Steve Carroll: There’s nothing like a list to let you know it’s Christmas. But we are not into boring countdowns here.
So this week’s topic is this: What were your three golfing highlights of 2016?
It may have been a particular course, putt or shot that brings back special memories. It may have been at an Open venue, or a humble 9-holer.
I’ll kick off. My first choice is a course – Panmure, in Angus. I’ll admit it. Before I turned up at NCG at the start of this year, my golfing education was, well, limited to say the least.
Panmure was the first links course I ever played and all those wispy grasses and blind tee shots still make the hairs stand up when I think about it.
The second was the day I spent at Goswick, in Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was a perfect sunny September day, I drove up with a few pals, played nicely and got into some banter with the locals (who were steaming into the whisky chasers before noon).
The course was brilliant, we all had a great laugh and the round went by in the blink of an eye. It was perfect.
My final highlight came at Royal Troon. I’ve always wondered what it would be like walking down the 18th fairway with the Open stands up. I resisted doffing a cap to the imaginary crowds but the images of that day will live with me forever.
The course is vastly under-rated and I hit the fairway on the 11th, which is more than some of best golfers in the world managed.
Job done. So what were your favourite golfing moments and why? Go…
Mark Townsend: 1) Getting an Odyssey X-Act Tank chipper and being able to enjoy the game in some semblance within 30 yards of a green. Forget your Ј400 drivers, this is quite the most remarkable piece of golfing kit that has ever been manufactured.
No scorecards, pencils or blobs; just mano-a-mano combat between golfing warriors. And a lot of sulking and gloating…
3) It would be impossible not to complete this list with news of a first piece of silverware for six years – the Sports Publications Summer Match Play which finished in December.
A victory for the oldest member of staff, a victory for the masses, a victory for the chipper…
Dan Murphy: 1) I thought Danny Willett winning the Masters was brilliant. Getting to the top of the leaderboard was one thing but the way he composed himself, backing off from his tee shot on the 18th, to make four and seal the deal was immense. Then watching him pacing around trying to call his wife Nicole and tell her what was happening was just surreal.
3) Just recently, seeing Tiger Woods back in competition made me really happy. Never mind winning more Majors, I just want to see him playing regularly in 2017.
Craig Middleton: My three golfing highlights…
In 3rd – Beating Mark Townsend 2&1 on his own patch at the magnificent St George’s Hill.
2nd place – Playing at Omni La Costa, in California, the place where Tiger Woods won the WGC Matchplay in 2003 & 2004.
And in 1st – Just being at Royal Troon to witness arguably one
of the best ever final rounds in Open Championship history.
Steve, didn’t you get a hole-in-one this year? Surely that’s up there for you!
SC: I’d forgotten about that…
James Savage: 1) Trump International Golf Links – Totally epic. Best short-game area in the world. Some of the most breathtaking tee shots you’ll ever hit.
2) Swinley Forest – A pure heathland delight. From the minute you drive through the gates it all seems special. The holes just get better and better as you go round and the lunch is sensational.
3) The Brabazon – Coming back from 4 down through 9 to beat Craig (he was playing off 18, now 13). From a performance point of view, it was one of my only real highlights of the year.
Tom Lenton: 1) Beating Jordan Elliott in the Moortown Masters, I came 58th out of 80.
2) Making 3 at TPC Sawgrass 17th hole.
3) A Wales trip with Jordan, Jake & Jamie. Porthmadog, Aberdovey, Royal St Davids & Conwy in July made for great links golf. Jamie Millar tripping out from sunstroke/two pints of Guinness in the curry house at 10pm was the main highlight.
James Broadhurst: My three highlights – 1) Witnessing the Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson duel at Royal Troon (well, mainly sat on my arse in the media centre).
2) Winning the Stableford competition on a golfing trip at Palmares in Portugal. An unbelievable course and some unbelievable golf from an in-form Rodders.
3) And me and Mark beating Craig and Steve at Irvine. An absolute classic!
Georgina Simpson: 1) Finishing a 15-year career on the Ladies European Tour at the end of February at the very place I played my first event, Royal Pines Golf Resort, Gold Coast, Australia.
A special time shared with my second family out there ‘The Mathious’ who have looked after me all those years, I’ll miss them.
2) Watching Danny Willett win the Masters in style. I practised with him under Graham Walker for nearly five years and saw all the hard work and effort he put in every day.
I watched him grow up and work harder and harder to get to where he is today. So happy for him, a super, down to earth lad that deserves everything coming his way.
3) Having a beer at the turn recently at Son Gual in Majorca and realising golf is now fun for me. Something I have never been able to do. Looking forward to playing this great game for fun more often next year, if my competitive spirit will allow!
Tom Irwin: Cruit Island with Dan in May. A perfect evening on a quirky, fun 9 holer. No frills, no fuss and a brilliant pint of Guinness.
Skibo Castle with Dan in August, lots of frills, lots of fuss but millionaires golf in every sense. I am saying it is the best in the country
Seacroft with Dan in December. A return to my home county hoping that my memories of Seacroft had stood the test of time. It had in spades, brilliant layout and few better in the winter.
Dan is a common theme. 2016 was our 21st year as golfing partners. Every one a pleasure.