A late charge by vice-Captain Clive Butler wins the European Spring Tour
A bright an early start on a traffic free Sunday morning. We arrived at the Eurotunnel for a light breakfast at 7.30/7.45am! A small delay was announced so a couple of cars snuck out early to try and catch the earlier train, however that plan failed and we were direct to the line for our schedule train and waited in line for 30 mins before boarding. The queues from our right boarded first and this is where we spotted a chap returning from the toilets waiving his hands in the air as his mates had clearly forgotten him and boarded the train without him!
We then plumbed in the first golf course Oostburg which we struggled to find until we realised it was just over the border in the Netherlands and not Belgium. Sat Nav’s adjusted we set off and just beyond the half way mark found ourselves in the biggest road construction project we had ever seen. Detours and signposting were non-existent so all cars got lost with us arriving stressed and mentally fatigued just in time for a 1pm tee off.
Golfclub Oostburg is a top golf course located in the south western city of Oostburg in the Netherlands, and is 30 minutes from Bruges in Belgium and just 15 minutes from the coast. This grand 18-hole course is a lengthy 6402 meters and is based around a truly magnificent clubhouse that resembled the White House.
The winners on the first day were: –
We then transferred to St Martyns Hotel in Bruges excellently positioned just off the main square. As you will know Bruges is an old town with small cobbled streets and space is at a premium. The hotel car park was a little tight and we watched and wondered as David adjusted his car hydraulics and with some big lads in all the seats and two external spotters moving low hanging pipes and wires saw the car parked up nicely with the roof clearance being about an inch at best. Fun and games!
The room pairings were decided on a lucky or unlucky dip basis depending on who you got!! We then went to a small local pub/restaurant where we had a private room and enjoyed some excellent food, a few award winning local beers and some good wine. The evenings main post meal entertainment was chatting to a family of Americans on a tour of Europe – not the greatest advocates of The Trump!
Everyone attended breakfast at 8am apart from Micky & Kelvin who slept through their alarm. Most players sneaking out a cheese and ham roll to cover lunch from the breakfast buffet!
We then drove to the Damme Golf & Country Club which was tucked away down a back street. Kelvin, Jim and Brian arriving by the skin of their teeth for the 11.04 tee off that started proceedings. We played the Championship Course, a beautiful 18-hole course measuring a challenging 6223 meters (6805 yards). The course through its design proves to be a challenge for the better players, whilst enjoyable to the less talented golfer i.e. our crowd!
The course blurb states the course demands a good strategy as you play between trees and water hazards. Ironic with two of our groups walking off a green and teeing off from the wrong hole – only realising when their GPS showed the further they went down the fairway the further it was to the hole – the clowns (you know who you are!). As the Handicap Sec had not made that mistake he quickly moved to disqualify the two teams who did guaranteeing himself overall a minimum of fourth place. He later relented and overlooked the matter. It was also noted that our experience of the course was slightly spoilt by two holes where newly laid greens were still being bedded in – the rest of the course was lovely.
The winners on the second day were: –
Longest Drive was won by Jerry Watkiss
Nearest the Pin was won by Andy Bishop
A refreshing pint followed before returning to the hotel. Late afternoon several of us went sightseeing and buying chocolates and gifts for loved ones! A number had an afternoon sleep.
The evening saw the players go to another local restaurant and after dragging Tippett & Bishop from the bar over the road again sat down for some food, reflections on the days golf and some liquid refreshment – again a nice evening was had by the 12. Post meal a small group went to a local bar for a couple of beers and a bit of dancing (yes Barry, Micky, Tips, Tim and Bish!! – you are past that sort of thing!) – that said generally a sober evening with everyone back at the hotel and in bed by 12.30ish.
After a good breakfast and checking out of the hotel we set off for the best course The Royal Zoute Golf Club.
We again played the Championship Course a Par 72 which was created in a superb landscape of pine, hawthorn hedges, silver birch and poplar trees, the Zoute fairways seem to navigate between waves of dunes. In particular, the greens were excellent as were the tee boxes with Chris Buck saying they were the best he had ever seen which is saying something.
A good battle ensued in the final leader group with the players well matched with Andy Bishop leading after two days of golf closely followed by Jerry Watkiss with Clive Butler and Andy Tippett just a few shots back – it would be a close contest. The winners of day three were: –
The Longest Drive was won by Tim Gorringe
Following the final days play we congregrated on the patio of the impressive club house for photographs and prize giving. The winner was still unknown with everything in the mix and subject to the Handicap Secs final totting up of the combined score over the three days. It was very close – see below:-
Well done to Clive Butler for his first tour win – consistency being key across the three days. A big thank you goes to Tim Gorringe and his batman Andy Tippett for organising the whole shooting match. The feedback on the tour has been excellent from all those who attended – great fun.
All the players arrived back in the UK very late Tuesday evening after again getting lost in the construction site of temporary and unfinished roads on the Belgium/ French border. All arrived home safe and sound and looking forward to the next monthly event at the East Sussex National.