Season Thirteen Final - 19 - 23 September 2016

Sea Pines Resort, South Carolina

Season 13 Final Blog - Monday 26 September - Final Thoughts

So after the long journey home and a Sunday back with the family, we are now once more in the office and spending the day clearing up everything to do with the final. 

Looking back it was a final that we really did learn a lot from. There was no doubt several aspects of the organisation that were challenging, but hopefully our finalists did not see too much of the challenges behind the scenes - that's the idea anyway! The service at the hotel was much better than we hoped and we have our events coordinator onsite to thank for that. The Golf course was superb and lived up to it's reputation, even if the service was not what we were all accustomed to. The safari, dinner and entertainment to follow were a real highlight! We did get lucky, seeing 4 of the big 5, including elephants at very close quarters on our toilet stop (that was a nervous moment!) and two lions on the hunt.

So we had the setting, we had the golf course but what you really need is 24 finalists who rise to the challenge, play the event in the correct spirit and gel as one big team and I am pleased to say this is exactly what we got. 

Each year we try to tweak the rules thinking ahead to the final and the ultimate aim of creating a really close, competitive final. It doesn't always end up that way of course, but this year it really did. The ROW team were strong on paper and strong on the day. Andrew Lyth was a superb captain and goes down in Swingers history as only the second ROW captain to ever lift the Swingers trophy alongside another great Joan Heeter. I am sure Andrew is very proud to be spoken of in similar terms to Joan, but he deserves it for his commitment to Swingers over the years.

And as for Matt Bergh, he was truly another great captain. Enthusiastic and energetic, he was just unlucky to come up against such a strong ROW team. I believe in any previous season, he would have been a winning European captain as well. 

There were some real stand out performances. Margaret Clifford, one of our biggest supporters, who comes to every society day, showed what a fantastic competitor she was, especially in the first two days. She was arguably Europe's stand out player, alongside another newcomer Padraic O'Connor, a wonderful gentleman who was one of our most popular finalists of the week. 

On the ROW side, hats off to newcomer Matt Carrett, who won all three of his matches. And how can we fail to mention Andrew Davies. He didn't tell us he'd had major heart surgery just two weeks earlier!! You wouldn't have noticed it however, what a competitior! Thank you to Derald Williams, is there a bigger smile in Swingers?!? And is there anyone more enthusiastic about Swingers than Clinton Heap or our very own statto James Gear?

I could list everyone, and will be emailing everyone personally to say thank you. But what was the biggest thing we learnt from this last week? That 24 finalists can be competitive and want to win for their teams without having to mention once other finalists' handicaps, shots given, or use words such as 'bandit'. There was banter of course, but this was one big group of 24 like minded finalists who epitomised everythiing we created Swingers for. One big happy family who have hopefully become friends for life. Yes, it wasan amazing week for Team ROW, only their second win in Swingers history, but honestly I don't think anyone really worried about that too much. What will live long in the memory is the togetherness of this group.

Thank you finalists, you were all amazing and created, in terms of the competition itself, the most memorable final ever. And for that we will be forever grateful. I truly believe this spirt is what Swingers is all about and look forward to seeing this grow in Season 14 at all days and of course hopefully at another superb final.

Until then, rest up Swingers, we'll be back!

PS Check out some of our photos from the final below, plus don't forget to read our captains' final blogs - TEAM EUROPE'S Matt and TEAM ROW'S Andrew.

Season 13 Final Blog - Friday 23 September - Day Five

So after a fitting presentation gala dinner with some superb musical entertainment, we finally presented our finalists with their souvenir pin flags last night, which were duly signed by team mates. And of course the captains announced their players of the week - Matt Carrett for Team ROW and Padraig O'Connor for Team Europe. The evening finished with ROW captain Andrew Lyth receiving the trophy for the second time that day.

For many the after-party went on long into the night, and when guests arrived for the pool side lunch today, it was a much quieter occasion! It was then time to say our sad final farewells as our finalists headed off to the airport to commence their long journeys home.

For us the afternoon involved packing up all our branding and arranging its delivery back to the UK. It's always an emotional time straight after the finalists leave, as you walk though the same areas where in the days prior you saw and heard our finalists and now it's just empty. It's a very strange emotion.

This is our last blog for now. We will be back on Monday with a final summing up of the final from myself, and our two captains.

Until then, have a great weekend

Season 13 Final Blog - Thursday 22 September - Day Four

So Team ROW awoke with a crucial 4 points lead, but when you haven't won the Swingers trophy in 6 years, you certainly don't take anything for granted!

With clear blue skies once more, our finalists set out on their singles round as we reached the climax of the S13 final. Matt Bergh picked up the first point of the day beating ROW's Clinton Heap 5&3 to bring Europe back to 8-5 down. However, the joy was shortlived as Steve Du Preez beat Morag Hutcheon 3&2 to bring ROW to 9-5 with just 3.5 points required for victory.

