Hi and thanks for stopping by. I have talked about starting a blog on the finer things in life for sometime now, but, I have struggled to find the inspiration to actually sit down and do it. As many of my friends know I work in Finance and my hobbies are golf, traveling and collecting fine wines. I hope to talk about everything important in my life on this blog as well as give some useful insight into how to invest for your future. I also want to discuss my hobbies in more detail as these are things I am passionate about.
Some of you may know that I have spent the last 9 months on a serious weight loss and fitness campaign. Getting to my final goal of losing 25kg is still going to take some time but I am working hard on achieving it. The aim is to lose the weight so I can become healthier and (hopefully!) improve my golf swing. Golf is a sport all about timing and if you carry too much weight it can become more difficult to control the club and keep the ball going in the right direction. So far, I have lost around 14kg and I can already see a massive difference. I am trying to run most mornings (which is not easy) but this a lot harder than I anticipated. It is so much easier to sit and drink a cup a coffee and watch the news than to put on the running shoes as get out the house. I aim for a couple of small sessions a week but so far I struggle to keep one going! This is something I am going to have to really work on it if I want to see progress.
My other passion is collecting wine which costs me the most money! Fine wines are expensive and you often find they do not keep as well as you had hoped! There is nothing worse than finding a decent bottle, storing it for years only to find it has gone off and you have to pour it away! I prefer red wines as opposed to white and I also have to be careful not to drink to much before golf the next day! Building a wine collection takes time and patience as well as a lot of cash, but, it is very rewarding and something you can do from home.
My professional life consists of sitting in a dull office running the accounting department of a medium size business. I am not sure what I was thinking when I chose this career as it really is not much fun. It does, however, pay well which allows me to follow my passions and attend to my hobbies. They also allow me to escape on Wednesday afternoons for golf I suppose we all have to do something as a career so we may as well choose something that offers security and a decent rate of pay.
Unfortunately, I do not get the chance to travel as much as I would like due to work commitments and a family (two kids at school makes it extremely difficult!) but I hope to pick it up as time goes on. There are many place in the world I would love to visit but I am going to have to plan that for later on in life.
I hope you enjoy following my blog and please feel free to email me if you have any thoughts or suggestions.
Although I do not have much to report this month I have to say that I have picked up a new hobby – interestingly this is something my kids have pushed on me and now I find myself really enjoying it! The hobby is online gaming and we even bought a brand new computer desk to play games on – check these out for some PC desk ideas if you are looking for one – and it has become the big family challenge to try and out perform each other. I am probably taking the most strain, for some reason kids are just quicker at learning this type of stuff, but I am seeing some slow improvement so hopefully I will be able to show them up very soon.
Getting into this has its problems though…. first off, my wife is not impressed at all as she has no interest in playing games but has to sit and watch the family keeping busy while she is excluded. We even had a small argument over our weekend plans as she wanted to get out the house and the rest of us just wanted peace and quiet to get on with our gaming:-) She ended up winning though, which is normal for most men. The other drawback is the equipment that is needed. When you get busy playing games like this it never seems to end – there is always a better computer or bigger sound system – let’s not even start on graphics cards and screen resolutions. I want my setup to be the best but when there are three people involved it does not make financial sense to keep everyone happy with the latest kit.
We mainly sit on Diablo 3 right now although we also enjoy playing Warcraft as well – the games that these guys make are really amazing and it can honestly keep you entertained for hours on end. Game-play is awesome and the story lines and graphics will blow you away. I guess for the younger generation this is all quite normal but for us older people it is quite an adjustment from the Space Invaders we used to play as kids.
I realize that many of you reading this will probably think I have gone slightly mad but I challenge you to try it out if you have never had a go at some of the latest games available. You might just really enjoy it!
In order to work on your golf swing from home you will need to make sure you have a decent golf net. Something like the return net is a good idea but those work out to be quite expensive. A net like this returns the ball to your feet after each shot making your practice time more useful as well as saving you from backache if you spend a lot of time practicing. Callaway also sell high quality nets in their quad net range so you may want to check out those as well.
Like anything else you buy in life you need to look at quality. Putting your net down and packing it away after each session can be a pain and cause you to stray from your practice schedule. If you can leave it assembled in between sessions then you will get a lot more use out of it. This is why it is important to buy quality so it can withstand weather and rain and you won’t have to worry about rust. You will also find lower quality nets have flimsy poles that wear after awhile and the whole thing becomes unstable.
If you are working with a golf simulator indoors then it really doesn’t matter which model you choose and in most cases you will not need a self standing model with a frame anyway. You can quite easily get the material on it’s own and fix it up to the roof. Just make sure you leave enough room between the net and the wall or you will end up with little holes peppered all over the place!
If your budget is already stretched and you don’t mind what it looks like then you can easily hang a sheet in place of a net to trap the golf balls. This is not ideal but it will do the job. Some of the modern projector screens are designed for this purpose and can serve a dual purpose, a screen and catch net.
I was lucky in a way and I found some material with smaller holes online and built my own system, this works out the cheapest and really does work nicely.
Just remember, if have a net a setup in the backyard then it may be doing more harm to your swing than good. Make sure you do not just stand there and hit balls without any plan or purpose. Unlike the range you cannot see where the balls are going so you could just end up damaging your swing instead of helping it! Always limit your practice time to ensure you are making the most of out it!
