Playing a Mizuno Golf Pairs Tour Event
Golfshake Ambassador Andy Picken describes the experience of playing in a Mizuno Golf Pairs Tour event at Royal Lytham & St Annes
Back in 2016 I had the pleasure of sampling the Mizuno Golf Pairs Tour of Wales, which was well organised and great fun. Then it was a relatively new enterprise designed to provide amateur golfers with access to competitive golf at iconic venues across Europe. A current CONGU handicap was a requirement to compete.
However, when I realised that a separate Golfshake Handicap section had been developed, I knew that I had to compete again and assess how the event had progressed. This is great news for those of you who don’t hold CONGU handicaps, but want access to quality venues as there is now a separate field for Golfshake Handicap Holders with its own prizes.
If you are an unattached golfer who wants to play some of the best courses in the UK and Europe, there is no better way than through this method. A current Golfshake Handicap will be required for entry into the Golfshake stream of competitors.
I have analysed the venues used to compete in the MGPT and they are simply stunning. The Open, European Tour and Ryder Cup hosts among them. These include the likes of Woodhall Spa, Walton Heath, The Belfry, Alwoodley, Forest of Arden, Hayling, West Hill, Prince's, and The Grove.
Communication is the key to any successful business and MGPT is excellent in this area.
Booking into the events is fully electronic and a simple, intuitive process. Allocation of tee times and a digital introduction to your playing partners happens a few days before the actual event. I have signed up to the MGPT Facebook Group of previous competitors (over 8,500 at the last count) and it is clear that there is a developing community of golfers using this channel regularly.
Pace of play issues are dealt with in a practical but fair manner. If a ball goes astray or in the rough and cannot be found the player is required to take a two-shot penalty and then play from the fairway at the point of entry. Three minutes of search time is strictly policed with no joint searches. Provisional strokes are also discouraged. With fields of 200 plus golfers, keeping up with the pace of play is crucial to the good running of the event.
Scoring is via live scoring app Golf Genius and one of the fourball scores for each with a photograph kept as evidence of agreed arithmetic. It is free from the App Store and works really well. I loved this facility as it allows remote monitoring by friends and family as the event progresses and adds a real level of additional tension when playing.
We played in a Better Ball format, Stableford points using 90% handicap allowance, aligned with CONGU rules for fourball competitions.
As headline sponsors, Mizuno are very active in these events and provide demonstrations of the latest equipment and offer a full fitting service on each range prior to play. The goodie bags consist of a range of premium golf balls with a RRP of £40 for each player.
The Hole in One Club are also partnered with the MGP Tour with a stand set up on a nominated par 3. They offer competitors the chance to sign up for a chance to play at TPC Sawgrass. It was great to see that they had my picture on display bringing back memories of a previous golf experience that will last a lifetime.
I renew my membership annually when I renew my golf insurance. For the price of a couple of pints every single competitive par 3 I play has an extra relevance. The odds of an ace are 12,500 to 1. However, I have done it once, so why not again? Always the optimist.
Mode Hotel Lytham
Beautifully appointed and perfectly located, the Mode Hotel Lytham is a venue I would Highly Recommend for the travelling golfer. Spotlessly clean with a self-check in facility out of hours if you have been playing golf late into the evening. The hotel has links to several local restaurants and cafes with some offering customers specially discounted rates.
There are municipal car parks nearby but also free on street parking that is clearly indicated on all the check in material. Enter your personal code into the key safes to receive your door cards and messages.
We used the Olive Tree Restaurant that is a minute away from the hotel’s front door for our evening meal and it was excellent. A great range of Mediterranean based dishes offer a delicious distraction.
This was an excellent location for our golf adventure around Lytham and Southport. It was convenient, cost effective, clean and conscientiously run. I would happily return.
Lytham is a sublime destination so this was an ideal place from which to base ourselves as we played the different courses.
We played an iconic Open and Ryder Cup venue, Royal Lytham & St Annes, in competitive conditions. It was a real challenge but immensely enjoyable from start to finish. We came a respectable 32nd out of 100 plus CONGU competitors, but the experience itself was worth every penny of our entry fee.
There were some groups of friends who had used the event as the basis for a golf trip, as we saw some of them the day before at Hillside Golf Club. This is a great way to enjoy this tournament format as you have the independence to set your own itinerary and accommodation.
Some of the venues are no longer encouraging visiting golfers to prioritise the needs of the membership, so this may be the only way to play some of the more famous venues in the near future.
As a visitor, I expect to be treated as well as a member for the day and this tour does exactly that from start to finish.
Here are some of the 2021 Events. I am already checking them out as there are several venues that are calling out to be visited. I would recommend early booking as there are limited numbers of tee times available and they are getting subscribed by repeat customers already.
As a Golfshake Handicap Holder, this is a perfect way to access some leading venues in a competitive format.
For more information on the Golf Pairs Tour, visit https://golfpairs.com/.
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