Season Fifteen Final
Season 15 Final Blog – Tuesday 20 November 2018 – 6 days to go!
My desk today may resemble a picture of chaos but in my mind it’s organised chaos! The day has been spent getting all our documentation together for the trip, and printing everything that can be printed this side of the pond. I guess it’s the last full day of administration before the packing process begins tomorrow.
Next week this time, our finalists will be treading the fairways of one of the finest courses we’ve ever visited for the first round foursomes. And today we’ve been posting some of our images of Southern Highlands Golf Club to get everyone in the mood. It’s a true classic American private members course, similar in style to Manhattan Woods GC which we ran a couple of US days at, and we are very lucky to be able to access it for this year’s event.
Although there is another small event also taking place on the course next Tuesday, that’s only because the club very kindly agreed to open the course on the one day of the week it’s normally shut. So it’s effectively our own course for the day making the experience even more special.
There are some truly spectacular holes to be played at Southern Highlands and it should be in great condition this time of year. And in the background lies the Vegas Strip just to remind you that you’re based in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
I’ve printed out the pairing announcement sheets today, and it’s always an exciting moment when both captains hand these back each day and we match them up and read out the following days pairings. I’ve heard rumours of different partnerships for day one on each side – some I would expect, some which are very intriguing. And I am sure it will change between now and Monday night when it all becomes official!
Have a great rest of the day.
Season 15 Final Blog – Monday 19 November 2018 – 7 days to go!
So this is it! The week it all begins for our events team, and the last week of work for our finalists!
After what seems like the biggest build up in Swingers history, we are about to get down to the real business of a Swingers final. The weekend was spent resting up (if you can call being a dad’s taxi service resting!) ready for the next 14 days, and today it’s a case of making sure each of the team is happy with what’s happening over the coming days and dealing with any last-minute queries.
Both captains have shared their final thoughts which you can read on their Team EUROPE and Team ROW pages, and the next time we hear from them will be a week today when they stand up in the surroundings of Top Golf to deliver their welcome speeches and introduce their teams.
After reviewing all the past finals these last couple of weeks, the next few days we will be previewing our venues starting with a few tweets today on what The Cosmopolitan Hotel has to offer. The first time I walked into this hotel back in February, I knew it was special. It’s completely different to anything I’ve seen before. The rooms are truly stunning and I challenge any previous finalists to say they’ve stayed in a better room at a final! As you would expect from a top class Vegas hotel, you could spend all week in the hotel and not get bored – there is just so much going on, from the theatre to the nightclub to the many varied and unique restaurant experiences and of course a large casino floor. What makes it even more unique for me is the hidden bars which you just stumble on or get to know about from others. It’s an amazing venue, and one which Luke, myself and Sharon will be arriving at this Friday.
So just the three more days in the office after today. We might have to start thinking about dusting off the suitcases tomorrow!
Until then, enjoy your day
Season 15 Final Blog – Friday 16 November 2018 – 1 week to go!
OK so it’s technically not one week to go just yet, but for Luke and myself, next week this time we will be over the Atlantic and on our way to set up for the biggest event of the year.
Things are really hotting now as you can expect and this week we’ve been reconfirming all our meetings for next weekend and getting our house in order generally for what will undoubtedly be a very busy week once the sun rises on Monday morning.
Our shipment is now safely in Vegas ready to be transported to our event office in the Cosmopolitan Hotel which we hope to have fully operational by next Friday evening, if we manage to stay awake.
So with our minds fully focused on events to come, it was really nice to take a break from it all yesterday and head up to Woburn to watch the SkyPro Swingers Match Play Final. It was such a lovely relaxed affair and it was nice to share a few laughs with Colin, Alan, Roger and Paul as well as Morag, David and Bob who followed the fourball round. I loved catching up with Morag properly, something that’s really hard to do on the event days where we never stand still, and I was in awe at the twitter skills of Bob Scott as he managed to hold a conversation, keep fully up to date with the final score (which he tweeted) as well as count down his top 10 Swingers shirts whilst sat in the buggy! We need to get Bob on board to be our Social Media manager, we just need to negotiate the salary!
