Archive for September, 2014

TSG MatchPlay Championship…

Thursday, September 25th, 2014
Mark Crane - TSG MatchPlay Championship Final

Mark Crane – TSG MatchPlay Champion

TheSocialGolfer.com, the online social networking community for golfers, held the TSG MatchPlay Championship Final (Sponsored by The Altonwood Group) at Westerham Golf Club, on Sunday 21st September 2014.

The finalists Mark Crane and Matt Taylor (both Kent based golfers) had spent the summer working their way through a field of 64 to secure their place at Westerham, having played six matches throughout the South East.

TSG MatchPlay Championship – The Final…

The match was full of up and downs with Crane – whose singing son has appeared on the X-Factor in recent years -proving that HE has it, finally claiming victory on the 16th hole after Taylor conceded to match 3 & 2.

The TSG MatchPlay Championship ran similarly to an FA Cup style knockout with participants arranging each round of matches at a course of their choice, with The Altonwood Group offering preferential green fees at its venues including Westerham, Woldingham and Surrey National throughout the summer for TSG members.

The game began nip and tuck over the first six holes with Taylor dropping a one shot lead on the 7th after having played the wrong ball, immediately resulting in the loss of hole. Crane capitalised on Taylor’s misfortune by taking a commanding lead into the back nine with a two shot advantage after the 10th. However, looking for his second TSG Major title this year, reigning TSG Masters Champion pulled back to within one shot after 12.

TSG MatchPlay Championship  Final 2014

Matt Taylor (Left), Mark Crane (Right)

TSG MatchPlay Championship  – the winner …

Many amateur golfers dream of what it’s like to play under such tense conditions, so it was time to see who could hold their nerve … Crane then dug deep and refocused and won two of the next three holes.

The game concluded when in real gentlemanly fashion, Taylor gave Crane his putt on 16 and the two shook hands.

With the light fading the other TSGers who had joined the finalists for the round, gathered to watch their new champion crowned. Taylor was magnanimous in defeat but Crane proved he was well worth his victory ….

What they said …

Crane, commenting on his win said Many thanks to The Social Golfer for all the time and energy they put into organising this competition, and for marshalling Matt and I throughout our final. Having a match referee was a new experience for me! I would also like to thank all my opponents for our enjoyable matches … we all watch golf on TV but now I know what’s really like to putt under pressure. I hardly slept last night thinking about the match and I couldn’t have played against a nicer guy!”  Crane now qualifies for the 2015 TSG Masters at Warley Park.

TSG MatchPlay Champion 2014 (Right ) & Runner Up (Left)

TSG MatchPlay Champion 2014 (Right)

Taylor, said “Thank you to Mark for making the matchplay final such a great event, despite coming runner up, hand on heart, I enjoyed every minute of it”

The competition ran from April 2014 with amateur golfers from all over the UK competing in the event. The organisers hope that the event will grow into a flagship competition for the innovative and forward thinking website, alongside its already established TSG Masters and the TSG Open Golf Day Championship, held annually in aid of disabled golf charity BALASA.org

Ian Mullins, owner of TheSocialGolfer.com said “Wow, what another fantastic event for TSG. The guys were such gentlemen throughout the game. I really take my hat off to them for coping under the pressure. And certainly Westerham proved to be a fitting venue for the final. Can’t wait for next year!”

By Ian Mullins

Greenkeeper of the Year …

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
Muswell Hill Golf Club

Muswell Hill Golf Club

Each year their is a competition to find the student greenkeeper of the year and this year that accolade has been goes to TSG Partner club Muswell Hill and Deputy Head Greenekeeper at the north London Club – Kevin O’Neill.

Greenkeeper of The Year – Press Release …

The Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year 2014 was named just days before Kevin heads to Gleneagles to join other greenkeeping volunteers at the Ryder Cup.

Proud Kevin, pipped runners-up Tom Freeman from Kingsdown Golf Club and Wesley Lenihan from Ealing Golf Club. The other three finalists who narrowly missed out on the top three were Aaron Bowen from Ipswich Golf Club (Purdis Heath), Andy Foulds from Wimbledon Park Golf Club and Daire Higgins from St Andrews Links.

Kevin will head to America next year for a six-week study course at the University of Massachusetts and will also visit the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio all courtesy of Toro. He will also get the chance to explore Toro’s Californian base. This year’s final had a celebratory air as a special event was held to mark 25 years of the competition.

The Rochdale-born greenkeeper, who attends Oaklands College, said: “I’m very proud, I put a lot of work into this! The final was an amazing experience. I don’t think there was much between the six of us.

