Brian Ward - The Double Century
Brian completes both the GB&I and England Top 100s at Hankley Common
Howzat? is a quintessential cricket-related appeal whereby every batsman who has experienced the cry hopes beyond hope that the umpire will not uphold the bowler’s plea and will instead return a verdict of “not out”. After all, every batsman wants to remain at the crease in order to go on and score a double-century. However, many cricketers (even top professionals) don't manage to score 200 runs in one innings over their entire careers.
No golfer wants to card a century, let alone a double-century for their round. A three-figure number on the scorecard represents a bad day at the golfing office, but Brian Ward was overjoyed to achieve a remarkable double-century at Hankley Common Golf Club last month.
Just about everyone collects something and Brian, a long-time member of Astbury Golf Club in Cheshire, is no exception. A few decades ago, the keen football supporter set an objective to visit each of the 92 football league grounds in England. Brian completed the quest over an eight-year period, aged 26. More recently he turned his attention to playing golf courses and earlier this year he played his one-thousandth course – Halmstad (Norra) – while on a trip to Sweden.
It became obvious to me a few years ago that Brian would become the first member of the Top 100 team to complete the Britain & Ireland Top 100. And so it came to pass at Hankley last month, when Andy Newmarch and I joined Brian and his golfing buddy Andy to celebrate his achievement. But not only did Hankley mark Brian’s GB&I milestone, it also commemorated his completion of the England hundred.
The first highly rated course Brian played from our current 2016 England Top 100 list was Wallasey back in 1998 and this classic old links was followed by Delamere Forest, Broadstone and Sandiway in 1999. Eighteen years later, he was able to put the last tick in the box. Ironically, the aforementioned quartet has so far eluded me.
A few golfers have played the Britain & Ireland Top 100, but I’m unaware of any who have completed the English hundred. If you’ve played all the best tracks in England, or know somebody who has, please let me know.
We already have more than our fair share of ton-up golfers here at Top 100 Golf Courses, but nobody to my knowledge has completed two major Top 100 ranking lists in one day.
So what’s Brian going to do next?
Some readers may remember the story we published a few months ago, Rudo completes the World Top 100 “Ever” list, which involved conquering more than 300 courses that had been historically listed by multiple sources down the years. Brian now intends to emulate Rudo’s achievement for British and Irish courses and tackle the Top 100 GB&I “Ever” list. We’re still defining the full catalogue of courses, but I’m betting that Brian will be the first person to complete the task. Additionally, Brian intends to continue to travel further afield and aims to play as many of the world's best courses as he possibly can.
Brian is the Secretary of the Golf Society of Great Britain and also one of our key panellists, especially when it comes to shaping our biennial English Top 100 rankings, so I asked him to list a few of his favourites. It would be inappropriate to publish Brian’s entire personal list in isolation, but he has been brave enough to share, in no particular order, ten of his favoured English courses:
Sunningdale (Old), Swinley Forest, St George’s Hill (Red & Blue), Broadstone, Royal Birkdale, Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin), Royal St George’s, West Sussex, Royal West Norfolk and The Alwoodley.
Weather is inevitably bound to play its part in any quest of this type, but remarkably Brian only had to return to replay one course due to bad weather. It was so windy when he first visited Hunstanton that golf trolleys were being blown around like tumbleweed. After only two holes he was forced to retreat to the sanctuary of the clubhouse. A couple of years later he returned to Norfolk and completed Hunstanton in much kinder conditions.
If you are trying to emulate either of Brian’s double-century adventures, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page to share your story.
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