It’s this time of the year, the start of the pre-skiing season when resorts and travel agents launch new ideas and products and invite a bunch of ski journalists to a variety of jammy receptions in central London as a means of informing us of their latest innovations. Admittedly, it is that time of the year when most journalists are on the look out for new ideas to write about whether it’s anything remotely to do with newly opened or refurbished hotels, restaurants or new inter-connecting ski lifts and runs, but it is always a perfect sounding boards to arrange future press trips and catch up with other ski journalists who are rarely seen outside the ‘Silly Ski Season’ except perhaps on the odd ski trip.

The first up was Switzerland’s posh reception at the Lansborough Hotel near Hyde Park Corner, one of London’s most expensive and luxury hotels. On arrival we were all given small white cards with sayings on them, mine for example, simply read, ‘Swiss Air’, while others had more exotic statements! Nobody quite knew what this was all about but we were firmly instructed not to lose our cards. Once ushered into a long reception room, waiters greeted us with trays laden with large glasses of red and white Swiss wine and during the course of the next hour we were lavishly entertained with delicious tasting canapes while empty glasses constantly replenished. Half way through the evening a small video presentation was shown describing many of Switzerland’s famous resorts, mountains and destinations. This was followed by a fun but fitting travel game. If whatever was written on your white card fitted the missing words that came up on the screen relating to various advertisements and statements about Switzerland, you were rewarded with a small prize. Fortunately mine was the simplest; as soon as a large aeroplane appeared on the screen all I had to do was wave my card and yell. ‘Swiss Air’. My gift was a bright red cricket ball with the words Ice Cricket St Moritz emblazoned in silver on it  However, some bright spark with a sense of humour had us all in fits of laughter when she kept yelling, Theresa May’ to whatever question that came up, for example, when asked to name a famous Swiss mountain, up came the answer Teresa May!. 

The next reception was at the Goring Hotel where once the entire Middleton family were ensconced during their daughter’s Kate’s marriage to Prince William. Now I understand why! This is a delightfully run family hotel with a deep sense of tradition, staff are all extremely polite and helpful. This time it was St Moritz’s Klum hotel’s turn to launch new ideas and this reception turned out to be another delightful evening where champagne flowed and canepes were plentiful. This time we were given a fascinating presentation about St Moritz and neighbouring villages and once again available press ski trips were discussed. 

Following St Moritz the next week was the Daily Telegraph’s Ski Show in Battersea, which was as much fun for punters and it was for journalists. here was certainly plenty to see and do to keep everyone happy and fully occupied. Besides the slope style skiing demonstrations there were several receptions to go and the first one kicked off with the Powdair and Snow-Camp which aoffered delicious salamis, Palma hams and a selection of local cheeses plus unlimited red and white wine. Next port of call was France’s Morzine Avoriaz resorts, and this was followed by Utah’s Park city, which gave out a goodie bags full of useful ski items. By this time I needed a bit of rest and went off to watch Graham Bell conducting a Q and A with some of our Olympic skiers taking part in next year’s Olympics in PyeongChang who talked about their training, hard work and rewards. Finally, I ended up at the Austrian Tourist Board stand for a ‘glass or two of schnapps’ but as I don’t drink schnapps I ended with a glass of white wine instead. Somehow I managed to win a prize for guessing the right Schnapps flavours and won a towel – my third this year!

If all accounts this year’s Daily Telegraph Ski Show was one of the best, and very entertaining and good fun – can’t wait for next year’s!.

 

End

 

A chance email to PR John Collard Managing Director of Sports Impact regarding his client, Royal mid Surrey Golf Club (near Twickenham Rugby ground) as a possible venue for the Austrian Tourist Board who were looking for a suitable golf club to re-instate the renowned Franz Klammer Wooden Spoon golf tournament, an event that was last held in the UK four years ago. led to an unexpected invitation to take part in a special media golf day at the club. My instructions were to arrive by id-day and as luck would have it, the warm, sunny weather was perfect for a day of golf. Proceedings kicked off with a delicious lunch in the Clubhouse restaurant and hosted by Bernhard Gallacher, who is attached to Royal mid Surrey. It was good to see Bernard looking fir and well. Most remember when he suffered a near fatal heart attack which seemingly hasn’t diminished his interests in golf although he enjoys reminding you of the quick thinking people with him at the time who immediately administered CPR and called for an ambulance.The rest is now history, and in his element welcoming the media to Royal mid Surrey Golf Club. 

