Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Has Captain Bjorn Got it Right?

Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has received a fair amount of criticism from the golfing pundits after naming his four wildcard picks for this year’s tournament. Form was said to be clinically overlooked in favour of experience as Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson joined up with those that had qualified from the European and World points list.

Bjorn has played it safe, but has he got his selection right?

No Weak Links


Tiger Woods by Keith Allison

One of Thomas Bjorn’s concerns would have arisen from the fact that reigning Ryder Cup champions the United States will go into this tournament with one of the strongest teams for many years. Even though they are conceding home advantage this time, comparison site Oddschecker shows that Jim Furyk’s squad are odds-on favourites to retain the title that they won two years ago and it’s easy to see why.

Among the roster is double 2018 Major winner Brooks Koepka and the current US Masters Champion Patrick Reed. Dustin Johnson, who has only just lost his World Number One ranking, also features as do Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson who has won three tournaments on the PGA Tour this season.

Tiger Woods is included as a Captain’s pick after a strong return from injury while Furyk, unlike Bjorn, has gone for form above reputation by including Tony Finau. It’s a formidable line up so what have Europe got to offer in return?

Pride of Spain

Sergio Garcia & Francesco Molinari by myphoto

The main media focus has been on Sergio Garcia who becomes the first man in the history of the Ryder Cup to line up in the tournament having missed the cut in all four preceding Majors. On the plus side, here is a man who was Masters Champion less than 18 months previously and across a long professional career, the 38-year-old has recorded no fewer than 33 tournament wins.

During this year’s competition, Garcia could also overtake Sir Nick Faldo to become the leading European points scorer in the history of the Ryder Cup so we can, at least, empathise with Thomas Bjorn’s dilemma.

Adaptable


Ian Poulter by TourProGolfClubs

Paul Casey could only be seen as a contentious pick because the Englishman has committed to the PGA Tour for many years. He’s been consistent across the Atlantic and won the Valspar Championship earlier this season so there’s no real concern over form for a man who has appeared in three previous Ryder Cups.

Ian Poulter has also made a recovery of sorts in 2018 after he dropped out of the world’s Top 200. Victory at the Houston Open in April this year suggests that ‘Poults’ is back and he will undoubtedly prove his worth as the talisman who inspires the rest of the team.

That leaves 2016 British Open Champion Henrik Stenson where the concern is not over quality but whether the Swede is fully fit following a recent injury. Overall, the European wildcards are an experienced bunch and while form isn’t there in every case, the team will need that experience as they face what is arguably the best US side in the history of the competition.

Friday, September 14, 2018

What Does Tiger Need To Do To Win a Major in 2019


Love him or hate him, you really have to hand it to Tiger Woods. After making his eagerly awaited comeback in January earlier this year at Torrey Pines, Tiger has gone on to make an impressive 17 starts in 2018 thus far and has mounted serious title challenges at Carnoustie, Bellerive, Bay Hill and Innisbrook, whilst qualifying for the season-ending Tour Championship in the process. Moreover, Woods also managed to force his way into Jim Furyk's Ryder Cup plans and perhaps most importantly, has shown glimpses of the game which has seen him land 14 major titles. However, the question on everyone's lips remains, can Tiger land the illustrious 15th and if so, how does he go about achieving that in 2019?

Play Smart But Plan Smarter

Despite the fact that Tiger is now seemingly pain-free, it's important to remember that he's no spring chicken at 42 and with the gruelling modern-day professional golfing schedule to contend with, Woods needs to plan smart if he's to have any chance of landing another major title. Much like Woods' fellow Nike compatriot Roger Federer has done for the past 3 years with regards to the French Open and entire clay court season, Woods should look to pick and choose his tournaments wisely in order to give his body and his mind time to refocus and recuperate.
Of course, you could argue that Federer's reasons partly lie in the fact that Rafael Nadal is as good as unbeatable on clay and that trying to wrestle the Roland Garros title from his grasp is almost futile but by the same token, the rest has demonstrably improved Federer's results on grass and he has spoken numerous times about how important it is to feel fresh when you're advancing in years; Tiger Woods could do much worse than take note of this advice - perhaps he can use this extra downtime to build and design some new courses?

