the links swing

The links swing

The links swing

For many golfers and golf fans around the world who consider themselves traditionalists and I include myself here, the next month is going to be pretty special.

Why? Essentially because the next set of tournaments are being played on links courses. For me, links golf is true golf, the very heart and soul of the game.

By their very nature, links courses and their proximity to the coast tend to provide a different test to the courses the European Tour visit week in, week out. Winds blowing in off the sea, fast firm fairways, “unfair” bounces, pot bunkers and undulating greens should all make for great viewing.

More importantly, it will be great for the players. The skills they hone on ranges and courses around the world will be challenged on an entirely different level. Links golf is often described as the thinking man or thinking woman’s game.

Standing on the tee and lashing driver before taking dead aim at the flag from the fairway will hopefully not be in evidence on every hole at The Renaissance Club on Scotland’s Golf Coast, host venue for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and Royal St George’s, for the jewel in the links series crown, The Open Championship.

The need to create all sorts of shots appropriate to the weather and course conditions will undoubtedly ensure that every aspect of the players’ games will be put to the test.

Forgetting about the golf for a minute, one thing that all these events will have in common will be the festival atmosphere as crowds in England and Scotland will finally be able to see the best players in the game tee it up.

Closer to home for me, quite literally across the street from my base at Archerfield Links, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club also promises to be an outstanding week.

East Lothian, or Scotland’s Golf Coast as it is known is one one the finest stretches of golfing land to be found anywhere on the planet. With 23 courses in what is a small county, the only other place that comes close is Melbourne’s sandbelt.

With so many courses, including the likes of Muirfield, North Berwick, Gullane and Dunbar (the list is literally too long to include every one of them) East Lothian is full of golfers and golf fans.

The fact that it is only a short drive from Scotland’s magnificent capital city of Edinburgh along with an incredibly strong field will ensure golf fans will come out in their droves.

Rory McIlroy, recently crowned US Open champion Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Colin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele’s participation will surely be a massive attraction.

If you have the opportunity to attend any or all of these events, please do so. You will not be disappointed.

Going back to the golf itself, creativity and shot-making, essentially the art of playing golf, will be at a premium. Selecting the correct club from the tee to avoid running into fairway bunkers, landing the ball 10 or 15 yards short of greens and the use of imagination on and around the greens will all be required if these great professional golfers are to succeed over the coming weeks.

To play great golf, it is essential to control two things, your golf ball and yourself. Links golf will test both skill sets to the extreme.

Yes the ball might bounce left, right, high or low when you are expecting it to do something entirely different but ultimately, the players are going to have to deal with that and everything else that is thrown at them.

Dealing with adversity may well be what separates the men from the boys in the end.

Every golf shot you hit has three component parts – Preparation, Action and Reaction or PAR – what you do before you hit the shot, what you do during the shot and how you react to it. Think about that for a minute. Now think about which parts you can control and which part you spend most of your time working on and paying attention to.

The likelihood is that when you go to the range to work on your game, you will spend the majority of your time working on the part you CANNOT control, the Action, or the shot itself.

Over the coming weeks, pay particular attention to what these great players do before and after every shot. Preparation and Reaction are largely overlooked by most golfers but not by those at the top of the tree.

This run of links golf provides an unmissable opportunity to watch and learn from the very best. Time is finite, so make sure you use that time wisely. You never know, it might just help you to become more creative in the visualisation and execution of your shots and putts.

Once you release that inner creativity, your inner artist, there is every chance you will discover or rediscover your love for links golf, which in my humble opinion, golf on it’s purest and finest form.

Celebrate Golf’s Finest Literature with Lumine

Every April 23 Catalonia celebrates the International Book Day and Sant Jordi, an old legend that includes a dragon, a princess and a knight with the same name.  Hundreds of roses and book stands fill the streets of every city in the most romantic day of the year, putting Valentine’s to shame. Thousands of people wonder around celebrating love and culture like no other place in the world. 

To celebrate this beautiful day we offer our followers the unique chance to chat with the authors of the books The Lost Art of Playing Golf and The Lost Art of Putting.

