’Twas six days before Christmas

when all through the clubhouse,


Not a creature was stirring—

—well, that’s not entirely true. Creatures were, in fact, stirring when I called Santa Claus Golf Club on Thursday afternoon. Golfers weren’t, though. (Too dark, too cold.) Nary a sign of St. Nick, either. (Too busy.)

“Sometimes we do see his footprints in the snow,” Pia Lillberg, the club’s cheery managing director, told me by video conference.

She was joking. I think.

Santa Claus Golf Club — yes, it’s actually a thing — sits directly on the Arctic Circle, in Rovaniemi, Finland, about 500 miles north of Helsinki. There are no sleigh-carts or elf-caddies or gift-wrapped tee markers, and, no, you don’t get coal after a triple-bogey. But the club does have reindeer. About 30 of them. Lillberg says they’re “quite nice to play with,” if unschooled in the finer points of golf etiquette. Knock your tee shot into a flock, she said, and they’ll be in no rush to clear out. (Evidently the presence of reindeer sausage on the halfway-house menu has not put a scare into them.)

A flock of friendly, if stubborn, reindeer call Santa GC home.

A flock of friendly, if stubborn, reindeer call Santa GC home.

When the club was founded in 1986, it had a far less recognizable name: the Golf Club of Rovaniemi. Its course was built not on grass but on ice and open only in the depths of winter: nine frigid holes set on the river that bisects the city. A few years later, a “summer course” emerged on terra firma with six fairways and a practice area, followed, in 1997, by a nine-hole layout. In 2011, the membership tacked on another nine — resulting in a par-71, 6,500-yard design that winds its way up and down a hillside lined with pine trees — but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that the club acquired its current moniker.

“As we are in the Official Hometown of Santa Claus,” Lillberg said (yes, that’s a thing, too; Rovaniemi has it trademarked), “it’s only appropriate that we, too, carry the name. Somehow it seems more suitable to talk about Santa Claus golf than Arctic golf.” It’s also more marketable. The club is in the process of launching a shop on its website where visitors will be able to buy Santa Claus GC-logoed hats, shirts and balls — the perfect stocking stuffers for the golfer in your life.

Christmastime, ironically, is the club’s slow season.

“Sunrise was at 11:07 am today and sunset was 1:22 pm,” said Lillberg, who speaks excellent English with a heavy Nordic accent. “It’s not practical to go and play in the dark.”

It’s also not practical to play in the snow. But that doesn’t stop SCGC’s hardy membership from bundling up and playing the club’s “winter course,” a snowy nine-hole layout (complete with “whites” instead of greens) that the grounds crew spends a couple of months shaping. “We have to have 40 centimeters of snow before we start building it,” Lillberg said.

The course opens in early March, when the days are longer and the temperatures more tolerable. When the sun’s out, the “snow shines like crystals,” Lillberg says, turning the place into a magical golfing wonderland. “It’s perfect. I really can’t say enough good things about it.”

The course hasn’t drawn many American tourists, though one notable member of the golfing establishment did visit last March: USGA executive director Mike Davis. In his first foray in to snow golf, Davis competed in the Santa’s Snow Golf Classic. (“The whites putt beautifully,” he said at the time. “They’re actually not too different from a regular putting green.”) Papa Noel doesn’t visit the course much, either, what with all his duties down in Santa Claus Village. He has some other forces working against him, too, Lillberg says: “It’s a bit difficult for him to see the ball because of the stomach and the beard.”

The snow-golf season at Santa Claus GC lasts only about six weeks.

The snow-golf season at Santa Claus GC lasts only about six weeks.

Still, whether the big man is on site or not, his spirit thrives at the club that bears his name, from Rudolph and Co. grazing in the rough, to the twinkly Christmas decorations in the restrooms, to the staff that runs the place.

“I have to make a confession,” Lillberg said at the end of our call. “I’m actually an elf in disguise.”

Come again?

Yep, for 10 years, Lillberg said, she moonlighted as one of Santa’s helpers, sorting letters for him at the post office in downtown Rovaniemi.

“Once an elf,” she said, “always an elf.”

I laughed when she said this in spite of myself,

A wink of her eye and a twist of her head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.’

SOURCE:  golf.com

1) Don’t chase a score on the course, you have to stay patient and let it come to you.

2) Change your practice routine, and start focusing on your weaknesses. If you keep doing the same things over and over again, why would your scores improve?

3) Don’t pass the buck. It wasn’t the club’s fault, or the the wind, or the golf course. You are the captain of the ship. The sooner you take responsibility, and try to fix your mistakes, the better off your game will be.

