This year, the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship celebrates 25 years at Nailcote Hall. We catch up with the man behind the world’s biggest Par 3 tournament
Twenty-five years ago this summer what has become the world’s biggest Par 3 golf tournament teed up in its beautiful new location in Warwickshire. Since the first ball was struck, the glorious short course at Nailcote Hall has seen some of golfing’s greats grace its greens, as well as a galaxy of stars from the world of sport, entertainment and the arts.
This year’s Farmfoods Par 3 British Championship will see the professional players competing for a record 150,000 Euro prize. At the same time, a pro-am will as always inject some extra fun and games and provide additional entertainment to the thousands of golf-loving spectators expected turn out and watch the event over its four days from 8 to 11 August.
Rick Cressman, owner of Nailcote Hall and the driving force behind the championship’s success, said: “I am truly proud of the event, it has been a real labour of love. If you would have told me 25 years ago that we would have pros and celebrities from around the world playing here at Nailcote, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Golfing stars who have taken part include legends such as Ryder Cup captains Tony Jacklin, Ian Woosnam and Sam Torrance, fellow Majors winners Dame Laura Davies, Paul Lawrie and Danny Willett, as well as the likes of young superstars such as Charley Hull. Celebrities have included Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton, Nigel Mansell, Mike Tindall, Jonny Bairstow and Jasper Carrott. Among the championship’s keenest supporters was Strictly Come Dancing’s legendary judge, the late, great Len Goodman who could always be counted on to cut a dashing figure in the golfing fashion stakes!
Rick explained that the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship is much like the Masters Par 3 with it being played in a relaxed yet competitive atmosphere. However, it holds a very special place in the history of British golf and was played long before it became tradition in the Masters. The championship had its origins in the old Short Course Professional Championship which was played at the Palace Hotel, Torquay from 1933 to 1973. Sid Mouland, who won at Torquay in the 1960s, was the inspiration behind the tournament’s resurgence. Rick said: “Sid was the professional attached to Nailcote Hall before his son Mark inherited his position and he would regale me with tales of the old Championship at the Palace Hotel. Once Sid thought that Nailcote Hall was in good enough shape to take over the championship, the rest, as they say, is history…”
GROW THE GAME
Rick added: “Par 3 golf is the sport that gives everyone the opportunity to play. We try hard to make sure people can see that golf isn’t exclusively the territory for the pros. You hear so much talk about growing the game and that’s what we have always tried to do by showing people who come to our course that golf is about the art of the short game and putting – it’s not just about whether you can drive the ball miles on a full-size course.
“Tony Jacklin who is a great friend and hosts the event each year has always said that the attraction of the course is all the little fiddly bits that you have to master. We’ve become a major sporting event in the West Midlands over the years which attracts a lot of people and is covered each year by Sky Sports on TV. We’re very proud of what we have achieved here.”
Spectators can expect the full golfing experience at Nailcote, complete with the Tented Village which is the entertainment and social hub of the championship. Visitors can enjoy food and drink, browse the stalls with clothing, golfing equipment and beauty products and test their golfing ability. Players and celebrities take to the village for exclusive Q&A sessions which are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many fans.
Rick said: “Our whole aim is to open up golf to as many people as possible in a competitive yet fun way.”