It is the time of the year to reflect on what has gone and to look forward to what is still to come.
In this first part of my review of the best photographs of 2019, I reflect on some great images from the first half of the year and more importantly the stories behind them.
Lets get going.
This incredible photograph was captured in the evening light and showcases the beauty of the North Norfolk coastline looking from the village of Overstrand towards Cromer, with the famous Pier in the distance.
I guess that it brings home to me just how lucky I am to live in this part of the world but also how fragile the environment is. A hundred years or so ago, the cliff-line would have reached roughly where the groynes enter the sea. For RCGC it has meant the loss of some holes but elsewhere along the coast many people have lost homes and indeed lives.
The image captures the Eastern end of the course and in particular the spectacular cliff-side 6th hole. A permissive footpath runs right along the cliffs from Cromer to Overstrand and back in January this was walked by Prince William and his wife Kathryn, who enjoyed a Sunday afternoon stroll whilst spending Christmas at Sandringham. William had often performed training drills as part of his Air Ambulance work in the area.
This image was of me in my follow-through was shot by Phillip Vince on the 11th tee at Aldeburgh in a qualifier for the Golf Club Secretaries Open Championships back in March.
It produces mixed emotions.
On the one hand it is a great photo that captures the beauty of Aldeburgh in the Spring with the gorse in bloom and the narrow bunker lined fairway. I also managed to hit a great tee shot here and I love the balance of my finish position.
On the flip side, however, I remember the disappointment of the day. I had started my competitive season reasonably well with a good performance at Sheringham, but the underlying weaknesses in my game were brutally exposed by the relentlessly difficult Suffolk heathland. These flaws, especially in my wedge game, were to last throughout the first half of the year and frustrate me greatly. My failure to qualify for the final at Ganton was a huge let down as I really wanted to play this renowned Yorkshire masterpiece.
As well as the technical issues in my game, I reflected later that, on this very challenging course, my mental toughness was also lacking. I would categorise Aldeburgh alongside Rye as Par 68 monsters where the ‘real’ Par is 72. When I return to either of these layouts, I will mentally change four of the long Par 4’s into Par 5’s. This should prevent the frustrations of bogies building up too much and keep things in perspective.
My late Sunday evening visits to the course at Cromer fill me with much joy and this image captures it perfectly.
I remember reaching the 12th tee and, realising the wonderful light from the low sun, desperately searching in my golf bag for my phone before the clouds broke the light.
There are a couple of aspects of the picture that resonate in my memory.
Firstly the solitude of the timing. I am alone on the course in wonderful conditions and this is perhaps the time that my mind is at total peace with the world – it is just me and a bag of clubs and a few balls – alone and totally focused on the enjoyment of my hobby – bliss.
Secondly, the area captured on the image behind the 11th green was completely dug up and reshaped over the previous winter. A process called hydro-seeding was used which was new to us as a Club and could of gone horribly wrong. As it was, the shaping of the ground showcases the evening shadows beautifully and the fescue produces delicate ripples in the gentle breeze. This process will be repeated in several areas around the course over the coming years, but it was this trial that proved the viability of the project.
Next week : We take a look at the best photos from the second half of 2019.