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Gary WolstenholmeMBE

GARY WOLSTENHOLME MBE | THE OFFICIAL SITE

Monthly Newsletter

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

Welcome once again to the “ups & downs” of a professional sportsman! September has been interesting to put it mildly, and was filled with many highs but unfortunately a couple of lows too.

I am starting this month’s newsletter with disappointment that I didn’t get into the Travis Perkins event at Woburn and it was quite crucial that I needed to play at that event for peace of mind considering my Order of Merit situation this season. On the tour so far I have been incredibly fortunate that either through skill, my ranking from 2015 or by luck of getting an odd invite to play all bar two events on our 2016 schedule. Despite the fact I have been warned by an official at the tour school that it was unlikely I would get any starts after finishing 28th on the OoM in 2015, but as I say for a variety of reasons I have managed to get in most events so far, and have only relied on one invite to date (the max you are allowed is three in a season apparently) to be able to play most of the events to be 15th currently on the 2016 OoM. 
It was disappointing that I didn’t play Woburn as I was first reserve going into the week itself. I was able to stand on the tee for three hours with the hopes that someone might pull out, but nobody did…. until the second day when two guys pulled out after playing only 1 round! It was particularly frustrating as it was the golf course where I was given my first break on the Senior Tour back in 2010 (finishing tied 3rd that year!), and I believe the course suits me pretty well. But you have to dust yourself off, put these things behind you and accept that sometimes the fates don’t always align the way you want them to.

Every cloud has a silver lining though so they say and not playing at Woburn meant that that I was able to plan in advance for France (the next event of the EST schedule) which took place the following week. For France I was able to get in on my category (…eventually) as a number of guys pulled out late which is further proof that this season has very much been a case of ‘suck it & see’ in regards how things would work out for me.

So Monday, September 5th I headed off to Paris in preparation for the inaugural Paris Legends Championship and we were lucky that the weather was decent the entire week. The Le Golf National course is where the Ryder Cup is due to take place in 2018, and it is what I regard as being an “edgy” course to play for all but the most confident players. You stand on a lot of shots with water imposing either off the tee shot or for the second shot or sometimes both – water is without a doubt the most psychological hazard to have in the game, like out of bounds I suppose… but more dramatic!

I found a method that week which allowed me to play well and by the end allowed me to shoot 69, 72, 69, finishing in tied 6th place which was of course a great result and got me back up the order of merit as I’ve said which is the key thing. If I manage to finish the season in the top 20 or at least the cusp of 20th I should find myself playing every event next year without any of the issues I’ve had to deal with this year. The most frustrating thing about that finish in France was that I am just one place out of being automatically selected for the next event (Italy) which I am currently 2nd reserve for which just shows that a few clumsy bogeys at the wrong time have cost me my secured place in Italy.

Of course I was pleased to get another top 10 in Paris that is the fourth this season in eight starts. I reflect sometimes on the season so far and considering the immense pressure I have been under to perform I am pleased that I have “bucked the trend” for what is expected of someone in the difficult circumstances that I find myself in, and regardless of the eventual outcome I’m proud of myself for getting the potential opportunity of securing my playing status for next year come Christmas.

Obviously I am a couple events down on quite a few players around and above me and yet I have still been able to play competitively, but overall the Paris trip was superb, the course is a great test of golf and it was a great experience to play the Ryder Cup course. I will now know intimately how it is all going to feel come 2018. I am already looking forward to playing it again next year. I will certainly remember the experience for a long time though, and would recommend to anyone the pleasure of visiting the course in the coming years.

I then got back to the UK on the following Monday morning and went straight to play a Charity Pro/Am organised by Andrew Murray at Stockport Golf Club. I played with a nice bunch of guys that day and individually I managed to finish 3rd with a -2 score which I was pleased with too as I’d never played the course before (…and was pretty tired after the previous 36 hours exertions too!). The course is an excellent test for any level of player, and was is great condition too.

The event was the 25th Andrew has organised which in itself is quite something, and was in aid of a number of charities. Through the player’s participation and a silent auction we all helped raise over £10,000 for these charities that sit closely to Andrew’s heart.

I really enjoy supporting charity events where possible, and I was honoured to be a part of this one at Stockport GC but it rounded up a very busy long weekend of travelling and early mornings for me, so welcomed a few days rest afterwards.

It is extremely important to allow for a bit of R&R to recharge your batteries and let the “pressure filled cooker” of tour golf settle somewhat. I have been under intense scrutiny to achieve recently and was perhaps in danger of potentially burning myself out if I wasn’t careful, so I was glad to get home eventually.

On Saturday 17th September I played at the Windermere Pro/Am and as part of a team, who were members of Carus Green, I was able to help them win the event by three shots which was quite a triumph considering the number of teams that day. Individually I finished tied 9th and I felt a twinge of disappointed about that because if it hadn’t of been for my bad finish on the last couple of holes I could have possibly made the top 3. However the team morale was great to be a part of, and I was pleased to have contributed quite significantly to the overall team win.

My next news was that, as many of you may know I have in the past suffered with several issues of skin cancer which has meant I have had four operations to treat it…. like a number of golf pros. Luckily they are always caught in the very early stages so are never too serious, but I must still be very careful.

