My fellow Yorkshireman and past European Tour winner Richard Finch has a favourite acronym for I.N.D.I.A - “I’ll never do it again!”
His humorous take on playing golf in that part of the is a rule that doesn’t really apply to me as there probably isn’t anywhere I won’t go. My motto, as I’ve mentioned in this column many times, is: ‘Have clubs will travel’,
The only place I struggle to visit is China, and I’m going back there again at the end of this month for the Volvo China Open month, so I can’t be that bothered
So, it was back to New Delhi and the renowned DLF golf course which has had been re-designed- to mixed reviews- since last year.
It’s a Gary Player designed course, but many of us weren’t too sure if Gary Player himself had stepped foot in New Delhi! If he did he must have been a few sheets to the wind, but as he doesn’t drink I guess he really didn’t want the Indian golfers to enjoy our beautiful game.
For Joe Public this golf course could well be one of the most brutal tests out there. I was thinking about it whilst trying to count sheep on my night flight over there and failing to nod off. There really isn’t an easy hole, and many have severe punishment on both sides of the fairway too.
Then if you do manage to navigate the fairway, the greens are pretty damn tricky to find, and then once you’re on them ‘Gary’ decided to make them undulating, to say the least.
By the way, I’m not complaining, that’s just my view, and I was there and ready to embrace the challenge. Aside from the above, though, the condition is world class, and on the eye some of the holes are breathtaking.
Number 17 sure stands out, but the 2nd shot on 18, if you’re going for the green in two, looks simply stunning. That, Gary, you did a good job with!
So, after a nasty night flight of 5 hours to Istanbul followed by another five hours to New Delhi, plus the time difference, I finally made to it my hotel at around 6 am, which was around 2 am on my body clock.
After a quick shower and a change, I went up to the course for what felt like night golf on my time zone.
After a journey like that I find that the key is to stay awake and not go to sleep too early, so when you do hit the pillow you are so tired you sleep through your original time zone and magically wake up on Indian time feeling fresh as a daisy. Sounds easy right?
But what normally happens is you wake up through the night as your body doesn’t know what’s going on, but it’s just one of the occupational hazards of playing the ‘European’ Tour
I put in two solid days of preparation on Monday and Tuesday, but it was unusually very quiet, and I’ll explain why soon.
My aim was to keep my intensity up from the work I did in Qatar, make it hard, get myself frustrated with failing my tests and really try to switch on to competition mode. I was also testing some new irons which I felt were going to offer more to my game than the clubs I had in the bag.
I hit a lot of ‘knock down’ shots and like to fade the ball with my irons, or at least try to fade it -that’s my swing feeling. So, having irons which have no offset i.e. traditional blades, should make that shot a lot easier to execute.
After two days of practice and then playing the pro-am, I settled into the new Callaway APEX MB irons very well. In fact, I loved them.
After three days of prep and around six curries consumed, I was ready for round one.
I had a pretty good draw too, with Robert Rock and Daniel Im, both of whom are great guys with a good on course attitudes and with fun caddies too, so I was anticipating a fun couple of rounds.
You still wondering why I had two quiet days when I arrived?
It was quite funny in the end as thankfully it worked out ok, but me and my coach Mark Pearson had joked for a few weeks that, after receiving a Facebook message from a local Indian caddie, Steve would be getting the sack and I would be taking the local guy Gourav for the week. Our initial conversation went like this:
So, when Steve arrived at Manchester airport on Sunday to have his visa rejected and was told he couldn’t fly, the joke had backfired and suddenly Gourav was on standby.
However, my quiet two days came to an end Tuesday afternoon when I heard Tooby strutting his way across the putting green. He had made it after all.
How did the golf go? Let’s wrap it up quickly, as the result wasn’t what I hoped for.
Over the 36 holes I actually played quite nicely, I hit four bad tee shots and on that golf course you just do not get away with a bad shot. Lost balls, unplayable lies, hazards, you name it I had it.
I made some big numbers and when I lost two balls in consecutive shots on my 11th hole in the opening round, that pretty much summed it up.
But after nine holes of round two I had given myself gave myself plenty of chances to make the final two days and I really tried to dig in. However, it was not to be, and I was soon faced with another long journey home after missing the cut on 8 over after rounds of 77 and 75.
But I believe in everything I’m doing, will continue to work hard, and look forward to those tournaments where I do get the reward, as that will be a really sweet feeling.