Inspiring Opening Ceremony kicks off 2017 Simpson Cup in style
Simpson Cup Opening Ceremonies have developed quite a reputation over the past few years – not least after last year’s spectacular at Oak Hill Country Club – and the scene at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club on Sunday to launch the sixth edition of the event certainly didn’t disappoint.
Following a drinks reception, the crowd, officials and players were treated to a spine-tingling marching display by the Band of the Yorkshire Regiment, which lasted for the best part of 20 sensational minutes. The national anthems then ensued, before founder John Simpson declared the 2017 Simpson Cup officially open.
All in sundry subsequently made their way upstairs for the Official Opening Dinner, which included some humourous interviews with captains Paul Skivington (Team GB) and Shawn Whitmore (Team USA), along with speeches from the captain of Royal Birkdale, Simpson himself and also Greig Stevenson, On Course Foundation’s first-ever member/beneficiary.
The evening’s festivities concluded with an auction that raised over £23,000 for the charity – every penny of which will go towards improving the lives of our injured current and ex-servicemen and women. To all attendees, and the staff at Royal Birkdale, a major thanks is due for the level of buy-in they have shown, and for getting the week off to such an inspiring start.
Earlier on Sunday, the players enjoyed a practice round at the famous old links, with the Americans having touched down in Blighty on Saturday. While partly acting as a means for each team’s charges to get acclimated with the conditions, it also presented an excellent opportunity for the rookies to soak in the occasion of this increasingly prestigious event, and the wonderful cause it champions.
Monday sees the Player/Sponsor day taking place at Royal Birkdale (11am start), and, with the weather set (reasonably) fair, the day itself promises to be a thoroughly enjoyable one for all involved. Additionally, both players and sponsors will be competing for the Dave Bagby Memorial Trophy, one which commemorates the former Team USA member, who was part of the thrilling clash at Royal St George’s in 2015. He sadly passed away shortly before the Oak Hill extravaganza last year, but the impact he had on his teammates, the Simpson Cup and On Course Foundation will not be forgotten.
Such spirit epitomises what this week is all about, and why it is a unique feature of the sporting calendar on either side of the Atlantic each year. These two teams meet as brothers in arms, but both harbour a steely determination to leave Birkdale with the trophy firmly in hand once the tournament proper commences on Tuesday. The excitement in the air is palpable… Simpson Cup VI promises to be the biggest and best yet. Bring on the next three days.