After 33 sports I was on the home straight, with the last, a favourite, golf. I have played the game on and off for about 10 years now, so I was confident I could complete the challenge though a full 18 holes, even with a buggy, is a stiff task. I was delighted that JohnsRoad2Rio should come to an end on Ryder Cup day at Provide CIC’s Annual Charity Golf Day, at the Warren Estate Golf and Country Club. I was chairman of Provide, a deliverer of 50+ services, worth £60m a year, to the NHS in Essex and beyond. So it was great to catch up with some friends and hear that despite the pressures within the health sector Provide is thriving.


The Power2inspire team was made up of Richard Elphick, an old friend, lawyer and the partner of our chair Annabel Sykes; and Donna Griffin, from Lloyds Bank but also a friend from kayaking and Bourn Health Club where I swim. We failed to make it a four as two possible candidates dropped out with bad backs, so we were given a points allowance. This was to be a team and individual Stableford competition: points are awarded for scoring a net bogey, par or birdie, after handicap allowances are accounted for. As I was playing off 28 I was given one shot on each of the eight easiest holes (so a par 3 would become a par 4 for me) and two shots on the ten hardest (so a par 5 became a par 7). It still isn’t enough for short hitters like me! Before we set off we were joined by another Richard: a cameraman from BBC Look East. He was joined by their sports editor Jonathan Park, who had come to cover the completion of my challenge. His report was shown on the lunchtime and early evening news slots on BBC 1 the following Monday I was very pleased (even if I always cringe at seeing myself on video) with the outcome.


  The effect of having the “paparazzi” (Richard’s term) in tow, was to ruin our game – certainly that is my excuse. On a serious note it slowed us up and therefore speeded us up, which affected our game. It slowed us up as they asked to take a number of clips of certain of my shots, which speeded us up as we tried to keep up with the team in front and keep out of the way of the team following. Rushing is not good for golf. Eventually we let the next group through and when the TV guys had left us we settled into a better rhythm and we all played better! I can’t imagine what it is like to play under the scrutiny of Ryder Cup TV cameras. My hat is proverbially doffed. You may be wondering how I play. I tuck each club under my left armpit to grip it tight, use my right ‘paw’ to guide and push it through, and rely on as wide an arc as I can get to deliver as much power as I can. So counter-intuitively I have longer clubs as these give me extra length to grip under my armpit and increase the arc. On a good day I can hit the ball about 100 yards, and usually it is straight. I claim two concessions: I play from the red tees, usually the province of the ladies, and I tee up the ball on the fairway to compensate for the lack of distance. I didn’t play my best but we had fun as a team. Richard hadn’t played in years and improved as the round progressed. Donna has recently had her handicap reduced which makes scoring challenging, and it was noticeable her game improved when the TV crew departed. We didn’t trouble the competition scorers – my 16 Stableford points were insufficient to help the team be competitive. But I did hit a few good shots. One was captured on film: an 80 yard bunt along the fairway using the contours to swing the ball onto the green from right to left, running up to 8 feet from the hole! If only they could all be like that.


  It felt odd hitting the putt on the last green. My 14 month odyssey had ended. I was tired on a number of counts: because 18 holes even with a buggy is a long step, my body at age 55 has been dealing with all sorts of new demands and only when I stopped did it complain, but mostly a mental fatigue as I have had to learn so many new sports, moves, rules and disciplines as well as discovering muscles, aches and pains that a 55 isn’t used to. But it was fantastic. I’ve met scores of brilliant people all great advocates for their sport. I hope I’ve made lasting friendships. And I’ve had fun. It has certainly proved to me that there is at least one sport out there for everyone! Go and find it!