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 Are you all back ‘ON COURSE?’

It’s been around six weeks since courses re-opened. Whatever our form or fitness, it’s just good to be hitting the ball in the generally intended; maybe a decent length. And there are 40,000+ reasons to be grateful we are alive with the privilege of playing this great game. But, I would hazard a guess that what’s going on around the course and clubhouse has been capturing your attention and hopefully we should be settled into the new measures.

The first thing I want to ask of groups is IF they can actually access their normal club venues. My group plays two locally, but one has reverted to ‘members only’ play. Tell us you experiences please.

As clubhouses re-open, the emphasis of safety will centre on social distancing, customer numbers, one way travel around the building and sanitisation, not all perfectly easy to manage, but they will have to be or it’s back to square one. Submitting contact details for ‘track and trace’ will be onerous more for green fee players than members, but it must be done. So there’ll be tentative members/players on the issue of entering the building and in anticipation of that alternative arrangements will attempt to capture the business of the more tentative players. Let’s hope this runs as smoothly as it seems play has on the course.

There’ve been issues with some of the measures, but you can’t please everyone. The 10min tee time interval has reduced slots available during the day, but they remain generous with the longer evenings. It’s improved Pace of Play, certainly for 3-4balls. Mostly 2ball players have complained about larger groups, but it allows more on and fairer use of the course with improved speed of play. My argument is that clubs should pair up successive 2ball to maintain pace for as many as possible. What do you think? Another aspect is that some midweek players on furlough etc, will return to work and revert to weekends, easing the pressure and maybe strengthening the argument with tee time intervals more akin to The R&A Pace of Play recommendations.

Until bunkers can be raked again it’s up to players to do their best to smooth them over with club or feet. Relief is available out of footprints (below right) and provided the sand hasn’t been hardened by rain then bunkers should remain playable without too much disadvantage.

On the greens I’ve noticed too much close proximity between players during putting around my course. My feeling is that ‘one on, one off’ having marked your ball, is a more appropriate procedure, with ‘gimmies’ within 18” of the hole until formal competitions return.

As the flagsticks can’t be handled many devices have been used, from sand or sponge foam in the hole, raised cups and our club’s innovative purchase (left above) a device that ‘sleeves’ over the stick with an upper plate and a conical lower plate. Use your putter to lift the upper plate and the lower one discharges the ball. This could be an answer to the problem with players using the stick to lift the ball and damage the hole/cup and more importantly, protect my bad back bending over to retrieve my ball!! However, since the ball doesn’t always go below green surface to be holed, the putter would need to be used to move the pin to allow the ball to go down, as happens in tournaments since last year’s rules changes.

Until formal qualifying competitions come off the agenda, probably in July, there won’t be any implications with handicapping arrangements. As you know with winter rules, the ‘preferred lie’ arrangement can affect handicap calculations. It’s not as relatively easy to get significantly ‘cut’ in winter than it is in summer.

It will be great to hear as many experiences from across the U3A community so and also send me your positive and negative experiences now we’re back at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To introduce myself………………. 

02 Image MP

‘Once a One Hit Wonder,” Martin ‘Eaglescorer’ Pugh
UK U3A Golf Advisor

 “The most important shot in golf is …………. The next one!!!!!”


Through our passion for golf we the game we embrace it’s future.

“Golf inspires & frustrates, but we come back for more!!!!!”

The best thing about golf for me?

I have OCD. Golf is ideal as its always about, ‘NEXT SHOT, HOLE, ROUND!’

One Hit wonder?

My first ever round at Ellesborough at 12yrs; hit a four iron onto a Par 3 green. You’d think I’d won The Open! Reality kicked in so I learned to forget the last shot………always!!

The worst thing(s) about golf for me?


You could witness me chuntering on about players who ignore others on the course and hold up play

My biggest memories?

Royal Troon for The Open, with Stenson and Mickleson on the ‘round of the decade!’

Playing Natadola, Fiji – mountainous and coastal tournament course!

CV (?)

  • Retired Architect
  • Passionate golfer from South Bucks
  • 100+ courses played, home and abroad
  • Playing Senior Opens for over 10yrs
  • Seen tournaments home and abroad
  • Promoted events and golf breaks
  • Contributes to the Golf Media
  • Contributed to Rules and Pace of Play issues
  • Attends Rules Schools
  • A few successes
  • Played Fiji, Sandwich, Belfry, Celtic Manor and Troon

What would I like to achieve from this role?

  • More players joining the game
  • U3A Players improve their game
  • Local/Regional/National events
  • National U3A Golf Society
  • Groups becoming successful
  • Clubs increasingly benefit from us
  • Groups compete with each other
  • U3A Golf Facebook Page
  • International U3A Golf

CONTACT ME:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


“This is a game of misses. The chap who misses the best is going to win.”

THE KEY PRINCIPLES of a U3A Golf Group should start with:

  • SHARED RESPONSIBILITY for organisation
  • WORKING TOGETHER, on events
  • The desire to DEVELOP SKILLS
  • The commitment to STRENGTHEN ABILITY
  • The dedication to LEARNING about the key issues in golf

Whilst having FUN trying

This ‘guide’ is based on my club, ‘nomad,’ Society and U3A travels. I’m passionate about golf and its future. Whilst enjoying golf have an eye for its future in all you do.

  • The content here is not a ‘cast in stone’ formula but……….
  • Seeks happy, contented and productive groups
  • Golf is for collective enjoyment and fun
  • No one should feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or ignored
  • Everyone must be empowered to contribute without fear or prejudice
  • So the quality of ‘leadership’ comes from ‘serving’ not ‘governing’
  • No one is the fount of all golfing or organisational knowledge, including me
  • So welcome all feedback so that you can make progress

You’re welcome to take this with a pinch of salt, cherry pick what suits you best,

adapt to your circumstances and share with the rest of us in U3A Golf

So here we go …………….. Enjoy!!!!

CORNERSTONES of an effective U3A Golf Group?............. Try these: -





“Of all the hazards, fear is the worst.”

U3A is for ‘seniors,’ so the atmosphere is ‘youthful exuberance.’ The mind may lead but the body often lags behind! What do you think?

  • SHARE in group decisions
  • RESPECT each other’s views and inputs and…
  • WORK TOGETHER – don’t rely on any one person or group
  • ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER especially promoting improving your game
  • CREATE A WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE- new members pick up on a subdued or aloof tone


Golf demands SKILLS and COMMITMENT to enhance enjoyment. ‘Hitting and Hoping’ just doesn’t work.

A U3A Golf Group should EMBED a level of ‘VALIDATED’ DEVELOPMENT. I’ve played in several groups but not seen development practiced. We might reflect that we’ve done well in careers and life and seek some development of skills in retirement, albeit without becoming obsessive and gain significant levels of fulfillment.