David Keywood travels to Nottingham Golf and Country Club to play in his first ever Trilby Tour event
By David Keywood. Last Updated: 14/08/13 5:02pm
Dave hits his tee-shot at the opening play-off hole
If you are a regular watcher of Sky Sports you may have seen adverts or watched episodes from the William Hunt Trilby Tour.
This is an amateur golf tournament now in its seventh year. Regional championships are played across the UK with a Grand Final played at the end of August at Rockcliffe Hall.
The format is an 18 hole stableford off three quarters handicap. The top 10 players make it to the Grand Final with the top four fighting it out in a three-hole play-off to be crowned the regional champion.
All events are broadcast on Sky Sports and it's officially the largest amateur golf television series in Europe.
This year I was offered the chance to play at one of the events in the UK and, after checking the venue line-up, the Championship I chose was at the Nottinghamshire Golf & Country Club.
Dave reacts to a missed putt
As you might have guessed by its name, all players wear a "trilby", which is chosen at the Championship venue when signing in. In addition, to give the event its own distinct flavour players also wear William Hunt's own Saville Row clothing range and use caddies decked out in Masters-style boiler suits.
You're asked to arrive at the venue at least an hour before your scheduled tee time and to be on the tee at least twenty minutes before you tee off. This is to ensure you go through the formalities of local rules, swapping cards, identifying golf balls and giving a little information about yourself to the starter.
My playing partners for the day were Trevor, a Nottinghamshire member, and former Manchester United and England footballer Lee Sharpe, who is a Trilby Tour regular.
I have participated in big amateur events before so playing in front of people has never been a problem for me. But, I must admit, standing on that first tee with over a hundred pairs of eyes plus the TV cameras on you, it's hard not to feel a little nervous!
The first hole is a reachable par 5 and with all these eyes on me I wanted to hit my driver, mainly as it's the club with the largest head! However, with a water hazard in range I opted for a 3-wood for safety. My first tee shot was straight out of the heel and into the fairway bunker but at least it went forward!
After the first-shot nerves I calmly settled into the round and, after making a decent par on the first hole, I followed up with a birdie on the second.
A second par followed on the third and when we arrived on the fourth hole to play our approach shots, a cameraman was following our every move. I missed the green right but managed to play a shot that Phil Mickelson would be proud of to secure my par.
After 9 holes you give your scores to the officials who are regularly updating the leaderboards and I was pleased to be on 20 points (two under par) with my shot to come on the 13th.
A par net birdie on 13 and another birdie on 15 saw me standing on the final hole at four under par. As I was in the second to last group of the day, I had already seen some scores which had been posted so was fairly confident that if I made par on the last hole I would make the play-off.
The 18th is a short par 5, however, if you hit driver you'll run out of fairway and finish in the lake. I hit an awful 3 wood off the tee which meant I had a full 3 wood to the green. I managed to safely make it to the front in two.
William Hunt himself (the particularly dapper looking one) watches Dave in the play-off
As I was lining up my putt I had a look at the leaderboard to see that no matter what I did I would make the play-off. The pressure was lifted and a two-putt birdie saw me post 41 stableford points (five under par).
After checking and signing my card I was rushed off to do a quick interview, which I have no recollection of now, as I was full of adrenaline and trying not to say anything stupid!
The play-off was between four players who posted the best scores on the day and the holes to play were the 1st, 2nd and 18th, winner takes all!
I again hit 3 wood off the first tee but this time the crowd and cameras didn't faze me and I managed a perfect shot down the left-hand side of the fairway. This left me 190 yards to the flag on a par 5, one of my opponents had already made the green in two so I had to go for hit. I was inbetween clubs as I needed to carry over a water hazard but was conscious that a shot which flew too far would be in a tricky bunker to the back of the green or worse in the lake behind it.
I opted for a 4 iron rather than a 5 and caught the ball thin. My ball ended up in the hazard and a drop was needed. I made a bogey on the first and one of my opponents made birdie.
When we arrived on the second tee, each of us had a short interview about the first hole. The second is a par 3 which I had earlier birdied, however this time I made par and we moved on to the final play-off hole - the par 5, 18th.
I was two shots behind at this stage and the only thought I had in my head was to make an eagle. I wanted to hit my driver over the trees to take the water out of play but my caddy (AKA Dad!) wouldn't entertain it. So I hit a 5 wood into a perfect position. At this stage the play-off was between myself and Ben, who had posted 42 points earlier in the day. He hit two irons to the green and was just short of reaching.
I decided to go for it by hitting a high 5 wood right at the flag. I executed the shot perfectly but my ball ended up 30 feet past the flag, leaving a tricky downhill putt for eagle. Ben chipped up to around 4 feet which meant my putt was a must hole. I gave it a good try but had to settle for birdie and finished in second place.
This 5 wood to the par 5 18th sets up an eagle opportunity
Playing in the William Hunt Trilby Tour is nothing I have ever experienced before, you really get the same emotions that I would imagine a tour pro goes through at a big event. I can't wait to do it all over again in the final at Rockcliffe Hall at the end of August.
The Trilby Tour episodes will be on Sky Sports in the Autumn so if you're interested in watching what you've just read, look out for the Nottinghamshire episode.