ROW's Brian O'Connor took ROW to 10-5 with a 4&3 win over former Europe captains Hugh O'Connor whilst Jurgen Schwabe  comfortably beat Tom Riddell 6&5 after playing some inspired golf. This was followed by a 3&2 win for Andy Gilbert over Peter Honigmann bring the score back to 10-7. We then got word of massive ROW victories for Matt Carrett over James Gear (7&6) and Andy Davies over Margaret Clifford (7&6) and we soon realised ROW's Bill Wilson was striding down the 17th fairway needing a half to secure that special 0.5 point for ROW. As it turned out he won the hole, beating James Hewson 3&1 and sending Team ROW over the magic finishing line!

Emir Uzunovic then beat Europe's Alan Clifford 2&1 on hole 18, and Europe's Padraig O'Connor beat ROW Captain Andrew Lyth by 1 hole on hole 18. Europe's Chris Appleby beat ROW's Derald Williams 3&2 before the final match came down 18 and ended in an honourable draw between Duncan Castles and Andrew Meredith.

The final score was ROW 14.5 EUROPE 9.5. Immediately we all gathered on the 18th green to present Andrew and the victorious ROW team with their trophy. What a win and what a week, truly one of the greatest Swingers finals of all time.

Singles Results: 

Bergh (EUR) beat Heap (ROW) 5&3
Du Preez (ROW) beat Hutcheon (EUR) 3&2
B O'Connor (ROW) beat H O'Connor (EUR) 4&3
Wilson (ROW) beat Hewson (EUR) 3&1
Gilbert (EUR) beat Honigmann (ROW) 3&2
Schwabe (EUR) beat Riddell (ROW) 6&5
Carrett (ROW) beat Gear (EUR) 7&6
Uzunovic (ROW) beat Clifford A (EUR) 2&1
P O'Connor (EUR) beat Lyth (ROW) by 1 hole
Davies (ROW) beat M Clifford (EUR) 7&6
Appleby (EUR) beat Williams (ROW) 3&2
Castles (ROW) halved with Meredith (EUR)

Singles Score: ROW 6.5 EUR 5.5

Overall Score: ROW 14.5 EUR 9.5


Season 13 Final Blog - Wednesday 21 September - Day Three

After yesterday's amazing first day it was hard to believe it could get any better! But today, with not a cloud in the sky, we witnessed yet more incredible golf in the fouballs.

First up ROW's Peter Honigmann and Matthew Carrett put in an exceptional performance to win 3&2 against Europe's Hugh O'Connor and his father Padraic. Brian O'Connor and Tom Riddell soundly beat Matt Bergh and Andy Gilbert 5&3 to gain another point for ROW.

The third match saw a titanic battle between ROW's Andrew Lyth and Duncan Castles and Europe's James Gear and Margaret Clifford which ended all square.

Chris Appleby and Andrew Meredith secured Europe's first point of the day with a 2&1 win over Bill Wilson and Emir Uzunovic, but Europe's joy was short lived as ROW's Clinton Heap and Derald Williams beat Europe's Jurgen Schwabe and Alan Clifford 2&1.

But the match of the day was undoubtedly Steve du Preez and Andrew Davies of ROW versus Morag Hutcheon and James Hewson of Europe, and what a finishing hole! All square going down 18, all four found trouble one way or another. Morag then held a monster putt and it looked like Europe had won it, only for Andrew Davies to immediately hold a superb putt to halve the match.

So the fourballs finished ROW 4 Europe 2 with the overall match score ROW 8 Europe 4.

After the excitement of the golf, it was then onto the sunset safari in the nearby Pilanesberg National Park where we were lucky enough to witness a Leopard, Rhino, elephants extremely close up and 2 lions attempting a kill. The suprise of the day however was a trip to the Wallow for a traditional African Braai complete with African Dancing, a band and interactive drumming. The day ended with our drive back to the hotel where we saw 2 young leopards and 2 giraffes hidden in the dark.

What a truely awesome day! Hard to believe tomorrow is the final full day.

