Fairway to Furlong
Another lucky winner played in the Sky Sports golf team at the Fairway to Furlong day at Celtic Manor.
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 16/03/12 4:49pm
Well, there was to be no Celtic Manor glory for the Sky Sports golfers down at the Fairway to Furlong golf day, but it was still another brilliant day out for another lucky competition winner.
Although our Nathan Richards did not taste the glory of 12 months earlier, again it turned out to be a day to remember with a fun-packed round of golf on the Roman Road course followed by a charity dinner with some of racing's big-hitters.
It's a long way down to Celtic Manor from Sky Sports HQ up in Leeds, but a trip well worth it as the venue remains an iconic one with Ryder Cup memories still fresh in the mind.
After running our competition again on Sky Sports, lucky Nathan won the exclusive place in our team of champions for the day's golf, followed by a trip to Cheltenham for the first day of the Festival.
A foggy start in the morning cast a few doubts on how the day would go, but a solid Celtic Manor breakfast and a few hits on the range melted those away - although the fog lingered a little while longer.
Having covered the Ryder Cup, the place is still a great one to visit and there's always a raw tinge of anticipation when you drive up that big hill, travel past the brilliant hotel and enter the club house lodge - everything about it all is well and truly five star.
A spot of bacon, a drive away in our buggies and a massive firework, which almost gave me a heart attack, later and we're underway, starting the defence of our title on the 14th hole - a tough start in the fog with a second shot over water.
We start well though, and hopes are high that myself, competition winner Nathan, Dave Keywood and Jamie Watson can bring home the bacon and keep hold of that trophy.
Armed with the VPar live scoring system, we are able to keep track of how we're getting on, another good feature that you don't get at your usual golf competition.
The fog slowly started to burn away, but sadly so did our chances. Despite being there or thereabouts throughout the contest perhaps a lack of scoring on the par threes cost us and we ended up finishing in sixth place - still a creditable effort though.
We did manage to scoop one prize for the day as Dave landed the nearest the pin contest thanks mainly to his team-mates for a showing him the club and wind to take into account to knocking it two feet from the flag.
Finally the sun emerged and into the splendour of the clubhouse lodge we went for a welcome pint and some of the brilliantly tasty Welsh cakes to refresh ourselves before checking into the Celtic manor hotel - which is always a pleasure.
Onto the evening - a charity auction hosted by Derek 'Tommo' Thompson and the giving of prizes, sadly not for us this year which was a huge shame as the overall winners from the day also got an unbelievable prize of a trip to American for the Breeders' Cup and a round at Pebble Beach!
Star trainer David Pipe and former jockey Mick Fitzgerald were also on hand to offer their advice for picking out some winners at the Cheltenham Festival - both men seemed to enjoy their night tremendously and proved great company.
The night drew on and on and plenty were still going strong when we called it a night in the early hours, eager to be in some sort of condition to enjoy 'the best breakfast in the world' according to Dave - and it's hard to disagree.
Fuelled up and ready to go, Nathan gets on his way to Cheltenham to hopefully pick out a few winners to cap off a great prize all round, while we start the long journey back to work!
If you fancy being a lucky winner then stay tuned to Sky Sports for out next competition...
Alternatively, for more golf trips and special packages go to www.yourgolftravel.com, or view more of the special golf/racing events coming up this year and book your place at Fairwaytofurlong.com.