Join us on April 23rd at 4pm (GMT) with Gary Nicol and Karl Morris, two of the most accomplished authors in the golf industry. All moderated by Instagram golf star The Jazzy Golfer.

How can you follow the webinar?

1. Follow Lumine on Instagram – click here
2. Login to Instagram on Friday 23rd of April at 4pm (GMT) and click on the Lumine profile picture.


The Jazzy Golfer – The Instagram golf star hosting the webinar is an active supporter of Women & Junior Golf and promotes the fun side of golf. The Jazzy Golfer is a global ambassador for Titlest and Footjoy.

Karl Morris – Karl Morris has been involved in performance coaching for 30 years. His passion has always been to make mental game coaching both practical and applicable.

Gary Nicol – Born in Scotland, Gary Nicol turned professional in 1988. Gary is a certified TrackMan Master and Mind Factor coach and is based at the stunning Archerfield Links on Scotland’s Golf Coast.

About The Lost Art of Golf

The Lost Art of Golf series, which includes two Amazon best-selling books, The Lost Art of Putting and The Lost Art of Playing Golf, are written by Gary Nicol and Karl Morris.

Both books aim to make you the best possible version of you as a golfer with key concepts and methods in both books having being used successfully on some of the best golfers in the game, including major Champions.

You can purchase the books by clicking here.

Thoughtful Thursday: Stop, Look, Listen

Golfers up and down the UK are counting down the hours and minutes until they can enjoy the same rights as those of us fortunate enough to live north of Hadrian’s Wall.

March 29th might not go down as one of the most historic dates in golf but it is unquestionably significant. All those practice swings in the garden and putting strokes honed on the hall carpet will at last be put to the test on real, rather than imaginary golf courses.

Booming drives, well struck iron shots and putts holed from all over the place will finally be realised. Well they might not actually be realised but at least golf nuts up and down the country will be a step closer to achieving their dreams.

Before you step on to the first tee and start whaling away with your driver, stop, look and listen.

STOP – In advance of removing the headcover from your driver and swinging off your feet, take a moment to appreciate your surroundings and be grateful for the opportunity to play the game you love for whatever reasons. You have waited this long, a few more seconds won’t do any harm. 
You never know, you might just see something you have never noticed in the past. Is the sky normally so blue at this time of year? Are the trees normally as green? Is the gorse always in bloom before April? Open your eyes and take a full 360 view, chances are you will start to truly appreciate the beauty of nature, which can never be a bad thing. After all, you probably play golf because you love being outdoors. You love it but do you ever actually appreciate it?

LOOK – Observe and recognise all the hard work that the greenkeepers have done in your absence for your enjoyment. You have probably been dreaming of this moment for quite some time, so please do not take it for granted.
Don’t the tees look great without dozens of divots and scuff marks? That fairway looks inviting doesn’t it? Has that bunker down the right always looked like that or has it been reshaped? Aren’t the greens so much better to putt on without numerous pitch marks on your line? 
We all want to putt on perfectly manicured greens, so rather than relying on the greens staff or other golfers to maintain these magnificent surfaces, buy a pitch fork and use it at every opportunity.

LISTEN – Regardless of how many times you have played the course before, have you ever really thought about the questions the golf course, or indeed the designer or architect is asking of you?

Is the architect asking you to hit it long and straight on every par 4 and 5, or is he asking how you can fashion a par by plotting your way round the course and using your handicap wisely? Fairways and greens in regulation are obviously something you should aspire to but if your handicap is 15, be happy rather than disappointed if you only hit 50% of them. 

The best players in the world rarely hit more than 70% of greens in regulation and their fairways hit numbers are even lower.

Is this going to be yet another year where come up short with pretty much every approach shot because you have under clubbed? Don’t base your club selection on that one shot you hit two years ago with a 7 iron that went 170 yards downhill, downwind. 

Think about where the trouble is and make sure you take more than enough club to take that trouble out of the equation. Can you carry that front bunker comfortably with whatever club you have chosen or will it take your absolute Sunday best? Leave your ego in the car park before heading to the first tee. No one really cares that you hit a drive and wedge at the first, especially if your wedge came up 15 yards short of the front edge of the green.

