Thursday, 17 December 2009

AROUND THE WORLD in 80 Days itinary

Leave UK 2nd January to SINGAPORE

staying at Siloso Beach Resort on Sentosa

6th Jan.............. playing at SENTOSA Golf Club......... were Ian Poulter won the 2009 Barclays Singapore Open last October....

9th January to 24th January in Australia

10th to 17th at The Magnificent Wrest Point in Hobart, Tasmania
17th to 24th at THE MENZIES Hotel in Sydney

11th, 12th, 14th, 15th playing in the Wrest Point Masters at Royal Hobart and Tasmania Golf Clubs.

20th Jan........... returning to the TOP RATED New South Wales Golf Club

25th Jan to 2nd Feb in New Zealand

Playing Kauri Cliffs on 26th Jan and Cape Kidnappers on 29th Jan

2nd Feb to 15th Feb in Hawaii at Waikiki Beach

Playing Koolau on 7th Feb and Waikiki on 12th Feb

16th Feb to 23rdFeb............ VANCOUVER for Winter Olympics and Golf at Mayfair Village on 19th Feb, weather permitting!!!!!!!

24th Feb to 5th march CALIFORNIA

playing............24th Feb.......... SPYGLASS ...........25th FEB.............SPANISH BAY
......................26th Feb.........PEBBLE BEACH
................28th Feb.....San Francisco Golf Club

5th March to 10th March..................at THE LUXOR, LAS VEGAS

playing..........BalaHai 8th March

10th March to 25th march................ at Home in Florida

playing.............The Black Bear on 20th March, first event of the Edwin Watts Tour 2010

CANT WAIT........... I will update regularly

Have a Great 2010..........................I WILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR

To brighten up the winter months I attach below several humorous golfing tales received from two of my chums....
The 1st and 3rd from Bob in Cambridge and the 2nd from Jim in New England. Keep um coming guys.....

Cheers and Enjoy

It was a sunny Sunday morning on the first hole and I was beginning my pre-shot routine, visualising my upcoming shot, when a piercing voice came over the clubhouse loudspeaker:"Would the gentleman on the women's tee back up to the men's tee please!"I could feel every eye on the course looking at me. I was still deep in my routine, seemingly impervious to the interruption.Again the announcement:"Would that MAN on the WOMEN'S tee kindly back up to the MEN'S tee."I simply ignored the announcement and kept concentrating, when once more,the man yelled:"Would the MAN on the WOMEN'S tee back up to the MEN'S tee, PLEASE!"Finally, I stopped, turned and looked through the window directly at the person with the mike. I cupped my hands and shouted back:"Would the c*** in the clubhouse kindly shut the f*** up and let me play my second shot?"

A businessman was attending a conference in Africa. He had a free day and wanted to play a round of golf and was directed to a golf course in the nearby jungle. After a short journey, he arrived at the course and asked the pro if he could get on."Sure," said the Pro, "What's your handicap?" Not wanting to admit that he had an 18 handicap, he decided to cut it a bit."Well, its 16," said the businessman, "But what's the relevance since I'll be playing alone?""It's important for us to know," said the pro, who then called a caddy. "Go out with this gentleman," said the pro, The businessman was very surprised at this constant reference to his handicap. The caddy picked up the businessman's bag and a large rifle; again the businessman was surprised but decided to ask no questions.They arrived on the 1st hole, a par 4. "Please avoid those trees on the left," said the caddy. Needless to say, the businessman duck-hooked his ball into the trees. He found his ball and was about to punch it out when he heard the loud crack of the rifle and a large snake fell dead from a tree above his head. The caddy stood next to him with the rifle smoking in his hand. "That's the mamba, the most poisonous snake in all Africa. You're lucky I was here with you."After taking a bogey, they moved to the 2nd hole, a par 5."Avoid those bushes on the right," says the caddy.Of course, the businessman's ball went straight into the bushes. As he went to pick up his ball, he heard the loud crack of the caddy's rifle once more, and a huge lion fell dead at his feet."I've saved your life again," said the caddy.The 3rd hole was a par 3 with a lake in front of the green. The businessman's ball came up just short of the green and rolled back to the edge of the water. To take a shot, he had to stand with one foot in the lake. As he was about to swing, a large crocodile emerged from the water and bit off much of his right leg.As he fell to the ground bleeding and in great pain, he saw the caddy with the rifle propped at his side, looking on unconcernedly."Why didn't you kill it?" asked the man incredulously."I'm sorry, sir," said the caddy, "this is the 17th handicap hole. You don't get a shot here."That's why you never lie about your handicap



A retired corporate executive, now a widower, decided to take a vacation. He booked himself on a Caribbean cruise and proceeded to have the time of his life, that is, until the ship sank. He soon found himself on an island with no other people, no supplies, nothing, only bananas and coconuts.After about four months, he is lying on the beach one day when the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen rows up to the shore. In disbelief, he asks, "Where did you come from? How did you get here?"She replies, "I rowed over from the other side of the island where I had landed when my cruise ship sank.""Amazing," he notes. "You were really lucky to have a row boat wash up with you.""Oh, this thing?" explains the woman. "I made the boat out of some raw material I found on the island. The oars were whittled from gum tree branches. I wove the bottom from palm tree branches, and the sides and stern came from a Eucalyptus tree.""But, where did you get the tools?""Oh, that was no problem," replied the woman. "On the south side of the island, a very unusual stratum of alluvial rock is exposed. I found that if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln, it melted into ductile iron I used that to make tools and used the tools to make the hardware."The guy is stunned."Let's row over to my place," she says. So, after a short time of rowing, she soon docks the boat at a small wharf. As the man looks to shore, he nearly falls off the boat. Before him is a long stone walk leading to an exquisite bungalow painted in blue and white. While the woman ties up the rowboat with an expertly woven hemp rope, the man can only stare ahead, dumb struck. As they walk into the house, she says casually, "It's not much, but I call it home. Sit down, please."Would you like a drink?"No! No thank you," the man blurts out, still dazed. "I can't take another drop of coconut juice.""It's not coconut juice," winks the woman. "I have a still. How would you like a Pina Colada?"Trying to hide his continued amazement, the man accepts, and they sit down on her couch to talk. After they exchange their individual stories, the woman announces, "I'm going to slip into something more comfortable. Would you like to take a shower and shave? There's a razor in the bathroom cabinet upstairs."No longer questioning anything, the man goes upstairs into the bathroom. There, in the cabinet is a razor made from a piece of tortoise bone. Two shells honed to a hollow ground edge are fastened on to its end inside a swivel mechanism."This woman is amazing," he muses. What's next? When he returns, she greets him wearing nothing but some small flowers on tiny vines, each strategically positioned, she smelled faintly of gardenias. She then beckons for him to sit down next to her."Tell me," she begins suggestively, slithering closer to him, "We've both been out here for many months. You must have been lonely. There's something I'm certain you feel like doing right now, something you've been longing for, right?" She stares into his eyes.He can't believe what he's hearing. "You mean..."he swallows excitedly as tears start to form in his eyes,"… You've built a Golf Course?"

G O L F ................................. Grow old living fine.............. cant beat it

GOOD HEALTH TO YOU ALL is my xmas wish to each and everyone of you next year..

remember there are no bad rounds of golf except the last you will ever play.



Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Europe beat USA in CYDER CUP



It belongs to Europe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The prestigious Cyder Cup by the first Tee at Celebration Golf Course for the first ever annual event between Usa Residents and European Nationals in Celebration.






It was due to happen, I was due one memorable round this trip and cor blimey what a Time to have it. Having been asked to play in this event I was paired with local Helicopter Pilot Matt Gallagher against strong US Pairing of mein host from the Celebration Tavern, Billy Bona fresh from his outing at the Disney Classic with Justin Leonard and His partner Craig. In truth of the 76 shots I hit there was only one bad one, the very first tee shot, I did suffer from first up nerves big time. A couple of long 3 putts but apart from that this was the best I played for years. Losing the first we went one up after 4 but faced being 3 down at the turn until Matt nearly hold an unbelievable bunker shot which left us two down at he turn. The Back nine saw some spectacular golf, a lot of it from me. On 16 facing the loss of the hole I played a miraculous short chip and 6 foot putt to keep us level, but this was eclipsed on 17 by Craig and Bill, with both, Matt and I hitting the Green, Bill entered the water and Craig pulled his miles left but then produced the shot of the day which Bill then followed with a 30 foot putt. We should have been one up but were dormie one. ON 18 I played an impressive 80 yard gap wedge to 6 feet which gave us two putts for the hole and a half which effectively clinched he trophy. What a feeling! A wonderful evening of celebration in Celebration followed. Not many red shirts in site around the bars just our blue ones worn with immense pride.