Singles pairings:

Heap (ROW) v Bergh (EUR)
Du Preez (ROW) v Hutcheon (EUR)
B O'Connor (ROW) v H O'Connor (EUR)
Wilson (ROW) v Hewson (EUR)
Honigmann (ROW) v Gilbert (EUR)
Riddell (ROW) v Schwabe (EUR)
Carrett (ROW) v Gear (EUR)
Uzunovic (ROW) v Clifford (EUR)
Lyth (ROW) v P O'Connor (EUR)
Davies (ROW) v Clifford (EUR)
Williams (ROW) v Appleby (EUR)
Castles (ROW) v Meredith (EUR)

Fourballs Results:

Honigmann/Carrett (ROW) beat O'Connor H/O'Connor P (EUR) 3&2
O'Connor B/Riddell (ROW) beat Bergh/Gilbert (EUR) 5&3
Lyth/Castles (ROW) halved match with Gear/Clifford (EUR)
Appleby/Meredith (EUR) beat Wilson/Uzunovic (ROW) 2&1
Heap/Williams (ROW) beat Schwabe/Clifford (EUR) 2&1
Du Preez/Davies (ROW) halved match with Hutcheon/Hewson (EUR)

Season 13 Final Blog – Tuesday 20 September – Day Two

A truly amazing day, and one of the best, if not best in Swingers history. Guests arrived at the Gary Player Club after a hearty breakfast at the Palace Hotel and were soon introduced to their caddies wearing their named finalist caddy bibs!

It was then straight onto the practice rounds which for most was the opportunity to play 9 holes as a warm up for the start of the final proper.

After an early lunch it was time to head for the first tee for the Foursomes and in front of the Nedbank Challenge grandstands it was the ROW team captain Andrew Lyth and Brian O’Connor who hit the first competitive tee shot of the final. Their match against Europe captain Matt Bergh and Hugh O’Connor was a thriller. Tight for so long, Matt and Hugh stormed into a 4 up lead but a fight back from Andrew and Brian saw the match go to the short par 3 16th. Both hit wayward tee shirts but it looked like it would move onto the 17th until Hugh held a monster putt to win the match and secure the first point for Europe.

ROW however were soon back on level terms with Andrew Davies and Matt Carrett comfortably beating James Hewson and Jurgen Schwabe 4&3.

At the same time ROW’s Steve du Preez and Peter Honigmann were heading down hole 18 one up versus Europe’s Chris Appleby and Morag Hutcheon. A superb gutsy chip from Peter sealed the match to send ROW into a 2-1 lead.

Immediately following, a second match went down 18 and what a finish this was. Derald Williams and Bill Wilson were 1 up, when Derald hit his approach to the 18th far right only to see the ball ricochet off the grandstand and roll nicely on the green! That was pretty much it and it saw them win against Andy Gilbert and Alan Clifford to send ROW into a 3-1 lead.

James Gear and Andrew Meredith returned the score to 3-2 with an excellent 2&1 win over Tom Riddell and Emir Uzunovic after being 2 down a few holes earlier.

And amazingly the final match between Clinton Heap and Duncan Castles and Padraic O’Connor and Margaret Clifford also went to the 18th. Margaret was undoubtedly the player of the day but Clinton just managed to clear the water with his approach to ensure ROW held on to give them a 4-2 on the first day.

Some amazing matches, and a scoreline which we haven’t seen for a while.

It was then off to the stunning Grill Restaurant at the Palace for some fine South African steaks before the pairings were discussed amongst teams and announced for tomorrow’s fourballs.

Europe have some work to do but if tomorrow is anything like today, it’s going to be amazing!

Fourball Pairings:

Honigmann/Carrett (ROW) v O'Connor H/O'Connor P (EUR)
O'Connor B/Riddell (ROW) v Bergh/Gilbert (EUR)
Lyth/Castles (ROW) v Gear/Clifford M (EUR)
Wilson/Uzunovic (ROW) v Appleby/Meredith (EUR)
Heap/Williams (ROW) v Schwabe/Clifford A (EUR)
Du Preez/Davies (ROW) v Hutcheon/Hewson (EUR)

Foursome Results:

Bergh/O'Connor H (EUR) beat Lyth/O'Connor B (ROW) 3&2
Du Preez/Honigmann (ROW) beat Appleby/Hutcheon (EUR) by 1 Hole
Davies/Carrett (ROW) beat Hewson/Schwabe (EUR) 4&3
Wilson/Williams (ROW) beat Gilbert/Clifford A (EUR) by 1 Hole
Gear/Meredith (EUR) beat Riddell/Uzunovic (ROW) 2&1
Heap/Castles (ROW) beat O'Connor P/Clifford M (EUR) by 1 Hole

Current Match Score ROW 4 EUROPE 2

S13 Final Blog - Monday 19 September 2016 - Day One

And so it began. Our 21 finalists travelling from London arrived into a foggy Johannesburg, but were delighted to be met by former finalist Simon Hudson, who took time out of his day to greet everyone. After the long trek to Sun City, our finalists enjoyed a relaxing pool side lunch as they familarised themselves with their new surroundings. It was fantastic for Luke and myself to see old friends, and meet some new faces.

Our finalists then had a couple hours to themselves, before they set off to the traditional African Shebeen for a welcome buffet and an arrival drink of traditional African beer. We then received a very informative introduction to Sun City by the Director of Golf Quintin Byveldt.

