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Wayward shot cost me £40,000 but I'm still looking at the positives

I decided to spend 3 days practising at my home away from home in Dubai, on route to China.  The weather gets you adjusted and the global location halves the jet lag to Shanghai.  The facilities at the Butch Harmon School of golf at The Els Club are awesome and it's nice to go back after 6 months away to see the guys who work up there.
 
There is a new evening Emirates flight from Dublin which takes off at 10:20pm which I took.  It was quiet as it's not yet as popular as the 1pm flight.  The earlier flight is often overbooked and Emirates decided a second flight from Dublin was cheaper and more satisfactory than re-routing people through London, which was costing the airline a fortune.  Gerry was with me, it was good to have him there to help learn a bit more about what works and what doesn't in my swing and to generate a check list for when we are on the road.  I've got 300k miles with Emirates as I spend a lot with them every year so I upgraded Gerry to business to thank him for all his hard work and then spoiled myself with a trip in first class. It was a treat, Gerry slept and so did I, first class is complete luxury with your own suite, the doors close over and 6 and a half foot long bed, something to aim for by getting your golf game in shape.  Dubai airport is getting crazy busy but arriving at 9am is the quietest time of the day and our bags and my clubs thankfully turned up quickly. 

We spent pretty much all day up at the golf course.  Gerry rented a car from the airport which gave us flexibility when leaving the Els Club up in Sports City; its a few miles out of town and not that well served by the taxi fleet.
 
I sweated a lot and practised a lot, only getting back when it was dark.  At 9am on the Friday it was 34degrees! Justin Parsons had me working on the same stuff that Johnny Foster had me working on back home, each of them have their own slight variations to the exact technique but it's all pretty much the same thing. I think it's been a good thing for me having two coaches with different communication skills and approaches; it mixes it up a bit and stops me getting complacent. Both my guys work well together giving me very similar information, so there are no excuses about clarity of message it's really up to me to put in the work in and take responsibility for my game. I did quite a bit on trackman working on the path of the club and the wedge distances, it gives great feedback and I think I'm going to buy one in the not too distant future.  They are heavily discounted to Tour players and there is even a rep out on Tour.  I needed postural work, sitting more into my ass at setup with less knee flex which is helped by the work I do in the gym at SINI.  I also need to practice having a less rushed tempo which I find hard to do especially on difficult shots.  We had a really good chipping session working the butt of the club more in the takeaway which gets the ball running up the face of the club and coming out soft and addictive, much better for missing the green on the wrong side (if your caddy gives you the wrong club ).
 
People think we have an easy life travelling and spending time out in Dubai, but it wasn't an easy few days I can assure you.  You spend all day in 30 degrees on drills that you just don't want to do especially when the path of least resistance is your old ingrained habits!  We saw very little of Dubai but it doesn't bother me as it's not a novelty anymore and treating the practice like a job feels good and productive.    A friend who is an Airbus Captain for Emirates, John McGuiness, is a scratch handicapper and he joined me for 9 holes on the Earth Course.  It will host the Race to Dubai Championship in 3 weeks.  We were stuck behind some slow players so could only manage 9 before dark but it is always fascinating to talk to him about aviation.  His golf game is very good, great tempo like Monty, and I keep saying he's just getting warmed up before the senior tour.  He told me about a decompression they had just recently experienced in flight, a bad turbulence experience when he was with Easyjet and an aborted landing in Dubai from 40 feet above the runway! He said that Emirates have a problem getting enough pilots or jockeys as he calls them as they are expanding so much and it's hard to get properly trained staff, plus it's so expensive to live in Dubai (the only cheap thing is petrol) that not everyone wants to do it.  The course at Jumeirah was in poor condition, running water from the housing development has leaked down onto the fairways on a few holes, and it happened at Arabian Ranches as well and is hard to drain away.  It's going to be tough to get the course in top shape in 3 weeks; they might have to keep the cameras away from certain areas!
 
Our flight to Shanghai was fine, but lengthy still 7hrs 20.  A couple of guys from back home were on it also, they said they were in the shipping business touring Asia for a week and asking me about the golf, it's amazing who you bump into.

