April 2020 – Hellidon Lakes

In April 2020, the society will venture out to the watery environs of Hellidon Lakes in Northamptonshire.

Venue:
Hellidon Lakes, Hellidon, Daventry, Northamptonshire, NN11 6GG, UK

Dates: Friday 17th – Sunday 19th April 2020

What the clubs says:
As you might have guessed by the hotel name, the golf course at Hellidon Lakes is renowned for its water features. This makes the course a challenge for even the most competent golfer, so play it safe or run the risk of the water hazards – the choice is yours!

We have 6187 yards of championship golf over 18 holes (par 72) plus the additional valley 9 hole course to complete the 27 hole experience. We also have two putting greens and practice ground to take advantage of before you attempt the course.

First Tee times
Friday 12.30pm
Saturday 10.00am
Sunday 10.00am

Cost for golfers:
£150.00 pp for 2 nights dinner, bed & breakfast and 3 rounds of golf (shared room)
£150.00, plus £25 single supplement per night (single occupancy room)

Cost for non-golfers:
£110.00 pp sharing a standard room for 2 nights dinner, bed & breakfast (shared room)
£110.00, plus £25 single supplement per night (single occupancy room)

Night before:
£85 per room – to be booked directly with the hotel

Buggies: £30.00 (£10 vouchers (see below) may possibly be used – TBC)

£50 deposit per golfer required by 15th November 2019. If you are interested in attending, please contact us to see if there are spaces available.

 

Additional Info

20% off drinks
£10 voucher pp to be spent at resort
Private dining in the Warwick restaurant and use of private bar
The Hotel has had refurbishment of all these areas.
They are also due to refurbish the leisure facilities before our visit, which includes swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi and gym.

Download the Hellidon Lakes April 2020 application form.
Forms should be sent to Ali Taft, payment to Jo Osborne (details on the form)

April 2019 – Ullesthorpe

In April 2019, the WCAGS returned to Ullesthorpe Court in Leicestershire.

DAY 1

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.

Ullesthorpe Golf Club Course Map

Ullesthorpe Golf Club Course Map

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).

DAY 2

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!

Golfers at WCAGS

Liz, Ali Simmonds, Freda N & Clare M

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!

(Louder laughing)

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

Championship Results

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.

Day 3

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.

Golfers at WCAGS

Day 3 at WC&AGS, April 2019

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!

April 2018 – Patshull Park

With Storm Brian spoiling the last meet, it might have been felt we were due a reprieve from the weather gods. Unfortunately the forecast for this April’s meet was truly dire, so it was with some trepidation that the largest WCAGS meet in recent memory gathered at Patshull Park. Indeed, many of the 43 golfing members had been eyeing up the spa facilities as an alternative and, given the way the winter has gone, some didn’t even appear to be disappointed at the prospect.

Day 1 – This is the song of the mud

Fortunately, in spite of a torrential downpour in the morning the course was deemed playable for those on foot. The buggy group did not fare quite so well, but they had a loop of five playable holes that they were able to repeat. Of the many alternate plans that our esteemed competition secretary Anne Crawley had formulated, the chosen format was kept as a simple three of four stableford scores to count. It was also decided to make the day a 9-hole competition, as a nod to the promised inclement weather.

Squelchy, muddy feet.

The course was somewhat wet, and featured a significant number of additional water hazards. Some members managed to incorporate the spa treatments into their round by spraying themselves liberally with mud during their shots. The greens required some muscle. The players were undeterred, and all made it through more than the 9 holes specified (although admittedly this may have been because the 9th was as far from the clubhouse as you could get). Some hardy souls made it through the full 18 for nought but pride.

Third place was claimed by Sue Town, Pauline Weekes and Shirley Taylor (with the addition of an unnamed ghost). Second place went to the buggy group (named the Buggerettes for the duration of the meet by Helen Stother) of Chris Watmough, Anne Brown, Jackie Court and Freda Northcott, and bragging rights for first place went to Angie Bainbridge, Claire Jenkins, Chris Bailey and Kelly Greenstreet. Stocky managed nearest the pin on the 2nd, and Clare Mulvaney snagged the nearest the pin on the 17th (and some reward for continuing).