4) Never assume you have it all figured out. Golf has a funny way of humbling you at the moments when you think you are invincible!

5) Enjoy the process. The one constant in golf is when you fix one thing in your game, another one will break. Accept it, and try to limit your frustrations. Golf is a beautiful mess.

6) Whatever scoring milestone you are looking to achieve, mastering your short game will probably be a huge part of it.

7) It’s OK to get upset with yourself when things don’t go your way during a round. It becomes a problem when you let it carry over to the next shot.

8) If you are obsessed with hitting the ball farther, you are likely ignoring parts of your game that will actually lower your score.

9) Your worst putt is usually better than your worst chip. Try using your putter more whenever you can if you are just off the green.

10) If you’re not having fun, you will never get better. Focus on enjoyment first, and the rest will follow.

11) Your round one big gambling experiment. Self control is rewarded, and blind aggressiveness usually ends in disaster.

12) The number one priority on any tee shot is hitting the fairway, choose the club that gets you there.

13) There is no one right way to swing a golf club. Look at all of the different swings in golfing history.

14) Mastering one shot is better than trying to be good at 5 or 6.

15) If it’s windy out, don’t swing harder.

16) What happens on the 5th hole will be a distant memory by the 13th. Try and save every shot you can even if you’re having a few bad holes. Things can turn around quickly!

17) Don’t play an expensive pro-level ball if your game isn’t suited for it. You’re wasting money, and the extra spin on the ball will do more harm than good.

18) Try playing a few rounds where you don’t keep score, and just focus on trying to hit good shots. You’ll probably be amazed at how much fun you will have, and how capable you are of hitting great shots.

19) Bad shots are inevitable. The better golfers move past them immediately, and shift their focus to limiting the damage rather than compounding their mistake.

20) You can only handle so much technical information before it does more harm than good. If you have several different thoughts before you approach a shot, it’s likely you won’t be confident. Try working on one thing at a time until your are comfortable with it on the course.

21) New equipment, and getting fitted for clubs can help your game. Don’t fall into the trap of giving it more importance than you should (See tip #3).

22) Be careful when someone makes a promise that’s too good to be true for your game. Their training aid, or learning course is likely fool’s gold.

23) If you are serious about becoming a better golfer you have to make a plan for yourself. Think long and hard about the parts of your game that need work, and make a practice schedule that focuses on those areas. If you just show up to the range, and start hitting balls without any purpose you will have wasted your time.

24) It’s probably a good idea to have your swing looked at by a professional from time to time. Choose one that you are comfortable with. The most important part is being able to understand what they are saying. If it doesn’t make sense, then they are not the right teacher for you.

25) What you see on TV is not reality for a golfer. Do not try and play the difficult shots that the pros can pull off. They’ve put in thousands of hours mastering them! That’s why they make it look so easy.

26) Figure out some creative ways to practice at home. It can sometimes be much more effective than your work on the range.

27) Read some books, here are a list of 10 that every golfer should have on their shelves.

28) Your goal is to limit your 3 putts, not make more one putts.

29) Sometimes your best rounds are right around the corner. If you’ve had a few bad weeks on the course don’t give up hope!

SOURCE:  practical_golf.com

May you share joyful memories, laughter and good cheer this Christmas.

From our family to yours, we wish you peace, joy and all the best this wonderful holiday has to offer.  

Merry Christmas from all of us at Makefield Highlands

 

Image result for christmas gif

“The best golfers without a major championship” is always a fascinating discussion and maybe never more so in the world of golf as we enter 2019. The sport is absolutely loaded with stars and superstars at the highest level, and you could argue that with Tiger Woods back to winning, the PGA Tour hasn’t been healthier in a long, long time.

Because of this and because a healthy PGA Tour leads to massive purses, golf is becoming more and more competitive. The rise of social media has engendered an era when even three-win or four-win golfers without majors are well-known personalities. All of this is a great thing of course, but it also means that the major-less crew is more recognizable than ever. That’s good for golf (so many stars can win in any given week!) but tough for the players on this list to continually field questions about why they haven’t won the big one.

With that, let’s get to our top 10. Remember, this isn’t a list of the 10 most accomplished but rather the 10 best players in the world who have yet to win a major championship.

1. Jon Rahm: He doubles as the most decorated on this list as well. For the second consecutive year, he won at least three times worldwide and solidified his spot as one of the handful of guys most likely to win the most majors from this point going forward.

2. Bryson DeChambeau: Only Rory McIlroy got to five wins more quickly in recent years. I don’t think DeChambeau is “somewhere between McIlroy and Spieth” good, but he’s certainly being undervalued.

