Five Lakes Golf & Country Club professional Gary Carter and club captain Nigel Popper proved there’s no substitute for experience when winning the 2018 SkyCaddie PGA Pro-Captain Challenge in Mallorca.
Despite a combined age of 110 years, the duo from the Essex club left a more youthful field in their wake to claim the prestigious trophy and the £5,000 first prize.
“I reckon we’re the oldest pairing here,” said a delighted Carter, after he and his partner completed two rounds of Son Muntaner course at Golf Arabella in five under par to amass 77 Stableford points.
That left them two points clear of the chasing pack led by Otley and The Heath, after the first round and half way through the second. At that stage Five Lakes were a point adrift, but while the pacemakers faltered, they kept their nerve and game together.
Two birdies and no bogeys from Carter and his partner avoided the need for a play-off – a scenario that had looked the likely outcome to a keenly contested tournament.
Carter attributed patience and teamwork as the key to their success on a course he described as ‘difficult’. “There was no run on the ball, so thankfully we only played off the yellows,” he said. “And we really gelled well. We only dropped three points in 36 holes, two in the first round and one in the second – if I had a bad hole he came in, and vice versa.”
Coaching his amateur partner, however, was not part of the team’s game plan. “I didn’t give him lots of coaching on the way round,” Carter explained. “Nigel won’t mind me saying this – he’s wild. He went in the buggy, I took a trolley. We both had a SkyCaddie, which helped us find our way round. In fairness, though, he’s got a very good short game.”
For Popper, who plays off 13 and only took up golf in 1991 as a replacement for football, winning the tournament provides the perfect end to his captaincy year. “I finish my stint as captain on Monday,” he said. “So it’s a great way to sign off. In fact, it’s absolutely unbelievable. I was looking forward to coming here, because I’ve played the course with friends many times over the years. But seeing what SkyCaddie, Golfplan, the PGA and the resort have provided has made it an unbelievable experience. This sort of thing has never happened to me before – it’s just fantastic.”
Carter, similarly overwhelmed by the experience, added: “I’ve never won anything like this before. To qualify for a trip, and be spoiled the way we have, been has been out of this world. Then winning the tournament is a bonus.”
Final scores: 77 Five Lakes Hotel Golf & Country Club; 75 Otley Golf Club; 74 Hayling Golf Club, Hendon Golf Club, Newark Golf Club; 73 The Heath Golf Club; 70 Honiton Golf Club, Stirling Golf Club; 68 Barlaston Golf Club 36; Lakeside Golf Course 33.