Last update :- February 19th, 2012

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History & Current Club

This page provides details of the golf clubs I've ever been a member of or played at on a regular basis.

History

Up until about 1986 when I moved to Poole in Dorset, UK, my favourite pastime was fishing - coarse fishing to be precise (fishing rivers, ponds and lakes for species like Roach, Bream and Carp). However, I had always had an interest in golf, ever since Tony Jacklin won The Open as he was from my home town of Scunthorpe.

After my mate had finished with his girlfriend of 3 years he asked me if I was interested in playing golf - and I have never looked back since. I wish I had started when I was 13 rather than 23 at the time as I may have been a "single figure" golfer by now, rather than my last handicap of 11.

Below you'll find the courses I played at on a regular basis or clubs I was a member of before I joined my current club - including links to their web-pages. If your looking for a good guide to courses why not try UK-GolfGuide or Golf Today.

Solent Meads Golf Club

18 holes, 2159 yds, Par 54, S.S.S. 54, Seaside

This is where I first started playing - a small public 18 hole Par 3 course in the Dorset coast just East of Christchurch. It was often windy, being a short distance from the sea with a mixture of long and short holes with tiny greens.

It was the ideal kind of place to start, with regular local and holiday golfers of all abilities - an I mean ALL abilities. At the time I had an old set of blades that I subsequently found were set up incorrectly - a 5 iron being more like a 3 iron. It was great fun but was never going to help me as a budding golfer.

Iford Golf Centre

Original : 9 holes, 2377 yds, Par 34, S.S.S. 32, Parkland

I moved onto this public parkland course as I needed more of a challenge and this had a good mixture of Par 3, 4 and 5 holes. Whilst I was playing here I joined my first (and only) golf society, the Plessey Sports & Social Club Golf Society, playing with fellow workers during my time working in Poole. My first handicap gained from this was 25.

The most memorable hole was the Par 5 4th - a right-to-left dog-leg around the River Stour. The only problem with this hole was that it had out-of-bounds down the right hand side and if you hit it too far it would run out-of-bounds.

Whilst playing here I bought my first full set of clubs - Fazer "Tour Touch" which were cavity backed irons but I can't remember the woods.

The course has changed significantly since I last played there and now comprises the following:

Bridge : 18 holes, 6313 yds, Par 72, S.S.S. 70, Parkland
Stour : 9 holes, 964 yds, Par 27, S.S.S. 27, Parkland

Queens Park

18 holes, 6132 yds, Par 71, S.S.S. 71, Parkland

Whilst playing regularly at Iford Bridge I also played a few rounds at probably the most famous public course in Dorset. This is well established with many holes lined by pine trees.

It is a good course but has it's problems: (1) no rakes in bunkers, (2) flag poles too thick (can't chip in very easily) and (3) pine needles cause a major problem on the greens. It is, however, a good test of golf.

Dorset Heights Golf Club

18 holes, 6138 yds, Par 72, S.S.S. 70, Parkland

I think I joined what was Mid Dorset Golf Club around 1991 and it was my first member's club where I achieved my first playing handicap of 23. Unfortunately it closed due to financial problems around 1998.

You had to be fit to play this course and some people said you also needed to be a bit mad. When I think back, I can understand why. There were few flat fairways, the greens were small and not properly irrigated (therefore hard) and nearly all the bunkers were "pot" bunkers, unusual for a parkland course.

One hole in particular was remembered and mainly feared by all - the Par 4 16th. This was a long hole and required a drive in excess of 240 yds to a split level fairway. The main problem here was very deep rough to the left of a steeply left to right sloping fairway with out-of-bounds on the right. If you were lucky to reach the split level fairway (an not many were) you then had a choice. If you were on the top fairway you had to hit your 2nd over a tree to a narrow green with a steep bank on the left and drop-off on the right. At least you could see the green from here - it was blind from the bottom fairway! I managed to birdie this on only 2 occasions with many a round being ruined.

There weren't that many members (250+ at best) and I was lucky to win the handicap club championship and pairs knockout's once plus a number of monthly medals and stablefords. I also won the Dorset County Category 4 Handicap Championship during my time here - held at a course I was later to join.

My best round from the competition "white" tees was a 78 with a 77 of the gents "yellow" tees. When I left Dorset Heights my handicap was the same as my current 11.