Forget About Winning

As the old adage goes, "The harder you try, the worse it gets." Ultimately, golf is the same as any sport in that you tend to play your best stuff when you're most relaxed and enjoying yourself. Woods has really come to the fore in the past couple of months and it's plain for everyone to see that the American is simply enjoying being able to play the sport he loves without any hindrance. Although it may sound paradoxical at first, Woods' biggest strength could also be his biggest downfall when it comes to trying to land that illustrious 15th major - the competitive streak which has seen him become one of the most decorated players of all time could also lead to him trying a little too hard and few golfers have found success when operating with this mentality.
Instead, Woods should stick to simply enjoying playing golf again and events such as the upcoming Showdown at Shadow Creek should help the 42-year-old in this regard. Woods will go head to head vs Phil Mickelson during Thanksgiving week for a total purse of $9 million and, as of 11th September, Woods is the 4/7 favourite with Betway to come out on top in one of the most eagerly anticipated one-off matches the sport has ever seen.

Keep Being Tiger

Despite his namesake being a ferocious predator in its own right, Tiger is much more like a shark in that when he smells blood, you're in big trouble. Over the years, it's impossible to recall how many good golfers have crumbled in the last round when they knew that Woods is hot on their heels and back in the day (whenever that was), if Tiger took a sizeable lead into the final days play then the result was almost a foregone conclusion. The point is that the name Tiger Woods still strikes fear into the heart of the opposition and he should continue to play on this as well as rallying the crowds, all of whom will undoubtedly be rooting for him to succeed.

Tiger's Comeback Is a Victory In Itself

Those who purchased his recently-released biography on eBay or Amazon will be aware of the hardships and sacrifices Tiger has made over the last couple of years in order to facilitate his comeback - when you consider that many top commentators believed he would never be the same after his injury problems, the fact that he's back out on the course in any capacity is remarkable. However, we're all aware by now that this won't be enough for Woods and so, with that being said, can he land his 15th major title? As reported in the Express, Nick Faldo certainly seems to think so and that's good enough for us.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Three Best Bets for the 2018 Ryder Cup

The 2018 Ryder Cup is set to be a fantastic renewal of the team competition between the USA and Europe as on paper the two sides look fairly balanced and that is reflected in the betting as the bookmakers are struggling to separate them.

If you are looking to have a punt on the event at Le Golf National in Paris, France, here are the three best bets, which can hopefully help you make a profit from the tournament.


1. USA to Win the 2018 Ryder Cup

Credit: Hambric Sports via Twitter

The defending champions are -110 in the golf betting to win the Ryder Cup for the second consecutive tournament and they should be backed to do just that. Jim Furyk has a very experienced team who will be able to handle being the visitors with the crowd against them in Paris. Europe, on the other hand, have five rookies who have qualified into the event which may play against them when the pressure is on at the weekend. Three of the four Major Championships were won by Americans in 2018, which is a strong indication that they probably have the advantage and can retain their crown later this month.


2. Brooks Koepka to be Top USA Points Scorer

American Brooks Koepka has proved to be the man for the big events. The 28-year-old is now a three-time Major winner after claiming the US Open and US PGA Championship in 2018. Despite so much success in the big events, Koepka has only won one other PGA Tour tournament. The American should thrive in the Ryder Cup format and given his form this year, Furyk is sure to use him as often as he can in the four-balls and foursomes which means he should be backed to be the top USA points scorer. Koepka played in the 2016 winning team, therefore he has experience of the event; he was also a member of the European Tour in the early stages of his career and will be familiar with the course.


3. Francesco Molinari to be Top European Points Scorer

Credit: The Open via Twitter

There is no doubt that Francesco Molinari has been one of the in-form players in world golf in 2018. The Italian won the Open Championship at Carnoustie earlier in the summer where he broke his maiden in the Major Championships. Molinari shot bogey-free rounds on the Saturday and Sunday in Scotland to beat the field by two shots. The world number six also claimed the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth earlier in the campaign, while he was sixth recently in the US PGA Championship, which was won by Koepka at Bellerive Country Club. This will be Molinari’s third appearance in the Ryder Cup, therefore not only will Thomas Bjorn be looking at him to help the rookies through the tournament, he is sure to be in the majority of the matches across all three days so back him to be the top European points scorer at Le Golf National.

