Let me start by saying thank you Picacho Hills Country Club,I really enjoyed my time working there. A special thanks to Lynn Zemont the president of the laddies assoc. and all the laddies of the assoc. your interest and support of me is greatly appreciated. I had no idea what I was getting into.
I've been playing golf for twenty five years. I started playing golf while working in Hawaii at a golf club named Kiahuna, Kauai Hi. in 1985 that was a long time ago. This trip is one of the few gimp golf tournaments I've ever attempted. the others were many years ago .
The society of one armed golfers are a group of gentlemen and one lady who share a common interest golf and everything that surrounds it! The The society has existed for 73 years . Its members come from all over the world. I discovered this group in 1991 while researching adaptive sports for a documentary I was working on.
I've been to several adapted golf tournaments, this one is like no other I've seen. The tradition and pageantry are impressive on there own. You ad in the people who run this show and all the members and you have a real winner this is not just a tournament , its a brother/sisterhood. I have never seen so many one handed golfers in one place.
Over the years I have never been aloud to play in amputee tourn. because I still have a arm on my left side It does not work ,but it is still there. So a opportunity to play in this tourn. was something I always wanted to do!.
When I traveled 25 years ago the world was allot different. ATM's did not exist, you went to the bank and got traveler's checks. Not anymore. Everyone uses ATM's now Of course don't forget to tell your bank before you leave country. Or else they will think someone else is using your # and block all transactions. as you can guess that happened to me.
I left home with $200 cash on me. Assuming I could get more cash on the other side, this is not going to happen. The day I arrived was Saturday all the banks where closed."nice" good start I still had $100 dollars on me. I had to wait until Monday I used the clubs Internet connection. transfered $400 dollars into my pay pal account, this is a international business account thank god. The bad news my money would not be available for 4 days. let the adventure begin!!!!!
I was met by a American named Mary Marshal whose husband is the president of the association his name is Gary . Mary came with her friend from Ireland Gerry Condie, nice laddies supper kind . Gerry's husband's name is John. John is a man with many skills photographer ,liaison, all around go to guy, neat guy.
After visiting for a few hours I finally got a chance for a practice round. the pro shop matched me up with a fellow from Tasmania his name is Allister Calvert . I would say he is late 20's to mid 30's amputee who hits a ball cross body oh 250-300 yards good player! any how we tee it up from the men's tees. Right from the start I'm thinking well the fairways are like greens real fast try to stay in the fairway. Already I have the wrong strategy.
I have never seen a golf course like this one 133 years old swear to god they don't aerate for that matter bald spots in the middle of the fairway are common and don't be surprised if you never have a clean lie. sand bunkers everywhere and greens so slow half the time I wanted to use a PW to advance the ball. oh yea their rough is mainly fescue about 2 feet tall and nasty.
Now to be fair about the greens I was told that the winter was so cold this year they were fearful that the greens had gotten damaged so they were letting them grow out more than usual.
Let's not forget the gorse, all I can figure is Scottish course designers are sadistic, they line their golf holes by growing these mid-evil hedges made out of a form of cedar that grows so dense that if you hit your ball in it chances are the ball is impaled into its dense exterior or worse yet it will be in the middle of it. This will tempt you to try and retrieve it, do not I mean Do Not! attempt to retrieve that ball. Gorse have thorns that would make a cactus quiver! Imagine a 2 inch needle capable of going through a golf glove, jacket sleeve or a piece of shoe leather. As you can tell I had a few confrontations with the gorse.
Little did I know but sat. afternoon would be one of the few times I would see the sun the whole week, you have to remember I'm in far north Scotland cold and wet is normal. Let us pick up where I left off playing with Allister. I must say I am at this point thinking that this tournament won't be so tough .Narrow and tricky yes long no and the greens are way too slow but I'm feeling pretty good about my game. How wrong I was.
Now Allister and I start off playing pretty good, for never seeing this course before. I feel pretty good about my game. I'm still ignorant to how much different the course plays from front to the back tees I found myself driving the ball through many fairways . Well that won't be a problem for long.
Day Two (sun)
I get up walk to the golf course at 8:00 am. The night before I stored my clubs in the pro shop because they were not ready for us to store our equipment yet. Monday the girls in the office will assign us lockers, but its sun. I go out for my second practice round, this time from the medal tees. approx. 60 yards further on most holes. boy this changed everything. the day before I stayed out of most trouble.
I'm looking at fairways and they look allot more narrow not that you can hit one and have it stay, that's not happening. I'm still trying to play this course like Picacho Hills ,you just can't, some fairways are mogled like a ski run. the easiest shots are out of the sand bunkers. but I'm stubborn and sticking to my game plan big mistake!
On this round I get matched up with a Swedish player named Dave Shutsander from Sweden who is is real nice guy, good attitude. well he is another cross body swinger that hits the hell out of it. on this morning I struggled badly could not make a putt, I kept pulling them hitting them so hard. I could not get the ball in the hole. I got real frustrated . besides all the travel is catching up with me.
All I really wanted to do was hit balls on a driving range, fix my rhythm and get my confidence going again. Guess what? no driving range the only way to work on my game was to chip an putt which was worthless, the practice area was fairly new and had a fast green nothing like the course.