Set yourself the task or challenge of trying to get your approach shots past the flag. Take note of how often you achieve it and if it made a difference to your scoring.

Above all, remember what you have missed about playing golf and how much you enjoy the experience, regardless of how you play. 
It’s probably been a while since you last struck a ball out of the heel, toe or sweet spot, so don’t expect too much. Low expectations often lead to good performance whereas unrealistically high expectations can leave you one bad shot from anger and frustration.

Play well, have fun enjoy every minute of your experience of playing the game you love.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Attitude of Gratitude

For those of us north of the border, we have been able to play golf slightly longer than those south of it, however, everyone in the UK has finally being able to taste the great game for a couple of months now.

Just to get out and hit a golf ball is something the majority of golfers, myself included have taken for granted at times for way too long. The only thing stopping us in the past having been prior commitments, ill health or bad weather.

Why golf was off limits for so long is beyond me. Even if your favourite fourball tried to hit their shots within two metres of each other, in all probability, that simply would not happen!

Anyway, personal opinions aside, we have so much to look forward to this summer. Playing golf again being high on many priority lists.

Will the opportunity to play golf be enough to satisfy the golfers among us or do we all want more? Yes it would be great to shoot lower scores, reduce handicaps and win competitions but just getting out there could and perhaps should be enough.

If I had £5 for every time I have heard or read “I just want to play golf again”, I would be planning my retirement to a Mediterranean island. I do wonder however if being grateful for the ability to play golf again is what we really want and if it is, how long will our gratitude last.

How long will it be before golfers around the world start complaining about course conditions, pace of play and pitch marks not being repaired? 
Rather than moan about it, accept and appreciate that preparing a golf course takes good growing conditions and a lot of hard work. Accept that if everyone played a little bit quicker we would all enjoy our golf a bit more. Make a commitment to pick up the pace a bit on the course and encourage your playing companions to do likewise. Don’t complain about ignored pitch marks, my pet hate, just fix your own and one more.
I find it astonishing that the people who complain most vociferously about bumpy greens probably don’t even own a pitch fork, never mind know how to use one.

Be grateful that you are no longer in total lockdown. Be thankful that at long last you can get out the house to get some exercise in the serene surroundings of a golf course.

I’m not suggesting for a second that you shouldn’t care about how you play or what you score but please do not lose sight of the fact that playing golf is a privilege not to be undervalued.

Looking forward to something has no real meaning or value if you don’t actually appreciate the moment you have been anticipating for so long.
Adopting “an attitude of gratitude” not just on the golf course but in our daily lives can have such a positive impact on the way we see and experience pretty much everything.

Gratitude is essentially the quality of being thankful, a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
We have all been taught to be kind to others but we are rarely kind to ourselves when it comes to playing golf. When was the last time you patted yourself on the back after a good shot? Long time ago.

When was the last time you called yourself a useless (insert your own insult here) on the golf course? Probably the last time you played!
The concept of gratitude is nothing new but I do know it is known to increase happiness. If increased happiness isn’t enough for you, it can reduce a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret.

After much deliberation, Karl Morris and I decided to open our second book “The Lost Art Of Playing Golf”, with an entire chapter on gratitude and the feedback we have received would suggest it was a wise move.

When you next play golf, before you even get out of your car on arrival at the golf club, take a moment to ask yourself “What am I grateful for today?”

Only you will know the answer or answers to that question but what I do know is that such a simple question can have a profound effect on your golf and general well being.

Until next time, play well, have fun and be grateful for the opportunity to play the greatest game of all.

Thoughtful Thursday – Why?

As the golf season gets underway and golf courses are re-opened once again across the UK, is it the freedom and ability to spend time with your friends, colleagues and family in the great outdoors? Is it the opportunity to work on your game and get your handicap down? 

Is it because you can’t wait to try out that new driver or putter you bought online after a glass of wine too many one night during lockdown? Is it the feeling of a well struck shot that you have missed so badly?

Or could it be that you have quite simply missed the game of golf and all the challenges it presents every time you play? 

Take a minute or two to think about this. Why do you play golf? This may sound like a pretty basic and simple question but it is one I suggest you take some time to consider.

