Autumn Meeting 2015 – October 25th, 26th, 27th
This is my first solo run since taking over from Pip and the first and most important thing for me to do is to thank Pip for all the hard work she has put into these newsletters. I am now beginning to realise just how time consuming this is.
It is difficult to know how to follow in the “masters” footsteps. Should I write in the literary style of Dickens, Shakespeare or Cartland (Barbara that is). I quite fancied lying on a chaise longue dictating to a lackey, gin and tonic in hand – but was a bit put off by the thought of wearing a frilly pink frock. However, it soon became clear that Pip hit on a winning formula over her hundreds of years of editing – OK exaggeration 100 years! – and why change that.
The other difficulty with this writing is portraying events accurately. You are relying on what you have been told (iffy) or overheard (very iffy), how you wrote it down (if you did), where these notes might be and finally if you can read them!
That said – If anyone would like to get involved in generating future Newsletters please have a word with me (Anne C) as the more onboard the better and the quicker we can publish. As we progress into the 21st century and begin to develop a site on the web it will be really useful to receive lots of photographs, assuming they can be published online without instigating court proceedings.
Finally, I hope this Newsletter will serve as a little reminder (or an alibi for those who need it) of a wonderful few days at the Abbotsley Golf Hotel
Please note that any relation to actual people living or dead is entirely co-incidental and that any offence taken is fully intended.
The Day Before – Saturday 24 October
As we counted down the hours to our Autumn meet postings began to appear on Facebook. Coral, in her excitement, had somehow managed to type upside down question marks and could not work out how! Clarkie warned everyone that it was pretty chilly out East and to pack extra warm clothes and Mary posted that “as it is Autumn bring plenty of balls”. One of these warnings was prophetic whilst the other…well lets just say that the weather was gloriously sunny for all three days.
There were conflicting reports received regarding the evening before. There was an advanced guard of about twelve. Come the evening they were looking to be fed. No food (or reasonably priced food) was on offer at the Golf Club so most decided to frequent the local hostelry in Abbotsley village.
This, according to some, was a low key affair with a lot of time spent on the Quiz machine or in Jane T-T’s case fending off the somewhat amorous pub dog. However, from those with a more fertile imagination there were scenes reminiscent of any rural horror film. I know we were only 40miles from London but Cambridgeshire did seem like the back of beyond, and it was a little spooky as the sun went down.
As the door to the pub creaked open the only occupant – who turned out to be the owner – was found hunched over the open fire stoking the smoking coals with a poker. Food was available but the 17year old chef had never cooked for more than FOUR people before! To help out the food was ordered in stages. When it arrived it was good and plentiful. The only issue was with the Bakewell tart which was up for a lifetime achievement award.
Note: This Pub gets a rating of 2.5 out of 5 in the Good Pub Guide
Day 1 – Sunday 25 October
The clocks had “gone back” overnight causing the usual issues. An extra factor was Friday’s e-mail informing us that the first tee time would now be 10:00am instead of 11:00am. This was followed by Saturday’s e-mail which explained that the first tee had actually been brought forward by ONLY 8 minutes – which was OK if you had read it before you set off.
Breakfast at the Golf Club had been very slow arriving (over an hour, and again in stages). It was reported that this chef had had trouble with his alarm clock. One thought though – if he hadn’t put his clock back then surely he would have been early!!
Meeting and Greeting
It was a Sunday so the Golf Club was busy and most of us ended up parking in the overflow car park which then required a swift walk to the main buildings….follow the noise girls, just follow the noise. Meeting and greeting took place in the Hayloft which remained our HQ from then onwards.
Most of the usual faces were present but with a few regulars missing and most surprisingly twin Freda without twin Shirley.
Mary P. opened proceedings and told us what was what, pre-order dinner etc, etc. However, she did forget to introduce the “newbies” – for which she was later fined. The “newbies”, Ali and Bev, had travelled from the France / Swiss border (early contenders for the longest drive prize) and their car was packed to the gunnels most notably with a very large cool box which rumour had it contained France’s wine reserve for that week. Mary handed over to Jane and the teams were announced accompanied by the usual cries of “test team”.
