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 CARLY FROST
 Editor
 Ladies Golf Today

Carly's blog - news and views on the world of ladies' golf
September 20, 2011

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GOLF TODAY LADIES UPDATE...

What an exciting few weeks of team golf it has been. First the GB&I squad squeeze a narrow and closely-contested victory in the Walker Cup, then it was the professionals turn as GB&I took on Continental Europe in the Vivendi Trophy in France at the weekend, and what an exciting victory that was! It only seems appropriate then that Alison Nicholas and her fantastic team of Europe's finest female professionals should make it a triple triumph this week with victory in the Solheim Cup when they take on the Americans at Killeen Castle this Friday through to Sunday in Ireland. We'll be cheering you on - go girls!

TESTED: Ping's new clubs for ladies

A set of clubs you can really put your 'Faith' in!

With the first tee shots in the Solheim Cup set to get airborne in just three days' time it seems only appropriate to pay tribute to the support that equipment manufacturing giant Ping gives to the ladies game this week.

And what better way to do so than by testing their latest set of clubs, designed specifically for us ladies - the new Ping Faith Series. So I gathered a small group of ladies together on the wonderful new driving range at Parkstone Golf Club in Poole to test the clubs and give me their thoughts...

Introducing the new Ping Faith Series - what the manufacturer says...

Engineered especially for women, the Faith ® Series ensures high-launching, longer-carrying shots for slower swing speed players. The titanium driver, which is offered in 12° and 14° lofts, features internal weighting to promote a natural club rotation to square for improved accuracy. Its companion stainless steel fairway woods (3, 5, 7 & 9 woods) offer women an easy-to-hit alternative to long and mid irons. A blended iron/hybrid set (5H, 6H, 7-9, PW, UW, SW) provides the forgiveness and consistency to hit more greens. The ultra-light PING ULT 200 graphite shaft, which features optimal torque for improved feel and a lower kick point for higher launch, is standard. Three new Faith ® insert putters are also available.



Faith
® Drivers
-Available in 12° and 14° lofts
-Standard shaft: ULT 200 Ladies graphite
-Price: £220

Faith ® Fairway Woods
-Available in 3, 5, 7 and 9-woods
-Standard shaft: ULT 200 Ladies graphite
-Price: £155

Faith ® Iron/Hybrid
-Irons available 7-9, PW, SW & LW (ULT 200 Ladies graphite shaft only)
-Hybrids available 5H & 6H (ULT 200 Ladies graphite shaft only)
-Price: £89 per club

Faith ® Putters
-Price: £100 (Anser ® ); £125 (Craz-E ® and Wack-E ® )

 

The Testers Verdict

Bea Cummins
Handicap:
14
Number of years playing:
20
Current clubs:
Callaway Diablo driver, 3 & 5 wood, Cobra S2 5 iron-SW, Titleist Scotty Cameron putter.
Findings...
I've had my current set of clubs about five years so I've recently been thinking about upgrading to new clubs and this has been a really interesting test.

Straight away I found the Ping Faith irons much easier to hit than my current set. They hit the ball higher and with a draw (shock horror!)

They're a fantastic-looking set of clubs, very trendy, and I love the white and burgundy colouring. It took a bit of getting used to hit a hybrid instead of a 5-iron but I absolutely loved it! It is far easier to hit off the fairway than any 5-iron I've ever used.

The driver scored highly with me too. It sits really nicely behind the ball and the weight of it is just right - not too whippy like some of the ladies clubs you pick up.

The impact sound is really solid and gives great feedback, none of those horrible tinny smash sounds you get from some new clubs.

I wouldn't part with my putter because that's the strongest part of my game and I'm not keen on these bigger headed putters.

Everything else I love - when's Father Christmas coming?

Not soon enough!

 

 

Jane West
Handicap:
8
Number of years playing:
20
Current clubs:
King Cobra driver, TaylorMade 300 Series 3-wood, very old TaylorMade irons and a putter that looks like it belongs in an antique shop!
Findings...
OK so for starters let's not talk about my own clubs - they're old, very old! And testing these new Ping Faith clubs today has made me realise just how much the new technology really can improve your game, without changing your technique. The irons were an instant hit (quite literally as I hit the flag with the first shot struck with the 7-iron) a dream to use, so easy and effortless - although the size of the clubhead was a shock at first. The hybrids will take a bit more getting used to; they look a bit like spoons on sticks and are obviously designed to sweep the ball up into the air! I was particularly impressed with the feel and performance of the fairway woods. Ladies woods often feel too whippy to me, in fact I use a senior flex shaft in my woods at present, but the Faith woods felt great and the styling suits my eye. I'd have to go for the 12 degree option in the driver though; the 14 degree launched my drives into orbit!

Sian Gordon
Handicap:
16
Number of years playing:
25 years on and off
Current clubs:
Callaway Diablo driver, Ping Rhapsody 5 & 7-wood, Ping G10 irons, Ping Anser putter.
Findings...
I've always found ladies irons too lightweight in feel and whippy so my last purchase was actually a set of men's Ping G10 irons with regular graphite shafts. But I'm conscious that I'm probably not quite strong enough to play a regular flex now and I could benefit from switching to a more flexible shaft, and hitting the new Ping Faith ladies irons has highlighted that. They are strong and not whippy in the slightest. The feel when you strike a shot is really solid. I've always loved playing my irons which is why I've resisted trying hybrids and still carry a 4-iron, but I got on really well with the Ping Faith hybrids and yes I could be tempted to make the switch, especially when the other ladies showed me how easy they were to hit from the rough. I used to carry a matching Ping Rhapsody driver but I just didn't get on with it and ended up switching to the Callaway Diablo which I hit nicely.

