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Quinta do Lago Grand Finals Naples Final Tour Points Rumour Has It Property Disaster Looking Forward to 2014 R&A Approval
Gerry Gentle, Ann Bridges and Paul Speakman at The Grand Finals
Quinta do Lago
Final Tour Points
Rumour Has It Property Disaster
2 0 1 3
GERRY GENTLE TOUR CHAMPION
In This Issue
N o v e m b e r
5 6 & 7 8
Looking Forward to 8 2014
At the Grand Finals last year, although the weather was pretty good, it was absolutely awful the following week. Those that stayed on hoping for some extra golf were left staring at hotel walls and flooded greens. So it was with more than a little trepidation that we moved the dates of the Finals to be one week later. This was really forced on us by the ever shifting sands of Half Term. Now a 3 week feast it allows the airlines to charge exorbitant prices throughout October. This year however prices were much more reasonable and we all flew out to Faro on half empty planes and in addition the long range forecast was about as good as one could hope for – unremitting sunshine and temperatures in the mid 20’s. A perfect week beckoned on the glorious Algarve at Quinta do Lago. The Monte da Quinta Suites provide us with just about the best accommodation one could wish for. A hotel made up en-
tirely of one bedroom and two bedroom suites, and in addition a pricing structure that means single room supplements are very reasonable. In a tournament where people have qualified for an expenses paid trip the last thing we want to do is pile on the extras. This was our 3rd year there and the staff was just as welcoming as before. We do hope this continues under the new management who take over in May but we see no reason why not and as we have signed a further 3 year agreement we look forward to a long future there for this End of Term event. It’s not only the hotel that makes this such a wonderful venue of course. By playing at Quinta do Lago we also get three top championship courses; Quinta North and South and Laranjal. The North course is perhaps the weakest and will shortly be undergoing a refurbishment programme, but this is really nitpicking as it is every bit as good as most of the Vilamoura courses. The South is of course the former Portuguese Open venue
and Laranjal is a monster American style course with wide fairways but with huge, undulating greens. If I had a complaint it would be that the tees on the North and South have too great a difference between yellow and white. An intermediate tee would be perfect for this event. Yellows are a little bit easy and whites much too tough, especially as they so often put the Red & Blue tees together meaning that if we move the men back the ladies will get too much advantage. I am hoping that next year we can persuade them to toughen up the North and South, just a tad maybe, but just enough to ensure that the Greencard Champion really is the best player. The week started as usual with the entire group mixed together playing the Am Am on the South Course. Everyone was in shorts and the sun reflected off the early morning dew heralding a perfect day for golf. The Am Am often
Tour Finals Scores—Stableford 1 Gerry Gentle
40 36 141
2 Anne Bridges
36 31 136
3 Paul Speakman
40 27 132
4 Tim Elliott
36 30 128
5 Anne Fern
33 29 127
6 Neil McGarva
38 30 125
7 Julie Harris
36 28 124
8 John Meagher
33 27 119
9 Neil Gillam
38 25 118
10 John Tate
37 27 116
11 Ian Harris
33 28 115
12 Ian Robinson
33 27 115
13 Anthony Trafford
33 24 115
14 Peter Roe
31 22 107
15 Pauline Crosthwaite
24 24 104
16 Phil Crossland
32 23 101
17 Melvyn Fern
30 27 100
18 Ian McWhirter
26 26 97
19 Lod’k Schlingemann 21
25 18 94
20 Val Harrison
28 20 93
P a g e
gives an indication of what is to follow but in this case the runes were hard to read. We allowed the Shearans, father and son and the Robinsons, Ian and Jackie to play as a team as their handicaps pretty much match the requirements but on the day they excelled, spread-eagling the field with a winning 5 point margin. Runners-up was another family affair with Reuben and James Fielding ably partnered by Anthony Waterhouse and Fiona McWhirter who just beat the newly handicapped Brian Haynes with Anne Fern, Lodewijk Schlingemann and new girl Christine Fisher on count back.