Abbotsley Golf Club boasts two courses and today we would be playing on the Cromwell Course a 5468 yd Par 73 – the “shorter” of the two courses!! Note to youngsters – most golf courses are still measured in yards (90cm).
We would be playing in teams of 3 with a couple of four balls thrown in at random depending on who turned up when. Format was for all scores to count plus double for the “&**!!” orange ball – which would be passed from player to player until lost. There would also be nearest the pin and longest drive competitions.
The walk to the Cromwell course (for the historians apparently Oliver Cromwell was born in this area) normally takes about 5minutes but this was much reduced as most of us were already parked half way there. As per usual there was much chatting and catching up going on at the “closed” starters hut as we waited our turns on the tee.
The “newbies” were spotted practising on a nearby green with rumours flying (again) re ultra-low handicaps (i.e. below 10).
The holes were imaginatively named and if you looked at the scorecard you could get a good idea of what to expect – but then who bothers to do that!
The First was called “Long Whack” (careful now) – which it probably was for the men as it was only a Par 3 for them but a 255 yd Par 4 for us – really just a warm up hole!
The 3rd hole was called the “Grand Canyon” (witty). You have to remember that in Cambridgeshire a drop of a few feet (30cm) is a cause for concern. (Conversions are included as the youngsters among us had to have explained how long “6 inches” is – I’ve checked and apparently it is “15cm” in new money)
The Grand Canyon comprised a “steep” drop down on either side of a “smallish” dry brook just short of the green protected on either side by trees – not easy to forget!
On the “Long Whack” the standard of drives/tee shots was very high as that animal instinct of not wanting to make a pratt of yourself in front of everyone else kicked in. Some almost made the fairway.
Once this hole was finished it was time to check out the team’s physical ailments and see what could possibly affect our surge for glory – I should have reported Clarkie for saying she had none!! The course was very dry which made it reasonable that the Golf Club had not invoked winter rules (even though as a society we did – not that you ever remembered). GPS watches did not seem to work (good) and we had to rely on the 150yd markers which made distances difficult to judge – especially towards dusk/dawn – depending on when you actually finished. It was a long old course – usually after seven holes you feel the round is going too quickly, but today you couldn’t believe that you had only played seven.
Calling across to an adjacent fairway Chris B, who was taking a shot out of a bunker, was asked what hole she was on. “Haven’t a clue” the reply.
The rest of her team were searching for their balls. Baggie was prodding a bush as if there were a nest of vipers in it and Sue R had (titter ye not) lost the orange ball. After calling a couple of groups waiting behind through Sue used the benefit of science and logical thinking to track the flight of her ball and declared it should be quite close to where they were standing – which it was!
On the 12th Chris B was in yet another bunker and throwing a bit of a hissy fit which included abusing the rake (apparently she had taken more than one shot to get out). Meanwhile a ball from the 10th narrowly missed her (mine) – of which she was totally unaware.
As the sun, which had been shining brightly and warmly all day, began to go down the teams at the back of the field needed to hurry along. Partly to avoid finishing in the dark and the cold and partly to stay ahead of a two ball in a buggy that had appeared behind them. The 17th hole was aptly named “Home Bound” which it was unless you unwittingly played the 3rd hole (Grand Canyon) again, which three groups did, or attempted to do. All were fined that evening.
Our group were stopped from teeing off by Jo who’s group had realised their mistake after playing one shot (each) – but the group in front of them namely Coral, Freda N, Ruth B and Sue K. had actually finished the hole – unbelievable as it was the most characteristic hole on the course – as per earlier description. Play ground to a halt as everyone was ferried (some by buggy) round to the adjacent 17th tee. However all this did contribute to the two ball behind throwing in the towel and leaving the 10 of us to sort ourselves out. Apparently, during this round one of the Abbotsley members had asked how many there were in our society – and told about 25. “Oh it seems a lot more” was the tart reply!
The last group on the course was a four ball and they were much delayed and disappeared from view. Buggies were despatched to find them and it was completely dark and chilly by the time they got to the clubhouse. Comment overheard – “it was so dark we decided not to bother finding the line of the putt”. Another fine for the “newbies”, please.
