James Hewson (Captain)
Welcome to the Team Europe Page.
As we count down to the S15 final, this is the place to hear all the news from your chosen captain, together with profiles of their team as Europe begin their defence of the Pedlar Trophy.
Captains' Blog - 7 December 2018
Season 15 Friends..
Firstly, I hope you all arrived home safe and sound. I know some of you had quite a journey back..
I had such an amazing week in Vegas. I remember writing on this blog the week prior to going, that I had not met most of my own team, and was looking forward to that.. well any expectation I had was super-seeded by the magnificent bunch of people we got on the finals this year, both in the European AND the ROW teams. I appreciate we have said it a few times now, the people and the effort they make is what makes a truly memorable trip or not, and this was one to remember. Personally it was great to catch up with old time buddies, but also to make new acquaintances from all of the world. So from me, to all the players, Virgin staff and especially Paul & Luke @Milestone, Thank you!!
I also believe that the location is another massive factor in how great a finals can be, Las Vegas did not disappoint. The golf courses were awesome, the food and drink great and all that came with, the shows, casino’s etc - Just amazing. To hit Vegas for a week's golfing is up there on anyones bucket list.
Simon was a great mate and sparring partner throughout this whole experience, and I thank him for that. Also I congratulate him and his team for a great weeks golf. Our plan as captains this year was to get some great matches lined up, and get as many down the 18th as possible and we were extremely happy to have done that. Each day, with each game, I was so immersed in getting everyone fired up for their respective games, I didn’t think too much about the overall final result. Really it was only when I was stood on the 18th hole on the 3rd day, with a cigar and beer that I started to think about the final result - at which point I have to admit I did have a few choice words with Roy Backhouse to ensure he got that last point!! So to have the privilege of leading the team over 3 amazing days of golf, where the team was loving the banter and the competition, to ultimately win the Keith Pedlar trophy was brilliant. I know he would have been having a cigar with me there if he could.
Our MVP in the European team went to Luke Stevens. He is some golfer - shot 68 on the first day, but a such a great character to welcome on board for his first finals. There’s also a special mention for Luke “turtleneck” Eustace who pulled in 3pts from 3, and the best thing about Luke Eustace.. was his introduction of Mark “Bruce” Kelly to the Virgin Golf Swingers society… In all seriousness, to a player, all the European team stood up and enjoyed competing with some great golfers in the ROW team.
I will sign off by saying that it was great fun to lead the team this year, I really did have a great craic along the way - and to congratulate and thank you all again, both folks on the trip and also folks that are part of the Virgin Golf Swingers Society, for a great season - and I look forward to seeing you all in person on a golf course soon.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2019!!!
Captain's Blog - 19 November 2018
Hope you are all as excited as I am about Monday coming.. I can’t wait to get into the Virgin lounge and meet all the European team and many of the ROW. I know from speaking to Paul and Luke, as well as Simon Hudson and of course our European team... everyone going knows how lucky they are to be involved with this event.
Our European team was fortunate to be able to get together at Wallasey GC last week, where they had a great craic, enjoyed the golf and the banter over dinner afterwards.
Looking back at all the photos that have been popping up on Twitter this last couple of weeks has been good too.. a little bit of nostalgia with seeing so many amazing people that unfortunately are not going to be on the trip.. which leads me to reaffirming the awesome opportunity for the folks that are going to be in Vegas, to enjoy making new friends from all over the world!
I was lucky enough to get out golfing this last weekend, playing a matchplay game which I won 2&1 - so heading into the finals feeling good. Now we are just over a week away I can sense that the stakes are going to be upped a level or two.. it’s going to be fun.
For me, Vegas is the perfect place for this final... where you find yourself in a very surreal environment of a proper party town.. so let’s get this party started... and remember... you can sleep when you’re dead!
See you Monday!
Best wishes, James.
