distinctly average.

I was in around 100th position and with another shocking forecast and the likelihood we wouldn’t complete our second round due to lack of light, I knew I had to play some special stuff.

We started on one, and chipping in from 20 yards was the ideal start, I then followed that up with the perfect birdie down 2. 

On three I found the fairway bunker, and I will tell you they have never been my strong point. Cyril earned his wage right there and then and flipped the situation round making me feel extremely confident that it was the right shot and worth taking on.

185 yards out of the sand, over the lip into a strong wind – in my favour it was an uphill lie, but I didn’t have my normal stance! Where this shot came from I don’t know and I clipped it off and found myself 30ft from the flag! I was buzzing!!

Another birdie on 6, then the power play on 7 didn’t come off but I was still in good shape! I made a straightforward birdie on 11, then parred around to the 14th green as it was getting darker and darker!

Thankfully we didn’t tee off and play was suspended for bad light, so we had four holes to complete and were hopeful we would come back to no wind the following morning.

That wasn’t the case as the wind came back with us but I played perfect golf for four holes to make the cut in 21st place, shoot the second best score of round two and move up the leaderboard 80ish places!

 

Saturday I played better than I scored (+1) and after slipping down the board a few places I was still very hopeful of a Sunday charge.

The forecast was worse than ever. Wet wet wet, windy and from the total opposite direction. Let me give you an example.

The 14th was 469 yards downhill, running like a road and playing down wind the first three days, on Saturday Lee Slattery found the greenside hollow with his drive and chipped onto the green. On Sunday I hit driver 4 iron and just made the front edge of the green!!!

I started round four well and was moving in the right direction, but a few dropped shots on the back nine meant in the end I signed for 75 (+3) and finished the tournament T48th.

A positive result after where I was in round one and a few needed points on the OOM, as every position has more importance come the end of the year!

As ever each week brings new experiences and as ever some interesting scenarios -this week was no different!

On 17 in round four I missed the par three green by a few yards left, to get up there to find the ball had landed on a root, bounced vertically and come to rest 15ft above me nestled in a few branches!

I had to somehow identify the ball before taking an unplayable lie and thankfully got up and down for a decent bogey.

 

One last thank you has to go to Justin Rose for hosting a quality week at Walton Heath; the British Masters has to be one of the best events of the year, and sadly rumours are they don’t have a title sponsor going forward and are in danger of losing another event on home soil!

 

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NEXT UP – The Andalusian Masters hosted by Sergio Garcia at my favourite venue Valderrama. 

 

Golfing updates b4 the final 3!

The last four weeks have been mixed, plenty of good stuff but just enough bad to keep me guessing, on and off the golf course. Emotions have been high but I can see plenty of positive things from my week in Portugal and after a week with the family practising, I’m very optimistic going into the last three events of the ‘regular’ season.

Golf is a crazy game, it only takes one good week at the right time to make it an amazing year, and the frustrating thing is a lot of players make a lot of money and have plenty of success by being very good a few times a year, but at times being very average or even poor!!

It works something like most guys make most of their money in 3-4 events a year!

Miss five cuts then win in this game and you get a lot more from it than finishing 20th 6 times in a row.

Over the last two seasons I’ve had a pretty high % of making cuts, and this year it’s been far from it! I’m always asking questions of myself and where I can improve and at times it’s felt so close.

But when I’ve been good I’ve not been good enough for four days (bar Dubai) and I’ve certainly played a lot more inconsistent golf throughout the year.

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It feels a long time ago now but I think I missed the cut in Crans Montana by a few shots, that was frustrating. It’s a course I feel suits me more than most as it’s quite tricky and of course it’s an amazing place to spend a full week and not be going home early!!

But the one benefit to missing a cut sometimes is that you get to share some special moments with family. Laura was chief bridesmaid that weekend and I got back in time to be with her for her best friend’s wedding.

It’s amazing sometimes how quick and easy you can get back home from wherever you are in the world when the travel plans work out, and thankfully on this occasion cheaply too.

The following week I was back out to The Netherlands for the KLM Open, an event I’d previously done well in (T8th in 2016). I really like the course at The Dutch and felt with some fine tuning from my coach Mark during the start up to the week, I was ready for a positive tournament.

I got it going ok, was never in the mix for the tournament, but was cruising along to make the cut. I guess I’ve been fragile to mistakes over the year as I’ve been battling cut lines a lot but I hit plenty of good shots throughout the second round.

But down the back nine I didn’t convert my good chances, and then didn’t take advantage of the easy par 5 6th. From there I made a shocking bogey down the 7th and from there my mental state left me.

I was emotional, very frustrated with my performance, and extremely disappointed and I know Steve was too, I could see it in his eyes; he’s wants it for me as much as he does for himself, he’s one of my best mates!!!

And that makes it tough for us both.

That evening we made the decision to go our separate ways professionally, as a caddie and player you probably spend more time together than you do with your wife, and I think for us we will both come out the other side better for it!!

I’m already looking forward to going out for dinner together on Tour and not having to discuss our performance on the golf course that day!!

Steve knows I can’t thank him enough for everything he has ever done on and off the course!!

I flew back the following day and Laura met me at the airport with a little surprise visitor – my youngest, Olivia, wanted to collect Daddy from the airport, so we had chatterbox in the car on the way home!!

It’s amazing how easily golf can be forgotten when you’re around your children, they really don’t care if you’ve played well or not, Olivia just wants to play Paw Patrol, and Jess just wants to show me her wobbly teeth!!

Seeing them is better than missing or making any cut!!

So it was a day to re-set at home, re-pack, find a caddy…and then head on down to Portugal with the kids for the sixth tournament in a row; it’s sure been a long stretch.

