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Gary WolstenholmeMBE

GARY WOLSTENHOLME MBE | THE OFFICIAL SITE

July Monthly Newsletter 2016

The sun is finally starting to shine giving us all the taste of summer that we have been waiting for since May, and July did not only bring some sun but also a very hectic schedule for me!

I started the month at the Swiss Senior Open at the famed Golf club Bad Ragaz, one of my absolute favourite golfing destinations on our tour. I always feel comfortable on the Bad Ragaz course, and each year I feel as if this “comfort zone” puts me in great stead to give me the opportunity to do well. This year was no exception to that with me shooting 69, 66 and 67 for a 5th place which was only two shots behind the eventual winner Tim Thelen. That was a bit frustrating because realistically I feel that I should have won that tournament. I seemed to leave plenty of shots out there over the three days, and certainly didn’t make all the putts that perhaps I could or should have done…. but that’s golf of course. Despite the slight disappointment I was still delighted to achieve another top 10 on the course which has become something of a habit since I first played the event back in 2011!

I am delighted that I have been able to maintain the improvement I have worked hard for since the end of 2015 at the Tour Championship. The more successful finishes I get the better chance I have of securing myself a much more stable position for next year on the Senior Tour after the uncertainty of 2016 due to the new system employed by the tour this year. I put much of this improvement down to the switch of equipment returning to the excellent Ping “G” clubs which I believe have made me much more consistently competitive.  

After Switzerland I dashed down to Nailcote Hall in Warwickshire for the Pure Retirement Golf Day in association with the Age Partnership. I am extremely fortunate that Age Partnership sponsor me through my friend Andrew Thirkill, so I wanted to give something back to them for their generosity and support this year. I had a great time on the course with the various Pure guests and made a speech outlining my career to date as well as answering general golfing questions the guests had. Nailcote is such a great venue for corporate entertaining, and the sun even made an appearance for us which always makes such a difference to the success of any corporate day.

I then immediately had to leave early the next day to catch my flight to Germany for the next stop on the Senior Tour at WINSTONgolf, which is an amazing venue just a short distance from Baalbek in Eastern Germany. The owner of the club Mr Pon is one of the wealthiest men in Holland and has created two courses at the venue where they have two very different designs. One with lots of undulations…. an inland links design, and quite a different test of skill from the other more traditional tournament venue next door. I played quite decently on a course that perhaps didn’t quite suit my game, but still feel that had I had the time to prepare more then it could have been another top ten finish instead of 21st…. shooting 72, 73, 71. The hospitality though as with Switzerland was excellent, so a big thanks to Mr Pon for putting on such a great event yet again. I am hopeful that I will be able to improve on that result next year having now had experience of the very challenging conditions of this unique course.

The schedule lately as you might appreciate has been pretty brutal for me, and after having relatively little on for a couple of months just prior the season starting…. it then became all of a sudden incredibly frenetic. With this in mind I had to work hard with my physio in order to maintain my physicality which, generally speaking has been pretty good so far this year. It’s like anything though, you have to continue to work hard on it to achieve what you want to achieve, so I am hopeful that my current level of fitness will continue, and therefore the quality of my performances! Success is undoubtedly all about attention to every possible detail that you can imagine to hopefully help you as a competitor be better than the rest…. certainly I’ve tried to think of everything leaving “…few stones” unturned.

After Germany I then had the opportunity to go to Gainsborough in Lincolnshire to visit the Ping team to “tweak” my current equipment. Geoff Waddington and the club technicians in the tour department there have, I hope, helped iron out those very slight issues I’ve had with odd clubs in the bag…. and as ever I’m looking for the “Holy Grail” of drivers too, and just maybe we’ve found a combination which might give me an edge in the rest of the season (fingers crossed!)  

Following that trip I went straight down to London for an opportunity to renew my association with Sky Sports Golf to cover the highlights of The Open Championship at the wonderful Royal Troon which I had been looking forward to as I anticipated that it would be a brilliant Championship at one of the country’s leading venues. This year’s Open Championship turned out to be even more of an amazing event to watch than even I could have guessed. Having known Henrik Stenson from my amateur days, it was great to see him go on to win a major at last…. and of course I commiserate with Phil Mickelson as well for such a stout effort in win the championship once again. With both men equalling the major championship’s record round of 63, and Henrik breaking the scoring record for 72 holes in an Open and winning it was truly a spectacular week of golf…. in many ways shades of Turnberry in 1977 with Watson battling Nicklaus all the way to the 18th, another exceptional spectacle in the great championship! It was exciting to be involved with such a prestigious Championship, “blanket covered” for the first time by Sky Sports, and to see all the innovations that have been brought in for the first time to enhance the coverage further.

