The recent meeting of the society took place at Staverton Park near Northampton from Monday 24th to Wednesday 26th October 2016.
The golfing season is bookended by two of the most eagerly awaited events, the WCA&GS meetings. So here we are at the back end of October at Staverton Park, near Daventry . Three days of chatting, laughing, ritual humiliation* and of course some golf.
Just to clarify any confusion (of which there was much) – the last time we descended on Staverton was in April 2011 when it was incredibly hot and before that in October 2008 when it snowed. Some remembered putting the ball through the snow watching it get bigger and bigger before settling above the hole unable to drop. The weather this time was neither of these and was just, proper autumnal.
Forty people had signed up but we lost three regulars, Claire Jenkins, Sue Thornley and Michelle Birch at the last minute through illness. (Nora V. was making an early winter appearance). Non-playing members were here but were rarely seen anywhere near the golf course – more of that later and long term injured (Mary Petit and Lesley Smith) were here to add their support. Will the day finally dawn when we all appear and just not bother with the golf?
This meet will probably be remembered as “the one with the twin’s birthday tribute”.
*Definition – Ritual humiliation serves to emphasize that the group takes precedence over its individual members. i.e. the majority are entitled to have a good laugh at another’s expense.
Sunday October 23rd – The Night Before
As usual a handful of members checked in the night before.
These included the Surrey twins now sprightly octogenarians. On the journey up Freda had lost a fight with a broccoli stalk and arrived without some of her teeth (well she had the teeth but not in her mouth). This is not the first time that Freda has had to play sans teeth. It did seem to stop her from saying that much during the meet, but as ever Shirley made up for this.
There were shenanigans on checking in as Pam had been booked into a single room and Pip not at all. (Smart move by someone – better luck next time). Once a room had been sorted out it was found to be upstairs and not unacceptable. Taff solved the problem by kindly swapping out of her room. The issue did not end there as on checkout drinks (of which rumour had it there had been considerable) had been billed to the right rooms but to the wrong people or was it the wrong rooms and the wrong people or the wrong rooms but the right people. Whatever, Taff was left sorting this out into the wee small hours of departure day.
There was some concern that Ali and Bev who were travelling from Europe had not appeared. Had the authorities already closed the borders post Brexit? or had they been caught in the “Jungle” in Calais? They finally appeared safe and sound with no lurid stories to speak of.
Monday October 24th – Day 1
We were arriving in dribs and drabs in the Spike Bar. The room still seemed pretty empty even when the first tee time was fast approaching and there seemed to be someone continually head counting – an impossible task as everyone kept moving around, like a herd of hens, to meet and greet. However, suddenly everyone seemed to be there (the noise levels were appreciably up) and the bar manager was trying, unsuccessfully, to move us to a separate room.
The proceedings were opened by Kate (who is becoming more Pam like with each meet) and whose welcoming speech was so inspiring that two local lady golfers immediately asked to join our society. Kate swiftly handed over to Sue Town who was kindly standing in as Comp Sec (SWMBO – She Who Must Be Obeyed) and who had dyed her hair multi-colours so that we would have no difficulty in finding her.
Today’s competition was to be a Pink Peril (nothing to do with the aforementioned hair). Teams of three with two scores counting but with a pink ball to be passed between each player to count double. (No pressure there then). Sue was feeling generous and allowed a provisional “pink ball” to be used if the first “went missing”. No nearest the pins today.
Never ones to take the golf too seriously there was more concern over arrangements for dinner. The Chef was dragged over from his kitchen and announced that there would be a buffet and rattled off a list of dishes. This was a bonus as we did not have to choose our meal (when not remotely hungry) in advance or more critically remember what we’d chosen.
And, so to the golf…………….
The course had many different challenges, trees (looking very beautiful with their autumn colours and more importantly still wearing them), hills, (both up and down), dog legs, well-hidden bunkers, and water – which very much came into play on the 18th. There was an enormously long walk (without exaggeration at least two miles) from the 9th green to the 10th tee. This walk could be reduced slightly if you snaked between the bedrooms – which some of us only discovered on the last day.