Greenkeeper of The Year – What they said…

“When you look at the names of the previous winners and the careers they’ve gone on to have it’s brought home to me how important this competition is, it’s the highlight of my career so far. I can’t wait to head to America and before that I’m very excited to be heading to Gleneagles.”

Kevin began his greenkeeping career at Gleneagles before spells as a groundsman at Charlton Athletic and Barnet football clubs. He joined Muswell Hill in 2008, and this week will head back to Scotland as he joins the rest of the greenkeeper volunteers for the Ryder Cup.

Matt Plested, Course Manager at Muswell Hill, said: “Kevin’s the best greenkeeper I’ve ever worked with, he’s so dedicated and professional. I’m so pleased that he will now get the opportunity to study in America because he deserves it. When he called me to tell me he’d won I felt like a proud parent on X Factor!”

In addition to his trip, all finalists will be given free BIGGA membership for a year and they have also all been awarded a place on the Turf Managers’ Conference at BTME 2015.

Greenkeeper of The Year – The Final…

Before the final itself, a special event was held at Aldwark Manor Hotel, adjacent to BIGGA House, to mark a quarter of a century of Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year.

This unique evening attracted almost every winner in the competition’s history along with key figures through the decades. All the winners who attended were presented with a special watch as a memento.

Lely’s UK Managing Director Graham Dale addressed the attendees explaining how the competition began and how it has evolved before Euan Grant, 1994 winner and now Course Manager at Turnberry, outlined how much his win has helped his career and that of many others.

The speeches were concluded by BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton, who thanked Toro for their hugely generous quarter century of sponsorship, and Barry Beckett, Toro’s Senior Marketing Manager. The Toro Company and Lely UK were instrumental in creating the awards with BIGGA in 1989, and have sponsored the competition throughout its entire 25-year history.

Barry added: “Toro and Lely are proud to be associated with such a worthwhile scheme that recognises young and rising talent in the greenkeeping industry. We thought it fitting to mark the awards’ 25th anniversary with a special celebration – bringing together winners, judges and others, past and present – and I’m delighted the occasion was such an outstanding success.”

Thanks to all the winners who travelled from far and wide to attend and everyone else who contributed to the event. Keep an eye out for an interview with Kevin, and full coverage of the final and the 25th anniversary event, in October’s Greenkeeper International magazine.

By Caroline MacAskill

Photo by Jonathan Pow/jp@jonathanpow.com

Disabled Golf: England beat the Welsh …

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Disabled Golf Association

Disabled Golf Association – England

Disabled Golf played host at The Wiltshire GC to the second ‘home countries’ international event for disabled and impaired golfers with England defending last year’s win against Wales, playing for The Oldfield Trophy on the 24/25th August 2014.

The Oldfield Trophy is a stunning piece of artwork, named after the blacksmith’s who forged the trophy from recycled golf irons atop a block of marble, and daffodil and rose flowers created in brass to represent the two countries.

Many different disabilities were represented from amputees, one arm, arthritis, MS and stroke survivors and came from as far afield as Yorkshire, Cheshire, Hampshire, Essex and Berkshire and South/West Wales.

Sunday 24th August consisted of six fourballs played on the excellent golf course in excellent conditions, after some close matches England finished the day with a 4-2 lead.

It was all to play for on day 2 with 12 points available in the singles.

The weather on Monday was awful with persistent rain, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the players.

Especially Team England who won the Singles 8-4 thus retaining the Oldfield Trophy won previously at Pontypridd in 2013 – so the final score was ENGLAND 12 – WALES 6.

Disabled Golf Association – What they said …

Graeme Robertson, non-playing captain of the English TeamI am very proud of the team with their performance/sportsmanship and the camaraderie with the Welsh on and off the course was superb. Many players had family supporting which added to the atmosphere. It takes 2 teams to have a good match, but there can only be one winner – but the real winner was disabled golf, it was great to see guys with different disabilities playing with/against each other enjoying the game we all love.”

Haydn Barrell, Director at The WiltshireThe Wiltshire Hotel Golf & Leisure Club was very privileged to host the recent Disabled Golf Association’s England vs Wales match. The skill, determination and good humour of all these players was wonderful to behold and it was a great pleasure to have them staying and playing at our facility. We are certainly looking forward to getting involved in any future tournaments or matches where possible. We wish them all the best for the future.

Sue Robertson, Project Manager for international events at DGAMany thanks for all at The Witshire for making our event so successful; the course, food, facilities and especially the welcome/service we received was excellent. Head Pro Marc McCracken and his grounds staff are to be congratulated on the quality of this excellent and challenging course. Glenbrae once again pulled out all the stops to provide polo shirts for Team England embroidered with the event logo; both teams looked very smart.”

