Sunday, 12 October 2014

Harey Cup 2014 - Day 3

A relatively subdued Saturday night out in one of Marbella's finest tapas restaurants (best patatas bravas in Spain, allegedly) was, quite literally, the calm before the storm. I must have written a million times that superlatives are very easily overused, but 'biblical' wouldn't really do justice to the volume of water dumped on the Costa del Sol in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The gladiators awoke to a sound akin to not only the four apocalyptic horsemen, but their mates & tennis partners too. Surely, the prospect of any golf being played, at least in the timeframes required for homeward travel was, much like Geoff's appetite, pretty thin.

As it turned out, the gods were clearly golfers, the rain pausing for long enough that we might get underway, behind schedule by a mere 15-20 minutes. This good fortune would dissipate rather rapidly, drops of rain falling steadily from the 3rd hole until the world fell out of the sky whilst we were playing the par-5 5th. The sheer volume of water meant play was impossible and, after waiting around for nigh on an hour, the decision was made to drive in, sparking much debate about the impact on the tournament & the destination of the Harey Cup.

The enforced break allowed for a refuelling stop - club sandwiches for most and, tellingly in the context of the results that followed, carbonara pasta for a chosen few. None of the bedraggled athletes knew the impact that split-second culinary decision would have.

Further debate ensued about the wiseness of trying to restart, but the cessation of the rain had allowed the course to make a miraculous recovery, so much so that it was easily playable some 30 minutes before we all eventually returned to our balls and resumed the matches. The decision was taken to shorten the final day to 9 holes, leaving some players in challenging situations but, for pyrrhical prevention for the winning team, it was the right call. This is what happened.

Match 1: Phil vs Simon
This match actually started behind matches 2 & 3, playing through on the short second once the logistical & plumbing issues had been sorted out by Simon. It's fair to say that the quality of golf on display was 'not high', both players trying their hardest to secure a vital point whilst battling to avoid the ignominy of taking home the wooden spoon (& the honour of organising the 2015 trip). Simon eventually triumphed 3&2.

Cup score: Team Spy 4 - Team Tom 3

Match 2: Geoff vs Tom
Tom started off hitting some really nice iron shots but struggled on & around the greens. Despite this, Tom found himself the beneficiary of an unfortunate clerical error by his opponent on the 1st to take an early lead. After a sense of normality on #2, Geoff taking the hole with a regulation par, Tom strung 4 nice shots together on the 3rd for a gross par, 4 stableford points and restoration of the 1-hole lead. The enforced break did not turn out well for Tom where his own clerical error meant he ate a club sandwich instead of carbonara (a pasta dish of seemingly magical powers). Tom never got going again, Geoff's consistent pars and bogeys sufficient to conclude the match on the 8th by a 3&1 margin. Tom's only consolation for not contributing any points to his team was the pleasing symmetry of 6 stableford points and 6 lost balls.

Cup score: Team Spy 5 - Team Tom 3

Match 3: James vs Nick
In the eagerly anticipated clash of the equally low handicappers, James was after a hat-trick of points and a first 100% Harey Cup return, whereas Nick was not only trying to win a vital point for Team Tom but (in the much-bantered absence of brother Julian) was also defending his family name at the top of the golfing pile. James got the match underway and drew first blood, a fine up & down from the greenside rough being too strong for a ball that had visited a hedge, rough and sand. A bizarre incident occurred on the par-3 2nd, a moment many a sports psychologist would describe as pivotal. In practicing for a birdie putt, James brushed the ball, meaning his 25-footer was now to save par. Two strokes later and the hole was halved, the missed opportunity to double his lead undoubtedly contributing to his car-crash golf on holes 3, 4 & 5 immediately before the rain-enforced delay. A narrow half on the short 6th meant James was up against it over the remaining three holes and, after a ridiculously long drive on the next hole, Nick's excellent par was enough to take the point 3&2 for Team Tom.

Cup score: Team Spy 4 - Team Tom 4

Match 4: Richie vs Charlie
Charlie was looking to rediscover his Friday form, restore some pride after Saturday's battering and maintain his 100% record in Sunday singles; Richie was still feeling the effects of Friday's gangnam-style night out and was far from his best. As it turned out, the threat of lost balls was the decisive influence, Richie battling to secure the Harey Cup with a win on the 5th yet putting 2 deep into the cabbage on the 7th swinging the match back in Charlie's favour. A half on the tough par-5 8th was enough to take the victory for Tom's team of miracle workers 2&1.