There are no right or wrong answers here, it is not a test. It is however extremely important to understand your WHY if you are to truly derive any real and genuine pleasure and enjoyment from your experiences on the golf course.

We all play the game for different reasons. We all have our own personal WHY. 

It may well be that your reason is to simply get out of the house for a few hours, something I think we can all relate to. It might be that you finally want to get rid of that card wrecking slice. This year could be the year you apply all you have learned from watching countless YouTube videos during lockdown. You know the ones I mean, the ones that tell you how to do this that or the next thing perfectly!

Are you going to head to the course with your new grip, improved posture, your new backswing that would make Adam Scott jealous? Your new downswing that incorporates the latest ‘magic move’ and guarantees 300 yard drives? 

No doubt your clubs will be spotlessly clean, your bag filled with shiny new golf balls, new gloves, a rain forest of tees and whatever else you can stuff into the pockets.

You will have rehearsed your new, improved swing so many times in your garden or at the very least in your mind that you feel like a Tour Pro as you head to the first tee, ready to take on the world and shoot a new course record.

OR will you just be grateful for the opportunity to once more be able to play the game you love?

Will you appreciate all the hard work the Greenkeeping staff have put in to make the golf courses look and play as good as it ever has done? Or will you be so immersed in your own game that you won’t even notice that some of the bunkers have been re-shaped, or that a new tee has been built? 

If your course looks better than ever, when you see a green keeper will you thank him or her for all their hard work or will you be too busy beating yourself up because you just hit a drive out of bounds and three putted the last four greens?

Golf courses are generally in pretty nice surroundings, some more spectacular than others admittedly but please remember they are there for your pleasure and enjoyment. Take time to appreciate that.

Appreciate your good shots and accept the bad ones. You are human after all and bad shots are part of the game. Don’t let the bad shots cast a cloud over the good ones. Appreciate the putts you hole and don’t allow the ones you miss to drive you to despair.

Be grateful for the opportunity to you to play the game you love. Enjoy the freedom and companionship you are so fortunate to experience and try not to take it for granted. Enjoy being creative with your shotmaking. Appreciate the golf course and the questions the course designer or architect is asking of you on each and every shot.

Playing golf is something you choose to do for whatever reason or reasons. You will have your own personal WHY, so don’t lose sight of that when things don’t go your way. 

Essentially, enjoy the greatest game of all, regardless of what it throws at you.

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” Arnold Palmer.

Long live The King and long live golf.

Let’s play golf….soon

40 years ago, Chevy Chase uttered the immortal words “Let’s play golf” in the classic golf movie Caddyshack.

Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before these words are echoed on golf courses when we are finally allowed back out to play the game we have all missed so much during this period of lockdown.

There are parts of the world where playing golf hasn’t stopped and if you are lucky enough to be in that minority, I do hope you truly appreciate your good fortune. There are probably hundreds of thousands who would do almost anything to be in your spikes right now. I know we don’t wear spikes anymore (how I miss the sound of spikes on tarmac walking from car park to first tee) but you know what I mean.

Everywhere you look on social media, golfers the world over are continually expressing their frustration at currently not being allowed or able to play at the moment. From weekend hackers to seasoned Tour Pros, their shared desire is to play golf.

Not work on their swings, not hit hundreds of balls with the same club from the same spot to the same target but to actually play golf. Admittedly, ranges and practice areas are unlikely to open at the same time as golf courses but my point here is that everyone I speak to actually wants to play golf, on the course.

What this tells me is that we play golf because we love playing golf. We miss “playing the game” and all the challenges that come with it.

What is it that we miss? That is the million dollar question. We all play the game for different reasons. Some like the camaraderie. For others it is the opportunity to be out in nature, breathing fresh air. Competition is the motivation for some, while others appreciate the architecture and design features. There are those who love the challenge of trying to improve and shoot lower scores.

We all long for the feeling of that well struck drive and watching our ball split the fairway. The sensation we experience when we hit an iron shot flush dead centre in the middle of the face is one we all love and crave in equal measure.

