FISHERMAN Lee Marels had plenty to celebrate over Christmas after shooting a three-under-par 69 to become the new course record holder on Dartmouth Golf & Country Club's formidable Championship Course.
Playing from the gold tees, Marels, 31, from Dartmouth, made light of the 7,156-yard lay-out to card six birdies in his record-breaking performance to beat the previous best score by a single shot.
The one-handicapper recovered from the setback of bogeying the first hole to reach the turn in two-under par and another three birdies on the back nine secured his place in the record books – despite a double bogey at the par-four 14th hole.
He said: "It felt like a normal day, especially after the opening hole, but the important thing was that I didn't let my head drop as I've learned over the years that many good rounds start with a bogey.
"I knew after the first five holes that I had a reasonable round going, as they are very tough with little room for error, and the course record was on my mind as I stood on the 14th tee.
"I double bogeyed that hole and had a hole in my stomach as I walked off the green but I recovered well and knew on the 18th tee what I had to do.
"It feels great to hold the course record as Dartmouth's a really tough course off the back tees, and it felt really good to hear your friends talking about your round in the bar afterwards."
Marels, who played for Devon's men's second team in 2012, made the worst possible start after his opening tee shot bounced under a hedge but he responded in style with birdies at the second, fourth and ninth holes.
After picking up another stroke at the 13th after holing a 30-foot putt, disaster loomed for the crab fisherman at the next hole when an ugly double bogey six put his record attempt in doubt.
But Marels quickly recovered to immediately get a shot back at the 15th hole – the hardest hole on the course – and another birdie at the penultimate hole left him needing a par at the 238-yard par-three 18th to claim the record.
He added: "I was by the green in two at the 14th but stupidly tried to hole the chip. I got greedy, made a poor strike and my ball rolled to the front of the green, 60 feet away, and I three-putted.
"But I made good birdie putts at two of the next three holes so that, on the 18th tee, I knew I needed par or better. I pulled out my three wood, cleared my head and trusted my swing, and thankfully found the back of the green.
"I had a fast downhill putt and really wanted to hole it but, feeling that I had been lucky to be in the situation after the double bogey, I decided to try to nudge it in close and thankfully did exactly that.
"I have shot as low as 66 at Dartmouth before off a different set of tees so I know there's room for improvement and that's my new target!"