As you know by now my blog is not only about the Top 100 courses but interesting people and lifestyle products that members of those prestigious courses enjoy. So, I was delighted to receive an invite from Max and Cat Colman who own Max Golf Protein to play at Brocket Hall.
It was a beautiful summer’s day and we met on the terrace for a late breakfast I was impressed by how much their business had grown in 6 years from when Max and Cat logoed up their car, made up their protein drinks and sold them to golf pros around the country. Now they are sending their products all over the world in vast quantities from two warehouses. Their new Hydration drinks have been a game-changer and the company are now challenging the big players in the marketplace.
Brocket Hall has had a turbulent history and I had not heard good reports about the condition of the courses or service standards. However, a couple of people had let me know that things were changing, and the courses were now in the best condition they have ever been in.
There are two courses at the club The Palmerston, is seen as the more senior, but on the day I visited, was closed due to maintenance and we played The Melbourne. Max had told me that he had invited a friend to play with us and Mike Browne met us on the putting green. As it was a hot day Mike was wearing shorts and I couldn’t help but notice he was an amputee having his left leg amputated due to a motor cross injury in 2014. Mike served in the army for active service for 14 years
Mike had broken his leg in a motor cross accident and unfortunately, he got an infection in the wound. After two years and numerous operations, the decision was taken to remove the leg. Mike told me that it took him just a few seconds to have the procedure remove the leg as he was on so many pills and was feeling very depressed having had so many setbacks.
Mike had never played golf before the accident but came across The On Course Foundation who help injured servicemen in their rehabilitation through golf. His first introduction to golf was on the small pitch and putt course at Brocket Hall and incredibly Mike got down to Scratch in just one year. He used golf to help his rehabilitation and his focus was such that he was able to rid himself of the depression and become so good he turned professional.
I couldn’t turn down the chance to challenge Mike in “A Round with Niall Challenge” he accepted giving me 9 shots. Max had also been a professional golfer and after a few holes, I was feeling very old as they were smashing their drives at least 30 yards past my Sunday best!
The European Tour has made great strides in helping golfers with disabilities but most of them are still Amateur. There are a growing number of professional Amputee golfers with tournaments all over the world and I am sure the PGA Tour and the European Tour will have plans to secure more prize money over the coming years.
I asked Mike what the standout event had been so far in his career to which he replied The President Cup at Royal Melbourne playing behind Tiger Woods !! He played for a Rest of the World side against the Australian and Asia teams. They were part of the opening and closing ceremonies and he briefly got to meet Tiger and the rest of the USA team. He won his match 4&3 so I knew I was in serious trouble when I was 4 down at the turn in our game.
The Melbourne did not disappoint the greens were fast and true, the definition of fairways and presentation was good and much better than a few years ago when I had last played. The house is a great focal point as you navigate yourself around the course.
Max and Cat are two people very much into the community and helping people and they are one of Mike’s sponsors hence the introduction. Mike is very appreciative of their help and sees them as good friends rather than commercial support.
I was struggling to keep the score respectable as Mike was super impressive making a number of birdies and continuing to hit the ball a country mile. Standing on the 18th tee, which is a very inviting driving hole I needed to win the hole to keep Mike from being at the Top of the Round with the Niall Challenge leader board. Although I had a shot, I could only manage a par net birdie and with Mike just flicking an easy 5 iron onto the green of a par 5 in two and nestling his eagle putt up the hole he took the game 6 up !!
Once again it was a most enjoyable game, and I learnt a lot about the issue’s amputees have. Mike uses up twice the energy of a fully-abled person so has to keep himself in good shape and in addition amputees can suffer from heart problems in later life.
I have played with a number of top professionals including 2 Masters Champions, but I think Mike’s ball-striking impressed me the most considering he hadn’t picked up a club until he was 34 and he had lost his left leg. I will be following his career with interest in the years to come and I am sure you will see him at the top of numerous leader boards as the Amputee circuit becomes more established and better funded.
I enjoyed The Melbourne Course and Max has invited me back again to take him on around the Palmerston course which I look forward too but with the competition to get into the Top 100, the course will have to be good in every aspect.
Until next time