Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Stonegate Solvita, a fine example of an Orlando Golfing Experience.

The last leg of our 30,000 mile trip saw us return to our Florida villa for a fortnight. To all intents and purposes both Karen and I effectively feel our journey is over, even though we have the Atlantic to cross before we can say officially we traversed the globe. so whilst it was a good chance to have some R and R, see what damage the Floridian Frost had done to the garden, not a pretty site. For me it had some important golfing matters to conclude the Golfing Odyssey. Firstly I would play in the season opener at Black Bear on the Edwin Watts Tour. In view of my restricted schedule this year, this event was far more important than a normal event as it would be imperative I finished up the field to gain vital points towards the end of season Nationals. I only intend to play both majors on tour so I have my work cut out. Secondly and very important on a personal note my final commitment was to meet up with my great buddy Brew to celebrate an important date in his ongoing recovery. as it turned out I also had opportunity to meet up with two great old golfing buddies, my Toys for Tots winning team partner Scott Ramey and Rich Poore from London who I first met 12 months ago at Championsgate. It gives me particular pleasure as The Social Golfer to meet up with fellow SGs ongoing. I also as part of important practice added to my Orlando resume by playing Kissimmee Oaks and Solvita Stonegate. I have now virtually played every Public or Semi Private Course in the Orlando Area giving me an unrivalled tourist position from which to comment.

Black Bear is a fine links style course just south of Eustis with undulating fairways and fast hard, quick breaking greens. A fine clubhouse, enhances an enjoyable experience. My fourball featured some of the best in our class on tour, my good mate James Rearden, third on last years standings and still waxing lyrical about our sessions at Hilton Head. Big Hitting Alberto Esperon and Steady Eddie, Jerry Harris. To be in the running, I clearly needed to win this particular 4 ball.

Jerry, Alberto and James

Jerry, Alberto and James, three great guys on tour. James in particular started like a house on fire then on the 12th when 5 ahead of me, put his approach ob and from then on imploded Alberto who led me all the way till the 15th where I get up and down from 130 yard bunker for a par 5 and he 3 putts from 3 feet for an 8. Not without some trouble the water on the fantastic 18th contributing to a 7, I come home one clear of both james and alberto and two clear of jerry, which enables me to finish second in the class, pick up 250 ranking points and my first check of the year. I go now to defend the first major of the Year, this time at Grande Pines in May in good heart and look forward to locking horns with these great guys again.

I played two new courses leading up to the tour event, in Kissimmee Oaks and Stonegate, Solvita. Both were fine tracks but had clearly suffered from the bad winter the Floridians had encountered, I will return in Summer when I feel both will have a lot more to offer. The bird life around Solvita literally had me salivating with pleasure. A final point there was no signs of economic recovery on either estate, no Legends or Ridgewood which I also played, with he no of foreclosures and sales growing from my last visit in October.

Kissimmee Oaks, fine track, super vfmoney.

As I stated earlier, whilst in Orlando I was contacted by two fellow Sgs down in the area for a bit of sun. Scott, whi I last saw when we won the Annual Toys for Tots at Mystic Dunes back in DEc 2008 invited me to Clermont for my second go at the Legends and with two business mates of his down from the North Ted and Mike two damn fine SGs we had a great day. I was also contacted by my Oxford pal Richard in Orlando for a break with his good lady and we had a fine day ar Ridgewood joined b John and Carol, snow birding down from North America. This day ended with Karen and I joining Rich and his party at Bergamos, to have a Great Italian and listen to the singing waiters. Social Golf at its best.

Mike, Scott and Ted at the impressive Legends Complex

Glorious Day at Ridgewood, John, Carol and mi good pal RICH
Carol is some putter, she made the Greens notoriously difficult look EASY!!!!