Disabled Golf goes from strength to strength …

Next month (September 2104) sees The Shire play host to the next home countries international, a 3-day Ryder Cup styled event, with England (DGA) again defending last year’s win, and Scotland (represented by SDGP) playing for the AULD ENEMIES CUP Monday 15th-Wednesday 17th September 2014.

DGA is a pan-disability, not-for-profit organization, membership is free and organises events all over the country.

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About the Disabled Golf Association …

The main aim is to promote the game of golf as a pathway to a healthier lifestyle and greater social inclusion for those who are disabled, irrespective of age, gender or disability.

This includes providing the means to make it easier for the disabled player to access the facilities both on and off the course.

They aim to provide information about equipment to permit that increased accessibility, this can be done by means of single-seater buggies specifically designed for the disabled player, bespoke club and prosthetic adaptation as well as supplying professional coaching at events from those who have been trained to teach the sport.

In addition, they are keen to attract not only those who have played in the past prior to an illness or injury, but also those who have never played the sport and are seeking the unique benefits of a sport which can be played by anyone either alone against the course, or in teams against each other.

They look to provide a playing environment where the clubs are disabled friendly and accessible and the courses are pre-vetted to ensure that they are capable of being played by those with limited mobility.

By assisting in the launching of coaching academies and training sessions throughout the UK from our base in Gloucestershire, they plan to provide information on courses, equipment and holiday resorts for the disabled golfer.

And hope to offer all of these benefits to their members and others but also employment for those in the area who are disabled and can join us.

In 2014, they have events scheduled every week of the season in England – with 6 courses selected for the BGL Race to Burhill, 11 courses including a large number of Crown courses participating in the Order of Merit (OOM).

And plenty more excellent courses providing Disabled Golf Association local events where they take golf to the places where people live; they also have a good number of charity events planned throughout the season having been chosen as many Captain and Lady Captain charities in 2014.

They are supported by brands like BGL, Titleist, Glenbrae and from MASS and added Crown Golf as supporters for DGA.

New for 2014 is a partnership with IGEM South West and with PACE Rehabilitation.

Disabled Golf Association also have an ongoing partnership with the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS), who have chosen DGA as their charity of choice. This will bring much-needed funding to support the infrastructure of the organisation.

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By Ian Mullins

Ladies Golf… A new dawn?

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Ladies Golf is about to take a potentially game-changing vote and allow women to join the Royal And Ancient Golf!

As big promoters of women that play, TSG asked Felicity Dunderdale of FOREwomen.co.uk to express her views on the subject …

Felicity Dunderdale talks Ladies Golf

Felicity Dunderdale

Ladies Golf – Sorry, you can’t come in …

I remember playing at Formby Golf Club, near Liverpool (UK) a few years back having bought the ‘Winter Offer’ which included a round of golf and a bowl of soup.

I was with my boyfriend at the time, and after the game we headed to the bar, only to be stopped…as Ladies were not allowed! My brilliant day on the greens suddenly turned sour.

Fast-forward to 2014, and two decisions are looming on home turf.

One is the Scottish referendum, and the other is the vote to be made at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, a vote that will ask members: “Should women be allowed membership?”.

This subject is close to my heart, not just because I am a woman but because I believe there are many positives this game has to offer to women, and in turn, I can see how golf would benefit from some girl-power on the greens.

And yet, despite already being well into the 21st Century, we still have three clubs in UK that still don’t include women within the membership criteria.

Ladies Golf – The History of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club …

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, based at home of golf, St Andrews Scotland, is at the very pillar of the game. But here’s a few facts that may turn your head:

1. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club shouldn’t be confused with The Royal & Ancient (The R&A), an organisation which governs the rules of the game.

2. A decade ago, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club lost the responsibility of:

– The administration of the Rules of Golf in conjunction with the United States Golf Association (USGA)
– The running of The Open Championship and other key golfing events
– The development of the game in existing and emerging golfing nations

3. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club isn’t like local clubs. Although it is a member-only club, it does not own the courses surrounding the clubhouse, instead they’re public courses managed by St Andrew’s Links Trust.

Ladies Golf – Does anyone care about Ladies Golf?

Well I do! However, will the decision to allow women to become members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club have a positive effect on golf as a whole? Will an inclusive decision start to motivate a much-needed change in the game? Of course they will.

This led me to imagine what it would be like to have a woman in the chief executive role at the club?

The current chief executive is Peter Dawson, but he is due to retire next year. With a new leadership on the cards, shouldn’t we be more concerned with ladies representation within The R&A – perhaps even pushing a female chief executive?