Enjoy the great team competition in sport and good luck with your bets.

Friday, May 11, 2018

10 Absolutely Stupid Golf Fashions


1. Long Sleeve Dress Shirts

Lately, Phil Mickelson has been wearing these at tournaments. He looks like a rules official or some bored office worker that wants to pull off a quick nine after a long day toiling away in a cublicle. Even Phil the Thrill can't pull this look off, so puh-leeze, just wear a regular golf shirt. Another great and goofy Phil fashion statement is wearing a watch while playing. 


2. Flat Brim Caps

Unless you're trying to squeeze in a quick round before you attend a rap concert, please refrain from wearing these ridiculous looking lids.


3. All White From Head to Toe

If your desire is to look like an ice cream truck driver, house painter or tennis player at Wimbledon, by all means, show up at the golf course in all white.


4. High-Top Golf Shoes

You can thank Rickie Fowler for trying to introduce this fashion statement on to the golf course. Thankfully, it hasn't caught on. Unless you're an NBA golf fanatic like J.R. Smith or Stephen Curry, please leave your high-tops at home in your closet.


5. Camouflage Outfits

Maybe for Larry the Cable Guy or some deer hunter who just fell out of your tree perch onto the fairway, but the rest of us should not wear camouflage on the golf course. Same goes for bowling shirts, Hawaiian shirts and baseball and football jerseys.


6. Golf Sandals

Yes, you might be in the bunkers all day, but that still doesn't give you the right to play golf in sandals. If you like sandals so much, please take up beach volleyball or perhaps frisbee golf.


7. Matching Husband and Wife Outfits

This is the couple that has WAY too much time on their hands. Oh yeah, they also generally own a tricked up golf cart with sheepskin seat covers and a customized license plate that reads "Bob & Madge."


8. Oversized Golf Shirts

Hey, the 1980s called and they want these shirts back NOW.


9. Logos Gone Crazy

Nothing and I mean nothing is more annoying than the guy who shows up wearing a logo hat, shirt and pants. He's basically saying, "Hey guys, I played Pebble, Pinehurst and Bandon Dunes and went to the Masters and you poor slugs haven't been anywhere."


10. Cowboy Hats

I realize a cowboy hat provides more protection against the sun than a traditional golf cap, but unless you're a rancher rounding up some cattle or an urban cowboy looking for love in all the wrong places, I highly suggest leaving this legendary lid at home on the hat rack.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Product Review: Square Strike Wedge



You would think someone named "The Guru" would be a fairly good stick, right?

Well, I'm not. I'm just another struggling mid-handicapper that's hit a pool screen or two and chipped more thin and fat shots than I can count.

My long game is pretty consistent, but from 15 or 40 yards away from the green I'm the master at turning a sure par into a double bogey.

Enough is enough... I decided to finally do something about my lousy short game.

I got the Square Strike Wedge.

By now, you've probably seen the commercial on The Golf Channel with two-time U.S. Open Champion/TV commentator Andy North touting the Square Strike. For whatever reason, North comes off as sincere and not just some celeb offering a testimonial for a paycheck. The more I watched the video the more I believed it might be the answer to some of my problems.

I've used everything from a putter to 4-iron to sand wedge to chip. Nothing worked consistently.

So, I guess you won't be surprised when I tell you I was chipping balls with my Square Strike minutes after ripping open the box.

I threw a few golf balls down on my carpet in my den and started chipping away.

Let's just say, I was kicking ass in my den. At this point, I wasn't sure how it would work on the course, but I sure liked the immediate results. Except for one ball I bounced off an end table, I had no mishits with about 10 shots.



By utilizing a simple, exaggerated putting stroke, I was amazingly popping the ball up instead of hitting dribblers and chunks.

Two days later I took it to the golf course, a great little 9-hole layout, the Winter Park Golf Club just north of Orlando. Located on the edge of the village, it's one of the nation's best walking courses and the Guru loves to walk to play golf.