That night the hotel provided an excellent wine and cheese party and once again the new boys and girls remarked how it seemed that everyone except them knew everyone else. The Finals really does bring people together in the true Greencard spirit of friendliness. But let’s move on to the main event. Who was going to be the Greencard Champion for 2013? Sadly quite a few of the qualifiers were unable to attend. A combination of New Zealand, New Year in Dona Filipa and previous engagements kept 8 of the finalists away but the 20 that remained were some of Greencard’s finest. Round One on Laranjal was a
tough test. Boys of Whites and Girls off Blue guaranteed that scoring would not be too high. Ann Bridges was the early leader with an excellent 34 with Tim Elliott, John Meagher, Paul Speakman and Anne Fern all tied on 32 being the only players to break 30. Round Two was on the North Course. Tighter than the other two it requires a player to be able to shape it both ways off the tee or at the very least hit the ball straight. Players like me, equipped with a repeating Gay Fade, are unlikely to prosper. Of course the Tour finalists don’t struggle like that and Gerry Gentle made up for a poor start with a superb 39 which was 3 better than Julie Harris. Ann Bridges (35) and Paul Speakman (32) and Anne Fern (32) remained firmly in contention at the halfway stage. On the Free Day in glorious weather a dozen or so went down the road to play at San Lorenzo for a bit of a warm up for New Year. Even those who didn’t play drifted over to the clubhouse to watch them come in and have a bit of lunch on the sun drenched terrace. Entertainment was provided by James and Anthony demonstrating their driving skills on the range. Round Three was back on the South Course, in my opinion the best of the three but as previously mentioned somewhat spoiled by the lack of choice
of tees. This was not helped by having the Yellow Tees moved well forward on some holes. The scoring reflected that with Gerry Gentle and Paul Speakman both scoring 40 and the two Neils, Gillam and McGarva following with 38s. Ann, Julie and Tim were by no means out of it with 36 and John Tate poked his head out of the pack with 37. So for the final round back on Laranjal Gerry, Paul and Ann were all tied on 105 with Tim Elliott and Ann Fern next on 98, seven shots back. It was going to be a nervy few hours. It all really depended on who was going to get the ball on to the right part of the greens to avoid the inevitable 3 putts. In then end Gerry romped home with a superb 36, five points ahead of Ann who took the Ladies Prize and Neil McGarva and Tim Elliott were the only others to break 30. This put Paul in 3rd, Tim in 4th and Anne Fern in 5th. Although Gerry was a clear 5 point winner it was a close event right up to the final 9 holes. Even the dark clouds that threatened the final round dispersed without spoiling a perfect week. Gerry will of course start next year with the customary haircut reserved for all winners. In 2013 he played 4, won 3 and came 3rd in the South Africa. A very impressive performance which he will have to try a little bit harder to repeat next year!
FINAL POINTS TABLE IN THE RACE TO THE ALGARVE Name Gerald Sally Neil Neil Anthony Martin Peter Paul C Melvyn John M Anne Patrick R Lodewijk Pauline Tim Ian Mike Philip John Ian Julie Val Malcolm Elizabeth Robert Sandie Ian John Barry Jackie
H’cap Tour Pts Gentle Ward Gillam McGarva Trafford Fell Roe Speakman Fern Tate Bridges Vaulkhard Sch’gemann Crosthwaite Elliott Robinson Singleton Crossland Ward Harris Harris Harrison Barker Fern Girvan Klimcke McWhirter Meagher Birdsall Carter
13 18 9 5 14 4 14 10 14 9 4 16 17 7 12 8 16 14 14 8 10 23 12 11 11 11 17 6 15 14
28 25 24 24 23 20 20 19 18 18 17 17 16 15 15 15 15 14 12 11 11 11 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 9
John O'Gaunt Royal Lytham Wentworth Kilmacolm Eaton Copt Heath Workington Workington Willesley Park Berkhamsted Mentmore Beeston Fields Moscow CC Hankley Common Hankley Common Rufford Park Penwortham Southp’t Old Links Anglesey Domaine Imperial Domaine Imperial Shirley Harewood Downs Willesley Park Clandon Regis Drumpelier Forest Pines Woburn Rufford Park
Name Karen John Channipha Russell Alan J Rod Bill Sharon Reuben Barry Christine Phil Dennis Inge Tony Ann Alistair Robert A Melanie Simon Stella Janette Tony Malcolm Richard Pat George Angela Linda Neil
H’cap Tour Pts Hartley Shearan Sims Smit Baxter Churchill Davidson Fell Fielding Limb Richardson Bermingham Coe Kent Marshall Saunders Walker Young Barton Fisher Goldstein Roe Wells Baker Bleakley Bute Chambers Churchill Coe Dalton
15 5 14 5 5 12 12 25 12 13 22 9 14 17 12 13 7 7 10 17 13 14 8 11 14 14 24 20 22 12
