It's time to dig out that dubiously patterned pullover from the bottom draw and search the garage for that ageing bag of clubs - the CRN Channel Golf Challenge is back. Now is the chance for the channel's would-be Jimmy Tarbucks to show their stuff on the course, network with IT executives, enjoy a slap-up dinner and swap politically incorrect stories into the night.
And if you are lucky, you and your team could walk away from the event with one of a number of prizes, donated by the sponsors, for the best performances on the course. Last year there were awards for the longest drive on certain holes and for those who got nearest to the pin, as well as for the teams that came first, second and third.
Paul Sangster, a useful 13 handicap and managing director of storage distributor Hammer, which is part-sponsoring the event, is looking forward to taking part. "We're delighted to be supporting the Golf Challenge. It's an excellent opportunity to talk a bit of business and have a bit of fun too," he said.
However, the shop talk is less important to Hammer. "We're not approaching it as just a networking day; it's more social, with the chance to get to know people in the business you maybe have heard of but haven't actually met before.
"I suspect the talk afterwards will be 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," Sangster said. "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."
If the popularity of last year's event, held at Wokefield Park near Reading, is anything to go by then you need to enter now if you want to join in the fun. In 2003 a total of 24 teams of the channel's finest turned up for the day, which was heavily oversubscribed.
Participants had a great time in the tournament, and also benefited from the serious networking side to the day, discussing changes in the market and new business wins, and having a good gossip.
This year the CRN Channel Golf Challenge has taken over an entire 18-hole course, at Foxhills Golf Club and Resort in Surrey, on Wednesday 6 October. This fantastic location offers a challenging course for the 80 or so competitors. Each team of four will be asked to contribute £200 to the day's costs.
Having exclusive use of a whole course means that the teams can take part in a shotgun start, with teams starting at different holes. The best three scores count from each four balls played.
The idea is that no-one will be left at the clubhouse before the tournament, waiting for their chance to tee off, or afterwards, waiting for the late starters to finish. Hopefully that means more time for revelry and shop talk.
Other sponsors of the day so far include specialist security distributor Fresh Egg Network Technologies and security vendor Fortinet.
Jonathan Mepsted, UK regional director at Fortinet, sees events such as the Golf Challenge as crucial to expanding Fortinet's reach in the UK channel.
"The channel is key to our expansion plans in the UK, and finding new partners is a strategic goal for us. Fun events like this introduce us to an expanded audience in a more informal and, in my view, productive way. So we're keen and delighted to be involved in such a great event," he said.
Graham Fox, managing director of Fresh Egg, said: "The event will provide 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.
"This event in particular is seen as one of the best in the UK - both fun and rewarding. So we're pleased to be associated with it."
So if you fancy a day out to practice your swing and indulge in a little friendly competition, or just want the chance to meet new contacts and raise your firm's profile, go to www.crnchannelgolfchallenge.co.uk.
To find out more about the Foxhills course visit www.foxhills.co.uk/resort/golf/index.shtml.
Fortinet (01483) 549 061
Fresh Egg Network Technologies (01903) 500 121
Hammer (01256) 841 000
For Green Pages go to CRN's online directory at www.crnservices.co.uk.
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