Wednesday, 15 July 2015

144th Open - St Andrews

Having almost got close to going to the Masters last yr (as a spectator/patron) .. my golf game isn't quite that good - I had the chance to wander round St Andrews, during the week when the open is being played.

Driving to the course, its v well signposted .. and u get funnelled to a park n ride, with buses operating v frequently, which drop u off outside the entrance.

As u can see .. entrance money is not cheap - even £25 for the practice days - and having reached the course at 5pm or so, just wanted to have a quick look round (the last bus going back, is at 7.30), so, really had little time.

The 3 ticket booths were not manned .. so, when going to the security area, when asked for my ticket, I clearly hadn't got one.

The security guy, said I couldn't come in !!

Ok, maybe he was doing his job, but, this cant be right. I wanted to pay - etc.

I asked he call his boss etc, and, v quickly, a compromise was established, where I would be escorted to the merchandising area, (free of charge), and then, my escort would lose me.

This was both good and bad. I couldn't fault the service, but, spent £700 on various shorts/caps etc .. I would have spent more, but the Ralph Lauren Golf jacket, all had v poor zips .. and for £160, it just was too much.

UPS are a sponsor - and have a concession outside the merchandise hall, where they will ship your goods. I had a 10kg box, which cost £15 .. hardly a bad deal .. and hope it gets home (overseas), ok.

On leaving the credit card killing zone, there is a Bobby Jones exhibit .. which I briefly looked around .. one of my favourite films, is The Legend of Bagger Vance - which I never knew, is played on a golf course, quite near the Masters - but, anyway - its about one of Bobby Jones' last rounds of gold, and its a v good film.

Anyway, after this, went out onto the course - free wifi - and was able to watch Tiger Woods, play 3 holes in a practice round, with Gary Woodland/Matt Kuchar and Jason Dufner .. which was all good.

The course is amazing .. I have to try come back, and play one day - even thou the bunkers, look a serious challenge.

I would have to rate the experience 10/10 ..

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

ICC T20 qualifiers

The minnows, are playing a range of qualifiers, in Scotland and Ireland.

The local attendances has been limited .. maybe 300, if the home side is playing, on a good day (Saturday/Sunday) .. but, the support, of other countries, has at times, been amazing.

The Afghanistan side, have a few v decent players - and locals, have come from far and wide to watch, the star players.

Mohammed Shahzad (77), has been a joy to watch, as he demolishes the opposition bowling.

Travelling support from Afghanistan - they have driven 50 miles .. for a game, that was always likely to be rained out - and was.

Tomorrow they play Oman .. who managed a win against the Netherlands, which is quite a scalp - but, would be v surprised, if they are a match for the Afghans.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

England 1 - Australia 0

The 1st Ashes test ends in 4 days .. and its not a steam-roller job from Australia.

I didn't actually watch much of this, listening mainly on the radio, whilst watching cricket elsewhere, (about which, I will write later).

Its possible Aus were a little under-done, but, Eng have momentum .. the Lords test will be fascinating viewing ..

Friday, 3 July 2015

Another boring golf story ...

When u play a sport, either competitively, or, just for recreation etc, u pretty soon get an idea of how good u are .. Comparing yourself, either time wise, or score wise, to your peers.

Current pro golfers, hit the ball (sometimes), 350 yards, fearlessly straight, and go round the 18 holes, off the back tees (hardest), in anything from say 68 to 74, on a par 72 course.

During the game, a lot of pros, will hit, fantastic shots, amateurs can just gawp at.

On the 4 Par 3,s, a pro can be expected to get a hole in one, - the perfect shot, something like, 1 in every 800 attempts.

Many pro golfers have aces on 20-30 holes, while oddly, a few have v few .. 

I have never really come close .. Maybe 2-3 feet away, would be the best, on a hole ranging from 110 yards, to 150 yards away.

My game is steadily improving, and I now really like my posture / stance, once my back is warmed up, and have taken back pain pills.

Playing yesterday, I was playing ok, on a course near Stratford, which I was playing for the first time. We played the first 9 holes, with a member, and made a phenomenal birdie on the 7th hole, (holing a 20 footer), so - all was good.

Was losing the match thou - which was a travesty - but - it can happen.

On the 14th hole - a Par 4, 277 yard, slightly downhill, breeze behind, I viewed the green, and thought it was possible to get somewhere near. Most of my really (good) drives, go about 240 yards, so, it was just in range.

Taking my trusty driver, I gave it an almighty smack, and the true joy u experience, when u see the ball launch off the face of the club, is something every true sportsman will know.

The ball's flight was perfection, 100 % true! landing probably 50 yards short of the green, but rolling, at a decent speed towards the cup.