It’s always a bit of a birdie tournament in Portugal, low cut, big fairways, big greens, and not really anywhere to lose a ball. The rough was longer and more consistent this year but you could still find it and 90% of the time get it somewhere near the green.

I expected low scores again…and we certainly got them with Oliver Fisher shooting the first European Tour 59, (-12) what an achievement!!!!

Round one I got off to a nice start, I was six under playing my last hole, the 9th, and with a bit of misfortune behind the only tree just off the fairway, I unfortunately made double bogey to shoot 67.

I wasn’t too disheartened though as I played some lovely stuff and I seemed to gel pretty quickly with my new appointment on the bag – Cyril.

Day two I hung in there, it wasn’t my day but after a full day of waiting to see if I made the cut and having Jess ask all afternoon if she was going to Crèche at the weekend, we finally got the msg to say I was teeing it up Saturday and more importantly Jess got to see her Tour friends in Crèche!!

Over the weekend I shot level par for two days (71, 71) I made the third round cut (due to excess numbers) but finished 70th and probably cleared enough money to get the bus back home – ha ha!

It’s a step forward though, I was happy with my golf and my attitude, I sure felt more relaxed down the closing holes and after looking through my mistakes for the week they really were minimal and consistent, I just didn’t capitalise on enough of the good stuff!!

But maybe I will at the Dunhill…who knows, that’s just golf!!!!!!

Germany/Sweden/Prague round up!!

First, I just want to thank the people who replied to my last blog from Ireland/Scotland; there have been times over the last few months I haven’t wanted to write and that’s probably why a few blogs have been condensed into one.

But after receiving such wonderful messages, it soon reminded me why I enjoy sharing my journey and life on Tour!!

So, here we go again…I think we can say the back end of the season has started and it’s safe to say my back is against the wall!!!!

So, what’s the plan?

I got together with my caddy, Steve, and my coach, Mark, over at Oulton Hall!

It was like being back at school – a good old-fashioned de-brief with Mark standing at the front, next to his chalkboard!

But it was great, I didn’t hit a ball in the first hour, we went through some stats, what’s been good, what’s been bad, how we are going to make the bad good and keep the good good!!

You following that!?

It’s tricky, managing your practice time, keeping a good balance, making sure you do enough of something but then not neglecting other parts of your game!

It’s easy to get in a circle…you may struggle for a bit with putting, so you spend more time to bring that up to speed and then your driving takes a hit, as you’ve spent less time on that over that time period!

As I say…a tough juggling act!

Maybe it’s something I’ve not been great at, but I can promise that there has been no lack of effort with my practice!

So, it was Germany bound with a plan in place – I’ve always loved a plan, too; I have a lot of trust in my team, my coach, caddie, fitness and mental coach!

I like to talk through my game, I’m pretty open in getting my thoughts off my chest, and I’m sure I answer a lot of my own questions – but I tend to work best when I’m told what to do!

So, they’ve told me!! #GameOn


Unfortunately, though, Germany was another short week. I got there early Monday, had three great days’ practice and felt ready again for the week!

My best mate Ben made the journey to keep me company for the week, so we took advantage of the Porsche perks and went on their driving experience Wednesday afternoon.

It soon became clear I’m not a very good driver, but more clear that one day I would love to own a Porsche!!!

Best start playing well!!!

We did slaloms, skid pan, emergency braking, launch control, circuits and off road driving!!

A pretty fun experience and extremely lucky to do this for no charge!

Back to the golf: round one went ok, there were some positives, especially the way I putted and I ended the day on level par in around 60th position.

Day two the conditions were trickier, 3 guys shot -7 in the wind and I just couldn’t see those scores!

I was level through 8 holes after starting on ten and then made a few unforced errors! I was fighting again and felt I let myself down, as the Chris of the last two years turned those situations into a cut made not a cut missed!

So, as I mentioned, it was sadly a shortened week and myself and Ben got back Saturday!

That meant one thing!!

I was now caddying for Ben in the Halifax/Huddersfield scratch event!

I was strangely looking forward to it and decided I wanted to try and give it everything, as Steve would when caddying for me!

Well, it poured down – a caddie’s worst nightmare! You soon realise that they don’t have enough hands for the job which you expect them to have.

And as a player when you’re handing your caddy your glove, club and asking for some food all at the same time as he’s trying to use the yardage book, clean your club and hold the brolly…you need to cut them some slack, even when you’re p***ed off you’ve just made bogey.

I gave it 100% for the seven holes we played before being called off, but I would like to think I helped Ben a little.

It was fun! But a seven hole sample of caddy life was all I needed to want to get back to playing!!

I then had two weeks off – week one was a family week, some needed time away from golf and the feeling of chasing success and improvement!

We did some fun things, chilled out, and I really enjoyed some quality time watching my girls play and amaze me more every day!!

But that week soon ended and I was back to work on the game. I had a plan, but unfortunately that had to slightly change as I picked up a hip injury.

I couldn’t quite get the reps in on the range I wanted due to the pain through the ball, but luckily it didn’t stop me working on my short game.

For the next two weeks (Sweden/Czech) I had my good friend Adam Walker on the bag (Steve was on holiday), so Adam came out to Spain early for some practice with me, we played some competitive games with the members at Los Naranjos, and between us had some good short game challenges!

I normally practise on my own (it can get pretty boring and quite lonely), so to have the company and the competition sure helped!!

After a few great days we flew out to Sweden bright and early the following Tuesday.

After a quick warm up we got out to play – we thought the course was great, on the eye it was so appealing and pretty amazing how it had been carved out of the rocks and the hillside!

