Friday 13th May did not deter the fearless seven taking to the Grantown course for the first outing of 2011. A "flag" was held on the Friday morning, with Ian emerging as a clean winner with five shots in hand from Peter with three shots. Donnie and Ian beat Ewan and Gordon by 2&1 for the first wine victory of the year.
Friday afternoon gave Bob the opportunity to release one of his famous formats - a game of two halves, with double stableford points being scored at holes with one or more letter "O" in the name. Peter took the spoils on the front nine with 26 points, and Gordon winning the back nine on a substantial 40 points (Gordon scored an impressive 42 points on normal scoring). Gordon and Donnie beat Peter and Dave by 3&1.
Pot-hunter Ewan appeared drove up on the Friday evening, and on the Saturday morning, a two-man scramble was held, with teams being selected by who sat opposite who at the Friday evening dinner. Bob and Donnie trounced the others with a fine 67, and beat Gordon and Jim by 3&2 in the process. Dave and Peter beat Ian and Ewan by 1up.
The Spring Stableford was held on Saturday afternoon, with the "fresh" Ewan Fraser emerging the victor on a very impressive 43 points from Bob on 40 points, with Dave a distant third on a mere 37 points. JDK succumbed to a wrist injury and retired after six holes. Bob and Peter beat Dave and Donnie by 4&2. Ewan and Ian beat Gordon and Jim by 3&2. The prize-giving ceremony was somewhat diminished by the lack of a trophy, with Bob claiming it had been the main reason for the burglars breaking into his house six months earlier!
A gentle Sunday morning scramble was held to round off the spring weekend, with Ewan Donnie and Dave triumphing over Bob, Ian and Gordon with a 65 to a 67 - this time teams were selected by those sitting on the same side of the breakfast table! After a complete lack to 2s so far, the floodgates opened with Bob recording one at the 11th, and Ewan Gordon and Dave each converting at the 16th. Fortunately, too late to buy winners' rounds!
A fine start to the 2011 GGS season.
A modest start to the August weekend with an individual stableford competition for the six early tourists. Ian triumphed on 40 points from Peter on 39 and Bob on 38.
A three-man scramble was held on Friday afternoon with good scoring all round. Gordon, Dave and Brian emerged the victors on 62 from Bob, Ian and Peter on 64. Gordon had a tap-in two at the 16th.
Donald made the early Saturday morning journey to partake in everyone's favourite format of 36 holes strokeplay for the 2011 Grantown Open. Donnie and JDK eschewed this opportunity for some extra time in their beds and strolled in at lunchtime. During the morning round, Bob and Gordon both recorded 2s at the sixteenth, with Gordon's a carbon copy of his Friday effort. Bob and Brian beat Donald and Ian by 3&2.
A close finish in the main event saw Gordon just edge out Dave by one shot on 139. Bob completed the podium on 143.
A three-man team stableford format was also held on the Saturday afternoon, with the best score counting during the first six, best two scores during the second six and all three scores counting in the last six. Peter helped freshmen Donnie and Jim to victory on 84 points. Brian converted a long range putt for a 2 at the 16th.
Heavy rain overnight and into Sunday morning closed the course and signalled an early end to the August weekend.
For their twelfth overseas tour, the GGS team finally graced the Costa del Sol with La Cala resort being selected as the chosen venue. Despite the minor inconvenience of Jet2 electing to use Ryanair to transport all the golf clubs, the team were whisked from Malaga Airport in fine style to the 5 Star La Cala hotel. After a tasty but rather erratic meal in the nearby town of Mijas Costa (or was it La Cala?) - Bob's recommendation! - the golf clubs had been delivered to the hotel, but not before Brian had vented his feelings to the Jet2.com ansaphone service.
Round 1, Thursday, Course: America, Format: The First Fifteen
Individual Stableford with only your best 15 holes counting. Two prizes
Playing Order: Gordon, Ewan, Barney & Bob
Dave, Brian, Ian & Donnie
A fairly dramatic start to the tour off a seriously elevated first tee to a longish Par 5, and the decision to use buggies was already being applauded.
Barney was first onto the rostrum with a fine 32 points (30) from Ewan on 29 (20).
Ian and Dave beat Brian and Donnie by 2up while Bob and Barney beat Gordon and Ewan by 2&1. No 2s but Dave won a sleeve of 3 balls courtesy of Golfbreaks.com for having the best score at the Par 3s (9 points) to record a nominal 5 to get the unofficial money chart started. Donnie and Ian both won a sleeve of balls for hitting the green at the charity hole and each was awarded 5 unofficial money for their trouble. The Yorkshire bird in charge of the competition awarded Ian his prize for his trick shot of hitting the flagstick, creating a big pitchmark then careering off into the bunker!
Donnie and Barney moved into an early 4 point lead in the week-long rooms challenge.
Back into Mijas Costa for dinner at a much improved restaurant (El Olivo), where Barney entertained the diners with his personal interpretation of Hotel California
Round 2, Friday, Course: Asia, Format: Its a Rucking Maul
Two-man Scramble, Stableford. One team prize
Playing Order/Teams: Ewan & Donnie, Gordon & Dave
Bob & Brian, Ian & Barney
Gordon and Dave repeated their 2004 Mas Nou scramble form with 36 points from Ian and Barney on 34 points for 25 each. Ewan converted a 2 at the 7th hole and Donnie followed with one at the 17th, for 35 each.
Ian and Barney beat Bob and Brian by 4&2 while Gordon and Dave beat Ewan and Donnie by 3&2.