On Tuesday 20th I travelled to Market Harborough in Leicestershire where my specialist is based to have my six-monthly skin check-up, and I’m delighted to report back to you all that I have been given the all clear without any treatment required for the first time for many years!  My consultant and I are pleased that the precautions I take are obviously working! I am grateful for the Tilly hats that I have helped shield me from the sun and also PAR skincare products. PAR is a Swiss company that produce a technically high quality sun lotion which I take to every tournament. between those and the fact I keep covered up with compression vests etc I have not had anything really serious to deal with in the past few years. Once again though I must reinforce the message that it is important that you are very careful in the sun! In the past I have also worked with the charity’ Skcin’ to help raise awareness of the importance of sun protection hence my knowledge of the dangers.

Just to tie up this months report I was privileged to compete in the Highlands 54 hole Pro/Am played over three wonderful courses, Nairn, Castle Stuart and Royal Dornoch. It’s a long way to play…. five hours plus drive even from Kendal! However it is all worth it when you arrive there to play three of the better courses Scotland has to offer. I’d not played Castle Stuart before, but was stunned just how spectacular the views actually are looking out over the water. It’s a clever design too utilising some wonderful topography along the coastline there... well worth a visit ladies and gentlemen. Royal Dornoch is celebrating its 400th anniversary, and is also a fantastically picturesque course, and finally one of my favourite venues Nairn where I played a memorable winning Walker Cup match back in 1999.

As for the event itself? Well I had a great team which finished 7th despite some very difficult weather conditions which meant that the event was reduced to 36 holes, and individually I was also 7th so that made the trip worthwhile for the experience if nothing else!   

As a round-up of the month I am keeping pretty fit, and preparing now for the next event (Italy) which I’m reserve for. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will get into that as I can’t really afford to miss another event or else I am at risk of getting further overtaken and losing my current place in the Order of Merit…. so I’ll be reporting on that next month. Many of the players have commented on how well I have done under the tricky circumstances. I am really pleased that considering I have carried an injury with me for the previous four years I have survived quite well as a professional.

The results I have achieved so far would not be as good I’m sure without the ongoing help I have had from various sponsors. This month I have been further supplied with magnetic products through a brand called Bioflow. There wristbands help improve blood flow, reduce inflammation and restore the body’s own natural pH levels which I have successfully utilised for a number of years now.

I have also been using for the past few months Max Golf Protein drinks and bars which have significantly helped with my durability and energy I believe throughout rounds of golf and hopefully that will prove to be yet another benefit that will continue far into the future.

Lastly I want to mention ACCRA Golf Shafts. I have recently arranged to go down to their head office in Chelmsford to find out how I can maximise my performance utilising their high tech equipment and have made arrangements to do testing to help benefit me in the long run. ACCRA produce some of the best golf shafts in the world, so I am definitely looking forward to that trip! 

Unfortunately there are big gaps in my schedule between France and Italy, and then Italy to Mauritius which is difficult to manage as well as keep your game sharp, but somehow I have to tackle that and finish solidly for ultimately a successful campaign with some luck in 2016!

I look forward to checking in with you all again next month.

All the best,
Gary 

I can’t quite believe that we are already saying goodbye to August, and greeting the start of the Autumnal Season… how time flies when you’re so focused on your goal! However before we bid adieu to August I have some interesting moments that I would like to share with you in such a busy month all in all.

I ended my newsletter last month on a high from the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship in which I believe I performed pretty well, and I certainly felt that my short game benefitted from the experience if nothing else which is one of the many benefits of par 3 golf I believe.

I also mentioned in my July newsletter that I was looking forward to a couple of weeks off following the hectic July schedule to regroup. So at the start of August I had a couple of weeks to generally work on my game as well as plan the rest of the season which is always welcome without the constant stress of competition where I am expected to maintain a constant high level of attainment every time I play. As I’ve explained previously it’s tough to have to stay completely on a high level of performance, and it was certainly a great help I believe to have a period of reflection and focus on how to try to improve.

During that “off period” I did play a Pro Am at Lancaster Golf Club – a most enjoyable golf course and one of my favourite venues in the region. Despite the wind picking up making play difficult that day I finished up shooting 68 (-3) to win by 2 shots from a strong field of PGA North Region pros which was a confidence boosting victory going into the final third of the year. The success at Lancaster proved that my game wasn’t far from where I needed it to be to challenge for a much more secure place on the Senior Tour next year from where my position is currently this year… which has been very uncertain even from tournament to tournament as to whether I even play. I played with Graham Curtin, Maurice Cotter and Paul Aplin who are all members at Carus Green, so that was a fun experience for me as well playing with friends from home.

Following that success I travelled to the excellent Archerfield Links Golf Club in preparation for the Scottish Senior Open which I qualified to play in fortunately through an invite which was a big relief at this crucial stage in the season. I was also able to stay and play some golf with a very good friend of mine Alan Chainey at North Berwick and played there on the wonderful West Links Golf Course one day as well during the week which was good preparation for the tournament as it was as ever a very competitive match against Dave Warren & Joe Gillan.

Archerfield is a truly wonderful set up and DJ Russell has created two superb courses there the Dirlton and the Fidra. The surroundings are breathtaking too, it is a wonderful part of the world and if you are ever thinking of going on a holiday to Scotland I would highly recommend the Berwick area.

While I was up in Scotland I also took the time out of my busy schedule to do a bit of junior coaching too both at our event, and for a friend Dave Warren supporting local juniors. I believe it is important to put something back into the game that has given me so much and there’s nothing more rewarding than knowing someone else is hopefully benefiting from my expertise. It is something that only takes an hour or so, but just like the other charities we work with, it is a very worthwhile cause for the future.                     

