Thursday, 28 June 2018

Angus - Open all hours - Home of the upcoming Open at Carnoustie 2018


It is true, Scotland does not have the best reputation for lady golfers, whether that is to welcome them or whether that is looking after their own.  Big name clubs not making female golfers welcome have not helped this reputation for women in this must play golfing mecca.  But Angus’ open doors approach is a sure winner for both sexes.  This last trip to Angus, aka Carnoustie Country has certainly opened my eyes, it is an area one can go golfing but it is also an area to visit for holidays too. 

There are some truly beautiful golf courses all within 30 minuets.  To get a true Angus welcome, try Edzell Golf Club, an 18 and a 9 hole course and good practice facilities this James Braid heathland setting is located in Edzell itself, a Scottish village retaining its character and charm of old.  Interestingly there are more members of Edzell golf club than there are residents in Edzell itself!  With established links back to Carnoustie Championship Links golf club, this friendly club should be on your must-play list.  Sadly we didn’t get to play Edzell, but armed with an invitation to come back, we were happy to be given just the slightest glimpse as we whizzed around in the buggies.  Besides we’d need to go back to Edzell to re-visit one of its other great attractions; the 360 degree bar famed in the Guinness World Book of Records as the most variety of whiskies commercially available is a must for a wee dram - or two.  The whisky tasting is a great way to figure out ‘your’ whisky coupled with some of their little delicate snacks its a civilised way to sample some of this ‘wall of whisky’

Playing Montrose Medal- one of my all time favourite courses which has recently changed its name in a re-branding exercise to the 1562, an appropriately named club clearly spelling out its heritage and drawing attention to itself as the fifth oldest golf course in the world and what a course it is too. If its not broken, don’t fix it, is clearly the motto here as the course design hasn’t changed for over 100 years, it still captivates the imagination of golfers and surely non-golfers alike with its rugged sea clifftop views from the second hole onwards.   A bold and progressive move for an established club, not to mention one in the golfing arena whose traditions are slowly and progressively changing. Montrose is simply just keeping up with the times yet gently reminding visitors of its deep routed past in golf.  Even a rubbish game of golf doesn’t stop you from smiling as you finish off on the 18th and reflect back in the clubhouse, remembering those sea views, the valleys and dips of the fairways and the large receptive greens  The clubhouse doesn’t scream history or heritage, it is simply a welcoming space to relax in the bar or grab bite to eat, it really isn’t trying to be something it isn’t, but what it is it does well and that is friendly, open and honest.

Another day dawns as our excitement is contained on our drive over to Panmure Golf Club. A trophy cabinet to mull over as the silverware glares triumphantly back at you saying, ‘you’re simply not good enough to win me’!  As the first starts away from the clubhouse, you don’t really appreciate the spender of the building until those last few closing holes as the sprawling building has been modelled on Royal Calcutta Golf Club - the Oldest  golf course outside the UK.  Panmure carries its own history famed as the practice ground for Ben Hogan prior to his Open win.  Whilst a links course and certainly playing like a links course with its sand base it is a mile from any coastline, it also has established trees on the course, as such some purists might say it isn’t a true links course - either way its a great track, forgiving and unforgiving in equal measures, challenging tee-shots demand a straight drive.  Take time after your round to enjoy the aforementioned clubhouse watching the weary smiling golfers finish on the 18th, or take in the keen golfer as they practice putting green is directly outside the front of the clubhouse in full view.Breakfast, golf, lunch - how could my day get better?