Captain's Blog - 5 November 2018
The excitement about the trip is building by the day. We now have our itineraries, our flights details and our luggage labels! Our European team have been on our group chat this last few weeks, with some good banter and sharing their excitement.. One thing that is clear, is that the team all feel that the itinerary looks awesome. Aside from the golf, the dinners and shows look amazing and we are all very appreciative of the efforts that have gone into this already.
Our European team have been kindly invited to a day's golf at Wallasey through Roy Backhouse, so Tuesday coming we will be holding the first of our practice rounds. I will have eyes and ears across the course - looking at form and personalities to get the pairings just right come Vegas. Hopefully we will get a few pictures from the day to be share on Twitter etc.
Having been on a couple of trips before you might think that the pre trip excitement might be somewhat less than before - but I can honestly saying that in knowing what to expect, and what's to come, then my anticipation is through the roof. I really can’t wait for it to come round - meet the team properly at Heathrow and get the golf started. These trips are really a privilege to be involved with; and I know with such a great competition lying ahead of our team in the ROW, then we are going to have a belting competition but also a great craic with both our own team mates and our ROW counterparts.
I have spoken to Paul and Luke, also to Simon Hudson and we are all dead set on everyone having a great time both on and off the course.
Wishing you all the very best.
Captain's Blog - 15 October 2018
This week, our captain previews his team, but firstly a bit more about James himself:
James Hewson (Capt) Handicap 11
James was always destined to be captain, and this year seems the perfect time for the fun loving, easy going Swinger as we head to the city where it’s all about fun! James is only our second ever captain from the Fun leaderboard, although James has also spent several seasons as a Club Swinger. Playing in his fourth final, we first met James out in Barbados where he won the spot in the S11 final from a Flying Club Gold day, and he’s been a regular and loyal Swinger ever since. He’s going to be superb at keeping the team in high spirits and making sure they enjoy the whole experience. James also knows what it takes to win the Pedlar Trophy having won two of his three previous finals.
Over to you James to preview your team!
Roy Backhouse Handicap 9
The first of our rookies is Roy Backhouse who has qualified for the final in his first year as a Swinger. Roy plays his golf at the fabulous Wallasey GC where we had a society day in S14. Now off a single figure handicap, Roy qualified in fourth spot in Division 2, and we’re sure he’s going to be a very valuable addition to the squad.
Steve Campbell Handicap 8
Our second rookie is another gentleman who came down to a single figure handicap during the season finishing top of Division 2. Steve Campbell plays his golf at this year’s society day venue, Southport & Ainsdale, and although he’s been a Swinger since Season 5, this is the first time he will grace a final. Again, another player in good form which is essential if we are going to retain the trophy.
Alan Clifford Handicap 18
A true gentleman, and along with his wife Margaret, the most loyal Swingers couple. Alan Clifford is playing at his third final having competed at both Gleneagles and in Sun City. Never underestimate Alan, and don’t be fooled by his relaxed manner. He will be a very useful member of our team having finished second just behind myself in the fun league. Alan is a member of golf clubs in Barbados and South Africa as well as Clandon GC in Surrey.
Lee Corns Handicap 7
Our third rookie is Lee Corns who is also our third finalist to come down to a single figure handicap during the course of the season! Lee, who finished 5th in Division 2, has actually been a Swinger for 10 years and plays his golf at Burnley GC. Lee is a good friend of regular finalist Mark Attwell, and if he’s anything like the competitor Mark is, Lee is going to be a great finalist.
Jon Crickmore Handicap 18
Jon Crickmore plays his golf at Southport Golf Links and has been away from the game for several years due a number of injuries. He’s been a Swinger for 11 years, and played in our first ever team final back in 2008 when Europe defeated what was then the USA in a play off! Great memories I’m sure which Jon will be keen to add to. Knowing he’s a former county foursomes champion, I can’t wait to call on that experience out in Vegas. Jon finished second in Division 3.
Luke Eustace Handicap 11
Luke Eustace returns for his second final, and by all accounts last year he was an awesome competitor in Florida with a 100% win ratio. Luke plays his golf at Ferry Bridge GC and finished third in Division 2. He hits a ball a mile and when his short game is on song, he’s impossible to beat. A key component of my team in Vegas.