After a warming drink it was time to check in. The receptionist commented that everyone’s payment cards were cold to handle. (A common side effect of the cold is a frozen purse). Off to the bedrooms and the usual problems getting the key card to work. Nice rooms, my bed was enormous – I could rotate through 360 degrees on it just like Diana Ross in her “Chain Reaction” video. The bath taps were novel as the cold water squirted to the right and the hot water to the left with nothing down the middle.
Dinner, Presentations and Fines
We ate downstairs in the conservatory. Maître’d Sam, who was very helpful and not at all intimidated by us, ensured dinner was served promptly (and to the correct people) and we were assured that breakfast would not be as slow as it had been that morning.
Val, Sandy, Taff and Remi took the honours in the team event on count-back from Ruth B, Sue K, Coral and Freda N. Additional prizes were awarded for the best score with the orange ball and for coming last! (a.k.a the strongest team). Jane T-T told us that the format for tomorrow would be “A Shambles!” – quite simple – but it seemed to take an age for everyone to understand.
Sue Kitchen had won second prize in the team event, won the nearest the pin in two and then seemed to feature in most of the fines. She had admitted to using the men’s loo in reception – there for the grace of god went quite a few of us – and was also involved in the replaying of Hole 3.
Day 2 – October 26
Breakfast service was fine with no reported problems – other than Norma forgetting her teeth (again).
We were to be let loose on the Abbotsley Course which Mary said we would enjoy – but there was a twinkle in her eye as she said this. The course was a 5756 yd Par 76!!
The format as previously announced was to be a “Shambles” – Teams of 3, everyone drives, the best drive is selected and then everyone plays their own ball from that spot onwards. All scores to count – simples!! There was also to be a longest drive and a nearest the pin competition. No orange ball this time – thank God!!
The first hole was just around the back of the hotel and had a manned Starters Hut/Pro Shop. A large wooden chair out the front was commandeered by Freda S and she became our unofficial starter. The Ladies tee was a little to the left of the hut and this meant that each team could drive off without everyone back at the hut having to worry about stopping talking.
It was a “good to be alive day”, the sun was shining (no need for extra warm layers – again) and the trees and the course were looking beautiful.
We decided that as everything seemed so perfect we needed to invent a list of problems, as you can only be truly happy unless having a moan. These included the greens not having been hair dried to perfection and the bunkers not self-raking.
On the second hole Ellie’s “enthusiastic” approach shot instead of flying into a brambly ravine at the back of the green, as it should have, hit the wooden safety rail and bounced back ready to be played – perfect. On the 3rd it was easy to misjudge the distance to the brook running across the bottom of the hill and we all ended up a good 150yds short. I took a humungous swing to get over the brook and hit the ball 25yds. The next stroke flew up onto the green rolled back off the upper tier and into the hole for a birdie – stroke index 1, no problem – perfect!!
Then we turned to the Par 3 fourth and it all started to go downhill (well not literally as the hills came later) – leaves, leaves and more leaves.
The course was long, very long, with SEVEN Par 5’s and quite a bit of time was spent stomping through leaves searching for balls. It is only fair to point out that the leaves were not so much of a problem if you happened to be on the fairway!
A toilet break after the 9th (felt like the 99th) and then press on again. From the 10th we surprisingly dropped downhill and at the 12th uphill and then downhill again – where did this all come from – until we reached The Lake!
The Lake needed a long drive to carry over – which only a few could manage. The best tactics required one person to lay up and the other two to try and blast the ball over. Then you had to find the ball (any ball) – fortunately a bench had been provided on the tee so the groups behind could rest while they waited (which could be some considerable time). The 16th required another back breaking long carry across a dry hazard – usually followed by more ball searching.
Back to the clubhouse and it was Sue R’s birthday, yet again, – she seems to have one every year! – and there were the usual three birthday cakes (two Madeira and one Chocolate). Shirley Hodges was in town visiting with Izzy Crocker and seemed very cheerful – probably because she hadn’t played.
This was a very important meeting (as they all are of course) as we needed to discuss the formation of the new society and its constitution. The meeting started promptly at 6pm with several fines meted out to those that had been delayed watching the end of Pointless.
The new constitution and the accounts for the recreated and renamed society were presented. Apparently we are now the Women’s Cricket and Associates Golf Society with the same initials as before so we can continue to use the flag and the table cloth (well thought out ladies).