Following his welcome speech, we all sat down to a delicious lunch. I was seated between Tom, a golf journalist from Golf Digest and Luke Edgecum, the club’s secretary who during the course of our conversation, kindly offered me a Four Ball for the Lawn Tennis Writers’s Annual Awards lunch charity raffle which I organise each year –  I’m always on the prowl for raffle prizes. This year’s lunch is at Roehampton Tennis Club instead of the All England Club where it’s usually held but due to continuing construction work on Court One’s retractable roof and the refurbishment of Centre Court’s debenture lounge there’s literally no room at the inn this year.

After lunch we were asked to assemble at first hole of JH Taylor course in readiness for our tee times in groups of four, my group consisted of Tom who I sat next, another journalist from Golf News and the club’s Golf Manager, Paul Crowe.  Throughout Paul was very helpful in explaining the various hidden and tricky challenges on the course as well telling me all about the club’s club’s history. The course is mostly flat but interesting to play, although the constant noise of planes from nearby Heathrow airport can prove a bit distracting at times. Seemingly members are immune to the noise? Over the past few years several holes have been redesigned to make the course more challenging including a couple of long par 5’s. My claim to fame was a perfect pitch and putt on hole 11 in front of Bernard Gallagher who waiting to be interviewed by Sky TV. My 7 iron shot landed a couple of feet from the green, about ten feet from the flag. Somehow I managed a execute a perfect pitch shot and the ball obediently rolled to within in a foot of the hole, and from there was able to putt in one! What luck! Bernard even congratulated me on my perfect pitch and putt.

All in all it was a very entertaining and enjoyable day, even my golf didn’t let me down finishing a couple of shots below my handicap! 

Whenever time allows I always make a point of attending the annual Southampton Boat Show and in the past the weather has been kind, mostly glorious sunny weather and perfect for messing about on boats. Most of the top yacht manufacturers are moored on the water, and  part of the exhibition. The good weather is possibly one of the reasons the Show has been so so successful in the past and the most attended in the UK. Thankfully this year the weather was reasonably warm and sunny for most of the day but towards the end of the afternoon black clouds appeared on the horizon and soon followed by torrents of rain. Fortunately by that time I had visited most of the stands I needed to and chatted to most of the people I wanted to see.  

Prior to the Boat Show, I  went to Hugh Jamieson funeral in nearby Bosham, Hugh, a former colleague who wrote on sports for several national newspapers including tennis which is how we met a couple of decades ago. A few years ago he suffered a near fatal heart attack and was whisked off Southampton General Hospital who, according to Hugh, ‘did everything to save my life’ and lived to tell the tale. It was after hearing this that the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association decided to donate money raised at their Annual Awards lunch charity raffle to Southampton’s heart division to go towards a much-needed  piece of equipment. In all we raised over £3,000, and Hughie and the hospital were over the moon. Later he sent me a personal note of thanks. 

But back to the Boat Show and my first port of call was the SunSail stand for an invitation to drinks and a presentation, which I found interesting but it was sad to learn how much damage Hurricane Irma had inflicted on Sunsail’s fleet based in and around the Virgin Gorda. Most boats had been systematically damaged or destroyed and apparently not recoverable under their insurance. Gin and tonics were on offer but fortunately I’m not a G & T person and happily declined just as well as the next port of call was the Sunseeker luxury motor yachts stand where champagne or rather prosecco flowed, plus lots of delicious eats and canepes.  After a fascinating presentation where we were told among other facts and figures, is that sales were on the increase despite Brexit, Afterwards I looked around a couple of their luxury yachts,  and have to say the interior design is well thought out. 

