Hough’s It

It’s a big newsletter today, because there’s a big week coming up at Houghton Golf Club, what with the US Open golf taking place from Thursday, our own Nicklaus Major on Saturday, our annual Father's Day picnic on the 18th hole on Sunday, and the Youth Day public holiday long weekend.

Father's Day/Youth Day

It’s been a few years since Father's Day and Youth Day fell on the same day, so what better way to celebrate the joint occasion than spending the afternoon at Houghton, enjoying some delicious chow, and taking part in all the kids activities, together with the whole family.

Bring your camp chairs and picnic blankets; the golf course is your playground!

See all the activities in our display ad below, and let me know if you’re keen to join.


The Race to Simola – US Open

This Saturday sees the 4th leg of the series to find the 4 members who will defend The Golden Bear, the trophy of the Jack Nicklaus Champion of Champions finals contested between the Jack Nicklaus Signature courses.


Below is the table to remind you where you stand in The Race, remembering that your best 3 Individual Stableford scores of the 5 ‘Nicklaus Majors’ will count towards the Top 4, and 2 of your worst scores will fall away, and you’ll see that there are still players in the Top 40 that have only played 2 rounds so far, so they’re still well in it.

Click image to enlarge

Click here for the full leaderboard.

The US Open


This week sees the 119th edition of the United States Open taking place at Pebble Beach, the iconic sea-side course on Carmel Bay on the south side of the Monterey Peninsula in California. It will be the 6th US Open to be played on this public course, and it has produced great champions over the years, including Jack and Tiger and Tom Watson, with long-time World #1 career money list leader Tom Kite, and Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell, being the other two.

McDowell won the last time the event was held there in 2010, and the track is slotted in for another national Open in 2027.

Pebble will be one of the shortest courses used for the Open, but it certainly has the smallest greens of any other course in the rotation, so this is definitely not a course only suited for the big bombers, and will be tricky in the main.

But more than any other course on the rota, the weather could play a vital role in this event, with very possible strong cross winds threatening to make those whose rounds start later in the day into a nightmare.

It’s a par 72 – unlike most other Open venues, which are 72’s ‘shortened’ to 70 by making a couple of par 5’s into long tough par 4’s – and among many scenic holes along the rugged coastline, contains two of the most photographed holes in golf: the very short par three 7th hole, and the par 5 finishing hole.

The 7th is a breeze on a calm day with some kind of wedge in hand; but can be devilish in the wind, and almost impossible to hit, with most bailing left away from the ocean.

The short and downhill par three 7th hole, playing anywhere between 100 and 112 meters

Number 18 has many more kinds of dangers though.

The tighter oceanside line off the tee to the left side of the fairway brings the green within reach in two shots, but the safer line to the right brings the fairway traps and cypress trees into play, also making the lay-up shot a tricky thing too, having to cross another corner of the ocean, and lined by a long thin bunker that separates grass from sea for the last 3rd of the hole.

And all of this in prevailing cross winds!
I can’t even breathe just watching those guys on TV!
The tee-shot is known in the local trade as a ‘poephol shrinker’!

An aerial view of the par 5 final hole, with the waters of Carmel Bay hugging the left side of the hole, and the fairway bunkers and cypress trees prominent in the foreground
The view facing the players as they tee off on the home hole
The approach to the final green

And lastly, watch out for the pivotal par three 17th hole.

A long and difficult short hole, it was here that Jack stiffed a 1 iron in 1972 to a few inches after rebounding off the flagstick, and to allow him the march to victory over Aussie Bruce Crampton. It was Jack’s 11th Major and 3rd US Open title, and his 2nd of the year after winning that year’s Masters. BTW, 4 weeks after this US Open win, he finished 1 shot out at Muirfield behind Lee Trevino in chasing the elusive Grand Slam.

Number 17 was also the hole where Tom Watson chipped in from the most ridiculously thick rough and downhill lie to get him across the line in 1982. He finished 2 ahead of Jack in the continuing rivalry between the 2 greats in the mid 70’s and early 80’s.

Pebble Weather

As all weather forecasts go, things can change, but the 4 days of the event look dry, with light breezes for the first 3 days, and winds of about 20mph expected for Sunday’s final round. Could get very interesting.

