The greatest golfing experiences
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There are so many interesting characters at golf clubs up and down the country, people with a fascinating story to tell.
At Axe Cliff Golf Club, one of those members who has enjoyed some of the greatest golfing experiences possible is Kyle Phillpots, who joined the club in 2018.
Since he joined Axe Cliff, Kyle has been a great help to the club and Manager Simon Wellington in helping to apply for grants where possible and organising Special Open Days for potential new members interested in taking up this wonderful game.
In the first of a two-part feature for the Midweek Herald, Kyle has written about the importance of the Majors and particularly the British Open and its link with Axe Cliff.
Kyle was lucky enough to have worked for the PGA base at the Belfry from 1999 to 2017 and was the Executive Director for Education and Global Development.
He spent a lot of time overseas and experienced golf and golf courses all over the world. He took early retirement from the PGA in 2017 and moved to Devon.
Axe Cliff became his home club in 2018 and he is also a member of two other clubs, one in Birmingham and the other in St Andrews.
“Most golfers are also collectors of golf experiences,” said Phillpots.
“This generally means the venues they have played, the people they have met and the tournaments they have attended and to remind them of the experience, they will often pick up a memento, such as a cap, shirt, jumper, pitchfork or ball markers usually with the venue’s logo and name of event.
“As with any collection, some items have more value than others. This is not about cost, but about the rarity value or the prestige of the course, venue or tournament.
“There is a well-established hierarchy for golfers that will raise their perceived esteem with their fellow players. With the tournaments it is all about the competition first, then the venue, so that is the majors (Open, US Open, PGA Championship, Masters) plus selected international team events (Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Walker Cup, Curtis Cup).
“One of the great things about playing golf, is that you can actually play on the same course as the top players, play the venues of these great tournaments and sample the challenges of them yourself.
“While you can watch tennis at Wimbledon, soccer at Wembley or rugby at Twickenham, pitch up and for the vast, vast majority of players, playing on that hallowed turf is no more than a pipe dream.
“Golf is different, if you have the money and/or in some cases the connection, as some of these are strictly for members and their guests only, you can play golf on a championship course.
“As three of the Majors are played in the USA, for most British golfers, it is the Open that is the most easily accessible.
“The word ‘Open’ refers to the fact that this championship is open to both professional and amateur players, although only one amateur has ever won it, Bobby Jones from America in 1926 and 1927.
“While other such competitions are required to use their country name as well, as in US Open and Australian Open, being the first (1860) this championship just needs the one name.
“The Open is always played on a links course, from the word hlink meaning rising ground and it is played on coastal sand dunes.
“This is considered to be the purest form of golf on land shaped by nature rather than by a designer and therefore is one that everyone wants to win.
“There are currently 10 courses on the Open rota, meaning that they are eligible to host the championship and the course most synonymous with the Open, the Old Course at St Andrews is generally the venue every five years.
“There are five courses in Scotland, three in the north west of England, one in Kent and one in Northern Ireland.”
Next week, we learn about some of the great players to grace the game.