Our captains then took to the stage to make their speeches, whilst also being interviewed on camera for our S13 Final film. It was then time to present the all important shirts and caps, before heading into their team meetings.

The evening ended with the much anticipated reading out of the pairings and what great pairing they are.

First Round Foursomes

Lyth/O'Connor B (ROW) v Bergh/O'Connor H (EUR)
Du Preez/Honigmann (ROW) v Appleby/Hutcheon (EUR)
Davies/Carrett (ROW) v Hewson/Schwabe (EUR)
Wilson/Williams (ROW) v Gilbert/Clifford (EUR)
Riddell/Uzunovic (ROW) v Gear/Meredith (EUR)
Heap/Castles (ROW) v O'Connor P/Clifford (EUR)

It's going to be a fantastic first round, we can't wait for it to begin!

S13 Final Blog - Sunday 18 September 2016 - 1 day to go!

It's hard to believe the weather can change so quickly in the space of 12 hours - down from lates 20s degrees to 12 degrees with a cold wet drizzle! It felt like we had suddenly relocated our final to Scotland!!

After breakfast, we did a quick tour of the other venues we are using for the final which we hadn't yet visited on this trip and then it was down to the Gary Player Country Club for our round of golf which would help us decide which tees to play off. And of course if you're going to play you might as well have the traditional pre-final challenge between myself and Luke. 

The course is undoubtedly a challenge especially in the conditions we played in, however it felt like the front nine was a little more forgiving than the back nine. That first tee shot this year is going to be awesome for our finalists right in front of the grandstands. And the approach to the nineth as well over water will really put the pressure on - if only I had gone with my 6 iron!
After some hearty food at the halfway hut, it was onto the back 9. Plenty of wildlife on show especially with 2 warthogs on 12 in the middle of the fairway - slightly intimidating when you are trying to hit your tee shot over them rather than straight at them!

I really hope some of our matches go the distance as the finishing three holes are quite special. The short par 3 16th with the grandstands in position and then the stunning 17th which runs alongside the length of the lake - a little reminicent of Harbour Town's 18th. However if any matches can go to the last hole, the approach shot into the green over a huge lake is going to decide the match in front of some big grandstands. I cannot wait!

So unfortunately I did get soundly beaten this year, but it was Luke's turn to win. After we had chance to warm up and get dry, we bumped into our first finalist, ROW's Clinton Heap who arrived a day early to prepare for the final. He's certainly pumped up for it as I'm sure all 24 finalists are. 

They are now on their way. Their final has begun, but for us here tomorrow is the day!

Until then

S13 Final Blog - Saturday 17 September 2016 - 2 days to go!

As more of Team ROW started their journeys today, we were up early and straight into planning meetings. As always at this stage before the final, there was some fine tuning to be done, with some very small tweaks to the planned schedule which we felt would enhance the flow of the event. 

It was then off to the Gary Player Country Club where we delivered our pin flags and tee markers to the green keepers and sat down with the Director of Golf to discuss plans for next week including the pin positions. It's a final so we like to make it a challenge and therefore we are delighted to announce that pin placements will follow those of the Nedbank Golf Challenge that will be played here later in November. So when you watch it on TV you can think back to how you coped with those pin positions!

Talking of the Nedbank Challenge, we are delighted that the majority of stands are in place which definitely adds something special. Earlier we placed a video on twitter showing our finalist's walk to the first tee. There's certainly never going to be a more nerve tingling first tee experience than at this final.

Our final meetings of the day involved our transport company and the safari team. Wednesday's safari is going to be very special, and we were very luck to experience a dry run this evening, where we amazingly saw all Big Five - apparently quite a feat!

So with another day set to close, we know tomorrow is the start of the adventure for our finalists. Safe travels to the airport everyone. Enjoy meeting up with your team mates, and get yourselves prepared for a final like no other!

We will be back tomorrow for our very last pre-final update.

Sweet dreams finalists


S13 Final Blog - Friday 16 September 2016 - 3 days to go!

Last night's flight was a comfortable smooth ride in Premium Economy sat next to a guy who I've hopefully convinced to be a S14 Swinger! Already a member of the Shire, he's knows a couple of our Swingers so hopefully he will get the bug.

The long trek up to Sun City went suprisingly quickly despite a slight detour due to some protesters blockading the road. It was then back through the gates of Sun City for a third and final time this year and up to the hill to the ever impressive Palace Hotel. Even though it's my third visit, it's precence can not be over exagerrated. As our rooms weren't quite ready we went straight to our designated Tournament Office and started to unload the pallet. Thankfully everything made it over in one piece.

