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Opinion & Analysis

Equipment For Golf Fitness: The 5 Best and 5 Worst

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This is a light-hearted look at the five best and five worst pieces of gym/fitness equipment that you can use for your golf fitness routine.

I have personally used, experimented with, been given the sales spiel and watched the dodgy YouTube ads for every piece of equipment on these two lists.

How did the respective pieces of equipment qualify for their placing on the respective good and bad categories? They were put through an extremely subjective and moderately rigorous scrutiny, which involved absolutely no scientific process whatsoever. It comes from gut feeling, player feedback, listening to what other trainers have to say and of course, good old common sense. I’ve looked past the pseudo-science, ignored the preposterous claims and simply cast my judgment as a golf fitness professional.

Although there was categorically no science and very few facts that went into the rating of the equipment, I did come up with a fun scoring system:

Each piece of equipment is given a score out of 5 in the following categories, producing a total score out of 35:

  • Effectiveness
  • Versatility
  • Portability
  • Application to golf posture and swing
  • Cost
  • Injury risk
  • Chance of messing with swing mechanics

*The higher the number for each category, the better

The five lowest-scoring pieces of equipment were relegated to the “Worst Group” and the five best, promoted to the “Best Group.” I have included the score sheet at the end of the article.

To take a closer look at some of the items detailed, check out Golf Fit Pro.

So here they are, presented in order:

The Worst: No. 5 — Weighted Clubs

  • Score: 21 out of 35

weighted_golf_club

Rapidly going out of fashion in golf and in baseball, the donuts give false feeling of load during the swing and has been shown to slow non-weighted swing speed while encouraging off-center hits. If you want to move the club faster, why practice moving a weighted version more slowly using the same action?

The Best: No. 5 — Dumbells/Kettlebells

  • Score: 26 out of 35

KBTimeless pieces of gym equipment that produce genuine gains in strength and power. These can be used in countless different ways with a wide variety of load. There’s a reason they have been around for for years and yet still remain popular.

The Worst: No. 4 — Bosu Ball

  • Score: 20 out of 35

dustin bosu

Standing on the bosu ball will not magically “turn your core on” and help you with your golf swing. It’s more likely to send your ankle stabilizers into overdrive, rather than the important core and hip stabilizers.

The Best: No. 4 — Soft Sand

  • Score: 27 out of 35

dunes

Running, jumping and crawling in multiple directions in soft sand is highly effective for a number of reasons. Sand requires you to stabilize and balance with every step you take. But because sand has no reactive force, we can’t rely on the ankle and wrist stabilizers to do the job — now it’s up to our core, hamstrings, butt and shoulders to pick up the slack. It also smashes your lungs for cardio fitness and produces almost zero muscle soreness the next day.

The Worst: No. 3 — Somax Swing Trainer

  • Score: 13 out of 35

Somax

I can see what they were trying to do here: train the hips to move quicker and you’ll swing the golf club faster. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Fast club head speed requires the kinematic sequence of the golf swing to work in harmony. Simply training the hips to move as fast as possible and hoping the rest of the body will hold on is fundamentally flawed. Also I see a high potential injury risk while using this piece of kit. Lower backs look out!

The Best: No. 3 — Suspension Trainer

  • Score: 30 out of 35

 

Letiesha-suspension-straps

Young and old, fit and unfit, elite or amateur, the suspension trainer offers something for everybody with its ability to dramatically alter the load and difficulty of an exercise with simple body positioning. Core integration is needed in order to perform the exercises, plus hip and shoulder girdle stability are challenged and trained with the unstable nature of the straps. It’s portable, durable and fun to use.

The Worst: No. 2 — Pec Dec Machine

  • Score: 12 out of 35

Pec Deck

Tight pecs equals rounded and forward shoulders, which leads to impaired arm/body connection in the swing and ultimately funky swing actions to manipulate the club face. In terms of tightening pecs and rounding shoulders, the pec dec is king and, in my opinion, should be given a wide berth and left well alone.

The Best: No. 2 — Power Bands

  • Score: 32 out of 35

pallof press 2

These beauties have much of the same positive characteristic as the Suspension Trainer, that is: portable, durable, versatile, scalable to different levels of people and great for training with a partner.

