With Europe's stunning victory in the Ryder Cup and the amazing performance of Ernie Els in the World Match Play Championship fresh in everyone's mind, expectations were high at this year's CRN Channel Golf Challenge.
Although there was no million-pound winning prize at stake, and certainly no £60,000 for the losers, almost 80 channel golfers turned out to play, network and generally have fun. CRN teamed up with headline sponsor Kyocera, and also welcomed storage distributor Hammer, internet security distributor Fresh Egg and security vendor Fortinet as sponsors for the event.
Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Foxhills Golf Club in Surrey, the day dawned bright and sunny. This was a welcome relief to most of the golfers, because the days preceding the event had been rained-drenched and grey.
The 18-hole, 6,743-yard Longcross course is a tough one, as those who took part discovered. Foxhills itself warned us that it called for "pinpoint accuracy", because of the mature firs and silver birch protecting each of the holes.
Whether or not this pinpoint accuracy was actually achieved by our group is open to question.
After a breakfast of coffee and bacon sarnies in the clubhouse, the channel's very own Tigers and Monties strolled into position to start. Having exclusive use of the whole course meant we could get the competition underway with a shotgun start: all of the teams began at once, but on different holes. The best three scores counted from each four balls played.
With gleaming, brand-new golf clubs on offer as prizes, the stakes were high (as were the bets, from what I heard).
But in true British style not an hour had gone by before the rain started. A keen player had assured me earlier that no-one actually goes out to play golf in the rain, but no-one ever stops playing if it does rain. Sure enough, the teams valiantly carried on regardless.
Phil Keeling, major account manager at Fortinet, said he enjoyed both the course and the company. "It wouldn't have been the same without the weather," he said. "In fact, I have to admit to playing my best golf in the pouring rain.
"We had a period where every time I put my umbrella down to take a shot the rain seemed to come down even harder, soaking me to the skin! I'd take my shot and rush back to cover, just in time for it to ease off again!"
The rain eventually stopped, and as the day drew to a close the golfers returned to the clubhouse for a slap-up meal and the prize presentation. There were prizes for the teams in first, second and third place, as well as the two players nearest to the pin and the two longest drives.
Neil Ledger, co-founder of security distributor equIP - and proud winner of the longest drive prize - said: "Another great day was had by all. The venue was fantastic, with the course in great condition. It was also a really good opportunity for networking with new integrators.
"I'd like to congratulate DV02 and their winning score. However, I must remind them next year it is a competition over 18 holes, not 22. No wonder they were out on the course 40 minutes longer than the other teams!"
Paul Sangster, a 13-handicap and managing director of storage distributor Hammer, whose team came third, said he found the day a great opportunity to talk a bit of business and have some fun along the way.
"We didn't approach it as just a networking day; it's more social, with the chance to get to know people in the business you may have heard of but haven't actually met before," he said.
"The talk afterwards is always less about business and more about what's happened on the golf course in the past five hours. Of course, you can have a work conversation if you want to, or you can save it till you're back in the clubhouse.
"Golf is a particularly big sport for the channel. Even if you're not very expert you can still have a chat, hack around a bit and enjoy yourself."
Graham Fox, managing director of Fresh Egg, found the day beneficial. "The event provides us with a great platform to increase the knowledge and awareness of the company as we look to introduce ourselves to a wider range of VARs and resellers," he said.
"This event in particular is seen as one of the best in the UK; it's both fun and rewarding. So we're pleased to be associated with it."
The event this year was oversubscribed and CRN, alongside its sponsors, will be expanding the event in 2005. Thank you to everyone who took part in a fantastic day, and to our sponsors, who made the event possible.
Infrastructure provider says international sales now make up 51 per cent of its revenue
Suzanne Chappell of TMS plans sailing venture after selling Oxfordshire-based TMS to acquisitive Chess
Withdrawal of credit insurance by some providers a 'reflection' of current challenge facing IT sector, according to MD Steve Soper
SMART's UK managing director joins Lenovo to boost SMB business