The cool weather once again was not particularly in my favour on a long course with strong winds effecting everyone’s game on the Fidra course at Archerfield for the main event, but I managed to overcome that hurdle and shot 69, 68, 71 and finished in a tie for 5th place just a couple of shots off the pace of Paul Eales the eventual winner… very well done Paul! I was delighted with that result as at the beginning of the week I knew that if I could get a top five then it would get me automatically into the next tournament guaranteed. Not a fun situation to find yourself in, but pleasing that you can on occasion rise to the challenge against an ever improving standard of competitor on the Senior Tour. I truly love to play on the Senior Tour, and will always try to do everything possible to stay competing there. However it’s certainly not easy to do so with the ever improving standards being set each year!  

Anyway following that 5th place position as I’ve said I secured my place in the Willow Senior Golf Classic at Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club the following week. Hanbury is a little beauty of a golf course, with a great variety of holes but certainly favours the bigger hitters as there was little real rough off the fairways, and very soft receptive greens. For this event I was of course a late entrant only getting in on Sunday evening the week before therefore I wasn’t in either Pro-Am on the Wednesday or Thursday, and therefore had to squeeze in whatever little practice I could on the course before the main event with the limited time available outside of the Pro/Am times… as with all the driving between events, and the pressure of needing to succeed etc. each week meant I was pretty tired mentally, so I tried to manage my time as effectively as possible. Unfortunately despite my best efforts I suffered a difficult week at Hanbury shooting rounds of 76 (including a 9 of all things on the 15th! I can’t even remember ever having anything more than a 7 before that.), 72 and 74 to finish the event in a tie for 46th position…definitely not good enough! This was a huge disappointment after having recorded three top 5 finishes already in 2016 as well as a top 30 at the Senior Open Championship! Still you try to learn from the experience, and you just have to dust yourself off and “get back into the saddle”

However I still remain inside the top 15 on the European Senior Tour Order of Merit despite this hiccup, and will continue as I’ve said to bid to earn back full playing privileges on tour for the 2017 season?  To do so I need to finish inside the top 20 by the end of season following the conclusion of the MCB Tour Championships in December…a tall order, but after my pretty successful start to the season it’s certainly not impossible.

However putting the disappointment aside of Hanbury, and looking to the future I had some great news this month in that I received an invite to the Paris Legends Championship Tournament which is taking place from the 9th-11th September. I am really looking forward to that and will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time preparing for that in the upcoming days, and I’m also hoping to get into the Travis Perkins at Woburn next week as well off my ranking as I was informed that there was no chance of an invite regardless of my current position on the OoM of 14th which many of my friends feel is somewhat incongruous considering the circumstances.  

The waiting game continues though as I am also yet to hear whether I have secured a place in the Senior Italian Open which is taking place from 21st-23rd October. I will find out mid-September I guess, so I will be able to let you know in the next newsletter perhaps.

Overall as August comes to a close I feel as though my game is not too far away from where it needs to be, and I just need to continue to play enough competitive golf to keep the game sharp through the remaining months. It’s also all about determination, as well as constantly working on my game, and then try to see where I can improve. Golf really is a “work in progress” no matter what level you are! Interestingly I’ve met up with the guys from Accra a top shaft production company in the hope of finding that “little something” which might just help my game… but only time will tell.

Hopefully next month I’ll have some good news all round, and I hope that you are keeping well and enjoying the game however you participate.

Best wishes as always,

Gary

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 

As we draw the curtain down on June I want to tell you that it’s been a strong and positive month all in all, as well as fill you in on what I have been up to generally.

I was at The Celtic Manor resort at the start of the month in the SSE Wales Senior Open, and I believe that it helped me learn a lot about where my game was and what I needed to work on in preparation for a busy next few months. It was the first European Senior Tour event of the year for me, and basically after a shaky start where actually I hit the ball pretty well on a tricky course my game got sharper as the week went on. I finished in Wales with rounds of 76, 71 and 68 for a 31st place which was pretty positive…. and I think gave me confidence as I headed to Channel Islands for the next event the week after. Fortunately I was able to continue the good work when I went down to the Acorn Jersey Open at the famous La Moye Golf Club overlooking the beautiful western coastline of the island.

At La Moye I bumped into a good friend of mine for many years, Des Smyth on the Wednesday afternoon. He gave me some very sage advice which probably gave me the confidence to approach the event with perhaps more a more positive appreciation of my chances than I had prior… “you’ve got this opportunity to show your strengths, and this course suits you down to the ground you’ve just got to go out and take the chance”.

I thought about it, and I felt that actually I was in a stronger position than maybe I had realised. With the fast hard running fairways and responsive true greens, I was able to compete with the rest of the field including numerous Ryder Cup captains, players and major winners. The event is a slightly different format to most European Senior Tour events, and is perhaps the way the tour sees it may need to go in the coming years with a Pro-Am format for the first two rounds of an event. This format meant that I was partnered alongside an amateur for the first round on Thursday then again on for the second round on the Friday before the professionals only compete in the 18 hole finale on the Saturday. 

I was fortunate to be able to have my manager at Champions of Golf, Lloyd Bailey as my playing partner in the Pro-Am. I enjoyed the opportunity to play golf with someone who was wholeheartedly on my side and whom I knew well which made it even more enjoyable. I was really pleased that I actually took that feeling of positivity to score quite nicely in my first round, but should have been significantly better in truth as I didn’t capitalise on some excellent golf that day. However a 71 put me in contention at the end of the first day. Then in the second round I really found my form both in my long game and on the greens, taking more of the opportunities I made for myself to get myself right into contention to win with a second round of 65. I was still trailing, but I knew I was playing well, and confident I could contend on the final afternoon at La Moye.

