First week in South Africa

6 02 2010

Greetings from sunny South Africa

It’s been just over a week now since I landed in South Africa and I wanted to share my week with you.

I have been able to play a total of only 4 rounds thus far with some good and some really bad ones. In addition to this I had 3 hours coaching with Wayne Westner. Man did he work me. I was allowed to hit a total of 8, yes 8, balls in those 3 hours! And that was in the 1st 10 minutes. What he wanted to do was film the swing to see where I was and where I needed to be. We changed my grip marginally and really worked on me swinging around my core (looks a bit like a barrel on the video clip). Then getting the club on plane and making sure that I rotated my shoulders to fully complete the swing.  I am quite honest in saying that in those 3 hours I really leant a lot and will share the video with you on the blog once I get back to Switzerland.

Sadly all these changes had a major effect on my swing (that’s my story) and my first round at Roodepoort Country Club was disastrous. I shot 20 over par which equates to a 92. I was not a happy bunny.

 Next up was the Gary Player Country Club (GPCC) at Sun City. This is perhaps one of the best tests of golf in South Africa. It’s a masterpiece created out of the African bush by Gary Player which is very long off the back tees (7162 metres) and has narrow but receptive landing areas. The greens are lightning fast but like carpets to putt on. If the line is correct, it’s in, if not it may run way past the hole. I shot a dismal 18 over par playing off the back tees which equates to a 90. Wow a 2 stroke improvement, what an easy game…….

 

The following day we played the Lost City Course (LCGC) which is more forgiving and designed I believe for the hotel golfer.  You have to take a cart; the fairways are wide and the greens slower than GPCC. Walking is not allowed because it would take at my best guess at least 6 hours to walk. There are some major changes in elevation on this course as well and the landscape is far more dramatic than GPCC. So off we went early in the morning me expecting to keep up the better by 2 shot routine I had established now. I shot 7 over after 9 and felt I was in with a chance. Suffice it to say the next 9 really beat the living s… out of me. In fact it was so bad that I simply picked up on 4 of the 9. This is really not something I often do but trust me if I didn’t there was every chance that I would have driven myself to the 13th hole and jumped in. The water hazard here is full of Crocs and they could have had me as a play thing instead of all the golf balls that have been lost there. So bang went the ‘my score will improve by 2 each time I play’ theory. This course measures 6549 from the back so a walk in the park compared to GPCC.

What we had done (Etienne Wehrli and his wife Suzanna) is take photos and videos of each other during the round and I took a good look at this after my dismal round at LCGC. I am a great believer in video or photographic assistance while helping someone learn more about their swing. As we cannot see ourselves when we play any kind of sport it’s really difficult to see what you are doing wrong. I immediately noticed that I was falling back at impact. I had, in thinking about all the things I was trying to perfect, forgotten to swing through the ball and complete the swing. I was literally swinging myself off my feet and ending with all my weight on my right side as opposed to the left side. I was determined to see if this was a part of the problem. Etienne Wehrli, who is currently the number one rated amateur in Switzerland and works for Ping, made a few suggestions on how best to get through the ball and complete the swing. He also made a few suggestions to make my putting and chipping stroke smoother and through the ball and more consistent.  He shot around par on each day; I stopped writing his score, as it depressed me too much. He has been coaching Suzanna who has one of the best all round games for anyone I have ever seen playing off 36.

Day 3 and back to GPCC with renewed enthusiasm and hope reborn. All I thought about on tee number 1 was to swing through the ball to complete the weight transfer so that I ended up on my left side. And bam, straight down the middle with a gentle draw. Could this be the start of something? Was I hoping for too much too soon and would I end up in that crocodile pit after all? 2nd shot onto the green, long birdie putt and walked off with par. I will not bore you to death with a blow by blow account of my round (would love to but that might ruin the friendship) but suffice it to say the crocodiles went hungry. I shot a credible 81 (from the big boy tees again) with 2 double bogeys, one on the 9th and sadly one on the last. Both were a touch unlucky. If the golfing gods had given me about 1metre either way it would have been a round without any doubles.

 A quick note on the Caddy’s.

Sun City has some of the friendliest and most professional caddy’s that I have ever had the privilege to play golf with.  They are a joy to speak to and have you laughing more often than not at this wonderful game. Most play to a low handicap so know the game and importantly this difficult course. They also know where most of the snakes are but not all. Reuben who was caddying for Etienne nearly stood on a Mozambiquean Spitting Cobra but managed to jump back just in time. I thought that he would perhaps die of heart failure afterwards as he must have been pushing way above 200 beats to the minute. Happily we all were able to have a great laugh afterwards but beware.

Will keep in touch.

Wish you were here…………….

Cheers

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