9 9 Co Louth 9 St George's Hill 9 Woburn 8 Mere 8 8 New St Andrews 8 Redditch 8 Davenport 8 Prestbury 8 7 Fulwell 7 Don Cayo 7 Windlesham 7 Wildwood 7 Little Aston 7 Copt Heath 7 Moray 6 Sandiway 6 Chart Hills 6 Torksey 6 Workington 6 Triangle 5 East Devon 5 North Wales 5 Camberley 5 Castletown 5 Fulwell 5 Don Cayo 5 Meon Valley
H’cap Tour Pts
Oliver David Melanie Caroline Derek Alan Adrian Diana
Newman Rothwell Staff Walker Blackburn Bute Carran Hudson
4 7 17 10 18 16 9 8
5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4
Glyn Philip Elspeth Joan M Kathleen Anne David William Alan Paul Dorothy Jackie Neil Peter Jonnie Marian Mike Margaret Peter June Dave
Pepper Raybone Baxter Bichard Birdsall Day Johnstone McGinnes Orritt Traynor Blackburn Bleakley Dangerfield Miles Oldham Raybone Reynolds Ryan Abbott Gauke Simpson
6 9 22 8 21 18 10 15 9 16 16 16 22 16 20 15 9 29 12 20 14
4 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
Golf Club Delamere Shaw Hill
Copt Heath Aspley Guise Camberley Ladbrook Park Royal Guernsey Wellingborough Hankley Common Mere Royal Guernsey Woburn Dulwich Sydenham Bramhall Park Troon Welbeck Penwortham Ashbourne Aspley Guise North Wales La Moye Lee-on-the-Solent Hankley Common Fulwell Balbriggan Ladbrook Park Lincoln Sundridge Park
CHRISTINE FISHER WINS HER FIRST EVENT The Monte da Quinta team laid on a scrumptious buffet washed down with buckets of wine before our favourite band The Bottles played a succession of fabulous Beatles hits long into the night. This is of course is where Paulette demonstrates why she got the job training the girls at Stringfellows and gifted amateurs like Lynne, Christine, Julie and Anne made up in spades for the slight female deficit by inviting all the boys to dance. A great finish to a great week.
John Shearan, Christine Fisher and Reuben Fielding at the Finals
One of the things that makes the Grand Finals week such fun as that alongside the serious Tour Finals we also run an event called The Greencard Masters for all those who were unlucky enough not to qualify or for the guests of the Finalists. Make no mistake the competition in this event is just as fierce and usually there is a bigger field. The format is identical to the Tour Finals with four rounds of stableford played on the same courses from the same tees. So leading out the dew sweepers on Round One were the Masters on Laranjal. The average handicaps are roughly the same in both groups but perhaps The Masters players are a little less consistent. But nevertheless Janette Roe’s performance in that opening round was nothing less than nuclear. 35 points on those greens from a self-confessed awful putter was exceptional from this Police Officer from Sellafield whose day job is guarding the nation’s nuclear waste. Dave Simpson was next with 34, tied with that veteran campaigner Billy Coupe who always manages to squeeze a score out of the toughest conditions. Round Two was on the North and proved a lot less testing. Reuben Fielding charged to the top of the leaderboard with 39, just one ahead of Chris Hegarty and Jackie Carter. Richard Munroe, Brian Haynes, Brian Wilson, John Shearan and Christine Fisher were all mid 30’s. At the halfway Reuben held a 4 point lead but
there were 8 players just one or two further back. After the rest day we moved back to the South course and here Tony Wells, a veteran campaigner of the Finals week moved into the spotlight with 40 points. Bill Coupe was not to be out done with 39 and Jackie Carter, Chris Hegarty and John Shearan all shot 37. So with just one round to go Bill had regained his customary position on top of the pack in spite of having not competed for two years. Jackie Carter was one back with Reuben Fielding and Christine Fisher one further behind. Tony Wells, Richard Munroe and John Shearan were all within 5 shots. The final round was going to be a nervous affair. It was always going to be a good putter who won over the enormous undulations of Laranjal and Christine Fisher, a Belfast girl on debut, scorched the greens with 39 points to overturn a two point deficit and win by four from Reuben with John Shearan in 3rd both having shot 35. New girl Lynne Daniel had a round to remember with 33 and celebrated with a powerful display on the dance floor later that night. John Gilkes will also remember his 32 in that final round where every putt seemed to drop. Tony Wells hung onto 4th for his best ever finish and Jackie Carter was 5th with Bill Coupe 6th have had a disappointing final round. But the week wasn’t over as we laid on a superb party for the final night. We started with a little drinks party before moving into the ballroom for dinner.
