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Liverpool father and son get late call-up

A BUTCHER, a baker and … a furniture maker; they’re all heading to Morocco next month to compete in the grand final of the 2015 Morocco Matchplay, powered by HowDidiDo.

And among the travellers will be father-and-son pairing Ben and Ian Kinsey, from Liverpool, who will be competing in the pairs’ competition. Ben, 25, a six-handicapper, who plays at Huyton & Prescot, and 56-year-old Ian, who plays off 13 at Hurlston Hall, both work as warehouse operatives, so should be familiar with the concept of packing in a hurry – for their participation came out of the blue.

Having finished just outside the automatic qualifying spots at the regional final in October, the Kinseys were not planning on needing sun-tan lotion in February. However, last week, one of the qualifying pairs pulled out of the trip to Morocco and the duo were only too happy to step into the breach, meaning this year’s grand final will see the participation of an unprecedented three father-and-son pairings.

In total, 32 amateur golfers from across the UK and Ireland have earned the trip of a lifetime to compete in one of four competitions culminating in the grand final at the five-star Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa hotel, in an event sponsored for a second year by the Moroccan National Tourist Office.

Each finalist – whether in the singles, pairs, mixed pairs or senior pairs’ competitions – would have played up to four qualifying rounds merely to reach their regional UK final.

They will enjoy complimentary return flights to Morocco, five nights’ accommodation at the five-star Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa hotel – nestled in the lush surroundings of a wild beach lined with eucalyptus and mimosa, overlooking the Atlantic – and four rounds of golf at nearby Golf de Mogador, in Essaouira, a beautiful 16th-century, fortified harbour town on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. Participants will also receive a welcome reception and cocktail evening, and a final night presentation gala dinner.

The highly rated Gary Player-designed links-style course at Golf de Mogador, which dates from 2009, demands long carries between tees and fairways, as the vegetation and sand shape the layout.

The Moroccan National Tourist Office’s director for UK and Ireland, Amine Boughaleb, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming the matchplay finalists to Essaouira for the second final to be hosted in our country. Last year was the centenary of golf in Morocco and, fittingly, the first year our country was the title sponsor of the HowDidiDo Matchplay.

“The event was such a huge success, however, for both the participants and Morocco, that we were only too happy to renew our association with the competition. We are confident that the excellent facilities on offer at both the hotel and golf course will leave the lucky 32 golfers keen to return to see more of our beautiful country.”

The burgeoning Kingdom of Morocco has 37 golf courses to be enjoyed in year-round sunshine – plus eight more under construction – and, with flight times of less than three-and-a-half hours from the UK and Ireland, it is a hugely attractive alternative to the more traditional golf destinations of Europe.

HowDidiDo is Europe’s largest golfing community, holding in excess of 21 million rounds of golf along with the handicaps, results and scores of more than 1,300,000 UK golf club members. Around 2,000 golf clubs and more than 460,000 golfers currently use the HowDidiDo system.

■ The Morocco Matchplay, powered by HowDidiDo, takes place from February 7-12, 2016.