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Well the day finally arrived. After receiving the call from Golf Monthly telling me I had won the competition to enter a the fourball team in the Dundonald Masters on May 12, Calum, Davie, Jim and I had been waiting impatiently for this day to come round. We were going to be treated like pro golfers for the day by Major Golf Events and could not wait to see how they are looked after when they turn up at events.
We checked the weather report before leaving. “Sunny with light winds” – fantastic conditions for golf. Or so we thought. We arrived at Dundonald Links around 9am and were greeted by the excellent staff, they just couldn't do enough for you. After parking our car, they carried our bags in and gave us a tour so we knew where everything was and got us registered.
We met up with former England footballer David Platt who was organising the event and he introduced us to Jim in the locker room. Jim must be the hardest worked of all the staff, it was like having a butler with you, he cleans the shoes you arrived in while you are on the course, supplies you with towels, soap etc when you finish and then cleans all your golf gear while you shower and eat. What a great service!
After meeting Jim and getting the keys to our lockers and bag of goodies we were taken for our breakfast, I would be lying if I said it was a struggle to eat due to nerves, as you don't get a gut like mine without eating one too many sausages.
We allowed the food settle while we chatted with some of the celebrities who were playing and then headed out to the fantastic practice facilities at Dundonald Links, this is when we first noticed that light winds forecast for this area is the same as a force five gale everywhere else.
They have without doubt one of the best practice areas I have been on. The greens for practice were better than most of the greens I had played on all year. They also had the balls set up in little pyramids, which seemed to amuse the lads, and again the service was great as before you got down to the last layer of balls someone would appear with a fresh basket so you were never standing around waiting for balls.
We met up with David the photographer on the practice green and after making us stand in some funny poses – I'm sure he was having a good laugh at our expense – we headed for the first tee.
As I put the tee in the ground I tried hard to relax by breathing deep and slow.
I stood back, looked down the fairway and tried to imagine the perfect drive. I took a couple of practice swings, had another look around and let rip with the driver.
Right down the middle to great applause. My god it felt great.
The rest of the lads followed we were all on the fairway and looking good let the game begin. I forgot to mention that the format for the day was best two scores from four, stableford with ¾ handicaps
I was 130 yards away normally no more than a 9-iron but with the wind I took a 5-iron out and nailed it to 10ft. David tried to convince me it was him being there taking my picture that had helped – yeah right. If that's the case, it's also his fault I missed the birdie putt. But we were off to a good start with both myself and Calum scoring par 4s for nett birdies: 6pts on the first hole.
We followed this up with nett pars on the second, then again we had a couple of nett birdies on the third. I won't bore you with a hole-by-hole account, but the scoring remained steady on the front nine with everyone playing their part and we had managed to total 39 points.
As we started on the back nine the wind was getting stronger, if that was possible, but again we got of to a great start. Davie and I scored nett birdies on the 10th and Davie and Jim again had nett birdies on the 11th with a great up and down from the pot bunker by Davie.
The wind was now so strong that Jim managed to carry 230yards with a 7-iron. The back nine would be a stern test without any wind, but with the wind, some tricky greens and devilish pin positions it was a hard going and unfortunately we could not keep up our good scoring but we still enjoyed playing on what is a great course. In the end we had 32pts for the back nine for a total of 71 – not great, but good under the circumstances.
Back in the clubhouse we were convinced we were well out of the hunt, but during dinner we kept hearing the groups coming in moaning about how hard they found it and thanking god they never played it of the championships tees as had originally been planned.
So to the prize giving. David hung around as he was sure our 71 was enough for at least third and he did not want to miss out on a photo opportunity, in third with 65pts were Jardine Lloyd Thompson, second with 68 were FJ Foods and in first place with 71pts the lads from Golf Monthly. Sorry for doubting you David, you do know a thing or two about golf after all!
After another photo shoot with David, we were entertained by Stan Boardman doing an impromptu stand-up routine, I never realised how funny he is. Most of the time you could see the punchline coming but he was still a great laugh.
Overall it is one of the best days of golf I have had with great company, a winning score and great entertainment. Thanks again Golf Monthly and Major Golf for a fantastic prize - just hope we can get the opportunity to defend our title. Hint, hint!
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