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Gary WolstenholmeMBE

GARY WOLSTENHOLME MBE | THE OFFICIAL SITE

Gary Wolstenholme Newsletter January 2017

Here we are having come to the end of January so quickly, and this being the first newsletter for 2017 I can report that there has already been a great deal of planning and preparation for the year ahead coming together. Where last year was complete with uncertainty - it is looking to be a year of proper preparation. This is a genuine blessing for me who needs order and planning in my life wherever possible… a mild case of OCD I suppose!

Christmas was an opportunity to reflect on the achievements I had through 2016 and although it was very stressful as I’ve previously reported, it of course all ended up working out well in the end – a job well done I think you’ll agree? Since the tour championship last year I have had the opportunity to speak with several people whose opinions I value. They said that I needed to take some pleasure out of my successes because if I don’t where is the enjoyment to then drive on to continue to dedicate my time to what I do?  I was able to at least realise then that I needed to take some gratification in the fact I had achieved my goals for the previous year. It is like anything, you hope to always achieve greater things, but having had success the next step in my ambitions is for the future with a bit of luck. It is now for me to try to achieve a tournament win which has alluded me since 2013. I would like to feel that I can still win a tournament despite Anno Domini, and to prove to doubters that I’m still capable. My ambitions are a fundamental reason for who I am, and my focus on achievement a fear of failure. There is a fine line between success and failure which determines champions as we’ve seen recently in the Australian Open tennis.

Looking at my diary now, with the help of the tour and in particular my manager Lloyd Bailey at Champions of Golf, I have been able to get a proper schedule in the diary, in advance for the approaching campaign. We have already begun planning entries, accommodation and travel for the season.

I am now looking at how I can fully prepare for the season there are as ever many avenues to pursue, and may well involve travel to try and find some decent weather/practice opportunities as our first event is in March this year. This is a blessing in itself, but creates problems too as Britain is not such a great golfing destination weather-wise until at least April. Starting so early in the year is very unusual, but is due, I believe, to David McLaren’s (Head of the European Senior Tour) hard work in managing to secure 15 or 16 events for 2017 which marks a huge growth from what it was at the end of 2015 where it seemed we were down to a meagre 8 tournaments! We are now starting to secure new events in the calendar in new regions which is also exciting from the point of view that we have new horizons to look forward to, and an opportunity to make a decent living as professionals again. At the end of 2014/15 a lot of players on our tour were concerned they weren’t going to be able to make a living from the Senior Tour, so the increase in events has restored much of their faith and confidence in the administration – long may this upturn continue!

In January I was also fortunate enough to get to play in the 5th Algarvian International in Portugal. The event took place on both the Pinheiros Altos and Laranjal courses and was a 72 hole stroke play format. That was a good opportunity to see where my game was as I entered 2017, as well as have a chat with some of the other pros about the upcoming year. Despite an opening round of 75 with the putter being stone cold (I suppose I was also a little rusty too perhaps) I managed to finish 4th with a -4 total after shooting 67, 71, 71 in the last three rounds. I left feeling fairly encouraged, and now it is down to me to push myself forwards from this. I have a continued task to drive myself to improve where possible, so am now seeing where and how I can make that improvement no matter how small.

Pedro Linhart won the event bravely holing a birdie putt at the 72nd hole. I was fortunate enough to play with him in the 3rd round when he had a brilliant 65 in tough conditions at Laranjal. It was his week, he putted excellently, played well and had the rub of the green that all champions need to win. Actually, throughout the event I was lucky enough to play with people who had good rounds which is in itself inspirational. I played with Paul Wesselingh in the first round who had a 68, and in the last round played with Stephen McNally who catapulted himself into contention also with an excellent round. Through the week I felt as though I played well considering the weather conditions, and the time of year. Finishing fourth behind Pedro Linhart, Miguel Martin and Stephen McNally is no disgrace, they are all very good players and a huge congratulations to Pedro on his win in particular.