Talking to Morag and Bob about finals past gets us excited about what lies ahead next week and the following week. On Monday, we will be hearing from our two captains one final time as they make final preparations to fly out to Vegas. We will also be back with a daily countdown as we go into full final mode. We’re ready to strap ourselves in and enjoy the ride, hopefully you are too!
Have a great weekend Swingers
Season 15 Final Blog - Monday 12 November - 2 weeks to go!
It’s exciting to think this is our last full week in the office before we head out to Vegas to set up for this year’s final!
It really has been a strange build up this year, as we’ve had a much longer lead in time due to the final being at the end of the month rather than the beginning. In fact on this very day last year our finalists would have been on their way to Orlando and we would have been preparing for their arrival at Streamsong. The long build has meant it’s been a bit ‘stop start’ for us, but on the plus side we’ve been able to make some good strides in our preparations for Season 16 both in terms of venues and sponsorship.
With just two weeks to go though, the focus is quickly returning back to the final. Our shipment lands in the USA this week, with the aim that when we arrive on site next Friday, we waste no time in getting unpacked and set up. It’s going to be a much busier time in those immediate days prior to the final than normal mainly because we are dealing with so many different venues increasing our meetings and travel time substantially, but it will be worth it once our 24 finalists touch down 2 weeks today!
It was great to hear about the pre-final get together of Team Europe last week at Wallasey. I’m not sure that’s ever happened in the past, but will certainly help in the bonding process with so many new finalists involved this year.
This week we will be meeting up with some different finalists, as the SkyPro Swingers Match Play Final takes place at Woburn on Thursday. We look forward to seeing who wins this one, and will be tweeting some pics from the course on the day! In between we are looking back at finals 6 to 14 this week. We often get asked which our favourite finals are, and there’s been so many great ones it really is difficult. But I think I have a clear favourite three – Season 5 in California – a beautiful location and an incredible finish, Season 12 at Hilton Head, probably the most enjoyable final to organise so far, and Season 13 in Sun City – the amazing safari and a team spirit like no other.
Not long before we find out if S14 in Vegas breaks in to that top 3! We’ll be back on Friday and then daily from then until the end of the final.
Enjoy your week
Season 15 Final Blog - Monday 5 November - 3 weeks to go!
So after a week away we are now in the final weeks of preparation for this year’s final, and everything is coming together nicely.
Last week all remaining finalists received their flights to allow them to finalise their preparations. At the same time, the fabulous S15 Final bag tags were arriving through the letterboxes of our finalists whilst the all-important team shirts arrived at Swingers HQ!
Everything that needs to head out to Vegas in advance is now sitting on a pallet somewhere in the Surrey countryside ready for its flight to the US this week.
It’s nice to feel everything is on schedule as we approach this crucial period of the build-up, and I am sure it is the same for both captains. You can read their latest thoughts on their preparations on their team pages – Team Europe and Team ROW.
This week, in fact tomorrow, will see the start of our look back at finals gone by. This is always a special time for us as we trawl through an overwhelming number of memorable photographs. If ever we did take things for granted, and I can assure you we don’t, then looking at these images makes us realise how lucky we are to have been involved in so many great occasions – whether it’s amazing courses, fabulous locations or most importantly great company. We’ve made so many good friends through previous finals which helps make Swingers the special event it is. It really is one big Swingers family and we are sure that special bond will continue again this year out in Vegas.
Until then, we will feast on the memories, and continue working hard to make this year’s final as good or even better than the rest. Enjoy your week Swingers.
Season 15 Final Blog – Thursday 25 October 2018 – 4 weeks to go!
So for us, today marks the half way point of our countdown to this year’s final. It’s been another busy week in the office and we’ve managed to fit a lot in from site visits and proof reading itineraries to finalising all transfers and putting the finishing touches on our team shirts.
The flights have started to be issued with all US finalists and our one Bajan finalist now knowing their routes to Vegas, whilst flights for our UK and South African finalists will follow over the course of the next day or two.
The itineraries look fantastic both in term of content and look! As you can imagine proof reading these beasts is a pain-staking task but we are hopeful that the next version we receive will be hitting our finalists’ inboxes later today.