After nine holes I got the message that I was in the pro-am the following day, so got off the course to practise for the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t want to play 36 holes prior to the tournament!

So, by Thursday we were set to tee it up.

Round one I played nicely in some tough weather; the wind swirls through the trees and it has its own little Amen corner…it’s a tricky exam!!

I was happy to shoot three under and that set me up nicely for day 2.

So, another tricky day weather wise and a double bogey start was certainly not what the doctor ordered!!

You can actually hit good shots round there but with the swirly winds you can easily miss greens without doing much wrong!

The round then had a huge turning point on the 5th and after smoothing a solid 9 iron from 163 it was amazing to see it disappear for my first tournament hole in one but 7th all time!

I shot two under for a five under total and moved up to T13th which recently has been unknown territory . . .

It was certainly progress!!!!

The weekend was ok overall, I played nicely but one bad hole, making 9 on 15, made it look a very average finish around 45th for the tournament.

It sounds crazy but I only just missed the green on 15 by a yard, it wasn’t a shocking shot, but where it finished on the rocks after a bounce kind of got me stuck without many options to get out of the situation.

Onto Prague we went . . .

Last year the course in Prague played great – long, fantastic condition and thick rough due to the heavy rain, and I was leading through 36 holes, so have a soft spot for the course!!

But this year was different – due to the hot summer and no rain, the deep rough was burnt away, so to make it fair they had to cut the thick semi rough which had been watered down too.

It wasn’t fair for the guys miles off line to get away with it and guys just off line to be punished!!! So, all of a sudden you look at the leader board and it’s top heavy with guys who smash it miles!!!!

I played pretty solid through the week – overall it was lots of progress again and I was excited for what the rest of the season holds!!

I finished 1 under for the week in around 60th position but it was another four rounds under my belt and onto Denmark I went with a smile on my face!!!

For two positive weeks, a huge thanks must go to Adam Walker. Two great weeks on the bag helped me ‘dig myself out of a hole’ – thanks, mate!!!!!!!

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Now, let’s get to Denmark and see the family . . .

What was supposed to be a smooth and easy journey ended up being a nightmare!

Laura and the girls arrived the Sunday afternoon and my plan was to fly Monday 7am, Prague-Copenhagen, then get a three-hour lift with a few of the caddies!

Sunday night was spent in an airport hotel, with a 5am alarm and across to the terminal to get going.

At 7am when the flight was scheduled we were still waiting, at 9am we boarded the plane, then 9.40am we were back off the plane and waiting for any information about our journey!

CANCELLED!!!!!

With there being at least 30/40 caddies and players on that flight, it was then a mad scramble to book another flight path ASAP!

€400 later, I got another flight to Copenhagen and managed to get a lift north with some different caddies; in the end it wasn’t a bad option, a bit frustrating, but I got to the girls at 8pm!!!

With some guys not arriving till 2am the next day I think I did ok!!

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Reflection…..

Friday 22nd June (Laura’s birthday), strolling slowly down the streets of Cologne to find the nearest supermarket to treat myself to a disposable razor and maybe some sort of food to consume in the room that evening, I found myself writing the start of this blog…

I’m 100% living the dream, I know that before anyone says they would swap places, I’ve always wanted to be a pro golfer and nothing else!

In fact, I have no idea what I would do if I wasn’t – I have no other job experience, no CV and never had an interview!

But there are parts of this dream that I never dreamt about!

After a windswept and tiresome second round 82 on the golf course that morning, off the back of what felt like decent round one, it meant only one thing – another missed cut and five in a row, which for the second year around this time is pretty much a repeat!!

But I only know one way and that’s to knuckle down, work hard and build confidence through believing in what I’m doing.

It’s just sometimes hard not to think in reality you’re just not playing well enough and you’ve spent over £10,000 in the process trying.

There is certainly no easy route in this game, but I feel I’m getting some direction back and clearing up some off course issues.

It’s certainly not just as easy as playing golf, despite all the ‘good’ advice you sometimes get along the way!

I can certainly say I’ve been ‘away with the fairies’ on the course over the last few months and that’s no way to play golf, especially when you haven’t got a smile on your face!

That’s why in round 1 in tough conditions I felt I had really made some positive steps, improved my focus and reaped a few rewards in the process!

But round 2 then made it clear it was still work in process!

But as I’ve said numerous times, with golf when you feel you’ve got it, it certainly bites you in the bum …. and at that point even though you’re closer, it can feel worse!!

So it was a Saturday of practice and then a Sunday road trip with a few others! Adrian Otaegui, his caddy Ian, Alex Björk’s caddy Oli, Bradley Neil and my caddy Steve.

We hired a 9-seater between us and headed six hours down the road to Versailles near Paris for the French Open around the amazing Paris National, home of this year’s Ryder Cup!

Everyone was pretty excited to see how the course would be set up, it was the perfect test for the RC!

And it didn’t disappoint!

The definition was outstanding, the LONG knee deep wispy grass was back and looked so intimidating!

You pretty much know if you hit it in there you won’t see it again, it’s that thick!

The fairways are pure, there was a fair first cut of rough, and then a deep second cut before the FPS (Fooking Pink Stuff).

It doesn’t need to be windy to make this place a challenge, so to have the strong winds Thursday automatically made the course two shots harder!

Overall I played nicely in round 1, bar the double on the 5th from the FPS, I was +4 through 17 and nowhere near out of the tournament.

But the 18th has to be one of the most demanding holes in golf, and looking at the scores through the week on there, it proved it!

I wasn’t the only person to take 8 down there, and in doing so that meant I shot 79 (+8) and had a lot of work to do Friday!!!