Day 1 ended rather late for Maria Bagust and Lesley Smith, as unbeknownst to them their room was party to a party! Plumbing issues caused day 2 to begin rather early for Anne Crawley, who was found wandering the hotel corridors at 3am on the hunt for a flushing loo.

Day 2 – Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.

The championship day arrived with no further rain and none in the forecast. However, some lessons had been learnt from the day before and lead to the declaration that all bunkers were to be considered G.U.R. and winter rules were extended beyond the fairway to every part of the course. In all fairness it had been tricky to decide where the fairway ended – no blame to the grounds staff, it was simply too wet to mow. The Buggerettes continued to be limited to the five holes, but all 18 were in play for the rest of the meet . The team competition was again kept simple with just two scores to count per hole, but all players’ stableford scores kept for the championship.

Patshull Park house from the fourth fairway.

The team competition had third place taken by Jane Thornber-Taft, Clarkie, Patsy and Mary Pettit, second place went to Angie Bainbridge, Ruth Bailey, Shirley Taylor and Anne Monaghan, and the winners were Stocky, Liz Whelan, Chris Bailey and Anne Crawley. Kate Brown won the nearest the pin on the 2nd, with Sue Thornley closest on the 10th.

The championship results were as follows:

Silver Debbie Stock 40 points
Bronze Kelly Greenstreet 37 points
Copper Ellie Martin 32 points
Over 70s Chris Bailey Dot Furby second.

Chris Bailey celebrated her 70th birthday by buying the entire meet a drink at the end of the round and by taking home the over 70s prize. She also managed to fall over backwards out of a bunker, which cost the rest of her team in fines as they all fell about laughing rather than help. Many congratulations were also due to June Edney, who celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary on the day of the championship. However, she felt no need to include her husband in the celebration which won June the custody of the dolly for the foreseeable future. The WCAGS meeting broke records for brevity, lasting a mere 13 minutes with Clarkie’s expert chairing; the prize for this was getting to the bar before dinner. Patsy continued her difficult relationship with cars and the Patshull Park carpark: this time, rather than flattening her battery with the vanity mirror she tried leaving the door open overnight. That she had all of her financial records laid out on the seat was neither here nor there.

Day 3 – Golfers in the mist

The third day dawned… kind of. There was a mist thick enough to make teeing off a case of waiting for the group ahead to disappear into it, then waiting a little longer just in case. Fortunately it had burnt off by lunchtime, and nobody was hit in the meantime.

It was an 18 hole competition, other than for those who wanted to get off early who played 13. It was a Waltzer, other than for the team that decided to play a Texas Scramble. We had a nearest the pin in 2 on the 7th, except the scrambling team put it too close for the rest of the meet to beat and invalidated it. So a pretty normal final day then.

Third place went to Clare Mulvaney, Anne Crawley, Carol Brown-Kenyon and Shirley ‘prize per day’ Taylor. Debbie Stock, Ruth Bailey, Clarkie and Sue Thornley took the second place, with the winners being Kate Brown, Sue Kitchen, Maria Bagust and Chris ‘all the prizes’ Bailey. Carol Brown-Kenyon took home the remaining nearest the pin on the 13th.

The Buggerettes had played the same five holes so many times by now that they legged it almost before breakfast. Sue Thornley had saved a trick shot for the final day – hitting the ball against a tree and landing it right back at her feet. Coral of course had to try that, and ended up 60 feet behind where she’d started – such an overachiever. Clare Mulvaney went with chipping over a tree stump rather than rebounding off it, clearing it in spite of the raucous gallery on the next tee. Liz Whelan meanwhile couldn’t decide which part of her round she enjoyed more: the 4 putt or the air shot.

So the end of the third day was reached, and somehow in spite of the horrendous forecast we had not been rained on once. So perhaps the weather gods were smiling on us after all! Thanks as ever to the committee for all of their hard work (although they claim not to have anything to do with the weather situation), and for Chris Watmough again taking on the fines duty. The next meet is at Magnolia Park in October, where we look forward to trialling a brand new venue!

