Reflections on an amazing week in Liverpool with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Swingers
Back in the office today catching up on emails, and ‘washing up’ everything from last week, whilst reminiscing about another special final. It’s no secret that we initially thought a UK final in October was going to be tough, but we are absolutely delighted at how it turned out for many reasons.
In general, the weather was kind to us – yes we had two very windy days and a final day which saw a couple of hours of persistent rain, but overall the conditions were pretty good, helped by the fact that both courses (Royal Birkdale and Southport & Ainsdale) were in great condition for October – S&A particularly. We were thrilled that all 24 players coped so well with arguably the two toughest courses we had played in a final and in the toughest conditions, yet we saw some amazing golf from all levels of golfer. Only four points separated the two teams after 54 holes of golf – incredible! The final schedule was of course full on and it was even more of a challenge this year with the long journey times to the golf clubs, with every meal off site, and with of course the local traffic and weather to also contend with. But, we were sensible and flexible and adapted the schedule where we felt necessary, depending on the feel of the group, and yes although it was still tiring, hopefully everyone felt they had got the most out of their trip. There were many memorable moments for us. The way guests bonded at Ghetto Golf on that first night made our job a lot easier. The camaraderie between the two teams was evident throughout the week – yes it was competitive, yes both teams wanted to win but you could tell from both of our captains, Tom and Mark, that it was essentially going to be a fun competition where the result was secondary to making friends and having a laughter filled week. There were highlights on the golf course for sure – the dramatic foursomes match involving Leon Loberman, Alan Clifford, Andrew Lyth and Ray Lewis on day one, Ken Daly and Rebecca Gray’s dominant performance in the fourballs, Ray Lewis’ putt on 18 to get a halve in the fourballs, Clinton Heap’s incredible performance all week, Andre Wainwright’s 'out of this world golf' to inflict defeat on Ken Daly in the singles, Martin Derrick’s winning point despite a superb fight from Christy Ansbro, and of course the Grays – both Rebecca and Andrew producing the comebacks of the week to arguably earn the most important half and point of all three rounds. There were other fine examples of fantastic match play golf and fair play, and it really just cemented our thoughts that although the final might appear dominated by Europe down the year’s, it’s such a unique and special format at amateur level that we would be silly to disregard it and return to an individual final like 95% of all other corporate amateur events. So, after another long season where our focus has been building towards this final for the last fwew months, we now find ourselves with just a few more tasks to complete this Sixteenth season – the awarding of our leaderboard prizes and of course the upcoming SkyCaddie Match Play Final. We then very much hope that soon we can start planning Season 17 for you. The very kind words both captains spoke at the prize giving, the incredible standing ovation our finalists gave us, and the emotion that one of our longest serving and most loyal Swingers showed when receiving his award, makes us even more determined to make sure we are back in the Spring. to deliver a fantastic Season 17. We truly feel that we can be proud that in the 16 years of this amazing programme, we have created something that has in some small way helped golfers across the world make some really special friends and we don’t think we can ask for any more than that.