Carly's blog - news and views on the world of ladies'golf
I'm all for rewarding the unsung heroes in our golf clubs, sports clubs, driving ranges and more. Perhaps it's the club steward who brings a smile to everyone's faces, the greenkeeper who diligently prepares the course at 5am every morning, or the county officials who give up their own time for free to make sure our competitions and social gatherings are great occasions. So it's great to see that the England Golf Partnership has come up with a way of rewarding these people.
You can nominate anyone you know for one of seven prestigious accolades in the Volunteer of the Year national awards. The categories take in age groups including under-18s, volunteer coaching, those involved in clubs, schools, county golf partnerships, training schemes and other programmes.
Simple go to www.golfvolunteers.org and fill out the easy-to-follow form.
THOMPSON CONFIDENT OF DEFENDING OMEGA DUBAI LADIES MASTERS TITLE
Teen sensation Lexi Thompson believes amazing memories of her win last year will help her to successfully defend this week at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.
" I may not have won this year, but I am getting more consistent with my game, which is good. I had two Top-10s, a second and a fifth and that shows overall I have done well this season, " said Thompson ahead of the season-ending Ladies European Tour event, starting on Wednesday at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.
" My biggest memory from last year was that walk up to the 18 th green with all the fans cheering. Anywhere you win, you have amazing memories, " said Thompson, who added another memorable experience to her list of adventures on Sunday when she, along with Michelle Wie, enjoyed a camel ride at the Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa.
"Michelle and I had a lot of fun, " said Thompson, who last year became the youngest professional player, aged 16, to win events on both LPGA and LET Tours. The milestone, however, no longer exists thanks to Lydia Ko, who won the Canadian Open earlier this year, aged 15.
"She (Lydia) is an extraordinary talent, " said Laura Davies, who at 49, is amongst the more experienced players on the circuit. " I have seen her on the range a few times and she hits it straight and keeps the ball in play. She is always as cool as a cucumber, " said Davies, who is pushing for her first win in Dubai since making her first appearance in the event in 2007.
"Last year I didn 't play well and missed the cut. Being a 'Golf in DUBAI'ambassador I just felt awful. The field this year is very strong, but I think I have a good chance and we will see come Saturday morning. That win in ISPS Handa Legends Tour Open a couple of weeks ago was important. Even though it wasn 't on the regular tour, but still winning is winning and that 's the important thing, " said Davies, who finished solo seventh in the just concluded Hero Women 's Indian Open.
"I am really pleased with my performance. I had a chance to win (in India), but ended up being 11 shots back. In fact, I had my chances to win four or five tournaments this year, but couldn 't. That bodes well for next year because I know there is lot more left in me, " said Davies, the winner of 80 titles worldwide.
Unlike Davies, China 's Shanshan Feng is making her first appearance in Dubai. " I don 't really know how the LET is, but I do know there are a lot of strong players. Top-five: that 's my goal. Of course I 'll try to play my best and focus on each shot, " said Feng, the first golfer from mainland China to win a major title when she captured the LPGA Championship in June earlier this year.
"It 's my second last tournament of the year and so I am not going to put myself under too much pressure, " said 23-year-old Feng who hopes her victory on the US women 's circuit, could provide enough stimulus to spark golf 's popularity growth in China.
"Right now, I would say the image of golf in China is a bit negative because it 's kind of all about expenses, like expensive and it 's a game of rich people and using a lot of land, so we have to show them that it 's worth it, " said Feng, ranked sixth in the world.
Also, making her debut in the 500,000 euro tournament is South Korea 's Seo Hee-Kyung, nicknamed the supermodel of the fairways.
" I love it (the nickname), but sometimes it puts me under pressure because I have to think about what to wear and what makeup to apply, " said Seo who was named the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2011 on the strength of three top-10 finishes including runner-up at the US Women's Open.
" I haven 't won a title for the past two years, but 2012 was a better year for me since I was more consistent. Every player has ups and downs and I had my share. My golf has improved a lot and now I am good at making up and downs. If I continue to enjoy my game, I think some day I can win a major. "
The Omega Dubai Ladies Masters will see 108 players compete over four rounds from Wednesday for a purse of 500,000 euros, with 75,000 euros for the winner. The year-ending tournament is being played at Emirates Golf Club for the seventh consecutive year.
Georgia Hall shortlisted for Young Sports Personality of the Year
England's Georgia Hall - the European number one - has been shortlisted for the 2012 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.
The 16-year-old from Remedy Oak in Dorset follows in the footsteps of another England golfer, Lauren Taylor of Woburn, who went on to win the 2011 award.
