Bentley, Bugatti, Braid or Bust!

Some excitement for the car enthusiasts amongst us on Friday as a fleet of vintage cars passed by the office. Over 50 pre 1941 sports cars including Bentleys, Lagondas, Bugattis, Aston Martins, Jaguars and Mercedes trailed past on the first stage of the Flying Scotsman Endurance Rally 2010. Starting from just down the road at the famous Brooklands race track, home of the world’s oldest motor-racing circuit, the cars spent the weekend racing along remote country roads on a three-day charge to Scotland, stopping for time trials along a route which took in Henley on Thames, Stowe, Rutland, the Humber Bridge and the Yorkshire Moors.

Interestingly not only was the start of the race very familiar to us. The finish line was at Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club near Edinburgh where we carried out major renovation work to the James Braid designed East Course in 2005 in order to develop and enhance the reputation of Dalmahoy as a popular golfing destination and to create a golf course that will once again be able to host international golf tournaments.

Winners of the Flying Scotsman 2010 were a Vauxhall 30/98 in the pre-1925 class and a Bentley Derby 4¼ in the pre-1941 class.

Vauxhall 30/98

EGD Courses on Tour

This week two EGD courses stage tournaments on the European Tour.

The Seniors Tour travel to Casa Serena in the Czech Republic for the Casa Serena Seniors Open, the second year the tournament has been held. Won in 2008 by Bernhard Langer, his maiden Senior Tour win, Langer’s title defence could face a stern test from two fellow former Ryder Cup Captains in Sam Torrance and Woosnam, who are locked in a battle at the top of the Order of Merit.

Casa Serena Golf Course is the vision of Terry Gou, the chairman of Foxconn, the largest contract manufacturer of electronics worldwide. The course resides deep in the rural Czech countryside, alongside the castle of the same name that Terry Gou bought and refurbished to be his personal European residence. The course is for the use of the executives and guests of Foxconn and opened for play in 2007.

The second course to play host to the European Tour is Ribagolfe in Portugal. The First Qualifying Stage for the European Tour takes place from 15 – 18th September when 51 golfers will attempt to win a place through to the Second Qualifying Stage and ultimately a card on the European Tour.

European Golf Design designed two courses at Ribagolfe, located near Santo Estevao, 30 minutes drive east of the city centre. Ribagolfe 1 with Ex Walker and Ryder Cup golfer Peter Townsend and Ribagolfe II with Ex Walker and Ryder Cup golfer Michael King. Set within a forest of cork oak trees and the design makes full use of the sweeping undulations of the site, providing many spectacular golf holes across valleys and lakes.

AIB Ladies Irish Open – Portmarnock Links

Italy’s Diana Luna hit 18 greens en route to a stunning final round of 68 and claimed her first tour win in five years at the AIB Ladies Irish Open supported by Failte Ireland. She said she enjoys Ireland. “The people and the atmosphere are so great. We always play great courses; links is my favourite,” she said.

“It is a very rare occurrence”, according to Yvonne Cassidy, Tournament Director of the AIB Ladies Irish Open for the Ladies European Tour, for every one of Europe’s top 40 ranked professionals to enter for a tournament. This demonstrates the success of the event in 2008 on the Portmarnock Links club and clearly establishing it is as one of the premier events on the Ladies European Tour.

During the event Laura Davies was made an Honorary Member of The Links Golf Society at the AIB Ladies Irish Open supported by Fáilte Ireland. The English star was awarded the first female honorary membership, in recognition of a lifetime of achievement in women’s golf.

From this weeks Spike Bar – by John Hopkins, Internet Sports Writer of the Year
Portmarnock Links is a course of two halves. You make your score on the outward nine holes, which are flat and quite open, and then hope to hang on to it on the inward nine holes which wend their way through sand dunes – a lengthy tongue of shallow dune land as the late, great Pat Ward-Thomas described it – by the side of the Irish Sea a few miles north of Dublin. Bernhard Langer is credited with the design of the course but Stan Eby from European Golf Design did all the work and deserves more credit.

Click to read the Times online Spike Bar

2011 English Amateur Championship

The Marquess Course and Duchess at Woburn Golf & Country Club will be hosting the 2011 English Amateur Championship.

One of Golf World’s Dream 18 – The 7th on The Marquess Course: 509 yards (par five)

Why should you play it?
It is a stunning ‘should I shouldn’t I?’ hole. It mixes brain and brawn in one theatrical par five. It has become the signature hole of Woburn’s most recently opened course and with good reason. Framed by tall pines, the fairway is split by a narrow stretch of spindly trees and then dips and climbs to the green. Evocative and thoughtful.

If you take the high road and stay left of the trees it will be a genuine three-shotter, but the brave may just want to boom one down the ‘low road’ to the right, The hole will toy with your mind and shot-making ability, as the green is reachable if you are very long and very straight off the tee. Are you brave enough!

2008 Wales Open

Wednesday 28th May

To Celtic Manor Resort (CMR) and the official opening of the Twenty Ten Course prior to the Wales Open. Chairman of CMR Sir Terry Mathews, First Minister for Wales the Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan and European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady perform the opening functions although ominously their words are almost drowned out by the sound of torrential rain falling on the roof of the media centre. Later I take time to talk to Tournament Director Mike Stewart about the course set up. The course is playing long and Mike thinks we’ll move some of the tees forward which is fine by me. The course has been designed to have this kind of flexibility. The view from the players seems pretty encouraging from the limited play they’ve been able to have so far. After a month’s rainfall in the past four days, go to bed praying that the drainage system works!

Thursday 29th May

Fantastic – the rain has stopped. Less fantastic – we are delayed because of fog! The drainage has worked though and soon the players are out and I spend the morning watching how various holes play. Glad to see that many of them are going for the green on the par 5 18th with their second shot, despite the carry over water in front of the green. In the afternoon I spend some time with Russell Phillips of CMR, John Jermine, Chairman of Ryder Cup Wales and a film crew from BBC Wales. We walk several holes and discuss various aspects of the designs for the course, particularly the spectator viewing areas and the work that was carried out to protect and enhance natural habitats as well as the archaeological heritage of the site. Take the opportunity to speak to some of the players after they come off the golf course. All the players I managed to catch up with following their rounds are very positive about the golf course, despite the soft conditions. To bed with the sound of rain beating against the window again.

Friday 30th May

Thank goodness – it’s dry. I go down to the practice area to see how the spatial relationships work between the practice greens, the driving range and player and spectator movement. From there, the players have a very short walk to the 1st tee. Come the Ryder Cup most of the practice area will be used for the tented village. An additional practice ground is being constructed on the other side of the river to be connected by a bridge. Wander into the media centre to see some of the journalists. They’ve got a great location right next to the 18th green, as have many of the hospitality units on the other side of the fairway on the specially constructed platforms which create a natural amphitheatre. We watch as Danny Willetts, playing his first professional tournament, plays his second shot. He needs to make an eagle to make the cut and goes for the green. He only just makes the carry but the soft ground conditions just stop his ball from rolling all the way back into the water. His chip is well struck, climbs the steep slope, runs across the green and into the hole. Never looked like missing. Danny will be back for the weekend. I’m off home.