It was hard to get up on Monday with the time difference.  I played 9 holes and chipped a lot with my new action the confidence was growing. The food at the course was average, not as good as 2 years ago.  It's just one of those weeks where you eat what you can, for me that's lots of rice noodles and veg, staying away from seafood and anything remotely Western.  It tends to be the Western food that you have problems with, even in the good hotels!

I wasn't in the Pro-am on Tuesday which was based on last year's rankings, fair enough as the guys said it was over 5 hours and that was in buggies! I played 9 early and walked the other 9 with some wedges and the putter. The course is wide open, typical of many Chinese courses with just a couple of tight shots but it was in good condition.  The weather had turned for the worse, typical of tour, the week before was perfect but the rain and wind actually cleared the air and visibility was good for China.
 
Wednesday was a similar story 9 holes early and putting practice, working with the line on the ball for alignment as I aim a bit right and pull my putts. When the line is spot on from behind the stroke doesn't need manipulation and Henry from Titleist Scotty Cameron pointed this out to me.   Gerry and I went in to town in the afternoon to get away from the Groundhog Day at the course.  Brendan Brofey whom we've met at Volvo China Opens before has been in Shanghai for 20 years and has 2 Irish bars so myself and Gerry went to his place. He had a good Indian chef and our curries were nice.  I met another Irishman who is involved in Ireland China Junior Golf. Basically he takes Chinese kids to train or practice in Northern Ireland a few weeks a year. They learn wind, tight lies and tough courses and a feel for the game as that is still lacking in the facilities you find in China. They are obviously from wealthy backgrounds and I said I'd play with them if I was around or maybe get Johnny to arrange an Ireland v China junior match!
 
I was playing on Thursday with Felipe Aguilar and Oliver Fisher.  I played ok but putted well for 2 under I hit a few lose shots and went to the range after to work on a stronger base with my legs in the swing. 

 On Friday I was very solid until the end, I was 7 under after 12 holes and the stronger legs and posture worked well but some of the older habits kicked in at the end and I lost my balance but still 4 under was good work. Felipe had a sore rib and couldn't hit it, I felt for him as there is nothing worse. Olly is playing better hitting it pretty solid.  Rounds were long.  In 3 balls it was over 5 hours, it's a lifetime on the course but with the u-draw there is no way around it, you just have to get used to it.  I find myself losing concentration at the end even though I am constantly eating and drinking the whole way round. 

 I'm wearing compression socks at night now, it just keeps the blood flowing for recovery a bit like flight socks and it really gives me a fresher pair of legs the next day.  A lot of athletes do this too to help recovery.  Foot joy makes them so it's ideal.
I was with Ernie Els and George Coetzee on Saturday so I knew they'd be rambling in funny Dutch all day but if I talked a bit of rugby I'd be fine and George is a Liverpool fan so we discussed the hard times!   Ernie was good to play with.  It was my first time out with him, his game was not as good as it used to be but he's mid 40s now.  He still has a great tempo and shot 3 under, but is very chilled out I guess when you're getting a million a week just to play it helps!  George has one of the best short games on tour and repeatable left to right ball flight so he scored well; he seems to every time we play together.  I felt comfortable apart from a couple of lose shots but my short game was good. It was an easy day for scoring with no wind, soft greens so it wasn't surprising that the guys tore the course apart with a 10under.
 
The wind blew pretty hard on Sunday but I played my best all week, the clubface was more square at setup helping the balance of the club in the swing and my tempo great with bogey free until the 18th hole.  It's a 490 yard par 4 but the wind was blowing hard into so it was playing 540 ish.  Most guys couldn't reach in 2. I just got far too quick on the tee shot and hooked it left; it didn't cross the hazard so I had to play from the same spot. Then my 4th was decent but it just kept riding the wind left and skipped over into the water, disaster.  I think in those situations I need to slow myself down a touch.  If you tried to work it out it was 40k it cost me but I never had the money in the first place and 3 under after 17 I did a lot right and can take the positives to Turkey and Dubai!
 
I've just arrived back after a long trip and was awake early today because of the time difference. It's just a few days at home, family time and gym and a touch of golf before leaving again on Saturday evening for the final 2 events of the season.