Photographs of the Year 2018 (Part 1)

With my blog approaching its first Anniversary, and 2018 sprinting towards 2019, it is time to reflect on the best images from the year and the stories behind them.

Part 1 will focus on the first six months of 2018, with Part 2 to follow next week.

Lets get going.

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This spectacular image was taken on 27th February by Rob Howarth of Fairway Flyovers with a drone. The set of images he took represented the culmination of 2 years of frustration and patience waiting for snow in North Norfolk to match with Rob’s availability.

Fortunately the stars aligned and Rob was able to make the 90 minute journey from his home to capture a remarkable set of 20 or so images before his hands froze in the Baltic wind.

Rob was due to make a return visit the following day to take some ground shots but the ‘Beast from the East’ had taken its toll during the night and the roads to Cromer were impassable.

The images do not perhaps reflect a golfers dream, but present the landscape in stunning beauty. They have been shared widely on social media and we are very pleased with them. It is interesting how the conditions seem to highlight each individual tree in the landscape. This is invaluable from a course design and development perspective.

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This is my daughter Evie, taken on my phone following the Race for Life 5k ‘Muddy Kids’ event around the Norfolk Showground in Norwich on 12th May. Evie wanted to run the race for her Auntie Naomi, who is recovering from breast cancer.

There are a series of muddy obstacles to complete around the course and as you can see, Evie took full advantage of them. Whilst I love the photo, it was the atmosphere of the day that really captured my imagination.

It was amazing to experience and feel an environment where everybody is working and helping each other towards a common goal.

If any runners were struggling, then they were encouraged and carried, not only by race stewards but also fellow competitors. The positivity was tangible and incredibly uplifting. As a Manager in any sphere of life or business, the goal surely has to be to create such a scenario within the workforce. Indeed if you can get an element of this connection and involvement with your customers then you must be on the right path.

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This image was taken by Phillip Vince of Majestic Crystal on the 21st May at Formby Golf Club. The event was the Golf Club Secretaries Open Championship Final. It shows me pitching into the Par-5 3rd green.

The GCS Championship includes a number of qualifying events played around the country between October and April, with 10% of the field in each qualifier going onto the Final. I was lucky enough to win one of the preliminaries held at the magnificent Notts Golf Club.

My round at Formby was up and down. I twice took two shots to escape from one of the 90 or so brutal bunkers on the layout and the rough was punishing. I kept going until the end however, and my 33 Stableford points turned out good enough for 3rd place.

What I really took out of the day however, was the design and conditioning of the golf course. It was the first time that I had played Formby and it is an interesting design. It is a hybrid type of course. It sits within a Site of Special Scientific Interest and uses a pine tree as part of the crest, but the back nine opens up and has more of a pure links feel.

I was lucky enough to play alongside resident GM Stuart Leech, who tells me that the course has undergone a few changes over the years due to the loss of some holes to the sea. This type of course interests me as Royal Cromer also falls into the hybrid category, with a combination of parkland/clifftop/links like holes. Personally I enjoy the variation that this offers during the round, but I am not sure that these type of courses get the recognition that they deserve in the rankings for some reason.

Formby was also the best conditioned course that I played in 2018. It was stunning and on the day that I played, could easily have hosted the Open Championship itself and gained praise from the best players in the world. When you play courses and experieince conditioning of this quality, you do realise that a small number of courses and Course Managers operate at a different level to the rest of the industry.

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This particular photo was captured on 18th June, from the balcony of the clubhouse at Broadstone Golf Club in Dorset, taken on my phone.

It shows the 18th green and approach, with the Par 5 1st fairway to the right of the shot. The colours are an indication of the drought that the South of the country experienced this summer.

I was in Dorset to play in the Golf Club Managers Association National Golf Day. It was not a good day on the course for me, but as ever on a trip to a Top 100 Club, I learnt a lot to take back to RCGC. I had played Parkstone the previous day as part of the trip, and I have to say that combined with Purbeck, Ferndown and a wealth of others, this area offers one of the best destination for Golfing tours in England.

Broadstone is layed out over the most magnificent stretch of rolling landscape. It must cover one of the largest areas of any course in the country across the layout, with each hole seemingly in its own patch of golfing heaven.

Whilst I have to admit that my ball-striking was off colour, I was also left frustrated by the course set-up. Baked fairways were often on quite a severe slope towards punishing rough. It offered a huge challenge and the run did allow you to keep your Driver in the bag for the most part. For me, though, it took some of the fun away. Does anybody actually enjoy hacking a wedge out from a few feet off the fairway? Surely the future of course design lies in creating width, angles, challenging run-offs and options. I hope so anyway.

Next week we take a look at the best images from July to December 2018.

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