Friday I played some of my best golf of the year, and it’s always positive when you shoot under par around this course, but after that finish in round one it had given me too much to do and I missed the cut by three!!

So the torrid spell continued but we battled on, I did some practice Saturday and then was lucky enough to get a ride with some good friends back to the UK where I crashed out at Gatwick airport before a really early flight to Belfast on the Monday!

There’s not much to say at all about the following week in Ireland!

By the time Thursday came around I couldn’t keep off the toilet, out of nowhere I picked up a sore knee, limped my way around the course, then after hitting my tee shot on 14 and throwing up in a bush, I was done!!!

My first ever withdrawal from an event, I felt pretty sad about it, but it was the right thing to do as playing those last four holes was doing no one any favours!!!

It was all about trying to get fit for Scotland the following week!!

I managed to get back to Huddersfield for a few days to rest up with family before heading north for the Scottish Open, some battered Mars Bar and a can of Irn Bru.

I played nine holes Monday afternoon and was shattered…but after a good sleep and some comfort food I felt fresh and ready to get going again Tuesday!!!!

It was great to have some support up there through the week, you can always hear the volume of the claps or cheers slightly raised when you have some of #TeamHanson the other side of the ropes!

Day one I battled with my swing off the tee, but some clutch putts meant I hung around and ended the day +1!

I got it under par for a bit of the round, and it would have been great to close that out, but I guess from where I was off the tee +1 was a pretty fair reflection.

Day 2 I knew I had to go low, but many people were, so we set a target: three birdies front nine, three back nine!!!

Of course, no bogeys was the plan but that didn’t happen; in the end I rolled in a 30ft birdie on the last to have another great day on the greens and my 7th birdie for 67 (-3).

It was a valiant effort and I was a different player off the tee!!

But the game sure isn’t going my way in regards to results at the moment!

It’s been tough…and one question you constantly get asked is are you still enjoying it?

The travel? Not really when you’re scoring poorly, journeys sure feel a lot longer!

The practice? I always enjoy trying to become a better player and asking questions of myself!

The competition? I think it’s the competition that keeps me going, the buzz of pegging it up, the battle against the course, yourself, other players.

Being away from home? Nothing to enjoy about that when you don’t get the reward for the sacrifice.

But one thing for sure, success always tastes sweeter after a spell of failure!!!

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Charity News and Competition time!

On an extremely positive note, I am excited to announce my new charity partnership which is very close to my caddy Steve’s heart and one which I am truly honoured to support.

ROYAL NAVY AND MARINES CHARITY

www.rnrmc.org.uk

With Steve serving in the Marines for 25 years I’ve heard first-hand what they do and the sacrifices they continue to make and if together we can help raise awareness and support them in any way, that would be fantastic!

So along with flying their colours on my PEGolf driver head cover, we are going to run a small fundraiser over the Irish Open and Scottish Open Rolex events (July) where for each birdie I make I will donate £5, and each eagle £10 to our fundraising page.

(Just giving page to be set up)

This is something we would love you to be part of.

Whether it’s £1/£2 or £5 a birdie or whatever you choose to commit to, it would be great to get you guys involved.

So, please do get in touch on hansonprogolf@googlemail.com if you would like to pledge your support.

Thanks as ever

Chris & Steve


COMPETITION TIME

Fancy winning a super cool personalised PEGolf  (www.pegolf.se) head cover similar to the ones I use…?

Well all you have to do is answer the question below and I will get Steve to pick the winning name out next week at the French Open!!

PEGolf will make you a black leather driver/3wood or rescue cover and let you choose what  colour writing/names you have on the cover and send it to you asap!!

Here are some examples of what you could win….

QUESTION: This year will be my 3rd BMW International Open in Germany, which year did I finish T38th on a score of  286 (-2)

Please email me your answer (hansonprogolf@googlemail.com) and enter by Sunday 24th June!

GOOD LUCK

Catch up blog!

I didn’t play well in Belgium and there is not much more to say really; it was a shame, as the course suited me on the eye from the start, very tree lined and playing quite tricky. But after a few poor tee shots early on I lost a bit of commitment and trust to some shots.

I battled hard in round two and pushed for the big result, trying to make eagle down 17…but in the end I missed the cut which left me searching for some answers.

The good news was I felt I found them.

So, it was onto Wentworth for the first Rolex event. I was pretty excited to go back too; I played the PGA Championship last year and the event sure lived up to the expectations.

This year I felt more prepared, I knew the course now, felt I was starting to turn a corner after ‘finding some answers’, and was really looking forward to the challenge.

Laura was with me for support which is always great, she also has so many friends on the Tour and it’s nice to have her walking the course with me.

Unfortunately, in round one there was nothing really to cheer about for 17 holes; I was four over par, struggling away on the scorecard and not really making huge errors, just letting the odd shots slip away.

The 18th is a good chance, but also tricky if out of position. I played it perfectly; you have to hit at least a 20-yard cut around the corner to give yourself a good chance of going for the green.

I then hit a five iron to around 20ft and rolled it in for eaglewhat a bonus and that gave me a fighting chance Friday to make the cut!!

I was near enough last out Friday. 3.10pm is a later than normal tee time due to the one tee start (like The Open), so killing time in the morning is always tough as you never want to do too much, but you don’t want to just do nothing and waste the morning either.

I did some laundry in the local town, had a quick swim, then headed up to the course for an hours practice prior to lunch.

I was up for it, I played pretty much perfect stuff, or should I rephrase that, I managed my game perfectly and through 12 holes I was three under and -1 for the tournament.

I felt the cut would probably be level par, so I was back in the tournament.

15 is a pretty horrible looking tee shot to me, I was a little scarred from a poor shot there last year, but after a good one this year in practice and a great one in the first round, I knew what I had to do.