It’s fantastic news that we have been able to sign up for Monte da Quinta and the Quinta do Lago courses for another 3 years. I can’t think of anywhere in Southern Europe that offers such quality all on the same resort. At La Manga there was a huge gulf between the 2 Bedroom Las Lomas apartments and the Hotel. At Quinta everyone is under the same roof with the same marvellous facilities. Make sure you’re there in 2014.
Greencard Masters—Stableford 1
34 36 39 142
39 32 35 138
34 37 35 135
33 40 31 133
38 37 28 132
32 39 26 131
38 37 30 127
35 35 26 127
35 36 28 126
10 John Gilkes
32 35 31 123
11 Janette Roe
25 35 28 123
12 Sean Duxbury
32 34 25 121
12 Brian Haynes
34 32 25 121
13 Richard Vine
27 34 26 118
14 Dave Simpson
32 31 21 118
15 Lynne Daniel
31 31 33 115
16 Shirley Halhead
25 32 28 115
17 Chris Barber
29 31 26 114
18 Lewis Mosse
26 32 25 114
19 Michelle Duxbury
25 34 23 114
20 Anthony Waterhouse 21 Roger Lascelles
27 32 27 113
33 32 25 111
22 Jan Gilkes
30 32 26 110
23 Mike Ingham
31 30 25 109
24 Kevin Shearan
28 29 26 108
25 Gail Hegarty
31 29 21 106
P a g e
SALLY WARD DOES IT AGAIN pack with 67, just one point ahead of Sandie and three points ahead Alan, John and Sally. Traff and Mike were also still in the hunt with 63 points. Another rest day followed and several of us took to the water in hired motor launches to see first hand the tremendous waterfront properties located around the area. We then ventured further afield into the sea and were rewarded by schools of dolphins playing around the boat. It was tremendous to see them in the wild and they offered a great photo opportunity. Of course with their speed it did result in many photos of water being taken with the odd one showing a dolphin!
A winning kiss for Alan Baxter from Sandie and Sally in Naples
also the added complication of watching out for the odd stray alligator lurking in the lakes.”
The final long haul event of the year is always a last chance to enjoy the sunshine and heat before heading into the UK winter months. This particular slot in the 2013 calendar was given to Naples in Florida, a lovely area in the sunshine state with a number of top courses. We were based at the five star Waldorf Astoria Hotel, ideally located for both the courses and the great selection of restaurants the area has to offer. The weather from the start to the end was simply superb with sunshine every day and temperatures at times reaching into the early 30’s.
course since Ian Robinson had to run to rescue Jackie Carter when she was locked in an on course toilet in Portugal! It was no surprise that on this occasion a blob followed! Whether this was actually an alligator will never be known but if only we could rewind and record…!
As we had six rounds of golf organized, I thought that we would mix the formats up a little to include the four individual stableford rounds, a pairs event and a Texas Scramble.
The first free day followed enabling people to experience one of the area’s shopping malls, play some more golf, sunbathe by the pool or on the beach or explore further afield.
The opening Pairs round was played at the nearby Naples Grand course and was won by Alan and Ellie Baxter with a better ball score of 44 points. Simon and Sandie Klimcke were hot on their heals with 41. On the second morning we made our way over to TPC Treviso Bay. The course definitely gave the group plenty of challenges with water coming into contention on many of the holes. There was also the added complication of watching out for the odd stray alligator lurking in the lakes. Indeed on one of the par 3’s Simon Klimcke’s tee shot landed perilously close to the drink and his second shot was going to be a chip from the water’s edge. Just as he was about to take his backswing there was an almighty splash behind him and needless to say I have not seen anybody move so fast on a golf
At the end of the round it was Mike Singleton who had taken an early lead with an impressive 38 points. Reuben Fielding and Sally Ward were just two behind with Alan Baxter and the resurgent John Ward a further three back.