Two features see them ranked higher though:

  1. The resistance increases the further you move into a resisted position. This means the exercise gets harder as you get to the least stable point of the movement, pure gold for stabilizer muscles.
  2. They can be used to simultaneously support and encourage muscles and joints into positions that they wouldn’t otherwise be capable of. Leveraged properly, this means increased mobility in the key golf areas of the shoulder, mid/upper back and hips.

The Worst: No. 1 — Home Ab Machine

  • Score: 11 out of 35

abcircle6

 

Even setting aside the cringeworthy TV ads selling you lies, this equipment is the worst! The last thing a seated and sedentary society needs to do is be hunched over and crunncing ourselves into oblivion. The one that goes straight up and down is bad, it will shorten your already chronically tight abs and hip flexors and pull you into a more hunched posture.

The side-to-side version is the absolute pits for golfers. In a sport where the majority of people already have too much lateral flexion (side bend) in their swings, the last thing we want to be doing is repeating this action over-and-over again. It trains poor movement patterns, puts you at significant risk of low back injury and no, sorry, it won’t make your love handles melt away like butter.

The Best: No. 1 — Postural Training Aids

  • Score: 33 out of 35

 

IMG_6160 sml and cropped

Posture, Posture, Posture. I talk about it a lot, but it’s hard to stress how strongly I feel about training posture and dynamic rotation movement patterns. Without proper set up, it’s almost impossible to move well during your golf swing. Like anything, good set up posture is trained, not just assumed. These pieces of equipment have been designed for this exact purpose. They can be used anywhere and by anyone to directly assist the most important part of their golf swing — posture and quality rotation.

Conclusion

So there we have it. I’m sorry if I criticized your favorite piece of gear and caused you to question its inclusion in your gym routine. Hopefully it will encourage you to relegate it to the garage and pick up something useful instead!

On the flipside, I’m happy if I validated what you already use or even inspired you to add a couple of useful items to your golf fitness equipment kit.

Check out Golf Fit Pro to take a closer look at some of the items detailed above.

Best and Worst Equipment Scoring Sheet

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 5.33.41 pm

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter and Rehab Expert contracted by PGA Tour Players, Division 1 colleges and national teams to deliver golf fitness services. Via his Golf Fit Pro website, app, articles and online training services, Nick offers the opportunity to the golfing world to access his unique knowledge and service offerings. www.golffitpro.net

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Pingback: Equipment For Golf Fitness: The 5 Best and 5 Worst | GolfWRX | 40100sports

  2. Nathan

    Apr 2, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Whether or not everyone agrees with this list, it is nice to see fitness being discussed on wrx. Nick makes some good suggestions. Obviously in a short article, he cannot go into full detail about each item, but his thoughts are mostly spot-on. Nice job, Nick!

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 3, 2015 at 1:11 am

      Cheers Nathan!

      I was always going to rub a few people up the wrong way with Bosu Ball and Weighted Club. But if we all thought the same way, the world would be a boring place!

  3. Mbwa Kali Sana

    Apr 1, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    A very biaised assesment of training aids :the best are not even mentioned ,such as the OVERSPEED /UNDERSPEED clubs :everybody should know that to train effectively the “Fast Twitch muscle fibers ” you have to “trick” them by swinging a club sllghtly more heavy ,then a club slightly less heavy ,at random(See the SUPERSPEED Sticks by MIKE NAPOLEON) .Speed training is essential ,don’t move slowly ,short bursts of the “SWING CHAIN “or the “TORSO BURNER”give you speed ,versatilty and strength .The best rubber bands are the “ULTIMATE SWING TRAINER “rubber tubes by MIKE BAUMANN.See also the” SPEED BALL or” XLR8R” “by JOHN NOVOSEL and his famous “TOUR TEMPO ” …Isometric exercises develops strength ,no need to utilize heavy weights:just get a “BULLWORKER” and you’ll see your streghth grow almost magically .This training device is 60 years old ….

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Hi Mbwa, It was really more of an article on golf FITNESS equipment, not training aids. I don’t claim to have expertise in the training aids area, hence why I missed some of your favourites.

      Cheers,

      Nick

  4. Scott

    Apr 1, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I am not one to normally comment on exercise equipment. Unless something is dangerous to use, what ever gets you motivated to work out is great. However, I just looked at the posture belt you tube training video and it looks ridiculous. It may work, but most of the other stuff mentioned looks like it would be more effective.
    Most people do not truly understand what good posture is. Stand up straight and hold in your stomach, as if you are getting ready to be punched in the gut. Keep breathing. hold that for as long as you can and work your way up in the amount of time you can hold it. You can even do it in a chair. That is proper posture and the exercise works the inner layers of or abdominal muscles. That exercise has made a HUGE difference in my posture.

