A Sad Start to the Month

It is with much sadness that I start to write this report but for those who don't already know. Douglas Bell, the Northern Regional Administrator, died recently after a short illness. BIGGA will certainly miss him, as will all those who knew him personally.

On a brighter note, and having left Muirfield, and the Open Championship behind, I headed straight on to St Andrews to attend the World Scientific Congress of Golf. While there were presentations on agronomy from speakers including, James Beard, most of the speakers and attendees were concerned with the development of equipment of clubs and balls. Most of these lectures were were comprehensive with the speakers having a background in physics and aerodynamics. Having listened to most of these and spoken to many of the people, it concerned me greatly as to the future development of equipment and the game of golf as most courses have limited room for lengthening their courses. Hopefully the R&A and USGA will soon put limitations on the development of this equipment.

During the week I had the opportunity to play Kingsbarns. I am sure most of you will have heard of this golf course and believe me, if you ever get a chance to visit, you will not be disappointed. It is a truly magnificent golf course with stunning views, but unfortunately it took me six hours to play! But it was time well spent.

I also played the Old Course which was another tremendous experience and having started with eight pars and a birdie I though the game was easy. Not so. I came back in a few more and a shank on the last was quite embarrassing in front of the 10 strong gallery... but I did go on to make 4!

So back to work for a few days in the pouring rain (I got away with it quite lightly but for those of you who didn't, you have my sympathy and I hope your courses are returning to normality) and then down to the south of the country.

First stop was Hartsbourne Country Club, a beautiful course set just outside Watford, which played host to one of the Midland Region's Scott's days. There was a tremendous turnout of 23 teams and the day ran very smoothly thanks to the work of Peter Larter and everybody at Hartsbourne. The only downside to the day was right at the start when the Hotel fire alarm sounded at 4.30am. Peter, Nick Martin, from Scotts, and I had to assemble in the car park, along with the English Ladies Cricket team. So it wasn't too bad after all.

From there it was down to Brockenhurst Manor in the New Forest, another lovely golf course, which played host to the South Coast Section. Fortunately the weather stayed nice and it was great to meet up with many old friends, and also have the opportunity to present Ted West with a gift on his retirement, having completed 40 consecutive years with the same golf club. Quite an achievement.

Ted, I hope you have a happy retirement and find time to play plenty of golf.

Well, after putting 400 miles on the clock it was home for a couple of days before heading west into Wales and Celtic Manor for the final day at the Wales Open, courtesy of Bernhards. Fortunately this was one of the dry days and a great day's golf was to be witnessed with Paul Lawrie coming out a comprehensive winner. Again this is another super course with vast changes in elevation over few holes and it should make an excellent Ryder Cup venue in 2010. I just hope the weather improves to give Jim McKenzie and his staff every possible chance of showing this course at its best.

And finally, to complete a hectic week, it was on to the Forest of Arden, the following day, with the Midland Section.

Again it was nice to meet up with many old colleagues and to see that the Section was alive and kicking.

As for the future. Well SALTEX is the next major event and I hope to meet up with as many of you as possible. If you are there, please stop by at the BIGGA Stand where a warm welcome awaits you.

Richard Barker