Andrew Gray Handicap 12
Andrew Gray is one of the original Swingers having played in Season 1, and featured in two of the very early individual one day finals. He got his first taste of the team final last year, and boy did he seem to enjoy it! Another 100% record and part of the formidable Gray team, which also saw son Max right up there in the leaderboards this season. Andrew finished 2nd in Division 2, and plays his golf at Wychwood Park GC.
Rebecca Gray Handicap 15
Part two of Team Gray, Rebecca Gray is also on her fourth final and mirroring husband Andrew also has a 100% record. Technically it’s even better as Rebecca was last year’s real hero standing in for Claire Boucher on singles day, when Claire was ill, thus being the only Swinger ever to win 4 matches at a final! Rebecca plays her golf at Haydock Park GC and finished top of Division 3. Every final team needs a Team Gray to get them over the line!
Mark Kelly Handicap 5
Our fourth rookie is Mark Kelly from Selby GC. Mark has been a Swinger for just two years, but has had a great season finishing 4th in Division 1. Mark is a serious golfer and is sure to be a great competitor out in Vegas. I look forward to him being a crucial part of my team this November.
Philip Kilgour Handicap 2
Our fifth rookie is Philip Kilgour from St Annes Old Links GC, where he is one of many Swingers who compete in the league. Philip finished top of the pile in Division 1. A serious golfer who has also caddied for the likes of Bryson DeChambeau in the Walker Cup, I am sure I will be able to call on his valuable experience of match play golf at the highest level – I cannot wait!
Luke Stevens Handicap 3
Our sixth and final rookie is Luke Stevens from West Cornwall GC who qualified in fifth position in Division 1. Luke has been a Swinger for 2 years and is the first finalist from Cornwall since Brian Joy graced Miami back in Season 9. I’m excited to meet Luke and being another single digit golfer, I know he will have lots to offer my team.
AVERAGE HANDICAP 10
Captain's Blog - 9 October 2018
Hope you are all keeping well.
Firstly, congratulations to all those that made the finals this year, both on the European and the ROW teams. When you think that the season started last December and how many Swingers there are around the world, all with an eye on making the finals, it really is a great achievement to make the teams. I am really looking forward to meeting all the European team, some for this first time.
As I looked through all the leagues this past season, seeing so many familiar names throughout - it made me realise how fortunate I have been to make so many great friends over the last few years by being part of Virgin Swingers and all the golf that goes with. Last month I was at Enville GC on a UK society day, chatting to many past finalists and I have to give a big shout out to all Swingers for making this what it is - the best amateur golf society in the world. I believe that the 12 fortunate finalists on both teams have a real responsibility to represent all our fellow golfers in Swingers by having the best time ever.
I am very proud indeed to be named as Captain for the upcoming Las Vegas Finals. This will be my fourth finals trip, and having seen first hand so many great people lead both the European and the ROW teams in the past makes it special for me to be given this opportunity.
Before I go any further, I would like to thank Paul and Luke for all of the work they have put into this past season (and many seasons before); the league, society days and finals are only what they are, because of Paul and Lukes relentless hard work and enthusiasm day in, day out. Also a massive thank you to Virgin for the platform and support for the league and all that goes with it - I know speaking on behalf of all the Swingers out there, we all appreciate it very much.
I would also like to mention Keith Eustace-Pedlar whom the trophy for which we will play for is now appropriately named after. I first met Keith on a Gold day at Bearwood Lakes, buddied up with him on a golf cart for the day. His welcoming personality, his infectious laughter, his enthusiasm to learn more about people and his great sense of humour were always present whenever I was fortunate to spend time with him. For me, as captain - I will be looking to uphold all of Keith's great virtues and I hope all the finalists do too. The finals are about everyone having a great time, creating memories and making lasting friendships.
Both teams look very strong; having known and being friends with Simon for a few years - I know he will get the ROW team up for a great battle on the course. I wish him and his team all the best.
I look forward to meeting everyone soon.
All the best,