We would still be there now but for Taff and Jo who steered us through all the obstacles with great dexterity just in time for dinner. I must say things have moved on from my very first meet when we spent twenty five minutes discussing what to do with the £3.05 surplus we had in the accounts that year. A Committee was voted in, Life Members announced (Norma, Pip, Pam and Sue E) and a potential bequest from the disbanded WCA discussed.
Mary announced the venue for the next meet – Hawkstone Park – Friday April 1 to Sunday April 3 for only £150 – brilliant! For those that would or could not play golf there would be the opportunity to tour the Hawkstone Follies, “do” Archery or participate in Mud Running – this soon deviated into Mud Wrestling – go Norma!
Ellie and Clarkie had been persuaded (kindly agreed) to take over Prize buying though they admitted to having second thoughts when they saw Sue and Claire arrive in two separate cars with the prizes for this meet. On all our behalves a big thank you to Sue and Claire for their imaginative and well stocked prize tables over the last three and a bit years. (The fluorescent buzzing calf massager I won a while back still frightens the dogs so much they flee the room)
Dinner, Presentations and Fines
Dinner had been advertised as an Ab Fab evening, and some, never to miss an opportunity to dress up, arrived in Patsy and Edina outfits. However at the last meet it had been agreed not to wear fancy dress this time around. AB Fab is actually advertised as ABB Fab in the Abbotsley marketing material and includes a glass of champagne on arrival – which I think I must have missed!! For us though we would be served a five course meal instead of the usual three.
The prize table was as packed as ever and there was much excitement over the magnificent rather large silver bowl on show. Sadly, this turned out to be left over from breakfast and was used to keep the yoghurts cool. Freda N. (80 next birthday) par-red all the Par 3’s and carried her team, with an outrageous score, to victory and the team that came first on Day 1 came last – and still won a prize.
Somewhere after the 9th Ellie had lost her Mickey Mouse ball marker (how old is she?) and had spent some time that evening looking for it. It had already been found in the loo (ladies that is) and she was fined accordingly.
The stuffed dolly thing that is religiously avoided by all had been anonymously sent to Taff from someone up North. It had been dressed up in a bikini with a note saying that it was known to be warmer down south and hence dolly was travelling south. This doll is presented for the daftest or most outrageous act of the weekend usually requiring more than one act of idiocy to qualify. Not a problem for most.
Remi Russell proved an admirable winner. She played with Taff twice, talked to her ball non stop, never knew where her ball had landed and capped it all by running over Taff’s ball with her trolley.
To finish off the evening Freda N, on fine form, took it upon herself to do the “vibrator” joke. – “nuff” said!!
These were competed for on Days 1 and 2 as separate competitions for those with handicaps of 18 and below and 19 and above. Not everyone had a chance to take part as quite often the team captain forgot to tell their players about it until after they had driven and then only after they had come across the marker board.
In the under 19 category Sue Town was in fine form winning on both days. It had been thought that she was also competing in the over 19 category as Sue T had been written on that board as well – but it turned out to be Sue Thornley. In the 19 and over category Lesley Smith actually hit the longest drive but there was some confusion (due to fading light) and Sue T, Ellie and Lesley were all deemed to have won.
On day two Coral (19 and over) had hit an absolute monster – probably about 250 yards plus. She outhit the winning drive in the under 19 category as well. This did give rise to discussions as to what medication she might be taking – and where could we get some. As with all good drives G.D.S. “good drive syndrome” came into play and she failed to score well on the hole landing her next shot into those fir trees in the middle of the picture. The 8th hole at Abbotsley – photo credit http://www.abbotsley.com
Taff was convinced she had won the longest drive having driven from Kent to Heathrow to Wales and then Abbotsley. Maybe the prize for the next meet could be a SatNav or one of those nice AA Road Maps (£2.99 in any Petrol Station or free with the Mail on Sunday).
Nearest the Pins
On the Cromwell course we had a nearest the Pin in two on the 9th and a nearest the pin in one on the 13th which was aptly named “Shortie”. This was a tricky downhill right-ish shot of 135 yds with plenty of bush lying in front of the tee waiting to suck up any mishit.
