Well, the New Year is now well aired and the golf tours are all up and running again as some of us decide to keep our own clubs under wraps for just a little while longer.  The sister’s new irons have arrived at long last so I expect she’ll be out swishing and swinging fit to burst.

Seamus Power’s game doesn’t appear to have too much rust on it at the moment.  The lanky 6′ 3″ Irishman from Waterford has had a card on the PGA Tour since 2017 and with his maiden victory last year in the Barbasol Championship he bounded up the world rankings.  His latest performance last weekend in Hawaii, where he finished third in the Sony Open to Hideki Matsuyama, has helped him force his way into the top 50 for the first time.  He’s currently nestled in there at 49th spot, one behind his fellow countryman and good buddy, Shane Lowry.  This is a serious move for Power as it brings an invitation to the Masters into sharp focus.  There’s nothing he’d like more than a first trip down Magnolia Lane and if he maintains that coveted top 50 position until the week before the tournament he’ll achieve a significant milestone in his career.  Fingers crossed.

What a difference a year makes! Twelve months ago Power was outside the top 400 in the world [Photo from Seamus Power’s twitter feed]

Another person I have my fingers crossed for in 2022 is the immensely likeable Bob MacIntyre, the softly spoken, shinty-playing Scotsman from Oban.  Currently 58th in the world rankings, MacIntyre has already received his coveted invitation to Augusta in April, courtesy of birdieing his final hole in the 2021 tournament and securing a share of 12th place.  He was disappointed to miss out on last year’s Ryder Cup team and will be keen to have a fast start to this season.  He has plenty of game and plenty of class and is more than capable of major and Ryder Cup success.

And the name on the envelope was…..Robert MacIntyre! [Bob MacIntyre’s twitter feed]

Turning to the women’s game, one or two significant advances have been made over the Christmas period.  The US Women’s Open purse has catapulted  from $5.5 million to a whopping $10 million with a commitment to reach $12 million in the next five years.  Step forward and take a bow that man Mike Whan, formerly the extremely effective and successful commissioner of the LPGA and now the new boss of the United States Golf Association (USGA), who run the championship stateside.  There is arguably no one who has done more to elevate and drive forward the women’s game in terms of exposure and increased prize funding and this latest increase is seismic.  It’s a great move in the right direction.

Let’s now address the most important stuff of all – your own golf.  With some courses closed or, at the very least, on temporary greens, it’s time to think of just keeping things ticking over ready to burst into spectacular form when spring and the competitive season finally arrives.  My intention this year was to put in the blog a few more video tips, as requested by so many of you.  Alas, it’ll be a while before I can manage this.  At the risk of turning this into a medical blog I have been hors de combat since contracting Covid in mid-November.  I am suffering from joint pain which has rendered me unable to play golf, drive a car or, in fact, do much of anything.  Perhaps I can wrestle Patricia into shape to appear in the instructional videos?  After all, with her new irons she’ll surely be a sight to behold!

Anyway, here’s a written tip to keep in mind until we all get fully back into the swing of things.

The idea of this is exercise to become accustomed to making a backswing while remaining fairly central.  Note, I said FAIRLY central.  Don’t beat yourself up if you move off the ball slightly.  Keeping a still head is great, but NOT if it inhibits all other movement in the backswing and you become static.  You DO want the rest of your body under your neck to move.  Most of us at this stage of our lives will not have the flexibility to swing around a completely still head.  Our aim with this exercise is to have a free-flowing swing while remaining reasonably central.  Just do what your body can do.  Moving a foot off the ball going back makes a decent strike more likely than if you move two feet off the ball.  A small improvement in this one area over the winter will improve your ballstriking.

1.  Take your address position (preferably with a club but not essential) looking into a mirror or, if outside, a window.

2.  Fix your eyes on the bridge of your nose and slowly perform your backswing, keeping your eyes on that point.  Only go back as far as is comfortable – it won’t be your normal length of backswing as your neck is in a non-golfing position.  Keep your head as steady as possible.

3.  Look back down to the ground to where your golf ball would be sitting and swing through freely to your finish.  (NEVER attempt a full follow through while looking in the mirror/window as your neck is in a non-golfing position and you could hurt yourself.)

4.  After a few of these rehearsals take a normal practice swing (i.e. starting off looking at the ground) and see if you can maintain that feeling of staying more central on the backswing.

Take it EASY, take it SLOWLY……..and ENJOY!  Good luck.