Last Wednesday, 44 intrepid Golf Monthly forumers and staff got to sample golf's new PowerPlay format for themselves in a special event at The Grove in Hertfordshire, the only English course to have hosted a WGC event.
This new format is played over nine holes using Stableford scoring with a couple of crucial differences - a second ‘black' flag on each green usually in a tougher position, and extra points on offer for success when playing to the black flag.
Pictures: PowerPlay pictures gallery
Each player must use three black flag PowerPlays in the first eight holes with an optional fourth available on the 9th. Nett birdies or better score double Stableford points, with no downside until the 9th where if the gamble goes wrong and you score nett bogey or worse you lose three points.
Great fun was had by all trying to work out where best to use their PowerPlays with lower handicappers generally favouring the lower stroke index holes in search of nett birdies rather than gross birdies elsewhere.
At the end of an exciting nine holes, the master strategist turned out to be 11-handicapper Stewart Farrell, who chose his PowerPlays wisely, making nett birdies on all four to boost his score by 24 points. His winning tally of 33 eclipsed runner-up Tim Burnett - who converted three of his four PowerPlays - by three.
Unluckiest man in the field was Gary Mitchell who racked up an amazing five gross birdies in nine holes... but only one of them on a PowerPlay hole - the tough 5th - where he amassed 8 PowerPlay points. His 27-point return did at least give him the consolation of 3rd place.
Read what our select group of forumers thought of their first PowerPlay experience here.
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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