Rob Smith continues his golf blog, reflecting on his first competition of the year at his home club, Tandridge.

Having had very encouraging bi-monthly lessons for the last year with Paul Foston at his beautiful academy in Kent, and having been really impressed with my new BenRoss Hot Speed clubs, I began 2014 with great hope.

I knew that I was playing far better than in a very long time, but that the only way to quantify this would be to work on my handicap which has drifted up from 10 to 17 over the last 10 years or more of playing in the doldrums.

They say that the proof is in the pudding, but perhaps more appropriately here the proof is in the putting.

After the wettest, least golfy winter that I can remember, it was finally time to play in my first competition of the year at Tandridge.

With the 4 to 5 years of course development work at an end, the Spring Meeting would also be my first competitive round with all the new bunkers in play.

It was therefore with some nervousness that I drove through heavy rain and strong wind to the course on Saturday morning where I was second out at the very antisocial time of 7:38.

Had it not been an important competition, I would not have wanted to play, but this is one of the biggest days on the club calendar and so I headed out with waterproofs, a woolly hat and gritted teeth.

Trusting my clubs, and working hard to remember the key lessons from Paul, I kept my head down, my clubs dry, and very happily went round without a blob to record 34 points and finish joint 6th in a field of 109.

Not only that, but with the CSS going up by two to 74, I also managed a modest handicap cut to get back down to 16. Very satisfying indeed!

I am confident that this is just the start and that I am still improving, and I look forward to making further progress as a direct result of my lessons with Paul and using such confidence-boosting clubs.

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