Gin anyone?  The Gin Bothy to be exact- a bothy is a traditional usually stone built simple building used to cater for the weary traveller, often managed by the Mountain Bothy Association to provide a simple overnight stay in a place for people who love 'wild and lonely' places; so assume there are no facilities - except of course when visiting the Gin Bothy whose cottage industry has been taken to new heights in the area and gaining a worldwide reputation for great gin.  The owner stumbled upon gins favours when trying to make use of the left over fruit from jam making, a perfect marriage was established  as the gin recipes got more and more elaborate.  Encouraged to try different gin flavours with different accompaniments, to me the most surprising addition to the abundance of flavours was the tonic for unique flavours however in my mind some gins were best served without tonic but over ice as an aperitif.  Flavours on offer include Stirrup Cup and Gunshot, cleverly aimed at the horsy and shooting set respectively.Where to stay in Angus

Murrayshall House Hotel and Golf Courses, don’t be put off by the title with ‘and golf courses’ which appear as a bit of an afterthought.  This golf resort actually has two eighteen hole golf courses which wind themselves around 365 acres of land and former country house of the Murray family.  At only 30 years old, the course designers have maximised the established park and woodland and captured the country estate feel balancing the hotel offering with ease.   The imposing grey granite hotel is undergoing a series of renovations with some of the refurbishment already completed in the common areas and some of the 40 bedrooms to bring it securely into a good solid 4* establishment.   Whether you base yourself in Murrayshall and travel for the golf or whether you do bite the bullet and buy your own country retreat, Murrayshall has a great restaurant on site with a good array of locally sourced, freshly prepared food with care and attention; attention given to the evening meal and breakfast in equal measures.

Near Montrose Just a few minutes walk is the Links Hotel, a perfect location to relax.  Large comfy rooms greet the visiting guests as they quickly shower to get downstairs to enjoy the comfy bar and food on offer at the restaurant.  A family feel to the hotel coupled with a relaxing place to enjoy Scottish fayre. 

The Carnoustie Golf Hotel yields views from the 1st and back up the 18th fairways as early morning golfers bash away as the dew is still heavy on the grass.  A nice sound to wake up to as the sun shone into my room with a view.  The Carnoustie Golf Links Hotel was in fairness in need of some money being invested in it as the poor relation to the great courses on its doorstep, and now that has been done it can stand proud as the good 4* offering it is today, freshly painted, freshly redecorated and dressed to attract the visiting golfers.   An updated and fresh menu  demanding some attention as it offers more choices to tempt your tastebuds.  A large hotel spreading across the edge of the golf course and envelopes and embraces the scene with easeSo here you have it, just a few reasons to look at Carnoustie Country for your country membership and welcome retreat, and this is all without mentioning Carnoustie Links Golf Course itself.  Offering three golf courses on site The Buddon, the Burnside and Championship Links itself as it draws the eye away from the hotel to the welcome abyss of golf, interspersed with unwelcome interludes of the Barry Burn weaving around the course to stop the big hitters taking it for granted, instead demanding thought being put into each shot.  With some of the stands already in place for the 147th Open this year, be mindful that the course has actually been shortened this year lending that little bit extra test to the PGA golf professional players about to take on this Championship course for the 8th time in its history, testimony to James Braid, Allan Robertson and Old Tom Morris as the forward thinking golf course designers. The burning question being, who is likely to follow in the footsteps of such greats as Tommy Armour in 1931, Henry Cotton in 1937, Ben Hogan in 1953, Gary Player in 1968, Tom Watson in 1975, Paul Lawrie in 1999 and Padraig Harrington in 2007.  Who can take on the mighty, although arguably not so much in length, Carnoustie Championship Course and hold the claret jug high as the Earl of Dalhousie looks down on his formerly owned land which has caused many tears, joy and laughter in equal measures as the Barry Burn takes another victim into its deep watery grave never to be seen again in an attempt to tame the Beast.Angus - a  place to contemplate the next Open winner of 2018, relish and enjoy some good honest, diverse golf offerings, sample local food, and try whisky or gin, or in my case both- a friendly place to be for golfers and non-golfers alike, no distinction between the sexes, just golfers.

