History In The Making

Just occasionally, perhaps once in a lifetime if you are lucky, everything comes together for 18 glorious holes and the game seems worthwhile. Former club secretary Graham Stride considers himself incredibly fortunate to have witnessed his very own piece of golfing magic.

Saturday 1st September 2007 was the most beautiful late summer morning. The sky was azure blue, hardly a breath of wind and our course, The Burley, was in magnificent condition ? who could of dreamt the drama that was about to unfold.

Richard Macro and I were drawn to play at 8am and I was looking forward to the round as I always do when playing with a better golfer. At the time, Richard was a 5-handicapper and I played off 10. We exchanged pleasantaries for a few moments and proceeded to tee-off. As we marched down the fairway, I put my hand on Richard?s shoulder and said "we?ve no chance today mate, unfortunately it?s a stableford" ? little did I know I was to have to eat my words!

On the first green Richard?s second shot came to rest approximately 20ft from the hole and I was about 15ft. Richard rolled in the putt for a birdie three. The second is a 118-yard par 3 and having hit his tee-shot he exclaimed "go ball", encouraging it to clear the bunker in front of the green. "That?s got plenty" I reassured him and sure enough it pitched at the front and calmly rolled forward some two to three yards and dropped in for a perfect hole-in-one. Not bad, 3-under after two holes.

The 3rd tee shot was probably the only slight wayward shot in the round. The hole is a sharp dogleg left, par 5, and Richard had pulled it a touch to the left - it was important to get it back in play, which he promptly did. His 3rd shot came up a touch short of the green, not surprising as all the trouble is over the back on this hole. He then proceeded to chip the ball in the hole for a birdie 4. Were we about to witness something special here? You bet!! He made par at 4 and 5 and on the 6th rolled in another splendid putt for a birdie 3? 5 under.

A terrific putt across the green at 7 and yet another birdie - 6 under. He then made a solid par at 8 and followed this with a fine tee shot on 9. Before Richard played his 2nd shot I noticed four golfers teeing-off at the 1st (ours is a 9-hole course) which filled me with horror. I approached the four, two members and two visitors, and explained that the course was closed until 4pm when the the current competition was over. They had unfortunately not read the notices in the clubhouse indicating the closure and so understandably were a little reluctant to leave the course on such a beautiful morning. I felt it was part of my job to see this guy round and avoid any complications which may put his round in jeopardy. I pointed this out a little more forcibly and they duly left the course, luckily Richard had not been bothered by this and calmly made two putts to keep at 6-under.

The course record at The Burley Golf Club had stood at 70 since its formation in 1905 and was broken to 68 in 1991 only to be equalled on justr over half a dozen occasions but no one had managed the elusive 67. Par on the back nine is 35 so he had to shoot 2-over to claim the record. Needless to say, this was never mentioned and I attempted to make general conversation without prattling on and disturbing his concentration.

At one point Richard asked why I?d picked up my ball but I was so tuned into his game that although I may have managed to score a point I declined, purely to keep the continuity of the round. It was at this stage I realised that if I marked the card reasonably neatly and Richard made the course record, the card would be displayed at the club. It wouldn?t look great if my score was a disaster so it was buck-up time and I eventually managed 32 points, acceptable on such a momentous day. Richard coolly made par at 10, 11, 12 and 13 and lo and behold we both birdied the par 5 14th hole - 7 under.

I was so excited I could barely contain myself, but definitely no mention of a course record. A par ensued at the 15th and we were then left with quite a difficult finish on 16, 17 and 18. Richard stated that he would like a steady three holes and I agreed, indicating that his card was pretty good. He comfortably made par on the difficult 16th - still 7 under! Another fine tee-shot on the 157 yard par 3 17th and a terrific putt from 20ft for birdie - 8 under.

How this man kept his composure I can scarcely imagine as I was in grave danger of needing a change of underwear. Another fine second shot on the 18th left a comfortable two putts for par but not content with that he, yet again, rolled in a putt for another birdie. 9 under - 62 gross - 57 nett - 50 points stableford and a course record shattered by 6 shots. Richard stated it was one of those days, I disagreed with this, it was a game in a lifetime and I could never ever see it being beaten.

Richard has since won, with his partner, the Mixed Club Championship and also became Mens? Champion with two rounds of 72 gross. A fantastic achievement but well earned as he practices very hard at all aspects of his game.

I have been associated with The Burley Golf Club for 30 years and retired as Secretary/Manager in November 2005 and I have never witnessed such amazing amateur golf anywhere. Almost perfect tee to green and putting to die for. I feel so privileged to have been part of this fantastic feat and when I relate the story to others I feel the goose pimples as I relive it. Well done Richard, September 1st 2007 will be etched on my mind forever.

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