THE Gazette Matchplay golf tournament is back for 2011.
And soon golfers all over the Fylde Coast will get the chance to enter – and stake a claim for a place in the grand final at one of the most picturesque courses in Portugal, courtesy of competition sponsors Blacktax, who are kindly providing the prizes.
The tournament came out of cold storage last year and proved to be a big success, victory going in style to Chris Boyes, of Knott End Golf Club, who will be keen to defend his title.
And this year, it will be bigger and better than ever, with the semi-final and final taking place at a different venue, the Old Course in Vilamoura on the Portuguese Algarve.
Ian Wharmby, managing director of Blacktax, is backing the event for the second year in a row, and he certainly has a soft spot for the competition, having reached finals day on two occasions himself.
He is still a keen golfer, playing off a handicap of six, and he is a member of Blackpool North Shore Golf Club.
He said: “It must be the biggest event on the Fylde Coast, and it’s probably the best prize of its kind that anyone can win in the whole country.
“We want to create a buzz in the golf clubs and make it something that everyone talks about.
“We are delighted to be sponsoring for a second year – the finals will be played at the best course at Vilamoura.”
This year’s venue has been described as one of the top 100 courses in the world.
Prior to that the quarter-finals will be held at the challenging Shaw Hill Golf Club in Chorley.
There will be a key change to this year’s competition.
It has been decided to re-introduce the three-quarter difference of the handicap, in the hope that it will persuade even more golfers to take part.
The cost to enter the competition is £10.
However, there is an instant payback for those who enter.
Golfers will immediately receive £10 of taxi vouchers from Blacktax taxis.
The tournament is open to local male amateur golfers aged 17 or over who are members, with a certified and active handicap at one of the following clubs: Knott End, Fleetwood, Poulton, North Shore, Blackpool Park, Herons Reach, St Annes Old Links, Lytham Green Drive, Fairhaven and Royal Lytham and Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The competition consists of five separate rounds which are played on local courses, prior to the quarter-finals and the semi-finals and final.
The four golfers who make it through to the final of the competition will be staying in the superb four-star Villa Gale Ampalius Hotel for three nights dinner, bed and breakfast all courtesy of Blacktax Taxis.
Organiser Emma Shawcross said: “All the contestants last year who reached this stage of the competition said this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they all had the most amazing time.”
The entry form for the competition will be appearing in the Gazette soon.
Closing date for entries is April 13.
Entries will also be taken on The Gazette golf hot-line on (01772) 838180.
Full details of the tournament will be appearing regularly in The Gazette and on www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk. Full rules, terms and conditions are available on the website.
n BLACKTAX are a local private hire taxi company established since 1976 and operating 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
They currently provide taxi and courier services to a range of businesses including Blackpool Council, NHS, Trinity Hospice, Blackpool Airport, Granada TV as well as schools, hotels and care homes.
Based on Red Bank Road, Bispham, their fleet comprises 75 vehicles including minibuses.
They also operate as Blackpool Courier Services for immediate collection and despatch of legal, medical and other items requiring urgent delivery.