Sarah is available for freelance media work and specialises in ladies golf and golf locations around the world

As published in The Golf Business



Thursday, 12 April 2018

PGA Level 1 - tick

So pleased to announce I have passed my Level 1 PGA Coaching Award.
You may ask why have I done this at my age, what am I hoping to achieve, the simple answer is two fold:

  1. I have been in the golf industry for nearly 10 years and events for even longer and I just want to give something back to the sport I love and what better way to do that than to encourage others get into the game 
  2. Working for myself I don’t get the opportunity to go on in-house company training courses, this is a way I can keep not only my brain active but also show a continued commitment to Golf.


Everyone can achieve so much given the right set of circumstances, it just means sometimes you have to create you own set of circumstances


Friday, 9 March 2018

Listen to my interview on Blogtalk radio in Florida

I am incredibly humbled to be on Blogtalk radio with the impressive Ted Odorico to talk about ladies golf on the Women of Golf Show and especially the International Ladies Golf Tournament we are running this September.
But you listen and let me know what you think??
Should I stick to writing!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/womenofgolf/2018/03/06/women-of-golf-with-special-guest-sarah-forrest-ceofounder-golf-guru-group

I missed not having Cindy Miller, but she was busy with other golf related things, so good luck to her.

Not signed up yet to join us for the ILGT?
Why?
Message me and we will get you in!


Friday, 16 February 2018

International Ladies Golf Tournament- How to get involved

We have 16 in-country partners selling this unique event, each partner has been carefully chosen to represent us in selling golf to the ladies around the world.
The ILGT is open to all club handicap ladies, if you don't see your country listed but would like to come, please don't let this put you off, just email me on sarah@golfgurugroup.com

Countries and agents selling:
United Kingdom - Paul - email pgreenhill@dpandl.co.uk
Italy - Paola - email paola.ferro@greenvelvet.it
Ireland - Patrick - email patrick.aiken@thegolfpa.com
Ireland - Fintan - email fintan.ward@golfvoyager.com
Spain - Paula - email paularojals@ladygolf.es
Poland - Katarzina - email kbobinska@travelandaction.pl
Australia - Steve - steven@cgegolf.com.au
Canada - TJ - email tj@golfawaytours.com
Hungary - Krisztina - email kbatta@golfutazasok.hu
South Africa - Allison - email allison@louis57travel.com
India - Arif Ansari - email  arif@alcgolf.com
France - Cyril - cyril.prigent@teetravel.com
Tunisia - Abdelkader - email directionevt@gmail.com
Portugal - Jose -email jose.valente@ingolf.pt
Norway - Kristin - email kristin.moe.krohn@gmail.com
United States of America - Ann-Sophie - email ann-sofie@elitegolfexperiences.com
Austria - Maria - email -maria@elitegolfexperiences.com

Dont hesitate to contact me or one of our excellent agents to book your place.

Excellent value for money and the ease of buying in your own country - what could be easier?



Wednesday, 7 February 2018

International Ladies Golf Tournament



Ladies from all over the world are welcome to join us in this amazing country team and individual no stress competition.  We have local in-country agents in the majority of countries so easy to buy in your local currency and join other ladies from your country to make a team, or come as an individual and we would welcome you.  Contact sarah@golfgurugroup.com if you want to join us and I will let you know your local agent, or if you want to act as our in-country agent email me sarah@golfgurugroup.com
Exceptionally good value and all bases covered.
Interested?


Friday, 2 February 2018

Golf in China at its best


Golf in China is growing at a huge rate, especially on the island of Hainan, which is home to Mission Hills Haikou, the world’s second largest golf complex with 10 golf courses, and the spectacular Sheraton Dunes. Sarah Forrest details her visit.

Flying via Hong Kong, China is surprisingly accessible. After a short add-on flight to Hainan Island, you find yourself at Haikou airport, the most southerly holiday destination part of China. A two-hour transfer south to Shenzhou Peninsular enables you to really embrace the Chinese landscape during the journey. Expecting to see paddy fields at every turn, I was surprised by the lush tropical flora of this part of China and, despite the large population, that it wasn’t overcrowded in the slightest.

