A Monday morning ritual no doubt familiar to many Golf Monthly readers is logging on to the popular HowDidiDo website to discover where you placed in your weekend medal round. In fact, more than 1,800 golf clubs across the UK and Ireland use HowDidiDo to manage their competition results. Golfers can also gain in-depth statistics about their performances through the website, as well as take part in forum discussions and receive notifications about their handicap changes.
The 2015 Titleist Order of Merit powered by HowDidiDo is free to enter and has been running for a number of years. Until this year, however, those who finished top of their division come the mid-October cut-off point were crowned champions. But, in a slight shake up of the format for 2015, points from a player’s top five individual strokeplay rounds were counted, as well as additional points for gross birdies and eagles.
The top performers from each home nation in a range of handicap categories, including Men’s and Women’s Division 1 and Juniors, then qualified for the first-ever grand final, where the points were reset. The new system was designed to reward golfers for frequent, consistent play during the qualifying period of April 1 to October 12th. But now, they had to perform on the grandest of stages in order to claim top overall honours.
There were 40 golfers across the UK and Ireland who experienced more Monday morning joy than everyone else, and, as a result of their supreme strokeplay performances, qualified for the inaugural grand final. As well as taking part in the flagship event over The Belfry’s iconic Brabazon course – a layout steeped in Ryder Cup history – the finalists played a practice round, attended a gala dinner and stayed overnight in the recently refurbished hotel.
As if a round on the famous Brabazon course wasn’t enough, the lucky finalists were
also able to sample the latest Titleist equipment – including the 915 woods and newly launched 816 hybrids and 716 irons – and take part in a Titleist ball fitting. Afterwards, they boarded the Titleist Tour Truck to collect their chosen ball model and meet the Titleist Tour technicians, who described a typical week following the European Tour across the world.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the competitors had to deal with some slightly adverse conditions throughout the course of the day, but the excellent drainage on The Belfry’s showpiece layout stood up to the conditions admirably.
No amount of rainfall was going to dampen the spirits of the 40 competitors, though, who were all keen to showcase the skills that had served them so well throughout the year. There was much to play for, with the overall winner receiving a full set of custom-fitted Titleist 716 irons, Titleist golf balls and a Titleist Tour Bag to store them in.
Playing off the white tees under full championship conditions, the stunning Brabazon was playing all of its 6,869 yards. Yet the greens were running fast and true, meaning a good score, relatively speaking, was there to be had for those who embraced the challenge. One such player was Columb Harrington from Ireland, who posted a net 76 off a handicap of 5 to triumph in the Men’s Division 1 category.
“It was really tough out there, especially on the front nine where the hardest holes are, and we got the worst of the weather then too,” said Columb. “I dropped six shots in a four-hole stretch toward the end of that nine and finished eight over, but the back nine was a little easier and I managed to claw a score back coming home. I really enjoyed the day.”
Consistent results throughout the season are vital if you have aspirations to qualify, as Columb proved this year.
“I didn’t actually win a medal to qualify, I just shot around level par in four medals, so
I was consistent. The HowDidiDo website is great – it tracks your handicap, and lets you see how you think some holes are easy on your course but you actually play them badly, so you can adjust your strategy as a result.”
After a testing day battling the elements, participants were invited to attend a gala dinner and presentation, where they were able to unwind and recount their tales of elation and woe from earlier in the day.
Harrington’s homeland of Ireland finished top of the home nations standings, winning four out of the six prize categories. But it was England’s Jo Morris who claimed the overall top prize, shooting a fantastic net 75 off her 1 handicap. Be sure to sign up to HowDidiDo next year and it could be you doing battle at The Belfry for the Order of Merit crown.
2015 Titleist Order of Merit powered by HowDidiDo and Golf Monthly Winners
Jo Morris, England, Hcp 1. Nett 75.
Div 1 Men
Columb Harrington, Ireland, Hcp 4. Nett 76.
Div 2 Men
Ciaran Brennan, Ireland, Hcp 13. Nett 81
Div 3 Men
Frank Staunton, Ireland, Hcp 20, Nett 86.
Div 1 Ladies
Susan Wood, Scotland, Hcp 0. Nett 78
Div 2 Ladies
Denise Elrick, Scotland, Hcp 13. Nett 88
Harry Thompson, Ireland, Hcp 7. Nett 76
Home Nations leaderboard
1. Ireland 649
2. England 669
3. Scotland 676
4. Wales 699