So, I guess you want to know from a Challenge Tour player’s point of view if the Mixed Open in Jordan worked?
As well as playing, I was following closely on social media and from what I read it seemed that people away from the tournament had quite a split decision on the format.
So what did I think?
I can certainly see it happening again; it was an interesting format and I think everyone who played had an open mind to the set up. It was never going to be 100% fair and each category of player was going to have an advantage at some point.
So having said that, I can’t see it happening much more than once a year, and maybe it will be seen as more of an ‘exhibition’ than a big tournament.
But I’m pretty sure the players who didn’t like or agree with the format didn’t travel to play the event – and that was their loss – it was quite fun, extremely interesting and for a CT player this season, one of the biggest prize funds too.
There were some interesting differences though: the results for ladies and seniors counted for their Orders of Merit whilst for Challenge Tour players they didn’t.
In theory all 40 seniors or ladies could miss the cut and still get points as if they had finished top 40 in the tournament. I believe after chatting with the powers that be that if the event is to happen again the CT will be pushing for a 72-hole tournament and also for it to count towards the OOM.
The biggest grumble I had heard pre-tournament was that the seniors didn’t like the fact they had to make a cut. Seniors normally play 54 hole, no cut events – bar the majors – so they were under a bit of pressure to perform to make some money this week, but they still got valuable OOM points which to some of them are priceless.
I’m sure the biggest talking point through the week was the tee box positions. Again, an extremely difficult aspect for the tournament organisers to get right, as if it favoured a certain category too much it would make a mockery of the event and upset too many people – then it would never happen again!!
Check out this image to give you an idea of the distances:
I believe the idea, for example on a par 4, was that once all three players had teed off they wouldn’t necessarily be in the same place on the fairway but they would be hitting a similar second club into the green.
The organisers then had to take into account that the ladies don’t hit the ball as high as the men or spin the ball as much, so pin positions were another extremely important factor – something of a sore point for the CT players as 90% of pin placements were towards the back of the green where spin was not needed, and made the course too accessible, especially as there was ZERO rough!!
For me, only two tee boxes really felt a disadvantage to the CT players, the 8th played long for us as we were going in with 6 irons when the ladies and seniors only had approximately 100 yards for their second shot, and the fairway bunker off the tee wasn’t remotely in play.
Also the third, when it went down wind, both the seniors and ladies could pretty much drive the green and we didn’t have that chance from our tee box as we were 100 yards further back.
But I heard the stats showed that we played the par 5’s a shot better per round as a group of players, so we must have gained a slight advantage there. Guess it’s swings and roundabouts.
Overall, taking everything into account, I feel the event worked very well, the only thing which possibly would have made a mockery of the format would have been Ernie Els playing in the seniors or someone who fits that description who still sends it well over 300 yards off the tee.
Or if Anne Van Dam had played in the ladies’ section, the length she hits the ball would have made it so hard for the organisers to make it remotely fair.
So I think this format will happen again, just when and where are extremely important. Maybe it’s nowhere near as easy as we think to make it happen, but good luck to everyone involved!!
To start with, getting there for everyone was a horrible experience, and getting home was even worse!!!
Apparently, if the tournament had been a week earlier, there was a direct EasyJet flight in and out on the perfect times but this week the options were shocking.
I took three flights to get there and 22 hours of travel, and it was the first time I’d ever done back to back RyanAir flights after flying via Lithuania.
It was a long day of travel but with only a two hour time difference it wasn’t too bad; I was in bed by 1am and up for breakfast/practice before 9 the following morning.
The facility for the week was great, the course condition was amazing, great definition, greens didn’t look great but rolled well, the weather was perfect and they had very good practice facilities; it was set to be a good week prior to the season kicking off later in the month.
It was only a three round event, still with a cut after two rounds, but a bit more of a sprint than a marathon, so a good start always helps!!
I was cruising along nicely on -2 for ten holes but let that slip through the back nine and in the end shot 73 (+1); it wasn’t great but felt I’d hit enough good shots in there to play well the following day and make the cut!
Round two… birdie birdie start and off we go!! Through ten holes I had played solid and got it to -4 with no drama at all.
Then two sloppy bogeys down the next two holes and all of a sudden I had to knuckle down again to make the cut! One more bogey on my 15th but I hung in and thankfully got the job done.
Round 3, I shot +2 and moved towards the bottom of the pack finishing 62nd, a similar sort of week to the tournament I played in South Africa back in February.
Plenty of good stuff but too many errors and a disappointing end to what could have been a solid event.
So the horrible journey home was as horrible as expected but it went extremely smoothly and I got back in good time with me and the luggage intact, which is always a bonus!!
So it was a couple of weeks back with the family before the hectic season begins. I managed to play a 1-day event at Worksop on the 1836 Tour and finished T3rd which was all right, I shot 68 (-4) played solid but you don’t get much back for that on the mini tours apart from a pat on the back.
But it was competitive golf and kept me playing!!
25th April – Challenge Tour – Turkey
2nd May – Challenge Tour – Spain
9th May – Challenge Tour – Czech Republic
So the Challenge Tour season is about to start. I’ve made some big changes this winter and I’m refreshed and ready for whatever lies ahead!!
As long as I take the rough with the smooth, keep working hard and enjoying the battle, then things will be great and I’m sure I will achieve what I have set out to achieve this year!
Thanks as ever for all of your support through the winter, and a huge thanks to the new partners that have come on board to support my #JourneyBack – DDPorter, Nike footwear, Northern Belle and Wilson Golf.
Let’s do this!!!!!!!