Diary From The Challenge Tour: Chris Hanson


Away from the glamour of the European Tour there are thousands of golfers trying to make enough money to support their dreams and their families. In this TG online feature we follow the highs and lows of 2011 EuroPro Tour Order of Merit winner Chris Hanson, as he tries to adjust to life on the Challenge Tour. This week was the first event of his 2013 season...

Here we go again…

The 2013 season has started and I really did not think I would get the chance to compete on the Challenge Tour so soon after finishing off 2012 with a worse category. But I have……so here we go with my first blog for 2013 from life on tour!

I’m writing this whilst sitting on an Emirates B777-300ER at 37,000ft from Manchester to Dubai and have just finished watching three hours of Batman, The Dark Knight Rises (it was quality!). I’ve now got 3h 27m till I land so I thought it would be a great time to start writing to you guys…

I’m not going to hide from the fact that last year ended up being a disappointing year on the course. As always and like in every job you have ups and downs and I would like to think that most people have an ambition to get promoted…?

I certainly am one of those people, so to feel like you have been sacked and lose your position in that job, as I said, was disappointing. But knowing that I will get some starts on the Challenge Tour this year, even if they are last minute, I know I have the chance to get my job back … Or even better still, get promoted to the European Tour!

But ‘putting’ golf aside, last year was incredible and I’ve been very lucky to travel the world doing something I love! I visited four continents and over 14 countries but the highlight of the year was on April 11th when I was lucky enough to welcome my daughter Jessica Jayne into the world! What an amazing moment that was!

So… looking forward to these next few weeks, I now have three days in Dubai to get some productive practice done in sunshine, warmth and off real grass (as opposed to snow and mats) before I fly onto Kenya for my first Challenge Tour event of 2013.

I really can’t tell you how excited I am about playing again. I know everyone is different but for me there is only so much practice I can do before I want to compete, and now I have the chance. It’s time to go and enjoy my job and let the results take care of themselves.
Speak again soon en route to Kenya…

Well, back in the air again but not for quite as long this time, Dubai to Nairobi is a 4.5 hour flight. So the movie of choice this time is ‘Taken 2′ followed by some analysis of the last three days’ practice in sunny Dubai!
It’s been a great trip for many reasons...

- chance to get over the time difference,
- practice in the sunshine,
- hardly any wind,
- practice companion for competition, (Matt Ford)
- great course and facilities,
- to hit off perfect turf,
- to chip and putt on quality greens!
Sound good to you? I’m pretty sure there is more but I think you get my point, now hopefully the work I have done will pay off next week in Kenya!

The Kenyan experience...
I landed on my feet this week with accommodation, as my roommate for the week, Matt Ford, has a great contact out here and we managed to stay in Nairobi’s best hotel free of charge!! (Sankara in Nairobi www.sankara.com) It was an absolute pleasure and we were treated like royalty, I can’t thank Moshi the General Manager enough! And that was such a result, as the official players’ hotel is around $200 per night and an hour’s drive from the course.

So landing late Sunday evening in Nairobi we were greeted by the hotel driver who safely got us back to our hotel through the thousands of cars and people who fill the single lane roads that are nowhere near built for this volume of traffic. It really is crazy; they don’t seem to have any system in place on the roads and reminds me in many ways of last year’s trip to India. For example, you don’t have a right of way on a roundabout and if you don’t go and edge your way onto the roundabout you will be stuck there for literally hours!!

For miles and miles the sides of the roads are lined with hundreds of people selling furniture, pottery, iron work, flowers and stone, and the amazing thing, which would never happen in England, is that all these are left out at night and there is no theft!

I guess this may be down to the 41 tribes in Nairobi which the police leave alone as they seem to control their own problems. You can only guess what will happen if you’re caught stealing! There also seemed to be a lot of ex pats living out in Kenya and all living the high life, but there sure is another side to Kenya which we experienced everyday in some way…

You can actually buy a 2 bedroom house for £6,000, a price you can understand when you know that the caddies at the golf club normally only get paid £5 a day and only work three days of the week. For the tournament week the Tour had arranged that we pay £15 a round, so you can see how big a week it is for the local caddies, as most players would also tip them and leave behind unwanted golf balls, hats, gloves and even shirts.

Overall it was a great experience, and I was quite happy with my performance in many ways. I haven’t really played competitive golf since Tour School in November, and haven’t got out on the course too often, so to shoot 4 under (67) to make the the cut was pleasing! The mistakes I made throughout the week are exactly what I thought I would make due to lack of game time. But maybe that was the wrong mindset to have for the week … I have sure learnt from it!!
T55th – 75, 67, 73, 75 +6 total (par 71)

So another event is over and I’m on the OOM which is a nice start! Anyway I’d like to thank Barclays Corporate for putting on one of the best Challenge Tour events I’ve played, and with over 10,000 people watching the tournament over the weekend it really was special and the Kenyan people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met!

I’m now on the last flight of the journey back from our connecting flight from Dubai and I’m so excited about seeing Laura and Jess, it’s going to be fun to spend some quality time with them before I head to Spain for the Jamega Tour ‘Spanish/Portuguese swing’ in March.

Hope you enjoyed my first blog back, I sure enjoyed writing it!



PS – Just one more thank you. Before flying to Dubai I visited Bluestone Branding in Harrogate to have the new FMG logo embroidered on my new Stromberg shirts. I met Peter Rathbone who runs the business, and what a fantastic job he did! For anyone who is after a similar service or looking for sports or workwear take a look at his site and be sure to mention me if you contact him.