When I first came up with the idea of a proper watch for golfers - The Golf Linksometer as it's now known - one of the first things I did was to contact Mike Harris, the Editor of Golf Monthly, with a view to reveal my 'invention' and get some feedback from the guys with a real grasp on what is going on in golf. The guys who spend their time writing about this great game, be it in a Golf Magazine, a regular column in a national or regional newspaper or through articles as a freelance sports journalist, for both printed and increasingly digital media.
Mike introduced me to Jezz Ellwood, a regular contributor to Golf Monthly and over the next few years we kept in touch, such that when I launched my own watch brand ETIQUS I asked Jezz if he would write a few blogs for my website. (You can read them in the 'Guests Post' section under the News tab.)
Jezz enlightened me on the merry band - merry would turn out to have more than one connotation - that is the Association of Golf Writers, first formed in 1938 by a group of 30 golf journalists attending the Walker Cup at St. Andrews. I was introduced by Jezz to Aussie Bernie McGuire, the Secretary, with a view to being the 'title sponsor' of the AGW Golf Society's Annual Championship (trust me in golf there's nothing of greater significance). A series of Stableford competitions played at some very prestigious venues across the globe. Main tour sponsors had overlooked this splendid opportunity of brand promotion, preferring instead to focus on the multi millionaire pro golfers who play the game for a living, rather than the guys who write about them.
I was lucky enough to spend some time with Bernie, a delightful man, at The Open in St. Andrews in 2015. He kindly took me on a tour of the Media centre and gave me the behind the scenes view and insight to what goes on when covering a major event. I lapped it all up like the cat with the cream. As a complete golf nut, attending the AGW Dinner at the 2015 Open was also such a fantastic affair, sitting amongst the great and the good of the golf industry and listening to the very entertaining host Iain Carter, ably assisted by Colin Montgomerie mimic Andrew Cotter.
I was invited to join the members at the concluding society event of the 2015 season at Wentworth where Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail would be crowned Champion golfer of the year, and was even luckier to be invited again this year to the grand finale at the wonderful Royal Porthcawl course. The deciding round was played in superb sunshine, with mesmeric views of the course, the sea ... and the Port Talbot steel works. If Royal Porthcawl was perhaps a little longer, had a bit more room for spectators and could sort out the layout on the final 18th hole it would surely have been a regular on The Open rota.
The result of the AGW championship and the race to win an ETIQUS timepiece seemed a foregone conclusion with Alistair Tait on 122 points for the season, 31 ahead of Colin Callander in second place. But a discussion, over bacon butties and scrumptious 'welsh cakes', clarified the rules to determine that the winner would be the golfer with their best scores from just 4 events. Alistair had already played four, his lowest score being 27 whilst Colin had only played 3 and so had one more score to count. Game on.
There were no cameras to record the live action or replay the key shots but as we returned to the club house a timely 4 hours later, it was clear that a tie for first place had resulted with Colin achieving the 31 points needed to close the gap and Alistair failing to better his worse score of 27 from previous events to increase it. Such high drama was greeted with a mere passing interest by the other writers who were keen to drown the sorrows of their game, though rejoicing at the quality of the course, within the historic atmosphere of the club bar.
They're a great bunch, full of playful witty banter with absolutely no hiding place for an off the cuff comment. The day and the dinner were hosted by Peter Dixon, former golf correspondent of The Times and we were joined by the current Captain of Royal Porthcawl. Peter is a lovely man who is very able to look back on his career walking inside the tournament ropes with great fondness and an appreciation of having been able to experience at close quarters the professional game. Peter poignantly proposed a toast to highly respected sports journalist Peter Corrigan who past away during the summer and whose son James, also a sports journalist, sat amongst us.
Both Colin and Alistair will receive an engraved ETIQUS timepiece for their exploits during the season.
As I departed the bar to journey back up north leaving the now more merrier band to enjoy the end of their day, I couldn't help but smile. To be a fly on the wall in that historic club and listen to their first hand stories, some unprintable, about the history, the players and the characters in our game over the years is priceless. Without them and their written contribution, golf addicts across the world would be none the wiser.
The power of the pen (actually a keyboard) ... best used with a pint in the other hand.
Thanks gents for the invitation - it was a real golfing pleasure.