BMGA BRITISH MASTERS 2008
Adventure Island, Southend-on-Sea, 29 March 2008
System: adventure golf
John Moore wins
“The sight of the façade of the
Palace Hotel, Southend
With every sense I think of you, it sends me round the bend
The Peak Freans factory pumping smoke reminds me of the past
Of waking up quite terrified and always coming last.”
- The Siddeleys, “My Favourite Wet Wednesday Afternoon” (1987)
Ah, Essex. Spiritual home of the Car Boot Sale, the Rottweiler and the omnipresent Nail Boutique. A group of 30 intrepid souls gathered at the Adventure Island course at Essex’s finest resort on a windswept Saturday morning to battle for the title of British Masters champion, a competition now in its ninth year and going strong.
Numbers were bolstered by a few surprise last-minute entrants, including Ruth Bullin, Phil Exall and Jon Angel. Kevin Botto barely made it, having just caught his crack-of-dawn train by the skin of his teeth, but sadly this year’s competition was grrrowl-free as Tim Davies withdrew. Still, with such a quality field, predicting who would finish in the top few places would be a virtual lottery. But whose balls would be rolling the right way?
The first round got underway on the top ‘Aztec’ course with blustery but mercifully dry conditions. Chris Harding (who also led at the halfway stage last year) and Keith Kellard raced to the front of the pack with good solid scores, joined by John Moore after a good recovery from an early 4. Steve ‘F1’ Gow had a spot of bother after his ball got stuck in the tunnel at hole 9 but rescued a 3 with a neat reverse-club recovery shot. Most of the field finished the first half within just a few strokes of the leader.
After a swift break the second round got underway on the ‘Inca’ course, and the Inca truly proved a stinker for many. Gareth Holmes, Ruth Bullin and Ted McIver were among those who, despite an excellent first 18 holes, fell away as the Curse of the Screeching Monkeys struck again.
Most players were battling to keep the scores down, but as the tide came in, the putts stayed out. The tunnel holes in particular were proving tricky, with a 2 as good as an ace, but with more than a few 4s appearing on scorecards. A notable exception was Brad ‘The Fist’ Shepherd, whose Fist made 3 clenched appearances in the final 9 holes, leading to a rare and impressive sub-18 round.
The early front runners held their nerve however, and when the final putt of the day rolled in, it was John Moore who emerged as champion, after a focussed performance thanks in part to his rigorous pre-tournament training schedule of 10-mile cross country runs and bowls of Cheerios (at the same time?) He proudly accepted his £175 prize and the coveted Masters jacket (a fine match with his trainers and jogging bottoms) presented by last year’s winner Keith Kellard, who finished just 2 shots behind John in second (£75 prize). 3rd place was clinched at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off, Chris Harding being the victor, and leading to the now-familiar sight of Chris holding a cheque (this time for £50) and smiling for photos. Trevor Exall, 2006 winner, finished 4th after the play-off defeat, but still had bragging rights on the trip back, having beaten the other 3 participating Exall brothers!
So ended another enjoyable British Masters at Southend. Honourable mentions also go to Jo Williamson whose rock steady 4 rounds of 21 gave her the best female score, and to Richard Hopkins who picked up his prize of a rollercoaster ride for finishing (almost) last, giving credence to his T-shirt slogan “I’m Too Punk Rock For This”.
Thanks as always go to Mark Cohen and his colleagues who worked hard at providing the best playing conditions they could, despite dealing with heavy rain and recalcitrant leaves, and also to Ted McIver, who is reputedly being frantically head-hunted by Heathrow T5 chiefs for his famed organisational skills. Salary negotiable…
(Words: Kevin Moseley)
Previous results: 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000
Pictures of the course