Carly's blog - news and views on the world of ladies' golf
BATTLE OF THE BRITISH OPEN IS WON!
What a week of weather the poor women had at Hoylake! I spent the tournament days huddling inside the press centre watching as player after player came into the interview room after their round at Royal Liverpool looking windswept, wet and weary. Such was the extent of the awful conditions that Fridays play had to be abandoned due to 60mph winds, shortening the tournament and forcing a fierce final day of 36 gruelling holes upon the players. Yet the wind and rain did not relent yesterday.
South Korean Jiyai Shin put in the finest performance of her career to card a battling final round of one over par 73 and claim a commanding nine shot victory in the 2012 Ricoh Women's British Open - what an incredible feat!
The super woman's performance produced the biggest margin of victory since the Ricoh Women's British Open became a major back in 2001. Shin's triumph also confirmed the Asian dominance over the women's professional game - every one of the four majors in the women's game has been won by a player from the Far East this year.
What it taught me more than anything is that golf is a game of mental strength and patience. While everyone else around her was collapsing in the conditions Shin was calming staying composed in the calamity of a storm and keeping her swing under control. Congratulations to her, let's only hope the world's top players want to return next year - it doesn't always rain in Britain - honestly!
MEL BACKS DRIVE TO GET MORE WOMEN INTO GOLF
Melissa Reid, one of England's brightest young Tour stars, is backing the drive to encourage more women to take up the sport.
The 25 year-old is a four-time winner on the Ladies European Tour and was among a host of English players to compete at Hoylake in the Ricoh Women's British Open last week. She helped out with
the nationwide Get into golf campaign, which joined forces with the Cheshire County Golf Partnership at the tournament to make it as easy as possible for women and girls to give golf a go.
These range from golf in schools, taster sessions and discounted coaching for women and girls at clubs across Cheshire and Get into golf promotions at events like the Paralympics flame visit to Winsford and the Ricoh Women's British Open at Hoylake itself.
Other opportunities for women are available across the country as part of the Get into golf campaign. It's run by the England Golf Partnership through its network of County Golf Partnerships, which work to grow the game, and it aims to inspire new golfers and returners.
Get into golf opportunities include free or low-cost beginner courses with PGA professionals. They are a fun and sociable way to start golf - and a great way to make new friends.
Melissa, a member of the winning Great Britain and Ireland Solheim Cup team, welcomed the moves to help women and girls into golf.
Melissa said: "The Ricoh Women's British Open was a great chance to enjoy a first-hand view of the world's best players - and show that golf isn't just a sport for the boys," she said.
"The Road to Hoylake campaign means there are plenty of opportunities for any women and girls who have been inspired by what they have seen to give the game a go for themselves.
"Free coaching and the loan of equipment means ladies of all ages and abilities can get into golf at their local club, driving range or through one of the schemes in the local schools.
"So why not take the chance to try the sport for yourself. Go to www.getintogolf.org today."
Craig Thomas, county development office for the Cheshire CGP, said: "There has never been a better time for women and girls to get into golf.
"Golf is not all about power but is a game that can be played by all ages and abilities, while becoming a member of your local club not only offers the chance to take up a healthy pastime, but also to enjoy an active social life."
Visit www.getintogolf.org and look at the activity map to find out more about Get into golf opportunities or call 0800 118 2766
England successfully defended their title in the women's Home Internationals at Cork, Ireland - winning by the narrowest of margins over Wales.
The two teams met in the title decider and, in a very close encounter, the match was halved. But England emerged as champions on count-back, having won more individual games during the three-day tournament.
England had earlier beaten Ireland 9-0 and Scotland 5-4, while Wales defeated both those teams by a scoreline of 6-3.
The final day's play was intensely tight, with both the foursomes and singles exactly shared. As the afternoons play unfolded Wales seemed to have the edge, with only two England players ahead at the halfway stage.
But England toughed it out and secured the necessary half. Curtis Cup star Holly Clyburn, who was three up at the turn, powered on to win her game 6/4.
British girls' champion Georgia Hall - ranked third in the world - took the lead in her match for the first time on the 15th. She also quickly won the 16th to go two up and halved the 17th for her point.
Norfolk's Amber Ratcliffe completed a successful team debut by securing the half with her 3/2 win. The 16-year-old was never behind in her game, although she was pulled back to all square after 12. She responded by winning the next three holes, before halving the 16th.
The team, captained by Chris Pacall, was: Holly Clyburn (Woodhall Spa), Gabriella Cowley (West Essex), Georgia Hall (Remedy Oak), Bronte Law (Bramhall), Alex Peters (Notts' Ladies), Amber Ratcliffe (Royal Cromer), Emily Taylor (Hillside), Kelly Tidy (Royal Birkdale).
