They say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Well, during the intense year long affair I have been conducting with the game of golf there has certainly been love, commitment, passion and pain. The affair is now over and while there is a sense of loss that I will no longer be able to make the daily commitment to the relationship that I have been involved in this last year, I feel that a lasting bond has been forged, borne of respect and shared experience, that will be maintained over the years to come rather than ending in sadness and bitter separation as so often happens with such passionate affairs!
I know that I have been quiet for the last couple of weeks. I submitted my 3 cards for handicap purposes on Wednesday 6th June and I just felt that until I knew the final result of my endeavours I really didn’t have anything to say. I received my confirmed handicap on Monday this week - but didn’t get to read it until yesterday but I’ll get to the handicap in a moment if I may.
I have received various emails and texts over the last couple of weeks enquiring about how it’s all finished up, how I feel about things and what the future holds for me. For those of you who have enquired, your interest is gratifying. Thank you.
Since I played my final round of the challenge on Tuesday 5th June I have only played golf once - on June the 6th ironically enough at Poult Wood - and I played tidily enough (except an eventful 8 at the 130 yard par 3 17th!) finishing 8 over (+the 17th!). Other than that round I have been dedicating my time to Lindsay, Gracie May, Jack & Francesca - they have deserved some payback after so much of my time and attention both on and off the course has been taken up with the challenge.
I have attended swimming lessons, health progress clinic and Baby explorers with Gracie May, a piano recital for Chess and Jack has a football tournament when I next see him that I’m looking forward to supporting.
I have also been feverishly planning for my working life post challenge with Lindsay. It’s too early to confirm our plans but the year that I have spent away from corporate life has certainly served its purpose in terms of focusing both my and Lindsay’s minds on what we want our working lives to look like going forwards. I didn’t realise it while the challenge was running - but actually I was subconsciously considering and refining what I wanted to do next without ever actually meaning to.
I’ll confirm when we have finalised our plans but I can say with absolute certainty that my working life going forwards will be a direct result of me having committed to the challenge and will bear no resemblance to anything I would have stepped into if I had not taken the time away!
Lindsay, Gracie and I came away on a brief holiday on Sunday for some Spanish sun so it with a sea view and a cool Mediterranean breeze that I finish off this update.
So, to the end result.
I submitted 3 cards of 76, 77 and 78 for handicap purposes. The 76 and the 77 were each 6 over the standard scratch of the course when they were shot and if either were treated as my best card would have resulted in a solid 6 handicap as per the official handicap calculation rules of the EGU. The 5 over par 77, as you will know if you have been following closely, was shot on Saturday 2nd June just 3 days before the end of the challenge.
The handicap that I have been allocated from cards at 4, 5 and 6 over par (6 and 7 over standard scratch)… 9.5
Am I disappointed? Yes, a little.
Am I bemused / angry / confused? - No
The handicap secretary had a tough job to do issuing me an initial handicap with the members, me and the governing body to keep happy. Had he used only my three submitted cards he would have issued me with a handicap of 6 - but he felt it fairer to take account of various other cards I posted to the website in the last couple of months of the challenge.
His call and I respect it.
I guess you have to consider the following points:
If I had been issued the 6 handicap my three cards suggested I should be issued with according to the rules, could I have played to it regularly? No. Almost certainly not. Occasionally - certainly. Regularly. No.
I shot as low as 3 over par round Nizels but I accept that towards the end of the challenge my scores generally went backwards. Pressure? Weather / Course conditions changing quicker than I could adapt to? Trying too hard? All of the above probably but the fact is that wile my best delivered results were 3 or 4 over par (witnessed) too often in the last couple of months I was playing but not breaking 80 even.
I would not be human if I didn’t feel a little hard done by - but I shot what I shot in the time I had available and I always accepted that the handicapping side would be out of my control.
Even if I had shot 3 71’s in the last few weeks I knew very well that I would almost certainly not be issued with a zero handicap (or not even a guaranteed handicap lower than 5!!).
The aim of the challenge was not to call to question the handicap system or try and cheat it. My aim was to become a genuine scratch golfer in 12 months.
I missed that aim by a fair distance in truth - but I improved from 106 strokes to a best of 3 over par 75 (best witnessed 4 over par 76) - a witnessed 30 stroke improvement on a championship golf course in 1 year.
I am proud of what I have achieved and the way that I have achieved it.
After my short break to reflect and recharge I will turn my attention back to how to maximise the fund raising potential from what I have done. I had to give the golf 100% of my time during the year but my fundraising commitment remains for the weeks, months and years ahead.
To that end if you have enjoyed reading about my progress over the year and haven’t hit the Bobby Moore logo yet PLEASE DONATE NOW.
CLICK HERE or text “RELF66£XX” to 70070 to donate (max £10 per single donation all texts are totally free)
So, all that remains for this particular post is to thank those who have either made the challenge possible or have given their time or resources to help me along the way:
Linds, Helen, Fler, Justin & all the kids, Duncan, Jason, Nick B and all my other friends and family who have been there for me and helped me along the way.
Vanessa Machin and Ash Weller at Nizels and all the guys at Hilden Golf for your support and the use of the facilities. You guys made the challenge possible.
The members at Nizels - I may have been mad, bad, slow, and daft so thank you for putting up with (and humouring) me.
Paul and Leigh at Titleist - Thank you so much for the equipment support you gave me. I really was very serious about golf indeed!
David, Lisa, Jit and The Algarve support network, including the Oceanico Group and Quinta de Ria. Thank you all very much for helping me through the cold months and the fundraising during the challenge.
Gary Edwin and the Right Sided Swing Guys over in Australia, Jason Gilmore, Mark Haines, John Richardson - The man who DID achieve scratch golf in 12 months - Sam Hollingdale, Rob McEvoy, Dave McEvoy, Ian Griffiths - the mad podiatrist - Danny Williams, Greg Hazelby, Lingfield Golf Club, The Golf Show Group, and everyone else that offered me course time, coaching, technical support and encouragement.
Last but surely not least to Peter Hudson and Iain. My two main men.
A funny old trio we made (especially Iain and I being all but joined at the hip around the club) but looking back, you two were the rocks on which my challenge was built and you kept me going throughout.
Lets do that curry - we earned it!