Don Loved his Golf at the Sir Garry

Tuesday, 3rd December 2013

DON LOVED HIS GOLF AT THE SIR GARRY

 

  Don Hanley is a semi-retired Northern Ireland businessman with a keen interest in sport and a passion for golf and rugby. He also enjoys the sunshine so when he heard about the Sir Garfield Sobers Golf Tournament it seemed the ideal place and time to holiday…

 

  “I had been to Barbados before on a family holiday when I read about the Sir Garry Sobers Golf Tournament in Sporting Barbados and decided to return to play in it. I did have some additional support from an old rugby friend from my hometown of Comber who lives in Barbados, so it was not quite a step into the unknown!  However, the trip exceeded all my expectations and I’ve already set the plans in place to return in 2014.

  Leaving a cold and wet Northern Ireland in April was no big wrench and the Virgin Atlantic flight with a few rums quickly put me in the holiday mood. I stayed at the Tamarind Cove Hotel on the West Coast for the entire week where the staff were great and the experience unforgettable. The West Coast is much quieter than the South Coast where I stayed on my previous visit, but I was quickly indoctrinated into the social demands of the golfing week following an 18-hole “acclimatization” round at Rockley Golf Club the following day. Rockley is not one of the four courses involved in the Sir Garry, but it offers the ideal preparation. Reputed to have the best 19th Hole on the island it is a quaint and tight 9-hole parkland course set amongst towering trees and condos. You have to hit the ball straight as there is out-of-bounds on every hole and of course, you have to down a few drinks with the friendly locals in the clubhouse afterwards. It was the ideal preparation for four consecutive days of competitive golf and I woke up next morning to a beautiful Caribbean sunrise and a hearty breakfast.  A few hours later I was practising on a very fast putting green at Royal Westmoreland and my Sir Garry adventure was about to begin.

  Royal Westmoreland is a beautiful course set on rolling hills that seemed to stretch all the way down to my hotel. It is a challenging course and well designed with a great variety of holes through gullies and luxurious real estate. Ian Wosnam has a house there but I didn’t spot him in the garden!

  I’ve a 12 handicap, but the course beat me on this occasion and I finished a little disappointed with a net 82. However, all that quickly disappeared with a few jugs of Bank’s Beer in the lovely clubhouse as I quickly found the social side of this tournament was just as enjoyable as the golf. Thankfully there was a dinner planned later or I may still be there! The Trini visitors enjoy their golf, but I think they enjoy their partying better!

  Next day we played at the panoramic Apes Hill Club, probably the golfing highlight of my trip. It is an amazing course with some breathtaking holes and scenery. The greens are a bit like Irish greens with some challenging breaks, but my familiarity with the surface didn’t produce a whirlwind performance and I had to settle for a net 86. However, I wasn’t alone as everyone agreed Apes Hill was beautiful, but quite a daunting course to play. After the game the customary socializing was a much more subdued that elsewhere, which suited my plans perfectly as I spent Friday evening in the heart of St George as a guest of my Irish/Barbados friends. Great food, great rum and great company ensured I was fully acclimatized at the halfway stage of the tournament.

  On Saturday we played at the famous Sandy Lane Country Club and it was another wonderful golf experience. I found the course tough, especially the fast greens which were like Valderama in Spain. However, the cost of drinks was a little stiff, but perhaps that’s the price you pay to mix with the rich and famous. Unfortunately it meant nobody stayed too long in the clubhouse afterwards and that was despite me scoring a net 77, including two birdie twos, my best round to date.

  There were 300 players competing in different sections in the Sir Garry and the entry fee is great value as it also includes the opening and closing ceremonies and the prizes. You may also get a chance to play with a superstar like Brian Lara or meet Sir Garry himself. The great man didn’t play in the competition, but he made himself available to meet and greet and I got my chance on Sunday at the Barbados Golf Club. It was an honour to meet him and it inspired my golf as I shot a net 75 and rounded off the four days in style. The course was a little heavy due to the rain from the previous week, but for an Irishman the conditions were ideal. My highlights were a birdie two at the second hole and a few beers and rums in the busy clubhouse afterwards. Everyone returned in the evening for the prize distribution and I joined my hotel friends for a farewell Indian meal in Holetown later.

  Overall, the week was a wonderful experience and I recommend it to any visiting golfer as the tournament is well organized and the opportunity to play with nice people on great courses is an unforgettable experience. I finished 22nd in my section, but I’ll be practising throughout the year and building up my fitness to do better in 2014. I also hope to cajole a few of my friends to join me!

  Many thanks to Denny Foster for the opportunity to play, Sir Garry for being such a charming host and to the many friends I met for making the trip so enjoyable. “

 

 

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