Spring 2017 – Ullesthorpe

The Easter meet saw us returning to the familiar haunt of Ullesthorpe Court. Well, somewhat familiar at least – the course has undergone a bit of [temporary] rejigging and revising since our last foray to this venue, which caused a certain level of consternation on day 1! Some of this was caused by the magical GPS watches being rendered almost useless, and the rest by a general sense of befuddlement.

Day 1

The course was not even the only unusual thing for the meet to contend with on day 1: sadly, a longstanding member of Ullesthorpe had recently passed away, meaning that the WCAGS flag could not be flown. Not only that, but two of our reputedly tardier members threw everyone by turning up early. It was suggested that it was a conspiracy, but it being their joint debut as competition secretary it was only right and proper that Anne Crawley and Ruth Bailey made a timely appearance. Their first choice of competition was a three person waltz. Other than ‘tee gate’ – a spot of controversy over the correct tee location on the 14th causing a lot of chat at dinner – everyone enjoyed a sunny but occasionally chilly round. There were a few glowing faces come the evening! A successful day 1 win for Anne, Chris Bailey and Claire Jenkins, ably followed by Kate, Taff and Ellie Martin. Sue Redfern, Coral and Sue Thornley grabbed third place. The “nearest the pins” were taken by Megan Lear and June Edney

ullesthorpe-2017-04-18th

The shortened 18th.

Day 2

The second day was the newly-remodelled championship day – all players submitted stableford cards whilst also playing a team stableford competition. The team competition was a bowmaker. The bronze competition saw some incredible banditry from Ellie Martin, who scored 44 points in spite of having been cut 2 strokes the previous evening. When this was revealed at dinner there was a rousing chant of ‘cut cut cut’ from the rest of the meet – 4 more shots were promptly removed. The silver competition was won by Chris Bailey with 38 points, and the gold was wrapped up by Angie Bainbridge on a very impressive 34 points. Val (El presidente) won the over 70s competition with 31 points. There were, however, a notable absence of trophies – if you have one [in your possession], please let Kate or Clarkie know!

In the group competition, Ellie the Bandit helped her group (Claire Jenkins and Gill Smith) to the top in spite of Clarkie’s attempts to break their concentration by nearly hitting them on the 3rd and 5th. Chris Bailey, Val and Baggie took second place, and Clarkie, Liz and Sue Town came in third. Nearest the pin competitions were picked up by Taff and Sue Thornley.

The success on the course seemed to have gone to El Presidente’s head, as for some reason (ok, raising money for Rachel Heyhoe-Flint’s charity) Val agreed to allow Baggie to “style” her hair.

combined-val-baggy

Before and after.

The initial promise of a £2 donation was upped to £32 when the ever-persuasive Pauline Weekes took the hat round. Val received many compliments throughout the evening. Your humble author can neither confirm nor deny the rumour that Val asked Baggie for the name of the hair product next day.

Day 3

The beautiful weather of the competition day didn’t last into day 3, with even a sprinkle of rain to deter us. Not that it did, of course. A Texas scramble was on the menu, although menus were a sore subject after a slight debacle over the eggs at breakfast. It descended into a Victoria Wood-style farce, with some orders being forgotten and others queue-jumping their way to another’s eggs, but it ended with laughter (and eggs) all round. The groupings on day 3 were altered with some people sloping off early, so we had a winning 4-ball group of Angie Bainbridge, Claire Jenkins, Coral and Remi, and a winning 3-ball group of JB, Ruth Bailey and Taff. Angie and Coral also tidied up the nearest the pins.

ullesthorpe-2017-04-railwaybridge

Claire Jenkins posing in front of the railway arch.

Voting also took place for the new venue finders. Sue Town and Mary Petit have done a sterling job of finding venues for the society, and we thank them profusely. It’s a tough job, but I’m sure we all believe that the new incumbents Megan Lear and Susie Garner will be well placed to continue!

Thanks to all of the committee for working hard to make the meet happen, and bring on the return visit to Ullesthorpe in the Autumn.