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      Hi Scott,

      Nice suggestions and definitely along the right track. What your suggesting sounds like a little too much bracing with superficial muscles (obliques especially) however. This is likely to inhibit dynamic rotation, look out for an upcoming article from me on how to effectively train golf posture

      Cheers

      Nick

  5. Steven Thomas

    Apr 1, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    I have swung a weighted club for years. The current club I have weighs 5 pounds. I swing this several times a day and right before I go play. I saw a Golf Channel show when they were talking to Gary Player. He says he swings a weighted club everyday, as do many pros.

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Steven,

      There are lots of people who support using a weighted club, I’m just one of them. When considering the research plus feedback form players and coaches, it just doesn’t seem like the right way to go.

      cheers

      Nick

  6. zoots

    Mar 31, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    I’m thinking of buying a swing fan. Would this be the same as a weighted club, therefore a no-no?

    • Jack

      Apr 1, 2015 at 2:33 am

      I’ve had a swing fan before. If you want to increase your swing speed, I think it’s legit to help you make the jump. But you needs to consistently keep swinging at that speed. Most of the time after I use it, I think it messes up my swing a tempo a lot.

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Hi Zoots,

      I would say that it depends on what you use it for. Training swing feels from top of backswing to impact – go for it. Trying to generate more clubhead speed – maybe not.

      Cheers

      Nick

      • zoots

        Apr 2, 2015 at 12:27 am

        Thanks Nick. I’ll take that into consideration

    • Tony Lynam

      Apr 21, 2015 at 8:35 am

      I have used a swing fan for over 15 years and it has to be one of the best training aids for increasing and maintaining swing speed. I am 52 years old, 4 hcp and clock out at a 110-115 swing speed. I have also utilized the Momentus weighted club during that 15 years and recently added an Orange Whip swing trainer for tempo work in the last year.

      • David

        Apr 24, 2015 at 3:51 pm

        Great choices! The orange whip is a huge omission regarding the article.

  7. luckbox

    Mar 31, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I am confused how rounded shoulders and tight pecs would lead to a improper swing. Sure you do not want to look like Ronnie Coleman or Jay Cutler (Mr Olympia not Mr. Choke-Artist) but tight pecs and strong shoulders are prevalent in two of the most dominant golfers 2000 Tiger and current Rory.

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Luckbox,

      Be careful not to confuse TIGHT with STRONG. You can be still be strong and have pecs that are not adaptively shortened and impeding shoulder function. By all means, train your chest and shoulders, just use dumbbells, barbells and push up variations instead of the pec dec.

      Hope this helps

      Nick

  8. Steve

    Mar 31, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    If that was how you used the Bosu Ball then I would agree. Try turning it over and sitting on it and then do your ab workout or doing planks/side planks with your feet on it or even harder with your elbows on it. lie on it to do lower back extensions. Also if you do squats with both of your feet on it your quads, glutes and hip stabilizers all come into play without as much pressure on your ankles. Do pushups with your hands holding the sides. It only takes up a small space and used correctly in combination with suspension training it’s a great workout.

  9. Erik

    Mar 31, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Power bands should be on the worst end and kettlebells should be best no 1. You obviously haven’t studied the TGU, goblet squat, and swing enough.

    • Regis

      Apr 1, 2015 at 11:03 am

      I personally disagree, at least to some extent. I’m no fitness buff but I do try to work out and a lot of it is golf related. When healthy I think kettle bells are the best but there is a learning curve. I have also had to rehab following a number of serious surgeries and for a person with limited space (hospital room, apartment) or one who travels nothing beats a quality set of power bands. If I had to pick one exercise aid for overall versatility, portability, flexibility and longevity (we all get older) it would be power bands but you have to purchase a quality set

      • James

        Apr 1, 2015 at 11:31 am

        Regis,

        What brand/set of power bands would you recommend?
        Thanks

        • Regis

          Apr 2, 2015 at 10:38 pm

          I like SPRI Xrtubes because they have good handles and door attachments but there are a lot of good options out there. Just look for quality door attachments and good handles. There are a lot of fitness sites you could explore

  10. Jeremy

    Mar 31, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    After rehabbing from knee surgery I’ve had good results with the bosu ball. It’s been great for my balance, and when you do more than just stand on it it can provide a great core workout. Posture and form are important though. I think they’re overpriced so I wouldn’t buy one for my home, but I always use it at the gym.