I go right back out with Tony Jones from wales and john Condie from Ireland this will be my 3rd round in a day and a half. I'm getting tired. But qualifying is tomorrow I must get ready. You also have to remember, I've carried my bag because I don't want to spend money on any kind of cart, bad idea lesson learned.
Now I'm tired I'm resting in the clubhouse worried about the money, how bad I played and just plain tired. I walk back to the B&B its 9:00pm looks like 5 in the afternoon. it gets dark at 12 midnight and light at 3 am. As you can guess I slept for 6 hours then I was up ,tired but up. my tee time was at 8:15 am so I go down stairs eat some cereal and walk to the course. It's now 7:00am I go and get my clubs go try to warm up .
Day 3 first qualifying day
On this day I'm playing with David Waterhouse he is from Little Sutton,Cheshire . David has his own posse. three friends who go with him to all of his tournaments, I do believe their names were John, Jerry and Gary all of these guys are real good guys I ended up spending a couple late nights with them. They had a reputation of being wild . I wouldn't say they were that bad. I hung with them just fine, they just want to have fun.
Anyhow back to the golf, I'ts tee time, we all go to # 1 , now remember no driving range no real warm ups. In this group was myself ,David Waterhouse ,George Bradley another real good guy . we are all standing on #1 teebox , take our group picture, trade scoring cards and preparing to hit.
At this point an official gets on the PA announces "NOW ON THE TEE FROM THE UNITED STATES- A MR SCOTT ROBERTSON" everyone cheers. My heart goes straight in to my throat. I stand there heart going a million miles an hour,hit my shot . A pretty good one, I appears to be good . We have a spotter his name was billy an older gentleman I hate to say I worked that old man out. I go looking for my ball can't find it , end up with a tripple bogy. can't make a putt! hole 2 double boggy putting is killing me hole3 par 3 I hit my hybrid on the green and three putt slow so very slow of course every one else did just fine, As I'm playing I find it amazing how these guys, go about their business feeling no pressure.
Oh yea did I mention it is raining, I had more weather to deal with than I've seen in a year back home, Summer in northern Scotland Is challenging . Rain that goes sideways and wind gusts up to 60 mile an hour and temperatures that hang around mid 40s in the morning.
Now to summarize my performance pretty bad , I had a blast but the golf needed some help all my last minute equipment changes came back to haunt me.
Now I have a chance to start meeting everyone. I must say everyone was so nice and friendly. I've been playing golf for twenty six years,I even ran a multiple disability tournament in 1992. Never have I experienced a true feeling of brotherhood as I felt from these fellas. I was so impressed that I decided to write this blog to help raise money for them.
Now where was I oh yea, after playing I went out with the boys kind of knowing this tournament was over for me. So I decided to go out with Waterhouse and the boy's. I kind of knew that I was not going to make qualification for the matchplay. Of course the main topic of the night was my 12 I got on number 16 I think the format was good I just sucked, it happens.
day4 2nd qualifying day
More of the same I'm afraid, The best part of the day was my company I played with a couple of real nice guys David Braddick and James Darragh. By this time I'm out of money, having to wait until Thursday, for money to reach my pay pal account. So I'm a little distracted from my golf game and the company really made the day fun!
Here's a interesting fact I played with Dave Braddick two different days. He never hit the ball more than 195 yards always strait down the middle and from what i understand he played the same ball the entire week. I on the other hand lost a box of titleist, rarely hit the middle of the fairway and shot 26 more strokes than he. I never had so much fun getting my ass kicked.
Day 5 is when all competitors start playing in a series of stable-ford tournaments so those who didn't make the Knockout rounds have something to play for. This is another example of how this association does a exceptional job at making this tournament all inclusive for all levels of ability. On Tues.they played greensomes, on wed. they played for the Bob Hughes cup. Thursday morning was where I hit the wall, they played in the cattenach cup I was so tired that the thought of hitting balls made me ill.
Almost every Night there is something planned for the membership. Lots of meals together. Some of these people only see each other at this championship, Bobby Park (Indonesia) and Hugo du toit (South Africa) comes to mind. Also there is a strong showing from Sweden,Finland, Tasmania. and USA (myself and Gary Marshal).
On Thursday the day I ran out of juice. I woke up and went to the golf course and sat in the club house overlooking the course . I had an opportunity to visit with the laddies of the association . Some of these laddies have been coming with their husbands in some cases for 35 years.
I sat with Marion park bobby's wife. Marion was wonderful, she was able to give me some history and info on all the membership. Bob is one of those guy's who have been doing this tourn. for 35 years. I played with bob during the president cup on Friday.
I must say This event would not be possible without all the support of these wives. Mary, Gerry,Marion and of course Ann Priscott who ran the gift shop for the event, I'm sorry if I have left anyone out, I'm sure I will.
They conclude the week with a banquette and awards ceremony.
I just want to say a special thank you to Peter Prescott, Malcolm guy and Dave and Monica Braddick and of course Mary Marshal.
Here is why I feel this association has allot to offer people with disabilities. Not only are these people disabled golfers , they all have a story that needs to be heard. the best way to encourage newly injured, I call them fresh kills. Is to show shinning examples of people overcoming lifes challenges. Not one of the people I met is sitting by waiting for someone to solve their problems. They all lead prosperous lives. I know this association could help mainstream newly injured I feel personally that this association could be a vital asset in the rehab of our injured soldiers both in the USA as well as UK.