The dog-leg left 3rd hole was, according to the stroke index, one of the easier holes! Sue R and Anne had skewed their drives all of 60 yards into the trees on the left. This was after much discussion as to the length of the carry to the ditch, what club was best to use, and how their distance watches did not register the lay-ups, bunkers, etc, etc. Patsy, bored with this discussion teed off regardless and produced the best drive of the lot.
Sue waited and waited and waited for the green to clear then announced that she would aim over the trees at the golf bags IN FRONT of the green. Naturally, she launched her shot just as the golfers returned to their bags. The ball ran harmlessly through them at all of 1 to 2 m.p.h. – and someone who shall remain nameless still let out a small scream!! “Sorry,” cried Sue “I didn’t think it would go where I aimed” – not bad for someone playing off 13!!
The 18th tee was situated about 30yds behind the 9th tee and the two fairways then crossed each other (there was a sign clearly indicating this). There was a lot of confusion as to where this last tee was with some desperately trying to use the 9th again. Others now remembered this hole from our previous visits in 2008/11, not realising their previous visit had actually been about two hours earlier. Despite all this, the tee WAS situated just the right distance back for Sue R to launch her drive onto the 17th green and narrowly miss Megan Lear who was putting out at the time. Playing with Sue is the safe option if wanting to avoid being hit, unlike one group who were heard shouting “FORE” apparently to each other.
Stocky, Dot and Baggie found the water that protected the green on the 18th even though they were all trying to play safety shots. It was a popular place to lose the ball and such a shame to be so close to home as well. (Small snigger). One group managed to lose both the pink and the provisional ball in this water.
Whilst waiting for the group in front to move out of range the conversation turned to the sex of the rather large and colourful parrot (Daphne) sitting with an enigmatic smile on the umbrella holder of Patsy’s trolley. Originally this conversation started because Patsy kept calling Daphne he or him. This led on to a muddled discussion over the definitions of trans gender, trans sexual, asexual, hermaphrodite and finally ambidextrous. The potential outcome of mating Daphne with a Koala bear was left for another time.
A lone non-golfer, Shirley Hodges, was “twitching” out on the course i.e. looking for birds and WCA&GS golfers. After about an hour she eventually found one group of three (golfers that is) on the 6th – there were at least thirty-six of us out there so we should not have been that hard to find! – and as per normal she saw no birds. To help out over the next few day’s photos were taken of any birds seen. These included a heron (not seen by Shirley) a bird swarm (not seen by Shirley) and Daphne the parrot. Shirley was greeted warmly by all who met her with personal remarks about Crested Busted’s to a lesser or greater extent.
The other non-golfers were nowhere to be seen as they had broken out of camp to visit the local food emporium a.k.a. Tesco’s. They were holed up in one of the bedrooms (probably ground floor) enjoying contraband wine and sandwiches, the odd power nap, and having WhatsAPP added to their smart phones – oh how things have changed!!
Note: Drinks and food in the spike bar were very expensive even with a society subsidy of 20% off drinks, with a cheese and pickle sandwich costing £6. This was not the same bar menu Mary had been sent when organising the venue.
The bedrooms were located down a maze of corridors (though simple compared to Hawkstone Park). There was also a sneaky mezzanine floor just to confuse those not on the ground floor, and once again no lifts, or if there is they are well hidden. The rooms had lots of mirrors (which on first sight made the room look enormous and more worryingly, already occupied, until you realised you were looking at yourself). There were plenty of desks and tables but only one wardrobe with a measly five coat hangers – not enough to hang a week’s worth of clothing and no drawers for your draws. As per usual the Shower/ Bath tap configuration seemed to baffle most of us and this was generally the first topic of conversation in the bar before dinner – other than “wot yer ‘aving”
The hotel provided us with a separate dining room with a side room for the buffet. To begin with people queued, table by table, in an orderly manner to get to the food, but this soon descended into a free for all – possibly led by Pip. Things got a little chaotic with some people queuing and others waiting as the buffet ran out of food fairly regularly and the staff slow to refill. Clarkie ate all the roast potatoes waiting for the mash potatoes to arrive. “You can never have enough potatoes” she explained.
