John Deere Team Championship
Brokenhurst Manor heads to Arizona
The first UK qualifier for the John Deere Team Championship was won by Brokenhurst Manor and the New Forest Club will now represent the UK at the world final in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Four members of Brokenhurst Manor Golf Club in the New Forest are flying off to America after winning the Great Britain national final of the inaugural 2002 John Deere Team Championship golf tournament, held in August over the Brabazon course at The De Vere Belfry.
The team, joined by a fifth player from their local John Deere dealership, beat off stiff competition from clubs across Great Britain to take home the trophy, and the chance to travel to Scottsdale, Arizona, to play in the world final at Grayhawk Golf Club, in November, against teams from North America, Canada, Australia, Germany and Ireland.
The team, represented by Charles Letchworth, Club Captain; Paul Clifford, Secretary/Manager; Ed McCabe, Course Manager; Bruce Parker, Club Professional, and David Harrison, New Forest Farm Machinery, finished three shots clear of the field with a remarkable nett team score of 55.
In order to qualify for the national final, Brokenhurst Manor beat 16 other teams in their regional qualifier, organised by Nick Clarke, of New Forest Farm Machinery, and held at Moors Valley Golf Club last July.
A total of 27 dealerships took part in this year's tournament with a total of 450 clubs competing, meaning that 1800 players competed in the first John Deere Team Championship event.
The qualifying tournaments ran from April to July at host golf clubs throughout Great Britain and Ireland, with each winning team going through to play at The Belfry. Now in its 16th year, the John Deere Team Championship has traditionally been open only to teams from the USA and Canada. Last year invitations were extended to Germany and Australia. This year teams from Great Britain and Ireland were also included.
At the presentation dinner John Deere Limited also made donations, based on the number of participating teams, to BIGGA and the GCSAI to support the educational activities of the two Associations. A cheque for £9,300 was presented by John Deere Managing Director, Clay Sherrill, to BIGGA National Chairman Richard Barker.
It was subsequently agreed that the donation to BIGGA would be used to support the educational programme at Harrogate next year.
'We are absolutely delighted to receive such a generous cheque from John Deere and the funding will support the National Education Conference and workshops in January,' said Neil Thomas, Executive Director of BIGGA.
The 27 teams who played at The Belfry were joined by two additional teams comprising members of BIGGA and the GCSAI, who had their own private battle which was eventually won, by a single shot, by the Irish.
Ed McCabe, was not surprised that the team did well when they got to The Belfry.
'We were 18 under par in winning the qualifier and combined very well as a team. We repeated that form in the final and finished 17 under par,' explained Ed, who plays off 5.
The team's secret was to use up all the allocated drives - two per player - in the first 12 holes and give themselves a free run over the closing holes, and the tactic worked a treat.
'We were seven under par for the final seven holes with two eagles and three birdies. It was great and everyone contributed to the win,' said Ed, adding that in the 36 holes the team had yet to pick up a bogey.
With the final looming Ed is looking forward to the trip to the desert and he will certainly not be under prepared.
'We're not going out there to make up the numbers. I've practised more in the last three months than I have in the last three years. My wife thinks I've gone mad. I'll be particularly interested to see how the ball flies in the desert and how we cope in the heat.'
He is particularly pleased that the success has come with a team comprising the Club Secretary and the Captain.
'The Captain is a great guy and he has had a super year as Captain. Hopefully this will be another highlight.'
Although a long way from home, Brokenhurst will not lack for support in Arizona as some members will be making the trip to watch. Several other Brokenhurst members who live in the States will also be making the shorter journey to swell the galleries.