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Gary WolstenholmeMBE


Gary Wolstenholme September 2016 Newsletter


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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,

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