Whatever your personal “why”, your personal “thing about golf”, make sure you place ENJOYMENT high on, if not at the top of your list when we do get back out there.

As someone a lot wiser than me once said, “Ask yourself why you play golf, when you play golf.” Think about that for a minute. There is much wisdom in what might appear a simple question.

When we are shown the green light to play, don’t stress when one of your playing companions tells you that you lifted your head, bent your left arm in your backswing or that your swing was too fast. Forget the regurgitated cliches, which are probably well wide of the mark anyway, simply appreciate the opportunity to play golf. After all that is what we have all been asking for as golfers.

If you see a member of the Greenkeeping staff, please thank them for all their hard work. They play a massive role in your enjoyment of the game but are often under-valued and overlooked.

Until the time comes, don’t wish your life away dreaming about that opening tee shot or winning putt, take action and head over to our store by clicking here.

Let’s play golf…..soon.

Until next time, stay safe, take care and appreciate all we have today.

Gary Nicol

Thoughtful Thursday: Golf courses are ready for play, are you?

While we have all been desperate to get back out on to the golf course due to the pandemic or the recent bad whether, please think about the above question.

As it stands, golf courses in Scotland are still open, with two balls being used. However, golfers in England aren’t as fortunate and haven’t had the chance to play since the turn of the New Year.

Most of us have been doing as advised and staying at home. That is not necessarily the case for green keepers, some of whom have been working tirelessly in our absence. I know that is the case at Archerfield Links, (where I am based) with Steve Cram’s team who have been doing some outstanding work.
By and large, green keepers are the unsung heroes of the golf industry and as far as I am concerned, they deserve all the plaudits they receive.
Rarely have I seen any course look better prepared for the lucky members. Not a pitch mark in sight. Long may that continue.
When I was growing up learning to play the game, my late father, who was a stickler for the rules and etiquette, always reminded me to fix my own pitch mark plus one more. Something I still do to this day. Some might say I have pitch mark OCD!! Fixing ball marks on greens is the responsibility of golfers, not green keepers. Pitch mark rant over.
When any golf course looks and plays well, those playing it tend to think “Well so it should, that’s what we pay our subs for.” However, if there happens to be a minor blemish or the slightest imperfection, there are always one or two who can’t wait to complain. I have seen this all over the world for the last 30 plus years.
Have you ever stopped to thank the greens staff? Have you ever written a letter to say thanks for all their hard work? If so, good on you.
If not, maybe it’s time you did. I know for sure that they would definitely appreciate it.
Trust me, the green keeping fairies do not visit your local golf course to sprinkle their magic dust over the tees, fairways and greens when we are all tucked up in bed at night.
Most of the best green keepers I have had the good fortune to spend time with over the years take enormous pride in their work. They work longer hours than they are paid to and rarely complain about it. They are a rare breed indeed.
Next time you play golf, wherever and whenever that may be, take a minute or two to look around and appreciate the hard work that goes into preparing a golf course. We all know how difficult it is to even keep a garden looking half decent, so can you even begin to imagine what it takes to present a golf course in magnificent condition?
Golf course prepared and ready – ✔️
While the golf course may be ready for play, are you?
Have you managed to stay active and keep moving through this crazy and worrying time? Whether you have or not, please be careful when you do get back out playing again. Yes, you want to smash your first tee shot down the fairway but if you haven’t or even if you have been exercising the muscles required to play golf, just be careful you don’t do yourself an injury in the process.
Take a bit of time to warm up. If the range is open hit twenty or thirty shots with different clubs, once you have warmed up your muscles and loosened off any stiffness in your joints. If not, please take time to warm up sufficiently. I am no health professional, so I won’t be prescribing a warm up routine, I’ll leave that to the experts. You might want to check out for some advice in that department.
Have you used this time away from golf wisely to learn more about the game and what it means to you? I don’t mean watching hundreds of confusing and conflicting YouTube videos about how to fix your slice or hit it ten yards further. In my experience, jumping from one quick fix to the next is the fastest way to make sure you never get any better at this game. Why? Quite simply because these videos do not know your golf game or you as a golfer. Some online advice is great if it’s specifically designed for you but some of it is, well I’d rather not say as my language may become somewhat colourful.
Prepare yourself mentally as well as physically and be prepared to deal all this wonderful game throws at you. Embrace the chaos that is almost certain to ensue sooner or later.
Ask good, simple questions. What is the shot here? Is it possible this shot could be the best shot I have ever played? What does a good shot look like? What is the golf course designer asking of me here? Ask good questions and you will come up with good answers.
Ask bad questions and I think you know what will happen there…
If you are as well prepared as the golf course you are about to play, you might just play the best golf of your life.
To find out more about asking good questions, visit – where there are a couple of books and digital download videos that may well help your on your journey to enhanced performance and perhaps more importantly, enjoyment.
Until next time.
Take care, stay safe, play safe and appreciate the opportunity.
Gary Nicol

