It's been another busy week of golf here at Wimbledon Park with the Scratch Knockout tournament and Captain's Prize and many other finals taking place.
Pictured below is Nick Yates, holing out on the 36th hole to win the captain's prize, and also Adam Menton teeing off on his way to winning the Andy Chapman Scratch Knockout Tournament.
Well played gents
I would like to thank all who referereed the finals, taking time out of your busy lives to give to others, great effort.
Here in the pro shop we're always looking to provide you with the best products to make sure you look and feel great out on the course.
In the past week or so we've taken in some brand new WPGC logo headcovers which look stunning.
Drop into the pro shop while our current stocks last.
Arnold Palmer, Kind man, golfing superstar, legend. R.I.P
This week I heard the very sad news that one of my heroes Arnold Palmer had passed. Here is one of my stories of the time I met the golfing giant.
I started playing golf at the age of 11 and straight away I was bitten by the golfing bug. The only non-golfing poster on my bedroom wall was a picture of David Cassidy and the Partridge Family; I think that was there because I liked the look of his mother, Shirley Jones. The other posters were of Gary Player, all dressed in black, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, there was an article written by Bernard Gallagher, which read "unless you are a scratch golfer by the age of 16 you can forget about making it as a professional"...
But the main man on my wall was Tony Jacklin. Tony Jacklin, good looking man, hit the ball miles. The first hole in one ever seen on TV was hit by Jacklin, and he won the Open Championship in 1969. Then went over and won the U.S Open by seven shots. He was a massive celebrity in his day, he even cut a record. He seemed to win every other week to me but that was obviously not the case. My very first pair of golf shoes was Tony Jacklin Dunlop rubber specials. They weighed a ton and I could hardly lift my feet up on the back nine, but I didn't care I was wearing Jacklin shoes. When I was eventually to get a better bag, glove, clubs, they should all have TJ on them.
One morning my dad said to me "would you like to come with me to Royal St George's Golf Club for the Penfold PGA Championship?" The year was 1976. Sandwiches were packed. My Dad had a really old Austin Wolseley car, which would only start by using a starter handle.
Dad said "we will leave at about 8am that should give us plenty of time to get there." I was up at five! We got there mid-morning. I can remember getting out of the car feeling really scared or was it the excitement and adrenaline running through my body.
The first thing that went through my mind was where on earth are we. This was Royal St George's Golf Club, on the Kent coast. There are three great golf courses linked together Princes, (Open 1932) Royal St, George's (Sandwich) Royal Cinque ports (Open 1909&20) a complete brute of a golf course. 9 open championships, Walker, Curtis cups and English Amateurs have been played over this testing course. There was a consistent wind blowing, the skies were grey and all I could see were mounds everywhere. Where is the course, where are the fairways? This is no place to play golf; this is like a war film, film set. I look up to the grey sky and I am watching birds flying 30 feet above me not going anywhere, just hovering in the wind.
This place had a strange feel about it. It was like the feeling you get when you walk into St, Paul's Cathedral. It demanded an eerie respect. It had a smell all of its own, cut grass and see breeze. You have to remember the only golf I had played up until then was at Richmond or Sandown Park.
We walk through the gates and start to take the whole experience in. The first thing we saw was a massive plastic Penfold golf ball, it must have been about twenty feet high. I had my autograph book in hand."Dad, Dad, Dad, I can't believe it, it's Arnold Palmer, it's Arnold Palmer, "Go on son, go and get his autograph"
I ran towards him, I get to about ten feet away and I stop dead. It was almost like someone had told me to stop or there was a force field around him. Looking back on it now, it was out of complete respect, mixed with a bit of fear, a fear for his history and a fear of rejection. I don't know what I would have done if he told me to go away. I shouldn't have been surprised
"Hi there" said Arnold. This was Arnold Palmer, nicknamed the King, born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, winner of 4 Masters, 1 U.S Open, 2 Open Championships. With 94 professional wins. He was defending champion. Arnold was a very powerful player, on his way to victory the previous year he hit the 14th green with two prodigious blows with his driver on a stormy day. No one got within 40 yards of the green that week and there he was standing in front of me holding out his right hand with a warm smile on his face. He wasn't holding his hand out for my book; he was holding his hand out to shake mine. With a trebling hand I reached for his, and it seemed that my whole arm disappeared into his hand, he had hands like shovels. My granddad always said when you shake someone's hand you look them in the eye and grip firmly. "That's a good hand shake you have their son" "Thank you Mr Palmer, could I please trouble you for your autograph" "sure" That was it, I had Mr Palmers name written in my book. I ran back to dad and showed him. "They don't come much bigger than that son"
I noticed a really big crowd of women around this young, dark haired man. Someone next to me said his name was "Stevie Balless or something like that, he's from Spain". I said to my Dad "why are there so many women around this man? "They are his sister's son" Blimey he's got a big family. I watched him hit some shots later, not realising we were in the company of a future god like figure.
Neil Coles won the championship beating Eamonn Darcy and Gary Player in a play-off. Arnold finished tied 5th.
I followed my English hero all the way round the links that day, but the magic had gone from Jacklin's touch, he missed putt after putt. It was so painful to watch, I dread to think what it must have been like for him. He would win the PGA Championship once more in 1982 beating Bernhard Langer in a play-off and a few more tournaments but nothing compared to what went before.
As for me it's hard to believe that only 4 years later I would lose in a sudden death play-off at Royal Cinque Ports to qualify for this great event and I would get to play with my hero Tony Jacklin in Tobago, but that's another story.
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