Written By Graeme Wilson
Before the Championship itself came into being, the origins of the tournament can be traced to a contact made by Fred Le Nole of Maastricht to Alasdair Murray at London Centre in 1988. The result of this was a competition held in Holland between a team of 4 golfers from London and 4 from Maastricht.
In 1989 the competition again took place between two teams of 4 golfers, this time at various courses to the West of London.
In 1990 the tournament really got started with the entry of Ireland. The game this year was played at Fred’s course in Maastricht and involved 2 Irish teams, 2 Maastricht teams and one from London.
In 1991 the Maastricht players travelled to Ireland to enjoy the hospitality of Eamonn O’Malley and his colleagues, London were unable to attend.
The first of the big events took place in 1992 at Leytown in Ireland, again organised by Eamonn with about 15 teams taking part. For the first time there were teams from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Scandinavia, Spain and France.
In 1993 the tournament moved to Belleisle in Ayr, Scotland. About 20 teams took part at this event and we saw for the first time the other teams who are now the “core” of the ECGC.
In 1994 Spain hosted the tournament in Madrid. This was a well-attended event at a beautiful mountain course held in fantastic weather. This was the first time the championship had left the Holland/UK/Ireland area and everyone enjoyed the change of scenery, weather and course conditions.
In 1995 the game went to Copenhagen where we tried the “bogey” format. Again everyone enjoyed both the course and the surroundings, particularly the Tivoli gardens.
In 1996 the tournament moved to Bordeaux, hosted by Hubert Martineau and his colleagues. The game was played over two superb adjacent courses, which have been used for minor European tour events.
In 1997 the tournament returned to Ireland. The course was Rosse’s Point at Sligo on the West coast and it was a true links course with beautiful views to all sides. Although some people were almost washed off the course on the practice day, the competition days gave us good weather. The Guinness went down very well and one or two people joined in the singing.
In 1998 we were struggling to find a venue but Jeff Gaste stepped in at short notice and found a wonderful course in the hills near Aix-en-Provence. Unfortunately the French hotel we were staying in wasn’t used to the drinking exploits of ECGC and they rapidly ran out of beer. By this time the number of teams wanting to play in the tournament was reaching the limits of a golf course so the committee chairman Paul Conroy hosted a meeting of teams in Darmstadt where the rules of the tournament were agreed.
In 1999 the championship was organised by Henk Reerink and his colleagues in Amsterdam. Here we benefited from the Hotel being on the golf course. Although some ECGC members used this facility to go from the bar straight to the first tee and then from the 18 th green back to the bar. I don’t think this helped their golf too much.
In 2000 the tournament moved to Bournemouth, England. Despite the problems of the Treasurer being taken into hospital for an operation on the first day, a fuel strike that almost stopped our bus transport and a computer software crash, the tournament survived.
In 2001 the Irish again hosted the tournament. Shannon this time provided the superb venue of Adare Manor with a testing golf course built around a wonderful hotel. Again a vast amount of Guinness was despatched and a few songs were sung.
2002 was our first venture outside Europe. Our “permanent guests” from America led by Jack Kies were keen to repay our hospitality and host the tournament themselves so we went to the Legends course in Myrtle Beach, south Carolina. It was a fantastic venue which was enjoyed by everyone. One of the unscheduled events followed the final evening prize giving event. Some of our slightly inebriated members decided to hold a nude golf competition over two holes which were lit by the floodlights of the practice area. They had fun until the next morning when they realised how many mosquitoes had been out during the night and how badly they could bite.
2003 was hosted by Karlsruhe and Austrocontrol on the border between Germany and Austria at Passau/Linz . This was probably the only time so far that we have played the tournament over two different courses in two different countries. The staff in the hotel seemed a bit overwhelmed by us at times, but the hospitality was superb.
In 2004 we headed North courtesy of Kjell Kramm and his Norwegian colleagues. The course was just outside Oslo and fortunately our hosts had done a good deal with a local brewery so the price of beer was reasonable. The course was in a superb setting of a pine forest but every now and again there was a “pinging” sound followed by a shout of “fore” as a golf ball ricocheted off one of the numerous rocks that stuck out of the ground.
2005 was held in Hasselt just outside Brussels and hosted by CFMU. Another well organised tournament was well attended and some superb weather made it a most enjoyable event.
2006 was something different entirely. Iceland hosted the tournament and everyone was keen both to see Iceland and the two golf courses which we were playing on. Gummi said that we had to hold it after the end of May because the grass didn’t start growing until the start of May !!. When we landed at Keflavik I couldn’t believe that there were any golf courses anywhere, all I could see in every direction was a lava field that resembled a moonscape. When we got to Reykjavik it was a different matter with a bit more greenery about, but not many trees. However the golf courses were both very good and the hospitality was again superb. A particular point to mention was the final evening prize giving event which was held in the Pearl restaurant, an absolutely magical venue.
2007 was Detlef Piepenstock’s retirement present to his colleagues from ECGC. He and his friends from Karlsruhe organised the tournament at Semlin, about 70km West of Berlin. As befitting Germans, they had organised free beer for the welcome party. Unfortunately the 500 litres ran out before the party ended. The competition was a bit unusual because the Semlin course was 27 holes, but the organisation meant that everything went very smoothly. There was quite a bit of water about and a lot of golf balls went in there but fortunately no golfers. 2007 also marked a change in the ECGC Committee with Graeme Wilson and Hans Luchies stepping down and Kevin McMahon and Gummi Fridriksson joining. Martin Stoll took over as Chair.
ECGC 2008 was held in Aviemore, Scotland with Derek McDade and his team organising. Aviemore is in the heart of the highlands and although it was a difficult place to get to, the beautiful scenery made it worth the trip. Aviemore is probably better known for skiing then golf and I suspect some of the competitors wished the course had been covered in snow! The heather was very pretty but very deep. If your ball went in there, it was very difficult to find and even more difficult to get out. I suspect we actually lost one or two of our golfers in there.
ECGC 2009 was back to England. This time at Carden Park, just south of Liverpool. This was a really superb venue with a large hotel and two good 18 hole golf courses attached to it. This meant that participation was almost unrestricted and 53 teams took part with Belfast rejoining ECGC and Brussels playing for the first time. The staff at the venue were pleasant and helpful throughout and as usual they were amazed at the amount of alcohol which ECGC consumed.
TO BE CONTINUED…..