Other past winners include Tom Daley in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and Wayne Rooney in 2002.
Georgia's nomination comes at the end of a superb year for the international, who is the British girls'champion. She is Europe's number one woman golfer - reflecting her fourth place in the world rankings - and she won the England Golf girls'order of merit, sponsored by Lorrin Golf.
As well as compiling the shortlist, the panel choose their top three and their winner by secret ballot.
The top three will be announced mid-December and the winner will be announced live at BBC Sports Personality of the Year, taking place at ExCel in London on Sunday, 16 December.
Lauren Taylor won last year's award after she became the youngest-ever winner of the British women's championship, at the age of 16.
Top women players selected for England Performance Squad
British champions Georgia Hall and Sarah-Jane Boyd are among the women and girl players selected for training with England Golf's Performance Squad.
Georgia Hall, 16, is the British girls'champion and European women's No.1, while Sarah-Jane Boyd is the British stroke play champion. They are joined in the women's squad by Curtis Cup player Bronte Law and English stroke play champion Alex Peters.
Six girls, including England internationals Amber Ratcliffe and Gabriella Cowley, are in the Performance U18 squad.
A further four players who are at American universities are in the Performance USA squad. They include Hayley Davis, a past winner of the English women's and girls'titles.
The full squad is:
Performance women - Sarah-Jane Boyd (Truro), Georgia Hall (Remedy Oak), Bronte Law (Bramhall), Alex Peters (Notts Ladies')
Leading lady amateurs head to Tour School
The Ladies European Tour season culminates with a visit to Marrakech, Morocco, where both stages of Tour School for 2013 are being held, starting this week (December 6-17).
Two spectacular courses, Al Maaden Golf and Amelkis Golf Club in Marrakech, are hosting the first stage of qualifying this Thursday-Sunday and then the Final Stage of qualifying takes place next Thursday 13 th -Monday 17 th December.
The top 30 players and ties will earn their full playing privileges for the 2013 Ladies European Tour.
As part of an agreement with Hassan II Golf Trophy Association (ATH), which also organises the Trophée Hassan II and Lalla Meryem Cup tournaments on the European Tour and Ladies European Tour respectively, the LET qualifying tournament has been renamed the Lalla Aïcha Tour School in honour of Her Royal Highness the Princess Lalla Aïcha, His late Majesty Hassan II's sister and the aunt of King Mohammed VI.
It is particularly fitting given that Her Royal Highness Late Princess Lalla Aïcha contributed enormously to the development of women's golf in Morocco and had always supported the feminist cause.
The first Arab woman ambassador, to London from 1965-1969 and then to Rome from 1970-1973, Her Royal Highness the Princess Lalla Aïcha had participated in the Hassan II Golf Trophy and Lalla Meryem Cup since the 1970s and played 18 holes every day until she passed away in September 2011.
Chaired by His Royal Highness the Prince Moulay Rachid, The Hassan II Golf Trophy Association, a non-profit sport association established in 2002, contributes to the development of national golf and aims the promotion of the Kingdom of Morocco as a premium golf destination.
LET Tour School has produced a number of noteworthy winners in recent years, not least Anna Nordvist and Caroline Hedwall, who went on to claim impressive tournament victories and represent Europe at The Solheim Cup. Jodi Ewart was the most recent winner and is enjoying a stellar debut season in 2012.
Last year was the biggest Tour School in LET history with 241 entrants, which included 165 non-members, representing a total of 43 different nationalities worldwide.
The majority of entrants came from England and the USA, followed by Sweden and France and then Australia, Spain, South Africa and Scotland.
This year's Lalla Aïcha Tour School is expected to attract an even more diverse list of competitors and entran ts include Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Wood's niece.
Fancy a trip to next year's Solheim Cup?
The official 2013 Solheim Cup travel packages are now on sale.
European Solheim Cup Travel have previously organised official travel packages to The Ryder Cup, including the most recent and very exciting match at Medinah Golf and Country Club.
Colorado is an exciting venue for next year's Solheim Cup and there are complete five and nine day itineraries on offer, staying in a range of hotels in Denver, along with tickets to all the action at the course. A highlight of the week will be the Celebration evening on the eve of play.
Additional golf days are on offer for those who choose the 9-day itinerary and wish to explore the many fantastic courses in the area.
Also in Solheim Cup news...
Druh Belts Appointed Official Supplier to 2013 European Solheim Cup Team
Druh Belts & Buckles is to supply the belts to the European Team to wear on course during The 2013 Solheim Cup when the biennial matches between Europe and the USA take place in next August at the Colorado Golf Club.