1st England 2.5; pt (games won 18.5;)
Suffolk golfer Sarah Gotts gave herself an early birthday present when she teamed up with club-mate Ros Ford to win the Plate Final of England Golf's PING Fourball Betterball Tournament at Gainsborough Golf Club.
The pair, from Cretingham Golf Club, were playing in their first national final and dovetailed well during the round, which was played in breezy conditions. "It's fabulous," said Ros, pictured left, while Sarah added: "I have got a smile from ear to ear!"
They came through an initial entry of around 15,500 women from over 750 clubs who entered this year's competition. The top 60 pairs in the country qualified for the Grand Final while the next 72 pairs went through to the Plate Final.
Ros, who has a handicap of 21, has played golf for almost 20 years and was encouraged to take up the game by her husband - and today's caddy - Michael. At first, she says, "I couldn't stand it!" But before long she was hooked and at one time the couple owned a nine-hole course. Now they live in the middle of the Cretingham course.
Sarah was also encourage by her husband, Ivan, to take up golf and has been playing for around eight years and has a handicap of 28.
The runners-up were pipped on the back nine but Jackie Gow declared: "We have had a fantastic day." Jackie encouraged Courtney to take up golf and the 17-year-old now has a single figure handicap, plays for the Lancashire girls and is a past winner of England Golf's National Skills Challenge.
The other prize-winners were: Jan Warner and Sue Austwick of Sandwell Park, Staffordshire; Lisa Greenhalgh and Julie Scott of Hesketh, Lancashire; Gwen Spear and Jane Shapcott of Long Ashton, Gloucestershire; Bernadette Jackson and Jan Moss of Brookfield, Cheshire.
England senior international Janet Melville (Sherwood Forest) arrived back from national duties in Switzerland only yesterday - just in time to tee up with club colleague Gaynor Tulley.
Meanwhile, Sue Ashworth of Woburn was delighted to finish comfortably clear of last place after she compiled 29 points in a solo outing. Her partner, Chris George, suffered an arm injury a week ago and was unable to play, although she walked the course. "Having qualified I was determined to come and I'm glad I did - and that I wasn't the lowest!" said Sue.
Gainsborough Golf Club is owned by PING and competitors were able to visit the PING fitting centre to try the clubs, including the new Serene range, and also take tours of the PING factory to see how the custom-fit clubs are made. Putting and nearest the pin competitions were also held in the fitting centre. The winners were: putting - Karen Foani of Easthampstead Ladies, Berkshire ; and nearest the pin - Jane Shapcott of Long Ashton.
The tournament is also supported by PING Collection and ECCO Shoes.
40 Sarah Gotts & Ros Ford (Cretingham), on countback from Jackie Gow & Courtney Milburn (Heysham)
Lincolnshire will defend their title as England's champion county at this week's women's County Finals at East Devon Golf Club, from September 17-21.
The team won the title for the first time last year and has again qualified for the finals as the regional champions for Midlands North.
The championship is one of the highlights of the women's calendar and is always keenly contested and intensely competitive. The players will be tested by a clifftop course with a number of tight driving holes and an abundance of heather and gorse.
Ladies' captain Shirley Pressey commented: "The course is in wonderful condition. We have a new 13th hole and two new tees which have settled in well and it will be good to see them put to the test by some of the country's best golfers."
The club last hosted this event in 1990 and the members are supporting the tournament with enthusiasm: 90 have volunteered as spotters, 18 will be ball collectors on the practice ground and each team will be allocated a hostess.
Members and other spectators will be treated to top quality golf. The field includes two former Curtis Cup players, Hannah Barwood of Gloucestershire and Helen Hewlett of Lincolnshire, who was also a British champion. She also had a successful professional career and won on the LPGA Tour before returning to amateur ranks. The Lancashire side includes another former England international, Nikki Foster.
Two members of England's winning team at the girls' Home Internationals will be playing: Shelby Smart of Gloucestershire and Gabriella Cowley of Essex. The Essex team also includes English U15 champion Sophie Madden and English schools' champion Dulcie Sverdloff.
Surrey's Inci Mehmet represented England in this year's European Young Masters and is the South region girls' champion, while Buckinghamshire's Charlotte West holds the Midlands South girls' title.
Monday 17 September
Celebrated golfer Julie Otto, formerly Julie Hall, has decided that the time is right to try her luck as a professional.
The exceptional amateur only turned pro last year at the age of 44 and competed in the Women's Bank Open in Finland on the LET Access Series last month.
She played incredibly well considering that she had only played eight rounds of golf this season, finishing in a share of 14 th place with rounds of 75, 72 and 70 and improving every day!
