A fantastic week on the Captain’s Tour, based at the Crowne Plaza Hotel down by the River Mersey in Liverpool. Brilliant weather and a great group of guys to enjoy some fine links style golf courses bringing back happy memories of my time as a History student at the University of Liverpool in the early 1980s. My Tutor had a house in Hoylake and Royal Liverpool was the home course for the University Team. This week we played Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool, Formby, Royal Lytham & St Anne’s and West Lancashire GC, which is celebrating its 150th Anniversary. Top marks go to Royal Birkdale for a terrific welcome there and a superb evening meal overlooking the famous 18th Green Members. I always love Formby GC with its pine forest and interesting lay
out. But best of the lot was West Lancs – in superb condition, a true links with two loops of nine and its raised tees giving great views of each hole.
Congratulations to the Blue Team on the 17 – 13 victory. Some very close matches going to the final putt on the last green each day. After Formby we were well poised at 9 – 9.
Well done to the Reds, led by Duncan Quigley, who made a great fight of it!
Once again, backing up his triumph in Ireland, Sean McDonough was eventually the individual champion, although Frank O’Hara looked set to take this accolade at one point. The final table in the individual league, based on Fourball Better Ball results, was as follows:
Note on Table above: 3 points for a win;
1 point for a halve; -1 for a loss; 1 bonus point for a nearest the pin or a longest drive.
Size of win or loss governed the goal difference column.
5 wins out of 5!
Unbeaten on the first 3 days.
4 wins out of 5.
Sorted the cards each day; many thanks to Graeme, also Paul H and Holty for assisting with this.
3 Nearest the Pins for the Blue Team.
3 wins out of 4.
Masterful job in charge of the kitty.
Crucial win with Frank on the last day!
Flanners won lots of longest drives…
Longest Drive and great birdie 3 on 18 at Royal Lytham
About 5 over gross for the week, Paul picked up most NP prizes for the Reds
Roger recovered well from a puncture in Lytham to post a halve and one win for the Blues. Well done Chelsea!
Picked up prize for most lost balls (17)
Played for both Teams! Counted him as a Blue!! Thanks for helping out.
Phil did not deserve to be last, also c5 over gross for the week, terrific golf every day, but lost every day! He made a great eagle on Hole 17 at Formby to get the match back to All Square. Well done to Holty for the birdie on the last to seal a blue win 1 up; typical of some very close matches on Tour.
First: David Waite (39 points)
Second: Paul Charles (36 points)
Third: Paul Cambridge (35 points)
Fourth: Nigel Bailey (35 points, on handicap)
Nearest the Pin: TBC
Twos: None? TBC
Best Gross: David Waite (73)
Tissue: Aaron Schaal (16 points)
Thank you to Joachim for deputising whilst I was away.
First: Derek Rogers (37 points)
Second: Joachim Friedl (37 points, on handicap)
Third: Daniel Cronin (36 points)
Fourth: Jeremy Sibbons (35 points)
Fifth: Hans Henrik Jensen (35 points, on handicap)
Nearest the Pin: Dan Bannister
Twos: Dan Bannister
Best Gross: Brian Samuels (+9), David MacGregor (+9)
DQ: Paul Cambridge TBC
Tissue: Ray Seamer (23 points, on handicap)
Thank you to Gary Ward for deputising whilst I was away.
– So much positive feedback; I’m so glad everyone had such a great time! Thanks to the weather and a great bunch of guys it was truly memorable!
– Such a great welcome at Royal Birkdale; good to play with Duncan and enjoyed seeing him hit most of the Par 5s in two.
– The holes along the Dee estuary at Royal Liverpool are the best ones on this course in my view and were a good test in the stronger breeze on Tuesday; the new Par 3, created for this year’s Open Championship, Little Eye, played as Hole 17, lived up to expectations. With a back pin, most of the Blue Team struggled to get anything to stay on the green, but Jon Barber got it to two feet – a notable achievement.
– Holty and I had a great match against Paul Holliday and Phil Fisher at Formby GC.
Both pairs managed Better Ball gross 69s. In the afternoon, Phil and I enjoyed an extra 37 holes on Formby Ladies, which is a gem of a track, a heather lined ‘Surrey’ type course laid outside inside the championship one. Taking a Men’s buggy on the Ladies Course turned out to be illegal so we had to start from Tee 1 again attracting the attention of the Fines Committee Chairman. We had a great game and Phil did eventually prevail 2 & 1.
– Royal Lytham & St Anne’s currently has 176 bunkers and some us found plenty of them, including me. It was still great fun and an interesting challenge.
