Two Day Trip to Carden Park Golf Club
30th April – 1st May 2019
We arrived at Carden Park Hotel between 8.45am and 9.30am on Tuesday morning where we were introduced to one another and given our information pack (which included the itinerary, room allocations and the two planned clinic’s lesson notes).
Once we had everyone together we made the short drive to the Clubhouse which was located up a small hill, and past a vine yard. We off loaded our golf clubs, got what we needed from the Pro Shop and headed to the Putting Green for the first of our two coaching clinics.
The first clinic was called ‘AimPoint Express’, a unique way to read greens using feel with the feet and holding your fingers in front of you, in order to determine the start line of the putt. We used a digital spirit levels to find 1-5 degrees of slop and stood by these points to produce a feel and use this as a reference point for how much the putt is likely to break. This method has been utilised my dozens of Tour Professionals including numerous major championship winners and many of our group found it benefited them as well.
After the clinic we prepared for our first round of golf, playing the Cheshire Course.
The groups were:
11.00am – Steve Thomas, Jason Ryan, Gary Pearson and Sidney Wilkes
11.10am – Les Anthony, Duncan Watson, Tony Bickley and Keith Alexander
We played a Stableford format with a long drive on the 9th and nearest the pin on the 15th. The day started well with sunshine and a warm breeze. The first group hit their tee shots well and played the first hole whist the second group watched from the tee.
Playing the first couple of holes, we could tell there was a small amount of nerves in the player, perhaps a combination of wanting to do well, playing with new players and being on a new course. But the group played some wonderful shots.
Highlights of the Cheshire Course from:
Jason Ryan – On the 374 yard par 4, 7th he made the perfect par. He smashed his driver at least 270 yards and played what looked like a wedge to around 12 feet from the flag. He then used his newly acquired Aimpoint skills to line up the putt, but he unfortunately grazed the holes and tapped in for a well-deserved par. Jason won the first day’s play by a clear 3 points of the runner-up.
Gary Pearson – Many of Gary’s highlights came from his superb driving skills… The best of the week! He out drove the pro numerous times including the 524 yard par 5, 6th and 432 yard par 4, 9th, where he hit the perfect draw shot, hitting the left side of the fairwary and winning the long drive competition by a county mile. This shot must have been at least 270 yards!
Sidney Wilkes – To my astonishment I discovered this was Sid’s second full game of golf. I am truly impressed by how he has thrown himself into the game and into a situation where many experienced players may have been nervous. For me many of Sid’s highlights came from sharp short iron play and putting. I recall an iron to the 365 yard par 4, 4th which was struck wonderfully with good height, landing on the green and ending 20ft from the hole. I also remember a couple of 15 foot putts being holed as if it was easy… Well done Sid
Les Anthony – An impressive second half to the back 9 for Les with only being 4 over par on the last 4 holes (playing off a 26 handicap) including a par on the 181 yard par 3, 17th. Les missed the green slightly long and left, but played a fantastic pitch shot to 10 feet and holed a magnificent putt. I also recall a number of well struck fairway woods thought out the day. Les achieved a second place finish for the first day’s play.
Duncan Watson – A number of well-played holes but I felt Duncan excelled on the par 3’s on the back 9. Dropping only 1 shot, he made par on the 126 yard 6th and bogey on the 181 yard 17th. He also made a wonderful 5 on the 359 yard par 4 12th, when the rest of the group struggled (numerous provisional balls played off the tee) he managed to maintain a level head and played solid shots.
Tony Bickley – Some fantastic drives and approach play with highlights on the 359 yard par 4, 12th making a 5 and the 425 yard par 5, 14th making a 6. The 14th has numerous bunkers lurking on the fairway and before the green, but Tony managed negotiate them fantastically with a perfect drive and great course management for the approach shot. Wonderful play through the tall pines of the Cheshire course’s beautiful back 9.
Keith Alexander – The last 5 holes of the round was not only when Keith achieved some of his best scores but most importantly it was consistently good on each hole. Highlights include a 6 at the 342 yard par 4, 13th and a 4 on the 181 yard par 3, 17th where he hit a spectacular iron shot to 13 yards from the flag, comprehensively winning the nearest the pin competition.
After the round we all met in the Clubhouse bar, where we had a well-deserved larger after a long round of golf. We chose our options for the evening meal and made our way to the hotel reception where we picked up our room keys. We went back to the rooms to unpack and have a quick freshen up before making our way to the Redmond’s Restaurant.
We were treated to a three course dinner, which included meals such as ham hock terrine, fish and chips and treacle tart, but we all had a different choice. Our service was fantastic and I think we were all especially impressed with a very knowledgeable waiter who expressed his passion for everything whiskey.
