South Africa

Few will have failed to notice that I have been in South Africa for quite a few weeks now. I’ve been busy on instagram showing some of the beautiful and interesting places I’ve been to in the last few months. I really have had the most fantastic time here, and I am not looking forward to returning to London tomorrow night at all.

When I first arrived in Cape Town I was busy working for Cape Thoroughbred Sales who were holding their annual yearling sale in the middle of the city which once again was a big success with buyers from overseas.

Once the sales and the J and B  Met were over I concentrated on golf, and played a great deal in preparation for the  Sunshine Ladies Tour. The  Sunshine Ladies Tour was a brand new tour that has been formed in South Africa, and that has received backing from some big and important sponsors including Investec and Dimenson-Data. This year there will be 7 events on the tour but hopefully the tour will continue to go from strength to strength over the next few years. After a few weeks of play and practice in Cape Town I flew to Johannesburg to play the first competition on the tour. Before I flew to Johannesburg I didn’t actually appreciate the difference in altitude. It is just short of 2,000 metres above sea level so this makes a big difference to the ball flight when on the golf course. It adds about 10% to the distance you would normally hit a ball. It can be great, but if you forget it can cause a problem!

The first event I played was at Houghton Golf Club in the heart of the city. It was a golf course that was recently redesigned by Jack Nicklaus with some very undulating greens. It was the first tournament that I played in since LET Q School in November and only the second since the nasty car crash I had in October. Since October I have struggled with whiplash and nerve pain down my left arm in particular. I had hoped the time and warm weather would improves things, and it did… But I think I might have overdone the golf at the same time, so after getting better it got worse again.. I tried to get some physio and massages in Johannesburg before my first event, and although it helped it didn’t help a huge initially and I struggled in the tournament. Having pain like this causes quite a lot of doubt in your golf swing, and consequently I didn’t play my best. Having said that I did hit some very good shots, and made quite a few birdies but there were also some poor swings and shots. After Houghton I decided that I shouldn’t travel to Sun City the following day to play the next event on the schedule. It was a shame as I was looking forward to going to Sun City to play and seeing it. I understand it quite a sight to see. I’ll have to save it for next year now. I stayed in Johannesburg and got lots of physio, as I was hoping I’d be better with a few days rest as I was flying to George to play at Fancourt on the beautiful and renowned garden route.

Dimenson-Data have sponsored a big Pro-Am on the men’s Sunshine Tour for a number of years, and from what I heard it was the highlight of the players and amateurs season, and those who are just there for the party! For the first time there was a ladies pro-am which I was very lucky to be part of. We played on two courses, Oubaai which is a course designed by Ernie Els and in the most stunning location over looking the mountains and the ocean. It was a fun day, and there were some great scores and I was was generally happy enough with the way I played, especially given I was feeling far from 100%. The following day we played the final round at Outeniqua, and sadly I didn’t play well at all, and really struggled with my neck and arm.  Once again after a number of rounds and practice it started to play up and aggravate it.

After the round I discussed what was happening with a number of people and coaches, and I decided that unfortunately I would withdraw from the rest of the event’s on the Ladies Sunshine Tour, and concentrate on getting better following the car crash.  I’ve absolutely loved playing on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, and I absolutely want to commit to it all next year, but right now I need to make sure I don’t remain injured for the whole of 2014.

I’m really disappointed that my neck, and shoulder are not better like I had hoped they would be, and I am frustrated that I get over the hurdles of various hip operations and fight hard to get back, and then to have a car accident doesn’t really feel all that fair. Having said all that I am not getting myself down and miserable about it all, because I’m acutely aware that I was so incredibly lucky not to be in far worse a state and possibly not alive so I count my blessings.

It would be hard to get down and miserable when I’m in Cape Town, meeting and making friends with some fun people. It’s my third summer in Cape Town, and I’ve been incredibly lucky to go to some of the nicest places possible with the nicest people so I really can’t complain.

I hope I remain as positive and optimistic when I am back in London in a few days time… That is if I don’t miss my flight on purpose!!

2014 – A POSITIVE START

2013 finished for me with plenty of frustration and pain after a tough experience at the Ladies European Tour School. As much as I was disappointed not to make it through, I was under no illusions that the car crash I had experienced at the start of October had affected me more than I had let on at the time.

The pain in my left arm became sorer and sorer after Tour School, and by Christmas I was in a lot of discomfort. It was decided that I should have an MRI scan on my neck to make sure there was nothing really sinister. Thankfully there wasn’t and once we knew this Jeremy and Ailish at Six Physio were able to change tactic and try a few different things and thankfully I instantly felt better. I knew I was under pressure to get better quickly because I was leaving for Cape Town on the 17th January and I really needed to be better and able to hit balls again. I spend a lot of time at Six Physio and it’s paid off. I’m in Cape Town and feeling pretty good.

At Tour School I met Karen Francis who was in Rabat working with Hannah Ralph who successfully got her full tour card for the 2014 season. I enjoyed talking to Karen about the mental aspect of the game, and decided to contact Karen once I got back, with the hope that could could help me my potential. The mental side of the game of golf is so important.