The programme of events, and I guess the organisation process behind it, is much more complex this time round. For most finals we stay at a resort with golf and virtually all restaurants on site, with perhaps just one excursion. For Vegas, everything we do is like a mini excursion from the transfers to the course, to the meals out in the evening and the entertainment planned. It really is exciting though, and it would be unfair for me to announce everything here before our actual finalists see it first! Let’s just say the week is jam packed with a whirlwind of excitement and fun events, so there will be a few tired but hopefully very happy Swingers on the fight home.
Our final shirts are just being embroidered as we speak and we hope to get these back by the end of the week, so we can place them on the pallet. The pallet which contains all our goody bag gifts and all our event kit, including branding will be delivered to Virgin’s warehouse next week from where it will head out on VS43 the following week and sit at the hotel ready for our arrival. Once that heads off, we really are close!
Whilst all this has been going on, we’ve finalised all our UK society days for S16! It’s too early to announce now, as contracts have not been signed, but announcements will be made post final with spaces for sale at the beginning of January.
We will be back with another blog on Monday 5 November, when we will also be hearing from our two captains on their preparations with their teams.
Until then Swingers
Season 15 Final Blog – Mon 22 October 2018 – 5 weeks to go!
The clock keeps ticking down to our departure day, and the anticipation amongst our finalists has been evident these past few days. Both captains have been busy talking to their teams and we are now just waiting for all final flights and the full final event information to come back to us this week, at which point our finalists will be able to complete their preparations.
In the last week, we have seen the arrival of our S15 final caps and, new this year, our team Dirty Dog sunglasses. Rather controversially this year, we’ve gone for a generic cap to cover all 24 finalists which is Virgin red. It was felt we wanted to have as much red on the course as possible, and unfortunately whilst we weren’t able to get hold of red shirts, we were able to get hold of the caps!
A really nice addition this year are team sunglasses from Dirty Dog. They have been a fantastic supporter of Swingers these last few years, and the sunglasses for finalists is a nice addition which they suggested themselves. Team ROW have glasses with green lens whilst Team EUROPE has glasses with blue lens. Each have their team names inscribed on the lens, so it’s a nice momento of what should be a special week.
We also await delivery of our shirts this week. This year Team ROW will be wearing white, whilst Team EUROPE will be wearing their lucky grey shirts from Streamsong!
Whilst all our preparations continue, we are also working hard on Season 16, as meetings are planned with sponsors and site visits to potential venues are organised. In fact, we are off to visit a venue we’ve never used before this very afternoon!
Enjoy your week Swingers, we will be back on Friday with one final blog to end the first half of our build up to this year’s final before we take a week’s break whilst some of us recharge our batteries for the big final push to Vegas!
Season 15 Final Blog - Mon 15 October 2018 - 6 weeks to go!
As always, the run up to the final seems to race by, and it hard to believe that in five weeks time Luke and I will be making our way over to set up.
The last week has been full of all the necessary admin work needed to get the final in place with long hours sat at the desk drinking endless cups of tea. We’ve also had time to crack on with some Season 16 plans as we start to piece together potential schedules and potential sponsors for the Spring.
The Keith Pedlar trophy made a welcome return to our office today, now with 2017 EUROPE engraved on it. Our finalists caps have also arrived and slightly controversially we’ve gone red for both teams with just the inscription on the side different. We just felt we wanted a dash of Virgin red across the course this year!
We are expecting flight confirmations and itineraries to now be dispatched next week, so at that point our finalists will really know what’s going to hit them!
As our preparations continue, our preparations of our two captains have started in earnest. I know they have contacted all their team, and I also know they’ve been speaking together to talk about the type of experience they hope to create. They’ve also previewed their teams so you can hopefully get to know them each a little better.
To read James’ Europe preview click here.
To read Simon’s ROW preview click here.
The stats we pulled up last week were really interesting. Team ROW bring 5 rookies to Las Vegas, whilst Europe bring a staggering 6. Of those 24 finalists playing this year, ROW finalists have played a total 52 final matches compared to Europe’s 27, so there is definitely a lot more experience on the home team side. However, as you would expect, based on final results over the years, those ROW finalists have a win percentage of 33% compared to 59% for Europe.