Donnie and Barney retained their rooms lead but by a reduced margin of two points.
Off to the smart seaside resort of Cabopino for a fine, undercharged dinner followed by expensive nightcaps that reminded Gordon and Dave that it certainly doesn't pay to win.
Round 3, Saturday, Course: Europa, Format: Half Time Entertainment
The Masters, Individual Stableford. Two prizes
Barney repeated his debut Masters triumph of two years ago by winning the third GGS Major of 2011 with a fine 35 points by just one point from Ewan. Donnie continued his domination of the short game with another two at the 3rd hole. Brian, Ewan, Donnie and Bob each won golf balls at the charity hole for 5 'book entries' on the unofficial money list.
More Golfbreaks.com golf balls (also 5 unofficial value) were awarded to Donnie for 8 points at the Par 3s, and to Bob for 10 points at the Par 5s.
Ian and Donnie beat Bob and Gordon by 1 up, while Barney and Dave beat Brian and Ewan by the same score.
No change at the top of the rooms challenge with Donnie and Barney retaining their two point lead.
Into Fuengirola for the evening to watch Man United in luxurious(!) surroundings followed by an excellent dinner at Casa Roberto restaurant, the one with the stunning golf clubs and the thousands of waitresses (or was it the other way round?!). Our trusty treasurer was not making the best personal financial decisions with another paltry 20 second place prize proving no match for the thirst of his fellow tourists.
Sunday - Day of Rest
Following a leisurely morning around the hotel, the team ventured into Mijas Pueblo where the local festival was taking place. A heady mixture of locals dancing, great views, fine tapas, men on horses and the odd sample of the local libation made for a fine afternoon before a bus journey into Fuengirola for a light supper.
A worrying sight greeted the team on the return journey to the hotel, with the whole hillside ablaze with a brushfire. It looked a reasonable distance from the hotel, so we retired for the night.
Round 4, Monday, Course: Asia, Format: Forwards & Backs (with Conversions)
Each player chooses to be a forward or a back, before they start their round of course!
Forwards score double Stableford points on the front nine; backs score double on the back nine. If a player equals or betters their score at the previous hole, this is a conversion, worth two extra points.
Two individual prizes
Playing Order: Gordon, Barney, Ian & Brian
Bob, Dave, Donnie & Ewan
Closer inspection of the area affected by the fire revealed that it was a bit closer than it looked the previous night! Light aircraft and helicopters spent the whole day trying to empty the golf course ponds to put out the rest of the fires and dampen down the surrounding area.
As usual with these formats, nearly everyone chose the wrong option! After two runner-up finishes, Ewan came out comfortably on top on 73 points (30) from Gordon on 65 points (20). Gordon augmented his prize fund with a two at the 17th for 35.
Ewan's nine points at the Par 5s was good enough to secure the Golfbreaks.com golf towel and a 5 nominal credit.
Donnie and Dave finished all square with Bob and Ewan, while Ian and Gordon beat Barney and Brian by 3&2.
A big swing in the rooms challenge saw Ewan and Dave open up a nine point lead over Barney and Donnie.
Back to La Cala village where dinner at the recommendation of Ian's new chums from Ratho Park was somewhat thwarted by the restaurant being closed! However, a perfectly adequate, more authentic substitute provided a fine end to the evening.
Round 5, Tuesday, Course: America, Format: The Final Whistle for the World Cup Winner
Playing Order/Room Teams: Gordon & Brian, Dave & Ewan
Barney & Donnie, Bob & Ian
Winning team for today's competition decided by the total team Stableford points at each hole.
Also, the week-long rooms challenge competition would be decided by totalling each room members individual format points total from all five rounds.
Although the fires appeared to be fully extinguished, several helicopters spent most of the day making sure they didn't start up again.
Brian's indifferent form over the previous four rounds was forgotten as recorded a personal 34 points to add to Gordon's 29 to trounce their nearest challengers (Bob and Ian) by five points for a 50 pot. Brian's score was also good enough to win him the final Golfbreaks.com prize of a very snazzy shoe bag; the question everyone was asking was whether it would replace the classy carrier bag on next year's tour!
Despite taking last place on the day, Ewan and Dave had amassed sufficient points in the earlier rounds to hold on to the top room prize by eight points from Donnie and Barney for 40.
In the final matchplays, Gordon and Brian beat Donnie and Barney by 4 and 2, while Ewan and Dave just edged out Ian and Bob by 1 up, with shot of the week going to Ewan's magnificent 3 wood into the 18th green (having been virtually unplayable off the tee), much to Ian and Bob's genuine admiration!
The outcome of the matchplays resulted in the bottom four (Brian, Ewan, Donnie and Bob) contributing 20 into the kitty, (recorded as +20 in the unofficial money list for Dave, Gordon, Barney and Ian).
Donnie, as leader of the eclectic on 50 points, was presented with a bottle of Cava, which was duly shared among his chums prior to heading back into town for a final meal at El Olivo - no singer this time.
I am sure a golf analyst would have some interesting views on Donnie's golf scoring with the highest eclectic and the lowest average! Another interesting statistic was Dave having the second lowest average score on tour, but nine out of a possible ten points in matchplays - good selection of partners is undoubtedly the secret there.
Wednesday - goin' home
After a leisurely breakfast and morning around the hotel - poolside for some, watching Scotland trounce Georgia in the Rugby World Cup for others - we were soon back at the airport, where Barney stayed in Spain to top up his tan and the others back to cold windy Edinburgh, complete with golf clubs.
All in all, La Cala was voted a great success with a high probability of a return trip in the near future.