The magnificent 12th at Celebration were we drew back level
This concludes my golf this trip, The Amateur Finals, Lakeland Classic and Cyder Cup, not bad on The Social Golfers resume, plus I played several courses here in Florida for the first time.
Back home for Christmas, then Around the World in 80 days, can you Adam and Eve it, it has come round that quick. But not to forget my return to WREST POINT for the MASTERS, which Social Golfer will turn up, the disappointment at Hilton Head and Diamondback or the Successor at Celebration. You will of course be kept informed thruout the trip.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. iwh



Thursday, 19 November 2009

THE Social Golfer discovers a GEM of a course at Diamondback

Today I took advantage of the super offers at this time of year and headed South to Diamondback, a 4 1/2Star rated Golf Digest Course at the cost of just 35 bucks inc buggy. Great Weather, super company and a quite exquisite course should have lent itself to my best golf. Did It, you guessed it, I was dire, hardly hit a fairway, chipped like a novice, was in more bunkers than Rommell. Did I enjoy it, you bet I did.
The approach to the 1st Hole
I was joined by a lovely couple from Pinehurst, North Carolina, what a golfing pedigree. Mr and Mrs Mark Young were great company and no mean golfers, they both kicked my butt big time. They had that day become Grand Parents again, congratulations and Good Health to new baby Young.

One of the few water holes on the course but it caught me out

At least I finished well, my only good drive and a strong chip leaves me ready for Saturdays CYDER Cup Contest at Celebration between Europe and the USA.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A LEGEND ( or is it leg end ) plays LEGENDS

It was inevitable that I would play the Grandly named Legends Course at Clermont one day. Sister course of the much vaunted and highly rated Celebration Course, I passed this every time I visited the Bank and like a magnet it eventually drew me in and by the crin, I was not disappointed. The glorious 16th a Par 3 of 140 yards.

I had booked this via the course web site and had found a late special just 27 dollars for the round, inc buggy and discount vouchers for the pro shop, TREMENDOUS VALUE. I arrived early and was fortuitously paired with a lovely couple from Buffalo thats north New York to my English friends, Noel and Jeanne. They also have a home in Lakeland at Shalamar Creek, so looks like another course will soon be ticked off. They as I usually find were quite great company during the round. 1st hole all down hill 380 yards with great views of Lake Louisa. What a splendid way to start a round. The course was quite well tended, Greens quite magnificent. Again! In truth I have not encountered any bad greens his trip. The course meanders thru the Legends Housing Complex without any of the intrusion that certain other Florida courses have. Every hole seemed to offer a different challenge and with the company I was keeping the five hours passed all too soon.

The view from the course entrance.
The whole complex ouses class and I advise any visitor to include this in their itinerary.

The shuttle takes off as I am about to drive at 17
Yes we also got a spectacular view of the shuttle take off, only place I would have rather been than on this course that day........... up with those Astronauts.



Friday, 13 November 2009

The Lakeland Golf classic for YOUTH in CHRIST (Polk County)

Friday the 13th was not unlucky for me as I had been invited to play in the Lakeland golf classic at The Prestigious Club at Bridgewater Course in Lakeland, in support of the Youth for Christ Movement. As you are aware I always try to support causes close to my heart and the Youth for Christ Mission Statement as follows is one I can give me wholehearted support.

" YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like minded partners to raise up life long followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ and commitment to social involvement. " I can only say that if the youngsters I met today are typical of the members then the association are doing everything right and they should be suitably proud.

From the moment, I walked in the clubhouse, I was enveloped with a overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness and camaraderie that only occurs when an event is as well organised as this and the competitors so intent on fully supporting the relevant cause. I joined a team with 3 lovely gentlemen and fellow golfers the two Phils and Kermit and what a splendid day we had, shooting a competitive 71 but more importantly I hope established the beginning of a fond friendship. This is an event I hope to support regularly, and i was suitably proud and delighted with my golf designer lamp which i duly won.
Bridgewater is a typical parkland Florida Course with a links feel very similar to Southern Dunes. The Greens were excellent, my only complaint the lack of yardage markers around the course which certainly affected my short game. It is a relatively new course and facilities reflect this but the hospitality of the staff, compact nature of course, solid design and especially the Greens make this a very good value course. Today it complemented the competition, the people I met and played with. Further enjoyment, I felt truly blessed at the end of the day.

No Gators this time, but still enuff water to cause me trouble.


My team, Phil, Kermit and Phil........... 3 Great Guys



Colourful pants hey, aka John daly.... my outfit typified my joyous mood on this special day.
I wish all concerned the very best in the future, thanks to my team mates, all the very best guys and gals. A pack of my books are on the way and I hope these raise more funds for this worthy cause.
and so on to next week and THE CYDER ( Ryder Cup ) between Europe and the USA at Celebration Golf club sponsored by Shannons Irish Bar, when the Social Golfer represents Europe.........




Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Ode To The Social Golfer "He who loves to Golf"

whilst in venice, I came across this poem by american poet and artist SUZY TORONTO, even Matron agrees this accurately reflects my approach to golf better than anything she has seen.

Some Golf for exercise
Some for the thrill of competition
Others for Social or business contacts

BUT NOT YOU

You play simply for the love of the game
Doesn't matter where or with whom
Golf is in your blood

You dont even care
who kicks the ball out the rough
or fudges the score card
because its all about being on the course
only in competition with yourself

Perfecting your swing
and sinking the putt
Playing the game it was meant to be

Yes Golf is in your blood

You are " HE WHO LOVES TO GOLF"

I commend this to all my fellow social golfers as our official anthem.


Whilst in Venice, I acquired two superb limited golf prints of HILTON HEAD, obviously to reflect my Tour Nationals visit and Pebble Beach to celebrate my round the world trip. i could have filled my case up such was the quality of the work, I was truly in my element. For evidence of this go to www.gregshermanart.com or http://GregShermanArtLLC.blogspot.com Thanks Greg, I could have cleaned you out if matron had not already butchered the card

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

KISSIMMEE GOLF CLUB, Venice, The Art Fest and No room for my clubs

To keep in form prior to my last competitive rounds this trip, on Friday 13th, hope thats not an omen, I am playing in the Lakeland Golf Classic. I decided to visit for the first time Kissimmee Golf Club. In the literature it expounds itself as probably the best value golf in the are, some claim that but its not without some foundation. For less than 40 bucks it really is quite good value. The course located next to Kissimmee Municipal Airport, really more of what we would call an aeredrome, the Sound of the planes can become a little tiresome as the course meanders around the airfield. Very untypical Florida course, more of a parkland uk style course, not over long, superbly maintained and with excellent greens, I joined a father and son, the two Georges, down from Pittsburg and had a most enjoyable day. I played the best first nine of my tour, shooting 38 and driving supremely. The Back nine reverted to type but I had a great day on a very nice if not too challenging track, thought the people most friendly and i would return. Approach to the 12th, only 280 yards,dare you go all the way.



Last weekend we returned to visit for the Art Fest Weekend. This was my penance for us missing the annual Craft Fayre at Mount Dora, I was in Hilton Head, so Karen and I booked in the magnificent Horse and Chaisse Inn just two blocks from Downtown Venice with mein hosts Jon and Lois. The B and B experience in Florida is a truly rewarding experience and at The Horse and Chaisse you are assured the best that southern home hospitality can muster. The breakfasts are a true social experience were every sweet toothbud is catered for, not one for the diabetics. The art Fest was very enjoyable with well over 100 stalls with the best of local crafts and arts on display. Matron was in her element and the cash card took plenty of clog. When she packed, matron even though we were only going for 3 nights, took two cases leaving no room for my clubs so clearly this was going to be a spend spend not golf golf weekend.






yes I did enjoy this, although my wallet did not !!!!!!!!!!


On the sunday with the continuing good weather and as matron needed some exercise, should have took her clubs, we went strolling down venices totally unspoiled beaches collecting shark teeth, why they all come up here, needs further research.
what a spectacular coast line.

This coast has many fine golf courses and as a social golfer it satisfies and ticks all the boxes including the main one of keeping matron happy.