During my time at Dorset Heights I bought a set of Mizuno "TPZ" irons and King Cobra offset steel woods. I later changed the driver to a King Cobra offset Ti 10.5°.

The Dorset Golf & Country Club

Lakeland : 18 holes, 6580 yds, Par 72, S.S.S. 72, Parkland
Woodland : 2x9 holes, 4244 yds, Par 66, S.S.S. 66, Parkland

I joined what is now The Dorset Golf & Country Club (was East Dorset) when Dorset Heights closed and must admit it was the right choice.

This course is much easier to walk and in the main has flat wide fairways, huge undulating receptive greens and the Lakeland course has some 9 lakes and many bunkers to negotiate.

The hole that stands out for many is the Par 4 12th, about 420 yds from the "white" medal tees. You have to hit a good straight drive, missing to the right if anywhere due to the lake on the left. Depending upon your tee shot you then have the choice of laying up right of the lake and accepting a 5 or hitting between 150 to 200 yds over the lake if you want a 4 or better.

During my time here my handicap fluctuated between 10 and 11 - mainly around 11. I only managed to win one medal with my best round of the medal tees (course about 6500 yds from these tees). After 5 holes I was already 6 over par - thinking my handicap was going to go up from 11.4 (11 playing) to 11.5 (12 playing) and I didn't want that. As I had effectively "given up" on the round in my own mind I relaxed and managed only 1 more bogey on the front 9 with 2 birdies, 6 pars and 1 bogey on the back 9 for a 78 net 67 score. My handicap was reduced to 10.0 as a result!

My best round of the "yellow" members tees was slightly unusual to say the least. I was 7 over par after 9 holes and managed 3 birdies and 6 pars on the back 9 to be 4 over (76) at the end.

I acquired my current irons and putter whilst at East Dorset - the excellent Ping i3 O-Size (SW-3i) and a Ping Zing 2i. I also bought Ping i3 3 & 5 steel shaft metal woods and kept the afore-mentioned King Cobra Ti offset driver.

Ashley Wood Golf Club

18 holes, 6308 yds, Par 70, S.S.S. 70, Parkland

Whilst I was a member of East Dorset, Ashley Wood Golf Club also had a good offer so I joined there for a year and played in a few competitions. The main reason was because it was closer to my home and also had very good drainage due to the chalk base.

One of the strange things about Ashley Wood is holes 10 through 13 - which run parallel to each other, back and forth but are isolated from the remaining 14 holes. Look at the course card via the link above and you'll see what I mean.

The stand out hole for me was the "Road Hole" 16th - a long par 4 of 437yds with OOB all down the left.

Girton Golf Club

18 holes, 5982 yds, Par 69, S.S.S. 69, Parkland

Having moved to the Cambridge area due to work late in 2001 I needed to find a new club to be a member of and settled on this one. It's only 1 mile away from the village of Histon where I live and a couple of friends also played there. It's not the most challenging or difficult course in the area but it has it's difficulties.

There are only 2 par 5's (the 2nd at about 520 yds and the 18th at about 550 yds) but these are out of reach in 2 shots for the average club golfer - longer hitters probably managing to reach the first one. There is a good mixture of shorter and longer Par 4's. Probably the best of these are the 10th (about 400 yds to a two-tiered green) and 14th (about 447yds from an elevated tee and narrow driving area. The difficulty in scoring comes from the 5 Par 3's which are a good mixture.

When I was a member there I managed to get my name on the honours board twice - wining the Hewlett Goblets (36 holes with the rounds a month apart) and the Johnstone Trophy. I was last playing off a 10.7 handicap and had been as low as 8.9 for brief periods. My best medal score off the whites is a 74 (net 63) and off the normal yellow tees it is a 73 (net 62). The 73 was unusual in that everyone agrees that the back 9 is the hardest but on that day I was +5 on the front 9 and -1 on the back!

Home Course

Unfortunately, as I'm currently self-employed I cannot justify the membership subs of ~£700 so I had to relinquish my membership of Girton and therefore don't have a home club. Once the winter subsides and when I can afford it I typically play every couple of months - either with the group I used to play with at Girton or elsewhere.

I still use the Ping i3 O-Size (SW-4i) irons but have dropped the 3 iron and added a 60° Mizuno lob wedge. I currently use a 10.5° TaylorMade R5 XL driver, R5 XL 22° hybrid and 17° and 20° Maxfli Redeemer hybrids. I also play with Titleist NXT Tour balls.

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