The next day we headed over to Wyndermere Golf & Country Club for the second round. This was by far the hottest day of the event and we were grateful for the buggies and cold water! Wyndermere is a 27 hole complex and was one of the surprises from my visit last year. It really is a little gem and the staff could not be friendlier. We played the White and Gold combination. The course was in immaculate condition and the greens on the front nine proved to be the quickest of all the courses. The top score of the day belonged to Sandie Klimcke who came in with 35 points. Patrick Vaulkhard rediscovered his form from earlier in the year with a solid 33, a score shared by Traff, whilst Reuben finished with 31. This meant that at the half way stage Reuben was still top of the
The next round was played on the Jack Nicklaus designed Old Corkscrew, a course perfectly setup for a Texas Scramble with several risk and reward holes over water. The winning team included Reuben Fielding, John Ward and Lindsay Trafford, their 7 birdies proved to be enough to take the victory. The final free day allowed many of the group to take advantage of the amazing sales that were being held at the nearby malls with up to 70% or more off the leading brands. Others preferred to avoid the shopping and relax enjoying the continued sunshine. Needless to say when business was resumed for round three at TPC Treviso there were several new outfits being modelled! It was Mike Singleton who again top scored as he finished the day with 35 points. Sandie carded a solid 32 which included a birdie on the par 5, 18th hole. Reuben and Alan were just one point further back with 31. This resulted in an unbelievably close leader board heading into the final round with Mike, Sandie and Reuben all on 98 points. Alan Baxter was three back on 95 and Sally was further three behind. The last round was played at the home of the Shark Shootout at the Greg Norman designed Tiburon course. The layout was tremendous but the greens were on the slow side in comparison to the other courses played during our stay. Once we were underway Reuben had an uncharacteristic nine holes
and had his work cut out to come back into contention. Sandie had scored a solid 17 at the turn, Alan had closed the gap slightly with 18 and Mike had lost a bit of ground with 15 points. All was still to play for as the final group started the back nine. Meanwhile Sally was playing some great golf in the group ahead. Her 17 points after nine holes had given her renewed confidence that led to a superb back nine of 23 points and an overall total of 40 for the day. However, we honestly did not think that even this great score would be enough to make up for two rounds of 28 points earlier in the event and overcome the leading group. The back nine had some tough holes but also gave players a chance to balance these with some strange stroke indexing, particularly on the par 3’s. It was difficult to guess who would prevail in these conditions, however, we knew that it would be tight and this is exactly what happened. Unfortunately Reuben’s back nine, although better than the front, wasn’t enough to mount a challenge and he dropped down the leader board. Mike also struggled and he too fell away. Alan finished with a very respectable 34 points and gave him third place overall. This meant that Sandie had to score 35 points or more to take the title. Unfortunately a blob on the par 5, 16th hole resulted in a final score of 33, enough to secure the runners up place. Our congratulations to Sally on a wonderful final of golf which gave her victory by just one point. Naples is a really lovely part of the world, with some great golf courses and we would love to return in the future.
Naples—Final Results 1 Sally Ward
36 28 28 40 132
2 Sandie Klimcke
31 35 32 33 131
3 Alan Baxter
33 31 31 34 129
4 Richard Munroe
36 30 29 31 126
5 Mike Singleton
38 25 35 25 123
6 Reuben Fielding
36 31 31 23 121
7 John Ward
33 31 27 28 119
8 Anthony Trafford
30 33 25 28 116
9 Baxter Ellie
31 27 30 26 114
10 Patrick Vaulkhard 21 33 27 31 112 11 Stella Goldstein
19 24 27 32 102
12 Gwyneth Fielding 24 28 23 25 100 13 Gordon Pairman
23 19 22 28 92
14 Simon Klimcke
19 29 24 14 86
15 Lindsay Trafford
16 15 15 22 68
Rumour Has It! One thing that Greencard has never been short of is rumour. Adele’s hit from 2011 in fact pretty much sums up what makes Greencard tick. We’re a travelling golf club and everyone wants to know what’s going on. Rumours spread like wildfire. One that I heard in Portugal was that we had only booked 30 places for the New Year’s Eve dinner dance at the Dona Filipa and that the 30 late bookers would have to stand at the door and watch. It’s a great rumour but completely unfounded. Everyone will of course be seated in front of the band and we expect Greencarders to lead from the front on the dance floor as usual. Of course there are other rumours about our clients and ourselves that are mere titillation and gossip which is the foundation of almost any social group. But there are some rumours that spring up around the running of the company that do need to be firmly quashed. As you all know Richard Munroe will be taking over leadership of Greencard at