It was on line, thou, from 270 yards away, it wasn't the easiest to see .. And must have just brushed the edge of the hole, before coming to a stop, 3 yards past.

So, I have a 10 footer for eagle - I can't remember too many others in my golfing career, and gave it my full attention. The greens were v true, so, was determined not to be short - , but, didn't hit it right, and the ball finished about a foot left/short. Easy birdie .. And a hole/shot I will always remember.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Ashes 2015 - prepare for another over-hyped series

As u get older, u have experienced more, and sporting things, tend to become less relevant, and certainly, less exciting, than, when they were first enjoyed.

After the pleasure of watching England and New Zealand play cricket, in a sense of enjoyment, rather, than purely trying to win, am preparing myself for the shit-storm,that will no doubt hit, when Australia play England in their back-yard.

Series betting is as follows :

England to Win ..5.5

Australia to win 1.40

Drawn Series ..9.0

England are a work-in-progress type team, with some pretty tired bowlers, but, they generally, have been v hard to beat at home. Australia to win 5-0, are only 13/1, which, to me, is an insane price, given the prices for the first test in Cardiff are :

England  4.5

Australia  2.06

Draw 3.55

I would advise a maximum lay of Aus to  win 5-0, but, it involves tying up a decent chunk of your bank, for 5 weeks or so.

I think Aus are a little over-rated, and have laid the 1.40, for Aus to win the series.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Royal Ascot - This is the life ...

So, I cracked an invite to a box at Royal Ascot, Day 4.

This is a big deal .. u need to wear a suit/tie/decent shoes .. which, takes some preparation, and then try to actually get there, as the other 60-70k people, are also trying to reach a similar destination, at roughly the same time.

Ascot has been re-built/modernised, over the last 6 yrs, and, its still the biggest wind-tunnel in the world - (not my fav racecourse), but, as I say, a box is a box, and some yrs, having worked in the silver rings, thought it would be nice, to have a day off, and watch from the good seats.

We set-off, for the 1hr 45 min journey, 4 hr 30 mins, before the first race - I wanted to talk to my host etc, and we know all the short-cuts in to the track, so, traffic was unlikely  to be a major problem.

Unfortunately, 30 mins from the track, the motorway, was gridlocked .. an accident up ahead, caused a 90 min delay ... not fun :

 Anyway, we finally got to the track, 20 mins before the first race, and walked into the box, that was absolutely rammed with people, listening to John Mccricick, talk/tip the assembled throng through the card. He was v good .. my host doesn't spare any expense, but, am a trifle uneasy, about all the money he spends promoting his business.

Anyway, had a quick selfie with John, the food had largely been scoffed, so, we had some left-overs, and ambled down to the ring.

I say ambled, the place is rammed, u can barely move :

Looking from the outside in, its hard to say, if Ascot during Royal Ascot week, is a place with racing and people meet, or, just a place people meet, which happens to have some racing going on.

Bookmakers have to purchase a 'right' to bet at this course, just for those 5 days. The best pitch, is about £150k, for which u get the right to bet, for 40 yrs, (thou u still have to pay the racecourse about £5k per yr, ontop) - a middle of the road right, might cost £6k.

The expenses of betting, with staff etc, mean the bookies have to bet to a decent margin to win .. I have always found it unfair, the number 1 right, pays the racecourse the same, as the worst right .. obviously, trap 1, will hold, probably 50x as much, as the guy betting in trap 100 .. but, the Trap 1 right holder will say, he has invested £150k .. which holds some merit - but, I still feel, its a bit inequitable - I would prefer a sliding scale.

Anyway, we looked at the overall business for 2 races, and decided the place was just too packed, to be anything remotely like fun, and decided to leave.

I am not sure if its worth buying a lower number to actually bet, during these 5 days. Its a lot of work .. sure, if u invest £10k, u might be guaranteed £4k per yr - but, u need to organise a LOT, to achieve this.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Wealth warning

In this age of PC (political correctness, not, the Premium Charge), a lot of things carry warnings.

I have looked my wife over, and there is no stamp anywhere .. and this is a flaw in the design process.

2 yrs ago, I was not listening .. something I often do, and got conned into agreeing to build a new house - almost from scratch, on some land, we did buy, fairly cheaply. Ok, its not a small house - and I did make some changes, but, the initial timeframe/budget(target), (((has anyone spent LESS building a house???)))), has now ballooned so far, that its rapidly becoming unfunny.

The latest, little extra, is a remodelling of the driveway - which, we got a 'Lofty' in to help with.

These are fun little machines - ok, not so little - which cost about $40 an hr to hire, plus removal costs of all the earth the disrupt.

As u can see, we now have a lot of bare earth .. but, unfortunately, it has rained, almost non-stop, since the dig, and we now have a gigantic mud-slide.