Off the top of my head, Angela Howe could be just the woman.

She’s a museum and heritage director, and happens to be the only woman that sits on the R&A’s 18-member executive committee right now.

Ladies Golf – Voting for change…

On that important day in September, (according to a recent post by GolfDigest.com) members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club will be asked two questions:

1 .“Are you in favour of women members?”

2. “And if so, would you be open to letting 15 women in at once?”

15 new members might not be an earth-shattering event for most people, but it will be a major highlight for the game of golf here in the UK and I believe it will set the scene for a more inclusive game.

Let’s face it, if we can have women commentating on men’s football, surely we can have women that play golf!

#discuss

Written by Felicity Dunderdale

*Lead image courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

The Ryder Cup – The history …

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
Tony Jacklin & The Ryder Cup

Tony Jacklin & The Ryder Cup

Anticipation has never been higher, The Ryder Cup, the most prestigious and distinguished tournament in golf, is now just a few short weeks away …

The greens at Gleneagles are being trimmed in preparation and golfing’s elite will be building themselves up to go head to head with their cross-Atlantic counterparts.

It’s been over 40 years since the cup has been contested in Scotland and Gleneagles will be welcoming the greats from Europe and the USA officially for the first time since the competition’s inception in 1927.

Many fans across the continents are aware of all the famous moments: ‘The Miracle of Medina’, ‘The Battle of Brookline’, but few may be familiar with how the cup, named after English businessman Samuel Ryder, was born.

The Ryder Cup – The Beginnings …

Although 2014 will mark the first time ‘The Ryder Cup’ has been contested at the Perth and Kinross, the origins of the tournament can be traced back to a meeting in 1921 – six years before the famous trophy was first contested.

On September 27th 1920, Golf Illustrated wrote a letter to the PGA of America suggesting that a team of US professionals should take part in the British Open with a 12-a-side international warm-up match to be played at Gleneagles.

The USA lost that weekend, but when it really counted six years later in Worcester, Massachusetts, it was a runaway victory for the Stars and Stripes who secured a 9 ½ – 2 ½ victory.

The Ryder Cup – The Winners …

Ryder Cup Winners

Ryder Cup Winners

And that pattern followed for the next 50 years, with Great Britain (latterly to become Europe) only tasting success on three separate occasions. Walter Hagan was a big part of the United States’ dominance through the mid part of the century, setting the original standard by captaining the US to four victories in his six outings as skipper.

Walter Hagan was a big part of the United States’ dominance through the mid part of the century, setting the original standard by captaining the US to four victories in his six outings as skipper.

No man has captained their team as often as the 11-time major winner, with only Dai Rees, Charles Whitcombe and Tony Jacklin coming close.

And, coincidently, it was Jacklin who began to turn the tide for Europe in the 1980s.

The 1983 match at the PGA National Golf Club saw Jacklin go head-to-head once again with Jack Nicklaus, who, decades earlier, had sportingly conceded a two-foot putt that the Englishman needed to secure a tie for Europe during the 1969 Ryder Cup.

However, this time round Nicklaus neglected to offer the same amount of sportsmanship when his US side edged out their opponents by a narrow margin of 14 1/2- 13 ½.

Despite this narrow defeat, the 1983 European performance gave everybody on the continent hope that the US’ 26-year period of dominance was about to come to an end.

1983 was the first and only time Jacklin suffered defeat as captain, and under his stewardship, Europe headed into the 1990’s after experiencing  their most successful period in Ryder Cup history.

The Ryder Cup in 2014 …

Tom Watson - Ryder Cup Captain 2014

Tom Watson – Ryder Cup Captain 2014 courtesy of Montana Pritchard (Getty Images)

Today, the Ryder Cup couldn’t be more hotly contested.

Experts are tipping Europe as Ryder Cup favourites this time round following that majestic comeback in 2012 when the widely fancied Americans were left shell-shocked when Europe won eight out of 12 singles matches in the final round to mark one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.

Europe’s dominance over the last few years has been down to extracting the best out of players such as Ian Poulter who, renowned for his passion and spectacular under-pressure performances, have given the European’s the edge.

Poulter will be there once again this year, but he’ll be facing a US team that will be led by Tom Watson who has previously steered his nation to victory on British soil in 2002 with a 15-13 win at The Belfry.

The history of the Ryder Cup is one of the most fascinating in sport. As Seve looked down on Europe last time, we witnessed the most fascinating and enthralling tournament of them all.

2014 has a lot to live up to, but you can guarantee that whatever happens a new chapter in the Cup’s glittering history will be written.

By Ian Mullins