the end of March next year and of course speculation is rife as to whether he will be able to run it successfully given that he will have to borrow £200,000 or was it £500,000 or maybe it was only £150,000 in order to buy the company. Some things of course need to remain secret but when I stood up in front of the crowd at my birthday last year I made it quite clear that I wouldn’t be handing over the business unless I was sure that it was in good, safe hands. Whilst I was not prepared to just give the company away my main aim throughout this period has been to try and ensure that this wonderful group of clients could continue to enjoy their holidays long after my retirement. It’s obvious that Richard can’t start with an enormous debt round his neck, and so we have structured the hand over in such a way that this won’t happen. His first year will be tough as he’ll have to do it on his own as I did from 1991 to 1997, but after that he will surely be able to build on the strength of the clientele and going forward the only difference you’ll notice is that the man in charge listens occasionally to the clients, he probably won’t be so much of a maverick and he’s much more
likely to play by the rules, which has to be good all round. It’s clear that this never ending recession is finally coming to an end and we are noticing this in a distinct uptick in bookings. So quite apart from the structure of the takeover I am also persuaded that the timing is right too. Richard Munroe has a lot of new ideas and he’ll always be able to call on me for advice. My email address will remain unchanged and so clients can always contact me directly to tap my considerable knowledge of golf around the world, and of course I hope people will want to stay in touch. I like to think I have made a lot of friends in Greencard and I will always be interested in your news. It really is in everyone’s interest that Richard makes a success of the job and I shall be doing everything I can to ensure that he does. If he needs my help I’ll be there. But, and I make this quite clear, from 31st March 2014 Greencard will be Richard’s baby. I’ll stand right back from the business and in no way do I want to interfere with his decisions unless he asks for my advice. Apart from the Morfontaine trip in June which I’ll be running Pro Bono, I will only run a trip to help him out if asked. Anyone can get sick or he may feel that having a Far East expert might be useful, but that will be entirely up to him. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that when Greencarder’s get together it really is one big family. To newcomers it’s quite frightening at the Welcome Cocktail to see everyone chatting away like long lost friends. It’s only after they’ve been there a few days that they begin to understand, and by the end of the week at the Prize Giving they are just as much a part of the family as the old timers. So let’s not allow this extraordinary camaraderie to wither on the Vine. Richard M will have a tough year in 2014 if he doesn’t get your full support. Make an extra effort to do one more trip and especially to convince a friend to come. The future of Greencard and the continuation of these wonderful mixed competition weeks depend on your support. You’re the guys and gals that make this unique atmosphere, let’s make sure it continues.
RISING PROPERTY PRICES ARE A DISASTER ing the need to borrow money suppresses interest rates, which makes borrowing cheap hence the surge in uptake in mortgages, but it also reduces interest charges for companies and therefore flatters profit margins and so dividends consequently rise. Stock markets inevitably follow them up from the wall of savings looking for a decent return that otherwise would have been invested in safer Bank Deposits and Bonds.
Housing Completions Go Down and Down From what we read in the papers the UK economy is surging ahead with the latest 3rd quarter figures showing annualised 3% growth. This is fantastic news, by the end of next year if it continues Britain will have finally regained all the ground lost in the Great Recession. If it carries on into 2015 even the unthinkable could happen – Cameron could find himself returned for a second term. It is highly unlikely with UKIP splitting the Tory vote, but historically parties that can deliver the economic feel good factor are usually returned. The problem with this fact of life is that it is therefore incumbent on all Chancellors to engineer a pre-election boom which so often ends in tears soon after. Sadly I think that this time it will be no different. The underlying weakness of the Western economic model, especially so in the UK, is that it depends almost entirely on property values. If you can inflate the value of people’s houses they feel richer, they spend more and the economy prospers. But in order for property prices to inflate one or both of two things must happen. Demand must outstrip supply and people must buy this overpriced property on credit or foreign buyers must bring in money from abroad. Whilst the latter can drive up the price of property it is the former that is really driving this boom. Help to Buy could just as easily be renamed Help Us to Get ReElected.
