Bridgestone Challenge 2017 – Play, Caddy and Admire
Last week I was fortunate to play, caddy and watch golf at Luton Hoo Golf Club. My club Vice Captain, John had won the National Amateur Handicap competition at Woodhall Spa and had earned a place in the ProAm at the Bridgestone Challenge event alongside another 17 golfers. When he asked for anyone willing to caddy for him, I had no hesitation. Having held our company Ryder Cup event there just a few years ago I knew the course well and could hopefully help John to a team victory.
First up was a practice round on Saturday afternoon prior to the event starting. The course was as I remember it, no bunkers, but plenty of bunker style, long off the back tees, but certainly a lot narrower fairways, longer rough and interesting pin positions….clearly set up for the Pros, who were also practicing for the Challenge Tour event. Best dressed however went to one of the locals, who was certainly unapologetically bold.
We both played a steady round and it was certainly well worthwhile having the round ahead of the Pro Am on Wednesday.
The forecast was not good, but we were lucky on the day….it was an early start on the range, with me as a caddy for the first time.
The format was 3 amateurs and a pro, best two scores to count on each hole. On paper we had a strong team with Sam off 2, Debbie off 3, John off 10 and our pro Wilson Staff player Luke Johnson from Kings Lynn.
Sadly it was not to be and the team didn’t dovetail as we had hoped, but it was a great experience, “inside the ropes”. We had a dinner and prizegiving, raising money for Lord’s Taverners hosted by Di Dougherty and Olympic Decathlete Daley Thompson.
The next morning gave me the opportunity to watch the Professionals play in a modified stableford format…2 points for birdie, 5 for eagle and 7 for albatross, 0 for a par -1 for a bogey and -3 for double or worse. I caught up with our pro Luke playing with Neil from Ireland and a Srixon/Cleveland player Hugues from Belgium. Bob came in handy when looking for balls, certainly for Hugues!
It was great to watch these guys hitting the ball, touch around the greens, they were a credit to the sport, taking the time to chat when breaks in play permitted. The course was in good nick and watching the scores come in over the weekend, with play suspended a couple of time for flooding, the greenkeepers must have worked their socks off to keep play possible. The winning score of 49 points from Swede Oscar Lengden was amazing, finishing with a birdie, birdie, eagle and 62 stroke final round on Sunday.
I even managed to find time to visit the nearest the pin simulator in the sponsors’ area and with two of my attempts on the green I walked away with a prize!
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