  11. MJ

    Mar 31, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I would think any balance exercise would be good for golf. Where are you teaching crossfit?
    Good article I like the posture drills

  12. 4pillars

    Mar 31, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I tried putting the Kettlebell at the end of my golf club but they just fell off.

    The neighbour downstairs was not too pleased.

  13. TR1PTIK

    Mar 31, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I understand the concern for the pec dec for most, but when followed with a proper back workout and ample stretching, I don’t see the issue. The main issue I see with working the pectoral muscles is that they could impede the swing if you bulk up too much.

    • Nolanski

      Mar 31, 2015 at 11:48 am

      When I was big into [smart & safe]weight training, I always deemed chest flys as too dangerous. They had rotator cuff injury written all over it and there were just many more chest exercises that were safer and more effective. To each his own though.

      • TR1PTIK

        Mar 31, 2015 at 1:10 pm

        Rotator cuff injury makes sense for that exercise. I still do them though. I just don’t use a ton of weight and I stop when something doesn’t feel right. As long as people work at their own pace, and are smart enough to know the difference between growing pains and injury pains then do what you want. As far as Americans are concerned – almost any exercise is good exercise.

  14. Nolanski

    Mar 31, 2015 at 10:55 am

    You arent kidding about the ankle stabilizers on the BOSU ball! Luckily my ankles are like oak trees or I’d be afraid of them snapping. I must not be doing that power band pose in the picture because I’ve done that one and it felt like it didnt do anything for me. I’ll try it again with stronger bands I guess.

  15. Ronald Montesano

    Mar 31, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Nick…I hope there is a follow-up on postural training aids, so we can understand why and how they work. Thanks, mate.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What really makes a wedge work?

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Having been in the wedge business for over thirty years now, and having focused my entire life’s work on how to make wedges work better, one of my biggest frustrations is how under-informed most golfers are about wedges in general, and how misinformed most are about the elements of a wedge that really affect performance.

That under-informed and misinformed “double whammy” helps make the wedge category to be the least dynamic of the entire golf equipment industry. Consider this if you will. Golfers carry only one driver and only one putter, but an average of three wedges. BUT – and it’s a big “but” – every year, unit sales of both drivers and putters are more than double the unit sales of wedges.
So why is that?

Over those thirty-plus years, I have conducted numerous surveys of golfers to ask that very question, and I’ve complemented that statistical insight with hundreds of one-on-one interviews with golfers of all skill levels. My key takeaways are:

  • Most golfers have not had a track record of improved performance with new wedges that mirror their positive experience with a new driver or putter.
  • A large percentage of golfers consider their wedge play to be one of the weaker parts of their games.
  • And most golfers do not really understand that wedge play is the most challenging aspect of golf.
  • On that last point, I wrote a post almost two years ago addressing this very subject, “Why Wedge Mastery Is So Elusive” (read it here).

So now let’s dive into what really makes a wedge work. In essence, wedges are not that much different from all the other clubs in our bags. The three key elements that make any club do what it does are:

  • The distribution of mass around the clubhead
  • The shaft characteristics
  • The specifications for weight, shaft length and lie angle

Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.

For any golf club to perform to its optimum for a given golfer, these three key measurements must be correct. Shaft length and lie angle work together to help that golfer deliver the clubhead to the ball as accurately as possible time and again. If either spec is off even a little bit, quality contact will be sacrificed. The overall weight of the club is much more critical than the mystical “swing weight”, and I’ve always believed that in wedges, that overall weight should be slightly heavier than the set-match 9-iron, but not dramatically so.

We encounter so many golfers who have migrated to light steel or graphite shafts in their irons, but are still trying to play off-the-rack wedges with their heavy stiff steel shafts that complete prohibit the making of a consistent swing evolution from their short irons to their wedges.

That leads to the consistent observation that so many golfers completely ignore the shaft specifics in their wedges, even after undergoing a custom fitting of their irons to try to get the right shaft to optimize performance through the set. The fact is, to optimize performance your wedges need to be pretty consistent with your irons in shaft weight, material and flex.