But today wasn’t the day; I hooked it left, had to lay up short of the green and made a bogey. There are then three good chances to finish but a bit of a miss on fourteen and maybe the wrong shot on 16 led to another bogey.

In the end I needed that eagle up 18 again - another perfect drive and an ok second shot into the green, I made birdie but in the end it wasn’t enough.

Gutted to miss the cut again, as nobody wants to miss the weekend at Wentworth. But thats golf and you have to just pick yourself up and go again.

The great thing is that it was back to back Rolex events, so I was Italy bound for the next one and the fabulous Lake Garda!

Wentworth was a great test, firm and fast greens, and amazing condition, but this weeks venue couldn’t have been more different. They didn’t have the weather prior to the event they wanted, thunder storms and rain led to a super soft course, which made the fairways wider due to no run or bounces off line, also the greens were like puddings, so not quite as much imagination was needed and that also led to the greens not being quite asgood as they hoped!

I was cruising along nicely through 9 holes on two under and the game felt in control, but some poor bogeys and a loss of momentum down the back nine meant I had to birdie the last for level par.

Again, slightly on the back foot after round one, meaning a challenge Friday morning to make the cut and get back up the leaderboard. I played some good stuff, made some good birdies and gave myself a chance coming in. I missed the best chance on 16 and in the end finished the day -3 and unfortunately missed the cut again by one shot.

I was left a little frustrated, working hard, feeling I’m making improvements and not getting anything from it.

 

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From there I was scheduled to have two weeks off, missing the event in Austria, but after some persuasion from the team I managed to get an invite back into Austria, where hopefully I could turn a corner and maybe change my luck a little.

I’ve played the event three times at this course, I know the place quite well and have a top ten to my name there; it’s always firm and when windy can get very tricky.

The only difference this year was that it was the new initiative of the Tour – The Shot Clock Masters!!

Each group had a ref with them, every shot got timed and if you didn’t hit your shot within the allocated time you received a penalty shot on that hole. No one was sure what was going to happen, how the event would pan out, and how many people would be handed penalty shots.

I think I speak for most players when I say I was a little on edge for the first nine holes, I had one eye on the stop clock and one on my shot.

I played ok, settled into the round but could only post level par, that left me just inside the cut line so it was game on Friday.

In the end the cut fell at +2, which I guess was due to the tricky afternoon wind. But for me it didn’t matter in the slightest.

After a poor front nine I somehow eagled my 10th (1st) but from there I fell apart, that hasn’t happened in a long time, but everything became tough and it felt like the golfing gods were swallowing me up. I wanted out of there and just couldn’t find that fighting spirit I seem to find 99% of the time.

I let myself and my team down, and no one is more disappointed than me!

So, another early bath for me, and missing cuts sure doesn’t get easier!!!

I’ve now got that much-needed week off to regroup, work hard, give my head a good shake, sort out a few off-course things, and come out fighting for the middle of the season!!!!

Bring on the challenge!!!

T27th near The Great Wall!

The week in China felt a bit different from all previous visits; we were in the countryside and it was actually quite nice.

Before, it’s always been pretty mental, very busy, main roads and high-rise buildings etc!

But at Topwin we were 20 minutes from The Great Wall of China, surrounded by hills, mountains and it was pretty green!

A lot of guys went to see the wall and that was my plan too, but after round 1/2 of hitting my irons so bad my priorities soon changed and I needed to practise.

So, the closest I got was the view from the course and that was impressive anyway!

Apart from the food, the first challenge you have is sleeping, and getting on the correct time zone, as it’s an 8-hour difference from Morocco.

We landed at 4am Tuesday and got to the hotel around 7.

I decided to get three hours sleep, shower, change then head up for my practice round!

Whichever way you do it, you’re going to be tired come 9pm! It’s just whether you can get to sleep or not!

I did pretty well for the week, the only night I had a problem was Thursday night. I had a 4am alarm and didn’t get to sleep till around 12, after three hours of counting sheep!!

 

The course for the week was pretty decent; we played preferred lies all week as it had lacked a bit of growth, but in general it was very good!

There were some reachable par fives and three reachable par 4s which still asked you the question…. “what’s the best way to play this hole?”

Not really risk and reward as playing it either way could be very tricky!

Over the first two rounds I really struggled with my irons and the approach shots; I battled and battled and couldn’t solve the problem on the course – very frustrating!!

I somehow shot 71, 71 to make the cut, and if it wasn’t for some good putting down the back nine I wouldn’t have been around for the weekend!

Saturday, or “moving day” as it’s known, was a good one for me, and would have been even better if it wasn’t for a three putt off the fringe on 18 for par!

But 67 (-5) moved me up the leaderboard 25 spots and earned us a lie in Sunday!!

I guess the overnight WhatsApp lesson with coach Pearson helped!!

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So, it was one last round and then I could get out of China and back to see my girls for a couple of weeks before the Belgium knockout (missing Sicily).

I shot 70 (-2) in round four, so it was pleasing to have four rounds under par, but even though I played ok it always feels worse when your playing partner shoots 64 and again I three putted 18 for par!!!!!!!!!

Believe it or not, though, I’m pretty happy; I played decent in Morocco and built on it again in China, maybe another week of golf would have been good for my game??

But as I was writing this on the way to the airport Sunday night for a 2am flight, I knew I’d much rather be going home than onto another event!

It’s been a long three weeks on and off the course with quite a few distractions off the course which we didn’t need and have been tough for the family.

So, some time together then my run of events looks like:

Belgium 

England – PGA Wentworth (Rolex event)

Italy – (Rolex Event)

Bring it on!!!!!