3. Rickie Fowler: He’s the lightning rod for this conversation. I won’t belabor the point — I’ve done that plenty elsewhere — but he remains one of the most underrated big tournament players in the world.

4. Tommy Fleetwood: I struggled with these next two. Hideki Matsuyama is more accomplished, and neither is a tremendous putter, but Fleetwood has displayed a flair for the big stage. That gives him the nod over Matsuyama.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: One of my low-key favorite predictions to make is that Matsuyama won’t ever win a major. Not that he’s not good enough — he is — but at some point it just becomes a numbers game. There aren’t enough of them to go around.

6. Tony Finau: Embarrassment of riches when it comes to talent, but as Justin Ray of Golf Channel recently pointed out, Finau is also probably the most dominant player in the world who doesn’t win (or at least hasn’t won recently).

Yet, Finau finds himself with just one PGA Tour win so far. Over the last three seasons, Finau has 20 top-10 finishes — twice as many as any player without a victory in that span. Tony can find solace in his bank account — his $5.62 million in official earning last season are the second-most in PGA Tour history by a player without a victory.

7. Xander Schauffele: If you value winning, this is your guy. He’s maybe done more of it compared to his brand value in the general public than anyone else on the PGA Tour. Definitely has the goods to win a major or two.

8. Paul Casey: I wanted to go with Thomas Pieters right here, but Casey, even at his age, is still astoundingly good. To go with his Valspar win last season, he had five top 10s and 13 top 25s. It would be pretty awesome to see him win an Open Championship at this stage like Henrik Stenson did.

9. Patrick Cantlay: He’s become mildly overrated in deep golf circles if only because he became somebody sexy to hitch your hipster wagon to, but the talent is there. He’s made four of his last five cuts at majors, and I think he’ll give himself a chance to win at least one in 2019.

10. Gary Woodland: Seems to be having a later-in-his-career resurgence. At the age of 34 he won, had 11 top 25s and made it all the way to the Tour Championship in September. He was one of 17 players without a major to do so. I could have gone with Aaron Wise, Billy Horschel or Cameron Smith right here, but for my money right now, Woodland tops all of those guys.

SOURCE:  msn.com

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From the world of weird n’ wacky in Golf, we found this…

Ever wonder what people who live on golf courses do with all the balls that get hit into their backyards? Well, you probably wouldn’t guess what one Iowa man did.

Kevin Pingel took nearly 600 balls and turned them into a six-foot, 100-pound statue of a golfer, according to Siouxlandmatters.com. Here’s a photo of the structure:

Pingel said he modeled the statue — which is becoming somewhat of a tourist attraction in Alta, Iowa — after the current swing of his favorite golfer, Tiger Woods. Somewhere, Sean Foley just did a fist pump.

SOURCE:  Golfdigest.com

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Don’t make hitting a draw or a fade complicated

Modern launch monitors have taught us exactly what makes the ball go where it goes, but most golfers would be smart not to get too caught up in technicalities. Decades ago, Jack Nicklaus described a simple way to shape shots, and it’s every bit as valid today.

Jack said to hit a fade—his preferred shot—aim the clubface where you want the ball to come down, and align your body to the left (for right-handers). To hit a draw, do the opposite: Aim the face where you want the ball to finish and align your body to the right. For both ball flights, swing the club where your body is aimed.

Here’s the procedure, starting with the fade (above). After sighting your target from behind the ball, step in and aim the face at the target. Next, set your feet, making sure your stance line is well to the left. (Remember, a square stance is parallel-left of the target line, so you have to be farther left than that.) Your body lines—knees, hips and shoulders—should point where your feet point. Then swing where your body is aimed. The ball will start left and curve right.

“TO SHAPE A SHOT, BETTER TO CHANGE YOUR SETUP THAN YOUR SWING.”

Now, take the draw. Aim the clubface at the target, then arrange your stance and your other body lines to the right. Swing where your body is aimed, and the ball will start right and curve to the left.

What I really like about this method is, you get most of it done at address. I see golfers trying to roll the face closed for a draw or hold it open for a fade. Jack’s way is better.

GOLF’S NO. 1 MISTAKE
People ask me all the time, What’s the biggest fault you see with amateur golfers? My answer: They don’t take enough club. They take the club that requires a career shot to get to the target.

Optimistic? No, more like unrealistic. You should base your club selections on the average distance you get out of your clubs. Take one more than you think you need, and then swing within yourself. Trust me, you’ll make better contact and hit your target a lot more often.

SOURCE:  GolfDigest

 

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