Highgate Golfer represents England in over 75’s team

Robert Afia plays for England in the European Senior Golf Association Team Championships in Norway

Robert Afia plays for England in the European Senior Golf Association Team Championships in Norway

In Golf you can play, compete & enjoy at any age….. did you know there is an Over 75’s Championship?

Robert Afia from Highgate Golf Club, recently played for England in the European Senior Golf Association Team Championships in Norway, having made his debut in 2022 at the age of 79!!

Here his is story in his own words….. read till the end as Robert has left all golfers with a great tip

“We’ve just returned from competing in Norway, and had a good week.  Based in Sondefjord, 50 miles south of Oslo, with 3 golf courses for the competitions.  18 countries competed, and our over 65’s won the handicap team cup, and came 2nd in the scratch team championship.  Our over 75 team in which I participated came 2nd to Sweden in the scratch cup, on countback!

Our golf course, Vestfold, was a very attractive venue in good condition considering the short golf season.  Close to heathland in character, but with very slow and very slopey greens leading to quite a few 3-putts!  In the UK, the Senior Golf Association events generally use the tees giving about 6,500 yards.  Our Vestfold tees were tee 52, meaning 5,200 metres or about 5,700 yards.  It should have been easy, but it wasn’t.

A further curiosity is that our course has 8 different playing lengths, ranging from 4,300m (4,700yds)  to 6,400m (7,000yds).  But there are only 4 tees on each hole, so the range of lengths is achieved by varying which tee is used for each playing length.  Interesting – slightly complicated perhaps?  Maybe worth a try here?

A highlight was the par 5 8th hole, playing for us just 414 yards, where in the 4-balls I chipped in from the front fringe for an eagle 3 and 4 points on the first day, and on the second day my playing partner did exactly the same!

European Senior Golf is very much social and handicap based.  Only the Swedes and the UK had strong scratch teams.  All the Nordic countries can only play from May to October, so it’s a wonder they maintain a good standard, but I gather that being relatively wealthy, many of them spend the winter in sunnier climes, or play on simulators!

We played with Luxemburgers, Portuguese, and Swedes, and sat with Icelanders at the opening and prize-presentation events, so a nice social time.  With the UK having left the EU, it feels strange that the whole event was run in English!

Scoring is different in Europe.  Our events were stableford, 2 days of 4-ball betterball, and the final day of singles.  But instead of, for example, getting 42 points in your 4-ball betterball, this is counted as +6.  And your scorecard points allowance contains adjustments for the difference between par and course rating, so my 7.3 handicap index, adjusted for slope rating, course rating, par, and 4-ball betterball factor resulted in my getting 4 shots!  Logical, actually, but a bit hard to fathom initially.

Our large hotel was designed by top Norwegian architect Arnstein Arneberg, completed in 1960.  Whilst being Nordic austere modern, it had wonderful details and quality, and fabulous paintings, tapestries, and original Murano glass and gold chandeliers.  Superb rooms, food, and friendly helpful staff too.

I took my clubs with me this time, having last year sent them in advance and not getting them in time for the event.  I’m not sure it improved my golf though!  And top tip for travelling with golf clubs.  The heavy part of your clubs is the heads.  So put the clubs “upside down” in the golf clubs travel bag so the heavy end is near the wheels, and the handle end is much lighter!  When you are 80, it matters!”