Masham’s Neil Garbutt lived the dream when he partnered Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts in the pro-am before the British Masters, supported by Sky Sports.
It all started for Garbutt when he teamed up with Hannah Golding (Brocton Hall, Staffordshire) and Mike Durkin (Hurlston Hall, Lancashire)
to win the Bridgestone Chase Your Dream Trophy, which was open to members of England Golf’s 1900+ affiliated clubs.
The trio had earlier played through club, regional and national rounds before confirming their success in the pro-am of the Bridgestone Challenge at Luton Hoo.
Their performance there won them a money can’t buy experience with Colsaerts in the curtain raiser of the British Masters, supported by Sky Sports, at Close House, Northumberland, and hosted by Lindrick member Lee Westwood.
Garbutt told Yorkshire Golfer: “My friend Leo Meaney asked me at the beginning of the year if I fancied entering the Bridgestone Chase Your Dream, so we both did. From playing the first regional qualifier at Preston, then to Woodhall Spa, then to Luton Hoo, I thought my golfing dreams couldn't really get any better.
“ The events at Woodhall and Luton really made an average club amateur golfer like myself get a glimpse of what it must feel like for the touring pros , only we had Bridgestone looking after us all the way , so it felt even better in some ways.
“After the victory at Luton Hoo playing with Hannah and Mike and our pro Ben Evans in my world that was like we'd won a Major, seeing our names on leader boards having our pictures taken and giving interviews. For me it really was living the dream.
“And then the reality started to dawn on me that I was actually going up to the British Masters and would be playing the actual course with a top tour player. Wow.”
Garbutt admits to not knowing too much about his star partner before the pro-am. “The email came through from Stuart at Bridgestone saying we were playing with Nicolas Colsaerts and I was delighted when I saw his name as I obviously had heard of him and seen him playing around the world on TV.
“ But I didn't really know a lot about him .Anyway after some research and now having played with him on in the pro -am he really lived up to his reputation.
“A true gentleman and very funny, he had no hesitation helping when you asked him. We had already won a Bridgestone Challenge, so the pro- was designed to be fun and soak up the atmosphere. Nicolas certainly made it a lot of fun and the experience of walking round a fantastic course with a top pro, well, I have to admit I pinched myself many times that day.
“What made it even more special for me was getting all the support from my home club Masham Golf Club and having my golfing mates from there coming up and sharing the same experience, allbeit not actually playing but walking down the fairways and having some good banter.
“Also having my kids there Lauren with her boyfriend Jamie and my son Ben on the bag was a great experience for him, and my brother in law Stu drove a 200 mile round trip to surprise me. And last but definitely not least to my long suffering girlfriend Mandy. Bridgestone were kind enough to invite her to share my Luton Hoo and Close House Masters dream.
“The whole experience up at Close House really felt quite surreal , being on the driving range and practice putting green with the likes of Jimenez , Sergio , Poults and many more was incredible before actually teeing off with Coulss
“We mixed with the celebs, and Keith Duffy singing ‘Oh Mandy’ to my Mandy after the Hero Challenge was memorable. I can’t thank Bridgestone enough, especially Stuart Atfield and Ben Smallman who are great lads.
“I hope I haven't droned on too long but I could actually talk non- stop about it. I'm still on cloud nine.”