ARoundWithRog - lets get started
Having decided on the idea, the next stage was to decide exactly what I was planning to do, what and who I needed to help me.
It soon dawned on me that without the golf, the rest was clearly academic, but without a plan to carry the golf clubs, it would clearly also be unattainable.
So off to search the internet. Having heard that all sorts of innocent search criteria could land you at websites that I'd rather not visit, I thought carefully about the wording. With this approach my searches led me to an American Patents website informing you of inventions that had their patents applied for. Even then, some were saucy and some were plain downright useless inventions with precious little relevance, but I did discover that one person had patented a scissor golf bag to fit astride a motorcycle! Needless to say, it hadn't reached production.
Having only used the internet in a narrow work related envirnoment, it was certainly an eye opener for me as to the raw power of the internet in its ability to help you find things out. It was also fun, although turned out to be rather time consuming; mainly because of the multifarious and interesting distractions that came my way during my initial searches.
Further, more honed searches necessarily followed, resulting in the discovery of an invention that had reached the production stage. Fantastic. I was clearly on a roll, so changed the search criteria once more to find a second option. Fine, that was enough for now. It appeared that with two options on the table, I could reasonably expect one to work.
. . . . . . . Or so I thought. A few email exchanges soon revealed that one would only work with custom style motorcycles (such as Harley Davidsons). But more about that later.
So that was it, on to the important business of sorting out the golf. That's it, sort out the golf - yes just sort it out. . . . . . but how? Having spent my working life in a business to business sales environment, it seemed as though the required personal skills may be there, but this was completely different. It was not all about selling your company's option against another's offering, or even about deciding whether you considered it worthwhile pursuing a particular customer for a particular 'deal'. It was much more about me.
That sounds awfully egotistical, and at times, but particularly at the outset, I felt like I was being exactly that, but the end seemed to continually remind me that it justified the means. Apart from that, not being a great reader, I was somehow unlikely to go in search of instructions on how to 'do it' in a bookshop or on the internet or whatever. By 'it', I mean create a unique fundraising project and deliver the desired results, by the way! Soon, I came to realise that my greatest asset in this venture was in fact not myself and all that I encompass - it was the goodwill of my family, friends, acquaintances and all of their contact networks and all the people who until I made first contact with them, were complete strangers to me.
I, Rog, was merely the context. Someone to bring things to life. A communications vehicle (sorry for the technobabble business jargon). A focus for why people may want to give.
The odd thing about all this was that having ceased work, my conversation soon seemed to have become limited - there is only so much that you can tell someone who has been working all day about your last game of tennis, snooker, round of golf or general relaxation while fighting to get your strength back. If you hope that even your best friends will continue to show a real interest in your life, then you really need to move on and achieve.
On a personal level, failure was not an option. As a result, I couldn't talk widely about my project at this stage, because I had no idea if success was likely, without potentially some major revisions to the plan.
In the back of my mind were thoughts of what if it was a non-starter? No experience in talking to people in decision making capacities at the top golf clubs around the country, other than a few notable occasions from one or two that we had visited on previous Endurance Tours.
This is probably a good opportunity to lighten the mood with one of them:
A golf club in the west country, which will remain nameless, just in case I have any of the facts wrong have an annual 'Open competition'. Much like the way that Princes Golf Club and its more illustrious neighbour, Royal St Georges Golf Club (in Kent) are adjacent, sharing the same coastal stretch of duneland that make such fine golf courses, this golf club had a neighbouring course and club. However, unlike Royal St Georges, this club had a superiority complex over its neighbour. Why, I do not know, but suffice to say that many years before, a club rule had been instigated that stated that no member of the neighbouring club was allowed to set foot in the clubhouse of the club in question. Cue the Open competition. . . . . . the unthinkable happened and a member of the neighbouring club was victorious.
In order not to contravene club rules, the captain of the club presented the winner with the cup by passing it to him through an open window! I seem to remember finding out about this when asking about the photograph depicting this act on the clubhouse wall. If actually having been so inhumane was not enough, the pride in depicting this act by way of a picture seemed to defy modern standards of not only common decency, but also political correctness. This, in a sport where good manners, such as removing your cap when shaking hands with an opponent at the end of a round, are held in high regard.
