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Carnoustie

Five must-play British Open golf courses

TurnberryA total of 14 British golf courses have played host to one of the game’s most prestigious tournaments, The Open Championship, at some point over the years.

Following Darren Clarke’s emotional and popular win at Royal St Georges in 2011 the countdown the 2012 competition has begun. This year’s championship is set to get under way at Royal Lytham & St Annes in July and following a recent golf break at Turnberry we got to thinking about the five best Open rota courses you can play in 2012. More >

Top 10 Golf Courses in Surrey

Coombe HillAccording to the latest rankings with UK Golf Guide, Surrey boasts no less than 8 courses which are achieving the maximum five star ratings from golf course reviewers. With this list compiled simply of user reviews from recent golfers this list represents the views and opinions of those who count – the paying public! More >

How the top 10 UK golfers have fared in 2011

The top 10 UK golfers have – by and large – had a 2011 to remember.

Here we profile their exploits over the course of the last 12 months or so:

Luke Donald (@LukeDonald)

File:Luke Donald 2.jpg

Age: 33

World ranking: 1st

Donald has set the benchmark for his fellow top UK golfers to match with his consistency and work ethic this year. Victory over Lee Westwood in the BMW PGA Championship in May elevated him to the lofty standing of number one in the world, although the PGA Player of the Year will want to end his wait for major success sooner rather than later.

Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory)

File:Rory McIlroy.jpg

Age:  22

World ranking: 2nd

Fresh from helping Europe regain the Ryder Cup last October, McIlroy has firmly enhanced his burgeoning reputation as the brightest young talent in golf in 2011.The manner in which he romped to victory at the US Open in June sent shockwaves through the sport. It also marked an incredible turnaround in fortunes after his last-day slump at the Masters at Augusta in April when he had led before a poor final round cost him dear.

Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee)

File:Lee Westwood by Eugene Goh.jpgAge:  38

World ranking: 3rd

Held the number one spot intermittently at the start of the year before gradually falling down the pecking order following the stunning exploits of Donald and McIlroy. A third-placed finished at the US Open – the third time that he has ended up third in a major – will at least give Westwood hope that 2012 can be the year when he finally samples victory when it matters most.

Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell)

File:Graeme McDowell.jpg

Age:  32

World ranking: 14th

A disappointing year for McDowell in the majors is offset by the fact he was awarded an MBE at the start of 2011 following a memorable 2010 that saw the Northern Irishman win both the US Open and Ryder Cup. McDowell, though, is finishing the year encouragingly after his third-placed finish at the recent WGC-HSBC Champions in China, when he finished behind only Martin Kaymer and Fredrik Jacobson.

Justin Rose (@JustinRose99)

File:JustinRoseATTNational2.jpg

Age:  31

World ranking: 16th

Rose came close to picking up a third PGA Tour title back in March when he enjoyed a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Transitions Championship only to end up five shots behind the eventual winner Gary Woodland. Rose, though, was not to be denied at the BMW Championship in September when he won by two strokes from John Senden.

Paul Casey (@Paul_Casey)

File:Paul Casey 2008 US Open cropped.jpg

Age:  34

World ranking: 21st

Injury and poor form has hampered Casey in 2011, although it couldn’t have got off to a better start when he ended a 20-month title draught with success at the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain in January. Then injury struck in the form of an ailment known as ‘turf toe’ and that in term reaped havoc with Casey’s chances of building on his victory in Bahrain. Now fully fit, he’ll be hoping to emerge from the shadows somewhat in 2012.

Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter)

File:Ian Poulter.jpg

Age:  35

World ranking: 25th

Memories of a disappointing showing at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February – when the defending champion slumped out in the first round – were erased in May with success at the Volvo World Match Play Championship. Poulter beat Donald 2&1 in the final in Spain after also seeing off the likes of Westwood and Francesco Molinari.

Simon Dyson (@SimonDyson77)

File:KLM 2009 Simon Dyson.JPG

Age:  33

World ranking: 32nd

It has been a significant 2011 for the Englishman, who moved into the top 30 of the world rankings for the first time in September thanks to his third KLM Open title in six years. Dyson also triumphed at the Irish Open in July and has been tipped by some golf pundits to go on to claim a first major win in the years to come.

Darren Clarke (@DarrenClarke60)

File:DarrenClarke.jpg

Age:  43

World ranking: 36th

What a year it has been for Clarke. First came a first European Tour title since August 2008 with a three-shot win at the Iberdrola Open in Spain and that was followed by the undoubted highlight of his career to date at the Open Championship. Clarke finally got his hands on the prestigious Claret Jug at the 20th time of asking and in doing so secured his first major win to spark emotional scenes at as he wasted little time in dedicating the victory to his late wife Heather, who died of cancer in 2006.

Martin Laird

Age:  28

World ranking: 42nd

Flying the flag proudly for Scotland is Laird as he continues to make promising progress. Laird became the first European winner in the 33-year history of the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he held his nerve to see off stiff competition from Steve Marino and Rose to surge up to 21st in the world rankings. He followed that up with his best finish at a major – Laird ended up 20th at the Masters – and big things are expected of him heading into 2012.

Images: Wikipedia and Flickr

Irons for every type of golfer

Choosing your irons is one of the biggest decisions you will ever face in golf. Some players are casual about the whole thing, but there are some players who are very serious indeed about it and will spend weeks, even months, hunting down the perfect set of irons in the hope that they will chip away at their handicap.

Good golf clubs for beginners can be found all over the place – there is no shortage of choice in that area. It all just depends on how much you would like to spend on a set of clubs. Of course, how much you are willing to spend depends on how seriously you are going to take the game.

Your best bet as a complete beginner is to get an affordable set that is already put together. Once you get the hang of it and start to notice variations in the potential of different clubs, you will be able to seriously look at upgrading your clubs.

If you’ve been playing for a while and have already got to that point, then you’ve probably already been eyeing up some new irons. Everybody has different preferences when it comes to golf clubs, so it is worth trying out quite a few before you commit to buy.

When you’re looking for golf clubs for high handicappers, Callaway’s Big Bertha irons are a brilliant choice at this stage. They are well rounded, sturdy and easy hitting golf irons, so you start knocking shots off your rounds in no time. The Big Berthas are probably about right for a player looking to improve on a score of about 90 or 85.

Once you start hitting 80s and 70s, you will be really beginning to take the game seriously, which is when you’ll really begin to save for some serious clubs. There is a variety of great golf irons out there and when it comes to spending hundreds of pounds on a set, it matters more than ever to pick exactly the right ones for you. Many stores have facilities in which you can try before you buy, so there is absolutely no need to rush into it. Take your time and get to grips with a range of clubs. You’ll recognise the ones for you as soon as you swing them.

Anything from Nike to Ping, Callaway to Titleist, can improve your game at this level. If you play an attacking game, you might want to go for a set of Yonex irons, but if you play with more conservative control, a set of Ping Ansers might suit you better. These are expertly crafted progressive irons with a hollow sole cavity, giving you ultimate control of your game.

There is a perfect set of clubs for every kind of player out there, so it’s not as easy as identifying ‘the best’ clubs – everybody is different. It’s just a matter of shopping around and hunting out the ones for you.