Spring 2016 – Hawkstone Park

Spring Meeting 2016 – April 1st, 2nd, 3rd

Hawkstone Park Golf Club

Editorial
It’s April so it must be time for the WCAGS 2016 Championship meeting. After a six-year break, (how time flies), we returned to Hawkstone Park.

The weather did its worst with a cold wind on day 1 and rain on day 2 (not the sunshine we have become used to at recent meets). I checked the report for our previous visit in 2010 and it appears that the weather was pretty much the same then i.e. challenging to bloody awful!! However, that will all soon be forgotten and as the years go by this meet will probably be remembered as “the one where Sue lost her car keys”.

Several committee members were missing but professional as ever all their work had been prepared in advance – many thanks to them all. Mary Petit and Sue Town (IC Venues) were recovering from injuries. Ellie and Clarkie (IC Prizes) had a long term prior engagement – however, Clarkie still appeared for the first day to deliver the prizes. The Thornber-Tafts (IC Competitions) were apparently running a pub! Josie (IC Accounts) appeared for 48hrs before leaving to party elsewhere. Lesley Smith (IC on course toilet locations) had forsaken us for a trip to New Zealand. Many thanks to Sue Redfern and Shirley Taylor who stepped up and took over the day to day organisation of the competitions.

Although the weather was not kind to us (British Understatement) I got the impression that everyone still seemed to enjoy themselves – a lot! It just goes to show that it is the company that matters – playing good golf is a bonus.

Sadly – a week after the meet we learned that Ruth Prideaux had died.

Embed from Getty Images

Ruth was a faithful supporter of the WCAGS and was still playing with us only a few years back. We celebrated her 80th birthday at Hawkstone in 2010. She played against the MCC ‘chaps’ at Lansdown a few times and twice went to South Africa on golf tours!! Ruth, with husband Roger, have the claim to fame of being the only husband and wife to represent their country at Test Match level! Her prowess as a coach goes without saying having coached England to success in the World Cup back in 1993. She was a brilliant wicket keeper and bat who toured S.A. with the 1960/61 team.

Obituary courtesy of ESPNCricinfo
Obituary in The Times

I first encountered Ruth at a WCAGS meet when she was retelling a story about being trapped by a warthog in the toilets – I assumed in South Africa! I played with her only the once – it was fun. Silly as it might seem but when she said to me “you’ll do” – I was chuffed to bits.
RIP Ruth

Day 1 – Friday April 1st

Official Blurb – “There are three courses situated in 400 acres of undulating parkland surrounding the ruins of a medieval castle with the cliffs of the world-famous 18th Century Follies providing a spectacular backdrop” – inserted here just in case anyone didn’t notice!!

View of 18th green and first tee on the Hawkstone Course

View of 18th green and first tee on the Hawkstone Course

The Hawkstone hotel is a rambling affair with rooms and bars leading into more rooms and bars leading into corridors that finally (if lucky) lead into bedrooms.

A bedroom

A bedroom

The front entrance (or is it the back?) throws you out almost directly onto the Hawkstone Course. The clubhouse is set about 100yds away from the hotel with views onto both 18th fairways. We congregated in one of the lounges of the hotel – this just to aggravate any late arrivals who wasted more time dashing into an empty clubhouse because last time we had met in there!

During this meet we were to play on the two 18 hole courses – The Hawkstone and The Championship. The Hawkstone steers you through the famous Hawkstone follies and the Championship steers you through a mud-bath and round a lake.

After everyone had finished screaming with excitement at each other the Teams were announced. The course to be played was The Hawkstone and the format a three ball (some four) with two scores counting. Nearest the Pin on the 12th hole and Longest Drive in bronze and silver categories on the 18th. Although the Thornber-Tafts were not with us all teams had been selected in advance. These preparations did depend somewhat on everyone turning up on time (Ruth Bailey was missing) and any last minute decisions on using a buggy.

Good news! We were to be allowed to start earlier than our original tee time (good as we were actually a tee time short for the numbers we had) but we were only ahead of schedule for as long as it took Joey Morris to stroll back from the Pro Shop with a hired trolley before we were back to the original schedule. Standing around waiting on the first tee the biting cold wind made its presence felt.