Stocky landed her ball so close to the flag no one else could get near the hole to putt. To help out the marker board was replaced with a more discrete ball marker. Coral thinking this had been left by mistake picked it up and all the following groups ended up wasting time needlessly measuring.
The Abbotsley course only had three Par 3’s and the one that was chosen for the competition was the 11th, the Mousehole (apparently named after the fishing village in Cornwall – but the resemblance was lost on most of us). Only 111 yds but protected in front by water and a tree. Sue R narrowly pipped Claire J with a corker. Rather flamboyant as most of us couldn’t even get over the tree, let alone the water.
Day 3 – Tuesday 27 October
At breakfast the ice bowl was still on display and there was some concern as to whether Freda had mislaid the two batteries that were lying on the table next to it. The golf was to be played on the Abbotsley Course (again) and (again) the format would be a Shambles (spot on) – with all to drive but only the Best and Worst scores to count. No nearest pins etc. About twenty nine people remained to play –which showed great stamina. Third day numbers seem to increase with each meet. At the Starters Hut the “shop boy” flung open the shutters inspiring Jane to ask for an ice-cream with flake. The leaves had not disappeared overnight, despite the best efforts of the guy on the tractor who had been travelling back and forth all day collecting them.
The sun was shining again (no need for warm clothes – again) and we set off with great enthusiasm. However, the length of the course and the leaves took their toll. The teams lost ground on each other as play became more erratic and more and more balls were despatched into the leaves. The first team were back in the clubhouse a full 30mins before the next. Bodies lay flaked out all over the furniture – only managing to stir when the left-overs of the birthday cakes appeared. Our President wandered in and in true Val understatement uttered “that was a little bit testing”.
Vivien Saunders was to meet us after the game for a group photograph on the putting green. A discussion ensued whether she should be greeted and escorted upstairs and who should do the greeting. (I think this harks back to official cricket tours when players were introduced to various dignitaries). The discussion rambled on for some time until Taff put things into perspective when she said “for gods sake she owns the “effing” place so should know how to get up here”.
We knew she had arrived when we could hear dogs barking. As Vivien appeared at the top of the stairs our lady President shot out of her chair to greet her and kicked the dog.
Sue and Claire excelled themselves for their last hurrah and provided a prize for everyone who played – so it didn’t matter if you came first or last. The actual winners were Claire J, Lesley S and Freda S with Lesley apparently playing to a handicap of 9 …. “cut! cut!”
You couldn’t do it again if you tried
- On the 17th of the Abbotsley course Ruth B. landed her drive in the trees on the right (quite a popular place). Her next shot rebounded off 4 trees and landed back at her feet – not requiring her to move to take the next shot.
- There had been much discussion as to what Vivien Saunders looked like. Ali T-T lashed her ball into the trees narrowly missing a woman out walking her dogs. That’s Vivien Saunders said Ali. Vivien kindly popped the ball onto a leaf as she thought “it would not be found otherwise” and told Sue R that she had “done a very nice shot, dear”.
- More pin balling as Sue R lashed her ball from the 5th fairway onto the 6th scattering golfers and then reversed the process on the way back.
- A bunker shot and a good contact, but the ball mysteriously failed to appear. It had been hammered straight into a rabbit hole at the front of the bunker.
- The ball was smashed into a tree and a somewhat disconcerted buzzard flew out – one for you Shirley H.
- How Cool is that – Vivien Saunders gave everyone a signed and personally named and numbered copy of her book “Golf – The first 1000 years” – this had nothing to do with the time needed to play the courses.
- Patsy was sleeping in one room and her luggage was in another – don’t ask! (Apparently it involved rooms 84 and 85 which was a bit worrying as the room numbers only went up to 48)
- The outside smoking room included lighting and heating. It looked a bit like an old African mud hut. Unfortunately height wise only hobbits could get in it (smoking really does stunt your growth).
- Freda N was playing her first competitive golf since knee surgery. Her first hit of the meet was less than 20yds and not straight. By the end her teams had finished first on Day 2 and second on count-back on day 1. She gave the rest of us a chance and didn’t play on Day 3
- Freda Northcott forgot to bring twin Shirley, Freda Simpkin forgot to bring Dot, and Pip and Pam forgot to come altogether.