The Faith driver has a similar lack of appeal, for me it is most suited to a higher handicapper who is looking for extra help getting the ball up in the air and hitting it in a straight line. I struggle to hit a 3-wood which is why I don't carry one but I absolutely love the Ping Faith - it's definitely persuaded me to have the confidence to carry one again. I also love the look of the Craz-E putter - it sits nicely behind the ball and makes aiming easy, it also feels very balanced, helping me make a controlled, smooth putting stroke.

Carly Frost
Handicap:
1
Number of years playing:
18
Current clubs:
TaylorMade R11 driver, Cleveland Launcher 3-wood, Callaway Razr X Tour hybrids (19, 21, 23 degrees), Srixon Z-TX 5-PW, Cleveland CG15 52 degree & 58 degree wedges, Yes Callie putter with a 2-Thumb grip.
Findings...
I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to the look of a set of irons, I prefer a smaller, sleeker clubhead shape, but I have to say the Ping Faith are one set of irons where I could forgo the 'chunky' look for the playability. I hit really solid, powerful shots and with that wonderful effortless feeling. I also gained a club in distance which is a massive plus. The hybrid clubs had a bit too much offset for me as I hit a draw shape shot anyway and don't really need the extra help creating a right-to-left ball flight, however I can see the benefit they will have for more wayward ladies. When you put them down behind the ball they look impossible to miss. The added loft is noticeable giving you the confidence to know that the ball will fly high with ease.

The Faith fairway woods were much more up my street. A classical shape head, simple but sits beautifully behind the ball, and with a low profile that encourages you to sweep shots away. I love the finish of the woods - the subtle shimmering aubergine colour is unique and different. The driver is the only club that really didn't suit me as it was too lofted and too whippy, although we were testing the 14 degree model, which in my view performed in a very similar manner to the old 3+ woods which were popular with ladies who feared the 'big stick' a few years back. So given that there is a 12 degree version available I really do think that Ping has catered nicely for both entry level and better lady players. There are also three Craz-E putters to complement your set if you're the sort of player that likes everything in your bag to match.

For more information about the Ping Faith ladies clubs visit www.ping.com

COURSE REVIEW: Coombe Hill, Surrey
The club is celebrating its centenary this year, but as Carly Frost discovered there is little that has changed in the past century to spoil this wonderful Surrey gem.

I had the privilege of playing in the annual Association of Golf Writers tournament for the President's Putter this week. Coombe Hill Golf Club had kindly offered to host the event as the club is celebrating its centenary this year, a friendly Stableford format followed by one of the club chef's famed curries seemed like a great day out, however finding Coombe Hill was the first challenge. It's hidden away on the outskirts of the very busy university town of Kingston, tucked away down a road lined with millionaires' mansions - not a spot where you'd expect to find a sprawling green course in the middle of urban chaos! And yet for the last 100 years Coombe Hill has been perfectly preserved in almost every way. The clubhouse resembles a charming old cottage and is packed full of character, so long from end to end you can almost get lost in the corridors. There's some fascinating club honours boards including one for the club's former professionals who have won Open Championships of which there are four including Henry Cotton.

A picture perfect putting green frames the outside of the building where the members sit on the patio and watch the boldest golfers try and smash a drive with a slight fade down the opening hole with an outside hope of reaching the green. The club's practice ground unusually doubles as the 18 fairway, but given how seldom the locals seem to practice, it actually works. Just be careful though to look before you hit as there may be a golfer puffing and panting their way up the hill onto the green at the par 4 18 th having just hiked up one of the many challenging uphill climbs that characterise the fairways of Coombe Hill. This is no course for the faint of heart - an electric trolley is advisable, a buggy a sensible idea or even better employ the services of one of the local caddies - this course certainly keeps them fit!

Coombe Hill is great fun to play. The course's defence isn't length but accuracy and tricky greens that slope in all directions with surprising speed. The rough is deceptively punishing, miss the fairway by just a few feet and you'll find yourself with a tricky recovery shot as the ball will have inevitably nestled down into a bad lie. The heather might look pretty but it is brutal and the bunkers are plentiful and placed in all the right spots to catch you out off the tee and going into the green.

In fact just about every design feature at Coombe Hill has been carefully thought out by acclaimed Surrey course architect J F Abercrombie including the halfway hut, which is perfectly positioned just before halfway but after an enormous hike up a steep hill to the 8 th green. A well-deserved drink or sausage sandwich awaits you here with wonderful views.

There are few tell-tale signs of the club's history but one that noticeably exists is a large heather-clad crater you have to carry off the 10 th tee. It was created by a German bomb that dropped during the 2 nd World War, and is believed to have been targeted at the nearby 'Telegraph Cottage' where General Eisenhower lived when in London.

The war general isn't the only famous name to have graced Coombe Hill's fairways over the years, great entertainers such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and in recent years Jimmy Tarbuck all loved to play Coombe Hill and call it their home.

As for the reward if you, like me, choose to carry your bag and make the challenging walk? A curry fit for a king! The Coombe Hill chef is famous for his fine Indian cuisine and it is perfectly washed down with a glass of the club's own special centenary Claret.

In my opinion Coombe Hill is one of the best-kept secrets in Surrey - a real hidden gem. It is not cheap to play (£90 until October 31 st when the price drops to £60 for the winter months) but it is worth a few extra pennies for a treat. Right now the course is in immaculate condition in its centenary year. The members from those bygone years would have been proud.

For more information visit www.coombehillgolfclub.com contact 0208 336 7600 or to book a tee time email the secretary: secretary@chgc.net








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PGA Tour
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Motoring
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Memorabilia
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The 19th
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Paul McGinley
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John Huggan
Rules suck: that’s common knowledge...

Peter McEvoy
Centurion Club marches against the tide...

Book Review
The Spiritual Golfer - By Robert "Lumpy" Lumpkin


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