The appointment of Druh Belts as official supplier follows on from 2011 when Druh first supplied belts for the European Team when they won the event in such sensational style at Killeen Castle in Ireland.
Simon Hurd, founder of Druh Belts & Buckles, commented on the announcement, "Druh is delighted to be supplying its belts to the European Team for The 2013 Solheim Cup. The 2011 edition of this highly-competitive team competition proved to be one of the most exciting golfing tournaments that I have ever witnessed and Druh will once again be proud to accessorize the top female European golfers for the 2013 matches in the USA."
Marc Anderman, European Solheim Cup Manager, said: "We are thrilled to once again work with Druh Belts for The 2013 Solheim Cup. Simon and his team add the finishing touches on our complete "European" look and the team love wearing their customised belts and buckles during the event as they really stand out. Druh supplied the team belts when we won in Ireland in 2011 so we know we are guaranteed a first class service along with a quality product."
TRIED & TESTED
They say: SkyCaddie's new Breeze offers fantastic value for golfers looking for a simple and affordable way to improve their game without compromising on quality and accuracy. The Breeze is your virtual sprinkler head; offering you front, middle and back of the green distances from anywhere on the course without touching a button or aiming. With over 98% of the UK's golf courses surveyed on foot (not to mention the extensive coverage in Europe, the Middle East and Africa) - and with hundreds re-surveyed each year as courses make changes - the doubt is removed, and golfers with a SkyCaddie Breeze can always be sure that their yardages are correct. The Breeze comes preloaded and is hands-free from the car park to the 18th green. Front, centre and back of green yardages are displayed in big, easy-to-read numbers on a large 3-inch, sunlight-readable display. Breeze features include: Auto Course (finds and loads a course automatically); Auto Hole Advance (advances to the next hole automatically); and Auto Distance (yardages update every second without aiming). Golfers can also measure any shot, knowing the exact distance they hit their clubs, while enjoying digital scoring at their choosing and much more. And with a simple turn of the wrist, golfers can view a jumbo screen with a huge number to the green or see their scorecard in landscape orientation.
I say: There are many devices on the market that are designed to help you judge distance accurately during a round of golf and I have to say the Breeze is the most easy I've ever used. For sheer, straight out of the box and onto the tee simplicity it really is unbeatable. I love the fact that you don't have to search for the course that you are playing - one click of a button and the Breeze automatically finds it. The Breeze even knows when you walk from one hole to the next and changes accordingly without a single button to touch. Up until now I've been using a rangefinder and was sceptical that the SkyCaddie could match it for pinpoint accuracy.
In fact I found the SkyCaddie much faster and easier to work with and very, very accurate. I tried the two devices out side-by-side and the SkyCaddie was spot-on. It's also a huge advantage to know the yardage to the front and back of the green as there are many occasions where going for the pin isn't the right option, and knowing what distance you have to carry a hazard or stay short of one is very important. There are loads and loads of clever features built into the SkyCaddie Breeze, most of them the average golfer will never use, but if you are an elite level player you will definitely benefit from upgrading your device to include HoleVue, IntelliGreen, RangeVue and PinPoint, as these advanced features are invaluable if you are going to play a course for the first time in giving you the advantage and upper hand over your playing partners. It's also a good idea to use the SkyCaddie to work out how far you hit your clubs (quite an eye-opener if you've never done this before!) The only downside, and I'm reluctant to say it because the Breeze really is so good, is that you have to pay an annual membership fee every year. SkyCaddie justify this cost by insisting that the fee goes towards their course-mapping service, which is the industry's most complete by far, ensuring that courses are updated regularly to take into account changes. Is it worth it? I think so.
FASHION FOR THE FAIRWAY
Available from: www.prodirectsoccer.com
This is a must-have wardrobe item for the artic weather! If you were thinking it was simply too cold to swing a club at the moment then think again. The Under Armour ColdGear SubZero Mock acts like a second skin trapping heat while still allowing air to circulate so that you don't get sweaty. I wore one of these for the entire winter last year and it was amazing. Don't be put-off by the skin-tight nature of the garment, you'll get used to that and it does allow total swing freedom.
CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEA:
The Seve Ballesteros golfing gift set that gives back
If you're struggling to think of what gift to buy your golfing other half then take a look at this fantastic Seve Ballesteros golfing gift set.
It's an exclusive and limited edition 2012 Ryder Cup golf clothing box set that has been launched in tribute to the legendary golfer Seve Ballesteros and to help raise vital funds for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, in partnership with Cancer Research UK.
The unique box sets which are priced at £150 each are a must buy Christmas gift for any passionate golfing fan and with only 2012 in circulation, keen golfers are encouraged to get in there fast!
