One of the honours of being the GCMA national captain is the opportunity to attend the Open Championship. While delighted, I was unsure of how the week would unfold. Here’s a little glimpse into my experience.
It started with a drive to the course with friends from my own club, who were to marshall the 13th hole. We ambled to the driving range gust where Dustin Johnson was hitting the back fence into the breeze! I made contact with the new managing secretary, Adam Moule – a GCMA member – and was privileged to be invited into the clubhouse for a chat.
On Tuesday I visited West Lancs for the Sports Publications golf day. Our team finished a creditable fourth and it was a great opportunity to find out more about the GCMA’s media partner’s work outside of our association. On the final practice day, Bob Williams and I attended the British Golf Industry Association lunch as a guest of Stephen Lewis, chairman of the Golf Foundation.
John Bushell, of Sports Marketing Surveys, presented some fascinating insights, including data that suggested cycling participation is now in decline. We then went to a PGA reception to witness the award of Master Professional status to four professionals. I caught up with Duncan Weir from the R&A, a great supporter of the association and the North West Region, who was keen to hear the latest GCMA developments.
On day one of the Open, I bumped into JR Jones, GCMA president, who was working with NBC Golf as their rules advisor. I am sure the US audience appreciated his extensive knowledge and expertise – though I don’t know if he was lucky enough to be on air during Jordan Spieth’s foray on to the range on Sunday.
I also witnessed the sterling efforts of our colleagues at BIGGA. Saturday was a special day as I took my son and my grandson. It brought back superb memories as Nick also came with me to the Open in 1991 when my club professional at Ashton-in-
Makerfield, Peter Allan, marked the card of Ian Baker-Finch, the eventual winner who shot 64 in the third round. My grandson Christopher enjoyed a chipping lesson in the Swing-Zone, then it was on to the course. As we waited to cross in front of the 10th, Charl Schwartzel made his way along the path. Christopher was clapping enthusiastically when Charl stopped and handed him a ball with ‘Charl’ written on it.
This was a surprising gesture and one an eight-year-old will never forget.
The final day saw links golf at its best. The organisation and infrastructure was first-class. It was a privilege to witness such an event, especially at a club managed by one of our members.