Thoughtful Thursday: What does golf mean to you?

Sitting here in the Home of Golf, watching on as golfers in England are putting their point across to try and open their golf courses again,  I ask myself this question. What does golf mean to me?

The more I think about my own answers, the more I believe it would be a great question for all golfers to ask themselves.
There are no right and wrong answers here, just like the golf swing. We are all unique, we see, feel and experience things differently.
Golf means many different things to me. I have been around the game pretty much all my life. Playing, caddying and coaching have been part of my daily like for over 40 years. If I haven’t been actively doing one of these, I have been reading about, listening to and talking about golf. Sometimes I even watch it on TV.
Golf has allowed me to travel the world. I have seen parts of the world that I wouldn’t ordinarily have seen. I have eaten in fantastic restaurants and stayed in some amazing hotels. For the record, I have also eaten some crap and stayed in some pretty sub standard accommodation but that has all been part of the fun.
I have played some of the best courses on the planet and walked round many more, watching some of the tournament professionals I have worked with plying their trade.
Golf means being outdoors. Golf means or certainly meant travel to me for a long time. It means constantly learning and adapting to this ever changing world. Learning about new technology. Learning about the very latest research on how we learn, not just what we “should” learn.
Golf means being creative. Whether that is creating shots and putts on the course or being creative when thinking of how best to help the golfers I work with to become happier more satisfied players and perhaps more importantly, happier and more satisfied people. Being creative, writing books and blogs. Golf makes me think. It keeps my mind active even if we can’t actually play at the moment.
Having said all that, what golf really means to me is people. I have met hundreds of amazing people all around the world over the last 30 plus years.
Golfers of all standards from absolute beginners to Major Champions. Tournament officials, fellow coaches, physios, mind coaches and caddies from every corner of the globe.
Golf has been good to me. Golf has taken me around the world and allowed me to experience many things but above all, golf to me means fun and laughter with all the people I have met, many of whom I still stay in contact with.
Whatever golf means to you, don’t forget the people you meet along the way that put a smile on your face. We could all do with something good to happen in our lives at the moment and while hitting golf shots might give us some pleasure, in a time of physical distancing, please don’t distance yourself socially.
Pick up the phone, send a text, arrange a Skype call or set up a Zoom session with the people you care about. Share stories about the good times you have enjoyed. Golf has always been in my life but people and the happiness they have brought me, are my life. Ultimately, the sense of community is what golf means to me.
What does golf mean to you?
Gary Nicol

Triple Track Tuesdays: Are you using the correct putter?

Gary Nicol has teamed up with National Club Golfer, Callaway and Odyssey’s Triple Track ball and putter technology to create a special series of putting videos.

Using techniques from The Lost Art books, co-author Gary Nicol will help you look at putting in a new way. These videos are guaranteed to give all variety of golfers a whole new perspective on the greens.

All of our videos were filmed at Archerfield Links in Gullane.

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Triple Track Tuesdays: How to take the guesswork out of putting

Gary Nicol has teamed up with National Club Golfer, Callaway and Odyssey’s Triple Track ball and putter technology to create a special series of putting videos.

Using techniques from The Lost Art books, co-author Gary Nicol will help you look at putting in a new way. These videos are guaranteed to give all variety of golfers a whole new perspective on the greens.

All of our videos were filmed at Archerfield Links in Gullane.

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