Interestingly Farmfoods owner and one of my sponsors Eric Herd, who was playing in the event too with Ian Woosnam as his professional said to me before the final round, “….you’ve got to not just be thinking about getting yourself into position, but get yourself into thinking about actually winning!” I liked that thought a lot, and took it with me into the final round! On reflection I think I would have won, barring a triple bogey on the 9th where unfortunately I lost my ball from the tee shot… which was very frustrating as I think in six years I’ve only lost two balls previously! You would think that with the number of people helping me look for my ball it would be almost impossible to lose it, but somehow I did… so after that from leading the event on 12under I slipped back to 9under! This would normally knock any player back badly, but I was able to get myself back into a strong position to win the tournament with birdies at the 11th and 15th holes. However a bad decision off the tee on sixteen cost me yet another shot annoyingly.

So it all came down to a play-off and sadly it wasn’t to be as far as I was concerned. Ian Woosnam and I both lost out to the eventual winner Gordon Manson who, by making birdie at the third playoff hole, took the Jersey title. I personally want to congratulate Gordon on yet another marvellous performance.

On a very positive note for me though, my top 5 finish in Jersey did give me the opportunity to guarantee my place in Switzerland for the next event as with the current qualification process the Senior Tour has adopted I wasn’t certain to play in one of my very favourite events on the schedule, the Swiss Senior Open at Bad Ragaz. 

Jersey is a wonderful place and I can’t endorse the island more. It’s an amazing place to visit whether you want to play a spot of golf or just enjoy a much needed holiday. I would recommend a visit to the island without a shadow of a doubt.

I then went home with a measure of confidence for obvious reasons. I was then due to play the following week the North Region PGA Championship at my home course Carus Green where I have my Academy. There was a little bit of pressure here I think due to the fact that everyone wanted me to do well.

68, 69 were my scores in the Championship which again I was pretty proud of really, but should have been better on reflection… the putter definitely not being as hot as I needed. However these scores gave me a share of 10th place overall. In the big Pro/Am the following day at Carus I eventually got the putter working, shooting a 65 which got me a second place finish…. so I felt in the end I had done pretty decently all in all which hopefully augers well for a successful continuation of my golfing season. The course at Carus was in wonderful condition that week, and was by far the best it has ever been to date. It is a compliment to the green staff’s work who maintain it throughout the year, and in all conditions! Particularly when you consider that the course was literally underwater in December!

I have been working on my game very hard with my coach these last couple of weeks since to get myself as sharp as possible for the next five weeks where I have got; the Swiss Seniors Open, WINSTONgolf Senior Open, The Senior Open Championship and the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship at Nailcote Hall… a very demanding schedule with the rest of my commitments to fit in as well! I am also involved in a sponsors Pure Retirement Golf Day in early July at the beautiful Nailcote Hall, as well as doing a nightly highlights program for Sky Television during the Open Championship from Royal Troon where I won the Amateur Championship some years ago now. Hopefully I can continue my positive run of form for the remainder of the season despite the tough schedule I’m pursuing now.

Interestingly another thing I have been very pleased recently is the new Max Golf Protein drink I’ve been asked to champion, and I genuinely think it is a very good product. Basically I am using it around about the 9th hole on each round, and I think it really helps with regards to my energy, concentration and general physicality during a round…. so many thanks to those guys at Max Golf Protein for introducing me to the product.

So as I’ve said I’m feeling pretty good about the future right now, and I want to take this opportunity to say thank everyone for the support and help I’ve received recently from so many quarters. I have had many, many emails and texts from so many different people about my success in Jersey in particular which certainly gives me a good feeling of how people are interested in my continuing competitive career.

Hopefully I can capitalise on whatever opportunities I now get on into the future, but realise that it will be anything but easy! However with a strong work ethic, support from all of you and a bit of luck too of course hopefully we can all be celebrating more successes on into the future!

Good luck, and I hope your own month has been fun too!

All the best,

Gary

Hello once again, and welcome to my monthly newsletter for May.

The month started with me getting things together in preparation for the impending start to the Senior Tour…. at last I hear you cry! I travelled up to North Berwick earlier in the month to visit my long-standing friends in that area, and get some concerted practice and golf on some of the country’s best links. I played seven rounds in seven days as well as using the excellent practice ground at North Berwick itself.

I started by playing a wonderfully fun course, Kilspindie which has great views over the Firth of Forth and Edinburgh. It’s certainly a course I’d recommend to anyone to play, and I enjoyed an excellent round there in perfect conditions. I then played North Berwick…. one of my absolute favourite courses anywhere before playing another hidden gem in Luffness New. Gullane No.2 was next which I feel is rather forgotten being beside so many other great courses in the area - it is a sterling test regardless of the weather, and also has brilliant views of the surrounding area too which is an added bonus of course. Another round at the redoubtable North Berwick was followed by a short trip down the road into Edinburgh for the next test of my trip at the parkland course of Duddingston which was a sheltered delight with tree lined fairways, and a good view of Arthur’s Seat, a local landmark. Finally I ended the week with a challenge match off the back tees at North Berwick against a local ex Walker cup star Grant Forrest – a man I believe has big potential for the future. It was a tight affair where I eventually prevailed 1up, but could have gone either way. I was very impressed with the big hitting Grant, and will be watching his progress into the future with interest.     

