August 14, 2008
Deen Graves and Martyn Ashcroft at International Pairs World Final
UK champions Deen Graves and Martyn Ashcroft are planning to arrive at next month’s International Pairs World Final at St Andrews in style - in a caravanette.
Graves and Ashcroft aim to put the finishing touches to their preparations for the competition - the largest of its kind for club golfers in the world - with a five-day 550-mile road trip in a motor home from their base in Torquay.
The duo, who play at Dawlish Warren Golf Club, Exeter, and won their second UK title at Carnoustie last October, are hoping to play at two courses that host International Pairs club qualifiers each day during their journey north.
And Graves and Ashcroft’s unique preparations will have an extra purpose as they are also aiming to raise up to £4,000 in charity for The National Autistic Society on the way to the world final, which is being staged at The Duke‘s, St Andrews, from September 21-23.
Ashcroft, whose seven-year-old son William is autistic, said: “We haven’t had the chance to play that much this year because work has been quite difficult but we have set aside the whole of September to practice. We both had the idea of driving up to Scotland and this seems the perfect solution.
“Both of us have had such a great time playing in International Pairs that we wanted to give something back, while autism is a subject very close to my heart as my son William suffers from it and it will be wonderful to raise money for the Autistic Society along the way.
“We’re hoping to get as many of the 180 holes we play on our route sponsored as possible, Deen’s wife Sarah is going to take pictures so we have a record of our journey and hopefully our golf will be in good shape when we arrive and we can bring the world title back to Torquay.”
Graves and Ashcroft made history last year when they followed up their success in the International Pairs 2001 UK Finals by winning the title for a second time and they are hopeful their good run in the competition.
Ashcroft added: “It’s going to be very exciting. People are flying in from all over the world to take part and we both can’t wait to get there.,
“Playing at the Home of Golf is what it’s all about and you realise this could be the pinnacle of your golfing career. Playing there and for your country is a chance that not many people get.
Graves, who plays off 14, and 19-handicapper Ashcroft will be joined by six other pairs from the UK as they battle for the chance to succeed Scarborough South Cliff duo Shaun Smith and Simon Deaves as world champions.
Teenagers Elliott Briggs and Tom Woods, from Howley Hall, Leeds, will head to The Duke‘s as English champions while Bonnybridge duo John Maxwell and Stephen Brown will represent the home nation as International Pairs Scottish title holders.
Father-and-son Bryan and Aled Williams, who play at Cottrell Park, Cardiff, will be carry the hopes of Wales and the UK line-up will be completed by Market Rasen duo Roy Knowles and David Steel and Andrew Richardson and Mike Greener, from Woodham, near Durham.
The 2008 world final, the fifth in International Pairs’ history, promises to be the most spectacular yet with competitors from 30 countries including America, South Africa, Malaysia, Iceland, Ireland and Nigeria taking part.
The players will march through the historic streets of St Andrews accompanied by the St Andrews Pipe Band and schoolchildren from across Fife as part of a glittering opening ceremony, before the action switches to The Duke’s for a 36-hole fourball betterball Stableford competition - which will be screened to a worldwide television audience of tens of millions of people.
And the event, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2008 and has been backed by Visit Scotland for the last six years, is poised to get even bigger as it is set to expand into 52 countries.
Australia, Sweden, Russia and the Caribbean have all joined International Pairs this year while it has also signed agreements with the English Golf Union and International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) in the last 12 months.
Ross Honey, founder and chairman of International Pairs, said: “This year is a notable landmark for International Pairs and it seems fitting that the world final will be staged in Scotland at the Home of Golf.
“Scotland has played a pivotal role in the development of the competition and I really believe we haven’t scratched the surface of what we can achieve. It’s very exciting.
“We have been able to establish fantastic international partners all over the world. And I think with the people and global family we have created we can build an amazing means of moving forward.”
To enter the International Pairs and to register a club, please call 01489 878509, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Alternatively, visit the Pairs’ website at www.internationalpairs.com.