… this would probably be the best golf trip in the world!
Here is my account of a truly memorable week across the Atlantic. Hosted by partner and Investor in Talent – Julian Howard, we were joined by partner and Investor in Talent – Ross Snape and Investor in Talent – Steve Quinn.
Thursday 7th April
Where does one start? How about Pinehurst No.2, host course to several major championships and the Ryder Cup in 1951, the majestic jewel in the Pinehurst Resort crown winds its way through the heart of the North Carolina Sandhills. Post round, the bar is buzzing with excitement as Jordan Spieth fires an opening round of 66 (-6), the perfect start to his title defence – The 2016 Masters is under way.
Friday 8th April
Eager anticipation as we drive to Augusta to join Gary Player for dinner! This is not a ‘typo’, we had dinner with Gary Player. Truthfully, I don’t think a superlative has been invented to describe the Black Knight. For me he is simply an inspiration to anyone of any age. A small but captivated audience sat for 45 minutes listening to this incredible man speak about his passion for life, his determination and will to conquer adversity, his astonishing achievements – on and off the golf course not to mention his adoring family and of course fitness! Meanwhile, just across the road, Rory McIlroy posts 71 in very tricky conditions to trail Spieth by one and set-up a showcase pairing in the final group on Saturday.
Saturday 9th April
It’s moving day at The Masters. It’s unusually chilly for the time of year. Steve Quinn has opted for shorts. Terrific news for the Head of Merchandise. Steve and Ross head straight for the shop while ‘experienced’ hands – Julian and yours truly head… to the shop. You just have to! It’s windy and an early walk of the course and a look at the pin positions suggests scoring will be tough. Spot on.. Rory all but plays himself out of the tournament but Jordan offers a glimmer of hope to the chasing pack when he drops three shots on 17 and 18. TV really doesn’t give you any impression of just how steep the climb is from the 17th tee, all the way up to the 18th green. The pairing of Dustin Johnson and Jason Day catches the eye of probable challengers to Jordan’s victory march as we adjourn for dinner at the host house, this time with one of the world’s leading coaches – David Leadbetter. A charming, quietly spoken man with a great sense of humour, David shared many fascinating stories from the past 25 years teaching some of the very best in the game. Typical of David’s dry wit, the tip I remember most was to try and have a very short memory – a must to be good at golf!
Sunday 10th April
As if it wasn’t enough of a privilege to be attending the final day of The Masters, we were extended Berckmans Place access for the final day. Now, I have heard stories about Berckmans Place from an elite, very fortunate few who have enjoyed access past the “by Invitation only” sign but nothing can possibly prepare even the most pampered for the facilities that await. An enormous, purpose built clubhouse contains some wonderful, tastefully presented memorabilia, more restaurants than I could count on one hand and a Berckmans boutique offering a range of luxurious Masters merchandise, only available in this store – for one week a year! The fun doesn’t stop there.. outside, replica putting surfaces have been built for Berckmans Patrons to test their skills on the famed, super fast Augusta National greens. There’s more – Augusta National caddies clad in iconic white boiler suits are on hand to offer guidance on how to hole those all important putts down the stretch. Quite extraordinary! Time to take a breath and head to the course. A perfect spring day greeted the players, the greens notably softer and a number of “attackable” pins set the stage perfectly for the drama that ensued. Our Patrons chairs positioned on the side of the 16th with a terrific view of the 6th and 15th. Perfect. Of course, what happened next will go down in Masters history as one of the most dramatic back-nines ever but what makes being at Augusta National so special is the cathedral like atmosphere at the bottom of the course in and around amen corner. The ooo’s and rrrr’s when the traditional scoreboards change, the roars and groans as the drama unfolds, no more so than on this Sunday afternoon. I can’t deny it was great to witness an English victory but at the same time my heart did go out to Jordan Spieth. Rest assured though – he’ll be back very soon. A terrific evening ensued as we toasted Danny Willett with one or two bottles of champagne in a nearby restaurant… What a day!
Monday 11th April
With slightly thick heads we ventured East to the stunning Kiawah Island Resort, keen to emulate the brilliance of Willett a day earlier. That wasn’t to be but nonetheless we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon on the excellent Osprey Course. Weary but still exhilarated from the day before we dined (with some very good Amarone) in The Sanctuary – an opulent and stunningly beautiful hotel located on the ocean front before collapsing (literally in my case!) in our tasteful villa.
Tuesday 12th April
Our final day of this epic journey. And what a way to finish, teeing up on the Ocean Course – host venue for the infamous “War on the Shore” Ryder Cup in 1991 and the 2012 PGA Championship won by Rory McIlroy. The golf course and setting is simply stunning, the par-3’s are incredible! A visit to Kiawah Island and a round on the Ocean Course should be added to every golfers bucket list, along with a visit to The Masters, Pinehurst No.2 etc. etc…!
So to 2017… how can we possibly top the itinerary above? Well, just like Danny Willett we will continue to work harder and harder to make our Investor in Talent Events perfect. They’re pretty close but there’s always room for improvement. See you next year…