Anyway I finally got my European Senior Tour season underway last week at the SSE Enterprise Wales Senior Open at the Celtic Manor Resort on the Roman Road course… a venue which has staged various tour events over the years. It was visually stunning in the excellent weather, and although I finished in a somewhat disappointing 31st place it was a decent performance in many ways. I started with a very frustrating 76 which rather belied some very good golf in truth, but of course golf is about the bottom line and the score was as bad as it could have been! Things improved though in round two with a much better round of 71 which despite the improvement still had way too many “silly” mistakes but was in context an encouraging improvement. Finally to close with a 68 was pleasing, but it should have been at least three better…. I take away some positives though, and hope that things can be made tighter in the forthcoming events I play on the tour and elsewhere in the coming months.

I would though like to congratulate Lianwei Zhang for becoming the first Chinese winner on the Senior Tour, finishing with a superb final round of 62 which was quite remarkable considering the difficulties the course presented that week. I’d also like to mention fellow Champions of Golf pro Paul Broadhurst who continued his fantastic form on the tour from last season to finish in runner-up position with an impressive nine under par, and another Ryder Cup star David Gilford who also finished strongly too.

It was good to get some truly competitive golf under my belt and next up I have the Acorn Jersey Open to take part in so hopefully I can get some momentum going after playing well in the final couple of rounds in Wales. I’m also looking forward to participating in Open Qualifying later in the month at Fairhaven…. so we’re really starting to get moving in playing terms finally. After a long time with a lack of competitive golf, it’s a relief I can tell you.

Frustratingly there’s still a great deal of uncertainty with regards as to how many events I’ll be able to play in this season though due to the changes this year for the Senior Tour exemptions, my team and I are working extremely hard to make sure I can keep playing with as much regularity as is possible though and hopefully get into a decent run competitively. 

As always, I’ve been spending plenty of time around Carus Green as the weather conditions are finally starting to genuinely improve now (….Summer at last!) and I can get out on course with more regularity. I mention them every month but it really is a pleasure to be involved with such a forward-thinking club with facilities that are unrivalled by most other clubs in the country. We stage one of the most prestigious events on the North Region PGA calendar in June, and I will be trying to be a standard bearer for the club as one of the local men competing so that should be fun too…. no pressure then by the other staff at the club?!

I’d also like to give a mention to Island Green who produce functional, technical and casual golf clothing for men and women using modern styling, fabrics and printing techniques. We’re currently in talks for them to become my new clothing supplier for 2016 which would be another positive step and any new partnerships are always more than welcome. Talking of new associations I have enjoyed trying a new sports tonic Max Golf Protein drink which I think many people would benefit from trying while playing. If you get the chance check out the product as it’s not only good for you it actually tastes good too!

I was sad to see that Muhammad Ali passed away last week. He was a true sporting icon whom I grew up watching on TV, and realise now how incredible he was not only as a sporting legend but also as a wonderful human being. He will be sorely missed by many millions of people…. it reminded me of my own personal story of Ali back in 1999 when I was at the BBC Sports Personality of The Year programme. Ali was awarded Sportsman of the Century…. quite rightly, and I will never forget the aftermath of that program there that night. All of the leading lights of British sport were attending as well as a smattering of top athletes from the rest of the world too…. quite awe-inspiring really thinking of it now, but despite the reputations of all these sportspeople from many different disciplines, they completely surrounded Ali ten or fifteen deep in only what I can describe as almost a “religious” hushed reverence. They just wanted to shake his hand or touch his arm - it was an incredible moment in all our lives that night. Even now as I think back on that moment I doubt that there will be many another sportspeople, celebrities or world leaders for that matter who will ever command that sort of respect of their fellow peers. Gandhi, or Nelson Mandela certainly did…. but a sportsman? It was an inspirational night for me, and I feel truly privileged to have been there.       

Well that’s about it from me this month my friends – I’ll keep you updated on my progress as the season unfolds. A big thanks to all my sponsors and supporters alike once again – your ongoing support is invaluable to me and it keeps my reason for being a competitive sportsman alive & kicking :-) Thank you!

All the very best,

Gary

Welcome to my latest monthly newsletter for April. I start off the report this month continuing to finalise my equipment issues with PING. Though I’m still waiting for my new Ping G irons to arrive, I feel that the latest gear I’ve got so far is going to help make the game a little easier for me in the future…. and look smart on course too! Unfortunately, it takes time to get everything sorted, but things are moving in the right direction now I believe. I’m looking to get everything sorted during May when I’ll hopefully get some more competitive golf under my belt. I did play at Sandiway in an 1836 Tour Pro-Am, but unfortunately my partner and me were unlucky with the weather that day…. and I didn’t play particularly well either on this occasion which is always disappointing. However playing courses successfully “blind” is never easy, but it is always worth playing these events as they give you feedback on your preparation for events in the future…. and the course was entertaining and relatively dry which is a bonus!

Back at Carus Green, we hosted an event to raise funds for a young amateur Adam Chapman who is now based here at Carus as he looks to make the transition successfully to professional level which will be fun for us to follow. Twelve teams of four turned out to play, and there was also a two course meal served. Adam spent part of his winter training in Portugal with the England elite squad, in addition to Spain and Australia earlier in the year. I’ve given him some putting coaching/advice and he’s certainly a talented player who I hope to see competing with the best of them in the future.

Of course the big golfing event of the last month was the US Masters which was a marvellous spectacle and had an incredible twist in the tale when Jordan Spieth suffered a spectacular collapse to hand a gilt-edged opportunity to win the title to Danny Willett who grabbed it memorably with great aplomb. The Yorkshireman’s win is fantastic for British golf, and I was lucky enough to play with Danny in England teams – he’s a wonderful golfer with a very specific style that he has honed over the years with a good friend of mine Graham Walker, a coaching professional up at The Oaks GC near York.