The schedule then increased in intensity once again as I had to get home from London to then drive the same day all the way to Carnoustie Golf Club for the British Senior Open on the east coast of Scotland near Dundee. Before the championship I managed to get some practice in on the Tuesday and Wednesday, but of course was extremely tired from the exertions of the previous few weeks and my preparation was far from what it should have been for such a major Championship. However these things happen, so I had to try to make the most of the opportunity presented having been exempted from pre- qualifying for the Senior Open from my position on last year’s order of merit. Despite the fatigue I really enjoyed the Carnoustie golf club, it is a wonderfully tough golf course. After a bit of a shaky opening round of 75, I was able to get a 71 (-1) for the second round which got me through the cut comfortably enough. I was then drawn to play with the great Tom Watson. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing with Tom who I have actually played with before at the US masters back in 2004. It was great to be reacquainted with him and it is always an ambition I suppose for any golfer to meet their heroes of the past, and certainly Tom is a true legend of the game. I played poorly that day, but limited the damage to 74 birdying the last which is a feat in itself if you know the course!  The final day was thankfully successful though playing some of the best golf I’ve played tee to green for many years. I shot 69 which pulled me up to 27th place from 49th … to the outside world it may not sound particularly good but, had I putted as well as I played that day I think I could have even achieved a course record of 64 hitting all but two greens in regulation. I was however delighted to finish on a high note, cementing myself at 11th on the tour’s current order of merit. Hopefully I can continue to play well and secure myself a fully exempt place on next year’s tour by finishing inside the top twenty. I would also like to take this time to give my sincere congratulations to fellow Champions of Golf Professional Paul Broadhurst who claimed the title at Carnoustie. It was an amazing result and I am really pleased for him. Having played with him in Jersey I could see how well he was playing then, but that week he didn’t quite have it all together, but to see it all come together at Carnoustie was a credit to him as a player. It is always an inspiration to see somebody that I have known for so many years go on to win a major championship title.  

July ended on a high with the return of the Farmfoods British Par 3Championship which has become an amazing tournament built up over the last few years by all concerned into a genuine championship with my friend Eric Herd putting up a mammoth €150,000 prize fund to help attract many top players from various tours to participate.  I have to start by mentioning how simply outstanding the Cromwell Course’s condition was at Nailcote this year, it is the best I have seen it in the seven or so years I have been playing there. The hospitality and organisation at the event was also second to none which all the participants last week would agree. With the golf course at Nailcote you have to have a little good fortune to be truly successful, but most of all you have to be fully on top of your short game and extremely focused too. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite at that point on the Wednesday, and I was a little disappointed with my first round as I finished +1 which was comparatively well down the field. On the Thursday however my game certainly improved as I finished -2 (-1 overall) for 8th place in the stellar field, and was a lot happier with the round if not the end result.

I want to extend huge congratulations to Mark Mouland on his success, course record and overall win at this year’s Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship.

I was grateful to once again take part in such a well organised event which also doubled up as great preparation for the next run of tournaments coming up in August - fingers crossed. 

There are five tournaments left of this year’s European Senior Tour schedule prior to the season ending Tour Championship in Mauritius, and I will be looking to successfully prove myself in those… although there is no guarantee that I’ll get a start in every event with the current selection system making my participation very uncertain sadly. It will be interesting to see if I am able to maintain the high standard that I have set myself so far in 2016 for the rest of the season should I be fortunate enough to get the starts as I’ve said. However before that I am looking forward to a little downtime at home up in the Lake District… although I’ll still be working on my game never fear!

On a more local note Carus Green my home club is in the midst of constructing the new proshop and various other facilities to extend the amenities available to visitors and members alike…. and with the course being in the best condition too since Graham Curtin took over as owner things are certainly looking excellent for everyone associated with Carus Green!

Best wishes to you all, and good luck with your own golf!

Gary 

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