Bright and breezy conditions welcomed the start of the 2008 GGS touring season at Grantown, although the actual weather experienced was a significant improvement on the forecast. After the four early starters (Peter, Brian, Gordon and Bob) had tested out the course on the Thursday, Jim, Donnie and Dave made the early morning Friday start and were joined by Donald at lunchtime.
The Friday morning format was a 1-2-3 stableford multiplier, and was won comfortably by Gordon on 83 points, with Jim runner-up on 75. Jim and Donnie beat Bob and Dave in the first wine matchplay of the season.
Bob decided to rest his dodgy back in the afternoon, when a stableford streaks competition was held. Very close scoring required countbacks and other dubious practices to be applied to select the winners. These were:
1-6: Peter, 16 points
7-12: Jim, 14 points (later challenged by Jim!)
13-18: Donald, 14 points
The singing duo comfortably saw off the challenge of Jim and Donnie in the matchplay (helped by the latter pair retiring at the 13th due to inclement weather).
Out for a curry at night, followed by a visit to the Strathspey to listen to (barrack) the local entertainer
With Bob still resting ahead of the first major minor of the year, a Scramble was held on Saturday morning with the three hotshots (Peter, Gordon and Donald) comfortably defeating Brian, Dave, Donnie and Jim with a 65 against a 71. Dave recorded the only 2 of the weekend, at the 11th. Jim and Donnie again preferred the dry clubhouse to a wet loop!
Close competition in the Spring Stableford on Saturday afternoon resulted in a win by Peter with 38 points to Jim's 37. Bob's tactics nearly paid off with 36 points to complete the podium.
A fine dinner in the home venue of the Garth was augmented by news of a £98 win on the Lottery, and followed by relaxing drinks in the lounge.
Peter and Brian elected for a early run back to Edinburgh, but the remaining six enjoyed some spectacularly sunny weather to play another Bob format, best of three, two out of three and all three sequence. Donnie, Donald and Gordon emerged comfortable winners over Bob, Jim and Dave for some spectacular (!) prizes extracted by Jim from world-wide conglomerates and golfing giants.
Some tired bodies made the trip back south, after an excellent start to the 2008 GGS season.
8th to 10th August
Despite some torrential rain during most of the preceding week, and a forecast promising more of the same, an optimistic group of seven made the trek north, calling at our old favourite Boat of Garten for the Friday morning round. After the obligatory champagne breakfast, a singles matchplay tournament was held, including a virtual JDK, who was finding the pressures of full-time employment too much to make it in person. With the course playing much easier than most of the guys remembered, Bob beat Dave and Ewan beat Ian. Fortunately, the other games were halved (Gordon vs. Brian and Peter vs. vJim), allowing a final to be contested that afternoon at Grantown. Gordon started the tour in style with a two at the 1st hole (a 65 yard chip allegedly) for the first of what was to be four twos for him over the weekend. Brian and Gordon gave Ewan and Ian a sound thrashing 5 & 4 to secure the first wine exchange of the weekend.
After the short journey to GoS and a leisurely lunch, the afternoon round got under way with Bob recording a close win over Ewan in the matchplay final. These two paired up but could not see off the challenge of Ian and Dave, with the match finishing all square. Gordon had a two at the 8th, virtually guaranteeing unlimited free drink for the guys at night! A fine dinner at the Garth was followed by nightcaps in the small lounge. Bob's many pleas for some chums to accompany him downtown went unanswered, and a relatively early night was had by all, no doubt in deference to the impending Grantown Open the following day, which after some reasoned debate, was agreed to be held over 36 holes of stroke play.
A bit damp for the first ten holes or so of the morning round, but not nearly as bad as the forecasts were predicting for us. 2007 Grantown Open champion Gordon found his defence of the trophy a bit tough, and was destined to join Ian and Dave in the duffers three-ball for the afternoon. Bob enjoyed a narrow 1-shot lead over Peter and Ewan at the half-time break, with Brian a further four shots back. The singing duo beat Ian and Dave for the customary bottle of red wine. Bob and Peter both had twos at the 16th.
Bright and breezy conditions (and a bar at the 7th tee courtesy of the Police vs. Firemen outing) greeted the combatants in the afternoon round, which Gordon started in fine style by driving the first green and sinking the putt for the promise of even more drinks later on. There was to be no challenge on the top four from the back three however, and with Peter, Bob and Ewan not quite repeating their morning form, Brian recorded a very creditable 79 to win his first Grantown Open since 1990, by three shots from Bob. Gordon continued his excellent start carding a very fine 73, including yet another two, at the 8th. In a streaks contest, Gordon won the first six with 17 stableford points, Brian the middle six with 15, and Bob the final six with 13. Brian & Bob beat Peter & Ewan 3 & 2 for a bottle of fine wine.
