It?s been a busy 10 days since we put the January issue of Golf Monthly to bed with many of us having time out of the office at various events and the whole team scrambling to get ahead before the Christmas break.
Last week I flew out to Spain with our travel editor, Alicia Harney, to attend the International Golf Travel Market in Marbella. Alicia is a veteran of these events but it was my first time and it was a real eye-opener to see the mind-boggling variety of countries and regions exhibiting. From Royal Liverpool and England?s Golf Coast to the somewhat more exotic destinations like Kenya and Jamaica there really is a golf planet out there to be discovered.
You?ll be glad to know it wasn?t all work and I did manage to squeeze in game at a course called Rio Real, competing in the International Association of Golf Tour Operators golf day, which Golf Monthly sponsored. The course was enjoyable and in remarkably good condition despite a week of heavy rain on the Costa Del sol which meant it played every inch of its 6,800 yards – never good for me, a renowned short-hitter.
My fourball consisted of a 3-handicapper and two pros, one of whom was former South African tour player Ian Kennedy, who is head of sales at the Arabella on the Western Cape. None of us played particularly well but we had fun and I scrambled a birdie at the last to limp in with 29 points.
As I flew back into Gatwick last Thursday, Golf Monthly?s instruction editor, Neil Tappin, was heading in the other direction to do a shoot with Miguel Angel Jiménez who, along with celebrated course architect Dave Thomas, was hosting a small press trip at the Hacienda Del Alamo resort on Murcia that Dave designed and Miguel represents. Neil was lucky enough to play nine holes with Miguel and put up a great show losing by just one stroke in a scratch match with the former Ryder Cupper. Neil?s one over par sounded eventful to say the least as it involved goading Miguel into a long driving contest, holing a 40-foot birdie putt and accidentally hitting Dave Thomas with an errant approach shot!
I came back to the office on Monday to see the Golf Monthly office putting challenge had evidently been in full swing while I was away. The tell take signs were there with a putter left on the central desk where the newspapers are kept and a sheet of A4 with various tallies recorded on it!
The fact that alongside the trusty old Ram bladed putter – which is the only approved putter for the competition – were sat a rescue club and wedge indicated that the format had been extended to a bit of a short-game test with staff playing down to the plastic hole from by our colleagues at the football magazine Shoot Monthly some 20 yards away. I?m not sure of the eventual winner save to say it probably wasn?t our sub-editor, Luke Norman, who has a very suspect chipping action!
Today (Wednesday) we had the pleasure of the company of our contributing editor, Fergus Bisset, who came down from Scotland for an editorial ideas meeting which meant he had to sacrifice his usual weekly game in the Alliance which readers of his blog will know was a decision he wouldn?t have taken lightly!
The editorial meeting threw up a lot of innovative ideas for the magazine and website that we will put into action in 2007. I can’t tell you any more about them here, but stay tuned because there will be some very exciting things happening in the next few months. I?ll sign off now because a 5.30am rendezvous with equipment editor Jeremy Ellwood at Gatwick awaits me. We?re off to Scotland for two days for various meetings. We?re taking our clubs so I?ll let you know who scooped the money when I return at the weekend.