Finally, coffee was served and we moved onto the presentations and fines.
The winning score for the Pink Peril was 108, with second and third places scoring 106 and 105 respectively. As often said by sports commentators it was a game of two halves with one group scoring 60 on the front nine (with the pink ball scoring 8pts on one hole) but only 39 on the back, so managing to miss out on the prizes! Note for those that like to know these things: Four pink balls were lost and one was found – though not by the group who had lost it – obviously!
Fines were a bit thin on the ground. Everyone was doing stupid things, as usual, but these were not being reported back to Taff. Maybe they are now considered to be normal behaviour. Freda N. was fined again, for losing her teeth, and for delayed responses to questions and comments made out on the course. Does losing your teeth affect your hearing!
Ruth Bailey was fined for showing off. She had sunk a 20ft putt on the 10th (there had been reports of a 30ft putt being sunk but these could have been one and the same), and was spotted wearing a swimming hat, nose clips, and ear plugs whilst doing “tumble turns” in the swimming pool.
Anne Crawley was fined for saying how nice it was to see children out on the course.
Tuesday October 25th – Day 2
The golf today was to be a 4 ball better ball but after some confusion, on most people’s parts, was eventually understood to be the same as an AM-AM. That is, in words of one syllable, the two best scores out of 4 count. No pink balls today but nearest the pins on two holes.
Before we could be let loose on the course there was time for the AGM. This was scheduled to take place after breakfast so that hopefully everyone there would be sober. We were not due out until nearly midday, allowing Ellie, the youngest player present, to manage a power nap between the AGM and her tee time.
Proceedings were opened and the accounts were presented by Josie (who is doing a wonderful job) and passed without murmur (official murmur that is not the general background noise of people unable to zip it). Then a few points were raised for group discussion:
- It was proposed that playing members would pay subs of £5 at each meeting (instead of the usual £10 – normally paid in April). This would be collected with the prize money of £10. This adds up to paying £15 per meeting and means that those that play pay. Non-playing members will pay £5 per annum. (Not high finance but eventually everyone understood!).
- After much “spirited” discussion it was agreed to change the April “Championship” format to a team competition which would incorporate an individual stableford competition. Prizes for silver and bronze division winners will remain as will the trophy for the best over 70s golfer.
- A further discussion was held regarding the subsidy given to players representing the WCA&GS in external matches. The membership agreed that matches would continue as they are now and the current subsidy (£10) would remain. Other geographical areas could arrange matches and WCA&GS members would be entitled to receive the £10 subsidy. This would be kept under review. Members of Richmond GC (Yorks) suggested that they might arrange a match.
- The membership also agreed that players who required a buggy for health reasons or if they are over 65 would continue to receive a £5 subsidy for the hire of a buggy. Unofficially, some did think that 65 might be a bit too young as some venues might not have enough buggies for us all!!
There was tension in the room, with people avoiding eye contact with any committee member, as the post for Competition Secretary had become vacant. However, Ruth Bailey and Anne Crawley agreed to take on the role (with very little arm twisting) and Ellie Martin volunteered to take over the post meeting report.
Obviously the SWMBO role, possibly to be renamed TWMBO, (They who must be obeyed) is much feared as hands shot into the air, the cracking of joints sounding like bullets from a gun, to vote in the hapless pair.
Mary explained that a lot of venues are now asking for full payment prior to the meet and asked how we felt about this. It was agreed that this was OK as it is normal practice for most holiday bookings.
The next meet will be at Ullesthorpe on April 18-20, 2017.
Ellie and Clarkie agreed to take responsibility for the WCA&GS flag. At Hawkstone the flag, still hanging from the flag pole, was only spotted at the last minute as the last people drove out followed by “STOP”…… and a screeching of brakes.
Once the AGM was over we were unleashed back onto the course.
Only 40yds from the first tee a WCA&GS “brick” coloured slip-over was found (you couldn’t miss it). By simple elimination it just had to be Shirley Moore’s as she was in the group in front and no one could have possibly walked past it. In the clubhouse afterwards Shirley denied it was hers until she had pulled out the 3 layers she was still wearing to check if hers was there – even looking under her blue thermal vest. Does anyone wear a woollen slip-over under their thermal vest?
