Written for MG by Potteries International Golf Society (PIGS) organiser – Phil Stonier

Our 19th Annual Tour took us to the outskirts of the Northumberland National Park where we enjoyed three days golf at the fabulous Slaley Hall Golf Resort in Hexham, simply a beautiful part of the country. The two magnificent courses were presented to us in superb condition and were an absolute joy to play. If you want a golf break, then you certainly would not be disappointed with Slaley Hall.

All 24 players arrived on Sunday 7th September, full of anticipation of winning our flagship event of the year – “The Tour Championship”. Well, that was until we reached the bar and immersed ourselves into the best aspect of Society Golf – the camaraderie, the banter, the mick taking and time to reunite old friendships from those that we only see on our Tour or on the odd society day.

The Hotel looked after us very well and chose to turn a blind eye to the many bottles that appeared on the dinner tables disguised as “prizes”. We had so many prizes to present – Nearest Pin, Longest Drive, shortest tee shot, most balls in the pond etc etc, they just kept coming. The staff were excellent and looked after us very well. The accommodation and all the spa and leisure facilities were also first class and would recommend this resort to any society. We had a 20% Bar discount which helped to quell some of our tight members from organising their own Brexit from the Hotel.

The two courses are Championship Standard and tough, but we rose to the challenge and believe it or not came in with some good scores. The Tour Championship was eventually won by Kevin Sromek who came in with 39 points on the first day which gave him an unassailable lead for the three days and eventually finishing the Tour with an overall Stableford Score of 91 points. The lad played well. In second place came Mark Steele 90 points and third Phil Smith 89 points.

Our Dinner Night was themed to the hit TV Series Peaky Blinders and we all dressed for the occasion. The evening also included tales from the players misdemeanours whilst on Tour and duly punished by our Fine Master. Such fun. The money raised has been used to purchase our own portable defibrillator, located in our lead buggy, for use by anyone on the courses where we play. (Hopefully, we will never use it!)

So, where to next? We are off to The Vale Resort, Glamorgan for 2020. Without wishing our lives away, it cannot come sooner enough. Bring it on.

Our final game of the year was hosted by Leek Birchall Golf Club on the 18th October, a real favourite with our Society Members. Despite all the rain over recent weeks the course was in excellent condition. The course just oozes quality and the views of the surrounding rolling hills are just a delight. You really do have to step out of your round of golf sometimes and take time to “smell the roses” and take in some of the spectacular scenery that is on offer.  I believe that the view from the 14th tee just cannot be matched by any golf club for miles.

On the day it was Kevin Abell who came out on top, playing probably his best round of golf all year. Coming into form at the wrong time of year but returned to the clubhouse with a very stylish 37 points, it was enough to take home our Winter Warmer Trophy. In second place came Daz Matthews with 36 points and third John Smith with 35 points. It was also the day when our Order of Merit Winner was crowned, and that honour went to our Tour Champion Kevin Sromek who rounded off his season in fine style claiming not only the Stableford Order of Merit but the Strokeplay Order of Merit Title as well. What a great year he has enjoyed playing some excellent golf off his 12 handicap.

I think our handicap secretary will be taking a closer look at him during the winter months ahead.  Finally, our Hot Shot Competition for winning the most Nearest the Pins and Longest Drives was won by Phil Smith.

The year has been so enjoyable again and it is hard to believe, probably like most Society Secretary’s, that the year has come and gone. We shall be entering our 20th year in 2020 and we shall be making it very special. Our members have already asked to return to Alsager, Leek Birchall, Onneley and Astbury, all who have looked after us so well this year. Without wishing my life away, I can not wait for next April so we can do it all over again.