With the clubhouse a bit noisy due to the emergency services prize giving, it was back to the Garth garden for Gordon to hand over the Grantown Open trophy to Brian, adequately filled with champagne of course. Another fine dinner at the Garth followed again by relaxing nightcaps in the lounge meant that for the first time ever, there were no excursions to the bright lights of downtown Grantown.
Another fine day on Sunday saw a Hibs vs. Hearts scramble for the privilege of buying lunch using a slightly different format for limiting drives - no player could take two consecutive tee shots. The Hibees' 64 was enough to see off the Jambos by a couple of shots. Peter had elected to take the leisurely run down the road.
All in all, a remarkable weekend's golf given the weather forecast, with the clock being wound back by a trip to "the Boat", and Brian winning his first Open for eighteen years. See photos below:
2008 Open Champion Brian receives the trophy from outgoing champion Gordon
The August 2008 Team
trip to the 2001 destination, Penina,
3rd 2nd to 10th September
Tuesday 2nd September
Everyone arrived at the airport on time, checked in OK, beer and bacon rolls, then the situation deteriorated! Initially a delay of 30 minutes to our boarding time wasn’t too bad, then a further delay to 10:30 “for operational reasons” meant a return trip to the bar. Has Globespan gone bust? Eventually got airborne just before 2pm (six hours late), and an uneventful remainder of the journey saw the guys checked into the Penina Hotel, and down into Alvor to re-acquaint us with our haunts of 2001.
Wednesday 3rd September
A leisurely start to the morning with a fine buffet breakfast, then onto the tee for 10:20. A standard stableford format for the first day saw JDK take the spoils with 36 points, just ahead of Bob on 35. With scores stretching down to 21 points, the Donald handicap system, complete with “fines” for poor performance, soon kicked into action. No 2s recorded, but Jim was first onto the money list with €30 followed by Bob with €20. In the matchplays, Jim and Dave defeated Ewan and Brian 4 & 3, while Donald and Gordon finished all square with Bob and Ian.
Jim and Donald opened up a commanding 10-point lead in the week-long “youth vs. experience” experience.
Back to Alvor for a fine meal (wine sponsored by JDK) and to watch Andy Murray reach his first grand slam semi-final in the US Open.
Thursday 4th September
An even more leisurely start to the morning before teeing off in the second part of a Ryder Cup Stableford competition, this time playing a supposed US system of scoring as interpreted by Bob. A wide variation of form resulted in an even larger variation of scores, from 2 points (DJL) up to 30, by Gordon, which earned him €30. Bob and Jim were joint second on 26 points (after Bob’s “interpretation of the scoring system had been corrected) for €10 each. This meant that Jim won the two-day competition by one point from Bob for another €30 to squander on drink, and Bob winning €20 to do likewise. Still no 2s, and in the matchplays, Ian & Gordon beat Dave & Ewan (1 up), and Bob & Jim beat Donald & Brian 4 & 2. Bob distributed some Supertravel golf balls to Jim and Dave for no apparent reason.
Jim’s continued fine form helped maintain his and Donald’s lead in the week-long contest.
Into lively Lagos for a change for dinner (wine again sponsored by JDK) and some rational (?) debate to decide the venue for Monday’s game – Penina again!
Friday 5th September
The first real test for Ian as transport supremo to get the team to a new venue, Morgado, for a 1-2-3 multiplier and the first round of the 2008 Joe competition. First attempt at taxis failed miserably, but the hotel came up with a speedy alternative taxi service, and the team was at Morgado with plenty of time to spare, and an earlier tee-off time was accepted. Very nice clubhouse if slightly over-run by people in pink shirts playing some sort of Nations’ Cup, fortunately at the other course (Alamos). A more open course than Penina, Morgado produced some much improved scoring from all, and a quite remarkable 100 points by Brian in the 1-2-3 format easily gave him the first prize of €30, from Ewan on 89 points for €20. Also, the first entries in the unofficial money stakes were recorded with 2s by Brian and Gordon (both at the 17th) earning them €35 each. Most of the guys managed a modest handicap reduction, with only €1 being awarded to the Treasurer’s fund.
The first round of the Joe trophy (played as a standard stableford off Donalds handicaps) saw Brian taking a four-shot lead on 48 points.
Consistent golf from Jim and Donald saw then taking an eight point lead in the weekend on the youth vs. experience contest.
In the matchplays, Brian and Jim beat Gordon & Ian 4&3, while Ewan and Donald beat Bob and Dave 2 up.