THE 3 WOOD

Whilst travelling to Hilton Head, it was my great pleasure to come across a fellow golfer, Mr Vincent Lawler, Vinnie was traveling to the Island for an annual reunion with his brothers. On the hour long flight we exchanged many golf tales and it transpired that he was a budding poet having penned the following missive for his favorite club, that is till I cured his slice by simply suggesting dropping the right foot back a bit. Perhaps this most durable of clubs in his bag will now have a bit of a rest now the big boy has come to the aid of the party.


The Three-Wood


Whether fine-crafted persimmon or tempered metal, the Three-Wood is always prepared to play.
Perhaps, not the biggest club in the bag, but others never fail to acknowledge its durable presence.

The Three-Wood sails the straight and consistent route. Strong and versatile. Soaring just a little bit higher than most, providing a balanced perspective.
What a game!

Its mark is true whether in the fairway or in the low-rough. Adjusting to the conditions. Never complaining about the lie.
It’s a match with any “big stick” when things are teed up, but it has no equal when the ground is level.

No need to impress while there’s yardage unmet. The “click” of a true, clean strike, its sole proclamation of lofty performance. Deferring always to the strokes played by the other clubs in the bag.
A unified vision for the round. Passion for the game.

Over the years, the Three-Wood has hoisted its many spheres like delicate progeny. Respectfully. Occasionally, dimpled by discipline, but always better prepared for the journey ahead. A legacy without par.

The Three-Wood’s essence has remained unchanged over the years (though the times have brought some minor expansion on all).
It has always anticipated and adapted, though never yielding to the fads nor the clamor for excess. That’s not how the game was meant to be played.
Semper fidelis.

And, now the turn has been taken back to the clubhouse. Still, plenty of fairways left to play. But, time, nonetheless, to pass the scorecard to the upcoming foursome - it has served its purpose well. For a new measure of success has sprung from challenges met and wisdom gained in the years of competition.
Mastery of the game.

Today, triumph comes in looking back upon endless links of achievement. For This Three-Wood has gracefully conquered both distance and terrain throughout the years, and along the many miles traveled. Yet, the course most to be savored..... the one to be perfected, remains that familiar green meadow nearest to home. VL



Once again on my travels I was fortunate to meet such a fine fellow gentleman and golfer, thank you Vinnie for allowing me to use your splendid piece. In my bag of course its the 5 wood that takes the plaudits, it is still black and blue and battered after the constant use it had at Hilton Head were it was needed on every approach, It was crying it was used that much. Perhaps the above tribute will encourage me to do a similar for my 5 wood, the work horse of my bag, the John Deere Tractor, the Jimmy Bullard etc, etc.,

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

HILTON HEAD The E Tour US National Finals

Last weekend saw me travel in style by plane up to Hilton Head for the National Finals. This was the culmination of my efforts on tour and I was determined to give of my best. I truly felt like a pro golfer as I travelled first class, was met at the airport and taken to the impressive Hilton Ocean Beach Resort in Palmetto Dunes. This is the life.
Success on tour equates to a room with a view

The Competition would be played over 2 days at the Shipyard Course on Saturday and the Fazio Course on Sunday. like many I found the Shipyard too long and set up very difficult, 92 was the leading score so my 102 put me in the middle of the field with little chance of success. The Fazio was a much more pleasant day with a shorter course and less penal set up and my 9 for a 200 total cemented a midfield position. In truth I could have gone higher but realising my top ten chances had gone I aimed in the back 9 for birdies to give hope of winning some cash in the skin but even that failed to materialise. However I did have a marvellous time, meet some great people, sell many books and it has definitely got me desperate to return.




Kyle, the cool dude your Social Golfer and Long Driving Champ Dave at Ship Wreck as we nicknamed Saturday c0urse, Kyle shot 108, Dave 99 but both faired worse than me at Fazio. Two great Guys who hit the ball prodigious distances.



It does not help when you have to take a penalty drop.



Dave, Keith and Ray my partners on Sunday. Dave shot 93, Keith 98 and Ray 96 to all finish alongside me in mid field. Daves brother won the event shooting 93, 82.

The majestic Par3 17th at the Fazio... 170 yards all carry.

Hilton Head is located just north of Savanagh in southern Carolina... hosting over 24 magnificent courses including the US Tours Verizon Heritage at Harbour Town, but it is more than golf... it really is southern us hospitality at its best and worth a visit without the golf. A final point my American colleaues all prefer Hilton Head to Myrtle Beach saying the Golf is better and the place significantly cheaper than its much vaunted sister resort in northern carolina.

I headed back to orlando in style however my clubs went walkabout around the states courtesy of us airways turning up after a visit to New York, Chicago and Birmingham. A great weekend and I need to return to truly do myself justice.

A bit of a rest now before my Round the world trip and of course my return to the Wrest Point Masters, I may play in a couple of Scrambles here in the states and will keep you all updated.






Wednesday, 30 September 2009

TENERIFE THE 2009 JR CLASSIC

Pictured STEFF landlord Wild GEESE, Billy and Winner of JR CLASSIC Mike Roberts


A long weekend in Tenerife with twenty guys means golf, sun and sangria... And The Social Golfer enjoyed plenty of all three.
First the Golf............ my performances were 38 points Friday, 15 points Saturday, 30 points Sunday... Can you guess which night I got absolutely slaughtered on and The Bin men had
to get me home............ On Friday we played The Links 9 and he North Course 9 at Golf De Sur..also this included THE CHARITY GOLF EVENT run by THE WILD GEESE IRISH BAR... Mein host Steff deserves every praise for his unstinting support of the Childrens Charity in Tenerife and I was delighted to denote a pack of books and Social Golfer Tee Shirts to raise further funds for such a worthwhile cause.

The Golf De Sur was by far the best we played this trip although The Greens a little slow...
It has improved since I first visted 4 years ago. ( Review in first book THE SOCIAL GOLFER)
On Saturday we played Los Americos, my first visit. I was pie eyed and Could not see my ball. I was lucky to score 15 points
The 18th at Los Americos, a fine closing Par 5
This course should be a pearl.... it came highly recommended and indeed its location and layout are exceptional. The Greens however for the Start of their season were a disgrace. Shambolic putting was enountered by all. They were probably the worst Greens I have encountered in my Golfing Career.
The last day we returned to Amarillo, set on the coast, I particularly find this course appealing and with the wind blowing a real challenge. Once again the Greens disappointed but I still enjoyed this far more than Los Americos, but then again I was sober an Stan had given me a sleeping pill instead of pain killer, no wonder I was chilled.
As a Resort, The Island of Tenerife is struggling, The Euro is now making this an expensive place to visit. It has done little to change my original opinion in my First Ratings that it may be ideal for a BOYS TRIP , but I am sure Cyprus, Maderia would be preferred choces for Matron and I..
Sadly, I feel, presumably as the Economic Impact has affected summer bookings, The Golf Courses are being neglected. I would not at moment advice anyone to visit just for the Golf.... Golf and Night Life, perhaps.... but there is better golf to be had and for a lotc heaper around The Med.

I'm a Celebrity at The West Midlands Golf Course

The Ledge Skitty, Gentleman Tom and El Bandito Ralph on the 15th Tee after Ralph got us playing it the wrong way down the 17th, Ralph blames Tom, Tom blames Ralph, Steve is confused.

I was given the pleasure of representing a Stroke Association Team at the West Midlands Golf Club in The John Lowe, Frank Worthington Charity Classic..... I did some book signing before leading my merry trio as their appointed celebrity to 3rd Place with 92 points. On a fine course in glorious weather it was great to meet up again with Peter Shilton, Shell Macrea ( singer The Fortunes) Bobby Thompson so soon after Nailcote and the BP3. I won the nearest the pin on the magnificent 18th (Aka Sawgrass). The wives then joined us for a memorable evening at the Manor Hotel in Meriden. The presentation saw us given the winners prizes by mistake, Theres no way I was going to hand it back without milking it for all itwas worth. A fine day finished with a book selling which raised further funds for their charity Cancer Research. We also met a team from the British Amputee Golf Association, this was of great interest to me with my experience in The Disabled Open in Florida and gives me the contacts as well as impetus to involve these great guys in THE SOCIAL GOLFER OPEN, which I anticipate running next year.




