Taking my golf swing on holiday
Time to take my new golf swing on the road!
This week was always going to be an interesting one for the challenge as I’m on a family holiday. I knew that it was essential I got some kind of golf practice in, so took my new golf swing on holiday with us too! I took a case big enough to fit my wedge, 6 balls and my Bob Rotella audiobooks!
I’m staying at the Radisson Blu hotel in Sharm El Sheik, which has been brilliant. Not only is it a great hotel with nice food, ace pools and rooms but they have great staff that the kids have loved. When you’re on holiday with two kids under 4, thats the stuff that really makes a difference. Extra added Brucie bonus; it also has a great little area just outside our room that’s perfect for some chipping practice. Not to mention the beautiful sea view. Oh, and the sunbeds are perfect for some Dr Bob time. It all pointed to happiness!
Both my chipping and my mental game issues have been worked on a fair bit. Well, I’ll be honest, more listening to Dr Bob than chipping as our room is literally beach front so if it’s not early morning or late there’s too many people around for chipping!
As well as that, on Friday I got the chance to head out and play 18 holes at Jolie Ville Golf in Sharm El Sheikh. It was time to try out this mental game practice and see if my golf swing still works.
Jolie Ville Golf Resort is part of a big hotel complex about 15 minutes from my hotel in Sharm. It’s a huge set up, and looks pretty swanky when you first turn up. The green fees are quite high for non hotel guests (compared to what we pay in the UK), however they do some good deals on Fridays and Mondays.
I checked in and got shown to my buggy, and got my hire clubs. They were a pretty old set of Callaway X16’s, with some Big Bertha Steelhead woods. All ok? Well, the woods may take some getting used to as the driver head was not only tiny, but it had a stiff shaft (I normally use Reg flex) and only 9 degrees of loft (I use 11!). Still, this is just about keeping the practice up so as long as my golf swing is good they should still work ok… right?? One other MAJOR factor on this round… the wind. Today, we had wind that must have been hitting 40/50 mph. It was just bonkers, and not what you’d expect. This was going to make it a little tricky.
Off I went to the first, a par 4 (S.I 2), 343 metres, dogleg left to right with a raised green. Nice looking hole to start. Unfortunately, I had to tee off under the watchful eye of two fourballs who let me go out ahead. Thankfully, my first strike with the old Steelhead was ok. Sliced a little but with the shape of the hole I got away with it and landed safely on the fairway (of course I intentionally played that slice!!). I jumped into my buggy, breathed a huge sigh of relief and headed off to start my round. I rushed this hole a bit with the next two shots and played them both badly, then 3 putted for a 6.
Moving to the second, I realised that I had no course map and had no real clue where I was going! This combined with the wind could be tricky.
At the 2nd (par 3), I ended up with a bogey after a decent iron, an ok chip but a bad 2 putt. This was the story of the rest of the front 9 really. I figured out that in speeding up my swing a fraction I could hit the driver ok, and I was striking the irons lovely. However, around the greens was that really deep grass that’s really tough to chip out of. The greens were quite fast too, but I just didn’t get them right. Nor the putter. I two or three putted every hole, leaving me at the end of 9 with a 47. That left me +1 for my handicap. To be honest, I was pretty pleased to be only 1 over. The wind was really playing a part, I had no idea where I was going and I was using some unfamiliar clubs. I was more pleased with the fact I was striking the ball really well and my golf swing felt good.
Onto the back 9 where there seemed to be much more water!
The 10th was a par 5, 495 metres long with a slight left to right dogleg. Oh, and a big lake along the right for the last 200 metres of the hole. I hit my drive with a load of left to right shape, part slice, part wind! This left me way to the right. I then tried to make up some distance from a tough lie with a 3 iron. Got right under it and hit a high, short block. This still left me 200m short and to the right, with the water in front. For some bizarre reason, I made the decision in my head that I was now some kind of ace ball striker and that taking on the entire length of the lake with a long iron rather than just knocking one back onto the fairway was the shot to play here. It wasn’t. I struck a really nice 5 iron, but the wind took the legs off it. It landed with a splash. That was always going to happen, why did I think I could take it on in this wind? A succession of bad shots, a penalty and poor putts left me with an 8. Card spoiler alert! I was now 3 over my handicap.
After a bogey at 11, I managed a par at the 12th, which is the hardest hole on the course. Hit a great drive, followed by a nice safe 7 iron. This left me 30 yards from the green. Bumped a lovely 8 iron to 3ft and one putted. The best thing about this hole was that I really tried to use the Dr Bob Rotella target stuff. I picked out really specific targets for every shot and was very clear on what I was going to do. I didn’t try and reach the green in two, but laid up to a distance I was comfortable chipping from. It all worked out rather well! After another par at 13 I was back level.
It stayed that way until the 16th. A short par 4, 290 metres. I hit a good drive down the middle towards the marker post. As I got to my ball I realised the fairway just ended. I was somewhat confused as to where the green was. There was a green 90 degrees to my left over a small lake, but surely that couldn’t be it? Well, there were no other greens in sight so it must be. I hit a somewhat hesitant wedge as I was still not convinced, but with no numbers on the flags or a course map I just had to hope. It landed short, but I chipped on within 2 ft and putted for another par.
As I got to the 18th, I was -2 for the back, -1 for the round. Pretty happy. The 18th is a lovely hole. Par 5, 417 metres. Right to left fairway playing up to the clubhouse with a small feature lake in front of the green. After a bit of a sliced drive, I laid up to about 100 yards from the green. Over hit my 3rd, but chipped to 2 ft and made the par putt. That gave me a final score for my round of 90, 2 shots under my handicap.
I was made up with this. Firstly, because after not properly hitting a ball for a week my golf swing still felt solid. Secondly, on the back 9 I really got into aiming for specific targets and shot visualisation, which really helped me focus and have some course management. And finally the wind, lack of course knowledge and not using my own clubs all didn’t help, yet I still managed to play a good round of golf, and played tee of green really well. In fact, I had a total of 38 putts on the round. That tells it’s own story!
Here’s a quick video summery of the round – check out the wind!!
The main objective here was to keep the wheels turning on the challenge, and keep practicing my golf swing. The fact it turned out so well was a bonus. It also made a massive difference striking irons off a solid fairway and not off a muddy and sodden fairway.
The good news is I have a new golf swing that travels too!!