After bumping into more friends and acquaintances from the sailing world, I decided to call it a day and drive back to London, this time not via Sandbanks as first planned. 

End

 

Each year, the already well established ski guide, ‘Where to Ski and Snowboard’ and co-authored by Chris Gill and Dave Watts hold their annual launch party at the Liberal Club in Westminster usually during the first week of September marking what is referred to as the beginning of the ‘Silly Ski Season’ and thus followed by a series of ski lunches, launches and parties! This event though, is always well attended by the great and the good from the world of skiing and this year’s party was no exception, and full of familiar faces. This is always a good sign to kick-start the silly season although it felt a bit strange having to think about the forthcoming winter season when London was and still is experiencing unseasonably warm Autumn! And this all prior to the Daily Telegraph’s Ski Show at the end of October.  

This year’s launch party, sponsored jointly by two well-known ski resorts, Kitzbuhel in Austria and Italy’s Alta Badia, was a jolly affair. Ironically, the evening’s highlight (after various speeches by resort representatives), it was former Olympic skier Konrad Bartelski turn to pick out a couple of business cards from a large glass bowl which we had been asked to leave on arrival. The first card to be pulled out was that of Frazer Wilkins’s who runs the Snow-Wise website and I was particularly thrilled he’d won the holiday to Kitzbuhel as both his young sons are keen skiers as well as tennis players. It was while congratulating Fraser that someone gentle tapped me on the shoulder to inform me my name had been the next to be called and understandably I was all but speechless to find I had won the second prize, a ski holiday for four guest to Alta Badia. You have to understand I NEVER win anything and why I so surprised. So here I am with a free ski holiday to Alta Badia for four friends! The only drawback is flights aren’t included but that’s not an insurmountable problem!

A couple of days later it was Utah’s Park City’s turn and this year’s party was held in the heart of Soho in the premises known as the Marquis Club in 70’s where non-stop live music was played by bands some who became household names. Now its simply known as ‘100 Wardour Street’, a large elegant bar and restaurant. This party though was a lot smaller compared to the launch of ‘Where to ski and snowboard’, but just as much fun. The other attraction of these functions is the ‘goody bags’ presented to us on leaving and it’s of little surprise at the amount of  ‘stuff’ collected from ‘goody bags although most usually contain a few useful gifts or two. In Park City’s bag was a useful battery free spotlight torch that only needs to be re-charged from a USB port. Following Park City’s party and a couple of days later was ABTOF’s annual sit down lunch at the Tara Hotel in Kensington. The format of the lunch is that everyone connected to the travel trade change tables after each course while journalists stay put. The advantages of this format is that you have a far better chance of meeting and chatting to a lot more people connected to the travel trade than you would normally! 

Well that was the week that was – more to follow  – all to be recorded in the next blogs!

 

 


 

These days it is not often a mouth-watering invite plops on the doormat. This one was to attend a high goal polo match at Guards Polo Club sponsored by Land Rover taking place at the end of August which I was delighted to accept. After spending a couple of wonderful weeks in Sandbanks I raced back to a deserted London on Saturday of the August Bank holiday weekend for Sunday’s polo match. A cloudless blue sky greeted me on the I drove to Guards Polo club but fortunately I had chosen a light summer dress to wear with colourful wedge shoes, (for treading in divots between chukkas). It was driving through the Great Windsor Park and seeing deer meandering around the park that it occurred to me how beautiful the countryside looked in late summer, and could be forgiven for taking a short detour to lap it up before arriving at Guards Polo Club.  Apart from the park’s distractions I still managed to get there in time for the pre-lunch champagne reception held on the lawns outside Guards Polo club. Ladies were mostly in dressed in delightful Ascot type outfits and men in summer suits, it looked all very Ascot but without the hats. I soon spied my hosts  Andrew and Bee Robb chatting to other guests and was soon handed a large glass of chilled champagne. An hour we were seated at Land Rover’s large, long table for twenty odd guests full of fascinating people, my end included 26-year-old Max Charlton who I chatted to about polo, he plays off a 7 handicap and is one of UK’s youngest high handicapped.  