My final golf was a magical day up at Orange County near Jacksonville. My good Mate Brew had kept in regular contact during the RTW Trip and it had always been my intention to try and see him. He is for those not fully aware of his story a remarkable 45 year old who had a near fatal auto accident twenty years ago which he his still recovering from. A remarkable chap he pointed out it was exactly 20 years since that fateful day. He sent me the following...........
Friday, 12 March 2010
Greetings my friend!
I pray this note finds you and your loved ones eager in spirit and full in health. I have a few thoughts I wish to convey. I’m hopeful you find words of much interest.
…”when your new box of balls begins to disappear at a rate of knots; when the weather is as bad as your game, golf can seem both an aimless and costly game. No other sport has such a disparity in talent between the successful practitioner and the social golfer. However, when you’re faced with the realistic possibility that you have played your last round, then your worst round is better than no round at all”…
(Ian Halliwell – The Social Golfer)
My near- fatal, life-altering motor vehicle accident occurred on March 21st, 1990 (the first day of spring that year). I’m told I had a tee time scheduled the next day (22 March 1990). Instead of spending a glorious spring day in Florida, leisurely hacking my way through 18 holes of golf, I would spend that day comatose in the Critical Care Unit tenuously clinging to life. In fact, I would spend two comatose weeks fighting for my life.
At the time of my automobile accident I was an invincible 25-year old aspiring Naval Aviator and full-time student. I was also working full-time. What precious free time I had was usually spent at the beach or on a golf course.
When putting out that last hole, I never dreamed I may have just played the last round of golf in my life… “When you’re faced with the realistic possibility that you have played your last round, then your worst round is better than no round at all”. Ian, truer words have never been spoken!
I’ve spent two decades of prolonged, painful rehabilitation desperately rebuilding and recovering “me”. I’m reclaiming my physical, intellectual, and spiritual self neuron-by-neuron, synapse-by-synapse. My goal has always been to not merely learn to live with traumatic brain injury (TBI), but to conquer traumatic brain injury. It has never been easy. It is still not easy.
If your schedule allows, I would consider it a great honor to golf with you and my golfing instructor, former PGA TOUR Professional Charles Raulerson, at the Country Club of Orange Park ( on Monday, 22 March 2010.
Albeit 20 years late, I will finally make that tee time I had scheduled two decades prior.
I cannot think of a more fitting way to mark an anniversary of my near demise than to celebrate life on the links with my good friends, Ian and Charles!
Your pal –
The Day after his accident he had booked a tee time at 12.15pm which he of course never made. Exactly 20 years to the day he did make that tee time and I was privileged to join him and a wonderful PGA PRO, Charles Raulerson, Head Pro and General Manager at the magnificent Orange Park Country Club, to celebrate his recovery by playing this long awaited round. In a trip of many highlights, this was up there with them all. Truly memorable and a Sensational ending to my once in a life time global golfing extravaganza.

20 years on, Brew tees off pushes into the water left recovers
to card a bogey 5 after sinking a 25 footer.

The TSG, Brew and Charles Raulerson who has played with TIGER,
NICK FALDO, SEVE and now The Social Golfer his resume is complete.

If in North Florida you must visit Orange Park, you wont regret it

AND SO THE END IS NEAR and so I reach the final curtain, and what a journey it was, Memorable in so many ways, Fantastic Golf, Sensational Vistas but for both Karen and I our long abiding memory will be the wonderful people we met along our travels, some I now consider much more than passing acquaintances. You all touched us deeply and I sincerely hope that was reciprocated.To each and every one of you, THANK YOU!In times of Economic and Social Turmoil, this trip gives me considerable optimism for the long term well being of our planet.

I have learned a lot about myself, a lot about my golf..... and a great deal about this majestic green and blue globe we call home. The work starts now as i try and take all these experiences and put them into something worth calling literature, naturally when published I will be in touch with you all.

I have swam in every ocean

watched the sun set from east to west

walked the lush green fairways

were my heroes have took the Test.

but I am pleased to back home in Wigan with my family

cuz they are simply the Best.

Despite my workload, Golf is still foremost in my mind....

I am pleased to say next week, The Social Golf Team returns to action in THE PUBLICAN Knockout hoping to go one better than last year.

The first ever SOCIAL GOLFER OPEN takes place at Hever Castle in Kent on Friday 16th April with over 60 competitors.

I return to the Celebrity Golf Tour in June at Henley in Arden.....

my Edwin Watts Tour will see me play both majors in May and August at Grande Pines and Mission Hills hopefully culminating in a return in Oct to Hilton Head. Failing that the Barney Barnato in Kimberley could beckon.

I expect to return to the British Par 3, hopefully to improve on the 5th position of last year

Also my annual trip to Tenerife in Sept to try and regain the Wild Geese Trophy is very much a goer.

So plenty to keep you updated about over Summer........



The Social Golfer...... keep on LIVIN THE DREAM My friends

Full pictures for thi trip on FACEBOOK..................................

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