Arriving at the Sheraton Shenzhou Peninsula Resort we were greeted by lined-up smiling staff, a cool drink and a beaded necklace, before being huddled into reception where efficiency reigned over the check-in process. A large hotel which retains its charm is a tough nut to crack, the hotel has areas sectioned off for the bar, the reception and of course the variety of restaurants all available on site.


A Far Eastern beachside hotel with 36 holes of golf, the Sheraton doesn’t disappoint with warmth oozing from the staff and from the building itself as it uniquely embraces each visitor.


The Sheraton Dunes East and West courses are so called for the enormous dunes, where you can ground your club – but if you’re that wayward, being able to ground your club is the least of your worries as these courses, while narrow in places, have large welcoming greens of a great standard, and readable putts. Or you could just rely on your caddy – they are trained specialists on both courses, they certainly know the lie of the land and will beat themselves up if you miss your putt. Dedication to the job is paramount to these people and while English is relatively off the radar for some, most caddies are worth their weight in gold.


Both 18-hole golf courses sit on site for this resort hotel, both with views across the South China Sea, a beautiful 5* hotel with every food available under the sun, cooked perfectly, on offer, what could anyone else want from their golf holiday?

Next stop Mission Hills on Hainan Island (not to be confused with the other Mission Hills – Shenzhen – the world’s largest golf facility with 12 courses). Preparing myself for the unexpected, I was not disappointed. Being likened to Disney, this quirky golf resort has golf courses in which the design has been influenced from the best around the world. Designer Brian Curley has not been lazy in the approach; building 10 golf courses offering 44 miles of golf in 18 months is some feat of engineering. Couple this with the 5* complex itself, with restaurants to tantalise the taste buds from various parts of the world, six restaurants with local delicacies including freshly made wontons in front of your eyes – a treat for the eyes followed by a treat for the tastebuds as these freshly prepared snacks are devoured in quick succession. A man-made beach with an array of colourful floating devices to entertain the children and adults alike, a beach with a bar, is a great location for a barbecue for the perfect tropical experience.


The best known golf course is Blackstone, location of PGA championships and a course not to be missed. Quite tough, with narrow target fairways in places over ravines and greenery beguiling the drop down into the abyss. Cart paths weave themselves around the course with ease with an agile caddy ready to jump into the vegetation as your ball careers towards the menacing yet beautiful flora to engulf your ball. Large greens in good condition are in order and the caddy once again comes into her own and lines you up to perfection.

‘Golden Caddies’ are one step above the regular caddies, they have earned the right to teach and mentor other caddies as they join Mission Hills, taking pride in their work, are willing to please and are wonderful advocates for golf at Mission Hills. Despite their lack of wealth, they often buy for the client local delicacies and are more than happy to share their lunch boxes with you too! However, they do have one failing – chocolate! Chocolate is a currency, not that I’m saying you can tip them in chocolate, of course you can’t do that, but once they know you have a hoard to share with them, they will love you forever. But they don’t take their hoard of chocolate back and stash it away, they share it with their room mates every night, being the kind, gentle people they are.
Stone Quarry golf course is a quirky feature of Mission Hills, with suspended train carriages part way up, broken rail tracks as the mining carriage are about to fly off the rails just at that moment the pause button has been pressed. Sandbelt trails replicate the sandbelts of Australia, and the Vintage Course, home of LET events and with unusually square shaped bunkers, ensure a double take glance as you stand on the tee thinking: ‘this looks weird, but why?’ Shallow lines of bunkers one after the other in Terracotta Warrior fashion are barely wide enough to get in and take the shot out. A relatively tough shot with no sand to play with, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see the ball come cleanly out of one bunker and land in the next narrow bunker strip just a metre away.

Volcanic rock dominates the whole complex, adding a black gold sparkle in the hunch weather with the sun dancing on the sparkles in between rain showers as you drive around the golf courses.

So if you’re looking for something different, something unusual, something quite spectacular, golf on Hainan Island offers you all of these – plus some. 