Julie is a former English and British international golfer who not only had a successful amateur playing career but more latterly has been involved in the administration of the game to the very highest level culminating in the position of Assistant Director - Rules at The R&A.
She has refereed at nine Open Championships, a Solheim Cup, Walker Cup and at numerous tournaments on the men's PGA European Tour.
Julie played in five Curtis Cup matches for Great Britain and Ireland against the United States of America from 1988-1996, on four sides which were successful and rates her British Amateur Championship victory at Royal Portrush in 1995 as the highlight of her illustrious playing career.
Despite having won numerous international events across the world, Julie eventually decided to leave the competitive game as the reigning British Champion after the 1996 Curtis Cup Match and chose a different path, moving on to a role with the Ladies' Golf Union in St Andrews before joining the staff of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
When asked if she ever regretted retiring from playing early rather than turning professional at that time Julie responded: "I just chose a different path within the game and firmly believe that you can never regret a decision that is the best decision at the time. I now have three young children and as they all grow older and are in school I hope to find time to see where golf takes me once more." Golf is definitely in the family as Julie is married to Dr Steve Otto, The R&A's Director of Research and Testing.
She now hopes to play some competitive golf again next season to compliment her studies to become a qualified PGA Professional. "Four years ago I was told by a surgeon when I ruptured my wrist that it would be unlikely that I would ever play golf again, I certainly enjoy a challenge so those comments were like a red rag to a bull!" she said. Julie enjoyed her time competing in the recent Women's Bank Open at Hillside Golf Club in Helsinki and said: "It was quite strange in some ways in that I haven't competed in so long so it felt quite strange but as the competition started it felt like yesterday again. It was certainly enjoyable and I was quite pleased to have played reasonably well and proved to myself that I could still bat it round. The event was very well run and a compliment to the organisation of the LET Access Tour." She even ran into an old friend from her amateur days in Ana Larrañeta.
"Years and years ago when she was playing for Spain we competed against each other on numerous occasions. In Finland, I was walking along a path and she looked at me and I said: "I'm back!" She laughed in the only way Ana can!"
Julie has a tear in the cartilage of her hip, which requires surgery in the coming weeks. However, if her recovery is as swift as her progress during the recent Women's Bank Open, then the younger players may need to watch out for the new star on tour next year!
Srixon introduce a new and improved SOFT FEEL LADY golf ball
Srixon has been the Number One selling two piece ball brand in the UK market for many years now with their AD333 being the best-selling individual two piece ball.
But while the AD333 remains unchanged for next year, the company has improved their popular Soft Feel Lady golf ball with new performance and benefits.
The new and improved SRIXON SOFT FEEL LADY is the lowest compression ball in the Srixon range (59) and is designed specifically for Lady Golfers of all levels. It is ideally suited to ladies with a swing speed of less than 90 mph and features the following key benefits:
* It simply combines soft feel with exceptional distance at great value.
* It is designed to launch high with low spin to create maximum distance and control.
* The low compression design and high trajectory 324 dimple pattern make it easier to hit long and straight with maximum feel.
* The new ball features a newly improved Energetic Growth core combined with an advanced aerodynamic 324 dimple pattern to give optimum trajectory with low spin resulting in longer, straighter and more consistent shots.
*This larger core and high MOI provides greater distance and a tighter dispersion with off centre hits.
The Srixon Soft Feel Lady is available in Pure White and Passion Pink and is available from leading golf professionals and specialist golf retailers in the UK from this month onwards priced at £26.99 a dozen.
For full details of this and all other products enjoy the Srixon Experience on WWW.SRIXON.CO.UK
The F2 wedge
They say: The F2 SS wedge differs from all other wedges on the market - F2 stands for Face Forward and points towards the unique design which sees the face move forward and the hosel back. Primarily this enables the ball to strike and leave the clubface before sand or grass can grab the hosel and twist the clubface, but also has the undoubted benefit of making the dreaded shank virtually impossible. In addition, opening up the club face becomes a lot easier when the hosel is taken out of play giving the confidence of producing a clean shot when extra loft is needed.
I say: To say that the F2 is an odd looking wedge is an understatement, it's big, it's fairly ugly-looking and it is cumbersome. But let's face it when it comes to the dreaded 'S' word - yes, that's right, the shank - most suffers would do anything to escape the infliction on their game. The F2 certainly does that. I'm fortunate to not suffer from the shanks, although I have been known to hit the odd one out of the blue, but my Dad on the other hand is a hardened shanker! Such is the extent of the dreaded shanks on his game that he has to use the claw grip to putt and pretty much uses a 5-iron like a putter everywhere else around the greens. So could the F2 offer him a serious solution? The answer is yes! This club really did perform miracles. Within a few shots his fear of using a wedge was gone and he was playing chips with a smile on his face. This wedge really did give him a new confidence that he'd lost years ago. He's still no master around the greens but he is now able to hold his head high and play chips like they should be played and has consigned his 5-iron to its rightful place in his bag. Trust me, if you have the shanks, you will want to try it.