Cup score: Team Spy 4 - Team Tom 5

Match 5: Andy vs Mark
Mark started strongly in his quest to end six years of singles hurt for the Southport man, taking advantage of any error offered up by Andy, both sides of the storm break, to guarantee a half point on the 6th green. In sight of the chequered flag, like so many things over the weekend, Mark's memories of previous defeats came surging through him, as Andy won the long 7th to keep the match alive. Standing on the 8th tee, with a 100yd carry over water, Mark was shaking like the proverbial shitting dog. The o/b tee shot had a certain inevitability about it, although the outcome of the hole, & indeed the match, was far from certain. Sure enough, Mark found himself relying on Andy to miss a gimme-length putt to take an unexpected, yet ultimately vital, match-winning, point for Team Tom.

Mark won 2&1

Cup score: Team Spy 4 - Team Tom 6

Team Tom win the Harey Cup & complete the Miracle of Marbella

No trip like this is possible without its participants and, most importantly of all, its organiser. Hats off to Tom for an excellent choice of golfing venue.

I am the Part-Time Golfer

Harey Cup 2014 - day 2

The morning after the night before. The previous evening was a distant memory for (most of) the touring party when the sun crept over the mountains to signal the second day of the Harey Cup.
How would today's golf compare to Friday? Would anyone be suffering after-effects of a hard night of drinking/lack of sleep/both? Thankfully, at least, the weather was perfect for the whole day, allowing us to focus on the game in hand.
In Match 1, James took on Charlie. Having witnessed some fine golf from him the previous day, James was wary of overconfidence around delivering a point for Team Spy. As it transpired, Charlie managed to lose balls on the opening two holes, handing James a lead which ultimately would not be relinquished. Wayward golf from James around the turn, coupled with a glimmer of Charlie's Friday form, briefly threatened a comeback, until one visit to the foliage too many, followed by some par-3 trouble, meant handshakes on the 14th green on a 5&4 win for James.
In Match 2, Richie clearly suffered the after-effects of a late night (or was it an early morning?) on Friday &, unfortunately, Phil's new putter was not enough weaponry alone to prevent a defeat to Nick & Mark. Nick did continue his opening tee shot form, carving one wildly away from its intended line to hand an initiative to Team Spy but, once the hangover had fully subsided, the superior golf from Team Tom led to handhakes on the tough par-3 15th for a 4&3 win.
In Match 3, there was a similar late night/early morning contributing factor to the end result, Andy & Geoff coming from 2 down stood on the 15th tee to beat Simon & Tom 2-up. With the benefit of hindsight, Simon's pre-golf glass of red might not have been the best warm-up method to employ. That said, Geoff found his form on the back nine, shooting level par gross which is tricky to beat, hungover or not.
So, a day which had a distinct possibility of bringing the two teams level ended up with a vital 4-2 lead for Team Spy and one hand on the coveted Harey Cup. One wonders if the smell of victory will turn into a whiff of overconfidence...?
I am the Part-Time Golfer

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Harey Cup 2014 - day 1

It's here. After many weeks of anticipation, build-up and excitement, 10 intrepid golfers were ready to take on whatever challenges La Quinta could throw at them. The 2014 Harey Cup was underway.

Much speculation had surrounded the all-important running order so, once the whole party had arrived late on Thursday night, the matches were announced ahead of Friday's play.

In Match 1, Richie (2013 losing captain and keeper of spreadsheets), representing Team Spy, took on Mark from Team Tom. Richie started strongly and was 3 up after 4. It then fell apart a bit, Mark playing very solidly to win the next two holes and peg Richie back.

The last three holes of the front nine were tight but, with some characteristically wayward play from both, the lead remained slender at the turn. With the bit between his teeth, Richie accelerated to reopen a three-hole lead and, despite Mark battling back, the inclement weather didn't help matters and Richie eventually triumphed 3&2 to get the first point for Team Spy.

Match 2, the first of the fourball games, saw James & Andy renew their golfing acquaintance for Team Spy against Charlie and captain Tom. Tom started very strongly with back-to-back pars, taking advantage of sloppy hungover play from Andy & James to be 3-up after 3 holes. A turning point was the 5th, both Charlie and Tom leaving tee shots short of the red tees, resulting in short droppage. Andy's fine par on that long par-5 sparked the fightback; a near ace from James on the short 6th followed by two straight pars brought the match back to all square.

Despite good golf from Andy & James after the weather turned for the worse, the lead was never more than 2 holes and fine play from Charlie on the 15th threatened to make the final holes nervous for Team Spy until James drained a birdie on the 17th to guarantee a half point. The long par 5 final hole was too much for the high handicappers, a par from James securing a 2-hole win.

