2023 MGS Tour to Bruges

Andy Williams wins the Belgium MGS tour on tense final day of rain affected golf

Editors thanks to those who have kindly supplied the photos

Day 1: Royal Ostend Golfclub

A bright and early start on a traffic free Sunday morning became a little less relaxed somewhere between Mark Cross and Ashford for Rob one of the drivers.  The reason being that a conversation had sparked up in the car about how embarrassing it would be to forget to pack something important for the golf tour such as your golf shoes. “ha ha ha” we all laughed and said “that would be very embarrassing”.  That conversation continued for another few miles until finally a comment was made from the back of the car “worst of all what if you forgot your passport”.  Two of the three in the car “ha ha ha he he that would be horrendous”. James went unusually quiet at this point as he went a greyish white colour and put his hands on his head “….turnaround he said I have forgotten my “bl…y” passport… “ 

Seem like a bunch of ‘nice boys’!

Once through the tunnel and in to France we made our way up the coast to Royal Ostend Golfclub which was founded in 1903 and designed by Seymour Dunn and is Belgium’s only true Links Course. The course is laid out amongst the sand dunes right next to the North Sea. From the back tees its nearly 6000 yards with a par of 70. There are two par fives and three par threes on each of the  nine holes. On most of the holes the tees and/or the greens are elevated and the well positioned pot bunkers require accurate shots to negotiate them. One of the best short holes is the 8th where you hit from an elevated tee to a relatively large green which is guarded by bunkers and if you miss the green your ball will run off in to the rough. The downside is that the course was redesigned in 2007 with dual carriageway and rail line running through it. As a result the course was a little fragmented with some sections and holes much better than others.

The winners on the first day were: –

1stRob Weavers38 (BNCB 19)
2ndDavid Howroyd38 (B9CB 15)
=3rdPeter Cudmore & Alan Bigley37

We then transferred to St Martyns Hotel in Bruges excellently positioned just off the main square.  Bruges is an old town with small cobbled streets and space is at a premium. As a consequence the drive to the hotel involved passing through the middle of a fairground in full flow – just passing the hot dog and candy floss stands as the queues of people waiting for their food got out of our way.  

In the evening we had a nice meal at the Cambrinus Brassier with most going for the locally brewed 6% beer whilst Tom was steadily making his way one by one through the 400+ beers the restaurant boasted to have available.

Day 2: Damme Golf Country Club

After a nice buffet breakfast we drove to the Damme Golf & Country Club which was tucked away out in the beautiful Belgium countryside. The practice area was fantastic with free range balls etc.  Unfortunately, in his attempt to hit balls into next week and build on his first day lead Rob tweaked his back !!. Was another Kelvin on the cards we asked?  We played the Championship Course, an 18-hole course measuring a challenging 6223 meters (6805 yards). The course through its design proves to be a challenge for the better players (NB: anyone that suggests that the last sentence and the winners below are linked will have their handicap docked!!).   

The course blurb states the course demands a good strategy as you play between trees and water hazards. That phrase you “play between” was an interesting concept for most of us and probably should read you play out of the trees and take drops at the water hazards.  Although a nice course it was generally felt that it lacked a little bit of love with the greens a little slow and bobbly. Worthy of note is that the handicap secretary was very amused by the fact that Tom & Jerry were playing in the group in front of his own.

Peter Cudmore was also photographed in a bunker with his trolley and a bucket and spade making sand castles apparently. 

Unfortunately, however, I do have to report a very unsavoury incident where without naming any names the Captain after three putting on a par three green smashed his ball at those driving off on the next tee. To be fair it was his best putt of the day and with only minor injuries occurring he was shown only a yellow card. Mark Lawrence commented on the incident as follows:-

The winners on the second day were: –

1stMicky Mann35 (B9CB 19)
2ndJerry Watkiss35 (B9CB 16)
3rdAndy Williams35 (B9CB 15)

A refreshing pint followed before returning to the hotel. 

Unfortunately, the pre-booked restaurant was locked up and dark when the advanced party arrived – with a head eventually appearing around the door saying we are closed to prevent those thirsty souls from breaking into the premises. An alternative restaurant closer to the hotel was eventually sourced which could feed and water our party of 12.  Tom was last to arrive at the rearranged venue and was initially very disappointed in the size of his beer glass – but when told he can have two or three beers at a time he decided to take his jacket off and sit down with the rest of us.

Post meal we retired to “the best bar in Bruges” as recommended by the owners brother!!.  An excellent choice of both beers and receptacles was available at the bar.  

Day 3: Royale Zoute Golf Club

At breakfast much discussion and debate was had about the weather forecast for the day – which in short was pretty bad with the rain already set in for the day. Some were more eager to play than others but it was decided to head for the course and make a decision there. So, after checking out of the hotel we set off for the best course The Royal Zoute Golf Club. 

With light rain falling at the course a pre-meeting was held to decide what our thinking was on playing golf that morning. With much fence sitting a compromise was found and agreed to play the first nine and then see how the weather was at that point before continuing

We 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. A good battle ensued in leader group, traditionally going out last on to the course, with any of those four players with a good round able to win the Tour trophy.  In particular would Andy Williams be able to defend his 2 shot lead and fend off the chasing pack of Bigley (2 behind) and David Howroyd and Peter Cudmore (4 behind) – it would be a close contest.  

As it turned out as we approached the 9th green the skies opened and it pelleted down making the decision to pack up and go back to the clubhouse and get a warm shower the “no brainer” decision:-

The winners over the nine hole final day was:-

1stAndrew Jenner21
2ndRichard Hannam 14
3rdJames Gallifant13


Following the final days play we congregate in the bar of the impressive club house for a light lunch and a pint.  The Handicap Sec final totting up of the combined score over the three days was in progress although it was pretty clear who the overall winner would be despite a late run by AJ on the final day taking full advantage of the generous handicap allocated in the bar the night before “”.   It was very close – see below:-

1stAndy Williams81
2ndAlan Bigley79
3rdAndrew Jenner78
4thMicky Mann77
=5thRichard Hannam75
=5thPeter Cudmore75
7thTom Bennett *73
8thJerry Watkiss72
9thDavid Howroyd71
10thMark Hughes69
11thRob Weaver69
12thJames Gallifant60
  • Estimated as left before submitting card

Well done to Andy Williams for his first tour win – consistency being key across the three days. A big thank you goes to Mark Hughes for organising the whole shooting match and the drivers for getting us to and from Belgium safely. Also, our appreciate must go to James for taking charge of the dinner and alcohol costs and making it easy for everyone to put into the pot what they owed. 

The spoils

All have now arrived home safe and sound and are looking forward to the next monthly event at the Nevill on the 19th May.