I met with Michael Evans and Mark Leyland a couple of times before leaving for Cape Town, and although I’d had quite a bit of time off and hadn’t felt great, my swing wasn’t it too bad shape. I left for Cape Town confident that the warm weather and sunshine would do me good. It certainly has done.

I’ve been here just over a week now, and as well as working for Cape Thoroughbred Sales, who were holding their Premier Yearling Sale last week I was also lucky enough to play quite a bit of golf in some of the most spectacular locations. I’m really incredibly lucky to travel to so many places and see so many sights- all from the middle of the fairway. In the past week I’ve played in the vineyards around Stellenbosch, the foothills of the Helderberg Mountrains, and next to the Cape Town Football Stadium.

I’ve played well, and will spend the next few weeks playing and practicing and sharpening up my short game before flying to Johannesburg in February to play on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. At the moment I am entered to play in 3 events on this tour. One at Houghton in Johannesburg, One at Sun City and a Pro Am at Fancourt in George. I’m really looking forward to playing all these events, and preparing for the 2014 season.

Summary of 2013

As you will notice I have reverted to the old format for my website… Back to basics! For this reason I am unable to retrieve my previous blogs and news updates.  But keep on reading, and I’ll give you a quick round up of 2013.It’s certainly been an interesting year and on the whole an extremely positive one. I returned to professional golf after a long layoff of two years due to serious career threatening injuries. Not long back into playing I won my first tournament in an exciting play off at Hever Castle.  It was fun to get playing competitive golf, and to hole a long putt down the last to force a playoff.. And then of course to win the playoff.In July, I entered the Ladies British Open Pre Qualifing which is regularly held at the Berkshire. I felt that above all it was going to be a great experience playing against all the professionals who are week in week out on the Ladies European Tour. It’s all been about gaining competitive experience this year. I played one of the best rounds of my career that day, and shot -2 on a tricky tight track, and qualified comfortably for the Final Qualifying Stage at Kingsbarns.

Two weeks later I was in Scotland, trying to be in the top 15 of 100 players. I was fortunate to be paired with Karen Lunn who is one of the most experienced and successful players on the tour. A great way to judge one’s own game. Sadly I didn’t play particularly well that day, and didn’t make it into the top 15. Nor did Karen.  It was a great experience, and certainly encouraging to be in that position after such a long time out the game.

In September I went on to win another two tournaments on the Jamega Ladies Tour, and then competed at Stoke by Nayland on the Ladies European Tour Access Series.

The year was certainly going in the right direction, and towards the ultimate goal of Ladies European Tour Qualifying School.  Unfortunately I was involved in a potentially very nasty car crash at the beginning of October. I was incredibly lucky to walk away, but it did leave me suffering from very bad whiplash. It meant that I was unable to pick up a golf club for over a month, which was far from ideal in the run up to Tour School.  Luckily for me, I am in great hands with the team at SixPhysio as they got me back playing in November. I was still not able to putt though as that put too much pressure on my neck.

Due to the car crash, I had to pull out of a number of events on the Ladies European Tour Access Series which was frustrating. I was looking forward to go to Crete and Spain for valuable competition practice ahead of Tour School.

It was touch and go for a while if I was going to make Tour School after the crash, but I was going to make every possible effort to get there, as I really didn’t want to miss another one.

I did make it to Rabat, Morocco for Tour School and was hopeful that even with my setback I would get through to the final stage. However sadly I missed getting through by a shot or two, and was incredibly frustrated. I had played some incredibly good golf over the four days, but on day two in particular I was struggling with the neck injury and was in quite some discomfort. I was also just rusty after over two months without a competition, and it showed for the first few days. The practice was never going to make up for the lack of competition. On the final day I played fantastic golf and showed real guts and determination. Dave Rankin, my caddy and I had discussed the fact that if I shot level par I might have a chance of getting through. Only a small handful of players had shot level over the four days. It was going to be a tough ask especially under pressure. But I did it.. I shot level par, birdying two of my final three holes. Sadly it wasn’t quite enough, I just wish I had hit a few putts a little harder.  But I take confidence in the way I played the final round, and having the best score on the final day.

I was bitterly disappointed, but I must remember what happened and that I didn’t have the preparation that I had hoped for.

I have made huge progress this year, and that is definitely down to the team I am working with. Michael Evans my coach has been fantastic and supportive and I know going to see him was the best thing I did this year. I’m a far better player than I was a few years ago. Through Michael I have started working with Mark Leyland, who is a golf fitness expert so I’m continuing to get stronger and fitter. SixPhysio have also kept me going all year, and helped me enormously especially in the past few months.

It’s now off season time, and it’s time to get working hard. There are swing changes to be made, and now is the time to do it. I will also try and work with Mark and Ailish at SixPhysio to build up strength to hit the ball further and straighter..

Let the hard work begin!