Published in The Golf Business February 2018

Sarah can be emailed via sarah@golfgurugroup.com



Thursday, 18 January 2018

PGA Merchandise Show Orlando

Who is going to the PGA Merchandise Show?
If anyone wants to connect whilst there, drop me an email sarah@golfgurugroup.com

Friday, 12 January 2018

Nearly - again!

As the holder of one hole in one already I wonder if I am getting a bit greedy and wanting more?

You may recall my post in May 2015 where I got another nearly?

https://redteebreaks.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/nearly-hole-in-one-always-bridesmaid.html

Well I've only gone and done it again - another nearly - this time at the amazing Praia D'El Rey golf course in Portugal, a 109 par three stroke index 18 with a slight breeze off the sea on the left and a little mound on the right, I picked up my pitching wedge and knocked it slightly right, to maximise the mound. A clean shot, a touch right, a little bounce left and it started to roll towards the hole - closer and closer.
Love this picture of Sean jumping out my pocket!
At that time, what does go through golfers mind?  Is it oh no my bar bill will rocket with these fish I'm playing with?  Is it a little heart skip and I'm going to get a hole in one?  I can't honestly remember what I was thinking at that moment in time, but I do recall my playing partners were jumping up and down - the odd expletive was shouted at my ball, then it stopped - the shouting and the ball as my ball came to rest less than a balls width from the hole.
No amount of jumping up and down, blowing the ball or wishing for the infamous gust to wind is going to aid it along; it was simply not going to happen; it just sat there menacing in appearance as sadness and joy swept over me equally.
 
One never really appreciates how close the ball is to the hole until you get closer; how many times have you attacked the flag thinking thats pretty close only to find its at least a metre away and you're left with one of those tricky length putts to finish?  The same thoughts pop into your mind but in reverse when approaching a nearly hole in one, oh its going to be miles away, but gradually as you get closer the smile creeps across your face as you realise the next shot is a sure gimme.
Oh well, in another two and half years I'll give it a go again - or maybe even before, one never knows with the game of golf.
Good luck with your game of golf in 2018 and fingers crossed for a hole in one - for one of us at least!
Feel free to comment on this post.
Sarah



Tuesday, 9 January 2018

British Airways miss my customer satisfaction mark by a mile

My debacle travelling back from Lisbon at the beginning of December, and whilst I have got my bag back now - after it had been on a round the world trip it seems, I still have not heard a word from British Airways - sad thing is, I'm due to book some flights to various destinations for 2018 - and I'm not so keen to use BA - heres why:

4.6 square miles of plane spotting excellence was bought to a standstill yesterday (10th December) as chaos reigned over the stranded passengers trying to get in and out of London Heathrow, 10th December in a snow flurry.
On a flight from Lisbon my flight was delayed from its scheduled departure time of 1040am  by some 2 hours, despite being loaded on a quick-time fashion as the terminal announcement is made for the  final call for all passengers on BA flight 501 to London Heathrow.  Passengers scurrying along to make the flight - to then be sat for two hours waiting with only a half glass of water offered in that time.
Passengers waiting for hours to get off the plane at LHR
Finally air-bound and with joy we winged our way to London with ease, food was served by those wiling to pay airline prices or who were simply hungry having missed breakfast.
Arriving in London we made up some time.   Unusually we were on the left of the airport, a part of the airport the Captain didn’t know as he’d never been there before that snow clad day. 
Landing just after 3pm, we were met with news that the airport was full. London Heathrow is the third largest airport in the world with planes landing or taking off every 45 seconds and serving over 70 million passengers a year, with Atlanta and Beijing being first a second largest respectively.
Passengers from many destinations painfully watching the bags from previous flights get dizzy on the carousel, still no sign of their own bags after hours of waiting
Hour after hour passed, with the Captain occasionally saying he wasn't able to give us any further information but was trying to pull in all favours and even took to the gang plank aisle despite being asked pretty much the same question by everyone who stopped him.  Credit to the Pilots who did make appearances, who did share what little knowledge they knew, unfortunately one member of the crew was less helpful, as she rudely brushed past passengers stretching their legs during that arduous wait at Heathrow.  A passengers asked how much longer, her curt and unnecessary reply was ‘we’ve been on the plane longer than you have’   We had been on that plane since 1020 that morning, we had been given half a glass of water and that was all, grumbling were being made by passengers by about 7pm, some 4 hours after we had landed.  I noticed the front of the cabin had been given drinks, with some left over for passengers in the cheap seats immediately behind the business travellers. But they ran out and the rest of us were left gagging. So I asked for some drinks and they eventually bought us 150ml mini cans some just after 7pm.  The first bus arrived 715pm, taking less than half of the passengers to the correct terminal by bus to collect their luggage.  The rest were left standing, literally, until we were also transferred some 35 minutes later along with the crew in their own bus and taken back to Terminal 3.