I had some impressive results. I probably saved three or four strokes on my round by being able to execute shots that typically give me trouble such as chipping over a bunker and hitting a 20-yard chip when I was short of a green to about 8 feet to the pin. Normally, with that type of shot I can't get it within 15 feet of pin and that's if I don't chunk it three feet or skull it over the green.

Oh yeah, while I was waiting on the group in front of me I hit a couple of 30 to 40 yard practice bump and run shots with good results.

I'm not going to go all scientific on you. In simple language, this is why I think the Square Strike worked for me:

* It's heavy (.73 pounds) so it forces you to make a pendulum swing, which helps with control and accuracy. My gosh, even the most struggling duffer can execute a putting stroke, right?

* It has a shorter shaft so you must hunch over a little more than with a regular wedge. The result is you have much better control.

* The club face looks and feels like it's more forgiving. I instantly had more confidence with it. Instead of imaging a chunk with one of my other wedges, I actually had positive swing thoughts with the Square Strike. 

Just The Facts:

Loft: 45 degrees

Length: 35.5 inches

Lie angle: 68 degrees

Head weight: 330 grams (.73 pounds)


Guru Verdict

If you can swing a putter, you can use the Square Strike. While it takes some getting used to swinging the heavier club head, once you do you'll be pleased with the results. I definitely think you can save 3 to 6 strokes a round and maybe even more. The Square Strike has taken a permanent place in my golf bag.








Friday, April 20, 2018

Celebrate Women's Golf Day at Pinehurst Resort


It's about time women had a great buddy trip and I've discovered a fantastic one that incorporates Women's Golf Day on June 5th.


A couple of friends of mine, Ann Mabry and Barbara Gutstadt, are trip ambassadors for the Women's Golf Day Getaway at Pinehurst Resort June 3-6, 2018. Ann and Barbara are both avid golfers and the most knowledgeable and experienced women in the golf travel industry.

Mabry is the managing director of Premier Golf and Gutstadt is the founder of Women's Golf & Travel Concierge, a division of Premier Golf.

They created the Women's Golf Day Getaway as a way for women to network, celebrate Women's Golf Day and enjoy golf in a luxury resort setting.



"The combination of world-class golf, elegant accommodations and a variety of amenities make this package a great way to honor Women's Golf Day with lots of fun and camaraderie," Mabry says.

We designed this package with lots of golf experiences and also fun activities that encourage bonding and camaraderie, Gutstadt says.

The Pinehurst Women's Golf Day Getaway Package, includes:

Three nights accommodations at the Carolina Hotel or Holly Inn
Breakfast buffet each morning
Welcome and farewell dinner and drinks
Two rounds of golf on Pinehurst Resort golf courses 1, 3 or 5
90-minute golf clinic at Pinehurst Golf Academy (June 4th)
Drive, Chip and Putt contest (June 5th)
All taxes and hotel service charges
Participants will have easy walking access to Pinehurst Village with its boutiques, pubs and restaurants



If you're interested call Ann Mabry at 770-291-5155 (direct line) or Barbara Gutstadt at 844-740-4522. One call does it all with Ann or Barbara. If you're a women golfer who loves to travel and play great courses, they can take care of you with the utmost in knowledge, experience and professionalism.


Barbara Gutstadt
Ann Mabry



Thursday, April 12, 2018

10 Most Ridiculous Golf Course Antics


It's part of the Guru's job description to play lots of golf courses. I've been lucky to play everything from high-end Top 100 courses to no frills munis and nine-hole layouts. Believe me, I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

Some golf courses just don't get it. Here are 10 of the most ridiculous golf course antics I see during my travels:


1. Drill Sergeant Starters


He barely says hello because he's so intent on delivering an 8-minute manifesto on the do's and don'ts on the golf course. In his mind, he's the all-knowing drill sergeant of the fairways and you're the wussy, idiot numbskull teenager just off the bus on the way to basic training. If you really want to get under this guy's skin then forget your receipt. All hell will break loose. You'll be humiliated in front of your group and forced to head back to the pro shop to prove that your not some trespassing loser.