Now it’s time to dive into the design of a wedge head, expanding on what I wrote in that post of two years ago (please go back to that link and read it again!)

The wedge “wizards” would have you believe that the only things that matter in wedge design are “grooves and grinds.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Grooves can only do so much, and their primary purpose is the same as the tread on your tires – to channel away moisture and matter to allow more of the clubface to contact the ball. In our robotic testing of Edison Forged wedges – on a dry ball – the complete absence of grooves only reduced spin by 15 percent! But, when you add moisture and/or matter, that changes dramatically.

Understand the USGA hasn’t changed the Rules of Golf that govern groove geometry in over 12 years, and every company serious about their wedge product pushes those rules to the limit. There is no story here!
For years, I have consistently taken umbrage to the constant drivel about “grinds.” The fact is that you will encounter every kind of lie and turf imaginable during the life of your wedges, and unless you are an elite tour-caliber player, it is unlikely you can discern the difference from one specialized grind to another.

Almost all wedge sole designs are pretty darn good, once you learn how to use the bounce to your advantage, but that’s a post for another time.

Now, the clubhead.

Very simply, what makes any golf club work – and wedges are no different – is the way mass is distributed around the clubhead. Period.

All modern drivers are about the same, with subtle nuanced differences from brand to brand. Likewise, there are only about four distinctly different kinds of irons: Single piece tour blades, modern distance blades with internal technologies, game improvement designs with accented perimeter weighting and whatever a “super game improvement iron” is. Fairways, hybrids, even putters are sold primarily by touting the design parameters of the clubhead.

So, why not wedges?]

This has gotten long, so next week I’ll dive into “The anatomy of a wedge head.”

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: 2023 PGA Merchandise Show recap

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All the new interesting things we enjoyed and appreciated.

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Opinion & Analysis

2023 Ras Al Khaimah Championship: Betting Tips & Selections

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The conclusion to last week’s Dubai Desert Classic was almost perfection.

The scant amount of viewers on a Monday morning would have been treated to a surely scripted play-off between world number one Rory McIlroy and his LIV nemesis Patrick Reed, bar that damned 13-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole. It was, of course, a fitting start to the year for the world number one, and an ending that the week deserved after ‘Tee Gate to Tree Gate,’.

With our main man, Lucas Herbert, playing some sublime golf in behind and finishing strongly in third despite the absence of luck on the Saturday greens, it showed the DP World Tour in a cracking light.

It’s a shame this week doesn’t.

We move from the quality of Dubai to a standard DPWT field and, while favourite Adrian Meronk is improving fast and now up to 52nd in the rankings, the long,wide, forgiving nature of Al Hamra makes this nothing more than a bosh-it, find it, hit it, putt it, competition. Links-like it may be, but with no wind forecast, this won’t hit anywhere near the heights of the previous two weeks.

Previous DPWT winners here – Ryan Fox and Nicolai Hojgaard – suggest length is the one factor that separates the medalists from the also-rans and is the key factor behind high-level tee-to-green numbers, certainly rather than accuracy.

There isn’t really any option but to look at the handful of true links players at the top and it’s only narrowly that Victor Perez gets the vote.

Splitting last year’s winners (for there were two Al Hamra events in 2022) Ryan Fox and Nicolai Hojgaard is tough but I’ve always felt the Frenchman is capable of a higher level of play and he is the selection in front of favourite Meronk, even if they both have similar course and recent form.

I rarely get him right – backing him twice over the last six months – even if he has won two titles in the space of seven months.

Still, this is another day for the Frenchman (and me) and for a winner of the Dunhill Links, the Dutch Open and three weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, he may actually be overpriced at 16/1.

It’s tough to find any better ‘standard level’ links form lines than beating the likes of Matt Southgate, Joakim Lagergren, Tommy Fleetwood, Tom Lewis and pals in Scotland, and beating Fox in a play-off at Bernadus Golf. However, he was at it again at Yas Links, leaving behind the names Min Woo Lee, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren and Tyrrell Hatton – all synonymous with the test he faces this week, on the same paspalum greens and with opposition of higher class than three-quarters of this week’s field.

Perez looks to have produced evidence that a golfer is at their peak at 30-years of age producing an outstanding bunker shot to win his latest trophy, with a sound coming off the club reminiscent of his play at Wentworth in 2020, when splitting Hatton and Patrick Reed.

Watch Perez trophy-winning shot here!