During the delicious three course lunch Max and Rugby star Jason Robinson gave informal chats about their respective sports presided over by radio presenter Matt Baker. First Max told us about how he started in polo and how he reached his unprecedented high handicap of 7, something many experienced players would have loved to have achieved including perhaps even Prince Charles who once boasted a handicap of 4!. Jason followed with a fascinating talk on rugby including an insight on how England won the 2003 World Cup when they played Australia in the finals, a team everyone deemed was impossible to beat, and a match mostly remembered by Johnny Wilkinson famous kick try that clinched the Cup although few actually remember the role Jason played in setting up the final try. I was duly impressed with the way Jason delivered his side of the story to a room full of club members and their guests, most of whom I feared, knew little about the game of rugby.

Following lunch, the fun started when the Land Rover Duke of Cornwall final was played between two highly competitive high goal teams, the Golden Falcons team with total handicap of 15 against Park Place with 16, the eventual winners. Both teams played outstanding quality polo and I enjoyed every minute watching it particularly the way players deftly hit balls with long sticks from both flanks. Between matches tea was served in the clubhouse and when I managed a few words with Jason and congratulated him on his talk, if anything he was a delight to talk to. Another match followed between the two losing teams of the Land Rover championships, Bridge House of Twyford with a total handicap of 16 against Shoreline also 16 handicap and another exciting match. I can’t remember what time I finally left but I do remember thinking as I drove back though Windsor Park, what a wonderful fun day, and all thanks to my hosts Andrew and Bee! 

 

End

 

 

A pleasant two-hour train journey with Eurostar to the centre of Brussels is in my opinion the best way to travel to Belgium these days. There are a surprising number of superb golf courses in and around the capital and Flanders our destination, and surprisingly boasts over 50 varied and amazing courses all within a couple of hours drive of Brussels. This trip was arranged through EGTMA (European Golf and Travel Media Association) for 20 international golf journalists including Jo Meas, its founder and behind the trip’s success.

With golf clubs in tow I arrived at Brussels Midi and took a ten minute taxi ride to Martin’s Hotel (www.martinsbrussels eu) for our first overnight stay and once checked in met up with the rest of our group before piling into one of two Hertz sponsored People’s Carriers for a visit to the National Golf Club on the outskirts of Brussels where we were met by various dignities from Belgium’s golf and Travel industries. After walking a couple of holes of this recently opened 9 holes course, the back 9 are due to open at the end of the year, we returned to a buzzing club house for drinks and a delicious three course Belgium styled dinner in the club’s spacious dining room.    

Packed and checked out the next day we drove for about an hour and a half to the Damme Golf and Country Club arriving in time for our 11 am tee times. Although a mainly flat course it is full of unexpected hazards and challenges but a pleasant course to play.  After a mid-afternoon ‘light’ lunch we continued to the historic city of Ghent for our next overnight stay in the five-star Marriott hotel. My large comfortable room boasted an enormous king size bed, what bliss! After a quick shower we met up for an hour’s walking tour of this fascinating historic city with a delightfully eccentric but amusing guide. After the walking tour, we boarded an awaiting sightseeing boat for a romantic guided tour of the city’s canals and served prosecco and dry snacks during the trip! Back at the hotel we were immediately ushered into a private dining room for a delicious three course dinner.

The following day we made our way to the Cleydael Golf club where former top tennis player, Kim Clijsters’s first coach regularly plays. Recently she remembered him fondly in her speech given at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. As soon as we finished playing, we drove off to Mechelen where we checked into the Martin’s Patershof hotel, a former converted church and where rooms are architecturally designed to include many of the church’s features, and stained glass windows. Although exhausted, we fitted in another guided  tour but found Ghent far more interesting. 