2. Do Nothing Rangers


Hey, I realize many of these rangers are retired guys just trying to get some free golf and get away from the wife for a few hours, but too many of them don't enforce any sort of pace-of-play policy. My gosh, I always seem to get behind the slow poke foursome with guys checking yardage books, lining up putts like its a U.S. Open qualifier and taking 15 practice swings. Then, I see a ranger and I think , "Oh boy, he's gonna really nail these clowns." Nope, not really. Nothing but crickets as "Do Nothing Ranger Guy" whizzes by totally oblivious to the slow play everywhere on the course.

3. $5 Water and $7 Beer


I love it when I'm playing golf on a 98 degree July day in Florida and sweating my coconuts off and along comes the concession cart with their $5 water and $7 beer.  I cough up the fiver because I don't want to be dehydrated and I pay the $7 because my game is trending downward rapidly and I'm desperate for some swing oil.  Yet, when I'm drinking either beverage the only thing I can think of, is: "Wow, what the heck is the profit margin on these drinks?" When I calculate the answer, I really get pissed off at the golf course.


4. Aerated and Poor Quality Greens


Some golf courses protect announcement of their aeration dates with CIA style secrecy. Then they happily charge you full price to putt on ridiculous, bumpy greens that make a round of golf excruciating. Even worse are the bumpy, poorly maintained greens that haven't been aerated. Honestly, I'll take a fairway full of weeds and unkept bunkers if I can putt on well-maintained greens that aren't slow and shaggy.


5. Crazy Mower Guy and Overzealous Maintenance Guy


I understand lots of the course maintenance guys might not play golf, but sometimes their behavior is a bit annoying. For instance, when mower guy (usually wearing a bandana over his nose to fight off the pollen) comes roaring over a hill, pedal to the metal, just as you're in your backswing. Or how about the guys raking fairway bunkers that move in slow motion while you wait on the tee.

6. Terrible Signage and Yardage Markers


Some courses don't want to spend money on signage so you wander around in your cart aimlessly trying to find the next hole. It's annoying and slows down the pace of play. Also, not everyone carries a rangefinder so please at least give us a stake or bush denoting 100 and 150 yards and perhaps the yardages on sprinkler heads. Is that too much to ask? Once again, with limited yardage markers, it slows down play. Sometimes I wonder if they want us out there for five hours so they can sell us overpriced beer and water.


7. Crappy Practice Range


Kudos to golf courses with great practice ranges, but I've been to some (and not just munis, either) where the range is a joke. The beat up range balls look like they've been there since the 1970s, the mats are worn out and slick or the grass on the teeing areas looks like a beat up polo field. I find it a total waste of time to hit balls at a substandard range.

8. Cynical Pro Shop People


These are the guys that are sick and tired of folding shirts and resent the fact they're a scratch golfer and they have to kiss ass to dubbers and hackers who can't crack 100. You meet lots of friendly pro shop people, but be aware of the cynical, bitter guy who washed up on the mini-tours and ended up behind the counter. Sadly, he's come to the realization that shooting par on any pro tour will result in nothing but missed cuts and a quick pipeline to the golf retail industry.

9. Lousy Club Cleaner Guy


Let's face it, we all this annoying drill...These guys want a tip and nothing else matters. They don't give a rat's ass about your clubs and actually cleaning them. Generally, it's a cursory wipe with a grimy, wet towel and this mediocre service is supposed to be worth a few dollars. Their ultimate goal is get green in their pocket, not off your clubs. Yet, we always pay. I've never stiffed a lousy club cleaner guy, but I'm not satisfied with the service very often.

10. No 9-hole Rate


Hey, times have changed. More people (especially millennials and busy business types) don't have the time or inclination to devote four or five hours to a round of golf. We need more courses offering 9 hole rates and perhaps even 6-hole or 12-hole rates. The ideal for people that like to walk and play like the Guru would be offering special 9-hole, walking rates after 3 p.m.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

On-Site: England's Golf Coast

Royal Lytham & St Annes 

Most of the golf masses always conjure up images of Scotland when the talk is about golf in the British Isles. While it doesn't have an Old Course, Royal Dornoch or Muirfield, England's Golf Coast in the northwest corner of the country has a phenomenal star-studded line-up.