Although this is his first outing here on the DPWT, he has a seventh and second place from two outings on the Challenge Tour and he is in the right form to take those figures one better.

Third for total driving over the last six months, Perez ranks in the top-10 for ball-striking over the same period (11th over three months) and arrives here in confident mood, telling reporters:

“I’m looking forward to playing at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship for the first time. I got the season off to a great start at the Hero Cup followed by my first Rolex Series win in Abu Dhabi, so this is a great chance to keep the momentum going and secure more Race to Dubai and Ryder Cup points,” before adding:

“I’m playing great golf at the moment, and I’m hoping it continues in Ras Al Khaimah.”

Perez is a confident selection, but back him up with another proven rip-it merchant in Callum Shinkwin, who has come in a few points since the market opened but justifies the move after an excellent top five in Dubai.

First thing we know about the three-time winner is he hits it a mile, ranking in the top-10 for off-the-tee ten times since the start of the 2022 season, including being in the top three in the two events 12 months ago. That itself is worth noting, as are his best efforts away from the victories- at Fairmont, the Dunhill Links and last week in Dubai, all with pointers to this week’s test.

There was nothing wrong with mid-20 finishes here last year, the first just a couple of days after destroying the course in a fun Texas Scramble pairs, and he will surely take comfort in lying up there with Rory McIlroy last Monday, matching those final two birdies.

Another around that ‘magic’ age, this is a course that will give Shinks every opportunity to play shorter irons into the targets and, with last week’s top-10 ranking for putting, this may be the time to go with the Moor Park magician.

I can’t see a shock result here this week – the top lot have perfect conditions in which to show their class – but I’ll be looking at the top-10/20 markets for the following:

Tapio Pulkkanen – Trilby-wearing Finn that hits the ball a country mile. Trouble is, half the time he does not know in which direction it’s travelling. Here, with accuracy not a factor, he can take inspiration from last season’s seventh place in the first of the back-to-back events, when a three-over back-nine cost him a place in the medals.

20th just seven days later shows he can play the track, whilst best efforts over the last 12 months include a third place at the Czech Masters, 10th at the Dunhill Links and third in Portugal, again all events with a leaning to the type he’ll take part in this week. Given his tied-second in Prague a year earlier, we can surmise he repeats form at tracks that suit.

It isn’t impossible he suddenly finds his form on tour, and with an inkling he’ll ‘do a JB Hansen’ and go crackers for a spell. This would seem the perfect place to start.

Julien Guerrier – Third at Hillside and Celtic Manor last season show the former winner of The Amateur Championship (at Royal St. George’s) still has what it takes to compete at this slightly lower level. Add top-15 finishes at Denmark, Spain, Germany and Mauritius – all with front-rank putting stats – and it’s easy to see the two-time Challenge Tour winner having some effect in the top-20 market.

A sixth and eighth-placed finish at the Rocco Forte in Sicily behind Lagergren and Alvaro Quiros (both who turn up when they sniff links from a mile away) reads well, and his repeat performances at his home country, Portugal, Spain and Prague show he performs where he has good memories.

With four outings here, split between the Challenge Tour and the DPWT, the Frenchman can continue an improving course record of 19/13/9.

Jack Senior – I’m convinced that 34-year-old Senior is a better player than his current ranking outside of the top-500 in the world, and although it has been a while since his win at Galgorm Castle in 2019, he has racked up top-10 finishes at Gran Canaria, the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club (behind Min Woo Lee, Thomas Detry and Matt Fitzpatrick), Mallorca and on the Spanish mainland.

Back at Galgorm, he was tied-13th last year, a repeat result that sits nicely with his 23rd in Mallorca, and top-20s in Prague and Denmark, courses already highlighted as associates to Al Hamra.

I’m happy to ignore last week’s missed cut as it was his first outing since October, and he’s of enough interest back on a course on which he has a sixth, 11th and 19th place finish in three tries at the lower level.

I’m expecting one of the top eight or 10 to prove too good, but these events often throw up names on a surprise leaderboard, and it will take just one hotter-than-normal week with the putter for that to happen.

Recommended Bets:

Victor Perez – WIN

Callum Shinkwin – WIN/TOP-5

Julien Guerrier – TOP-10 TOP-20

Tapio Pulkkanen – TOP-10 TOP-20

Jack Senior – TOP-10 TOP-20

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