From Mechelen on to the Millennium Golf Club where Belgium’s top professional, Tomas Pieters learnt to play and where his father, Jaak is the club’s president. We chatted briefly and he revealed he and his wife still accompany their increasingly successful son to many of the tournaments often renting large houses to accommodate the entire family. I enjoyed playing this mostly undulating course and tree-lined fairways, some doglegging to right or left. From here we drove on to the university town of Leuven, checked into Martin’s Klooster Hotel, a converted former monastery where we stayed for the next three days. My spacious room was in the modern annex and had an enormous bathroom with a jacuzzi and walk-in shower. The following day we made our way to the Spiegelven Golf Club for our fourth round of golf. The course is an 18 hole par 72 course, which I found interesting and challenging to play although the 15th and 18th water holes are particularly taxing.  

Finally on to Winge Golf and Country Club for our last round of golf in Flanders and where ironically and unexpectedly I produced the best results of the week! Throughout the week we were blessed with wonderful warm and sunny weather, perfect golf weather. We celebrated the last evening with a Gala dinner and were served a delicious three course meal, and another memorable occasion and finished up in the hotel’s bar until the early hours! A lovely way to end a wonderful week of golf, gourmet and fun in Flanders!

End

 

Friends in Sandbanks had suggested staying for a couple of weeks from the end of July when they were in Canada to look after Jake their adorable Springer spaniel. I’ve known Jake since he was a small pup and was delighted to help out beside a couple of weeks by the sea was a perfect after a busy summer and taking Jake for long walks along sandy beaches very appealing.  

Sadly the weather wasn’t nearly as warm and sunny as it had been during the month of July and disappointingly, mostly overcast. My daily routine of taking Jake for walks along the beach barefooted, and paddling in the warmish sea was if anything very therapeutic. Twice during the first week I managed to escape to the Cowes Week Regatta after arranging for someone to look after Jake. This year ‘Lendy’ was Cowes new sponsor although it took a little while to understand what they actually represented but clearly they did a good job sponsoring the regatta.

Tuesday was perfect sailing weather and the day I decided to pop over to Cowes. Fortunately Leo, my friendly photographer had managed to get me the last free slot on the photographer’s press boat but only provided I kept out of everyone’s way. Watching the racing from the photographer’s press boat is always exciting as most of the time is spent speeding up and down the course watching the action at close quarters while boats round marker buoys sometimes so close to  boats you could almost hear the skipper’s instructions.  After a couple of hours on the water we returned to Cowes and I had to dash back to the Media Centre as arrangements had been made for me to interview Olympic gold medalist Hannah Mills who I found absolutely fascinating as her recounted her experiences Rio, and more recently when she was invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon on what is regarded as ‘sporting Saturday’. She also revealed how a close up glimpse of Roger Federer descending the club’s ornate staircase before his Centre Court match, made her day!

Hannah was one of five nominees for the Elemis ‘Women in Sailing Awards, a party that was taking that evening only I was in two minds whether to go or not. My dilemma was catch the 6 o’clock ferry and be in good time to pick up Jake or stay on for the Elemis party. Well, after discovering James Norton of War and Peace fame and playing the sexy vicar in Grantchester, was also a guest, my mind was made up and ended meeting lots of interesting people and even managed a fun chat with James himself, but all good things have to come to an end and like Cinderella had to dash off to catch the 8.30 ferry back to Southampton but not before saying goodbye to James who gave me ig kiss on both cheeks, and then ran all the way the Red Ferry Hydrofoil with a huge grin on my face but at least I arrived in time to pick up Jake that evening!

The rest of the time spent in Sandbanks was a bit of a whirl, friends popped by and my sister came to stay a couple of nights. I even managed to fit in a game of tennis on the day I was due to drive back to London something I had been trying to organise all week. We ended up playing for about three hours in windy conditions which played havoc with my game but it was all worth while. In all I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in Sandbanks in spite of the mostly inclement weather. 

 

End

 

  

This year’s Aegon sponsored tennis tournament held annually at the Surbiton Tennis Club boasted more top players than ever with the likes of Dustin Brown, John Isner, Heather Watson and Laura Robson all taking part including Elena Pliskova, the eventual ladies winner. From relatively lowly beginnings the tournament has gone from strength to strength and is now a fully fledged mixed challenger event offering prize money to all competing players. According to friends who live locally and who are members of the Surbiton Tennis Club, little has changed since the tournaments’ inception many years ago. Even the familiar club house has changed little and appears just like I remember it when I first visited the  club many years ago. Even the cramped media centre where hot desking is all part of the event’s idiosyncrasies has hardly changed over the years despite it now attracting a lot more national and international tennis journalists than in previous years although most preferred writing copy in the pleasant surroundings of the large cafe at the other end of the grounds. .

