Chris Hanson: The European Tour Blog (July)
Another week, another country and another golf course and there is no hiding from the fact that things aren’t currently going to plan. But it’s not for the lack of trying.
Golf is a very frustrating game with very fine margins…one shot here, one shot there, you can lose momentum so quickly and sometimes it’s tough to get it back. So here’s an honest look at my play over the last month.
Preparation for my first US Open qualifier was a little different knowing that I had to play 36 holes in a day at Walton Heath. I walked the Old Course with a wedge and putter, and then after lunch set out to walk the New Course but rain forced us in after 3 holes so I was going ‘blind ‘the next day.
The courses were great – heathland, loads of heather like Crosland Heath, and decent greens- but a first round of 2 under on the New left me off the pace with the mark looking like -8 on rain softened courses. It’s pretty much all or nothing in these events, and after 9 holes I was level par. As the clouds got darker, I joked to my playing partner “if it rains are we going in?”
But from that moment I went birdie, birdie, eagle and on the par 5 16th, which I didn’t realise was a par 5 when I hit driver and 7 iron onto the green to walk off at -7.
Birdie, birdie finish maybe?? Sorry, not this time sports fans, as a bogey on the tough 17th soon stopped the dream.
But overall a positive day, the best I had driven the ball all year, I just didn’t get my share on the greens - or that’s how it felt.
Barsebäck just outside Malmo was the venue for the Nordea Masters and this brute at over 7,700 is a great track that is mainly wooded but with four super holes on the shoreline. It was cold and windy and I was three over after 8 but stuck with it with four birdies in five to get to -1 (which was top 20 at the time) before unravelling to tumble back to 3 over which was very frustrating.
On day two I played much better overall but couldn’t buy a birdie and a 74 saw me miss by 3.
Again, a tough week to take but it got me home to Spain and it was a big surprise for the kids when they woke up to see Daddy home.
I headed to Austria and the Diamond Club with fond memories having finished in the top 10 last year but soon found a contrast with fast running fairways and bouncy greens. I got off to a nice start and was a couple under after 4 before it all fell apart on the tricky 7th where my tee shot found the fairway trap and from there I hit two into the water short of the green and took 8, before battling for a round of +1.
I was staying just out of town in a hotel recommended by the caddies which was nice and cheap. I would say I have a good balance with what I do, sometimes in the players’ hotel, sometimes on my own, and whenever possible with the family.
But it’s great to go out with the caddies – you hear some fantastic stories about some of the game’s greats, some hilarious stories about their own journeys around the world, but also you hear their perspective on the game and what they think of many players. Caddies lose jobs every week, and there seem to be little milestones throughout the year when there is a big shuffle, such as around Wentworth, before the big money Rolex events start.
They are a huge part of the Tour, they are mandatory, they aren’t allowed to use trolleys (bag weighs 20/30kg), and from a player’s perspective they make life a lot easier, though some would disagree I’m sure.
My only gripe is that sometimes they seem to be ‘mistreated’ or don’t get enough respect for what they bring to the tournament and it would be great for them to get the same privileges as the players, families, managers et al.
Round 2 was played in a two-club wind and you had to get the ball in position to stand any chance of making birdies. After 18 holes I hadn’t made one and signed for my worst score of the year - an 80. So, another early bath and on to Woodsome Hall for a day before a session with coach Mark Pearson in Leeds, and Father’s Day with the family.
Like most jobs, and plenty of golfers, we all have times when the game/work feels tough, doesn’t go to ‘plan’ and you feel like you’re not getting your rub of the green. But the most important thing is how you react to those times.
I’m my biggest critic; I feel I’m pretty honest with my own assessments and never hide away from advice or views from the people in my team who I trust. So, I feel I have a great plan and process in place to hit the middle of the season hard.
But social media really does make me laugh sometimes, some of the comments and little gems of knowledge you receive from people who think they know the ‘answer’, and many times from people who have never played the course or never even met me.
I don’t know how people like Rory, Willett, Poulter and many more of the players in the social media spotlight deal with it.
“You’re making too many bogeys” – Sorry, never noticed…
“Your par 5 stats are poor” – Have you played them?
“You need a new coach/caddie” – Why? It was me who hit it…
“Why did you make 7 on that easy hole?” – Do you realise it was a 30mph wind and raining?
“You need to make cuts, Chris!” – Really?
“Why did you hit driver in the trees?” – Wasn’t trying to…
“If you’d made par there you would not have missed the cut” – Good maths…
I’m not trying to sound like an idiot here, but sometimes people really don’t think before they tweet!
As golfers we all try hard and do things for what we feel are the right reasons, as I would like to think everyone does, but we are humans not machines and we make mistakes…that’s golf, that’s life!
It’s like you’re not allowed to play bad and Rory got so much criticism for missing the cut at The US Open. Steve Elkington even claimed he’s bored with golf; he’s won enough money so isn’t interested. That’s laughable.
I think also people forget that there is more to a player’s life than golf, and you rarely see what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’. All I can say is that I give it 100% every time. At the BMW at Munich Eichenried I had a good group for the first two rounds in Lee Slattery and Nino Bertasio, both great guys, chatty, with good attitudes and very professional. They both had good caddies too, so it was always going to be a fun round, and that sometimes can make a huge difference. We all played OK in parts but made a few silly mistakes between us. I shot 71 (-1), Lee 72 and Nino 70.
I can also safely say it’s the most enjoyable round of golf I’ve had in over a month, and I probably smiled more than I have in the last six weeks on a golf course.
Round two started poorly on the 10th where I missed a short putt, and then down the next all three of us hit it in the water off the tee. We could see my ball, actually thought it was semi playable and at one point I had my shoes and socks off. I didn’t go through with it, but that didn’t stop Steve trudging through the water with his trainers on to double check if it was my ball.
We then had 16 holes of trench foot and squelching shoes. Daft bugger, but as ever he took one for the team. I made a solid birdie down the next, and another on the 17th but with the cut in sight I finished with three bogeys to miss again. If there is a good thing to take from this poor run of results, it’s that the good stuff will feel even sweeter when it comes.
Finally I wanted to update you on the Charity Ball On August 4 and share the Just Giving page link which so far has raised £1,150.00 towards our £15k target.
We would also like to create the biggest and best raffle ever seen, so if any readers would like to donate a prize please get in touch.
Thanks as ever for your continued support.