A little earlier in the year than usual due to Mr. Ewan Fraser's imminent elevation to the Senior ranks, eleven hardy souls made the journey north over the weekend of 23rd to 25th April. To maximise the competition, the Spring Stableford was played over Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Excellent scoring (from most) saw Donald score a narrow victory over Ewan by 83 points to 81 to lift the tankard for the first time. Joe finished comfortably out of the top ten, thus guaranteeing an extra outing to pre-qualify for the 2005 event!
Other formats for the weekend included a Scramble won by Donald, JK and Bob with a fine 62, and a 1-2-3 accumulator (Bob special) won on 89 points by (almost certainly) Joe, Brian and Donald.
Accomplished accommodation guru Brian had secured the Seafield for most of us, with the overspill (and the a***holes billeted across the road in Dunallan.
Splendid weather coupled with a Saturday evening trip to Dalrachney made a fine start to the GGS 2004 season.
This year's summer trip to Grantown was held over the weekend of 6/7/8 August with the Grantown Open and the Seniors up for grabs. With Scoop electing to get some early southern European acclimatisation rather than play golf, the magnificent seven (Bob, Brian, Dave, Donald, Jim, Joe and Pete) took full advantage of the fine weather, with the course in magnificent condition as always.
Following the traditional champagne breakfast on the beach, Bob, Brian and Dave bought Jim, Joe and Peter lunch in the clubhouse, courtesy of a five point win on a roll-up accumulator format. Brian and Bob had a two each, 8th and 16th respectively.
It was decided to play the Grantown Open over the Friday and Saturday afternoon rounds (strokeplay!), with the Seniors being contested over 18 holes on Saturday morning (Stableford).
Some very fine scoring (from most) on Friday afternoon saw the top five on level par or better (until we remembered to dock Donald's handicap by one for being very good in 2002). Peter and JK were the real hotshots with nett 63s, with Bob just behind on 65. A two each for Peter (8th) and JK (16th). Peter and Brian beat Dave and Joe for a Himalaya curry. Oh yes, and Joe broke a solid run of 8s with a hole-in-one at the 16th - see card below!
More fine warm weather on Saturday morning saw Bob carry off the Seniors title in some style with 44 points to Donald's 38 and Peter's 37. Dave and Donald each had a 2 at the 16th, and Donald and Joe won a bottle of wine from Brian & JK.
After a moderate (!) lunch at the clubhouse, JK found the pressure of being joint leader of the Grantown Open overnight too much to handle and blew up at the 6th. Dave and Joe managed to get into the "respectable" zone, but hotshot Millar was just too good, adding a 64 to his 65 for a total of 129, winning by seven shots from Peter, with Donald just one shot further adrift, and Brian a further two back on 139. Bob & Donald beat JK & Peter for "an expensive bottle of wine".
With Bob awash with official prize money and Joe eager to spend his hole-in-one fund, no-one went hungry or thirsty in Grantown on Saturday night. Brian came up with yet another way to avoid playing golf on the Sunday by locking his car keys in the boot!
A gentle fourball on Sunday morning playing scramble rules saw Bob and Donald beat Joe and Jim by about one hole (by an impressive 4 under to 3 under).
Continued superb weather coupled with some "enthusiastic amateurs" in charge of the Seafield ensured a highly satisfying weekend. See some photos below:
Click on Thumbnail picture to see larger image
|Bob receives the Grantown Open Trophy from Joe|
|The Supreme Champion in action|
|Joe's scorecard from Friday afternoon!|
Overseas Tour - September
Following some decidedly tactical voting at an AGM at the Merchants, the Costa Brava was selected as the next zone to host the GGS overseas tour. The lucky eight combatants are Bob, Dave, Donnie, Ewan, Gordon, Ian, Jim and Joe, with Ewan's "ticket" coming courtesy of a 50th birthday present from his chums.
For some strange reason, Bob Millar was put in charge of the golf details and he has selected direct Globespan flights between Edinburgh and Barcelona, the fine Platja Park Hotel, and the toughest courses in Spain. The selected courses are:
|Friday 24/09||PGA Catalunya||11:30|
|Sunday||Mas Nou (Golf D'Aro)||
Day 0 - Travel
After a fairly early start at Edinburgh Airport, the 2004 Costa Brava tour was off and running with a traditional champagne send-off, followed by a reasonably comfortable flight to Barcelona with flyglobespan. Following minor technical difficulties with the latest DJL gadgetry, and poor signposting at Barcelona airport, the team made it to the hotel in Platja D'Aro, with an impromptu, but very pleasant tour of central Barcelona for one of the cars.
A quick visit into the town identified plenty of potential eating and drinking venues for the week.
Day 1 - PGA Catalunya
A fairly tough start to the tour with a par 72, 7,000+ yard course with lots of water and a shortage of buggies!
Format for the day was two fourballs with better-ball matchplays for a bottle of wine, a "vertical partner" stableford competition, day 1 of the "Most Holes Won" competition, and day 1 of the PGA Catalunya eclectic contest - easy start!
The difficulty of the course was reflected in the scoring, with stableford points ranging from 14 to 27 being recorded. In the matchplays, Bob and Gordon beat Donnie and Ian by 5&4, and Ewan and Joe beat Jim and Dave by 3&2 to get the wine cellar established.
Gordon and Joe won the Vertical Partners better ball with 31 points to earn €30 each and make first inroads onto the Official Money List.
Bob and Gordon took a narrow lead forward in the holes won competition.
Continuing the use of the Donald Murray handicap adjustment scheme, a variation for 2004 was to "fine" players for receiving higher handicaps at the rate of €1 per shot for 1 to 5 shots, €2 for 6 to 10 and €3 for 11 and greater. The generated a very healthy €84 for El Tesorer to distribute as nearest-the-hole prizes. The fund was immediately put to good use with Jim and Dave each winning €20, and even more surprisingly, both were converted into 2s for €35 unofficial money.