On another note – thanks for all the entries into my little competition last week, everyone who entered got it right (Spider-Man) and the winner from Twitter was: Neal Gladwin

COMPETITION TIME + Madrid/Morocco BLOG

After four weeks off and some decent practice, I felt I was set for the event in Madrid. But I guess because you haven’t actually competed for four weeks you’re just never too sure how match sharp/ready you’re going to be!

The weather for everyone’s prep was shocking – rain, windy, cold, and the wind chill must have been minus degrees at times!!

I was one of the last few groups out in round one and felt that may be a better time as we didn’t get the really cold early start.

But I think the general consensus was that we got the tough side of the draw, it was wet from 5pm and that, with the wind, made it so cold again!

I was a couple under for half the round, then through the rain I let a few weak shots cost me bogeys and, in the end, carded a 73 (+1).

A shame after being under par and it then left me plenty of work to do, thinking the cut would probably be -2/3 come Friday evening.

Through 10 holes of round two I was +2 for the tournament but battled hard, dug in and birdied 2, 5, 6 and 7 to give myself a chance.

A par save on 8 then a great shot into 9, I trickled a smelly putt down to a few inches and thought maybe I had a chance on -2 total.

As did many, many other people, after the number of messages I received for my battle!

In the end it comfortably missed as it fell to -4, which if you think about it, it probably should have been expected as there was no rough on the golf course!

A bit of juicy semi rough but smash it way off line past the semi and you were on hard pan or another fairway!!

It was bomber’s delight, and paradise if you hit the odd wide ball as you were never losing it!

Not my cup of tea, as normally you get a good reward and a fair driving exam!!

Roll on Morocco!!

So, after missing the cut, I got to explore the city of Madrid with the family which was great, the kids loved the national science museum! We then got home early for a day of practice with Steve before heading out to Morocco!!!

And this year a slightly new challenge in Morocco was waiting.

After receiving an email from the Tour a month back with details of all the new green changes, it sounded like the course was going to be incredible.

It’s already a great course, narrow fairways and small greens…so how good could it be? Could they make it better?

Four greens were the same as previous years but they have all been re-laid and the other 14 have had elephants buried underneath them!

Nearly everyone’s instant impression was they hadn’t made it better….

Some greens now looked crazy and possibly unplayable in parts. If you got chance to watch it on TV, I hope they showed the 4th, 9th, 10th and 17th where the pin positions are now so limited!!

Anyway, I still love the place! It’s a fact that if you now play bad you really don’t have a chance and if you play good you’re in the mix!

Very similar to India this year!

Good morning practice Tuesday, 18 holes prep, then back to the hotel gym for a session with the Tour Strength and Conditioning coach!

Wednesday saw the arrival of coach Pearson!!!! So I just knew it was going to be a productive day, and a great laugh!!

#TeamHanson spirit is through the roof, it’s always a day of total piss take, normally at the expense of Steve, and as always he takes it great and gives it back in equal amounts!

In this team no one hides away from criticism, everyone is super keen to learn and do whatever it takes to push closer to our goals!!

The environment we work in is first class and I’m sure in every business it’s something they all should be striving to achieve!!!

It’s a team effort! Even if Steve does think he hits the shots (that’s a caddy joke, promise).

So, as expected, a great day of practice, a quick session on the Tour fitness truck and I was set for round 1.

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Round one went ok, it didn’t feel great, but Steve and Mark both felt we managed it well.

In the end I shot level after holing a nice birdie putt on 18, and then to see my ‘strokes gained’ stats relative to the field as all positive, it was a pleasing thing to see!!!

Round two…today we were in for a battle!!

Starting on 10 I flushed my tee shot and we were off! Missed a great chance on 11… but it felt good!

15th I made birdie and was under par, but not for long, following it with a bogey! I made a great up and down on 18 to turn in 1 under and was in good spirits!!

But this place is just tough and doesn’t offer up many chances, my game started to get a little scrappy and after a poor tee shot on 6 I made bogey.

I thought the cut would probably go to +3 and I’m not going to lie, it was in the back of my mind.

Down 7 I found my drive stuck behind a lone tree, I tried to chip 5 wood as I had no follow through and use the spring face to get it up near the green.

Another bogey, I was now +2 with what should be a birdie chance par 5, and then a tricky island green par three!

It was far from a straightforward finish, I pulled my tee shot, and again was stuck behind a tree, I had to play a sand wedge left handed out of a rough lie…. I made contact and it flew across the fairway into the rough/trees at the other side.

I was now knee deep, I hacked it 70 yards forward then thankfully held my cool to hit a 7 iron to 15ft and rolled it in!!!!!!!!!

I missed a great chance on 9 but was happy to hang onto the right side of the cut line, it’s felt like a while since I’ve played a weekend!!!!!

I set off really nicely in round three, with birdies on 2 and 5, it kind of felt in cruise control, but I guess the minute it normally feels like that the game then bites you!!

Soon enough I was +1.

I played some great stuff from 11 through to 15, with a birdie on 12, but didn’t capitalise on lots of good chances.

If you miss the fairway on 16 it’s tough, a bogey there followed by the worst bogey of the day on 17.

A birdie on 18 would have made the day feel a lot better, and after a perfect drive I left myself a number where I could find the green. I’m not one to hit many high draws on demand, so to hit a high draw with a five wood from 270 and see it pitch on the green was pretty satisfying.

Unfortunately, it bounced through the back and I failed to get up and down! Argh!

I hit a few putts that afternoon, smashed a strong gym session, then got back to the hotel, packed up and chilled out ready for one last round before heading to China!

Round 4 – it felt again like every round this week, really good, got it under par through half way and then stumbled over the finish line either level par or over par!!