Another promising talent for the future to watch out for is Andrew “Beef” Johnson, who won his first European Tour title at the Spanish Open recently at the wonderful Valderamma GC. Again, he’s another great player I’ve had the opportunity to play with on the EuroPro Tour. He and players like Shane Lowry prove that top golfers come in all shapes and sizes, not just gym dwelling “flat bellies”… but still have amazing talent, and are entertaining characters as well! I wish Danny and Andrew every success for the future.

Later in the month, I played at the Dunham Forest in another 1836 Tour Pro-Am where I played fairly well but my putting wasn’t up there with the eventual winner Marcus Armitage on seven under par whom I played with that day. It seems to be a theme of the month, cold weather, bumpy greens and courses playing very long! However again, it was a pleasure to play a new course with a potential star of the future…. and he’s certainly another player to keep your eye on.

I also played in the Rotary Club Charity Golf Day at the spectacular Royal Birkdale Golf Club. It’s a truly wonderful venue with an iconic clubhouse and that day the whole team I played with performed very well which was great fun on a genuinely decent day at last! The Open Championship course was showing signs of coming out of the depths of winter, and is worth the effort to play if you get the chance! Although with two professionals on our team myself and Lee Edwards (…with amateurs Maurice Cotter and Graham Curtin making up the four) we were not allowed to win a prize that day it was a moral victory for our team as we would have won top prize by a point (on 91 points) from three other teams that day!

Carus Green also had a visit from local MP and Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron who was visiting us to see how we coped with the dreadful floods late last year. He was also very impressed by the facilities here at the club, as are all first time visitors of course. We keep going from strength to strength now that the major work has been completed restoring the club from the original flood damage. For instance our new golf simulator – also used on Sky Sports – is now up and running which is a significant upgrade on the previous one we had in every respect. I’ve found that it’s incredibly accurate, and is a great tool in developing your game as well as being great fun with the excellent graphics to “play” some great courses from around the world in the comfort of a dry warm room! I say it time and time again, but I’m very proud to be associated with the club which never rests on its laurels and always looks for improvements. Next up is a new pro shop and an extension to the dining/bar facilities as well as brand new balls for the range which I believe is one reason why I think we have the best range in the north of England, if not the UK.

I seem to have been treading water this last few months as I wait for the “season” to begin, though as I’ve mentioned before, I have no idea how many tournaments I’ll be able to compete in on the Senior Tour. All I can do is be as prepared as possible by stepping up my play and practice in the coming weeks and months and get myself in the best possible position to perform well when the opportunities present themselves. I do now have a number of opportunities coming up to play in the next couple of months to kick start my competitive year which will be exciting to get started again. I’ll keep you informed as to how that goes.

Just a final couple of things to mention. Firstly I’m proud to announce that I’m now an ambassador for Max Golf Protein which is a fantastic on course nutritional product and you can find out more information here through the website www.maxgolfprotein.com. Finally, I’d like to give a mention to Jane Reekie at Whippersnapper Embroidery who has done the embroidery for the pockets on my PING tour bag and carry bag too – it looks really professional and she really has done a fantastic job so thank you Jane and the Whippersnapper team!

Anyway all the best to all of you, and I’ll be in touch again next month!

Have fun…. and I’m sure Spring is on the way!

Gary

Welcome to my newsletter for October. It’s been a busy month for me, both in my golfing and my personal life, and I’ve also been trying to do a great deal of planning for the future.

With the European Senior Tour drawing to a close, players were doing their utmost at the Riviera Masters at the beginning of the month to secure a good finish and propel themselves up the Order of Merit – myself included of course! Before heading to Terra Blanche, I was feeling quietly confident as this is an event in which I’ve achieved a good deal of success in the past. Unfortunately the terrible weather had made the course play a mile long, which as you’re probably aware, is not exactly ideal for my game these days!

After arriving in Provence early to give me the best chance of success, the first round was cancelled due to the torrential rain, and we were very fortunate to get the second round completed as the weather closed in again. It was certainly some of the worst stormy conditions I’ve ever experienced in Europe and you may have seen some of the terrible scenes from that area of France on the news.

Despite the conditions being extremely challenging, my rounds of 75 and 73 were disappointing and I’d hoped to achieve a great deal better in order to move up the Order of Merit as we reach the crux of the season. However I’m now heaping the pressure on a massive performance out in Mauritius for the Tour Championship…. so wish me luck!

Upon returning home, much of my time has been taken up looking for a new home, as well as buying a new car – the Honda CRV 4x4 and trying to sort out finally my computer and broadband needs on into the future…. quite a task all in all, but should keep me busy that’s for sure. Hopefully, everything will be sorted out fairly soon though to give me a good basis as I finish off this season and plan for the years ahead.

Speaking of forward-thinking, I’ve been looking at my pension arrangements, will and finances etc through St James’s Place who are helping me to try to get everything in order. Though these things may seem mundane, I appreciate that they are very important for the future…. so I’m hoping to achieve all these things as soon as possible.

I’ve also been looking at my equipment issues utilising all the latest computerised technology to try to find out how to maximise my potential through the next five years in particular on course. I have a number of targets that I’d like to achieve and getting the best equipment for me personally is absolutely crucial. Also my physiology needs addressing too after the numerous injuries I’ve had to cope with in the previous four years in particular, and with help I think I can improve my athleticism for the game to hopefully reduce the problems of the recent years of back trouble I’ve suffered while also still trying to improve my technique with my coaches.

