Stuart McColm, general manager, Castle Stuart Golf Links
Like the Scotland v England football match on Saturday, the Spire Trophy event at Castle Stuart saw a potential narrow victory turn into an honourable draw.
The two-day event, played in changeable weather conditions, ended without clear gloating rights as the annual contest ended all square for the first time in seven years.
Leading figures from the worlds of sport, business and media took part in the ‘Spire’, competed for annually by a Castle Stuart side and a team of ‘Sassenachs’.
Overnight on Saturday, the visitors eased in front with a 5.5 – 4.5 lead, but the home side came back on Sunday to halve the match 10-10
Such was the high standard of the competition, Charlotte Wild and Alan Purdie (both playing off scratch being former professional golfers) lost 5 and 4 in the foursomes on Sunday despite finishing -1 under par gross. Their victorious opponents were Sheila Sweeney (12), a member of Wisley Golf Club in Surrey, and Phil Taylor, the PGA pro at Pachesham Golf Club, also in Surrey.
In the end, the teams shared the eye-catching trophy that is modelled on the spire of the nearby castle which dates from the 17th century and gives the course its name.
As usual, the Sassenachs were led by Simon Creagh Chapman, former long standing green chairman of Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey. Simon instigated the competition and Castle Stuart Golf Links commissioned master silversmith Andy Macgowan to make the trophy. Simon later, by chance, discovered a wooden beam from Castle Stuart in an Edinburgh warehouse and this was made into a plinth for the trophy.
I led the Castle Stuart contingent and over two days of competition the teams faced each other in Saturday fourballs and Sunday foursomes.
The concept of the ‘Spire’ is to invite like-minded people to get together over a weekend for a friendly but competitive tussle on the links and then enjoy some fine Highland hospitality, which this year included an excellent dinner at Rocpool in Inverness.
The feedback from the players about the outstanding condition of the course, the location and the facilities here was really positive. Coming from people who play a lot of golf at some very prestigious clubs, it is very encouraging.
The line-up this year included BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty and Charlotte Wild, who played on the LET Access Tour for two years. Both said they had lost the appetite to play golf, but the Spire made them fall in love with the sport again.
Charlotte said: “I have been lucky enough to play some great courses during my playing years, but Castle Stuart has definitely stolen my heart. It’s not just a round of golf, it’s a complete experience”.
The event has grown in stature each year, and we continue to attract a high calibre guest list from all different walks of life to the Moray Firth. We hope it will continue for many years to come as the battle for this prestigious trophy goes on.