Clarkie smashed her drive beautifully, but somewhat inaccurately, off the second tee onto the very far side of the adjacent fairway. The old boys ambling up from the official tee for that fairway told her they had never seen anyone that wayward before. Well done to Clarkie, who with her gallery of new fans watching, struck a super shot back over the trees. This girl can hit a ball – on being told she had hit one drive 207 yards disagreed insisting it was 209!!
Freda N. did not have the monopoly on delayed responses. Horses were spotted in the adjacent fields wearing coats. One in particular had on a furry affair which hung down its thighs and front bits (sorry, struggling with horsey terms). “It looks like a horse in sheep’s clothing” was the quip. “That horse looks like a sheep!!” piped up Chris B five minutes later.
Lesley Smith was out on the course reporting back on all she saw. Her main concern was that the trees did not provide much cover for comfort breaks and where in the middle of the countryside were the loud speaker announcements coming from. It couldn’t be the warehouse the size of a small county standing on the horizon.
We were called to the dining room early as there was to be a surprise tribute to the birthday twins who (as previously mentioned) had turned 80. I think most people knew about this surprise except Freda and Shirley, of course.
A sketch was performed in the genre of Crossroads / Acorn Antiques as it was very difficult to tell what bits had gone wrong and what was intended.
Music played and a royal entourage including the Queen, Prince Philip, Charles and Camilla, a couple of flunkeys and rather worryingly the Queen Mother, (only recently saw her grave at Windsor Castle) entered the room. By royal proclamation Freda and Shirley were called from the floor and knighted as Dames. The Queen did the honours with a plastic sword! (Health and Safety here as she had been drinking all afternoon). All were excellent. Patsy did a wonderful silent cameo of Camilla with a fag (e-cig) hanging from her mouth. Prince Phillip seemed to have been cut off at the knees and was about two foot shorter than normal and the Queen Mum was wearing a beige dressing gown that she might have borrowed from the horse mentioned earlier.
Two protesters waving banners (June and Sandy) interrupted proceedings wanting to “Free the Northcotts”. – you have to say it out loud.
In the time honoured tradition of all investitures Dame Shirley stood up to tell a joke (not the one she had rehearsed with Mary or the vibrator one) and it was so clean I have quite forgotten what it was. Dame Freda just smiled. All a good laugh – well done everybody – not sure there will be a second series!
Dinner seemed more organised than the previous night with plenty of food to go around. Bev who has some problems with various food types had brought along a homemade pudding cooked by her sister. Yesterday’s left overs had been stored away by the staff for tonight. However, it was lost, mislaid, no more. Despite the best efforts of the staff with Bev in tow the pudding was nowhere to be found. Bev later admitted that she was more concerned she might miss the fines than where her pudding might be. The upside of this story is that Bev succeeded in getting a “good amount” off her final bill by way of compensation – far more than the bottle of gin she would have settled for. For the next meet it has been suggested we should all bring along homemade puddings and try for rebates.
The Four Ball Better Ball / AM AM was won by Sandy, Val, Liz and Coral with a staggering 93 (NINETY THREE) points, thirteen more than the second and third placed teams. Fines were again low key and a few were heard to say they had “got away with one”. Polite reminder – we all have a duty to report to Taff as no stupid act should go un-mocked. Dame Freda was awarded the dolly for racking up the most fines over the two days. If she wins it again she might be forced to keep the dolly for life.
As the evening wore on, some disappeared to try and check out – but Taff was occupying that position, others to a crowded bar, and Stocky to track down another Pokemon. The word went out that “singing” had started in the dining room – definitely time for bed.
October 26th – Day 3
The final competition was to be a Tex-Mex a.k.a. a Texas Scramble step-aside. i.e. The player whose ball is chosen does not play the next shot. Three drives were to be taken by each team member and everyone was to putt. Twenty-eight people stayed to play and were divided into four balls. This all became a bit scrambled as several people wanted to leave after nine holes. Those that lost a player would not need to step-aside, but of course some still did, and one very careless group managed to lose two players. Amongst this confusion there were also two nearest the pins.
