Live from the Abersoch Open 2011

In something of a diversion from my more usual fortnightly(ish) blog, which purports to be business continuity-related, this weekend I thought I’d give you an insight into the pressure cooker of the Abersoch Open golf tournament.

For this blog only, there will be no long rambling stories about beekeeping or domestic calamities or Barney the spaniel’s latest exploits; no tenuous links to business continuity – just a blow-by-blow account of the goings-on at this year’s epic chapter of the historic annual battle that is the Abersoch Open.

If you’re wondering why you don’t know much about this tournament there’s probably a good reason for that. After all – and this may come as a bit of a surprise – it isn’t actually a professional event. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s twelve blokes, who get together once a year for a weekend of golf, with the odd pint or two and a large amount of inane banter thrown in for good measure; twelve blokes who really should be old enough to know better but quite clearly aren’t.

Even if you’re not a golf enthusiast, why not tune in and follow our exploits over the Abersoch weekend. You won’t learn anything about business continuity management, or golf  for that matter, but it might give you a bit of a chuckle or a wry smile, or at least make you tut and shake your head despairingly.

Anyway, if you’re interested, watch this space for news as it breaks (if not, normal service will be resumed next week)…

 

The teams :

Us

Them

 

Day 1 (Royal Forest of Dean Golf Club) :

12:00(ish) Here we are again – the Abersoch Open boys are back in town. Much handshaking and back-slapping ensues, but there’s an undercurrent of tension as the significance of the event begins to dawn on this group of finely-honed athletes.

12:10 Despite the fact that handicap negotiations have been going on since February, with the usual outrageous claims and feeble excuses, some people seem intent on making a late bid for an increase.

I have to say that my nigh-on year-long battle with a shoulder injury is probably the only valid reason amongst the twelve of us for a handicap increase but for some strange reason I don’t seem to be getting the sympathy I was expecting.

Pretty much everyone claims not to have played at all since last year’s Abersoch – except Mike, who stupidly admits to having played six rounds in the last seven days.

12:20 We begin our preparations for the impending challenge. Being nutritionally aware, we all know the importance of a pre-match meal high in protein and carbohydrates, as favoured by top athletes the world over. Two of us have even eaten the salad garnish that came with our bacon and egg sandwiches and chips. Mark M chooses, as usual, to take his carbs in the form of Guinness.

12:35 Someone spots the fact that Phil, who arranged the engraving of the trophy after last year’s Abersoch (which, by all accounts, was done yesterday) has managed to spell someone’s surname wrong, attracting an appropriate amount of mickey-taking.

12:55 Tee-off time is 13:02 and everyone’s here except Alan. No surprise there as Alan’s always late. In one previous year he cut it so fine that he drove his car up to the first tee so as not to miss the start. On another occasion he was really, really late due to the fact that he was half way to Brighton despite the fact that the golf was in Devon.

Today’s on-course highlights include :

My opening of proceedings with a lovely straight drive. The problem was it went straight down the wrong line into the rough becoming the first lost ball of the day. But not the last. Not by a long chalk.

Phil driving his ball through the back of Mark and Julian’s buggy, miraculously avoiding crowning one or other of them, despite a second go when the ball bounces back off the inside of the windscreen.

Mike P driving to within two feet of the green on the nearest the pin in two hole, then missing the green completely with his second shot.

Chris putting in from off the 18th green in an episode reminiscent of the infamous “hand of God” incident a few years ago which earned him the nickname “Chip”.

After day 1 our team are 7 points ahead. YES!!

 

Day 2 (Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club) :

08:00 Whose idea was it to book a tee-off time of 9am? More to the point, whose idea was it to stay up ’til 1 in the morning drinking copious quantities of alcohol and talking utter rubbish? Two rounds today too. Could be a tough day.

09:00 On the first tee. I score some ibuprofen from my new dealer Julian. Just need it to kick in then work out which of the two balls to hit with which of the two drivers.

Oops, looks like I got it wrong then! Managed to scythe my first drive onto the adjacent fairway. At least I’m on the cut stuff today.

Today’s on-course highlights :

Me turning my back in disgust at my pulled drive on the first nearest the pin hole only to discover (from the incredulous comments of my playmates) that a friendly kick off the bank and the slope of the green have resulted in my ball finishing closer than anyone else. That’s £10 to me then!

Me taking the second nearest the pin prize – without even realising it.

Two pheasants fighting on the fairway – so intent on beating the proverbial out of each other that even two golfers and a buggy bearing down on them didn’t stop the action.

If there was a shortest drive competition Phil would have won it with his amazing 16 yard effort. The ball went almost vertically and only went as far as it did because of the slope at the front of the tee.

At the end of day 2 our team are 13 points ahead. The trophy’s as good as ours!

Today’s off-course highlights :

Several of the group retire to the hotel early to watch the Champions’ League final. One or two are quite vocal in their support for Barcelona, which for some strange reason seems to peeve the local Manchester United fans who are watching too.  Mike P and Chris shouting “come on Barcelona” and “send him off” (plus one or two unrepeatable ones) behind five large blokes in United shirts in their own pub in Wales (home of many Man United supporters, obviously) probably wasn’t their best move ever. After the match, one of the locals, a particularly thick-set chap (which is the polite way of putting it) is overheard slurring something about going back in to kill someone. Luckily he settles for looking menacing instead. What fun!