Portugal is a wonderful place to play golf, in particular to prepare for tournament golf. I am back there in February for a pro-am.

I wish there were some more events planned in the next few months prior to our first event in March, and then the USPGA Seniors in Washington in May. Our first event is in Sharjah, in the Middle East from 16-18 March. This event will be the first time I have played a professional event in the Middle East and I am hopeful this event will open the door to many others in the future as the courses, facilities and weather in the region are truly spectacular for golf.

It will be an interesting event in Sharjah as it is a nine-hole course which is also floodlit. Having played on floodlit courses before I can honestly say it is a remarkable experience that every golfer should try given the opportunity. The ball really illuminates in the night sky and you can actually see your ball flight clearly offset in the surrounding darkness. The brand-new facilities and courses out there are of an outstanding condition and all of the players, David McLaren too, I’m sure, will be very keen to see whether this opens opportunities to more events out there.

 The Middle East event is a little while off yet, so having looked around I now have a pro-am in February in the meantime which will be four rounds of competitive golf and seven rounds in total for that trip (golf everyday!) which will be excellent practice I’m sure. Really it is all about trying to find events/good practice in-between tournaments and trying to maximise my time. This will mean that when I do start the season in earnest at the end of May, I will be ready to make a concerted effort to achieve my goals for 2017. As I said earlier I am trying to leave no stone unturned.

I now have a new clothing sponsor in Island Green for this season. This partnership is going to be interesting to see how we can develop our association further. I am hoping to go down and visit the directors soon to discuss all aspects on the wearability of the clothing, colours and designs etc. hopefully we will have the opportunity to expand the brand even more in the future.

Golf is certainly a constant process of learning and striving to be the best you can be. But of course, the older you get the harder that becomes, especially as ageing brings with it more risk of injury, and wear and tear mentally and physically. I have recently been to see a specialist about my back issues and I have the results of what might be the problem. I am due to see another specialist next month which will give me a better idea of what I can do to become physically stronger, or at least how best to manage the issues better.

 

As far as the Senior Tour goes, we have some great players coming through including Paul Broadhurst, Phil Price and Stephen Dodd for example from 2016. So, these are exciting times ahead but with more and more great players joining the tour, average play is not good enough anymore – the hard work begins now that’s for sure. We look forward to the likes of Paul McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Peter Baker all Ryder Cup players for example… so success is not going to be an easy feat.

January has also seen some great developments with Carus Green’s club house extension, which is now taking shape. It is going to be a spectacular building, and should be completed by the end of April ready for the Summer. I am extremely lucky to have such a great facility on my doorstep, and I can’t wait to see the end result! Graham Curtin and his business partner Maurice Cotter are men with a plan to make Carus Green a venue for both golfers and non-golfers alike. I honestly believe that we are on a ‘journey’ to create something very special in the UK, and I hope that maybe you’ll all get the opportunity to visit us here in the future! Certainly the plans for the future are far reaching and ambitious and I am very fortunate to be associated with such a successful enterprise like we have at Carus Green.

So, overall January was for planning, and February is when I will begin to implement those plans more fully. I would like to take the time here to thank my manager Lloyd Bailey for his help (he has become an invaluable asset to my success I feel) with organising my schedule/plans etc, it is certainly not an easy job… but with his help now my diary has a sturdy framework right up to December 2017. From that point on we can then start slotting in various other commitments here and there between tournaments to give me a proper (hopefully successful) strategy for the future. I would also like to thank John Hayes, he is the man who brought me into Champions (UK) plc all those years ago. His belief and commitment to me has been unwavering, and his help and advice these days are very useful in my decisions and planning also. Certainly the company are developing a reputation in golf which will through 2017 be advanced further. I will be reporting more on this next month as to how the skills Champions (UK) plc will be further extended into the golfing world which adds to my optimism for the future.

So all in all exciting times I hope, and I look forward to being able to update you further on all this next month.

All the best,

Gary

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