I think it's clear we need to keep the doors shut though, as those mischevious monkeys will do anything to get their hands on S13 Final gear - they must have heard we were coming as they were out in force this afternoon! All the goody bags are now packed and the shirts laid out ready, and we are delighted to have got this all done on day one.

So this evening it's time for a quiet drink and it's a chance to find our bearings. Tomorrow's an early start with a day of meetings with the hotel and golf team.

Enjoy your weekend Swingers, especially you finalists travelling out!

S13 Final Blog - Thursday 15 September 2016 - 4 days to go!

Today was our travel day. Final packing was done and before we knew it we were embarking on the journey that 24 of you will be making this Sunday, although many of our ROW team have already started making their journeys over to London.

The Virgin Atlantic clubhouse experience is always fantastic and it was nice to go through some final planning in such comfortable surroundings. 

For our finalists once they arrive in the clubhouse their final has effectively begun. They can share a drink and a bite to eat with their team mates some of whom they will already know, others whom they are meeting for the first time. This final is unique in that 20 of the finalists are on the same flight so this should ensure some great friendships will already have been made by the time they land in Johannesburg.

So as I write this on the flight sat in the same Premium Economy seats our finalists will sit in on Sunday my thoughts are turning towards what lies ahead as we move to the next stage of preparations for the Final. Tomorrow's a busy day!

Sleep well everyone!

Season 13 Final Blog – Wednesday 14 September 2016 – 5 days to go!

It’s back to the office for one final day today, after driving through one of the biggest storms I’ve ever seen on the way back down from Cheshire last night! We might have had some bad luck on society days earlier in the year, but we definitely got some luck yesterday as the heavens opened as soon as the last of our golfers came off the course.

Our 24 finalists are now all confirmed and that’s allowed us to print everything today and start the packing process. We’ve also spent the morning with Trendy Golf where we collected all our finalists’ shirts which look fantastic! With those shirts and the caddy bibs it’s going to look spectacular out on the Gary Player course in Sun City.

The build up has been hectic this year but we’re now in the position of being ready for the next stage which is onsite prep. I’m sure our finalists are ready as well as are our two captains and you can read their latest blogs on the Team Europe and Team ROW pages.

This has the makings of a classic Swingers final and we can’t wait for everyone to arrive on Monday!

Three rounds of golf (plus a 9 hole practice!), a safari and some of the best food and drink on offer, it’s no wonder our finalists are excited. The banter on twitter has gradually intensified over the days and weeks but once more it’s nearly time for the talking to stop and the golf to get going. I still think it’s tight on paper, Europe have a lot of shots to play with but ROW are arguably one of the most competitive team ever assembled in this competition. Who will be crowned champions in 8 days time? Nothing’s certain other than you can catch up with all the latest action on here and twitter throughout the Final next week.

Let the fun and games begin!

Season 13 Final Blog - Tuesday 13 September 2016 - 6 days to go!

Another fantastic society day to round off our season of days in the UK. We were up early and off to the course and of course delighted to see the sun shining!

You could definitely sense a few nerves with those competing for that final space, but the level of golf was exceptional when you take into consideration the pressure.

A full report on the day can be read here

It just leaves us to say that each and every one of those 5 golfers competing for the final spot would have made great finalists, but in many ways it does seem fitting that Andrew Meredith managed to fight off the competition to claim his space. Andrew qualified last year from the society day competition but due to other commitments had to turn down the space, so we are delighted, as I am sure captain Matt Bergh will be that he will be taking his place on the plane to South Africa on Sunday evening.

Well it's a short blog today as I'm writing this with a 5-6 hour drive ahead of me, and it's up early in the morning as we get our final shirts ready and get everything packed for the big trip.

Until tomorrow!

Season 13 Final Blog – Monday 12 September 2016 – 7 days to go!

Just the one week to go, and don’t we know it! Earlier this morning we packed up and set off on what should have been a 3 hour 30 min drive to Cheshire only for it to take close to 6 hours!!

It was straight to Sandiway Golf Club to meet with the very efficient team at the club and it’s great that they are as excited as we are about tomorrow’s final society day of the summer.

Goody bags were packed quickly and before we headed off to the hotel, we bumped into a few of our Swingers just coming off the course after a practice round. General feedback about the course was great, and it was nice to see two of our guys playing in the final groups looking so relaxed ahead of tomorrow – hopefully they will be just as relaxed at 09:30 in the morning!

Tomorrow our finalist shirts will be arriving so we are excited to get a first peak at those. But for now, it’s time to meet up with our Swingers for a bite to eat and hear all the banter for one last society day this summer.

Those of you interested in seeing the scores from tomorrow can click here to see the scoreboard. In addition we will be tweeting details of who makes that elusive 24th spot as soon as it happens. Will it be Andrew, Ken, Gary, Roger or Sean? Only 24 hours to wait now!