The problem with this economic model is that it has all sorts of repercussions in other areas of the economy. If people’s houses cost more, then it follows they have to borrow more to buy them, and consequently earn more to pay the rent or mortgage. So the workforce demands higher wages, but the bosses decide that rather than pay the higher wages they’d prefer to outsource to lower wage economies. To offset that we have Housing Benefit so that people on low wages can afford the rent, but this is self-defeating because taxes then have to rise to pay for it. But rather than admit this to the electorate the government would prefer to borrow the money than raise taxes, otherwise they wouldn’t get re-elected. But there comes a point when no one wants to lend money to the government any more. Greece, Ireland and Portugal are already seeing the effects of that, having been bailed out under onerous terms. Governments in those countries have to cut back spending by sacking all those people they employed as outreach workers and the like to hide the real unemployment figures. Other countries such as US, Japan and UK have taken an alternative route and simply printed billions of $, Yen and £s to cover the shortfall. They think they have been rather clever to avoid a deep recession and high unemployment, which in many respects is true, but again there are consequences. This printed money is what is ultimately fuelling the rise in property and other asset prices such as stock markets. Remov-
But there will come a time when this party has to stop. Even the hint of reducing the $85bn a month that the Federal Reserve is currently printing caused a plunge in world stock markets, to such an extent that Bernanke quickly clarified the comment. Tapering was not imminent after all. But sooner or later the punch bowl will be removed and the US economy must stand on its own two feet without the monthly adrenaline charge. When that time comes, interest rates will rise and pensioners will breathe a huge sigh of relief that at last they can see some return on their cash, but borrowers will then face the day of reckoning. The monthly instalments rise pretty quickly with only incremental interest rate rises and even a return to the 5% that is considered normal could see monthly repayment charges rise by 25% or more. If mortgage rates increase 2% from now then the monthly repayment on £150,000 mortgage rises £200 pm. What price a 3 bedroom semi then? The big weakness that led to the Great Financial Crisis has not been addressed. We can’t live on ever increasing credit. Pretending that it is all backed up by rising house prices is what led us to this point in the first place. World trade is out of balance. Since we now have a global economy we find cheap labour countries running huge trade surpluses and developed countries running deficits. The surplus countries are content to lend to the deficit countries in order to keep their currencies down
The population just goes up & up
and their labour competitive but in the end they will simply find that lending people the money to buy their products doesn’t work. One day they’ll tell you they can’t pay it back, or they’ll give you toffee wrappers instead of dollars. Globalisation means that the entire world now competes for the same work and resources and ultimately that can only mean one thing. Third world countries’ wages will have to rise (through rising currencies) and developed nations’ wages will have to fall in relation. We have been relying heavily on knowledge based industries to power our economies but the problem is that they don’t employ many people and certainly only people with knowledge.
The under educated will not find work in these economies unless they are prepared to work for 3rd world wages and governments will not be able to raise enough money from all these high tech companies because they can easily relocate to where the taxes are lowest. The pampered Western worker with his socialised healthcare and cradle to grave welfare is unaffordable. The sooner we face up to that fact the better. We can possibly limp along for a few more years printing money now and again but sooner or later we’ll realise that ever rising property prices are the root of the problem and definitely not the solution. Cutting housing costs will enable wages to fall and manufacturing to return to these
shores. It is only with a substantial manufacturing sector that a country can hope to generate sufficient employment for the under-educated. When manufacturing returns tax receipts rise, government borrowing falls and a virtuous circle begins. Property prices, like everything else are simply a result of supply and demand. But with antiquated planning laws, uncontrolled immigration and a broken pension system forcing people to invest in property instead of stocks and bonds, demand hugely exceeds supply. What are the solutions? We could start with a massive house building programme similar to that of the 1930’s and 1950’s but it needs to be financed with borrowed money and not by printing. (Rising interest rates will follow). We must allow people to save for pensions without placing ludicrous restrictions on how and when you can take your money and by removing the huge costs and fees that accrue by forcing people to save in schemes dreamt up by the disreputable financial services sector. Rising interest rates would make Buy to Let much less attractive. The country needs people to invest in business not property. Only then will the economy start to rebalance and give some hope of meaningful work to those joining the workforce. Although house prices may well carry on rising for some time yet, if nothing is done to correct them we may find ourselves in the unenviable position where ever more people are on welfare and those that have the means to leave will do so. Will the politicians ever be honest enough to tell us the truth? I’m not optimistic that they even understand the enormity of the problem. This younger generation is destined to be the first in history to be worse off than their parents. Why does all this matter? Quite simply because we are losing the brightest of our youngsters who see no chance of ever achieving a similar standard of living as that enjoyed by their parents in this country. Left behind are the people we are relying on to pay their taxes to fund the retirement and healthcare of the current over 40’s. They can’t afford it.
Historically houses were around 2.5 x Average annual earnings. At 5x it is crippling and as we are heading to 6x it is simply unaffordable for most people
What does this have to do with golf? Not much but we have some spare column inches and as a UK business it is in our interest that we work in an environment of stable prices and exchange rates or better still a rising pound. Neither of which can happen until we can create an economy that employs people productively and one that encourages the young to be entrepreneurs and not little Rachman’s.