I had a good chance to go to -3 on the 13th but missed that and from there it went the other way with bogeys at 14 and 16! Soft bogeys too….

18 is a chance if you smash a tee shot up there…did I?? Nope! I smashed it into the trees, tried to get a free drop for animal scrapings, which the ref was having none of!

So, a penalty drop, a crap lay-up, but saved by a nice 18ft putt for par!!!

T41st 72, 74, 74, 72

Was it a good week? It was ok…but what was very satisfying was the progress I have made on a couple of aspects of my game by applying some new processes to them over the last five weeks!!

I’m pretty excited, as most of the time it’s easy to see the changes in practice but then on the course is where it counts!!

Already I’m looking forward to competing in China!!

Let’s hope for some more progress!!

 

*COMPETITION TIME*

It’s been a while since I ran a competition, so here goes….

Fancy winning a dozen Titleist ProV1’s and a Callaway Tour bag towel?

Then email or contact me on social media with the answer to the below question and if it’s correct then you’re in the draw!

• Which superhero is on my new custom www.pegolf.se three wood head cover? It’s also my youngest daughter Olivia’s favourite character!!

Clue: the answers in this blog

*entries close 29 April – with the draw done the following week*

The DLF exam!

I think I’ve told you this before but Richard Finch tells everyone I.N.D.I.A stands for….

“I’ll never do it again!”

That rule doesn’t really apply to me as there probably isn’t anywhere I won’t travel to…my motto, as I’ve also told you, is:

“Have clubs will travel!”

The only place I struggle to visit is China, and I’m going back there again next month, so I can’t be that bothered!

So, this year it was back to New Delhi and the DLF golf course; last year the Tour made a re-visit to the redesigned course and it received mixed views!

It’s a Gary Player designed course, but many of us weren’t too sure if Gary Player himself had actually stepped foot in New Delhi . . .

If he did he must have been a few sheets to the wind, or really didn’t want the Indian golfers to enjoy our beautiful game!

For Joe public this golf course could well be one of the most brutal tests out there. I was thinking about it whilst trying to count sheep on my night flight and failing to nod off – there really isn’t an easy hole, and many of the holes have punishment both sides of the fairway too!!

Then if you do manage to navigate the fairway, the greens are pretty damn tricky to find, and then once you’re on them ‘Gary’ decided to make them undulating!

By the way, I’m not complaining, that’s just my view, I was there and ready to embrace the challenge!!!!

Aside from the above, though, the condition is world class, and on the eye some of the holes are breathtaking!

17 sure stands out, but the 2nd shot on 18, if you’re going for the green in two, looks simply stunning!!

That, Gary, you did a good job with!

 

So, a nasty night flight as I mentioned, 5 hours into Istanbul, then five hours into New Delhi, then with a time difference I made it to the hotel for 6am ish.

Which is pretty much 2am in the morning, so shower, changed and up to the course for what felt like night golf! (On my time zone!)

The key is to stay awake, not go to sleep too early, hopefully then when you do hit the pillow you are so tired you sleep through your original time zone and magically wake up on Indian time feeling fresh as a daisy!! Sounds easy . . .

But what normally happens is you wake up through the night as your body doesn’t know what’s going on!

I had two solid days of practice Monday/Tuesday but very quiet, I’ll explain why soon!

My aim was to keep my intensity up from the prep I did in Qatar, make it hard, get myself frustrated with failing my tests and really try to switch on to competition mode!

I was also testing some new irons which I felt were going to offer more to my game than the current irons I was using!

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I hit a lot of ‘knock down’ shots and like to fade the ball with my irons, or at least try to fade it…that’s my swing feeling! So, having irons which have no offset (hence traditional blades) should make that a lot easier!

After two days’ of practice and then playing the pro-am, I settled into the new Callaway APEX MB irons very well!! In fact, I love them!

Three days of prep completed and around six curries consumed, I was ready for round one!

Pretty good draw too, Robert Rock and Daniel Im, both great guys, good on course attitudes and with fun caddies too – it would make for a fun few rounds!

You still wondering why I had two quiet days?

It was quite funny in the end, as thankfully it worked out ok, but me and my coach had joked for a few weeks that after receiving a Facebook msg from an Indian local caddy that Steve would be getting the sack and I would be taking the local caddy Gourav for the week.

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So, when Steve arrived at Manchester airport on Sunday to have his visa rejected and be told he couldn’t fly, Gourav was all of a sudden on standby!

However, my quiet two days came to an end Tuesday afternoon when I heard Tooby strutting his way across the putting green! He had made it!!!

How did the golf go?

Let’s wrap it up pretty quickly, as the result wasn’t what I hoped for!!

Over the 36 holes I actually played quite nicely, I hit 4 bad tee shots and round that golf course you don’t get away with any!

Lost balls, unplayable lies, hazards!!

I made some big numbers and lost two balls in two shots off my 11th hole in round 1!

But after nine holes of round two I gave myself plenty of chances to make the cut and I really tried to dig in!!!!!

77, 75 +8 M/C

I believe in everything I’m doing, will continue to work hard and I’m looking forward to those tournaments where I get that reward, as it’s going to really feel sweet then!

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The 2nd desert swing!

So, it was back out to the desert for the second desert swing of 2018!

This time it was Oman followed by Qatar.

The last time I was in Oman was for the Challenge Tour grand final in 2015, when it was pretty much an ‘all or nothing’ month in my career as I was at a very low point financially and mentally.

I had an average week there but then went on to get my card at Q-School and then started the next chapter in my career the following season on the European Tour.

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I did play the Qatar event last year and finished mid pack, so it was nice to go back and play both these courses in 2018.

