Peter Jones

Handicap: 11

Home Club: North Manchester

Mizuno #YourGame2016 goal: To get my handicap down to 9.4… or even better!

Back in April, GM reader Peter Jones applied successfully to be part of our Mizuno #YourGame2016 project as he sought to get down to single figures for the first time. Kitted out with a full set of new Mizuno clubs as a result of the initial fitting session at Celtic Manor’s Mizuno Performance Centre, Peter had made some progress, but felt that his chipping was still holding him back by the time of the next element of our Mizuno #YourGame2016 project – a coaching session with the LET’s Amy Boulden followed by a round of golf on the famous King’s Course at Gleneagles.

Catch up with Peter’s earlier progress updates and his original Mizuno fitting here, before finding out how he got on with Amy, and how his game has been since then…

Monday 10th October 2016: progress update…

Having reached my goal a little earlier in the season than I needed to, it turned out to be perfect timing as I’ve ended up with a few injuries over the last few weeks and had a non-golfing holiday.  The first problem I had starting at the beginning of September was tennis elbow in both elbows. I blame it on a bit too much golf but age was no doubt a factor!

Early September saw a trip to the Nottinghamshire Golf and Country Club for four days of golf.  In the full-handicap Stableford competitions I was struck, for the first time, of the apparent ‘unfairness’ of playing against a 28-handicapper when, on the stroke 10 hole, he got two shots and I didn’t get any. As the elusive single figure handicap is what I have been seeking all season, I found it curious and amusing rather than annoying!

Peter Jones has successfully made it down to single figures in his Mizuno #YourGame2016 campaign!

Peter Jones has successfully made it down to single figures in his Mizuno #YourGame2016 campaign!

I still managed a creditable joint second place out of the 18 who went on the trip with 133 points over four rounds.  A few Mizuno JPX balls were left there though as I sprayed it about a bit!  The club was well worth the visit blessed with just what I like in golf – quite a lot of water and a few dogleg holes over the two courses they have.

A relaxing fortnight in Sorrento interfered with my progress as I didn’t take my clubs on the trip.  This is a pity as I was really feeling on top of my game and hitting every club in the bag with confidence.  The Mizuno MP-25 irons have taken the longest to get used to but I am finally hitting those out of the sweetspot and hitting more GIR.  My game was more about getting near-the-green-in-regulation (about 20-25% GIR) and then having a high ‘scrambling’ percentage to succeed.  Now its more about avoiding three-putting from distance if I’m going to push on to play even better.

I will be looking to build on my 2016 success next year and aim for a further handicap reduction, but a sprained ankle has seen me enjoying an enforced rest at the beginning of October so my season is pretty much finished. A few people have suggested that lower handicaps result in an initial struggle to come to terms with the new challenge but I haven’t noticed that so much.

The final gift from Mizuno and Golf Monthly is a trip to The Grove to watch the British Masters on Sunday 16th October and a round on the course the following day. This should take care of the last few Mizuno balls I have (part of the prize was a season’s supply and I’ve managed to get through almost all of the ten dozen I was given!) but should be a great experience as I’ve actually never been to watch a golf tournament before.

With the help of Mizuno I have not only reached my goal but am enjoying my golf more and am much happier with my whole game.  I’ll be sticking with the brand in the future and when I do come to update equipment in years to come will be heading for the Mizuno section first.

My heartfelt thanks go to all involved in this project.  Every element of the prize has been fantastic from the excitement of being fitted for and receiving all the equipment and apparel to the experiences of playing some of the best courses in the country.

If you spot a Mizuno #YourGame2017 competition coming up I would recommend investing some time to put your entry in.  I certainly have no regrets!

Monday 12th September 2016: progress update…

I’ve enjoyed a little more success since my last update and am pleased to report that I have reached my goal of 9.4 and therefore a single figure handicap! I couldn’t be more pleased.

In August, I initially slipped back to 11.0 which put me right back where I started the season.  We then played the Mizuno Golf Pairs Tournament (MGPT) at Celtic Manor and I gave a pretty good account of myself alongside the other #YourGame2016-ers.  Jezz Ellwood and I pipped Liam and Dan on the 18th to finish a few places above them in the overall standings.  The hosting was excellent and I’ll be following the MGPT guys to see if I can get involved in their 2017 programme of events.

Towards the end of August I had a bit of a result in a Wednesday medal finishing second at two-under and securing a 0.6 reduction courtesy of the CSS helping me out again.  This put me down to 10.4 and a 10-handicap to boast about.  This may have been a factor in the ‘Archie Preston’ mixed knockout event going awry the following Friday as the team went down 4-3 to Sale GC with us being the last match on the course and us losing on the 4th extra hole.  Good luck to Sale in the semi-final.

Things have gone well for Peter Jones since July's lesson with Amy Boulden at Gleneagles

Things have gone well for Peter Jones since July’s lesson with Amy Boulden at Gleneagles

Having played against two low handicappers in the Archie Preston match (1 and 4) and then being drawn with two more (2 and 3) in the two-day captain’s event at North Manchester GC, it was something of an eye-opener to see their attitude to playing my course.  Those I played with expected putts to drop, expected to make gross pars and birdies and had a lot of confidence in their own games.  It had something of an impact on my game and I believe gave me the final piece of the jigsaw I needed to get to single figures.