I recently visited the area for the first time and, I must admit, I should hit myself in the head with a 9-iron for waiting so long. England's Golf Coast courses have served as venues for Open Championships, The Ryder Cup and Walker Cup. The region has hosted the Open Championship--are you ready for this?-- thirty-two times.

Enhancing your visit away from the fairways is a chance to immerse in Beatles memorabilia in Liverpool and perhaps even take in a Premier League soccer match (the season runs from August to May) in Liverpool or Manchester like the Guru did during his early spring visit.

GOLF OVERVIEW


Royal Birkdale Clubhouse

England's Golf Coast is home to 15 golf courses. Some are very recognizable names, others are not. I assure you, though, you'll be playing a quality course no matter where you tee up in this region.  

Here are some brief impressions of the four courses The Guru played:


Royal Lytham & St Annes--I know this is high praise, but this course instantly made my most-favorite-courses-I've-played list. The front-nine is absolutely phenomenal with a great mix of wonderfully designed holes. My favorite hole is the short par 4 8th (I played from the 389 yard green tees). If you push your tee shot to the right, chances are you'll land on the railroad tracks.  You play from an elevated tee to an elevated green guarded on the left by the deepest bunker on the course. From the famous, classically designed clubhouse to the train occasionally whisking by, this is a fantastic golf experience.


Royal Liverpool--Oozing with history at every turn, Royal Liverpool was founded in 1869. Often referred to as "Hoylake", it's the second oldest seaside links course in England. Luckily, The Guru has played the oldest--Royal North Devon. What strikes you immediately is how flat the terrain at Royal Liverpool is with little definition. The further you move away from the clubhouse, the more undulations you'll incur.  My favorite holes are 9 through 12 alongside the shore. I spent an  enjoyable hour wandering through the memorabilia loaded clubhouse. What a treat!. I saw the 2-iron Tiger used almost exclusively off the tee in his 2006 Open Championship victory. The list of Open Championship winners is amazing. It includes Walter Hagen (1924), Bobby Jones (1930), Tiger Woods (2006) and Rory McIlroy (2014). Hoylake has hosted the Open Championship twelve times.


Royal Birkdale--To be sure, you've got to hit fairways at Birkdale to score well. Unless, of course, you're Jordan Spieth, who famously jacked his drive way right onto the practice range on the 13th hole at the 2017 Open Championship. While I was excited to play all of the holes at Birkdale, it was fun to play the 13th to appreciate just how spectacular Spieth's recovery was in the final round of the Open. Overall, Birkdale is a true and fair test of all skill levels. The fairways are routed through flat-bottomed valleys between massive dunes. The day I played, the wind was rather tame. When the wind cranks up, Birkdale gets real tough, real quick. Royal Birkdale has hosted the Open Championship ten times. On a stroll through the Art Deco clubhouse, the photos dotting the walls feature the past Birkdale Open champions. Wow, what a list...Arnold Palmer (1961), Lee Trevino (1971), Johnny Miller (1976), Tom Watson (1983), Mark O'Meara (1998) and Padraig Harrington (2008).


Formby Golf Club--Formby often gets overlooked because of the three Royal courses, but, make no mistake, it's a superb layout. It has a distinctively different look and feel than the Royals. Formby is bordered on three sides by beautiful pine trees. The course is an engaging blend of links golf and inland golf with lots of variety in each hole. No two holes on the course are even remotely alike. I love the stretch of holes between six and ten, which are stunningly photogenic and challenging to play. Formby has a friendly membership and welcoming ambiance on the the course and in the clubhouse. I'm so glad I got to play this under-publicized gem.

Others to play include West Lancashire, Southport & Ainsdale, Hillside, Delamere Forest, Wallasey, Formby Hall and Formby Ladies Course.


ACCOMMODATIONS


Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa

* Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa (Southport)--Located six miles from the center of Southport, this exceptional amenity-rich, 4-star resort has an 18-hole parkland style golf course, nine hole par-3 course, PGA Golf Academy, a luxury spa, a restaurant and bar with golf course views and ample parking. The par-72 Old Course, an established venue on the European Challenge Tour, has fast greens and is routed through beautiful countryside with lots of trees.

