In April 2019, the WCAGS returned to Ullesthorpe Court in Leicestershire.
Unusually for a WCA weekend, this meet found us running up to and into the Easter weekend. Also unusually around a bank holiday, the players who arrived on the Wednesday to begin play were met with warm weather and a favourable forecast for all three days.
The society welcomed back some old friends who have been absent recently, with Chair Taff Martin returning for her final meet in the top seat. Chris Watmough was also back and playing again, sporting a snazzy low maintenance hairstyle. Also rather pleasingly, a number of debutants from the last meet were not scared away and came back for more.
Unfortunately your usual correspondent was unable to attend this event, so very little can be reported about the first day of play. The competition format was a Waltzer with a twist in 4 balls, and the course at Ullesthorpe was in excellent condition. The greens were fast and undulating presenting a fine challenge, which some players evidently mastered better than others.
Nearest the pin in two on the par 4 5th hole went to Angie Bainbridge. From the elevated tee on the railway embankment over the valley to the 12th, Sarah Wenn had the deadliest aim.
The team results were:
1st: Angie Bainbridge, Jane Thornber-Taft, Anne Brown, Chris Watmough – 138 points
2nd: Kate Brown , Claire Jenkins, Chris Knight, Sue Thornley – 123 points
3rd: Ruth Bailey, Lesley Smith, Megan Botha, Remi Russell – 113 points
Nearest the pin in 2 on 5th: Angie Bainbridge
Nearest the pin on 12th: Sarah Wenn
During the evening’s fines, Anne Brown was apparently targeted mercilessly for multiple indiscretions during the day, as was Gill Smith for her demonstration of caddying skills – she was not able to play due to an ongoing frozen shoulder problem. The wine and prosecco was flowing liberally, except for those in training for more strenuous events – Sue Thornley was just one week away from running the 2019 London Marathon in aid of the Dementia Revolution charity in memory of her mum.
(Side note: Sue finished in 5 hours 42 minutes and 37 seconds, a fantastic achievement – and she raised over £2000 for her charity).
The second day of the April meet is always Championship day, where individual prizes are up for grabs in silver, bronze and copper divisions, and an Over 70s category, alongside the team competition. The format for the teams was an Am-Am with 2 to count on par 4s and 5s, and all to count on par 3s. The lake halfway up the first hole claimed more than its fair share of balls off the tee, for which anyone who suffered this fate was fined that evening.
Other wayward shots throughout the day were reported, along with some unusual commentary from Chris Bailey in particular:- most golfers, when hitting an errant shot that might endanger others, are encouraged to shout “FORE!”, but Bailey has never exactly been conventional and decided instead to shout “BUSH!” – at least her object recognition skills are still intact.
The multi-talented Alison Simmonds was once again in attendance at the meet, not playing but acting as ball spotter and finder extraordinaire, photographer, and on this particular day, caddie and chauffeur for Freda N. Ali’s no-nonsense style was perhaps a little forceful for an octogenarian player – she was overheard several times shouting “get out!” (of the buggy) at her player. Admittedly, she had been parked next to the ball for some time!
Elsewhere on the course (as reported during fines), Chris Knight was observed doing a striptease to remove an unnecessary base layer in the warm conditions, and Jo Osborne managed to hit the bag of her team captain, our El Presidente. Angie Bainbridge was seen forcing her teammates to drink magic potion (it worked, see results below!), and Clare Mulvaney was witnessed having a little bit of a tantrum (“f*#€ it, I’m not going to catch it!”) when her trolley decided to take itself off into some bushes.
Anne Brown was fined for showing sympathy to Lorna over her hearing problems, which they had been discussing during the day whilst sharing a buggy. To be clear, Anne wasn’t actually fined for showing sympathy, but for referring to Lorna’s condition as “tittinus”. Meg was also fined for forgetting to bring the dolly to the meet.