The 18th a super climax all carry at 140 yards , I hit a 5 iron to ten feet for the nearest to pin, mis the birdie putt but finish a fine round with a Par. A Great day, Great People, many thanks to John, Frank and Des Blee Promotor for inviting me..... not sure the Term Celebrity really applies to me but so what.............
I AM ONLY EVER A YES AWAY FROM A ROUND OF GOLF

BLACKPOOL RUGBY CHARITY Event at De Vere

Bobby, Tim and Ralph at the 7th a glorious Par 3


Last week, I played in THE BLACKPOOL Rugby League Clubs Charity Event at The Glorious Herons Reach Course at The De Vere in Blackpool. I was partnered by long time golf buddy Ralph "El Bandito" Harwood, Club Chairman Bobby Hope and local businessman Tim Clokey made up our 4 ball and we finished a creditable 2nd. I am still awaiting my prize of a Coffee Maker but understand that some of the bedrooms in Bobbys Hotel now have such machines.Later that week Tim took all of us to His Lancaster Club and despite the rain we had a fantastic day, what a glorious course and club house (pictured above). I can wholeheartedly recommend this track to anyone. Bobby forgot my Coffee Maker but it did not detract from a round at one of the North Wests most prestigious but oft overlooked clubs. The 18th a short par 3 over a Ravine to the front of the club house is a stunning finale to the round. Thanks Tim.

THE MAYONNAISE JAR.....

Between the Bp3 and Tenerife, I have again undertaken some social work by speaking to fellow stroke victims and others traumatised by ill health problems. I am indebted to my good friend Bob McAllister (no mean golfer himself) who sent me the following, which I use to emphasise the importance of HEALTH not WEALTH.

A prominent professor had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, He picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students, If the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.The pebbles rolled into the open Areas between the golf balls. He then asked The students again If the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand And poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded With a unanimous 'yes.' The professor then produced Two cups of coffee from under the table And poured the entire contents Into the jar, effectively Filling the Empty space between the sand.The students laughed. 'Now,' said the professor, As the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that This jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things God, your family,children, health, Friends, and Favourite passions Things that if everything else was lost And only they remained, Your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter Like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else, The small stuff.'
If you put the sand into the jar first,' He continued,'there is no room for The pebbles or the golf balls.The same goes for life.If you spend all your time And energy on the small stuff, You will never have room for The things that are Important to you.'Take care of the golf balls first They are the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'One of the students raised her hand And inquired what the coffee represented.The professor smiled.'I'm glad you asked'. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for A couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'

To all my fellow social golfers, never forget no matter how good the golf, how much you love your golf, there are believe it or not some things more important... and with that I now embark on a month that will see me play as a celebrity in The Frank Worthington, John Lowe Classic, travel to Tenerife for the JR Classic and culminate at Hilton Head in South Carolina in the E Tour Nationa Finals. I am extremely fortunate but it all starts with the golf balls.

Good Health to you all and I look forward to our two coffees!!!!!!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

THE BRITISH PAR 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

One that didnt get away, Ian slides in a birdie
The magnificent Nailcote Hall, truly a super venue for such
a prestigious event.

This event remains the highlight of the Social Golf calendar, it is that good, that I postponed a trip to Florida to play in the 2nd Major on the Edwin Watts Tour at the prestigious LPGA Club at Daytona and I am delighted to say once again I was not disappointed, this event gets better and better. A 4 day golfing extravaganza featuring from the European Tour, Graeme Strorm, Lee Slattery, Stephen Richardson.. hosted by the legend that is Tony Jacklin also featuring the European Senior Tours most winningist Fine Gentleman Tommy Horton….. and from the world of sport, Peter Schmeikel, Peter Shilton, Frank Worthington, Alan MacInally, Bob Champion….. from TV, Jasper Carrot, William Roach and many many more……….. put this in a competive environment, with paying public and tv cameras, it quite simply is as close as it gets for a social golfer to feel part of the tour……. Priceless..

This year, I Played with Tommy Horton in the first celeb am day and what a pleasure that was, quite memorable filled with wonderful anecdotes, little hints and for myself and my teammates a small window into the thought processes of a tour veteran. Many thanks Tom………. On the last day in the 2nd Celeb Am, we were joined by my good friend Clive Abbot of the Showpiece band The Black Abbots. Clive really is a most accomplished golfer and as usual was great company. He played sublimely. On both days despite some good golf, we simply failed to take our numerous birdie chances and sadly finished out of the places.

In the Pro Am, I partnered Suffolk Pro and Par 3 regular Andrew Collinson, and over the two days we got to know him and his good wife and I was proud to be his partner. They are lovely people and I wish them every success in the future. On day 1, I was overawed a little but Andrew played exceptionally coming in at two under which led all day until South Staffs Pro Steve Carter came in on 4 under. A sprightly Tommy Horton, clearly benefitting from all my advise was third at one under, no one else under par. This meant we would be in the last group on the final day and what a memorable day it would prove to be.

In tremendous rain and followed all day by the TV Cameras….. watch out for me in my trademark yellow trilby…….. Steve and Andrew put on a masterclass, it was thrilling, exciting, compelling and could have gone any way until Andrews unlucky bunker lie on the 14th. Steve held his nerve well to win by one shot and I was whilst sad for Andrew I was particularly delighted for this fine young man and exhilarated to be part of his triumph. Also with another class act Paul Cavill his amateur partner they won the team event. Pauls delight and that of his wife in winning a trip to Mauritius was again a special moment. With regard to them all, I sincerely hope our friendships formed in the heat of competition remain and look forward to meeting up with them all again. I wish particular good fortune to Andrew and Steve and wish them every success in the Tour Events for the rest of the year.

In the team event we finished 6th on nine under……….. level with the Great Tony Jacklin…… that’s one for the scrapbook………

If you love your golf, cancel your trip to Spain and play in this event….
See www.britishpar3championship.co.uk

THE PEOPLES OPEN Qualifier at HILL VALLEY

The 18th at Hill Valley
HE MAJESTIC HILL VALLEY 13th Drive

A Couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of participating in the above event. This is an amazing, novel, fantastic, concept open to golfers of all abilities.
There is the OPEN for the finest pro golfers held each year at one of the countries finest links courses. We then have the British Amateur which is open to the finest amateur golfers in the world; both theses quite naturally are open to the best exponents of our fabulous game. The peoples open is a series of qualifiers open to any golfer with a recognised handicap. The qualifiers from the regional heats go thru to a televised national final at that years open venue, i.e. last year Birkdale, this year Turnberry and next year most fantastically St.Andrews. This concept will effectively find the countries top golfer on a given day who plays beyond his/her handicap and scores most stableford points. Back this up with qualifiers played at some of the countries top resort courses and absolutely outstanding of course administration, this event deserves to be lauded as probably the best of its type in the world.

See http://www.pogt.co.uk/ and ensure you join me and the hundreds of others in 2010 in attempting to reach the holy grail of The Old Course. Imagine becoming a national champion at the home of golf. Yes that is the realistic possibility this magnificent competition affords.

As for this year, I sadly won’t be going to Turnberry, my golf game at the splendid Hill Valley, Simply was not good enough on the day as I trailed in with a disappointing 20 points. It could not detract from meeting and playing with some fine people and again getting the competitive buzz that playing in such a well organised tournament gives. Hill Valley is quite a splendid location for a social golf break. Excellent rooms overlooking the first tee and 18th green, great spa and pool facilities, fine bars and restaurant, backed up with a fine championship course, but even more golf friendly smaller course which would be a error to miss out on if you visit here.

In fitting with the summer weather we had, it tippled down all day, the Championship course off the back tees was far long for me having to carry my bag as i had to, i was physically shattered by the turn. It required straight driving, Greens were superb, my only complaint, the 4 par 3s, quite long, all approaching 200 yards were too similar and lacked any character, which was quite out of sinc with rest of course. The 18th is a Gem.





A Fine day was not ruined by the rain and I will return




Wednesday, 8 July 2009

THE SOCIAL GOLFER AUTUMN/WINTER ITINERARY... THE ART AND BEAUTY OF GOLF IN WORDS

I have now – I hope – finalised my plans for rest of year, which are:

JULY 30th…The People’s Open at Hill Valley, Whitchurch. This is my first time at this prestigious event and the first time at this course. I have no doubt the competition will be unbelievably intense.