All in all this has added up to being a very busy month, and the ‘clock is ticking’ for the final event of the Senior Tour in Mauritius where I will attempt to give myself a smooth transition into 2016 and beyond.

To finish the month I played in the Eligo Invitational Pro/Am in the Algarve with a good friend of mine Maurice Cotter, who is heavily involved with Carus Green where I’m based these days. He is a partner to Graham Curtin who owns and is developing the fantastic facilities up here in Cumbria at Carus. Maurice is an ex rugby player who has adopted golf with a passion, and we played hard…. but in the end came up just short in collecting a prize in the team event. In the individual event I finished 9th which was a little disappointing after a good start, but this was an excellent chance to see where my game is going in preparation for the Tour Championship in December. Finishing -5, four behind eventual the winner shows some progress. Now I need to continue with my preparations, and hope the improvement continues.

Next month I’m looking forward to an opportunity to work for Sky Sports doing a week’s coverage of the US PGA Tour’s start of their “wrap around” season over in the States. Doing punditry with Sky Sports is something I really enjoy, and hope in the future to do much more with them. It would help hugely if you all could send some support of my work with Sky via the internet in one form or another as they take notice of the public’s “likes and dislikes”. Many thanks for anything you can do in this respect.     

As always I’d also like to thank all my sponsors, advisors, supporters and well-wishers – your continuing support and encouragement certainly means a great deal to me, and is why I keep trying to push myself to do the best I can.

Gary

Welcome to my monthly newsletter for September. I’ve only had one event on the European Senior Tour to compete in this month which was the Travis Perkins Senior Masters at Woburn Golf Club which is one of my absolute favourite venues in England as it’s a stunning location, and the staff are so keen to get the job done right. I can certainly endorse Woburn as a great place for an outing as the facilities are excellent, and it has three very interesting courses. 

After a decent start in the tournament proper shooting a level par 72 with the course playing very long after a wet week prior to us arriving. I was in contention just three strokes off the lead after round one and really, I should have been under par after a little bad luck on a couple of holes. Unfortunately, the following two rounds weren’t quite so good as my back and hips were still so stiff after weeks of struggling to recover from the British Par 3 where I jarred something pretty badly it seems, as I’ve continued to struggle to get it sorted out. In the end I finished tied for 35th which wasn’t too bad a result considering, but a mile away from where I needed to be looking at the Order of Merit table this season with only the top twenty keeping their card for our revised tour in 2016!

I would though like to congratulate Colin Montgomerie who achieved the incredible feat of becoming the first player to win the same title in three consecutive years on both The European Tour and Senior Tour – that is some achievement to win a title three times in a row regardless of wherever you play!

Unfortunately as I say it seems I’m destined to be plagued by my recurring bad back issues which I had thought I was over in the previous twelve months, but sadly I was presumptuous it would seem. I’ve been back to the physiotherapist once again intensively in an attempt to get me ready for the last two events of the season… the first of which is just around the corner. It has made preparation difficult, and the swing continues to feel fragile unfortunately despite some good coaching theory from the coaching staff at my local course, Carus Green so I think I’ll need a large slice of luck as well as excellent recuperative powers to be truly successful I think, but we’ll see. Certainly it won’t be for the lack of trying though!

One of the highlights of the past month was working with the BBC once again, this time to provide some analysis and commentary on the Walker Cup matches at Royal Lytham St. Annes. The event holds a special place in my heart as does the course, so it was a pleasure to cover all the action which was made all the better by Great Britain and Ireland’s fantastic 16½ - 9½ win – their best ever points tally helped by the slight change in format in the last six years, but still it was a very impressive performance all the same. There was some amazing talent on show in both teams, and it would surprise me in the least if we don’t see a major championship winner for these matches into the future.

I also recently had my six monthly skin check in Market Harborough through my excellent specialist Dr. Graham Brown where I had a further four blemishes zapped with dry ice to hopefully stop any further growth or spread in the future fingers crossed. I always look to raise awareness of the dangers of skin cancer whenever I can which is why I work closely with Skcin - a melanoma and non-melanoma charity dedicated to the prevention and early detection of all types of skin cancer. I also work with PAR skincare a Swiss company which creates products that have been formulated for people who spend a great deal of time outdoors like myself. It’s worth checking out the products they produce which I genuinely think are the best skin products on the market right now.

With me looking ahead to the future, I had a meeting with Janine Edwards of St. James’s Place about my pension provisions to get things sorted out for when my golfing career eventually comes to an end. It’s an important issue where I’m trying to make the right decisions for the future, but without the best advice it is a bewildering world out there particularly to me who’s a complete dummy when it comes to finances…. so I can endorse the fact of getting the right people to advise you!

Another great benefit I believe to my game/physicality is getting products where it will help me hopefully perform better with my golf. I think the wrist bands produced by BioFlow will help anyone. They have coupled magnets with other sympathetic materials to enhance a golfer’s performance…. certainly I’ve been wearing them for a number of years now, and think they do something good for me…. certainly I wouldn’t want to be without them! 

Other than that, I’m looking forward my next event at the beginning of October, the French Riviera Masters at the impressive Terre Blanche Golf resort in the south of France. I also have the Eligo Pro/Am in Portugal next month in the Algarve which I’m really looking forward to as I think southern Portugal is a great place to play with so many great courses in the region… and decent weather too usually too! Then the final event the Tour Championship is in Mauritius in early/mid December, so I have plenty to inform you about before the year ends I’m sure. With luck I’ll be able to report much more positive news before Christmas is upon us!