Back to the golf – Gill Smith was once again showing her caddying prowess. However, on the 16th there was a bit of an incident – the group Smithy was with were putting out, and Pyl’s trolley was attempting to escape while the group were distracted. Smithy tried to shut the trolley off, but as reported later during fines, it went something like this:
Smithy: I’m not quite sure how I mixed up “Off” with “Rev the damn thing up to full speed” but I did. I think I was only completely horizontal for one and a half seconds. Fortunately I then remembered my old Ruth Prideaux coaching fielding routines. I dropped the left shoulder…
Taff: (interjects) That’s not the frozen one
Smithy: …and rolled forwards, remembering to point my toes as my legs were at their height. Upon rising I then managed to find “Off”.
(Semi-hysterical laughing from the group from this point on)
Smithy: However, I must thank my ex-Vagabond colleague Clare Mulvaney for her dramatic long barrier intervention…
Clare Mulvaney: I’ve never done one in my life!
Ali Simmonds: I can vouch for that!
Smithy: …that actually prevented the trolley screeching off at 30 miles per hour towards the 14th tee. I should also like to thank Pyl, clearly a class fielding act in her time – she caught all 8 clubs as they left the trolley and hurtled towards her!
Smithy: I was however, disappointed in Meg – she did not contribute to my saving, and I found “Smithy, I couldn’t move for laughing!” a very poor excuse
Meg: I was doubled over!
Smithy: So I apologise wholeheartedly to the society, and thank you (Taff) the chief of fines for your understanding. With love, embarrassment and willingness to pay a huge fine!
(Cheers and applause)
The team results were:
1st: Angie Bainbridge Lesley Smith, Lorna Rolfe, Ghost – 91 points
2nd: Ruth Bailey, Maria Bagust, Coral Handley, Ghost – 90 points
3rd: Sue Redfern, Sarah Wenn, Liz Whelan, Sue Thornley – 89 points
Nearest Pin on 9th = Ruth Bailey
Nearest pin on 12th = Lesley Smith
Silver Champion – Angie Bainbridge – 39 points
Bronze Champion – Coral Handley – 34 points
Copper Champion – Remi Russell – 30 points
Over 70s Champion – Val Castle – 31 points
At the formal meeting of the weekend, 3 committee members were standing down and their replacements were elected. The society would like to thank Taff Martin for her leadership as Chairman, and Sarah Clarke will be taking over this role. Kate Brown stepped down as Secretary after two terms in post, and will be replaced by Alison Thornber-Taft. Anne Crawley and Ruth Bailey also stepped down as Competition Secretaries, and Jane Thornber-Taft will be in this role from October.
An amendment has been suggested to the constitution to shorten the length of term for the committee posts. This amendment will be drafted by the committee and circulated to the members, for discussion and voting at the AGM in October. As ever, thanks to all on the committee for their ongoing work in running the society.
On Easter Monday, 24 out of 34 golfers stayed for the final day’s play, a 4-ball Texas Scramble (4 drives each), with one group of 9 hole players.
Despite the disaster on day 2, Smithy once again valiantly took on the caddying role, this time for Liz Whelan. To her credit, Liz very quickly settled into the role of an aloof top professional, dismissively passing clubs back to her caddy without eye contact, and striding confidently ahead up the fairway while Smithy tried to keep up!
The lake on the 1st once again took several balls, and the pond by the 2nd took a couple too. Generally spirits were high even though bodies were tired after 3 days on a relatively long course in (blissfully) warm weather. There was much jeering from the group behind watching from the top of the embankment as Liz, Sandy, Clarkie and Michelle all missed an 8 foot putt from Liz’s fantastic tee shot on the 9th. Smithy decided as caddy she’d obviously lined up the putt wrong, and left the group after 9 holes.
The last group arrived back at base around 1pm, and after most had ordered lunch, the final day’s prizes were awarded thus:
1st: Anne Crawley, Pauline Weeks, Chris Knight, Chris Bailey – 65.4
2nd: Clare Mulvaney, Kate Brown, Lorna Rolfe, Patsy Garner – 65.7
3rd: Ruth Bailey, Jane Thornber-Taft, Ali Thornber-Taft, Sue Thornley – 67.6
Nearest Pin on 2nd = Ali Thornber-Taft
Nearest Pin on 10th = No one hit the green
For the October meet, the society returns to Patshull Park in Shropshire. See you there!