The most impressive records belong to Brian O’Connor on the ROW side with a win percentage of 53% which is pretty good as he’s played a lot of matches against very strong European opponents. Andrew Gray, Rebecca Gray and Luke Eustace all have impressive 100% records from Europe from one final, although hats off to Rebecca – the only Swinger to ever play 4 matches in a final, and of course Rebecca still managed to retain that 100% record!
On paper it looks like a very even contest this year, and as always those pairings will be so important. I’m sure the debate has already begun and will continue until pairings are announced on the first night in Vegas!
Have a great week Swingers. We will be back for another blog next week.
Season 15 Final Blog - Tues 9 October 2018 - 7 weeks to go!
Like our finalists, who hopefully were celebrating over the weekend, we are counting down the weeks to Vegas. Ok, it might be for slightly different reasons as we check everything is still on schedule for the event, but we are still excited for what is the pinnacle of our season as well.
On Friday we took a big step towards the final when I finally completed our huge event plan and to do list which just helps us map out exactly what needs to be done by when, and we always feel more comfortable once that’s out the way. This week it’s all about creating all the documentation, as we await all the flight information to pass onto our finalists together will all the final itineraries which are currently being produced by the Flying Club team.
Once that’s done our aim is to shift focus slightly and start some serious planning for Season 16, as we certainly want to book all our days prior to the Vegas trip so we can announce our plans soon after we get back. This year’s final is the latest it’s ever been so hopefully it will allow us the opportunity to plan ahead for next year early.
For now, however, we turn our thoughts to our chosen captains. As its Vegas, we’ve gone for two captains that know each other well, respect what Swingers is all about but importantly want to make the emphasis on the whole group having fun together. It is Vegas after all! Although there will be plenty of friendly banter I’m sure, I’ve got a feeling this will be a very relaxed final with both teams gelling together on what will be a memorable trip.
First up is our host captain Simon Hudson. Simon is playing in his third final having represented ROW at Hilton Head in S12 and at Streamsong in S14, and rather appropriately is named captain in his final season as a ROW Swinger. Simon is moving to the UK next year, and Team ROW will definitely miss him. He’s a natural leader and has a natural ability to bring people together. Simon effectively hosted our recent South African society day at his home club and even arranged a Braai for everyone at his home the night prior! He was gutted to miss out on the final on his own door step in S13 but still walked the fairways with Team ROW to cheer them on. He’s a generous guy with a great sense of humour and we look forward to working with him over the coming weeks and in Vegas itself.
Locking horns with Simon and attempting to win Team Europe two finals on the trot is James Hewson. James played in the S11 Final in Barbados, the S12 Final in Hilton Head with Simon and the S13 Final in Sun City. He’s therefore an experienced head when it comes to finals and although he loves his golf, James likes to have fun along the way. He will be ensuring his team embrace the experience of playing golf in Vegas with a smile and a few laughs along the way.
Together Simon and James are a couple of guys we’ve got to know well over the years, both at finals and society days and we’re pretty sure they will help create a very special atmosphere for everyone.
You can read Simon’s initial thoughts here and James’ here.
Have a great week Swingers. We hope to be back with another blog next week when the captains will preview their teams.
Season 15 Final Blog – Weds 3 Oct 2018 – 8 weeks to go!
We’ve been on a rollercoaster of a ride at Swingers these past few weeks as we headed down to South Africa to run our first ever Swingers society day there, before rushing back to the UK for our final S15 day of the season at Enville. Just a few days later our season officially closed and we started the long and never easy task of rechecking scores in and around qualifying positions and then obviously flights to see who had indeed taken the required amount to qualify.
What’s been amazing this year is not only the number of new faces fighting it out at the top of the leaderboards, but also the amount of those near the top who had taken the necessary flights. This is obviously fantastic news for the Swingers programme and its future, and is indicative of the season as a whole. Our society days have seen more new attendees than ever before, we’ve had more scores submitted than ever before, and Flying Club members are signing up to Swingers at a faster rate than ever before.