AUGUST 4th to 7th. I hope to return to the British Par 3. This remains the highlight of my year, where stars from entertainment and sport, such as Bill Roache, Willie Thorne, Peter Shilton, Tony Jacklin and many more converge with PGA Tour stars such as Graeme Storm, Lee Slattery and us lucky amateurs in a hedonistic four days of golf around the fabulous Nailcote Hall Championship Course.


Ian at the 2008 British Par 3

Magnificent 7th hole at Nailcote

The Championship has played a focal part in my recovery from stroke: in fact it is where I met the inspiration for my book, the great old pro, Bernard Hunt. I have made numerous friendships from the event and launched my book at the 2008 British Par 3. The course, despite its 9 holes and yardage, obtained the prestigious Albatross Rating - the experience is that good! Go to http://www.britishpar3championship.co.uk/ for details about how to join this golfing extravaganza.

Ben Crenshaw, a lover of the par 3, famously said “ quite selfishly, I would enjoy seeing more short par 3 holes, for they are the way to check unbridled power and occasionally make those long hitters’ knees tremble.” This happens at Nailcote where in 2007 I saw a pro take 13 at the 150 yard signature 9th hole. I won’t name him because he his now a chum, but at Nailcote you stand on every tee feeling you are in with a chance at least equal to your pro colleagues. Until you swing of course!

In late September, I hope to join, big John again in Tenerife to play in the JR classic.


The lads in Tenerife

In October, I hopefully will be representing the Orlando Florida Tour at Hilton Head.

And then in November, I hope to organise the first Social Golfers’ Tour To Florida

I have become a Golf aficionado – anorak you might say – and my love and passion for golf now involves reading as many articles and opinions as I can, and collecting as many glorious pictures of the stunning golf holes as I am able, but a particular interest is the collection of the many superb comments, quotes and paraphrases regarding golf which I bring into my business life. Every day I end each email with a Today’s Thought and this is usually a comment or opinion I have read and then believe particularly pertinent to the way I feel that day. The following are some of my phrases and their relevance to me.

My two favourites, which following my illness is the way I now try to look to life. This week tragically I learned that a business colleague had lost a young child just short of his first birthday. The poignancy of these comments is particularly relevant now as I wonder about God’s grand design.

“As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses; you only get to
play one round.” BEN HOGAN

“Health not wealth should be man’s primary concern”

I believe that golf can bring out the best and worst in person. I have met some truly wonderful people on my travels and had I not had my stroke, without doubt this would not have been possible.

“Golf enables us to advance in the great business of being a human being” CHARLES MACDONALD.

“GOLF reflects the cycle of life. No matter what you shoot…The next day you have
to go back to the first tee and begin all over again and make yourself into something” PETER JACOBSON

“In golf character is laid bare to character. This is why so many friendships and some enmities are formed on the links. A.HAULTAIN

Golf requires an individual to use virtues which, perhaps as in my case, are particularly alien in the normal daily routine - in particular, patience, the ability to acknowledge failure, honesty, integrity and humour...

“Golf is the infallible test...The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies is the man who will serve you faithfully” and
“The only way of finding out a man’s true character is to play golf with him. In no other walk of life does the cloven hoof so quickly display itself.” P G WODEHOUSE

“18 holes of match play will tell you more about your foe than 19 years of business dealings.” G RICE

“The struggle of the game, that’s a big part of my life, a big part of the fun of my life, ARNOLD PALMER.

“Golf without mistakes is like a dinner without wine” JIM MURRAY

“One minute you’re bleeding, the next minute you’re haemorrhaging, the next minute you’re painting the Mona Lisa.” MAC OGRADY

“Playing the game, I have learned the meaning of humility. It has given me a better understanding of futility of the human effort.” ABBA EBAN

ADAGES I often use in business dealings…

“It’s all a matter of getting out of bad situations with the least amount of damage.” RICK RHODEN

“Winners listen to people. They are always trying to learn. They respect other people’s opinions. Losers just want to talk. DOUG SANDERS

“There is no such luck as bad luck. Fate has nothing to do with success or failure, because that is a negative philosophy that indicates one’s confidence, and I’ll have no part in it. GREG NORMAN

“Golf puts a man’s character on the anvil and his richest qualities, patience, poise, restraint…to the flame” BILLY CASPER

“If you wish to hide your character, don’t play golf” PERCY BOOMER

I have had the opportunity, following my illness, to play with many professionals and I remain in awe of their talent when compared with my golf which could be described as:

“An endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle.”


Or as Bing Crosby put it “my Golf is woeful but I will never surrender.”

But golf despite my limitations in playing it gives a perverse pleasure in failure and unrivalled expectations of anticipated success.

“Obviously, yet mysteriously, golf, furnishes it’s devotees (me) with an intense, many-sided, and abiding pleasure unlike which any other recreation affords” HERBERT WIND

I cannot explain the feeling when a masterful shot comes off. Every shot I play, I imagine a great result but inevitably because of my talent mediocrity results.

“The occasional great stroke of the poor golfer remains a joy forever”

The Great Bobby Jones probably had a round of mine in thought when he is attributed with saying

“on the golf course, he may be the dogged victim of inexorable fate, struck down by an appalling stroke of tragedy become he hero of unbelievable melodrama, or the clown in a side-splitting comedy.”
“Don Quixote would understand Golf. It is the impossible dream.” JIM MURRAY

“Golf is a simple game, made difficult by man.” TOM HALIBURTON

“Golf beats us all, and that is the chief reason we shall never cease loving her.” ROBERT HUNTER

“Golf is the pursuit of the infinite. JIM MURRAY

“It is one of golf’s greatest ironies and merits that the poorer player derives more pleasure from the pastime than the experienced practitioner.”

“Golf is so popular simply because it is the best game in the world at which to be bad.” AA MILNE

My golfing desires now resolve more around the beauty of the golfing environment rather than the thrill of competition. No other sport reconciles the natural beauty of its surroundings with the importance of the natural elements. I adore looking at stunning holes, and playing them well becomes a bonus. I often now play on my own and stop for many minutes on a hole, listening to the wildlife, watching the surf, simply taking in the whole surroundings.


What can be better than this stunning par 5 fifth at New South Wales golf club?
“A golfer traverses broad acres of the green earth rejoicing in the fact he sees the end from their beginning. He has escaped from macadam and asphalt and the madding crowd.” R S WEIR

“I love the fairways with such lovely turf that can put a little spring in the most leaden and depressed foot.” BERNARD DARWIN

“Golf brings us consolation as we walk its open spaces and it offers us a subtle balance of companionship and solitude.” L RUBINSTEIN

“Golf… satisfies the spirit. You are out in the grass and the trees. You are out there
with nature. You’re not really competing with each other, your competing against yourself, the course and the elements.”

“Golf is a game which the player’s true opponent is the golf course. That is why the game can be enjoyed in solitude or with other golfers of every calibre and age. REES JONES

Any pictures, views, opinions, comments will be gratefully received...

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Homeward Bound and Matron takes up Golf, Social Golfer Ratings Update, Conclusions and the Brew Story. One final Hooray, Pairs Victory!

Once Twice, Three Times a Champion - Someone Must Love Me!
Homeward Bound and Matron takes up Golf, the Social Golfer Ratings updated Florida Section, Conclusions and the Brew Story. One final hooray, Pairs Victory at Championsgate.

We are heading for home with an extra case of baggage in tow. Karen after many years as a golf widow has taken up my offer to spend some of my winnings on a set of ladies clubs, and damn fine value they are too courtesy of tour sponsors Edwin Watts. First problem is Karen doesn’t know if she is right or left handed. She writes, irons, paints, bowls and thumps me left handed but plays Badminton and Crazy Golf right handed. After whacking a few balls both ways we all concur she is orthodox and no Phil Mick!

We visited Polo Golf Club, a fine little par 3 on a retired community where Karen once parked her buggy in a bunker on her first ever visit to the golf course. She had also come across golf protocol on this visit when ordered to wear appropriate golf attire (too much bosom on display). So, armed with her own clubs and unbridled enthusiasm we hit the course. She is keen and with the driver hits a mean ball occasionally, shorter iron and the putter she has a touch like a bull in a china shop, but she wants to hit the range when we return and that bodes well for me as I need all the practice I can get.

