It has been a busy few months since starting up my new business, Andrew Cooper Golf, in partnership with Newburgh-on Ythan Golf Club in June. I am delighted to be attached to Newburgh and have been made to feel very welcome by the club and all the members I've met, so thank you!
Getting to know the course
Seaside golf brings its own special challenges and Newburgh is certainly a wonderful links experience. The big contrast in the two nines is an unusual feature, with both nines having their own character.
The front nine has plenty of tricky holes and, from the higher ground, the views are spectacular. Stand out holes for me are the 2nd, with it’s up-turned saucer green, and the 7th ; driveable from the forward tees, but well-guarded on both sides, with gorse ready to punish a wayward drive.
The back nine starts with a stretch of challenging par 4s, demanding straight driving and accurate approach play. The 16th, which nestles close by the Ythan estuary, is a lovely par 3.
But no doubt the strongest challenge comes at the end, with the 548-yard 18th . Three solid shots are required to find the well protected green, and then a tricky undulating green awaits. On medal days, I’m sure even the low handicappers are delighted to finish their rounds off with a 5.
Course management skills: Newburgh's 7th and 18th are what I'd call "risk and reward holes". Smartly weighing up risk against reward is key to good course management. Do we go for the driveable short par 4 or take on a par 5 in two shots? Well we're all different personalities, and every situation is unique, but here is a little rule I'd suggest: A conservative strategy and a bold swing is nearly always better than a bold strategy and a doubtful swing. So play the shot you feel confident you can play and play it confidently!
“Meet your pro” Open Day
Last month, I organised an Open Day and it was nice to see so many members come along and say hello. I was offering free putting advice on the day, so hopefully that helped those who took part. Putting is such an important part of the game of golf and is often underrated. Watch out for my forthcoming blog on “How to make the perfect putt”.
To add a little interest on the day, I ran a putting competition, which was won by Jane Middleton, who received a bottle of bubbly for her putting prowess. Well done Jane.
Around the clock drill: The competition I set up for the open day was a variation on my favourite putting exercise. We had 6 putts from a 6 foot circle around the hole and the very simple challenge is to complete the circle. It's a fantastic way to improve your putting as: every putt is different; there's a little pressure involved; and it gives you a target score to beat to monitor improvement.
"Newburgh's 6-hole par-3 course is the perfect place to get started for kids and adult beginners"
Junior Summer Coaching Classes
Another priority, has been to offer some help to the junior section at the club. Sadly, junior golfer numbers across the country are nowhere near where they once were, and Newburgh has not escaped that trend.
Getting a small group of kids playing and having fun is a start though, and the junior classes this summer have achieved that at least. We have just finished the 5-session course, and there have been some nice improvements and, most importantly, the juniors taking part have enjoyed it.
After short and long game work in sessions 1 and 2, we played the short 6-hole course, and what a super wee challenge that was for the kids. I know many of them were chuffed (and I certainly was) when they were writing down 3s and 4s on their cards. Very few clubs have a similar short course, which is a shame, because a short course like Newburgh's par-3 course, is the perfect place to get started-for kids and adult beginners.
On course learning: I like to get new golfers onto a course and playing quickly. I find that they start to respond to the varying challenges that are presented to them, and that their technique and feel develops-often without them even realising. This is particularly the case with the short game and putting, where simple trial and feedback is the best way to learn.
I have been assisted by volunteer member, Donald Wood, with the junior classes, and his help has been much appreciated. Thank you Donald.
Upcoming Junior Sessions:
I will be running an after school club for juniors from September through to the October holidays. It will start at 4pm every Tuesday and cost £20 per child for 4 sessions, starting on Tuesday 5th, running through to 10th October (with the exception of Tues 12th and 19th Sep). I will also do another junior session in the October holidays, which will be posted on my website. Please get in touch to sign up.
It has been nice to have a mixture of old and new pupils coming in to see me since I started. As always, the lessons have all been unique, and covered a wide range of golfers, from beginners to scratch players. I certainly think everyone has gone away a little happier with their games than when they arrived, which is what it’s all about!
I was excited to be teeing it up in the finals of the UK & Ireland PGA Championships at Luttrellstown Castle, Dublin, back in June and to be representing Newburgh Golf Club for the first time.
Sadly, it didn’t go as well as hoped. After a tough round, I was disappointed to suffer my first ever disqualification, signing for a wrong score and then realising my mistake a few minutes later. A lesson learned!
I made an honest mistake on my card which I reported to the officials as soon as I realised, so is it fair to have such a harsh punishment as disqualification? Probably, as it is my responsibility and I'm fully aware of the rules, but I could see an argument for making it a two shot penalty instead too.
With my website up and running now, I will be starting to send out regular blogs over the coming months, covering all things golf. Hopefully you’ll find them interesting, maybe even illuminating, and certainly helpful for your game. Stay posted.
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