Back to Alvor for a light Tapas supper, and several winners’ rounds.
Saturday 6th September
A day off from the golf (for most), despite some faint-hearted attempts to play an extra round at Boavista, which had good reviews. However, Ewan and Gordon elected to play 9 holes at the Penina Resort Course before joining Bob, Donald and Jim in Alvor to watch Scotland lose their opening World Cup qualifier to Macedonia. Dave, Ian and Brian decided to do the tourist bit and visit the old Algarvian capital town of Silves, by bus and train. The team regrouped in Alvor for a fine meal, and some not so fine (i.e. large) nightcaps in one of the many Irish bars in Alvor.
Sunday 7th September
Much clearer weather greeted the team on Sunday morning for the short journey to Palmares for the 2008 GGS Masters. Magnificent views from the clubhouse terrace out to sea and to Lagos and Alvor, and not too much persuasion required for everyone to use buggies, in view of the temperatures and undulations. The boys were all kitted out in new team shirts, courtesy of Donald.
A very consistent 36 points saw Donald win his second Masters (both overseas) from Brian on 34 points. Gordon was awarded €20 for his 38 points off his Donald’s handicap. A 2 for Gordon at the 10th and one for Dave at the 15th promised many winners rounds over the evening.
In the matchplays, Jim kept up his 100% record by teaming up with Bob to beat Ewan and Ian by 4 & 3, while Gordon & Brian finished all square against Dave & Donald.
Not surprisingly, Jim and Donald extended their lead to thirteen points in the week-long contest.
Back into Alvor for an excellent meal (with free wine) at a slightly out-of-town restaurant, and to learn that Andy Murray had beaten Rafael Nadal in his rain-delayed US Open semi-final, to face Roger Federer in the final on Monday.
Monday 8th September
After some reasoned debate and voting a few days earlier, a third round at Penina was played, this time as a 2-man Scramble in the ‘youth versus experience’ teams. After an early breakfast, we were on the first tee just after 9:30am, and after a close contest, youth triumphed over experience. Gordon and Bob shared the spoils with Ewan and Dave on 34 points, and the €50 prize fund was split across the two teams on the promise of a winners round from each team. More winners’ rounds were guaranteed after 2s were recorded by Ewan (8th) and Dave (16th).
In the matchplays, Gordon and Bob beat Ian and Brian by 3 & 2, and Ewan and Dave beat Donald and Jim, 1 up. Despite the latter result, Jim and Donald still took a commanding 11-point lead into the final day of the week-long contest.
An early start to the evening with drinks in the hotel at 6pm followed by taxis into Lagos for cocktails, some shopping, an “interesting” meal at a restaurant called Mullens, and seeing Andy Murray just failing to become the first British male player to win a grand slam singles event since Fred Perry in 1938.
Tuesday 9th September
Back to the Morgado complex for the final game of the 2008 tour, this time to play on the Alamos course. Following assurances from a local that Alamos was shorter and only slightly hillier than Morgado, the team elected for pull trolleys, but lengthy treks between holes, hot sunny weather and a reluctant bar buggy called that decision into question once or twice. The format was a reverse of Friday’s format with the first six holes counting for treble points, the second six double, and the last six single points. It also formed the second round of the Joe trophy (standard stableford points), the final round of the youth vs. experience week-long tournament, and just possibly the successor to the Seniors’ Trophy.
A very fine round by Ewan (gross score of 75) resulted in 98 format points and a comfortable win from Ian on 82, getting Ian onto the money list at the last opportunity. Ewan’s exceptional golf (including a two at the 16th) also gave him a two-round total of 90 points and an easy win in the Joe competition, and the best stableford score (47 points) on the last game of the tour, later agreed to be the successor to the Seniors’ Trophy. It also helped propel Ewan and Dave to a six shot victory in the week-long contest.
In the final matchplays, Ian and Donald beat Gordon and Bob by 3 & 2, and Ewan and Brian beat Jim and Dave 6 & 4.
A substantial haul of €115 encouraged Ewan to make a very sizeable contribution to the final evening meal at the Vagobondo restaurant in Alvor, after Bob had invented the Millar Martini, using pickled cabbage in the absence of onions!
Wednesday 10th SeptemberAn early breakfast on the Penina terrace before an uneventful (and early) return to Edinburgh rounded off a fine tour – where to in 2009 which will be the 10th GGS overseas tour?
Check out the final charts and a few photographic memories of the tour.
Sunday 14th September
The ex-Seniors Trophy was presented to Ewan, duly filled then emptied at Brian's excellent birthday lunch at MEGC .