ProQuip, the world's leading innovator of lightweight golf weatherwear and Preferred Supplier to the 2012 European Ryder Cup Team, has launched its lightest ever rain suit for women, Ladies Ultralite Tour.
Ladies Ultralite Tour features a slim fit design and striking colour ways, combined with an ultra-lightweight, high-performance waterproof outer fabric that you'll hardly know you are wearing.
Russell Brooks, ProQuip General Manager, said: "ProQuip has a recognised pedigree in producing stylish, flattering rain suits for women and new Ladies Ultralite Tour builds on that reputation.
"We listen carefully to what our female customers tell us and design these elements into our garments, which is why the Ladies Ultralite Tour features a bold design with a slim, athletic cut, eye-catching colours and, above all, an incredibly lightweight performance fabric that offers the ultimate freedom of movement and ease to swing in."
For more information, visit: www.proquipgolf.com or call our head office on 01387 382861.
Inside the ropes at Royal Liverpool...
What I learned from watching World Number One Ai Miyazato practice putting
"The importance of keeping your head still!"
We've all heard the saying "don't look up on your putts", in fact for many golfers it is one of the first fundamentals they are taught on the putting green. But while up in Royal Liverpool watching the world's top women compete in the Ricoh Women's British Open last week, I realised that even at the highest level of the game this simple fundamental is so important.
Take the current World Number One Yani Tseng for example. I watched her practise putting for half an hour, and the only thing she was working on was keeping her head still. She was using her caddy as a marker for her head movement. By placing his hand alongside her golf hat at address she was conscious of how to keep the head still. His hand then stayed in place while she rocked the putter back and struck the ball, and only once the ball had been struck did he move his hand away.
Try it for yourself with a friend on the putting green. You'll be amazed at what a difference this simple fundamental can make. After all, if the head moves then your entire upper body moves, and that means keeping the putter on track is virtually impossible.
Remember, even the best players in the world have to work on their fundamentals, so you should too!
Fancy a winter golfing break to Portugal? Try Oitavos...
The five star luxury hotel in Portugal with a new 'Stay, Play and Fly' package
This autumn, The Oitavos is giving golfing aficionados the opportunity to experience the spectacular views of Costa Azul and the Estoril coastline from great heights with the 'Stay, Play and Fly' package. The five day package includes the chance to play at the Oitavos Dunes and the fantastic Tróia golf course as well as the opportunity to ride in a helicopter to view the stunning region from a unique perspective.
Stay, Play and Fly' at The Oitavos Hotel and Spa on Portugal's Atlantic Coastline Inspired by the beauty of the Atlantic coastline, The Oitavos introduces a journey like no other. The five star luxury hotel is giving golfing enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the spectacular views of Costa Azul and the Estoril coastline from great heights with the 'Stay, Play and Fly' package this summer.
Located 20 minutes west of Lisbon and set amongst the natural sand dunes of the stunning Sintra Cascais National Park, the hotel lies adjacent to the award-winning 18-hole Oitavos Dunes golf course. Designed by the renowned American architect Arthur Hills, the course offers spectacular views over the Atlantic Ocean and nearby Sintra mountains bringing an air of serenity to the most competitive of players.
As well as having the chance to play at the Oitavos Dunes and the fantastic Tróia golf course, this five day package gives golfing aficionados the unique opportunity to fly by helicopter from The Oitavos to Tróia and back, allowing them to marvel at the natural beauty of the area from an unparalleled perspective. Other highlights include luxuriously spacious superior rooms, complimentary daily buffet breakfast, and a complimentary dinner at the superb Ipsylon Restaurant.
The 'Stay, Play and Fly' Package starts from €1418 for a single bedroom and €2184 for a double bedroom, including:
A four night stay at The Oitavos in a Superior Room
A helicopter ride from the Oitavos to Tróia and back, with sightseeing tour over Costa Azul and Estoril Coast on return
Dinner at Ipsylon Restaurant - menu "Le Diner du Chef" at chef's table - wine pairings included
Daily buffet breakfast
Two rounds of golf at the Oitavos Dunes golf course
One round of golf at Tróia
One driving range token per person per round at Oitavos Dunes and Tróia
Complimentary manual trolley per person per round at Oitavos Dunes and Tróia
Rates include taxes and service and are subject to availability