– West Lancs was amazing. I was pleased to have 3 birdies in the first 5 holes on a flat calm day. I remember playing it 40 years ago in a very strong breeze – a totally different proposition. Paul Holliday had similar stories. He played incredibly well and he and Paul Symonds mounted a strong fight back from Hole 14 onwards to force Terry and myself to the last hole after we had been dormy 5 up!
– Restaurants wise we did very well. Highlights were Gauchos and San Carlo, but we saved the best to last – a great finale at Panoramic 34 with a 290 degree view of the City and Riverscape. Also the staff at the Crowne Plaza City Centre were extremely helpful and the hot tub and swimming pool were useful semi-cures for blistered feet.
– I’m sure everyone has lots of photographs and their own highlights. The Men now have a new Tour Team Trophy, acquired by DT, and it only requires minor repairs after the recent EasyJet flight! Photographs of its arrival in Manchester and the victorious Captain below:
Donations is basically the correct word. It started with my idea that all Tour fines would get donated to this important cause. A fabulous response guys! Thank you!!! Everyone has been extremely generous and the combined total now sits at about £2,250, when combining direct payments to me and the Just Giving Site which Graeme Willis kindly set up. I will be doubling this total when we wrap this up. I’ll consult with Graeme on this next week and report the final total raised. Below: Electric Trolleys – Job done; our most efficient kitty master picking up his Nearest the Pin prize, Hole 12 at Royal Birkdale; also Jim Jenet for the Blues at the same Par 3.
This is a great championship links and a pleasure to play. We had a brilliant day. A big thank you to our bus driver, Mike, who looked after us all week. It was about 10.30pm when weary legs started heading towards the coach after a superb evening meal. The catering staff were brilliant.
Overall Result: Blues 3 Reds 3
Nearest the Pin on Hole 7 for the Blues: Tony Holt
Nearest the Pin on Hole 7 for the Reds: Paul Holliday
Nearest the Pin on Hole 12 for the Blues: Jim Jenet
Nearest the Pin on Hole 12 for the Reds: Andy Stanford
Longest Drive on Hole 18: Klas Brand
Biggest margin of victory at Birkdale:
Ciaran Lally & Frank O’Hara 6 & 5 win over Tony Flanagan & Phil Fisher.
Two matches went to the wire on the 18th Green.
We again had a great welcome at Hoylake. The surrounds to the links were obviously looking a bit tired and in need of recovery after The Open Championship this year, but it was fun to play the course in the sequence used recently in The 151st Open. The course itself was in excellent condition and a great test of golf.
Overall Result: Reds 4 Blues 2
Nearest the Pin on Hole 13 for the Blues: Ciaran Lally
Nearest the Pin on Hole 13 for the Reds: Michael Keane
Nearest the Pin on Hole 17 for the Blues: Jon Barber
Nearest the Pin on Hole 17 for the Reds: Paul Holliday
Longest Drive on Hole 10: Tony Flanagan (probably the toughest hole on the day, as the breeze was strengthening as we reached this point and then turned for the sequence of 4 holes along the Dee estuary).
Biggest margin of victory at Hoylake:
Andy Macauley & Frank O’Hara 6 & 5 win over Kevin Bastone & Paul Holliday.
Two matches went to the wire and were halved on the 18th Green. A good day for the Reds!
This course is definitely one of my favourites!
Nearest the Pin on Hole 5 for the Blues: David Tyler
Nearest the Pin on Hole 5 for the Reds: Paul Holliday
Nearest the Pin on Hole 16 for the Blues: David Tyler
Nearest the Pin on Hole 16 for the Reds: Paul Holliday
The extra nearest the Pin on Hole 6 was won by Klas Brand (this is a blind second shot)
and the sleeve of balls was donated by Paul Holliday as it was his idea. A nice touch!
Longest Drive on Hole 10: Tony Flanagan (this was just a few yards past Holty’s!)
There were a number of entries for Norman Savitz and Julian Menashe, but I ignored these…
Overall Result: Blues 4 Reds 2
This made it 9 – 9.
Biggest margins of victory at Formby:
Graeme Willis & Frank O’Hara 6 & 5 win over Michael Keane & Patrick O’Sullivan; FOH was continuing in fine form with lots of birdie assists from GW.
Kevin Bastone & Tony Flanagan 6 & 5 win over Jon Barber & Roger Griffiths.
Three matches went to the wire and were won 1 up by the Blues on the 18th Green; a significant turn of events. Holty made a great birdie on 18; Ciaran holed a winning putt, but special mention must go to Jim Jenet. Most of us were enjoying a drink to the right of 18 Green and Jim was in the last group. He had hit a very good drive, but he then shanked his approach against the wall of the Club House and the rebound finished up very close to where we were all sitting. At this point we all gathered around the ball except for the official photographer and marshal (as you see on TV) and awaited Jim’s next shot. Under supreme pressure he chipped to 4 feet and slotted the putt for the win.