GRAND FINALS GAIN R&A APPROVAL For some years now some of our clients have queried whether or not the Expenses Paid Holiday to the Grand Finals at the end of the year conformed to the R & A
Guidelines for Amateur Status.
lowed to accept expenses to the Finals without You will all be delighted jeopardising their Amateur Status. to know that our tournaments have been ap- Excellent news all round. proved by the R & A under the Sponsored Events section and all our clients are thus al-
2014—THE YEAR OF SUCCESSION After 33 years at the helm it is time for me to put my passport in the drawer, my clubs in the garage and my suitcase in the top of the cupboard. In April Richard Munroe will need to apply for the 48 page passport, a larger, more robust case and another couple of dozen balls.
Aphrodite Hills, Cyprus– 23 Feb
wood Forest with 3 nights for £599.
A new venue for us is the Intercontinental Aphrodite Hills. Tremendous value on an All Inclusive Lite package (free food and drink after 5pm). Excellent value Easyjet flights to Paphos. Give it a try.
Portmarnock Links, Dublin—13 July
The 2014 programme is largely of his design but before I go I still have a couple of events to run before Aphrodite.
Abu Dhabi & Dubai– 22 March
After our New Year event at Dona Filipa which is sadly completely full with no chance of any extra place we have our traditional Far Eastern event. Phuket & Hua Hin, Thailand—14 Jan This is already a very popular trip and we have just 3 rooms left. Indigo Pearl in Phuket is a beautiful resort right on the beach and we are playing courses that all allow carts. In Hua Hin we have moved to our new hotel the Sofitel Centara which is on the beach and in town. No more need of an evening shuttle. Time is running out on this one so let us know if you are thinking of coming. New Zealand Our first ever trip to NZ is sadly sold out. Cape Town & Garden Route—2 March One of my favourite trips is our annual pilgrimage to the Western Cape. This stunningly beautiful part of the world really does have it all. Beautiful scenery, challenging golf courses, delicious food and excellent wines. The hotels on this tour are 3 of the best in Southern Africa and we will of course only be playing the top courses. If you don’t fancy driving over there we are offering a chauffeured mini bus.
We did this trip in 2013 and it was very popular. This year we will stay on Yas Island close to the famous links before moving down to the Sofitel Jumeira. This will save a lot of travelling and enable you to fly in and out of Abu Dhabi as well as Dubai. Great courses, luxury hotels and beautiful weather. Cornelia—Turkey—11 May We’re back at the Cornelia in May because it’s so good. The Faldo was found to be a bit tough so we play 2 at Carya and 2 on Faldo as well as our favourite Kaya Eagles. A fabulous All Inclusive week. Morfontaine, Chantilly, France—8 June Although I officially retire on 31st March I will be making a final guest appearance at Morfontaine as we are only there thanks to my friendship with Dr Jean Natali who will celebrate his 92nd Birthday shortly afterwards. We are restricted to 36 players and we still have 12 places left. A beautiful hotel and some of France’s top courses. What’s not to like. GB & Ireland Richard has decided to run a series of UK events this year with a hope of encouraging newcomers and especially friends of yours from the club. See if you can persuade some of your mates to come. Robin Hood Shoot Out, Notts—24 June Four great courses on the edge of Sher-
Mention Ireland and you immediately think Portmarnock, home to more Irish Opens than all the others combined. Add in Baltray, The Island and Langer’s PortmarnockLinks and you have 4 superb courses. Fly into Dublin from just about anywhere. The Vale in Wales—1 Aug The Wales national has staged many PGA events and this superb resort offers two championship courses and an excellent hotel. A top weekend of golf. Lancashire Coast—18 Aug No stretch of coast in the UK comes close to matching Fylde. Our trip includes Royal Birkdale, Hillside, S&A and Formby. Don’t worries ladies can still play! It doesn’t get much better than this. Bournemouth, Dorset—9 Sept So many good courses down in Dorset but we have selected 3 of the best—Remedy oak, Broadstone and Parkstone capped off by one of the South Coast resort’s landmark hotels—The Highcliff. One Dayers at The Belfry and Beau Desert Even more reason to bring your friends are two one day team events. Run at cost price these Am Am’s will be huge fun and the best way yet of convincing your friends to come and join us. Cancun, Mexico—2 October The Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico is a stunning all inclusive hotel on the azure waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It has its own course and it’s just a short distance from Riviera, not to mention the capital of the Mayan civilization.