Once we finished our meal there was some discussion on the day’s play as well as some golf psychology. Which made for interesting listening and though provoking with ideas to dwell on before the next day’s play. We moved to Morgan’s Bar where we continued to drink and watch the end of the Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax Champions league semi-final (Spurs lost 1-0).
After a long days golfing, we retired at approximately 11pm, to prepare for another day on the course.
We met for breakfast at 8.15am where we were greeted to numerous choices to start the day. There was cereals, pastries, cooked breakfasts, fruit, meats and as much coffee and tea as you could drink. Once we had our fill, we agreed to meet at the driving range for our 9.30am clinic after checking out of our rooms.
The second day’s clinic was based on alignment for both the driver and the irons. We spoke about consistently practicing with alignment sticks to keep your eyes in tune with what it’s like to be aiming straight. We talked about using targets on the horizon to get around avoiding looking at danger or the optical illusions we can often experience on the course. We utilised the use of an intermediate target to help get up lined up on the golf course and give us confidence in there the club is pointing at address.
Once we covered our topic, we had to fill out the clinic worksheet in order to see how good we were at using the methods mentioned. We can repeated this test our skills at using good alignment.
After the clinic we prepared for our second round of golf, playing the Nicklaus Course.
The groups were:
11.05am – Steve Thomas, Jason Ryan, Gary Pearson and Sidney Wilkes
11.15am – Les Anthony, Duncan Watson, Tony Bickley and Keith Alexander
We agreed to purchase buggies for the second day, mainly due to the effort of the day before but also the knowledge that the Nicklaus is the longer of the two and their a number of long walks between holes (a decision I think we were all grateful for making).
Highlights of the Nicklaus Course from:
Jason Ryan – A very steady start with 2 point on every one of his first 6 holes. Jason was practically perfect from tee to green but unfortunately it took him a while to get to the grips with the speed of the green. If he hadn’t 3 putted he would have been level par for much of the front 9 such was the quality of his long game. I remember his fantastic start splitting the fairway on the first two holes and hitting the green on the par 3, 3rd. Jason finished in second place for the second round.
Gary Pearson – Achieved his lowest gross score for 20 years! He did this by playing the front 9’s par 3’s in level par and only having more than a bogey once. He achieved an impressive 21 points going out with some fantastic long game skills. I recall a fantastic iron shot to the par 3, 8th where he hit the green in difficult conditions, when no one else managed to. He safely two putted from over 30 feet away, showing no sign of dropping a shot.
Sidney Wilkes – Achieved a 21 shot improvement from the first day. Sid’s driving improved hugely hitting the ball high and over 100 yards on a number of occasions. I especially remember a fantastic drive off the first tee in front of the whole group, where he connected beautifully, reaching the corner of the hole with a 150 yard drive.
Les Anthony – Showing some supreme bunker skills, Les showed the group how to play from difficult wet sand. Unfortunately Les found himself in many traps but had the secret to land the ball softly on the green. He had a fantastically consistent spell from the 11th through to the 15th, where he made 2 points on each hole.
Duncan Watson – An unbelievable start with 12 points in the first 4 holes and a spectacular back 9 with 22 points. I recall impressive gross pars at the 287 yard par 4, 14th and 115 yard par 3, 16th. There was a lot of great long game play and sound management of the golf course. He demonstrated the steely nerves required of our champion for the second day’s play, with a score of 40 points.
Tony Bickley – Played a lot of great shots, especially with off the tee. I recall a fantastic gross par on the 387 yard par 4, 11th and on the 501 yard par 5 13th, each giving him 4 points. I enjoyed seeing Tony perfectly manage the hazards all the way up the 13th and make a great putt for par. One the 14th tee struck a beautiful drive placing the ball straight down the centre, leaving only a wedge into the green.
Keith Alexander – Much improved and probably the most consistent scores hole to hole out of all participants. Keith managed to maintain his excellent play through the most difficult period of the day, when the heavens opened up and a terrific downpour drowned the course. I was especially impressed with his bogey on the 16th where he cleverly negotiated the water hazard to successfully reach the green in 2 shots.
At the end of the round we gave our buggies back, put our clubs away and gathered in the Clubhouse bar. Everyone handed their scorecards in and I counted up the results. Due to the club forgetting to put out the nearest the pin and long drive competitions on the second day, prizes were given to second place finishes as well as the winner for each day.
1st – Jason Ryan
2nd – Les Anthony
Nearest the pin – Keith Alexander
1st – Duncan Watson
2nd - Jason Ryan
I would like to thank all the players for participating in our two day trip to Carden Park Golf Club and to the golf club and hotel for making a special couple of days. It was a privilege to get to know everyone better, in a beautiful environment. I hope everyone enjoyed the trip and will look back on it with fond memories.
Senior PGA Professional
3 Hammers Golf Academy