It was an early start (first tee 9:30) and bodies and minds were tired ………and emotional. There was much huffing and sighing as players bent down in stages to mark their balls. On the first green Taff asked how were four people going to putt when there were only three balls on the green!
Patsy finished on the 9th and returned to the clubhouse only to discover her mobile was missing – yes, it had been on the buggy with her, but a grandchild was due imminently and Grandma Patsy was on tenterhooks. However, this is 2016 and by using the appropriate app on her i-pad she was able to track her phone back to the 9th fairway and also find a few Pokemon on the way.
The first and second groups returned to the clubhouse and waited a couple of months for the rest of the field to come in. Weeksy (first group back) suddenly realised she had left the scorecard on the buggy. She rushed to the Pro shop only to find the buggy was back out on the course. She eventually caught up with it on the 2nd tee – not sure if she flagged down a passing buggy or sprinted all the way there!!
The injured golfers were kept busy helping Patsy track down her mobile, sorting out more checking out problems (Norma this time) – there is a pattern emerging here. Then it was off to that favourite watering hole to get more sandwiches.
It had been noted, and reported back by an observant non-golfer/spy, that the last group (Bev, June, Baggie and Clarkie) had practiced their putting, had a group hug, and discussed tactics before starting out. These tactics seemed to take some time to implement as they were a long time finishing. They did however win the competition (with a net 59) so there must be something to be said for these group hugs!
A little rain fell towards the end of the round which was just enough to ensure that we drove home with wet golf gear. The prize giving eventually took place around 3pm complete with thanks and fond farewells. As for the flag ……………………
THINGS YOU LEARN DURING A ROUND OF GOLF
- Chris Bailey was once stuck in a lift with Douglas Bader – yes Douglas Bader – not to be confused with Kenneth Moore
- Koala bears are rampant with chlamydia
- Ambidextrous has nothing to do with trans gender – on the other hand…………
- Bras can last longer than 64 machine washes
- Group hugs are the key to golfing success
1st – JB, Dame Shirley Moore, Ellie Martin – 108
2nd – Ali Roberts, Pauline Weeks, Kate Brown – 106
3rd – Debbie Stock, Dot Furby, Maria Bagust – 105
Four Ball Better Ball / AM AM
1st – Sandy Gristwood, Val Castle, Liz Whelan, Coral Handley – 93
2nd – Angie Bainbridge, Pauline Weeks, Dame Shirley Moore, Remi Russell – 80cb
3rd – Anne Crawley, Kate Brown, Sarah Clarke, Chris Bailey – 80cb
NTP Hole 4 – 0-20 JB, 21+ Sarah Clarke
NTP Hole 12 – 0-20 Debbie Stock, 21+ Dame Shirley Moore
1st – Bev Fentiman, June Edney, Maria Baggust, Sarah Clarke – 59
2nd – Debbie Stock, Ruth Bailey, Liz Whelan, Coral Hanley – 61.2
3rd – Sandy Gristwood, Ali Roberts, Jo Osbourne, Ellie Martin – 64.5
NTP Hole 4 – 0-20 Susan Town, 21+ Chris Bailey
NTP Hole 12 – 0-20 Susan Town, 21+ Coral Handley
Angie Bainbridge, Maria Bagust, Chris Bailey, Ruth Bailey, Jan Brittin, Kate Brown, Val Castle, Sarah Clarke, Pam Crain (NP), Anne Crawley, June Edney, Sue Everett (NP), Bev Fentiman, Dorothy Furby, Susan Garner, Sandy Gristwood, Nan Haggerty (NP), Shirley Hodges (NP), Coral Handley, Norma Izard (NP), Megan Lear, Ellie Martin, Taff Martin, Dame Shirley Moore, Dame Freda Northcott, Jo Osborne, Mary Pettit (NP), Sue Redfern, Ali Roberts, Remi Russell, Freda Simpkin, Lesley Smith (NP), Debbie Stock, Shirley Taylor, Sue Town, Pip Vyvyan, Pauline Weekes, Liz Whelan
Thanks to all the committee members for working so hard to make this event happen. Looking forward to Ullesthorpe already.