Have a good evening

Season 13 Final Blog - Friday 9 September 2016 - 10 days to go!

So we’ve arrived at pretty much our last full day in the office.

The ‘To Do’ list and event plan looked incredibly daunting back on Monday, but now it’s down to just the 30 pages! Most of what’s left is now for on site, and that’s why next Thursday we will be flying out to Sun City for 3 days of preparation prior to our finalists arriving.

Our caddy bibs have arrived this week, as finalists will have caddies for all 3 days marking a first in Swingers final history. Our shirts will arrive at Sandiway on Monday – believe me logistically that’s easier, and our event kit should arrive in Sun City on Monday. It’s all getting very real.

Today we’ve shifted focus a little to our Sandiway society day as we get all the final preparations completed for our long drive up to Cheshire on Monday morning. We see there’s a few Swingers having a practice round so we look forward to bumping into them up there! It’s going to be an exciting day with the final two groups featuring 5 Swingers all eager to make that plane on the Sunday night. Sport is all about performing under pressure so we can’t wait to see how it unfolds on the day.

For the 23 lucky enough to already be on their way, tickets have now been issued and captains have also now been in touch. Both captains have written their latest blogs featuring a rundown of their teams so check out the Team Europe and Team Rest of the World pages.

Next week our blog goes daily as we count down the last week, so look out for updates from Sandiway and then Sun City. It’s going to be a crazy week!

Enjoy your weekends

Season 13 Final Blog – Monday 5 September 2016 – 2 weeks to go!

Our last week in the office, and I still can’t believe it! This final is racing up on us fast now, and this week is all about putting the final touches to planning here in the UK before we head out to South Africa.

Today has mostly been about tidying up the last monthly winners of the season. The two weeks since the season has closed have been so busy that today was the one window of opportunity for us to complete this. That does however still leave all the leaderboard prizes, plus Player of the Season and Srixon Cleveland Golf Swingers Ambassador of the Season awards still to come, and I am afraid we won’t get an opportunity to announce these until we are back from our Final at the end of the month.

Tomorrow we will ramping up the pre-final excitement on twitter with our usual look back at previous finals, all be it in a slightly shorter time frame this year! One piece of final news today however was our first confirmation of the final shirts – Royal Blue for Europe and Magenta Purple for ROW. We know how our finalists like to coordinate their outfits for the big occasion so hopefully they can now start planning their wardrobes!

We still mustn’t forget our final space in Team Europe is yet to be decided, and with the Sandiway Society day just one week away, we are getting closer to knowing our final 24. Sadly one of those competing for a place in the final, Mark Attwell has had to pull out due to injury so it’s really down to one of Andrew Meredith, Gary Hankinson, Ken Daly, Roger Harpum and Sean Dolan to rise to the pressure and seal a place on that plane to Johannesburg!

Enjoy your week

Season 13 Final Blog – Thursday 1 September 2016 – 2 weeks to go!

The bank holiday weekend was the calm before the storm, as our planning for South Africa has ramped up a notch this week, whilst also juggling the rearranged Gold member’s day at the Grove.

Tuesday saw us confirming the first of our finalists’ flights before we headed up to the Grove to set up for the Gold day. Most of our branding and kit is already on route to South Africa so we used what we had left the best we could. The venue looked great however with Virgin splashes of red intermingled with the British Masters branding which was already in place.

The day on Wednesday ran like clockwork which was just what we needed after the abandonment of June. Some of our Swingers who are Gold members attended the day including two finalists – Morag Hutcheon and James Hewson and a third potential finalist Andrew Meredith who will be looking to seal his place at Sandiway a week on Tuesday!

Each of them had successful days which augurs well for Team Europe! Morag and James won the team comp alongside S8 Finalist Garett Endenburg and Virgin Atlantic’s Hamish Rickman, whilst Andrew took third place in the individual stableford.

It was good to catch up with James and Morag and see just how excited they are. Sometimes when you’ve been working on something all year, you forget just what a massive thing it is for our Swingers, so it was a timely reminder of why we work so hard to make the final the most unique memorable experience possible.

So back in the office today to plan further for our final and of course confirm our two captains.

For Team Europe we have chosen Matt Bergh. Matt is a relatively new Swinger who played in our final last year and was also made a Srixon Cleveland Golf Swingers Ambassador earlier this season. Matt made a huge impression on us at last year’s final. Not only is he clearly a great golfer which will automatically earn the respect of his team mates, he speaks very well and is a very cool and calm competitor. We wanted to go for two vibrant captains who we think will gel well together creating what we hope will be a great final and Matt certainly has all the makings of a great captain. What’s more he works in the golf industry so just gets everything we trying to create with Swingers.

