The EuroPro Tour director of operations tells Dean Bailey about fitting in golf, his favourite courses and who would make it into his dream fourball
When you’re running a satellite tour for the European Tour which takes in events across the UK and Ireland, a qualifying school across six venues and a Tour Championship in The Algarve – how do you fit in a game of golf? Let’s find out…
1 How do you fit golf in? Not easily to be honest, especially with one-year-old twin boys at home. I do always try to make time to play in our pro ams, which also gives me the opportunity to speak with our players on the golf course. Sadly, I am no longer playing off scratch and I normally embarrass myself playing nearer to a 10 handicap.
2 How did you get into golf? I first hit a golf ball at the age of 12. I was caddying for my dad in a corporate day during the summer holidays at Kingswood Golf Club. He was becoming frustrated and threw me a club and told me to have a go. I remember hitting a seven iron 120 yards to a couple of feet and I was hooked.
3 Which is your favourite course in the North East? Three of my favourites have been on our schedule for the past three years, Close House, Longhirst and (before 2017) Slaley Hall. Away from the tour I love Berwick-upon-Tweed Golf Club, it’s an old favourite of mine and I have some great memories there.
4 And further afield? Outside of Europe I love Anahita in Mauritius. The Four Seasons resort on the East Coast is stunning and my father in law and I have had some fantastic battles on the final few holes.
5 What’s your best ever round? I was 15 years old and playing off a handicap of eight when I shot a gross 67 (three under-par) in the Daily Telegraph qualifier at West Byfleet. There are few times you walk away from a round knowing you left nothing behind, but for my age and skill level at the time this was certainly one of those few moments.
6 Which is your favourite golfing memory? Playing with my best friends after school at the par three Maybury at Hoebridge GC in Woking.
7 What about embarrassing moments? I don’t have many as I don’t really get nervous and I love making people laugh. The one that sticks out was just after I was made junior captain at West Byfleet. I was playing very well and everyone thought I might be the next one to watch. However, standing on the first tee at 16 years old, I topped my drive short of the ladies’ tee in front of 150 people. That moment does stay in one’s mind for a few years. It’s been 22 so far!
8 Do you have any superstitions? No, I’m not that sort of person.
9 What are your strengths on the course? I am quite strong mentally – these days nothing seems to bother me.
10 And your weaknesses? My weak shot has always been a slice. I try to re-route the club from the top and as long as I roll my wrists at impact I normally achieve a long draw. Sometimes however when early in the round, I’ll forget to re-route the club, I’ll fail to transfer my weight and worst of all I’ll leave my hands open, resulting in a horrible high slice which goes nowhere.
11 Which is your favourite club? Cobra has launched a new set of one-length irons and they are fantastic. You play every iron like your seven iron so it really reduces your margin for error as you have the same setup for every iron. They are inspired by Bryson DeChambeau and just make the game simpler…genius!
12 Who is your best golfing friend? I have two of them, my closest friends Richard Welford and Roberto Buttaci. I have known them both for years and sneaking out of the office for a quick 18 holes with these guys is always great fun.
13 Do you play any other sports? In all honesty, I can’t throw, I can’t catch, I can’t hit a moving object, I can’t kick and I can’t hit a ball accurately onto another. But I can strike a golf ball and that’s always worked well.
14 Who is your favourite tour player? Fred Couples – I love watching his tempo and mannerisms. There is so much to learn from a player who looks like he is out for a Sunday stroll in the park while leading The Masters.
15 Which event do you enjoy watching/attending the most? The HotelPlanner.com PGA Europro Tour is made up of exceptional talents. The standard of golf is phenomenal and entry is free. I love following the leaders and watching a level of golf that normally would be blocked by thousands of people.
16 Which sportsmen do you admire? Ben Hogan. He invented the modern game and his dedication and persistence towards becoming one of golf’s legends is something we can all learn from.
17 Which three people would join you in your dream fourball? Bill Hicks, Jim Carey and Tom Hanks – there would be plenty of laughs in our fourball with very little focus on the golf.
18 If I could offer you happiness or a scratch handicap, which would you take? I am very lucky to have played off scratch and I know how hard it is to maintain. I would take the happiness of my beautiful baby boys over any handicap.