I celebrated my 55th birthday this month and this allowed me to play in seniors events.  The first of these was on 5th September and I played the best round I’d had all season.  I shot a net five-under to lose a full 1.0 off my handicap and reach the elusive single figures.  I am sure a big part of this was attitude and increasing confidence as I completed my round.  The occasional bad shot didn’t bother me as much as it usually does and I fancied each of the putts I sank.

On the 7th September I successfully defended a trophy at Cavendish GC in Buxton when 33 points was enough to beat a small field on a course with some perplexing greens.  I will be missing a few club competitions due to holidays for the rest of the month so, hopefully, I will be able to maintain my precarious position (at 9.4) when I resume in October.  The rest should also help with a touch of tennis elbow I seem to have developed.

Friday 12th August 2016: progress update…

Since my last report in July, the golf has gone pretty well but with only slight progress towards my ultimate goal of the elusive single-figure handicap.  A few Wednesday comps have seen me slip up by 0.2 (with 1-down in a bogey and two 32pt Stablefords) but the last two Saturdays have resulted in a 0.4 reduction with two good rounds (36pts and level 71) – reductions coming thanks to the CSS going up by a shot each time. This puts me at 10.9 with still some work to do to get the end result I crave. One good round is surely just around the corner?

I have been concentrating on improving my ‘course management’ and trying to only take risks on sections of the course where I can either get away with it or where the potential rewards are worth it.  I still have the odd lapse where a tee shot ends up in a tricky spot but generally I’ve been fairly successful. particularly with the Mizuno JPX EZ 3-wood. I’ve struggled a bit with the weather especially when the wind starts to blow but this is Manchester and I should be used to it really.

In other, non-qualifying, competitions I’ve picked up a few prizes, shot a few good scores and have been practising incessantly during the week to try to improve some weak areas.  As a result, I’ve been chipping and putting quite well and have really improved my Mizuno MP-25 mid-iron play by trying to keep the backswing shorter and the alignment better.

Peter's chipping has improved since his lesson with Amy Boulden at Gleneagles in early July

Peter’s chipping has improved since his lesson with Amy Boulden at Gleneagles in early July  Photography: Kevin Murray

Future plans include a couple more lessons with my club’s PGA pro Jason Peel, much more practice (in a two-week heatwave if the weather people are to be believed), a trip to Celtic Manor for the forthcoming Mizuno Golf Pairs tournament and further handicap reductions before I run out of season!

Monday 18th July 2016: progress update…

As the weather has improved a little so too have my scores. I bottomed out at 11.6 but managed 39 points in a midweek June stableford to restore my handicap to where it started 2016 at 11.0. More recently I have been consistently in the buffer zone and if it wasn’t for one bad shot each time (resulting in ‘three-off-the-tee’ for me) I would now be reporting from the dizzy heights of ten-point-something.
A couple of decent qualifying scores have put me into the club captain’s finals in September so I can stop worrying about missing out on that.  Most recently, another match in the Manchester and District ‘Archie Preston’ Trophy was successfully negotiated this weekend with my regular partner, Julia Gilmartin, to see us into the quarter finals.

Part of the prize from Golf Monthly and Mizuno was some ‘money can’t buy’ opportunities and one of those came on Saturday 2nd July when we were all invited up to Gleneagles to have a lesson from LET pro Amy Boulden and play the King’s Course there in the afternoon.  Amy was a great coach and helped enormously with my chipping, giving me confidence in an area of my game that was beginning to terrify me!
Mizuno #YourGame2016 campaigner, Peter Jones, gets some expert chipping advice from LET star, Amy Boulden

Mizuno #YourGame2016 campaigner, Peter Jones, gets some expert chipping advice from LET star, Amy Boulden   Photography: Kevin Murray

Additionally, Mizuno’s Marketing Operations Manager Tony Scott, in checking how my clubs were performing, kindly agreed to supply me with a JPX-EZ 5-hybrid to replace my MP-25 4-iron which arrived after only a few days and went straight into the bag.  This has been a great help in allowing me to hit better into some of the greens at my club and I am sure is worth a shot or two each round.
Unfortunately, the afternoon on the course was less successful with some holes on the front nine (into the wind) not just beating me but trampling all over my game to boot.  I really did get an appreciation of what Gleneagles is all about. To add insult to injury, I also lost £3 to fellow Mizuno #YourGame2016 campaigner, Liam Frean!  However, Mizuno were great hosts and I had a fantastic time up there.
Peter Jones on the tee of the long par-3 11th at the King's Course, Gleneagles

Peter Jones on the tee of the long par-3 11th at the King’s Course, Gleneagles

 Besides the chipping coaching from Amy, the biggest improvement this month has been playing in a more relaxed frame of mind.  I follow the tips that Golf Monthly publishes online and read that tension can cause the ball to slice/fade.  Knowing this has helped me to keep the ball straighter off the tee and with my fairway woods, so I am in good shape on most holes. If only every putt would drop!