Players who competed in the NGC Championships last year were not the only ones who were delighted with the venue, weather and overall great ambiance of the 2014 edition, combined with the Club's 25th Anniversary Celebrations. An astonishing 37 members, one guest, and 15 members of The Golf & Country Club Oudenaarde and other Belgian courses meant that we had 53 players on the lovely Kasteel course for a 1030 Shotgun start.
Although the morning dawned grey and drizzly in Brussels, by the time we filled up the parking lot at Oudenaarde, the cloud cover was lifting and there was a promise of afternoon sun. After some initial difficulty for some golfers to find the way to respective starting holes, we were off, just after the distant tinkling of the bells in the Kasteel clock tower. Some minutes later, just into a backswing on the fairway, an official horn sounded! But we were off. Some of us had the pleasure to take the first swing on the the "Longest Drive" 18th hole, or the "Nearest the Pin" 8th. More on that later...
The course was in excellent shape, if a little damp in spots from the recent rains. But for the most part we all stayed dry - that is, no rain. There were a few lost balls in the water at the 1st, 4th, 14th and 15th, as well as under leaves and out of bounds. Playing from the back tees proved a challenge on some holes, both in distance and in those incredibly narrow first hundred metres...keep 'em straight!
In the end, after a five-hour round, we trudged back to the Clubhouse to tally up the scores and putts, and gather on the amazing and spacious terrace overlooking the 18th hole in the mid-afternoon sunshine. Prize-giving was a special event this year, with sponsorship from ING Bank, and Oliver Desmet and Luc Darquenne were on hand to present prizes not only to our Club members, but also to those members and guests who took part in a parallel competition. In addition to the ING prizes, the NGC Executive Committee had "goodie" bags for all participants - 25th Anniversary Commemorative booklet, sleeve of balls, towel and pitch repair!
The competition was brisk in all categories and the battle for longest drive in both the Mens' and Ladies' categories hard fought. In the end, Craig Richmond had the longest drive, and Cristina Vicini outdrove her fellow lady competitors. Luc had suggested Hole #8 as a candidate for Nearest the Pin... out of 53 players, not one made it! Distance and accuracy were the key... The final skill category, fewest putts, went to Naomi Bedford (27 putts) to take the 2014 Silver Putter award.
We had three categories for the Championship with Category III (Handicaps 25.1-36) playing under Stableford competition. Paula Stewart took third place with 30 points, while Jose Menendez (31 points) in second place was narrowly edged out by the Captain for a second year in a row with 33 points who took the Category III trophy for 2014.
Category II (Handicaps 17.4 - 25) played stroke play with full handicaps and recorded some very respectable results for the day. In third place, with a net score of 81 was James Mackey. Second place was won by Craig Richmond with a net 80, and with a marvelous net 76, Dick Zandee is the Category II winner for 2014. Well done!
Finally, Category I (Handicaps 0-17.3) saw a closely fought challenge for third place, won by Marion Tomkins with a net score of 79. Second place with a superb net 72 was won by Naomi Bedford, and the outright winner of Category I for 2014, with a brilliant net score of 70, was Club Treasurer Alain Klein. Congratulations to all.
The ultimate awards went to the male and female low gross scores who earned bragging rights until next year as well as the trophies for Men’s and Women’s Champions for 2014. The prizes went to Alain Klein (87) and Naomi Bedford (92) who retains her trophy from 2013. Congratulations to both!
The Executive Committee was delighted at the response to the change in date and venue for the Club Champs, and the decision to combine with the 25th Anniversary event proved to be an excellent one. A big thank you from all of us for supporting your Club at this important time in its history. Special mention should be made to two couples for their respective "longest drive" - former Captain Rainer and Patricia Fahs drove from Hamburg, Germany, and Peter and Naomi Bedford crossed the Channel from Surrey to join us and compete. Finally, a very special thanks to Luc Vekeman for his assistance in booking this venue for us, and for his generous support in the preparation stages.