For Team ROW, we chose Andrew Lyth. Andrew is attending his sixth final, and quite frankly his captaincy is long over due. Again, another great golfer who can hit the ball a mile, we know he will be a great leader. He’s become a great friend of ours over the years and he knows so many of the ROW team already. This is going to make them a very strong and dangerous unit in South Africa. Andrew is incredibly passionate and supportive of Swingers and he lives and breathes Team ROW.

We wish them both the very best of luck in helping us try to achieve the best final ever. Look out for their very first blogs soon appearing on the Team Europe and Team ROW pages.

Enjoy your weekend

Season 13 Final Blog – Friday 26 August 2016 – 3 weeks to go!

Well there’s never been a countdown to a final quite like this one for the Swingers team! We have 3 weeks less prep time than normal plus sandwiched in between a rearranged Gold members day at the Grove on Wednesday and the Sandiway society day on 13th September. It’s going to be a mad run in, but one that we are relishing.

As it stands we still have our last month prize winners to confirm, as well as our Player of the Season and the all important Srixon and Cleveland ambassador of the season, but all that has to wait I am afraid as we look to confirm arrangements for our 23 (so far!) finalists who in just 3 weeks’ time will be jetting off to South Africa for what promises to be a final like no other.

Why South Africa? Last winter we looked at two options, and both would have provided a superb event, but the chance to do something completely different in a new continent for us was the decider, along with the fact that the climate was perfect for our one-off September final.

So after a much shorter season than normal, we finally closed S13 on Monday morning and set to work on rechecking all the scores of those in and around the qualifying positions as well as their flight activity. We have had to work fast fast this year as we cannot afford any delays. As is always the case, the leaderboards are never quite what they seem and therefore there are a few surprises on our lists of finalists. But what it has created is in our opinion two evenly matched teams and a very competitive looking ROW side so is this their year?!?

Don’t forget there is still one Team Europe finalist to be confirmed and that won’t happen until our final UK society day of the year at Sandiway GC. There we will crown our aggregate score qualifier with six names arguably in the running – Andrew Meredith, Ken Daly, Gary Hankinson, Roger Harpum, Mark Attwell and Sean Dolan. More on that another day.

Also for another day is the announcement of the all important captains. We know who they are, they don’t! But this week is about celebrating the 23 finalists, 8 of them are rookie finalists and only 7 are repeats from last year.

Our captains will present their teams properly in due course but for now here are the two teams to contest the S13 Final ROW v Europe at Sun City Resort, South Africa between 19-23 September 2016:

TEAM ROW (handicaps in brackets)

Matthew Carrett (14)
Duncan Castles (7)
Andrew Davies (18)
Steve du Preez (4)
Clinton Heap (13)
Peter Honigmann (4)
Andrew Lyth (3)
Brian O’Connor (15)
Tom Riddell (10)
Emir Uzunovic (10)
Derald Williams (12)
Bill Wilson (26)

TEAM EUROPE (handicap in brackets)

Chris Appleby (4)
Matthew Bergh (3)
Alan Clifford (19)
Margaret Clifford (23)
James Gear (20)
Andy Gilbert (19)
James Hewson (13)
Morag Hutcheon (9)
Hugh O’Connor (6)
Padraic O’Connor (22)
Jurgen Schwabe (15)

Enjoy your weekend




At the end of our Season the top 11 Rest of the World Swingers and the top 11 European Swingers will compete in a Rest of the World v Europe Team Final at Sun City Resort in South Africa between 19-23 September 2016.

Click here for details of the venue.

The final is for most finalists unlike anything else they will have experienced in amateur golf. Team captains, chosen from within each team, host team meetings each night where the all important pairings are announced for each day’s play and tactics are decided.

Hearing your name read out over the PA on the first tee ‘Representing Europe’ or ‘Representing Rest of the World’ sends a tingle down your spine. Every putt and every shot is not just for yourself but for your team and the Swingers they represent at home who didn’t make the final.

There’s nothing like the pressure and excitement of the Swingers final, as you get to play foursomes on day one, fourball matches on day two and Singles matches on day three to decide the winners of the Season 13 title.

By the end of it, our finalists have not only had a truly memorable experience, they will also have made new life long friendships.

Some quotes from previous Finalists:

“Outstanding, awesome, breath-taking, fun, fab golf, new friends, treated like a pro, amazing venue, fantastic comp, superb organization, simply fantastic... is only the tip of the iceberg “

”I compared the Swingers Final to the Ryder Cup - once you've played in one, you never want to miss it again.”

“Just unbelievable that this type of Golf trip exists, by far one of the best sporting experiences in my life. Any expectation you have from the onset is quickly superseded.. Absolutely tremendous - very fortunate indeed to have been invited and being part of the experience.”

