Visiting the regions and meeting as many golf club managers as possible has to be the best part of being National Captain. But second has to be taking part in the international matches.
The GCMA (England) play five internationals per year, against Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Sweden. They are played at home one year and away the following in each country. Without exception they are played on magnificent golf courses, are friendly but competitive and have a great social aspect, but best of all is the networking and camaraderie with fellow golf club managers.
Let’s give you a flavour of what was on offer this year.
England played Sweden over three days on three different courses at St Andrews. The first night both teams had a relaxing evening in the old town at a local restaurant, the second night we dined in splendid style at Forgan House overlooking the 18th green of the Old Course, and on the final night we were in the new St Andrews New clubhouse, also overlooking the Old Course.
We played France at Prince’s and Royal St George’s and had dinner in the wonderful clubhouse of Royal St George’s.
The match against Ireland was played at Enville GC in the Midlands. I feel embarrassed to say I had not heard of this club that must be one of the best inland courses in the UK I have ever seen.
We played Wales at Hankley Common GC, a course with a great reputation that I had not played before. Its reputation is well deserved if not understated; it is simply magnificent.
Our final international was against Scotland at The Berkshire. Like its close neighbours Wentworth, Sunningdale GC and Swinley Forest GC, it is a course that simply oozes quality and, even if you are not playing at your best, is a joy to be at.
My advice to all readers is to look out for the magazine in springtime when GCMA members are asked if they would like to be considered to take part in the matches. You do not have to be a category one player and the matches are not sponsored or subsidised. But it is an experience not to be missed that will be remembered forever.