In the third & final match, debutant Geoff carried captain Phil against Nick (obviously) and Simon (Immodium's marquee signing for the tour). Nick decided his opening tee shot from last year's singles was a benchmark to aim for, an ugly shank leading to an early lead for Team Spy. With Geoff playing solidly, Nick struggling for rhythm and Simon still suffering from the night before, Phil's lack of participation wasn't really a problem, the match ebbing & flowing around a 1-hole lead. Phil found some form on the back nine, coincidentally at the same time that the driver & hybrid were locked away to ensure a tense finish. Simon shook off the bowel issues to nearly drive the green on the 300yd 16th followed by Nick pipping James to the nearest the pin on the 17th. Luckily for him, the failure to convert the birdie chance wasn't costly and the match was all square on the final tee. Geoff's luck ran out on the last hole and, having not let the earlier club breakage affect his play, it was left to Phil to keep the game alive. An aggressively celebrated putt forced Nick or Simon to hole out and, under some considerable pressure, Nick drained his Dennis Wise to secure a point and prevent a whitewash for Team Spy.

So, as predicted by your author, a 2-1 lead for Team Spy and the contest is very much alive...unlike many of the team this morning after last night's excursion to Puerto Banus. Day 2 awaits and, thankfully, afternoon tee times to allow the requisite recovery.

I am the Part-Time Golfer

Monday, 6 October 2014

2013 Harey Cup memories

I had a bit of a play with a new video app and I put together a little collection of snapshots from the 2013 Harey Cup at La Cala Resort, Spain. Enjoy...

Friday, 3 October 2014

Harey Cup 2014 - preview

One week. Just seven short days until the Harey Cup starts for the seventh time of asking so I thought I would do a little preview of what's to come.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

It's very quiet...too quiet

I've offered more than one of these half-arsed apologies about lack of blog-tivity in the past, so it's high time for another.

I've been pretty busy - work, family, work, holidays. And some work.

A bit of golf has been played since the culmination of the golfathon in mid-June, including an extremely enjoyable three days in the garden of England, taking in the two courses at Dale Hill as well as Chart Hills.

Whilst I certainly didn't threaten any record books at Dale Hill, I did manage to break 80 for the first time in more than a year at Chart Hills - it was a thoroughly enjoyable round and would have been even more impressive had I not kicked off with a fugly triple, not to mention the two doubles for good measure

What's coming up? Well, as documented in great depth last year, I am just four weeks away from the next instalment of the Harey Cup - Spain is, again, the country of choice; La Quinta, near Puerto Banus (that bastion of taste & elegance) the venue for four days of white-hot Ryder Cup-style some beers.

More to follow on this extravaganza in due course.

I am the Part-Time Golfer

Thursday, 19 June 2014

They think it's all over...

After many months of planning, changes to format, personnel and even location, the great charity golfathon of 2014 is finished. Having had a few days to recover and reflect on what happened, it's now time to share a summary of events.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Golfathon 2014 - The Final Countdown

The clock is ticking. The wait is almost over. We are into the final week before the start of what is probably the greatest golfing challenge in the history of the world, EVER.

OK, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but it's certainly fair to say that what we are taking on is no mean feat, especially as we have got closer to the kick off and the reality of what we are attempting becomes apparent.

The major piece of news follows on from the last entry, and concerns the discovery of a clash at one of the venues. After some careful consideration & discussion, we took the decision to abandon the plan of having a Team Bedfordshire and bring that team together with the other two groups at Mid Sussex GC, so we will be all in one location.  This was not an easy decision to make and I will always be grateful for the support, interest and involvement of Julie at Colmworth GC but, in the circumstances, it was absolutely the right call to make. Habing experienced the Macmillan Longest Day challenge in 2011, I certainly wouldn't have enjoyed that if we had been 'sharing the billing' with another group, regardless of their goals and fundraising activities - with that in mind, we thought it best that we secure the collaboration & camerarderie of having all three teams together by clearing the path for the folks at Colmworth.

Equipment needs have largely been met, the final shopping list discussed this morning and the logistics of getting us all together are basically there. I will be trying to source some last-minute additions to the stash whilst in New York this week but I think we are pretty much sorted.

We are also pleased to receive confirmation from On Course Foundation that one of their members, Mark Walters, will be joining us from 10am on Thursday. It will be a humbling experience to play golf with this man and hear some first-hand details about the work that the charity do for these folks.

Finally, the regular sponsorship beg - we continue to make solid progress towards our target but there is, as ever, a long way to go and we need every penny we can get. Please, if you can spare anything at all we would be eternally grateful - is the link. Thank you.

If anything else crops up between now and Thursday, I'll be sure to let you know. Wish us luck.