A good day for the Blues!
This is a very testing links with 176 extremely well placed bunkers. They are quite penal.
Your Captain visited about 8 of them, but fortunately I was quite good at escaping from them. However, it was weird how some of my best drives kept running towards them; perhaps Duncan was hexing me? Some very memorable holes. Here we had a few minor issues and had to make our own improvised nearest the pin and longest drive markers…
That was no problem at all for us; the non-existent email about dress code we were supposed to have received was slightly more difficult to understand. Nevertheless, we had another splendid day with some great golf!
Nearest the Pin on Hole 9 for the Blues: David Tyler
Nearest the Pin on Hole 9 for the Reds: Paul Symonds
Nearest the Pin on Hole 12 for the Blues: Tony Holt
Nearest the Pin on Hole 12 for the Reds: Paul Holliday
Longest Drive on Hole 18: Duncan Quigley (294 yards). Great birdie 3 mate!
Overall Result: Blues 4 Reds 2
This made it 13 – 11 to the Blues. Well played Blue Team! Four comfortable wins.
Biggest margins of victory at Lytham:
Tony Holt & Graeme Willis 5 & 3 win over Tony Flanagan & Paul Holliday
A pleasure to play here. Such a friendly welcome. A fabulous links course.
Nearest the Pin on Hole 3 for the Blues: Frank O’Hara
Nearest the Pin on Hole 3 for the Reds: Paul Holliday
Nearest the Pin on Hole 17 for the Blues: Andy Macauley
Nearest the Pin on Hole 17 for the Reds: Paul Holliday
Longest Drive on Hole 11: Tony Flanagan
Overall Result: Blues 4 Reds 2
This made it 17 – 13 to the Blues. Well played Blue Team! The Winners!
Biggest margins of victory at West Lancs:
Andy Macauley & Graeme Willis 4 & 3 win over Tony Flanagan & Andy Stanford
Jon Hale & Frank O’Hara 4 & 3 win over Patrick Holmes & Phil Fisher
The other 4 matches turned out to be very close. A great way to end the week.
On the admin front, a big thank you to Graeme Willis, Andy Stanford, Paul Mason and Duncan Quigley… Thanks guys! Ian & the team: Glass House Trophies in Gib – great job
Greens and ante-greens on the Old Course will be treated with fertilizer on Monday.
Weed treatment will be done on all the mulch areas to kill the existing weeds throughout the week. On Monday on the New Course the greens will receive a light top-dressing.
All tourists playing in the ACL match against Guadalmina on Wednesday should have a couple more ‘lie-ins’ to aid recovery! We need a good Team result in the Home fixture to build on the good Away performance. Bill and the skipper will certainly be looking for revenge and plenty of birdies! Good luck to Linda, Nicky and all the Ladies for their Tour.
Tuesday 12 September: Midweek Competition – Stableford
Wednesday 13 September: Men’s ACL Match v Guadalmina (Home)
Thursday 14 September: Midweek Competition – Stableford
Sunday 17 September: Ranking
Monday 18 September: Mini Quadrangular: Men v Ladies v Staff v Academy (Teams of 8)
Tuesday 19 September: Midweek Competition – Stableford
Thursday 21 September: Midweek Competition – Stableford (World Series)
Thursday 21 September: Solheim Cup Final Practice & Opening Ceremony
Friday 22 – Sunday 24 September: Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin
Friday 22 September: Nine & Dine & Pitching Competition (Finale with 3 Course Meal)
Saturday 23 September: Monthly Medal (63 Tees)
Tuesday 26 September: Midweek Competition – Stableford
Wednesday 27 September: Men’s ACL Match v Aloha (Home)
Thursday 28 September: Midweek Competition – Stableford (Mixed)
Saturday 30 September: Quadrangular at Las Brisas
Sunday 1 October: Ranking
Tuesday 3 October: Midweek Competition – Stableford
Wednesday 4 October – Friday 6 October: Peter Gustafson Pro-Am (OLD COURSE)
Thursday 5 October: Midweek Competition – Stableford (NEW COURSE)
On the final day of my Captain’s Tour we all thoroughly enjoyed playing West Lancashire GC which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. It was founded in 1873 by seven members of Royal Liverpool Golf Club anxious to expand the ‘Scottish national game’ by bringing it across the River Mersey. It has frequently hosted Final Qualifying for The Open Championship. In 1998, Paul Lawrie and Des Smyth led the field at level par, with 144. Matt Wallace topped the similar qualifying event this year with a total of -11. From the Club House balcony, with its beautiful flowers, it is easy to recall the words of poet John Betjeman who wrote of seaside golf links: “Lark song and sea sounds in the air, and splendour, splendour everywhere”. Happy Golfing and Swing it well this week!