Later on we hear there’s a fight going on outside. A quick body count reassures us that none of our party are involved, so we get back to the serious business of drinking and talking nonesense. The barman disappears to sort it out, which impresses us no end as he’s about 5’3″ and skinnier than Julian. He comes back completely unscathed and does the same again about an hour later (we’ve obviously chosen a hotel in one of the classier parts of Monmouth), prompting theories that he must be some kind of Welsh Ninja.

22:00 Phil amazes us with his near encyclopaedic memory of song lyrics – particularly from 1970s childrens’ TV shows and Half Man Half Biscuit ditties.

22:30 On the quiz machine in the corner of the bar. Having exhausted all the general knowledge and sports quizzes we go for one of the racier ones. Chris somehow manages to answer all the questions on ‘top shelf’ magazines correctly within a split-second and we wonder if his new wife-to-be a) knows what she’s letting herself in for and b) will at some point discover the collection that he obviously has stashed away. It reminds us of last year when we discovered a saucy version of a ‘spot the difference’ game. It must have sounded like some kind of mild Tourette’s sufferers’ outing as the bar echoed to shouts of ‘pants’, ‘buttock’, ‘nipple’ and such like. Sad really.

23:14 The conversation turns to Barack Obama’s recent revelation that he’s actually Irish, whether he’ll now start putting an apostrophe in his surname and what kind of product placement deal he managed to negotiate with Guinness.

We wonder whether George W ever felt the need to return to his roots and conclude that he probably felt that images of him swinging on a tyre might be seen in a negative light by all but his most ardent supporters. That and the fact that PG Tips doesn’t have quite the same marketing appeal as Guinness.

00:20 Oh dear, is that the time already – so much for an early (and less boozy) night.

 

Day 3 (Monmouth Golf Club) :

08:30 Topics of conversation at breakfast include the youth of today and replacement kneecaps and hip joints before returning to the important business of the day.

10:00 In the clubhouse the tension mounts as the minutes tick away to our 10:30 tee-off time. A quick trip to the pro shop for me to buy more balls – I wonder if six will be enough seeing as I’ve lost about eight in the past two days. I think about getting some putting practice in but opt for a cup of tea instead.

Mark M realises he’s left something at the hotel – just the trophy, though, so nothing important! – so he dashes off to get it. Mike N thinks he’s left his wallet there, so off he to goes too. If we had a memory between us we’d be dangerous.

10:30 The final and deciding day’s golf begins. The tension and the excitement are almost palpable.

Today’s on course highlights :

Phil puts his drive off the 2nd tee out of bounds into the garden adjoining the fairway. He puts another ball down and hits a mighty drive – which scuds along the ground into the long grass in front of the tee, beating his previous shortest drive title by about six feet. I flirt with the out of bounds too but a slight fade keeps the ball in play, albeit bunker bound. It hits the bunker and somehow hops out to finish a foot or so from the front of the green, much to my and my partner, Mike’s, amusement. The opposition seem ever-so-slightly less amused and are unconvinced by my claims of ‘course craft’.

On the 3rd hole, Chris puts his first ball into the trees on the left so he hits a provisional ball. The ball hits one of the ladies tee markers twenty feet in front of him, knocking it clean out of the ground, and the ball rockets straight back towards him. Chris is now the proud holder of the shortest drive title. He feels that it doesn’t count on the grounds that it would have gone miles if the tee marker hadn’t been there. The rest of us are helpless and have to take a few moments to calm down before continuing our game.

Mark P does a similar thing with a marker post in front of a water hazard, narrowly avoiding being hit by his own ball. He tries again and flubs his ball into the water.

Mike P and I have our worst round of the week. Having won our two previous matches by six points and nine points respectively, we now can’t putt for toffee – or chip or drive for that matter. I manage to find pretty much every bit of rough and every bunker on the course and get behind just about every tree that it’s possible to get behind. For some reason gently lobbing my driver in the direction of my bag after putting a ball in the trees (for the second time) is taken by the opposition as some sort of sign that I’m a teeny bit cross with my game and elicits much amusement – just as well I didn’t chuck it in the lake like I wanted to. Mike does a sterling job of carrying me through my mid-round crisis. The Phil and Chris show, however, complement each other perfectly – when one has a bad hole the other comes up trumps and vice versa. Phil has quite obviously sold his soul to the devil in return for the ability to putt like a demon (or should that be bandit?), sinking at least three long putts from the fringes of various greens. We end the round on minus one, which is probably a good result considering how bad we were.

Despite a valliant effort by the opposition, pulling back the deficit by six points, our team manage to do enough and win the tournament by a margin of seven points over the three days.

And so to the bar for well-earned refreshments and the presentation of the trophy and prize money.

So that’s it for another year. After lots of handshaking and back-slapping and “see you next year”s, we go our separate ways.

Roll on Abersoch 2012!

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