|Golf News reports from the Trilby Tour Kent & South East Championship at the London Golf Club|
As seen in
BY MATT NICHOLSON
Hunt's Trilby Tour has gone down a storm since its inaugural event at Stoke Park in 2008, and has now firmly established itself as a fixture on the golfing calendar. This year's Tour has eight regional qualifying events (including one in Scotland and one in Ireland). What's even more impressive is that a place in each event costs £250 – rather more than you'd pay for a green fee and a bacon roll. But then the Trilby Tour is rather more than your average corporate golf day.
Image © Gary Bray / UNiCOM
Initially aimed at the country's leading up-and-coming professionals, this year's event has been expanded to focus more on amateurs (maximum handicap 18), giving us club golfers a chance to sample what it really feels like to play in the pressurised atmosphere of a fully-fledged tournament.
The unique format only adds to the pressure, with the top four scores at each event going through to a threehole play-off in a winner-takes-all
Each regional winner and the 11 best runnersup are then invited to play at the Amateur International Final held on August 11 at The Buckinghamshire. Each regional champion and the top three finalists from the Amateur Final then go through to play in the Professional
The high-pressure finish means that one professional golfer walks away with the entire prize fund, which consists of £10,000 in cash, a 12-month William Hunt clothing contract, and a 12-month Callaway staff contract. The prize for the amateur winner is no less impressive, with a lesson with David Leadbetter, a trip to the Callaway's R&D centre to be fitted with a bespoke set of Callaway clubs, and a round of golf with a current
In addition, every golfer entering the tournament receives a full William Hunt outfit of trousers, shirt, limited edition belt and trilby hat (to be worn on the day, of course), as well as an exclusive Callaway tour bag and a sleeve of balls.
Image © Gary Bray / UNiCOM
Now you see why the £250 entry fee might seem like good value?
I took part in the sell-out qualifier held at the London Club and already felt my money had been well spent after slipping on my brand new William Hunt polo shirt, trousers, belt and the trademark Trilby.
With my faithful caddy, David, decked out in a white Masters-style boiler suit and a red-jacketed starter announcing our names on the first tee, I felt for one brief moment that I had stumbled into a Challenge Tour event, or even one of the European Tour events.
With a group of 30-odd players standing around the tee, my opening drive was a nervous one, but I was glad to get it away without my hat falling off my head. With so much at stake, the competition is friendly yet intense, and with officials, scorers, TV crews, photographers and scoreboards at every turn, the pressure cooker atmosphere soon begins to boil up.
One of my partners had travelled up from Gloucestershire to take part, while the other had the advantage of being a London Club member.
Next year, there are plans to extend the qualifiers from eight to around 12, ensuring players don't have to travel so far to take part in this most
Because each qualifier is being televised on Sky Sports later this summer, I'm not allowed to reveal the winner, but I won't be giving too much away when I say that I narrowly missed out on making it through to the Buckinghamshire final, although I'll definitely be there