As in its early years the tournament always takes place immediately after the first week of French Open although its static dates have changed to fit in with the French Open now being played a week later. More often than not early casualties from the French Open end up playing here even in the early years when there was little or no prize money on offer. Now the tournament’s status has been raised to an official ATP Challenger prize money has increased but the chance to practice on grass prior to Wimbledon still attracts a lot of top players. Unfortunately bad weather played havoc with the scheduling of this year’s event when it rained heavily for a couple of days which meant it took the best part of a couple of  days for the grass to dry out sufficiently for play to re-start. The following warm, sunny days helped but somehow the tournament director managed to catch up with all outstanding matches even though it meant Heather Watson playing two singles and a doubles match in one day but then that’s hazards of grass court tennis.

This year I took the opportunity of popping by to visit old friends living nearby as I hadn’t seen Nora and Ernie for a long time and they were keen to introduce me to their beautiful 14 month old daughter, Oliver who is already happily walking unaided. It was good to spend a couple of hours in their beautiful garden having a coffee in warm sunshine while little Olivia played with Mum and nanny! Fortunately I managed to sneak back to the tennis in time to watch the two semi-final matches and caught up with Sebastian Adams, the former manager of Dukes Meadows, a close friends with Dodi Sela, one of the semifinalists. 

If you want to watch some great tennis at close quarters, Surbiton’s relaxed atmosphere is an ideal venue and still one of my favourite pre-Wimbledon grass court tournaments. 

 

End

 

 

For the past six months I had vaguely thought about buying a new car to replace my aging 14-year-old Honda Civic which although had served me well, was definitely showing its age with over 100,000 miles on the clock. Each time I passed a dealership and had time on my hands I’d pop in to inspect whatever cars on display taking notes of anything that appealed to me. Occasionally the odd salesman would pop out from a glass showrooms, ask a few questions and rather like a cuckoo clock, pop back in again. After endless fruitless visits to forecourts and promises that car details would be emailed to me, nothing materialised. Soon I was tearing my hair out with frustration but what I failed to understand is that the reason I was being ignore was that I was a cash buyer! Soon it became blatantly obvious that dealers were less interested in cash buyers and more interested those looking tor finance! Even my local Wimbledon Honda dealer paid me little attention which is why I ended up trawling various websites including Car Giant. My other cardinal sin was was that I didn’t really know what exactly I was looking and it also became increasingly obvious that car salesman these days are reluctant to spend valuable time on someone like me, a cash buyer. Frustrated I finally resorted to contacting someone who is paid a fee to research the market to find suitable cars that meet clients demands. This also proved disappointingly ineffectual and why I finally ended up visiting the London Motor Show held in Battersea Park! (www.londonmotorshow.com)

I deliberately chose Press day for my research as there are fewer people and had the freedom to wonder from one manufacturer’s stand to another unhindered by swarms of visitors. Several salesmen were happy to chat to me and show me cars but only for a few minutes. It wasn’t until I arrived at the Mazda stand that someone deigned to spend a lot more time explaining to me all about Mazda cars, and even bothered to find out what sort of car interested me and was happy to advice me on suitable cars even though a couple stands away an important presentation was going with famous racing drivers. His explanations left me duly impressed and although we ended up exchanging business cards I didn’t for one minute think he would bother to contact me after the show. How wrong I was. 