“The Final has to be one of the world's outstanding amateur sporting events -- flying to a unique destination, playing golf on some of the world's best courses, competing against fellow lovers of the game, and being attended to by thorough and kind event organizers. It's a once-in-a-lifetime event that bears repeating!”

“How can I possibly put into words what it meant and felt like to be part of the Final, and do it justice. I have been fortunate to play in some outstanding golf events in the last few years ,but without a doubt this was my most memorable, enjoyable, well organised and run.”

“I think it is fair to say that I have never enjoyed 5 days so much in my life ... not just the golf but the camaraderie too.”

“We all now know what it feels like to be an A List Hollywood star, when everything is organised with perfection and all your needs are catered for.”

“It was an amazing adventure, packed with golf, camaraderie, good conversation, with a measure of excellent planning and warm hospitality. How lucky we are to have gotten to participate. Great to meet and re-meet some wonderful people.”

“As a first timer, it far exceeded expectations and it quickly grew into one large family trip I felt. I have made some lifelong friends. This opportunity to meet new people, from varied backgrounds and locations, and see different places would not have been possible without this experience.”

“To say I was excited to be attending the event would be an understatement, to experience it was mind-blowing, well run, tons of fun and I was blown away by the effort you and your team put in especially on a personal level. I have been lucky enough to attend plenty of golf events in my time, and I can safely say that the Swingers final I have just attended is the best I have ever experienced.” 

Please note:

1. Any Flying Club member can register for, and take part in Swingers and enjoy the thrill of entering scores, meeting and playing other Swingers and climbing the leaderboard. However, please be aware that in order to qualify for the Season 13 Final, each individual Flying Club Swinger must have completed a minimum amount of flight activity between the dates of 29 September 2015 and Monday 22 August 2016.

This flight activity can include Virgin Atlantic Reward Flights and Miles Plus Money flights, together with Codeshare flights (marketed by Virgin Atlantic, but operated by Delta Air Lines - using a VS flight prefix) between 29 September 2015 and Monday 22 August 2016 (Where Flying Club miles are the elected FFP earning currency).

The minimum amount of flight activity required depends on the number of consecutive final events you have attended. Please note one sector is classed as one long haul outward/outbound or inward/inbound flight as described above, or in simple terms a one way flight, whilst a return flight is classed as two sectors.

The requirements are as follows:

No consecutive finals (just S13) - 2 sectors
Two consecutive finals (S12 and S13) - 3 sectors
Three consecutive finals (S11, S12 and S13) - 4 sectors
Four consecutive finals or more (S10, S11, S12 and S13) - 5 sectors

This flight earning/spending activity must be credited to the individual Flying Club Swinger's account by the close of the season at 0900 BST on Monday 22 August 2016. Only Flying Club miles earned by that individual member (by flying, using partners or purchasing miles for themselves), may qualify as a legitimate 'earning' or 'spending' transaction. Members travelling on a Reward flight or Miles Plus Money flight must have spent their own miles, and not be travelling on a flight paid for with another person's miles. Please note that competition prize flights awarded for travel to/from a previous Swingers final do not qualify.

Unless otherwise stated, in order to be eligible for any other competitions or prizes within Flying Club Swingers, Swingers must have taken a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club or Partner earning or spending activity during a rolling 12 month period working back from the date that the prize is awarded. In other words, Flying Club miles must be credited to their account at the time the prize is awarded.

2. The 12 European Team Final places will be made up of 1 Flying Club Swinger qualifying direct from our UK Society days, a minimum 3 Swingers from Europe Club Division 1 and 8 Swingers from all other European leaderboards – the split between each league and handicap division is based on the number of active members in each league/division on Friday 29 July 2016. You can view the split here

3. The 12 ROW Team Final places will be made up of 1 Flying Club Swinger qualifying direct from our US day, a minimum 3 Swingers from US Club Division 1, a minimum 3 Swingers from ROW Club Division 1, and 5 Swingers from all other ROW/US leaderboards – the split between each league and handicap division is based on the number of active members in each league/division on Friday 29 July 2016. You can view the split here 

For further information see the FAQs or terms and conditions.

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Team Europe

Leading Club Swingers:

Division Pts
Broadbent, Steve 1 24
Gray, Rebecca 2 24
Joy, Brian 3 17

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Team Rest of the World

Leading Club Swingers:

Division Pts
Chequer, Gary 1 23
Marais, Henco 1 23
Heap, Clinton 2 32

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Leading US Club Swingers:

Division Pts
Lewis, Ray 1 52
O'Connor, Brian 2 56

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Fun Swingers

Leading Fun Swingers:

Division Pts
Johannen, Alan 1 25

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To qualify for the Season Sixteen Final, you must have taken the necessary qualifying flights.

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