I would of course like to extend my thanks to all my supporters and sponsors and give special mention to Tilly Hats, Galvin Green who have produced some new products which I really like wearing, Farmfoods and of course, Carus Green, my base of operations golf wise. If you have never visited us up in Kendal (….the gateway to the Lake District National Park) then please look at our website www.carusgreen.co.uk as I think you’d be impressed by the much vaunted facilities we have developed under the watchful eye of the owner Graham Curtin.

Anyway all the very best, and I hope this finds you well…. on and off the course!

Gary

Welcome once again to my monthly newsletter for July. It seems to have been a busy month for me as the European Senior Tour has at last begun to kick into life, and this month I’m reporting on three events.

It started off at the Swiss Seniors Open at Bad Ragaz which is a truly amazing place (well worth a visit if you’ve the time), and it’s always been a favourite event/venue of mine. It’s a pretty town set in picturesque surroundings on the valley floor nestled between spectacular high mountains. Bad Ragaz has hundreds of years of history as a hot springs spa destination…. and the golf course is a decent test weaving its way between mature pine forest as well.

I arrived in Switzerland not feeling completely on top of my game, but it helped that the course suits me well with a good record of success there in the past.  I played some decent golf through the week, which got steadily better over the three rounds. I finished tied for 19th with a score of -6, which was a little disappointing as every year previously I have finished inside the top 10 but nevertheless, it was a positive week’s golf which I was hopeful I could build on.

Due to the very short turnaround before the next event in Vorbeck (Eastern Germany) it proved to be a pretty stressful time what with golf, packing, travel etc and it made the following two days tiring to put it mildly. Therefore preparation for the WINSTONgolf Senior Open was not ideal, and meant that I was playing catch up for the tournament. The course tends to suit bigger hitters but after a decent performance at Bad Ragaz, I was hopeful I could record a good finish. I even managed my 19th hole-in-one on the 11th hole using a 7 iron in the practice session playing a match between Peter O’Malley, Greg Turner, Paul Eales and yours truly which was a bit of fun! 

Initially on arrival at the club, I was told that I would be first reserve for the Pro-Am after unexpectedly the organisers extended the pro/am field to 27 teams, but the weather conditions were very poor on the Thursday with cool high winds. I was glad not to be playing after everyone had teed off, and I went to have lunch. However at the last minute after the teams had played four holes I was told I would have to play which meant having to rush out on course to join up with my new friends. With so little preparation after an hour back in the clubhouse I didn’t have the best of times battling the conditions! This unfortunately had a knock-on effect when the actual tournament began the next day again in inclement windy weather finishing with a 77. I had a much better second round with a 69 where I somehow got it round in a decent number, but missed too many opportunities to finish as well as I would have liked. The weather was of course pretty awful, which seems to have a particularly negative effect on my game not being the strongest of hitters. Sadly after a 73 final round with a triple bogie thrown into the mix I was rather frustrated as I had hoped to be making progress on the tour rather than going backwards.

After six days of solid practice on the first class facilities here at Carus Green the following week, despite the less than ideal weather, I felt that I was making progress once again with my swing. I then travelled up to Sunningdale – which has always been one of my absolute favourite venues of my career – for the biggest event on the 2015 calendar, The Senior Open. Things started well, and I was leading after four holes having had three birdies on the first, third and fourth. Unfortunately I was not able to maintain that sort of form finishing with a 69 (-1). Then not helped by the weather the tournament took a real twist with a rain delay for most of the second round leaving chaos in its wake where players having to restart the following morning at 7am to complete their second round… then play the third round soon after. Despite military precision of start times, we couldn’t finish the 3rd round either needing to again return the following morning to complete the round and then play the 4th round to completion! This all meant a great deal of waiting around, practice, play, wait about practice, play - not ideal for quality golf I can assure you! However, I have the utmost respect for the leaders who despite these impediments played some incredible golf culminating in a brilliant win by a little-known American Dawson who thoroughly deserved the plaudits! Sadly I finished way back on +6…. for me inclement conditions always have a particularly negative effect on my game sadly which is frustrating as it always takes some time to recover my scoring touch once again. At least I made the cut which is far better than a great many others, so I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on my shortcomings.

Also playing alongside a couple of the top American players, Bart Bryant and Scott Dunlap showed me that I still have some way to go to get my game to its highest level, but it has made me all the more determined to achieve my goals…. as I’ve been quoted in the past “hard work is the only way to achieve your goals” there are no short cuts despite a lifetime of experience! Mentally and physically the Senior Open this year was probably the hardest tournament I’ve ever played in since turning professional, but hopefully the experience will make me stronger in the long run.

The pressure is now on to try to secure a top 20 finish on the EST OoM, and my tour card for next season – it’ll not be an easy task now with only four events left on the tour this year, but I’ll give it my best shot as always and see what happens.

On a more positive note, I’m delighted with the clothing I’ve received from Galvin Green this year as I’m a great believer of looking the part, playing the part! Certainly the clothing is also very durable which is ideal for touring sports people too. Also I’ve made some great contacts with a company called PAR which is a leader in skin care/sun protection which is a subject I have quite a bit of understanding about. I genuinely believe that this product is one of the best on the market, so well worth checking out if you have the time. It could be one of the best things you do this month - trust me. 

As always, onwards and upwards and many thanks to my team and sponsors for their continuing support.

All the best to one and all,

Gary  

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