To my utter surprise the following Monday I received a phone call from Gordon Parker of T.W White ((www.twwhite.co.uk), who explained that T.W White is a private dealership and suggested coming to their garage in Leatherhead. Quite honestly I felt the trip would probably be a complete waste of time yet as soon as I arrived Gordon greeted me warmly and immediately introduced me to Josh who had been assigned to show me cars that would suit my needs. It was the Mazda 2 automatic that caught my eye and the one we took out for a test drive. Having already explained that I wasn’t interested in white, black, red, grey and fawn colours, the car chosen for our test drive was aptly described crystal dark blue colour and immediately appealed to me. After a few minutes we swapped seats and I took over the driving; in no time I felt at ease driving an automatic although at this stage I still an anti automatic driver but it didn’t take long to discover what a delight this nippy Mazda 2 automatic was to drive.      

Needless-to-say two hours later I became the proud owner of a new Mazda 2 5 door 1.5 sport Nav in Crystal dark blue……! The whole transaction was far less painless than anticipated and within a week drove away my prized new Mazda 2. This all goes to show that given the right person to demonstrate a new car could well result in a perfect match made in haven!

 

End

 

 

.

 

 

It was one of those warm spring days when I left London early to drive down to Wentworth for the start of Wednesday’s traditional Pro-Am shot-gun event which starts promptly at 8 am.. However, intentions of getting there before the start didn’t quite materialise as anticipated and instead found myself running about an hour late and having to catch up with various groups I had earmarked to follow. This meant heading straight for the lower numbered tee-off times first to watch last year’s champion Chris Wood’s group who started from the 1st hole and were already finishing the 5th when I arrived. In Chris group’s were two Olympic gold medal rowers, Sir Steve Redgrave handicapped 14, and Matthew.Pinsent who plays off a respectable 12 plus Damian Lewis who like Redgrave plays off the same handicap. What I find fascinating was hearing Wood dishing out various pieces of advice on how to tackle awkward lies to his fellow team mates. After following Wood’s for a couple more holes, I meandered over to watch Justin Rose, my other hero since he won an Olympic gold medal in Rio last year. His group consisted of Peter Jones, Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy who between them  boasted a total 29 in handicaps. Justin was definitely the father figure, keeping his eye on shots and advising wherever necessary. It was after the 8th that I finally caught up Tommy Fleetward’s group which included Jodie Kidd, one of the few females taking part in this pro-am while on the next tee was Martin Kaymer with three footballing legends all boasting surprisingly low handicaps, Matt le Tissier, 4,  Tim Sherwood,10 and Teddy Sheringham, 5! 

Needless to say, play was slow…. which indirectly helped me catch up with several more groups and their pro-am guests. The one person I was keen to catch up was Austrian Bernd Wiesberger’s group as golf journalist, Hubertus tho Rahde was part of his group and someone I had met on a press trip to Barcelona a couple of years ago. Hubie invited me to follow him when we ran into one another in the media centre the day before and I promised faithfully I would be there but having arrived late, I first had to locate his group, Eventually we caught up on the 14th as they waited for the group in front to finish putting the 13th. It was only after Hubie teed off (after an interminable wait) that he finally noticed me in the crowd and immediately asked me I’d like a bottle of water. I managed to silently indicate I already had one with me, and at that point he sauntered over to where I was standing outside the robes and to my utter amazement invited me join his elite group (who had amassed a score of 12) inside the robes. “You’re my guest”, he insisted as I protested, saying that although I had a media pass it didn’t really allow me inside the robes.

This was a new and interesting experience being able to watch golf from close quarters and Hubie appeared to enjoy every moment. I was soon introduced to the rest of the group including his caddy, Ian and as we walked down the wide fairways was able to ask Ian a few poignant questions about playing Wentworth. I also watched with increasing fascination as irons were selected and balls struck with incredible accuracy. For a couple of holes Hubie played his best golf whether it was my influence is uncertain to say but clearly he was delighted with his eagle on the 10th par three. By the time we reached the final 5th hole,(the group had started on 6th), although not in contention for any prizes, they were happy with their final score. Everyone shook hands and as I waited to thank Hubie, he pointed to the three gleaming white top of the range BMW’s waiting to chauffeur players back to the clubhouse and invited me to join him in his car. As I sank into the BMW’s comfortable backseat that I realised what a wonderful, fun day I’d had, all thanks to my friend Hubie! .  

End 

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Linkedin