Golf's diversity was never better illustrated than with the winners of the 2016 Morocco Matchplay, powered by HowDidiDo, which was held last week in Marrakech.
The champions included a midwife, a fork-lift truck driver, a betting shop manager and a retired policeman, with the geographical spread taking in Scotland, and England's north, east and south.
In the open pairs competition, the title went to late replacements Matt Craske, 30, and James Crosby, 39, from Mundesley GC, in Norfolk, who were last-minute additions to the schedule after finishing their regional qualifying final as first reserves, but travelled after one pair couldn't make the event.
And they continued to defy the odds throughout the tournament, as four-handicapper Craske, a locum shop manager, explained.
"We were four down yesterday with six to play and we came in one up to get into a play-off for the final," he said. "And then we got through to the final on the third play-off hole ... with a birdie from James."
His partner, betting-shop manager Crosby, who plays off 13, now has a 100 per cent record of winning events ‘overseas'.
He smiled: "It's the first time ever I've been abroad. The sunshine's great; back home I think it's snowing now. Morocco is magical. As first reserve, going to Morocco was like winning anyway. When we got here that helped and the momentum carried us along. We felt like it was ours to win, coming in as we did."
Equally popular figures in the ‘winners enclosure' were the mixed pairs champions from Worthing GC, 56-year-old midwife Clare Weller, who plays off a 12-handicap, and her partner George Mero, 55, a pharmacy technician.
Mero, a 23-handicapper, smiled: "I was quite emotional when we won through the regional final - but I'm keeping it in check today. I didn't even know, originally, that Clare had entered us into the competition, so to come from that to this is amazing. It feels wonderful. The experience here has been absolutely fantastic. The caddies have been wonderful - we'd never played with caddies before - and the whole week has been one I will treasure for ever."
Oulton Hall members Malcom Crowson, 62, a retired police officer, who plays off 18, and five-handicapper Kevin Taylor, 51, who works as a fork-lift truck driver, took the seniors title. And 42-year-old Richard Cormack, a five-handicapper from Strathlene GC, in Banffshire, and a QHSE superintendent, walked away with the honours in the singles competition.
All 32 competitors received complimentary return flights from Gatwick, courtesy of the event's partner British Airways; five nights' luxury bed-and-breakfast accommodation in the five-star Palmeraie Palace; four rounds of championship golf on the Robert Trent Jones-designed PalmGolf Marrakech Palmeraie; a welcome cocktail reception; and a gala dinner and prize presentation.
Four competitions culminated at the grand final, sponsored for a third year by the Moroccan National Tourist Office (MNTO): singles, pairs, mixed pairs and senior pairs. Each finalist played up to four qualifying rounds merely to reach the regional final, with the knockout rounds taking place between June and September, and the regional finals in October.
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