Florida Update

I’ve been in Florida for just over a couple of weeks now, and it’s been a really positive and productive trip. What a difference a year makes! On April 1st last year I remember being at a real low, but today I feel positive about what the future can bring. I was due to leave this afternoon to return to London but I’ve actually delayed my flight a few days. It’s so unbelievably cold in England, that practicing and playing golf will be pretty difficult so I thought if stay here a little longer. I probably should be staying here until at least the end of April given the weather forecast in England, but I have a family event in Germany at the weekend which I cannot miss!
I’ve been playing well, and hitting the ball generally pretty well. I am aware that I am guilty of over-thinking when playing on the course and that I must have a bit more faith in my golf swing. In an effort to be a bit more instinctive I have started to talk out aloud to myself when setting up to the ball. I’m sure I’m getting a few funny looks, but its working and I find it a good way to switch off and to ‘just hit the damn ball’!!
Putting certainly is improving and I’ve been holing some nice putts which is encouraging. It’s always nice to make birdies.

News from Florida

I’ve been in Florida for just over a week and have certainly played more golf than I have done in the last two years! The great news is that my body is holding up well to the increase in play, and I’m also hitting the ball pretty well too.
It’s fun to be back playing and without always being is total discomfort. When I think back to how I was feeling a year ago, I’m mightily relieved I no longer feel like that, and I’m pleased that the effort I have put in to get better has paid off.
Before I left to come to Windsor, I had been in Ireland at Carton House playing golf and practicing. It was great to be there, playing and practicing with friends. I really look forward to the Irish Open being back there this year in June, I just hope the weather is nicer than it was in 2005 and 2006 when it was last at Carton House.
I got lots of things to work on my game while I’m out here in Florida from putting to the long game. I am getting a little frustrated as I realise the more I’m playing golf the more I am starting to think too much about it all. Too many thoughts while Im standing over the ball. It’s a problem lots of people can relate to!
I have entered my first competition which will be in Roehampton on the 20th April. It will be exactly two years since I played a competition.. I’m
just really pleased that I’m back in a position again to enter tournaments. That in itself is a great achievement. Something I can be proud of!!

THINGS ARE REALLY STARTING TO LOOK UP!

I returned from Cape Town a month ago, and came back with spirits lifted. No doubt helped by the sunshine and warm weather, but also importantly because I’d played a good amount of golf and was feeling confident that I was on the right track with regards to recovery.

I hadn’t played particularly well (sometimes really badly) but I just tried to ignore that and concentrate on the fact that I’d actually played golf. While I was away in Cape Town I had decided that I would like a fresh pair of eyes and fresh prospective when it came to lessons and training for golf. It’s fair to say that I’ve found the last few years pretty difficult, and I just felt like seeing a new coach was important for me, and with my desire to ‘wipe the slate clean’

I have had about fours lesson now in the last few weeks now with Michael Evans now at Burhill Golf Club and I’ve already made significant progress. My grip has changed a little, and I’m trying to get the clubhead more neutral at the top of the back swing. It’s hard work, but results are already showing. On Thursday I also went with Michael to meet Mark Leyland who is a specialist golf physio in Weybridge who uses a programme called NIKEGOLF360. It was interesting to meet Mark and to get some feedback about what I can and cannot do at the moment in my golf swing, and why this is. I’ve now got some more exercises and work to do which is very specific to my golf swing and which will be incorporated with the work that I do with Ailish at 6Physio.

It’s exciting because I’m really starting to feel so better, which I know is down to the work I have done at 6physio and also the work I do at home. I’m now able to concentrate more on more actually just playing golf and working on that side of things rather than worrying about the pain I have in every shot. This isn’t to say that I don’t have any pain at all, but it’s certainly lessening which is great. Michael and Mark are complimentary about my swing already, and as they said it’s even more encouraging when you consider the past two years I have had.

I’m excited to think that soon I’ll hopefully be playing golf properly and entering tournaments. Over the next few weeks I go to Ireland for a week, and I will spend my time working on my swing and putting changes at Carton House. Not long after that I will go back to Florida where I will be in the perfect place to really improve my golf, and work hard but without getting injured again!

It’s a really exciting time, 2013 is going to be a good year!

A positive two weeks in Cape Town

I’m at the airport waiting to fly to London, and quite honestly don’t really want to leave South Africa. I’ve had a fabulous time out here, and have enjoy the sunshine and warmth and work at Cape Thoroughbred Sales, but most importantly I have enjoyed golfing again. I’m not totally there yet but the last few weeks I have made a few milestones and not been too sore afterwards. I played my first 18 holes, and then I played 18 holes without a golf cart, and then I played 5 rounds of golf in 7 days- walking! I certainly won’t have done that in over 2 years. I was sore at times and did get some emergency physio on Monday, and it helped. On Tuesday I will go back to Six Physio on Harley Street for some more.
I know I will have played golf with some people over the last few weeks, and they might have been less than impressed with some of the golf I have played. Certainly I was quite rubbish at times, and there is so much to do to get back where I was, but considering where I was only a few months ago I have made seriously progress. It was only July/ August when I wouldn’t walk down the road but opt to get in the car because the pain was just too much, I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to hit a golf ball again.

So overall I’ve very happy with how I’ve progressed over the last few weeks. Onwards and upwards in 2013!!