Evidently, in this case at least, rather more important than the feelings of the winning golfer was adherence to the club's rules!
The same club's secretary was one of very few in twenty one years of our Endurance Tour who asked to see handicap certificates before play. However, it was the only one where the secretary expressed a dislike for the nature of one such certificate (as it was a tear out page from a membership handbook). 'Call this a handicap certificate?' he moaned in an utterly derisory fashion.
On a searingly hot early summer's day, at another traditional club we visited, before getting changed, I asked if short socks were permitted with my tailored shorts. I was told that I was extremely lucky to be allowed to wear shorts (with knee length socks) at all, as they had only been allowed for the last two years. My assessment of the situation was that I had not been asking the question of the person who had proposed the change!
At another golf club, an officious member had run across two fairways (perhaps 250 yeards each way) to inform my playing partner that his socks had fallen from their required position of just below the knee!
As you can imagine, having experienced this type of approach in dealings with traditional golf clubs that my fellow Endurance Tourists and I had visited over the years, I was understandably apprehensive about the reaction that I may receive to my fundraising plans.
Realising that I had little experience, I decided to approach a few of the top courses that I had always wanted to play, but because of their remoteness, thought it unlikely that I would do so until this project. By selecting the first two because of their reputation and remoteness, I suspected that they would be the least likely to attract a large number of similar requests. The other two courses selected for an initial approach are two of the highest profile named courses in Scotland that are run more as a business. Businesses are aware of their corporate image and I felt I understood enough to pitch (no pun intended!) into this environment.
The most remote course of them all - Royal Dornoch was where I aimed my telephone call. I asked the secretary there for his advice (people like being asked) on how I should best approach it. Telephone call followed by email or letter was his advice, as secretaries like to have a feeling for who they are dealing with. I was also pleasantly surprised by his friendly and helpful manner.
In no time and to my delight, all four courses had committed to offer me 'courtesy of the course' (which means a free round of golf for me) but they had agreed with my suggestion that it would be easier for them to manage and so better for them to offer me a tee time for four people. Quickly, I realised that the other places on the tee which could be sold to raise money for my cause. This would make certain that if I took on this challenge it would offer a great opportunity to raise a core of funds, to ensure that the venture would be worthwhile.
Having included a former Open venue (the Open is the biggest or most prestigious tournament in golf for individual professionals) in the original four courses, I felt it would be difficult for others of a similar or lesser reputation not to accede to my request. Especially as this course was the Ailsa course at Turnberry, which will host the Open again in 2009.
Soon, phonecalls were made and emails were 'pinged' to the remaining courses on my target list, which had been carefully formulated with a map of the UK and ferry routes to Northern Ireland. Soon, I had knowledge of the various decision processes of the top clubs in the nation. Time to wait. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .but no time. All of a sudden, 'my baby' was born as the answers started to trickle in. However, having envisaged making the trip in October 2006, the realisation that this project was immediately much bigger than I had expected.
A reality check was needed; a chat with the doctors, a conversation with enough people to realise that it was too much too soon to be able to organise, market and sell what I was doing, let alone asking people to spend the money and commit time in their busy schedules, to participate in my marathon project. One other factor - safety. Riding a motorcycle in the dark when tired and possibly cold, didn't seem like a great plan, so May was decided upon as the new timeframe.
Tee times to sell, accommodation to organise, sponsors to gain, publicity, liasing with the charities, contacts, celebrities. . . . . ? The list seemed endless. Within days, I was very pleased with my decision to reschedule to May/June 2007, in order to give me time to plan this thoroughly.
After all, I dislike it if I plan to do something and then fail to commit to it. Also, I am a competitive animal. This has to be the best I can make it. So in the same way as I do not give up in a game of tennis or golf, until I have lost, my efforts to raise money to improve the chances of those with Lymphoma and similar diseases has to be conducted in the same vane and with equal vigour.
Moreover, with the offers of help and assistance that I was starting to receive, I owed it to those people to make the project raise as much as possible to justify their generous donations of time, patience, goods, services and what it all finally comes down to - money.
Please visit www.ARoundWithRog.co.uk . On the Donate For Rog page, you can learn how to donate bone marrow to give someone else in a similar position to Rog a chance of life, as well as donate to the campaign, online or offline. Thanks.
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