Bags stacked for hours with no on to claim them
At 930pm I left the terminal, very tired and without my bag.  There are in excess of 70,000 people working at Heathrow, but that night, they must have all been on holiday; bags were strewn all over with none being taken off the belts and with no floor space to put the bags if they had been.  I had a 2 plus hour drive on top of my journey, I was getting tired, and I just  wanted to go home, I wanted to sleep!

I filed a report for a missing bag, and my messages back it is on it was to my destination airport, Newark…..

Update - 9th January - one month later - got my bag back after nearly 2 weeks - it clearly had a nice holiday in Newark, but I have not heard anything from British Airways - nothing at all about this claim.  So no, at the moment Im not particularly proud of my national airline - British Airways, you can do so much better than this - surely?


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Few hours to kill in Hong Kong

Killing a few hours in Hong Kong
With many international flights to the Far East connecting through Hong Kong what do you do with a few hours or an overnight layover to kill in Hong Kong?
On a recent trip to China, I had an overnight in Hong Kong, something I was relishing after an absence of nearly 30 years.  Arriving in the afternoon heat and after a quick shower and with comfy shoes on I was ready to explore this bustling metropolis.  In 1997, China took back the governance of Hong Kong from the British and I was looking forward to seeing the changes. 
I was in for a bit of a shock.  I expected it to be a bit tatty, teaming with loads of people and the “copy watch man” hounding you at every turn.  Not at all. Hong Kong actually seemed quieter than I remember.  I was no longer dragged along the street when stepping out of my hotel into a sea of people. I actually had control of where I was going and could make that decision without having to navigate round many bodies littering the street in ‘Shaun of the Dead’ fashion.  The air was clean, the atmosphere was vibrant and the “copy watch man” was almost nowhere to be seen.  In fact the only time we did see him was at the Temple Street night market, still an amazing place to visit, although it did seem somewhat smaller than I recalled?  He popped out occasionally from between buildings to gently hound you in a less brazen, almost in a sneaky underhand way before retreating back into his dimly lit gap between buildings, as a spy into the dark slinking away into the abyss.
Temple Street night market is the place to visit if you’re only there for one night. It is littered with local street food vendors but you’re guaranteed a good local meal despite possible cleanliness issues.  Napkins are by way of a small box of tissues provided by a quick toss onto the table in the fast pace restaurants where more than 2 sittings per table are not uncommon in one night. 
But, with just a few blocks of buzzing life, you get the feel for Hong Kong, Temple Street night market with its canvas covers protecting make-shift stalls being used to showcase their wares of cheap Chinese non CE or kite mark goodies on sale by the masses.  An exotic atmosphere with smells of waffles accompanies you as you bump along in a stream of locals and tourists alike in the centre of Chinatown in Kowloon. As you return to the sanctuary of your pristine hotel or back to the airport for your onward flight, you leave this exciting city with good memories and with self-made promises to return to explore more on offer in Hong Kong.

Break up your long haul trip, if only for a few hours in the vibrant and exciting city of Hong Kong
 



http://www.justabouttravel.net/2017/12/20/killing-a-few-hours-in-hong-kong/