It is clear that at this present moment the topical subject of the bush fires in Australia are raw in our minds as we cannot conceive the sheer size of the problems. Loss of human life, properties, livelihoods, loss of species, complete devastation of vegetation and the incomprehensible impact on health for the next decade on all forms of life as the smoke lingers and pollutes the air. Acts of heroism in attempts to save animals are publicised and fundraising is ongoing to rehouse orphaned animals, rebuild communities and in simple words try and support those impacted by the devastation. I don’t think we sometimes appreciate the scale or size of the affected areas either and that some of the fires have been described as ‘undefeatable’ given their ferocity and speed at which they move.

Described as ‘Cultural Suicide’ and ‘Climate change on steroids’, there is no denying the changes occurring on our planet.

One of our own firefighters had some experience of the impact on the Australian fire service as the Firesport UK Golf section were invited to send a team of 6 to New Zealand to play in the Australasian National Golf Championship, bringing together the 8 states of Australia and New Zealand

With the great Bob Charles

Recently retired, Mike Burnside from Stone in Staffordshire learnt of the exhaustion and difficulties faced off his colleagues down under who were able to have some respite from the fires to play in the Pre-organised event in Queenstown, South Island.

Those individuals were then to return to their job of fighting the fires the following week.

Mike said the reason for the invite was that PBI Performance Products who are based in Derby sponsor the main UK fire golf championship the Sheriffs Cup and also sponsor the Australasian Golf event. It was an idea of the sponsor who thought forging links between the two groups of firefighters would be something special. The company supplies fire retardant fabrics and materials vital to firefighters all over the world which protect them in extreme conditions. At the event, Mike won a golfing bag made from the same materials as was worn by the firefighters of 9/11 that are used in their protective clothing today all over the world. (Pictured below)

Mike explained, “Firesport UK Golf Section is a national society for operational and retired firefighters who play golf all over the UK whether it be in their local brigade events, regional events or National championships. In the Midlands region they arrange 10 events, one in every county where up to 35-40 players attend from March to October.

“Nationally they have an individual , a pairs , a retired firefighters , a Charity event , a 4 Nations team event(Eng/Sco/Ire/Wal)  and as mentioned above the Sheriffs Cup which is celebrating its 60th year and sees them take on the stunning Queens course at Gleneagles in May where each county brigade sends a 4 player team to compete.

Being invited and involved in the trip to Queenstown New Zealand was a huge honour and I feel very lucky to have met so many fantastic people who made us all feel very welcome on and off the golf course. It was a superbly organised event and in an area where there is plenty of other things to see and do besides the golf. Can definitely recommend Queenstown GC, Jacks Point GC, Arrowtown GC and in Christchurch Shirley GC and Clearwater GC.

Highlight of the trip and there were indeed many was to play with Open champion and the first left hander to win the Claret Jug Sir Bob Charles who at 83 years of age still pulls his trolley around, plays off a 3 handicap and shot a 2 under gross 70 at Shirley GC  Wow !! What an absolute gentleman he was and between shots filled us with stories of his playing days with Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Gary Player!!!

Not sure at present what to do with the golf bag as only 4 were manufactured by Sun Mountain in the USA, so for the time being I feel the bag should not be used and perhaps in the future put in a place where people can appreciate its individuality.”

If anyone is interested in supporting or sponsoring any Midlands or national fire service event, please contact me at or click onto our website for more information

From all of us at Midlands’s golfer magazine, we salute the firefighters and thank Mike for the opportunity to have heard his story.