Furthermore, as £60 from the sale of each set is going directly to the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, it is hoped that the box set will raise in excess of £120,000 to help fund, world class brain cancer research.
Inspired by the homage paid to Seve by the entire European team each stylish set includes a shirt and sweater in Seve's iconic blue and white Sunday colours. The garments not only feature the Official 2012 Ryder Cup Match Shield embroidered on the chest but also the unique 'Seve Tribute' embroidery on the left arm, which so inspired Europe to such great heights on that legendary final Sunday in Medinah.
The Seve Tribute embroidery incorporates the Spaniard's trademark silhouette of his celebration at the 1984 Open Championship, his name, the years he lived and five stars signifying each of his Major Championship victories and is identical to the embroidery worn by the 12 players who produced the greatest European comeback in Ryder Cup history.
The sequentially numbered limited edition 2012 box sets - in recognition of the year of the match - have been supplied by Glenmuir. The boxes are available to buy at www.euroshop.rydercup.com
Bring the New Year in with some golfing luxury
Terre Blanche, the five-star golf and spa resort in the South of France is inviting golfers to consider spending a New Year's Eve with a difference.
For a more intimate evening there is the option of dining the restaurant Le Faventia or listening to live piano music in the Gaudina lounge.
Do you want to enjoy New Year's Eve with your children but still preserve some intimacy? The Kids Club at Terre Blanche is on-hand with an inspiring programme of entertainment to keep the kids happy so that you can enjoy yourself!
And because New Year's Eve doesn't end on the the 31 st evening, Terre Blanche are offering a sensational buffer throughout Monday 1 st January with choices including oyster, lobster, foie gras and many more refined dishes.
For more information or to make a reservation contact: +33 (0) 494399000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SWAP SLUSH FOR SUN THIS WINTER WITH A GOLF BREAK TO GRAN CANARIA
With the inevitable British winter winds setting comfortably into place for the season, what better way to end the year than with a well-deserved golf break in Gran Canaria? Here, you will find golf courses that offer retreats of tranquillity, where you can enjoy the peacefulness to improve your game.
Europe's Top Golf Destination at the prestigious annual IAGTO Awards, Gran Canaria has eight magnificent golf courses, which were designed by professionals and experts and are renowned for being some of the best in Spain. It is also home to Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas, which is the oldest golf club in Spain and one of the oldest in continental Europe, plus Maspalomas Golf was the country's first pay and play golf course.
For more information on Gran Canaria Golf, visit www.grancanariagolf.info
* 7 nights at the five-star Sheraton Salobre Resort with breakfast from £835 per person (based on two people sharing). Price includes unlimited green fees for six days at Salobre Golf South and North Course, a free welcome drink, free shuttle bus to the beach club, two hours use of the driving range and free cleaning of golf clubs and shoes. Price is based on stays from 19 December 2012 - 8 January 2013 and 27 March 2013 - 3 April 2013. For more information or to book, please visit www.golf-escapes.com
* 7 nights at the four-star Lopesan Costa Meloneras with breakfast, including 5 free rounds of golf from £725 per person (based on two people sharing). For more information or to book, please visit www.greyowlgolf.com
Casa de Campo, the Caribbean's Number-One resort, offers golfers 'The Ultimate Fantasy'
The home to the famous "Teeth of the Dog," plus 45 more holes of outstanding Pete Dye designs, asks, "How much golf can you play in four days ?"
Casa de Campo is dishing up the ultimate golfer's smorgasbord, the game's equivalent of the "all you can eat buffet," including one of the top golf courses in the world.
"The Golf Fantasy Trip" is just that, every player's dream come true, highlighted by limitless golf. Stay at the resort-the Caribbean's finest-for four nights and get everything for one price. That includes as much golf as a person can play on 63 holes designed by legendary architect Pete Dye, highlighted by the infamous "Teeth of the Dog."
Along with "The Dog"-the number-one course in the Caribbean according to Golf Digest - are three breath-taking nines at Dye Fore, spread along cliffs high above the Chavon River, and The Links, featuring spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. Golfers partaking in the "Fantasy" play them all, as often as they would like, thanks to unlimited greens fees.
--Four nights' accommodations in a newly renovated elite-class room at the resort
Cost for the "Golf Fantasy," available from Jan. 3 through March 14, 2013 , is £1745 per golfer, based on double occupancy, or £2300 single occupancy. Accompanying non-golfers are £1315.
This is one fantasy that easily can become a reality. For more information, call the golf reservations office at (809) 523-8215 or visit www.casadecampo.com.do .