Some of the featured groupings:

Tiger/Jordan/JR go tomorrow at
11:09pm our time
Rory/Rahm/Leish at 4:51pm SA time

at 10:47 SA time
DJ/Phil/G-Mac at 5:13pm SA time

All the tee times

Supersport goes live on Thursday and Friday with early coverage on SS1 at 4:45pm, with the main feed starting at 9pm, and until 04:45 the next morning!

Saturday is 6pm and 8:30pm respectively, and Sunday is 8pm and 8:30pm.

The (Usual Suspects) Contenders

1.    Brooks Koepka is chasing his 3rd straight US Open title! He’s the form player in Majors at the moment, showing a liking for the big time seldom seen since Tiger reversed into a fire hydrant 10 years ago. He owns 4 of the last 9 Majors played – actually only 8 that he’s played in after missing last year’s Masters with an injury – and there’s no doubt that he has the game to win at Pebble.
2.    Rory McIlroy is coming off one of his best rounds of golf after shooting an amazing 61 last Sunday – including 2 bogeys - to win the RBC Canadian Open. After flirting with a 59 in that closing romp, his confidence must be sky high. He’s been coming up a bit short in Majors recently, so ….
3.    Tiger is the current Masters champion, and the man who still moves the needle more than everyone else put together. He’s won at Pebble before, in a US Open, and he won there by a staggering 15 shots!! He must have Major Mojo at Monterey.
4.    DJ has a few monkeys to get off his back this week. His close friend Brooks has taken his World #1 ranking from him recently, and he needs to lay the ghost of 2010 – where he shot 82 after leading going into the last round - behind him. Like Rory, he’s also been found wanting in Major finales, so this would be the ideal opportunity to speak up.
5.    Jordan Spieth is definitely playing well at the moment.
6.    My dark horses would be Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk, proven straight ball hitters, tactical masterminds, and Major veterans, especially on this kind of layout.

SA Players

We have quite a few to get up for, in Ernie, Louis, Branden, Masters Top Twelver Justin Harding, Erik van Rooyen (8th at the US PGA a few weeks ago, and 17th at last year’s Open Championship), giant-hitters Dean Burmester and Merrick Bremmer, Justin Walters, and reigning British Amateur Champion - and Ernie’s nephew - Jovan Rebula
What did he say?

Justin Thomas, who hasn’t had many nice things to say about (the way) the USGA (set up the Open courses) recently…


Other Tour News

Retief Goosen was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday, after a career that included 2 US Opens – the 2001 victory at Southern Hills ended the ‘Tiger Slam’, and in 2004 at Shinnecock – 2 Euro Tour money list titles in 2001 & 2002, and he spent more than 250 weeks in the World’s Top 10 between 2001 and 2007!

He won 7 times on the PGA Tour, and 14 times in Europe, and he claimed 2 SA Open titles.

Here’s the well-known follow-through of ‘The Goose’, who, after just turning 50 a few months ago, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday.

Wanna read an interesting story about winning Euro Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn, and his struggles with ‘the dark side’. Click here.

That’s about all for this week.
Chat soon.

Could you save 5 shots per round?

Let’s get that putter working for you
If you struggle to make enough 6, 8, 10 and 12-foot putts on a flat lie, there’s a real possibility that your putter is getting in the way of your fun. If you’re struggling, then set up as shown below and try 10x10 foot putts (on a flat surface).

If you’re feeling uncomfortable in this setup, or you’re still struggling to sink enough straight-forward, flat putts, then try a putter with a shorter shaft. What happens then? You might be very surprised.

Is 35“ too long for you? The average shaft length on a putter is 35“. That’s too long for the majority of golfers. It’s longer than the average putter length on the PGA Tour. Can you get into a posture that allows you to setup correctly and deliver the putter face square at impact with 35“?

Get a check-up
Improving your ability to square the putter face at impact will take up to 5 shots off your scorecard. There are some simple keys to that improvement. Set up and putter are part of that equation. So come and see us.
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Enjoy the journey


 Better is more enjoyment. Better is more excitement. Better is more rewarding. Better is a look of surprise on your playing partner’s face. Better is a challenge faced and an accomplishment made.

Start a journey
Golf is even more fun when it’s a journey somewhere. It’s more than playing. It’s about growing and improving and mastering a new skill. Speak to us about our ‘Play Nine Together’ or ‘Personal Assessment’ and we’ll show you a pathway to better.
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