I have had a wonderful time golfing in Florida this time and have updated the Florida section of the Social Golfer site as follows, following my experiences this time: Bay Hill and Bella both receive the Albatross award. Both were memorable days on fabulous courses right up there with the very best. Both only miss out on joining The Gary Player at Sun City and Royal Melbourne and New South Wales golf clubs in Australia as top rated “hole in one course” on the grounds of cost and accessibility to play. Quality unfortunately does cost and can come with exclusivity but I am certainly grateful I had opportunity to play these superb tracks.

I have played, for the first time, the following courses, all within an hour of Orlando and my home: on the Space coast, at Verio, the Duran Golf Club and In Titusville, the Great Outdoors Golf Club. I would rate both Eagles. At Duran, the Greens were quite exceptional whilst at The Great Outdoors, I felt the course merged superbly into the surrounding wildlife parks and produced several holes of particular beauty and challenge.

On tour I played Stoneybrook West and Metro West for the first time. I would rate both as Birdies as the former in particular suffered from the difficulties of the hot weather and the course was not in particularly good condition . Metro was enjoyable but the greens very poor, which was a pity because it has several interesting, beautiful and challenging holes.

Since my original book and following many visits, I feel obliged to upgrade Mystic Dunes and both Championsgate Course, the National and International to a Albatross Rating. All three remain true golfing challenges with well manicured fairways and greens. It is difficult to pick fault with them at all except cost, they are again expensive when compared with many of the other fine tracks in the vicinity. I have pleasure in upgrading three fine courses on the Orlando Trail, Ridgewood Lakes with the Greens that are probably the best maintained in Orlando – certainly if not the hardest, then the best quality I have played anywhere.

Providence, which has matured over the past two years into a fine value-for-money experience. After a quiet opening four holes, the course blossoms into a challenge through 6 to 9, with high risk or reward par 4s, a quite beautiful par 3 the 8th and a challenging par 5, 9th. There is no let up as the back nine has it all. My only criticism is the bland 17th par 3 which is totally innocuous when compared with the rest of a thrilling and enthralling back nine, and finally Celebration, always highly rated, like a fine wine improves on every visit. Quality Greens, slick fairways, well maintained bunkers.

These three epitomise the quality of Florida Golf available at very reasonable rates. There are, I am advised, many more exceptional courses which I will visit around Orlando in time and hopefully on the Tour. I also would like to expand my knowledge of the Gulf Coast to Naples beyond that fine municipal/ public course Lake Venice which receives an Eagle award.

REVISED FLORIDA RATINGS as at 30th June 09
I only rate the courses where I consider I have had the full Social Experience... including ease of getting there, cost, full use of facilities, pro-shop, changing rooms, 19th hole etc... I rate as follows:

Top Ranking Hole in 1...out of this world, a truly unbelievable experience...in over 200 courses played on all five continents
I have only awarded this to 4 places: Royal Melbourne, New South Wales GC Sydney, The Gary Player Country Club in Sun City and The Emirates in Dubai.

At the moment I have not given any in Florida the ultimate accolade, although I am sure when I have opportunity to fully experience, The Doral, Sawgrass and Innsbrook to name but a few this will change.

Second Ranking…The Prestigious Albatross Award…exceptional, very enjoyable, would recommend as a must-visit if you have the opportunity.

In Florida, I have rated, Bay Hill, Bella Collina, Mystic Dunes and Championsgate in this category. With regard to two, only cost and exclusivity stops them from a possible higher rating, so good are the courses.

Third Ranking…The Eagle Award...very Good, would always revisit, great value.

On the Orlando Trail, Celebration, Ridgewood Lakes Kissimmee Bay Country Club and Providence are worthy recipients as are The Club at Eaglebrook Lake Venice and The Great Outdoors from a bit farther afield.

Fourth Ranking…The Birdie Award…a quality club and course, good value...

In Florida I have found most clubs and courses fall at least into this category: Falcons Fire, Highlands Reserve, Stoneybrook West and Metro West. And that is why I believe Orlando is a must-visit for any Social Golfer – good and great courses abound at every turn at remarkable value if you look around and most courses have offers on to make playing even greater value.

This trip was really about two things for me: initially to put myself in a competitive environment on a regular basis and to see how I performed on the Edwin Watts Tour, and to continue to promote and expand the social golf concept and promote social enjoyment and interaction through golf.

With regard to the former, this has without doubt been an unqualified success – I have performed beyond my expectations, once I accepted that there is no triumph in golf that the proper attitude is to forestall disaster and to simply limit the effect of bad shots my scores tumbled. My advice to Brew and my missus...forget the flag till you have a simple tap or rap in!

I firmly believe for anyone outside a scratch or very low handicapper this is the winning philosophy: hit it hard, find it, hit it hard again. aim at first somewhere in the direction of the green where there is little trouble and whack it in that direction, when in reach aim for the whole green, that’s the target not the hole, then when on, aim for the dust bin lid, anywhere within a putter length will do, then rap it in…

It’s really a scenario for good bogey golf but it served me well this trip. Two victories is testament to the success at my level of this philosophy. I make a final observation which intertwines with the social aspect of golf. By nature of the word, competition relies on competitors and if you are successful, then they are not. The true worth of any competition can be judged on the strength of character of the competitors, the camaraderie that they bring to the event. I have played against many fine people with whom I hope I have now formed lasting friendships and that would be a more fitting testament to my performance than two trophies.

The Social Golfer’s Mission Statement is promoting social enjoyment through golf and I can genuinely say, once again this glorious game has introduced and given me the opportunity to meet a wide range of individuals and I can only hope they have taken away as much enjoyment as I have of our small interaction on a green field in sunny Florida. Some, such as the lads from Denver, Rob from London, and Mike from Tampa may never pass my way again, but as with every one I play, they will have a permanent reminder of me by way of the book – about which I have, without exception, received great feedback.

Some contacts, I am delighted to say, I have – and hopefully will for many years – keep in touch with. Jim from Connecticut who has sent me some of the best tasting teas I have ever had the pleasure of drinking, proving the Yanks did learn something from the Boston Tea Party. Fred my US Marine, The Hudsons and Brew have kept in touch by this marvellous tool, the internet.

But it takes two to tango and social enjoyment must be reciprocal. I am not, I am told, the easiest person to get on with, however on the golf course I hope all this changes and I enhance the experience of those I partner or play with, whiling away the hours with anecdotes, enjoying all the impressive play, commiserating as another one bites the dust. I received the following two emails which I part attach which made me feel great and all my efforts worthwhile.

From Fred, my scramble partner with John and Don at the US MARINES event:"the consummate golfer...a true golfer who doesn't cuss...an excellent student of John's game of whack f*ck" "not a consummate golfer, but a true joy to be out on the course with...someone I can emulate if I ever become a real man...he improved my game, because if I didn't play to par he'd kill me" "I liked Sandy (Ian) since he reminded me of my days in the Marine Corps – always attacking the beach...Ian should have worn his bathing suit as much time as he spent on the beach...Ian was a joy to play with, I only wish I could understand him"I was in the sand a lot that day , but like many Americans, Fred can obviously only understand BBC English, not Northern Twang. From Lathan Hudson, songwriter, fine golfer, good father and genuine all round good egg:“We are so disappointed we won’t get to see you on Saturday. Let us know your itinerary when back in Florida because we surely want to play golf with you again as soon as possible. You are a class gentleman and fun to be around”If that’s how I portray myself on my travels, I will take that! Finally, I leave this trip with the story of the guy who inspired me most. I thought I had it difficult till I read this and I offer this as encouragement to all individuals who suffer illness and disability, and to all of us who are feeling down because of the economic climate as a reality check as to what is important. From Brew:

“I'm unclear what I’ve told you previously about me and my injuries (I have declarative & procedural memory deficits). Your remarkable recovery from stroke is truly inspiring. I am amazed and impressed. I have already directed a stroke survivor’s family to your website (the stroke survivor is still unable to communicate). Like you, the survivor was an avid golfer pre-stroke.

I always enjoy any activity in which I choose to participate. Having said that, I’d like to explain my additional motivations for avid participation in adaptive athletics in general, and specifically the great sport of golf (!) I am a severe Traumatic Brain Injury survivor. Due to diffuse axonal shearing, MOST structures in my complex neural network were greatly impaired. Resulting from a near-fatal automobile accident in March of 1990, I've used diverse adaptive athletics to recover from MASSIVE brain damage for almost two decades.

For the last 19+ years I’ve re-taught myself to walk, talk, swallow, feed myself, bathe myself, read, write, THINK, I was legally blind for a period, I was paralyzed from the neck down at one point, the eclectic list is long and sordid. I have no doubt your experience with stroke produced similar challenges.