After a pretty long travel day, and then a night flight Monday, landing 8am in Oman Tuesday morning, I headed straight to the course and was showered and on the range by 9am!!

After a quick warm up I was straight out on the course. It’s a great track – to me it feels like a little bit of a mixture of desert and heathland by the sea – it has the potential to be very windy!!! The condition was perfect too!

Wednesday was my normal practice day with a slight twist at the end – five pros were asked to play a five-hole junior pro-am; it was good fun and the kids in my team were great!!

Round 1 got off to a crap bogey bogey start!! Not ideal at all and, in the end, I dug out a round of level par with a battling finish down the last three holes!! I made a great 5 on my 16th with a penalty drop, holed a great putt on the next, and made a nice save from 7ft on the last!

Scoring-wise I was relatively happy, but performance-wise it felt a little scrappy!!

Round two started the total opposite and finished the total opposite!!!!

Two under through three and then threw all that away with some mental errors and just some all-round crap golf!!!

From that start there was no way I felt I should have missed the cut, and it’s a shame as it really did feel like a golf course that should suit my game! But I’m old enough and wise enough now to realise that’s not the case and golf will always be the winner!!!

So, it was a re-set over the weekend, be more competitive in practice and look forward to the next event in Qatar!!!

After a busy weekend of practice, it was then straight into it Monday. I didn’t feel my driver was quite right in Oman, it’s probably the fastest driver I’ve used, distance-wise it was performing but dispersion-wise it wasn’t good enough.

So, Monday and Tuesday morning I did some thorough driver testing and took them all out to play nine holes each day. I think that’s something I’ve probably not done enough of when testing – you can always get a driver to feel decent on the range, when there is no fairway definition, pressure, or other elements.

Monday, Tuesday it was very windy too, so it was great to hit plenty drives on the course with different directions and strengths.

I ‘gamed’ the Callaway Sub Zero Rogue last week, but like I said it wasn’t quite right.

So, I tested:

Callaway standard Rogue – Tensie Orange shaft

TaylorMade M3 – Tensie Orange shaft

Ping G400 LST – Tensie Blue shaft.

TaylorMade was great on the range, but over the course of the two nine holes I played, the bad shots just weren’t good enough for me, maybe the twist face was not for me.

The Ping really surprised me, I normally wouldn’t have tested it, but my good friend Adam Walker had just been fitted for one and said ‘give it a whirl’. I did and it was fast, and pretty straight too…it was in contention!

The Sub Zero head didn’t quite sit square enough for me, so once I got my hands on the ‘standard’ head with the right loft I loved it, it sat great, felt great and again came off the face as fast as the Sub Zero did!!

On the course it went well, and it totally reined in my dispersion with my bad shot being just a tad blocky with a bit too much spin – it was very safe though!!!

We had a winner!!!!!

 

It was two great days of testing, and two great nine holes where me and Steve set loads of competitive games whilst on the course…points for hitting fairways, greens, up and down challenges, bunker tests and holing out!

I was very lucky to have my good friend Gary Dunkley out to support me in Qatar. Gary currently lives in Georgia, so it was a short flight over to Qatar. We stayed in the official hotel which was a cracker!

The St Regis!! Gary didn’t get in till Wednesday so, unfortunately, he missed out on the welcome party, but me on the other hand…I took full advantage of the five-star buffet beach/poolside on the Tuesday night!!

With my category position slightly improving this year, I seem to be getting some nice draws. In Oman I played with Pepperell (won in Qatar) and in Qatar I got Marcel Siem and Scott Jamieson.

I had dinner with Marcel the week before just by chance, he’s a character for sure, great fun, but had heard on the course he can be pretty fiery.

Over the first two days we had a good laugh, we all played some mixed stuff but pushed each other round, and all three of us sneaked the cut in very different fashion. Scott scrambled home with a few mistakes, Marcel cruised to a stress free 6 under, and I hung in there till the end birdieing 7, 8, 9 to shoot -5 and make it on the mark!!

A great group, good players and also great caddies, it makes your first two days at work a lot more enjoyable when there is some good chat, some fun stories and plenty of banter!

I was delighted with my finish, and Steve and Gary certainly were too. I was pretty certain the cut was looking at falling at -4 – the weather was good, the wind hadn’t stayed around from Tuesday and the standard, as you know, is pretty damn good!

There were a few holes which offered up some pretty straightforward chances: 1, 10, 16, 18, but the rest you needed to get it in position and hit some very good shots.

I started on 10, and made a perfect birdie! Made the easy birdie on 16, and then holed a good putt on 18 for birdie, so cruised through the front nine -3 without really doing anything special.

I didn’t take my chance on 1 but the key moment of the round was holing from around 18ft for bogey on the 3rd. It’s a tough par 3 playing over par for the week and I tried to make a meal of it.

I then had 6 holes to chase three birdies to play weekend golf – missed a chance on 4, parred the next two and then it was make or break!

All you can do is give yourself a chance, give yourself a putt at it…and I did better than that as I nearly didn’t have to putt!

7th – 3 wood, 95 yard LW to 3ft = birdie; 8th – 6 iron, 185 yards to 3ft = birdie; 9th – driver, 4 iron, 110 yard LW to 3ft = birdie.

 

WEEKEND GOLF! Now that finish felt like a nice reward for the preparation I had put in!

Over the weekend I shot a pair of 71’s, so finished the tournament -6 and 53rd, not a great week in terms of position on the leaderboard but I had plenty of my own little wins in there to be proud of!!!

I’ve now got five days with the family, as I’m missing the Tshwane Open, and then I fly back to India to play the super challenging DLF golf course!

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