- Convinced that the clocks were going one hour forward, not back, calculations were made to get up at a suitable time and incorporate the earlier 10:00am first tee as well. – 5.00am looked good for travelling 45miles
- Baggie complained most of the way round (well she mentioned it a couple of times) about not having her sunglasses in her golf bag .On the 14th she announced that she had found them (in her golf bag of course).Once wearing them she trod all over the ball markers!!
- Norma forgot her teeth (twice) – fined twice
This truly was a lovely venue and many thanks to Mary and Sue for rooting this one out. I know quite a few people took home the brochures to show to their clubs. If we do visit it again it will probably need to be in April, unless as Sue Town suggested, we are provided with individual leaf blowers.
Thanks to Jane T-T for organising the teams and the formats. The Shambles was a new one to most of us but very popular.
Thanks to all the rest of the committee for all the work that goes on in the background to make these events happen as seamlessly as they seem to. Taff, Jo, Kate, Sue, Claire, Coral and Val – my apologies if I have forgotten anyone.
Last minute thanks to Clarkie and Ellie who have set to work creating a website – on which (I hope) most of you are reading this Newsletter
Day 1 – Sunday
Format: Orange Ball Double with all 3 scores counting
|1st on Countback||136||Val, Sandy, Taff and Remi|
|2nd||136||Ruth, Sue Kitchen, Coral and Freda Northcott|
|3rd||127||Debbie, Jane, Sue Thornley|
Orange ball – Ali Roberts, Carol Brown Kenyon and Jo Osborne
Strongest Team (ie Last) – 62 – Ali Thornber-Taff, Pauline and Shirley
|Longest Drive 18 and below||Sue Town|
|Longest Drive 19 and Above||Lesley, Ellie Martin and Sue Thornley|
|Nearest Pin||Debbie Stock|
|Nearest Pin in 2||Sue Kitchen|
Day 2 – Monday
Format: Shambles – All 3 scores Count
|1st||124||Ali Roberts, June, Patsy and Freda Northcott|
|2nd||111||Sue Redfern, Ali Thornber-Taft, Coral|
|3rd||104||Anne, Maria and Ellie|
|4th||104||Debbie, Val and Shirley|
Strongest Team (i.e. Last) – 85 – Taff, Carol and Remi
Longest Drive – 18 and below – Sue Town
Longest Drive – 19 and Above – Coral
Nearest the Pin – Sue Redfern
Day 3 – Tuesday
Format: Shambles – Hero to Zero – Best and Worst scores count
|1st||72||Claire J, Lesley and Freda Simkin|
|2nd||68||Ali Roberts, Pauline, Clarkie and Ellie|
|3rd||66||Sue Redfern, Jane and Patsy|
|4th||64||Debbie, Ali Taft, Coral and Sue Thornley|
|5th||62||Kate, Jo and Maria|
|6th||60||Sue Town, June and Ruth|
|7th||59||Taff, Sue Kitchen and Shirley|
|8th||55||Bev, Val and Remi|
|9th||55||Anne, Carol and Chris Bailey|
Cast in Order of Appearance – (NP = Non Playing)
Kate Brown, Chris Bailey, Ruth Bailey, Maria Bagust, Carol Brown Kenyon, Val Castle, Sarah Clarke, Anne Crawley, June Edney, Mary Evans (Pyl), Sue Everitt (NP), Bev Fentiman, Patsy Garner, Sandy Gristwood, Nan Haggerty (NP), Coral Handley, Norma Izard (NP), Claire Jenkins, Sue Kitchen, Ellie Martin, Taff Martin, Freda Northcott, Jo Osborne, Mary Pettit (NP), Sue Redfern, Alison Roberts, Remi Russell, Ali Thornber-Taff, Jane Thornber-Taff, Freda Simpkin, Lesley Smith, Debbie Stock, Shirley Taylor, Sue Thornley, Sue Town, Pauline Weeks.
2016 – Dates for your Diary
1–3 April – Next Meeting – Hawkstone Park, Shropshire
16/17 August – Matches v Lansdowne and MCC
TBA – Match v Lady Taverners
THE END / FIN