Yorkshire’s Adam Morris has crowned his first year’s membership of a golf club with a narrow victory in the Fuller’s London Pride Gold Medal.
The 24-year-old became England’s handicap golfer of the year when he scored 37 points on the Red Course at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire, pipping Cheshire’s Tony Sharp on countback.
Third place went to Hampshire’s Nick Holloway, 29, whose success sealed a remarkable recovery from a stroke he suffered a year ago. He beat David Allen (Hoebridge) on countback after they both scored 36 points.
The championship was played as part of England Golf’s first Golf Week which has celebrated the grassroots game with a five-day festival of team and handicap events.
Much of the competition was played in a downpour and Morris, an 18-handicapper from Filey, remarked: “I’m pleased, very pleased, especially with the conditions. It will make the four-hour drive home a bit better!”
He has enjoyed golf since he was a boy but only began paying seriously when he and a group of friends joined Filey last year – responding to an attractive membership offer. He’s already come down from 22 handicap in his 16 months of membership.
Today, he played steadily and boosted his score with two gross birdies on the second and sixth, which were on his back nine. “I had a friend walking round and caddying today and it took a bit of pressure off. I just had to try to keep cool and calm – that was the hardest part, but it seemed to go all right.”
Tony Sharp (Vicar’s Cross) is a 19-handicapper and produced steady golf on his first appearance in this championship. “I’ve really enjoyed it despite the weather, I just got into a rhythm – but the course played a lot longer than yesterday!”
He was in no way disappointed to come second, remarking: “I’m delighted, it’s being competitive that’s the thing.”
Nick Holloway (Basingstoke) played the most remarkable round of the day, revealing afterwards that he had a stroke last summer and was still in a wheelchair at Christmas.
When he was taken ill he lost the power of speech and movement, together with the ability to swallow. He was told there was only a 15% chance that he would walk again – but he has gradually recovered and says he now 97% fit.
Holloway comes from a golfing family, has played since he was a boy and held a five-handicap before his stroke – so getting back to golf was one of his priorities. Early this year he got started when he hit half a dozen balls with a wedge. “That was all I could manage, but I slowly built it up and played my first round in mid-February.”
The next step was to put in cards for his handicap which was re-allocated at 20 and which he has already reduced to 15. He’s lost about 20% of his length and finds the short game challenging because of loss of feel, but he’s very determined. “I have played a lot of competitive golf in the past and now it’s all about getting back into that mentality.”
Alongside that he’s started a new career, launching his own lighting design company for concerts, exhibitions and corporate events.
“I don’t like to say it, but the stroke is the best thing that’s happened – apart from getting married! It’s opened my eyes and given me a whole new perspective on life,” he said.
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