I am the Part-Time Golfer

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Weekly golfathon update - <2 weeks to go

I did give you fair warning that there was a good chance the regularity of updates would fade as time went on - it's been nearly two weeks since the last entry and, with the event creeping ever closer, it's time for some more info.

Main news has been the astonishing progress made on sponsorship, particularly in the last 48 hours. Having ambled along our 'Road to £10k' since kicking off the requests for cash, there was a genuine concern that we might fall embarrassingly short. Thankfully, those fears are proving to be unfounded, due to the generosity and willingness of so many people to dip into theit pockets and support this fabulous cause.

A flurry of individual donations took us through the £1000 barrier early on Thursday, followed by the first of the matched funding pledges from team member's employers. I must say a massive thank you to the folks at Santander and Legal & General for their extraordinary donations which, along with further individual support has pushed us very close to the £4000 mark. We are all so grateful for everyone who has donated although we still have a long way to go to hit the target! The fundraising page is and anything you can spare goes a long way.

The other news is publicity - I would also like to thank EM Acoustics, the excellent loudspeaker manufacturer, who very kindly provided us with somewhere in the region of 1000 professional flyers to hand out & post through letterboxes. The folks who run EM have been great supporters of my absurd charity golfing ventures and their generosity on this occasion is fantastic - thanks!

Now on to the topic of practice - since our 27 hole get-together at Farnham Park a couple of weeks ago, little has happened from a personal perspective until right now, where I am midway through a two day, two round trip to Royal Birkdale. With (yet another) trip to the US due next week, this represents the last chance for any semblance of practice before the off.


Anyhoo, the Sussex folks took it upon themselves, having had a second 27 hole day immediately after ours, to get some night golf practice in on Thursday. The feedback was that it was an 'interesting' experience, made all the more challenging with the lack of glow sticks on the flags and, additionally, glowing & flashing balls that didn't - or at least, not for very long. Some equipment challenges to test us to the very last minute then.

The final thought for this entry is a bit of a dilemma (a rhetorical one really - please don't write in) - I discovered late yesterday that, on the same day as the golfathon, there will be another group completing the Macmillan Longest Day challenge (72 holes in the one day) at Colmworth GC. I don't believe there will be a logistical problem in terms of getting in each other's way, but I am concerned about the impact on the attention & awareness that having two golfing marathons running simultaneously will have. I have put this situation to the while team and, interestingly, there is a groundswell of opinion towards bringing all three teams together in the one venue in Sussex.

Clearly there is a logistical hurdle or three to overcome (not least the publicity associated with Colmworth and not wanting this potential change to come across as a dummy-spit) but it's an unexpected topic to mull over and, even after sleeping on it last night, I am no clearer in my mind or nearer to a decision about what to do.

I am the Part-Time Golfer

Monday, 19 May 2014

Weekly golfathon countdown - 3.5 weeks to go

Yet again I have failed in my self-flagellatory task of maintaining a weekly update for the blog, so this is a bumper two-and-a-half week edition!! 

OK, fine, so it'll be pretty much the same as all the others, just more than a fortnight since the last one. Stop whining, for feck's sake.

Nutshell update: 

Sponsorship has a bloody long way to go, corporate matched funding notwithstanding - there have been some conflicts for the various members of Team Never Up Never In, with rival charity events vying for the hard-earned funds in people's pockets, but this week is the time to really push on and make some progress, particularly towards the key thresholds at which matches funding from corporates will kick in.

36 hole practice day was planned for Sunday at Farnham Park GC, nr Slough; two-thirds of the team (eventually) met up yesterday afternoon for a hit in the blazing Berkshire heat. Sincere thanks are to be extended to On Course Foundation for their kind provision of the banner and the orange golf shirts, which certainly help us to stand out from the crowd. Additionally, our friends at Pernod Ricard have very kindly donated a set of Ballantine's Championship IJP Design shirts & jackets - both these equipment donations are incredibly generous and make a big difference to the success of the event. In the picture below, Dave & I are sporting the orange OCF shirts, whilst Gary, Simon, Pete and Graham are modelling the Ballantine's gear

Media coverage is starting to pick up - we had articles published on the Golfmagic & Golfing for Charity websites plus we have James Corrigan from The Telegraph & Golfshake also preparing to write about our venture. Our expectation is that this additional coverage will help to drive attention, support & sponsorship so please look out for these articles and help us reach out target.

A number of equipment supplies are still required, with many a begging letter going unanswered. We have a desperate need for night golf gear, with a couple of promising leads not yet coming to fruition. If anyone is involved with, or knows of contacts for, suppliers of energy bars/drinks and night golf equipment, please reach out to us!

So all in all, lots still to achieve before we can get cracking with this event and not very much time left in which to achieve it

I am The Part-Time Golfer