Swinley Forest – a great way to start

This 1909 hidden gem has maintained traditional golf in its finest form. From the extremely understated gated entrance (we almost missed the turnoff) through to the rustic, old world clubhouse Swinley Forest makes you question whether other golf courses have moved too much away from this traditional model.

Our golf experience at Swinley forest started with lunch upstairs in the clubhouse with Secretary Stewart Zuill – highly regarded in golf management circles including 14 years as Secretary at close neighbour Sunningdale Golf Club.

As far as lunches this beat the average pie and chips. We started off with a selection of mushroom soup or fish followed by a full on carvery roast and of course a variety of puddings and fruit to finish. As you would expect this far surpassed the airplane food we had been subjected to less than 24 hours earlier.

Swinley forest is a course that does not manicure its playing surfaces to within an inch of its life (refreshing in many ways). Instead, cut through the natural forest, the holes get better and better as the round progresses. The par 3’s were demanding yet for both of us a highlight of the course.

Although short the course makes you use every club in the bag (including your wedge to extricate yourself from the dense heather that, on many holes, forms the first cut of rough). Miss the fairway and you pay for it

A key part of this trip is raising money for the Door of Hope with birdies scored and we both had several chances to kicks start the campaign. The course has only one par 5 which comes early in the round (5th) so your birdies need to be made on other holes.

David had a great chance on 15 but his putt shaved the cup and so we walked the short distance to the 16th tee knowing we needed to do something.

Gary came good birdieing two of the last three holes to add some respectability to the birdie tally.

Early night tonight as 36 holes tomorrow and on Wednesday. Our bodies will be feeling it come Wednesday night.

Photos to come. Stay tuned…

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We are on our way

So after a year or more in planning it has come down to this. I am sitting at Melbourne airport looking forward to the 14 hr flight first to Dubai and then the 10hr flight to London. Lots of fun indeed.

I have been fortunate enough to get an exit row seat which should give me a bit more leg room but even with this it is still a long trip ahead.

I land in London at 12pm on Sunday and David follows the next morning. Strategy once I land is to grab some iPad sim cards and some iPhone sim cards so we will be connected wherever we are. Then it is off to grab our hire car and try and negotiate my way to our hotel (30 min drive apparently).

One of our great sponsors Wilson have arranged for a set of golf clubs to be waiting for me at the hotel (same model I play with in Australia including the great Superlite driver that is very comfortable and very light) as well as our first supply of golf balls (the other balls are being delivered strategically to different places to help us from a luggage point of view).

Sunday night I will see what the weather is like and may even get out to take some images at one of the courses we are due to play the coming week. Here’s hoping for sunny weather with limited cloud cover and no sign of rain!

Next morning sees David land and then our first game at the very private Swinley Forest. This is one course I have been particularly looking forward to playing and the fact that it is our first course is a nice treat. Hopefully a good nights sleep will see us both play well.

Stay tuned for next update.

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2 weeks to go

As they say when you get excited about something – only 14 more sleeps to go! The Links4032 expedition is getting closer and both David and myself are tuning ourselves with last minute preparations including:

  • keeping our fitness up to par (developing core strength has been key for me and pilates has been great for David)
  • touching bases with each of our golf club and accommodation contacts and making sure they still remember who we are!
  • playing a bit of golf to try and get us match hardened
  • trying to get as much work finished in the office knowing that when we being this journey juggling work emails will be all that much harder.

We have received some fantastic support from a number of companies who are excited about our trip and are supporting us in a variety of ways. I encourage you to take a look at the Supporters tab at the top of the page and see just who is helping us out. David and I received our ECCO shoes in recent weeks and have been wearing them in (not that you need to – they feel like slippers as soon as you put them on).

I have loved being able to wear them to golf and not change when I got to the golf club – they look and feel like trendy street shoes yet double up as a very robust golf shoe with excellent traction. Playing so many golf courses we knew that footwear would be key and we are very happy that ECCO have supported us in this regard.

I actually returned from Fiji a few days ago where I was running a golf event for one of our clients as well as undertaking a photo shoot for a fantastic new golf course called Natadola Bay. Whilst the Fiji landscape won’t be the same as where we are heading it was great being able to wear the ECCO shoes pretty much everywhere (including restaurants, on the plane and of course on the golf course).

Making a Difference

Whilst in Fiji my wife and I managed to visit a pre school that is supported by a charity that is very close to our heart – Door of Hope Australia. This pre school recently suffered through the March 29 floods that affected most of Fiji with water levels reaching 10 feet and pretty much wrecking everything in sight. We took some photos of the outdoor area a month after and whilst the water has receded everything still looks pretty bleak.

This lead me to think about how our trip could be more than just a golf “junket” (as some people are telling me…) and how we could help those that were affected by the Fiji floods as well as other projects that the Door of Hope supports.

So I came up with a interesting scheme that you can get involved in – to help us raise some funds. We have created a page on this site called Making a Difference which explains it in full. Basically David and I are trying to attracts sponsors who will agree to sponsor us for a certain amount per birdie that we score on the trip. It might be $1 per birdie, $2 or any amount you like. We figure that based on our handicaps (Gary – 6, David – 12) we would score about 24 birdies for Gary and 20 for David).

You might like to consider supporting us in this quest. We will be listing supporters on the site and giving an up to date birdie tally on a daily basis.

Until next time enjoy your golf…

Gary Lisbon

 

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