Over a hundred people enjoyed the outrageously sloped putting green across the weekend and the culmination was the playoff on Sunday afternoon, which started at 5.30pm.
For the playoff, a longer, even more fiendish and unusual 6 holes were chosen. A healthy number of spectators watched and applauded the play-off finalists and it greatly added to the enjoyment of the event for all present. Despite some very amusing moments and comments throughout the event, there was a dignified silence when putts were taken, as everyone realised that there were considerable prizes at stake and serious focus was required.
The 18-hole layout was well deployed with none of the qualifiers breaking the par of the 36. The green, which is the largest in England at approximately three quarters of an acre, had been double cut and rolled for the event and was running at a slippery 10 on the stimp meter. Combined with the heavily undulating surface, some of the putts were extremely difficult, with many players taking four or five putts on more than one occasion.
After the playoff, Shaun Holding, the Chairman of Basildon Golf Club, presented the prizes, which were kindly sponsored by American Golf. The winner of British Open Putting Championship 2017 was Sean Powell, runner-up Colin Jenkins, with David Wilkin coming in third.
One of the great advantages of a large and unusual putting green is that you can set up the course in a completely different way every day. Newer golfers can have an easier layout, with only a few tricky and twisty holes to wreck a low score. Unfortunately, for the last fifty years golf courses have been designed with ease of cutting in mind, not the excitement and enjoyment of the putter. Great greens are memorable and many spring to mind – the 17th and 18th at St Andrews, all of the greens at Augusta and delicious and quirky greens from all of the best links courses in the world. These greens have often evolved over a long time, with the coastal erosion and winds playing a big part in their set up, but the common denominator is undulation and its what excites us all in golf. A fast downhill putt, with the risk of three putting is what makes us all watch - and it is great fun to play too. These undulating greens make the strategy for the whole round, with the most skilful players positioning their ball carefully around the course to ensure that they can hit an uphill birdie putt – ask Hogan and Nicklaus - it has always been so in the modern game. It was this essence that had us build the mad slopes at Basildon and it is the reason that the putting green, which is also in splendid shape, is so popular.
The British Open Putting Championship threw up some very interesting statistics in relation to the equipment used in the event.
And when it came to balls, the usage was as follows:
12% of the field were under 18 years of age;
29% of the field were over 65 years of age;
23% of the field were female;
baseball caps were worn by 27% of the field;
5% of the field wore other headwear including visors;
and 68% wore no headwear at all.
Nobody was disqualified and there were no reports of bad language or poor sentiment. In fact, everyone had a good time!
The course, which of been set up to provide maximum interest, had a combination of straightforward and fiendishly difficult holes. Colin Jenkins elaborates:
“We wanted to create a course which was fair, but also created some holes which were very difficult and would therefore require a high level of skill to play well on. We have gone to huge lengths to make sure there are some substantial and devious undulations on the putting green and we made sure that these were fully available to all the competitors in the British Open Putting Championship. Some would call the layout of the holes silly, ridiculous or far worse, but we were determined to ensure that the course was interesting and highly challenging. The hoots of delight, animation and enjoyment heard across the putting green throughout the event pays testament to the fact that we achieved this result.
“It is now over 16 months since the putting green was fully open for play and its condition has improved immeasurably since then. There is no disease on the green and the grass is tended and nurtured by all of the green keeping team at Basildon. We have taken the decision not to charge any money for the use of the putting green; to some, this may seem daft as it is clearly good enough to attract a fee of several pounds per person. The putting green is a vital and important part of the golf offering for us at Basildon and marks out as having the best short game facilities in the whole of Essex by some distance. By making this freely available to everyone who visits, regardless of whether they are a season ticket holder, a member or a green fee paying visitor, only heightens our growing popularity.”
Following on from the success of this year’s events, Basildon Golf Course are now setting up a number of interclub competitions all based around putting. The economic spin-off from the putting is clearly noticeable in the bar takings, so despite making the putting green freely available to all, there is a substantial benefit to the bottom line.
For anyone who would like to find out more about putting greens or hosting putting competitions, please contact Colin Jenkins on (07768) 887033 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. All golfers are always welcome at Basildon and the putting green is free!
Or visit: britishputting.com