So it’s fitting that we end such an exciting season with undoubtedly our most exciting final to date, and one which many Swingers have long called for. The S15 final will be unlike anything else we’ve ever done – an awe inspiring and vibrant hotel, two of the very best private members courses you could find anywhere in the world, a mouth watering selection of restaurants and entertainment and all set in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
The emphasis on this year’s final is undoubtedly fun – yes there’s a competition to be played and a trophy to be won, but we envisage the lasting memory to be 24 golfers enjoying each other’s company and embracing the true spirit of Swingers.
Sadly only 24 finalists can join us out there. And of those 24, 11 are experiencing their first ever final. The captains will be announced on Monday (8th October). We know who they are, but we want to give them their own moment of glory once the excitement of the team announcements has passed.
Following that, in due course, our captains will present their teams properly but for now here are the two teams to contest the S15 Final ROW v Europe in Las Vegas between 26-30 November 2018:
TEAM ROW (handicaps as of 1.9.18 in brackets)
Chris Cattran (11)
Clinton Heap (13)
Janus Horn (7)
Simon Hudson (10)
Steve Jones (3)
Brian O’Connor (15)
Fred Reever (18)
Emir Uzunovic (11)
Regardt Van Rensburg (5)
Brandin Walter (13)
Andre Wainwright (10)
Bill Wilson (23)
TEAM EUROPE (handicaps as of 1.9.18 in brackets)
Roy Backhouse (9)
Steve Campbell (8)
Alan Clifford (18)
Lee Corns (7)
Jon Crickmore (18)
Luke Eustace (11)
Andrew Gray (12)
Rebecca Gray (15)
James Hewson (11)
Mark Kelly (5)
Philip Kilgour (2)
Luke Stevens (3)
Enjoy the rest of your week and be sure to check back Monday for the captain announcements!
Season 15 Final – 26-30 November 2018
At the end of our Season the top 10 Rest of the World Swingers and the top 11 European Swingers will compete in a Rest of the World v Europe Team Final in Las Vegas between 26-30 November 2018.
The final takes place across two fantastic venues Southern Highlands GC and SouthShore GC, with accommodation provided at The Cosmopolitan Hotel.
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 15 title and the Pedlar Trophy.
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.”
“A wonderful few days of friendships, competition and laughter ...memories that I’ll cherish for a very, very long time.”
“Virgin has made an investment in promoting golf, friendly golf competition and camaraderie. I think that the Ryder Cup participants could learn a few things from the spirit of the Swingers finals. Of course, they’ve got it hands down on skill. But on behaviour, comportment, camaraderie and a true commitment to fairness and friendly competition, Swingers show their excellence and model exemplary sportsmanship.”
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 15 Final, each individual Flying Club Swinger must have completed a minimum amount of flight activity between the dates of Tuesday 26 September 2017 and Monday 24 September 2018.
This flight activity can include Virgin Atlantic Reward flights and Miles Plus Money flights, together with Transatlantic Codeshare flights (marketed by Virgin Atlantic, but operated by Delta Air Lines - using a VS flight prefix) between 26 September 2017 and 24 September 2018 (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 will have attended (including the S15 Final). Please note one sector is classed as one long-haul outbound or 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 S15) - 2 long-haul sectors
Two consecutive finals (S14 and S15) - 3 long-haul sectors
Three consecutive finals (S13, S14 and S15) - 4 long-haul sectors
Four consecutive finals (S12, S13, S14 and S15) - 5 long-haul sectors
Five consecutive finals or more (S11, S12, S13, S14, and S15) - 6 long-haul 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 24 September 2018. 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.
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 will be based on the number of active members in each league/division on Friday 24 August 2018. Click here for final split.
3. The 12 ROW Team Final places will be made up of 1 Flying Club Swinger qualifying direct from our US day, 1 Swinger qualifying direct from our South African day, a minimum 3 Swingers from US Club Division 1, a minimum 3 Swingers from ROW Club Division 1, and 4 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 24 August 2018. Click here for final split.
For further information see the FAQs or terms and conditions