I’m rebuilding my once decimated brain, neuron by neuron – synapse by synapse. I am doing so through copious independent study on numerous topics, and ardent participation in multiple diverse athletics. Rigorous engagement in adaptive sport promotes re-growth of neurons (neurogenesis) and rewiring (neuroplasticity) of my once decimated brain.

Written in late 2007 as part of a successful grant request from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, the document below is as concise a summary as I can write about my journey pursuing excellence through adaptive sport.

I attempted golf soon after I was released from the rehabilitation hospital. In ’91-’92 the golf swing was far too complex for my damaged brain to comprehend, let alone execute! I have worked, hard, for the last 19+ years to rehabilitate so I may return to the great sport of golf.

A multi-sport athlete, I could have chosen to apply for a number of 'tools' (sports equipment) to further my neurologic rehabilitation. I chose golf. Armed with a generous Challenged Athletes Foundation equipment grant, I selected, and was custom fit, for 2008 Ping G10's. As a survivor of severe brain trauma, the great game of golf is a pinnacle of mind/body integration. The Florida Open, in which I had my #1 English caddy guiding and encouraging me, marked my official return to Golf.

I consider golf the equivalent of a graduate degree from a prestigious university for neurologic rehabilitation. Though an avid golfer pre-TBI, I know I’m a ‘newbie’ to golf and have much to relearn and perfect. I’m thrilled, after almost two decades of intense rehabilitation, to have finally begun my reintroduction to golf. I intend to go as far as I can through golf.

As you will see in the document below, my experience with adaptive sport as therapeutic modality is extensive and diverse. The title sums up my use of adaptive sport to pursue rehabilitative excellence. Though I have much to relearn, I have (finally) reached a point where I may again pursue the great game of golf! The life we lead creates the brain we have.

I, Charles Manning Brugh, am a survivor of a near-fatal automobile accident that left me with severe “permanent” brain damage. As a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor (comatose 2 weeks), I‘ve been forced to rebuild my entire persona – mind, body, and soul. Of my own volition, by promoting and enhancing neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, I have determined how to affect the wholesale remapping and restructuring of my intricate neural network. I use diverse adaptive athletics and copious independent study to effect phenomenal neurologic regeneration. Essential to sustained rehabilitative success is physical, psychological, and cognitive fitness. Inherent multiple challenges of adaptive sport promote health and fitness in these critical attributes concurrently. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) continues to challenge in ways I never knew possible. I spend an inordinate amount of time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, pain, and money rehabilitating my cognitive, physical, and spiritual health. Am I "all better"? Far from it. However, I continually improve – with limitless potential.

Adaptive sport is phenomenal therapy. Substantially enhancing quality of life, the athletic challenges of adaptive sport are central to my determined efforts to prevail over near-fatal Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Extensive and diverse, my expansive personal experience with adaptive sport and purposeful outdoor endeavours span nearly two decades. Since my motor vehicle accident of 21 March 1990, my athletic/therapeutic repertoire includes:

Adaptive Golf – Adaptive Water Skiing/Knee boarding – Sailing; in 2004 I lived on a 100ft, hand-built, 3-masted, wooden tall-ship for 5 months anchored in the ports of Jonesport, Rockland, and (briefly) Cutler, Maine – Climbing walls (indoor & outdoor) – Multi-day bicycling tours – Sea-kayaking trips – White water rafting trips (multi-day) – Canoeing trips (multi-day) – Camping (throughout central and north Florida, Michigan, and the Colorado Rockies) – Horseback Riding – Adaptive Surfing – High & Low Ropes Courses – Fishing (fresh water and salt water) – Off-road Mountain Biking – Rock Climbing – Parasailing – Adaptive Alpine Skiing – Wheelchair Rugby (Brooks Bandits/United States Quad Rugby Association – Atlantic South Division) - Wheelchair Tennis (First Coast Tennis Foundation/Brooks Wheelchair Tennis League) – Competitive Handcycling – Adaptive Rowing (Jacksonville University/Brooks Adaptive Sport and Recreation Program)

Neurophysical skill needed to compete in adaptive sport is extensive, and, at times, overwhelming – particularly for a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor such as myself; timing, eye-hand coordination, balance, information processing, fine and gross-motor skills, communication, visual-spatial relations, attention, judgment, memory, perception, and reaction-time are all required cognitive abilities. With enough purposeful effort, repetition, and focused attention, cognitive and neuromuscular skills are reacquired and enhanced. I am rarely satisfied – constantly I raise the bar. I fondly refer to this as my ‘achievement addiction’. While I never subject others to the same level of scrutiny, in any endeavour I hold myself to the highest of standards. I am my own worst critic. I am my own best critic.

I possess an aggressive spirit. I am also highly competitive. For the first 17 years, multiple physical and cognitive deficits necessitated competition primarily against myself in unrelenting efforts to rewire and reconstruct my being. For nearly two decades, I have used adaptive sport to promote and enhance neuroplasticity and neurogenesis in my traumatically injured brain. I have progressed to a point my rehabilitative focus again includes competition against other athletes. Competition brings out the best in me. Training, rehabilitation, and competition are complementary endeavours. For this reason, athletic training, practice, and competition are central to my continued rehabilitation. I now practice and compete with others challenged by disability – fantastic! Coupling self-directed neuroplasticity with the diverse cognitive and physical challenges of adaptive sport, I am overcoming severe, “permanent” brain damage to a degree few thought possible. I make remarkable progress applying my God-given intelligence, talents, and tenacious determination, to many adaptive sports. The life we lead creates the brain we have.
Charles M. Brugh

Without incredible challenge, a person is unable to achieve incredible success. This I am sure you will all agree is a tremendous story and truly reflects what the human body and mind can achieve. My achievements pale into insignificance. I am humbled in his presence, I hope we remain good friends, in good health, and that I can be a little part of his continued remarkable story.

Meeting people like Charles (aka Brew) make my campaign all the more worthwhile. I hope that he his able to join up with me when I hit Florida on my Round the World Trip next year.

And so to home, with new friends a plenty, trophies in case, a new golfer in tow to plan our 2010 trip: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS - 2010 A GOLF ODYSSEY: Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Vancouver, California, Vegas, Florida, Bermuda. Many more courses, new friends, new challenges and stories…

See you soon! The next event is the People’s Open


POSTSCRIPT...On Saturday at Championsgate, I played my last competition on tour, the Edwin Watts, Tom Mirus Pairs. A competition held as close to Father’s Day to commemorate the late father of the current Tour Director, Tom Mirus, and a founding father of the Tour. I partnered my good pal big-hitting Lonnie, who overslept and forgot it was a shotgun, leaving me to fly solo for the first hole. At one stage it looked like a may-play with Michelle Wie, who lives on Championsgate and had turned up looking for a game only to be told no room at the Inn. I offered her Lonnie’s place but she chose David Leadbetter for more improvement to her technique rather than my , HIT IT HARD advice.

Championsgate no 16 -all of 280 yards and Lonnie drives it!

I managed to par the 13th my first a lengthy par 5 when the cavalry turned up and the young fella soon made his presence felt with some prodigious driving. He counted 15 out of 18 drives he hit the ball so well, but I contributed well in rest of game, we complemented each other so well. Highlight for me a chip and run approach at the first for a birdie from forty yards. Our two over 74 was not false we could have gone lower but it was ample to secure a two stroke victory and a third title this trip!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

THE 2009 FLORIDA PEN FOR GOLFERS WITH DISABILITIES AND/OR MOBILITY CHALLENGES

Last year I was most fortunate to play in the 2008 event at the magnificent Kissimmee Bay Country Club. This event features golfers from all over the USA with a variety of handicaps that have amazingly not stopped them participating in – and more importantly – enjoying golf. They epitomise all I try to ensure the Social Golfer promotes: total enjoyment and social interaction through golf.
Mike and Renee

I was fortunate to be in the four ball with both winners: Mike Hudson, a low handicapper with just one arm, and Renee Russo a sprightly OAP with an a prosthetic leg following an amputation when a young lady in her 20s. I met many golfers with significant physical handicaps; double amputees mixing with fellow stroke victims, and heart attack patients. The event encompasses all that is good about golf and is the perfect remedy when I occasionally still feel sorry for myself.