* The Vincent (Southport)--A popular hotel with golfers, The Vincent is located only about two miles from Royal Birkdale. It's situated on Southport's main shopping Street (Lord Street). It has a sleek, urban vibe throughout the property with amenities like free Wi-Fi, plush European-style bedding and LCD TV in guest rooms. It also has a 6th floor gym and a chic restaurant with an eclectic menu. Amazingly, I had sushi AND fish and chips one evening at the restaurant the overlooks Lord Street.

* Ramada Plaza Hotel Southport--Set on the waterfront in Southport, this 133-room property has American-style guest rooms loaded with amenities and especially appealing attributes like convenient, covered parking and a superb breakfast buffet perfect for golfers headed out for a full day on the links. The front desk staff is extremely helpful and can guide you to top restaurants and sites in the area.

Hard Days Night Hotel (Liverpool)--If you love The Beatles, this 110-room hotel on North John Street in central Liverpool is for you. Located adjacent to The Carvern Club, where the Beatles rose to fame, the hotel's common areas and guest rooms have specially commissioned Beatles-inspired artwork dotting the walls. 

Malmaison Liverpool--A boutique hotel in the city center with views of the Mersey. The stylishly designed rooms have plush European-style bedding, great bathrooms with power showers, flat screen TV and same-day laundry service.

Bowden Lodge (Southport)--A family-run guest house situated near Lord Street, which is loaded with shops and restaurants. Set in a Victorian family home, the Bowden is charming, clean and centrally located.

*Guru stayed there during my visit.


Where The Beatles Rose To Fame

10 Little Things I Liked

1. If you're a Beatles fan, this region is a must visit. The Fab Four grew up in Liverpool and you can visit places like The Cavern Club where they got their start. There's also a Magical Mystery bus tour and The Beatles Story, the world's largest permanent exhibition of Beatles memorabilia.


2. Great fish and chips can be found anywhere from small shops with takeaway to upscale restaurants that prepare the dish to perfection.


3. The train route that goes directly by the golf courses of Formby, Southport & Ainsdale, Royal Lytham & St Annes and Hillside. It's fun--sometimes you have to wait till the train passes so you don't lose concentration on your shot. 


4. The friendly and helpful golf professionals I met at all four courses I played.


5. The surprisingly great Italian restaurants I found: Trattoria 51 in Southport and Il Forno in Liverpool.


6. Golf knowledgable players that follow proper etiquette and play at a more rapid pace than in the U.S.


7. Rising star Tommy Fleetwood who grew up in the area is celebrated at Formby Hall with the Tommy Fleetwood Lounge, which has walls dotted with pictures of him during various points in his career.


8. The Halfway House at Royal Lytham where I enjoyed a wee nip of Bells Scottish whiskey to warm up.


9. The Winslow Hotel at Goodison Park People's Pub where I hoisted a few pints prior to an Everton match against Brighton. The Blues won 2-0.


10. The full English breakfasts I enjoyed with eggs, bacon, sausages (bangers), grilled tomatoes, beans, hash browns and black pudding.



Goodison Park
LOCATION

England's Golf Coast in northwest England stretches from Lytham in its northern reaches to Liverpool and Wirral in the southern sector. You can fly into either Liverpool John Lennon Airport, about 9 miles from Liverpool city center, or Manchester Airport, which is about 35 miles from Liverpool. By train, London to Liverpool is about 2 hours and 15 minutes. The Guru flew into Manchester and rented a car, which was very convenient. The M6 (England's version of the U.S. interstate system) is the main arterial through the area offering easy access to all major destinations.

THE SCOOP

If you want to go, especially for groups of 8 or more, I suggest you get in touch with a couple of very proficient and knowledgeable travel professional friends of mine: Geoff Harris of England's Golf Coast (enquiries@englandsgolfcoast) or Ann Mabry of Atlanta-based Premier Golf (888-439-1831). You can also direct message me on twitter @GuruGolfTravel for any tips. For general information on the area, click www.englandsgolfcoast or call 0174 807800