Day 2 - Empordà
Very windy conditions greeted the team at their introduction to the Empordà course, where we were given the slightly more sheltered option of the Forest Course. With a more reasonable golf course, the Donald handicaps in operation, the scores would prove to be more respectable, ranging from 27 to 39.
Ewan and Joe beat Bob and Gordon (2&1), and Donnie and Ian beat Jim and Dave (2 holes) in the wine cellar. The Vertical Partners theme was continued on a multiplier basis (x1 first 6, x2 second 6, x3 last 6), with Bob and Donnie emerging as very comfortable winners on 93 points for €25 each.
The most holes won prize was very closely contested with Ewan/Joe and Bob/Gordon each recording 13. €25 went to Ewan and Joe on the grounds that they had beaten Bob and Gordon in the matchplay.
Ewan cleaned up on the nearest the hole prizes claiming both and converting both to 2s for €20 official and €70 unofficial money.
The first round of the Empordà total was also played.
More modest handicap adjustments for most, resulting in correspondingly reduced contributions to the fund (€24), with Bob even recording a slight improvement.
Day 3 - Mas Nou (Golf D'Aro)
Thorough homework by the organisers had determined that a 2-man scramble using buggies would be the only format to preserve some level of sanity over a tough course at the top of a mountain. With the wind still blowing very strongly, this was indeed a sound decision.
Matchplays were played (for a steak rather than wine) with big wins being recorded for Bob & Jim over Donnie & Ewan (7&5), and Gordon & Dave over the Wilson twins (6&5).
Gordon and Dave won the overall prize of €30 each with 48 points better ball, from Bob and Jim on 45. Ian won €20 for nearest the hole (but didn't convert for a 2!).
No individual 2s or changes to the handicaps today.
Advantage was taken of the early start (and lack of clubhouse) to return to Platja D'Aro for lunch at a beach-side restaurant.
Day 4 - Girona
Having decided that Barcelona was too far away to do it justice in a one day visit (coupled with the fact that half the team had visited the city centre on the way from the airport!), a cultural trip to Girona by local bus was arranged. Highlights included a city tour by mini train, a look round the cathedral, a walk along the city walls, and a splendid lunch with good wine at €5.90 a bottle.
Back to Platja D'Aro for a light evening meal of Pizza and half-bottles of Rioja!
Day 5 - Empordà
Back to Empordà for the 2004 Masters, this time to the Links course. The criteria for a Spanish links course is clearly to have more sand than grass on the fairways, with long and short range bunker techniques being tested to the full.
After the comparative comfort of the Donald's handicaps over days 2 and 3, it was back to Nationals reality for the Masters, made even more challenging for the Masters and Open holders (Dave and Bob) with a further two shot cut. A very tight finish resulted in the podium as follows:
€50 and the Masters Trophy for Ewan, €25 for Bob. (Who suggested the 2-shot cut for the Open Champion?!)
Gordon won the "back-nine" competition with an impressive 24 points (off Donald's) for €25. Bob got some revenge over Ewan by comfortably winning the two-day Empordà total with 79 points for €25.
In the wine matchplays, Bob and Dave beat Donnie and Joe by 2&1, whilst Ian and Gordon beat Jim and Ewan by 4&3.
A modest contribution of €12 went to the nearest the hole fund courtesy of the handicap movements, with Bob and Gordon recording reductions. Jim and Joe earned €10 each for their nearest the hole shots.
In the absence of any 2s, Bob claimed €65 unofficial money through his shrewd bet on Ewan for the Masters. Joe recorded a €5 loss on the book!
Day 6 - PGA Catalunya
PGA Catalunya had been selected for the final game of the 2004 tour, and this time, it was buggies all round, even for JDK! Surely the enhanced transport system coupled with the fact that we had played here only a few days earlier was bound to lead to improved scores. See the customary group photo before the round.
Rooms Challenge was the common format for the day with room-mates playing a matchplay and a Better Ball Front-9, Total Score Back-9 stableford competition.
Bob and Ian won the stableford competition for €30 each, and in doing so, beat Jim and Joe by 4&3 for the wine. Ewan and Dave beat Gordon and Donnie by 7&5.
Jim, much to his surprise, win the Catalunya Eclectic with 42 points for €25.
Ian and Jim picked up the final prizes of the week with €30 each for their respective nearest the hole shots, neither unfortunately converted for a two.
Joe wiped out his unofficial money deficit on the toss of a coin with El Tesorer!
A final contribution of €34 was added to the fund through handicap swings.
For the four rounds played as individuals, Bob scored 131 stableford points (off Donald's), just ahead of Ewan on 129. See summary.
A total of €797 (€590 Official, €207 Unofficial) was passed through the prize-winners and redistributed into the bars and restaurants of Platja D'Aro. Again Bob just eased out Ewan with an individual haul of €170 to Ewan's €165 - see charts for details.
A net total increase of 116 shots was recorded for the 8 players over the four individual rounds. That's an average of 15 shots per player, Bob and Ewan were 6 and 7 shots respectively! See chart for the full story. A healthy €154 was gathered for the prize fund from this exercise.
Steak & Wine Challenge
See chart for final position - it is planned to get everyone together for distribution/consumption of these prizes.
Sunny and warm for most of the week. Windy for a couple of days, but the only rain was a brief shower when we were safely in the hotel.
Golf Balls Lost
Check out some of the photographic memories in the 2004 Gallery
Day 7 - Travel Home
After some minor inefficiencies at Barcelona Airport check-in, the journey home was reasonably comfortable, and we arrived in a much colder and damper Edinburgh.
Where to next year?