Getting encouragement on the way round

So, it was with great pleasure and anticipation that I returned on Saturday for this year’s competition. Last year the event had over 40 participants, sadly this years was less well supported, partly I think because of the oppressive heat wave we are currently enjoying. I guess even for these most-keen of golfers, 18-holes in 100 degree temperatures and intense humidity is not pleasurable. Still, the course was in pristine condition and all set for a magnificent day’s golf. I was in a three ball with Tom, a retired American History teacher from The Villages, North Florida. Naturally I asked him what history! Tom had sadly lost his leg over 40 years earlier in a freak accident in 8th grade playing gridiron. A lifetime without a limb. Still it ensured I did not moan about my stiff left leg.

The true spirit of golf and how to overcome difficulties

Tom was very keen and competitive and an enjoyable companion during the round: he pushed me to deliver all the way. Our third member was a young man called Brew, who had been involved in an automobile accident 19 years-ago. He was still being treated and had obviously been in quite a bad way and only recently taken up golf to supplement his ongoing recovery. He played the entire round and each shot with an enthusiasm I found spiritually fulfilling, I became his unofficial caddy, reading putts, recommending clubs and generally encouraging this remarkable young man.

It has been said life and a round of golf can be compared to an amusement park: each hole and each day different but there to be enjoyed. Brew clearly had more than his share of ups and downs, and difficult times, but I have rarely completed a round feeling quite as content as I did this one and that was before the score. Brew now knows many English golfing terms including: hit it hard... find it...hit it hard again…whack it...cracker…give it a welly...

Because I was so relaxed and the course set up particularly leniently in view of the difficulties some players would have (and bear in mind all the events I had played were off championship tees) suddenly playing off the front tees made the course so much easier. I shot 40 out and with the aid of two chip ins on the back nine level par 35 for 75 to finish the winner by 6 shots. The main source of my success was the support given by both my partners and organiser Joe Styne who all constantly encouraged me during the round as they realised I was in contention.


I gave a gift of my book to all competitors and had a book signing after the cup presentation. The book was well received by all. Whilst unbelievably proud to become the 4th winner and first overseas champion, I will take from this day far more than a golfing success. My sincerest hope is that on the day I encouraged Brew to continue his golfing journey. I hope to keep in touch and anticipate the pleasure he will have if and when he breaks one hundred.

Monday, 15 June 2009

TOO HOT TO GOLF

When it's too hot to golf or shop in Naples there's only one place to go!
Last week , Matron and I took several days off to head south down the gulf coast to Naples, self styled and named golf capital of the world. A bit pretentious perhaps but who am I to pass comment, the best damned social golfer on the planet? We stayed in the magnificent boutique hotel the Escalante, superbly located on 5th south and third in Old Naples, simply the best location in town. Like Miami it was too hot to golf, never less than 102 during the day. No wonder it was quiet, the holiday seasons runs from November to Easter, then it becomes a ghost town but it is a truly, quaint, beautiful city, sensational beaches, great shopping and quite outstanding restaurants.

The golf would have been sensational and so cheap…. PGA recognised courses for less than 20 bucks inc compulsory buggy. Prices do significantly rise during November to March I am reliably told. On the way back we visit Venice, I ask you Venice and Naples in a week and never left Florida! Venice is smaller than Naples but has the same charm, I have also played golf here and can wholeheartedly recommend the Lake Venice Public Course. Not for the squeamish who are afraid of alligators, like you Mr Roberts. John avoided all water like the plague on this trip after seeing two alligators in his first round at Providence. On the news the other day, a local was explaining why so many alligators are on the move – they are all on the tap, it’s the mating season. That’s why they were eyeing John up either that or they were hungry, back to Lake Venice, the sign says it all, another Callaway bites the dust.

Would you play from this hazard? Don't think so it's breeding time for the locals. The alligators are on the move!

Final Observation: In the scrambles I have played over here to raise money you can buy Mulligans and that got me thinking…The Scots invented the game and gave us these silly rules like playing the ball in a divot, whilst the Irish gave us the Mulligan. I guess that fully explains the difference in the races.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, THE US MARINES AND REDEMPTION AT METRO WEST

The next week, I gave Matron, some paint, tiling grout and some new brushes and left her happy and content and hit the course with a vengeance. Initially, I played the Highlands Reserve, where I was partnered by a father and son duo from the UK in a very pleasant early morning round at one of south Orlando’s very good value courses, 30 bucks including a cart.

My good friend John Roberts was over with wife Nicky and son Leo and we played three very competitive rounds at Ridgewood, Providence and Mystic Dunes. I won the first 6 and 5, battered by him in the second 7 and 6 and lost a thriller 2 and 1 at the Dunes to give him the honours. John plays off less than me so without a start I was pleased with my performance but needs outweighing to the fact he was using my old clubs. He played a significant part in putting my game back, when he identified that the ball was well forward in my stance. Visit to Deer Creek a small executive course soon corrected this.

Whilst John was here I had arranged for us to play in a Charity Event organised by the Florida Chapter of the US marines and what a fantastic day we had. Before the shotgun start, we stood proud with our American cousins at the parading of colours and the singing of the national anthem. The Star Spangled Banner is a barnstorming tune prior to a sporting event, trust me. We played with two fine gentlemen, Fred and Don and what great company they were. My golf was not good, John was better, Fred started well and Don regularly chipped in with a useful shot, once again truth to be told, like Bay Hill, I was probably the weakest link.

We scored 65, seven off a place and never good enough for a place, but the event no doubt raised significant sums for injured and retired servicemen and both John and I had a day to remember, culminating for me with the receipt of a signed Fuzzy Zoellor Driver given to me by John who had won it in an Auction. Thanks BigMan! More importantly once again it was a pleasure to play and meet with such good guys as Fred and Don, hopefully we shall have opportunity to get together again – Fred has invited me to a Toys for Tots competition in his home town. A Toys for Tots double I won the Xmas one at Mystic Dunes, now that would be something to write about.


Young lonnie left us all trailing at Metro West - my partner in the last event, the two man scramble at Championsgate

The next day I was back on tour at Metro West, playing with Hud Hudson who had pushed me into third on my season debut at Duran, Lonnie Laoretti the big hitting youngster who pushed me all the way in the major at Southern Dunes and tour regular Dana Turgeon. In a disappointingly small field at a past tour course, which apart from the Greens that were turgid having been recently irrigated, Lonnie simply blew us all away on the front nine, culminating in a splendid drive at the appropriately called Daly challenge a 280 yard carry to the green which he simply nailed. Hud surprised us all and followed suit, ruining it by then hitting his approach into the water. Dana and I chickened out.



Preparing to take the John Daly challenge over the 9th at metro

At the turn the heavens opened and play was stopped as a mega thunderstorm came in. I find it amusing that although we all know lightning is the killer, most people find the actual bolt a thing of beauty and exhilarating then jump with fear at the following clap of thunder. This was some storm but it allowed me to assess my position in the competition, I was four adrift of Lonnie but only one behind joint second place held by James Rearden and Todd Morgan.

Bad weather stops play and play-time starts!

After the break with the course extremely wet, I played a very competitive back nine, never missed a fairway and putted a little better. At the close I was 6 adrift of worthy and deserved winner Lonnie but 4 clear in second place for more significant points and a $100 fee taking my winnings to over $500 for the trip. I enjoyed Metro despite missing four putts of less than 5 feet which could have put me much closer to Lonnie. More significant is the extremely strong likelihood I may have now accrued enough points to be chosen to play in the national finals in October. If I can get out of blooming jury service… Watch this space!

I have now finished my rankings events, I may return for the second and final major in August, work permitting. But after 5 events my record reads: a victory in the major, two seconds an a third in tour events, just one unplaced. I stand third in the rankings with one of the better scoring averages. It could hardly have gone much better, I hope I can get back for the Nationals.

I have one event left on tour, the Tom Mirus Pairs scramble when there are no ranking points at stake. I am paired with Lonnie and it is at my local course at Championsgate, all set for a big finish. Before then I am once again playing in the Florida Open for Disabled Golfers at the splendid Kissimmee Bay Country Club. I played in this last year and it as one of the highlights of my golf travels. I played with Mike who had one arm and Renee one leg, yet their love for the game as well as ability to play it well was unbelievable. I look forward to meeting them and fellow golfers who range from amputees and paraplegics, to heart and stroke attack victims who play the game as the elders intended, I am proud to be part of this event.