No-one saw 2020 coming and how much it would impact our lives. So, what is Jeremy Ellwood now most looking forward to on the golf front in 2021?
What I’m most looking forward to in golf in 2021
It goes without saying that 2020 didn’t turn out as planned, although I would be keen to stress that my family fared considerably better than many during the strangest of years.
The virus disrupted things far more important than golf, as life as we know it changed beyond comprehension.
It now seems that 2021 won’t be getting off to the best of starts either, but we have to hope and dream, don’t we?
Here, my remit is to focus on what I’m most looking forward to in 2021 in my golfing life, if and when a greater sense of normality returns.
I suspect there will be some overlap between my list and your personal 2021 golfing ‘to do’ list, so here goes…
Several 2020 trips obviously fell by the wayside, and although one or two were resurrected when restrictions eased - including a Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire trip - many weren’t.
Just being able to get in the car and drive to wherever you fancy again on a free day would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?
And the last time I flew anywhere was home from Scotland after a trip to the new Dumbarnie Links and other courses in Fife with my colleague Rob Smith just a few days before we were first locked down.
So, if and when permitted, I’m looking forward to just getting in the car and venturing off for a few days to continue my voyage of UK golfing discovery.
I suspect 2020 will be my first year since joining Golf Monthly in late 2002 when I have not been overseas at all. I miss it and look forward to it hopefully resuming in 2021!
Yes, early starts and airports can be a faff, but there’s always a buzz of excitement sitting airside with security safely behind you as the realisation grows that very soon one of those strange metal contraptions will be whizzing you off to another world, maybe even an exotic one!
My country count has already far exceeded any dreams I might have had when I was working in previous desk-bound jobs, but there are still places I want to go before hanging up my golf bag flight cover for good.
The two countries that have been on my wish list for the longest are Canada and New Zealand.
The former is probably now more likely, but the courses in the latter are some of the most extraordinary anywhere – think Cape Kidnappers!
And if those prove too ambitious, closer to home I’d love to go to Parnu Bay in Estonia, West Cliffs and Praia d’El Rey in Portugal and the links courses on the north French coast, which have somehow always eluded me.
If just one of those were to come to pass in 2021, I think I’d be happy.
And in the UK, I’d love to visit the very far north of Scotland to play more of the courses on the magnificent North Coast 500 route.
After 2020, you could argue that life is too short to go back to places you’ve already visited, but I would disagree.
Some places are just so good, you simply have to find time to go back.
Narrowing this down to a few is hard, but it’s a while now since I was last at Doonbeg in County Clare.
It’s been a favourite of mine since I played in the grand opening match there in 2003, I think.
Staying and playing at Royal Porthcawl is another of my favourite experiences in golf, and a trip had already been pencilled in for late January. I fear that may well have to wait until later in the year now.
And if I could pick just one more, I’d return to Kington in Herefordshire in a heartbeat – a rugged, natural hilltop layout that had long been on my radar and which I only got to play for the first time this September.
I absolutely loved it.
It’s not a major focus for me these days, but I do still like to occasionally test myself with a scorecard in hand.
2020 will be the first year since I joined my first golf club in 1985 when I have returned precisely zero scorecards for handicap.
This hasn’t stopped WHS giving me the slightly unexpected handicap index of 4.0 though, and I look forward to seeing how far short of that I fall at some stage not too far into 2021!
A Pint On The Terrace
A pint on the terrace sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Even though my tipple of choice these days would probably be a nice glass of red, and we have sort of been able to still do this at times during 2020, it hasn’t felt quite the same.
So, at the first opportunity when I’m not the designated driver, I look forward to relaxing post-round on the terrace just shooting the breeze looking out over the course as the sun goes down.
Even better if it’s somewhere I’m also staying so time is of little consequence.
The Open Championship
Finally, I’m really looking forward to this.
Living in the south-east, local Opens only come round at Royal St George’s once every ten years or so, so to miss out last year – ultimately the only men’s Major not to be played in 2020 – was a real shame.
Who, among us, ever thought that The Open might not take place other than – heaven forbid – in times of war?
2020, of course, had other ideas that none of us could ever have foreseen.
We are all hoping against hope that 2021 will be better and will allow you and I to tick more of the things we’ve most missed this year off our golfing wish lists.
What are you hoping to do in 2021? Let us know on social media
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Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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