One of the discussions I have occasionally with my golfing buddies is on the subject of fitness and although many of them play golf weekly they seem to remain pretty unfit. Walking is obviously good for you, which is covered by the golf, but you still need to get the heart rate pumping by spending time in the gym or running around the neighborhood. Swimming is known to be one of the best forms of exercise as well as you end up using nearly all the muscles in your body – something not easily achieved doing other sports. Just playing golf alone will not keep you fit and healthy in the body and mind.
A strong mental focus is also needed for sustained performance on the golf course and I have often noticed those who can mentally focus for long periods of time excelling at this sport. It really takes take a lot out of you to keep that determination going right through to the eighteenth hole! Lack of focus often causes people to start making mistakes on the back 9 holes, ruining what could otherwise be a perfect game! Just look at Tiger Woods, although his golf swing is amazing his ability to remain focused (even after a bad hole) is what keeps him at the top. I don’t think I have ever come across a more focused golfer!
Improving Golf fitness often requires a lifestyle change that includes a regular exercise program as well as a healthy diet. I have found this to one of the most important factors in lowering my handicap and it really has paid off. I have slowly noticed increased stamina and improved concentration which has allowed me to play well over the whole course as opposed to half of it! This has allowed me to slowly drop my handicap while my other golfing partners struggle to keep theirs in one place! Check out more information here.
One of the benefits you will get from fitness is increased muscle flexibility which helps to keep you control your swing. The golf swing is not a natural move for the human body which is why many people struggle to play golf as it requires keeping several movements in check at the same time. If you are in shape you will find it a lot easier to keep everything fluid and you will end up hitting the ball a lot more consistent.
You can check out the video below for some good ideas and techniques to keep yourself fitter on the golf course and play a better game!
So, if you are looking for a new years resolution or you just want to improve your health and fitness then make 2014 the year you put in the effort, you will be quite impressed with the results and how they can affect your golf!
So, I mentioned in my welcome post that I am an avid wine collector. Collecting wine is not something that is easy to do and it does take quite some time before you learn the basics. Often people ask me how to get started and I normally tell them to spend some time on the internet learning about the different wines from around the world. A beginner also has to decide what taste they prefer as different wine regions produce vastly different styles. Even in the confines of Europe you can get many different wine varieties, just the difference between French and German wines can be massive.
In order to keep wine efficiently you will need to allocate yourself a storage area. Many modern homes do not have cellars, which is normally ideal, so you will need to design something. Often a cupboard works nicely as wine matures the best when it is away from disturbance, any type of light and sound. Temperature is probably the most critical point and if this is not right then you will simply spoil many bottles of wine. Storage conditions can vary between the types of wines you keep as well, reds and whites need totally different conditions.
One of the best ideas for a beginner is to invest in a wine cooler, these are available in different sizes and shapes and often the shelves can be re-configured to keep different shaped bottles with ease. Temperature control is a breeze with a cooler as you can just set the conditions up on the control panel. Many modern coolers also feature thermo-electric motors which produce zero vibrations which is important for longer term storage. They also keep humidity in check which can also become a problem. There are many benefits to getting yourself a decent wine cooler as an excellent first step for beginners. Visit this website to find out more about the different models currently available on the internet.
Storage configuration is also important if you keep bottles that are sealed with corks. Corks are slowly being phased out and you will notice more and more bottles fitted with screw tops. This is a big advantage as corks can break up over time spoiling the wine inside. Another important tip is to ensure you always keep your wine stored in a horizontal position, this is key to good success rates. This ensures the cork is kept moist and sealed. If the cork is allowed to dry out then it can shrink allowing air inside the bottle, a sure way to destroy a perfectly good Shiraz!!
I will detail my complete strategy for collecting wine and successful storage over the coming months so make sure you check back at my blog every now and then!
One of the biggest problems with the game of golf is trying to find enough time to practice. Golf is one of the those sports that requires consistent dedication and work if you plan to improve. You will probably find you need to work hard at your game just to maintain your handicap. Now, if you are like me and have a career and a family it can become almost impossible to find enough spare time to spend at the driving range. I aim to go there once or twice a week and get a round in on the weekends but that is often not enough. I decided early last year that I had to find a way to practice more without it taking up too much time, this lead me to the idea of getting a golf net.
I bought the Callaway Quad net as this looked like the best quality for the money and it is very easy to put up and pack away afterwards. Setting this up in the yard enabled me to spend a lot more time working on my swing without having to go anywhere. It even brought one of my sons to start playing the game as he would use the net when I am working. Eventually I noticed that the practice was really helping but it is still not the same as using the range as you cannot judge where the ball is really going. Speaking to one of my golfing buddies led me to thinking about installing a golf simulator at home. Click here to checkout some of the golf simulator models currently available.
After spending some time on the web I eventually settled on the OptiShot Golf Simulator from Dancin Dogg. This product is well priced and has all the features I was looking for. It ships with a reasonable selection of courses and you can download more from their website. Using the simulator gave me all the essential information that was missing from using the golf net. I am now able to see distance, trajectory, swing path, face angles and much more. The only downside to this product is that is does not work very well outdoors which is a shame as it can be awkward to setup a hitting area inside. The swing is captured using Infra-Red which does not work in the sunlight outside. I have the simulator setup in the garage ( you need a permanent place, it is too much work to setup after each session) and this has worked out for the best. You can see some screenshots from the simulator below.
Over the past year or so I have managed to drop my handicap by around 7 shots which is an amazing achievement when I think it was taking me years to drop a couple of shots without the ability to practice at home! If you love the game of golf as much as I do then I highly recommend you think about getting yourself a “golf studio” setup at home so you can work on your swing day or night – even the weather does not come into play!