Coral brought her favourite hen with her

Coral brought her favourite hen with her

The Hawkstone golf course (6497yds – Par72) is in a wonderful setting with some interesting holes. None more so than the 4th – The Ravine. This is to golf what Beechers Brook is to the Grand National. A brave second / third shot is required across this ravine up to a raised green. Then you abandon your trolley and with several clubs in hand climb the steps up the side of the bank to the green, usually forgetting your driver which is needed for the adjacent 5th tee. Good exercise for us all and extras available if you manage to lodge your ball half way up the steep bank. Playing up the second hole you get a good view of the “mountain goats” trying to balance ready to play a shot. It really is surprising that no one has broken their necks and gawd knows what “Elf and Safety” would make of it all.

The 3rd hole was called the Cricket Pitch – not sure why. Clarkie’s group incurred the wrath of the little man in the little hut (aka The Starter) as they left the “Cricket Pitch”” and dragged their trollies across the front of the fourth tee box. Pip compounded things by actually driving her buggy across this sacred turf despite much arm waving and shouting from everyone – maybe she just thought we were pleased to see her!

View from above the 11th fairway

View from above the 11th fairway

There were some very long holes (Par 4’s that only needed a few extra yards to become a Par 5), raised greens, and bunkers, bunkers and more bunkers. I think it was here in 2010 that Shirley Moore introduced the cry of “Bucking Funkers” only to get it disastrously wrong down in the follies where all shouts echo round for everyone (including non-golfers) to hear!

The 12th (Nearest the Pin) had an elevated tee with water surrounding the front of the green. Many (too many to name) landed in the water, took a drop in the difficult rough only to either thin their ball into the bushes at the back of the green or donk it straight back into the water. An added bonus was that if you mishit your tee shot chances were you could scatter the group crossing below you.

11th green with 12th green in the background

11th green with 12th green in the background

By the time you arrived at the 18th and the longest drive generally you were too knackered to care. Some managed decent strikes whilst others only just got the ball off the tee. Actually, to put it politely this was – a bloody long hole for a Par 4, at least 5 miles long – and with plenty of bunkers to boot. The course really is quite stunning with many interesting sights (not the golfers) dotted around all over the place including hidden sculptures cut into stone or wood. There was according to Coral “an old man watching us” on the 16th green which turned out to be a carving of Neptune.

Once Ruth B arrived she attached herself to Dot Furby’s group (not the one she had been assigned to) and helped them (Dot, Kate, Joey) to finish third. At one point Ruth (who was having one of those days – correction one of those weekends) swung at her ball and scooped up a rather large divot which flew through the air and landed on a surprised Shirley Hodges. N.B. Shirley was not the 5th member of Dot’s group – she had just waddled out for a chat!! Not being rude but she was wrapped up so warmly she was likened to a penguin.

During the course of the round the cold weather affected the composition of some of the other groups as most of those in buggies threw in the towel and headed back to the warmth of the clubhouse. Claire M, Patsy, Pip and Chris W finished minus Patsy but with the addition of Gill C., whose group had broken down at various stages. Freda N. retired after 5 holes insisting her team had red carded her and Pam and her buggy companion (Pyl I think) gave up after nine. Pip and Chris were probably the only buggy finishers but this was not surprising as they were fortified by Pip’s alcohol fuelled concoction – aka coffee. Two groups merged to become one and promptly finished second in the competition!

Please note the team that actually won the competition played with the same players for all 18 holes.
The course seemed longer than when we last played it. Chris Watmough measured 5.5 miles on her measuring device – and was suitably knackered – lucky she was in a buggy.

Ye Olde Clubhouse – it even has a lift

Ye Olde Clubhouse – it even has a lift

After comparing notes Ruth B and Anne realised they were probably less than 1 mile apart on the M54 at about 9:15 that morning. Anne arrived at Hawkstone at 9:40 am and Ruth arrived approx. 1.5 hours later having made an unscheduled visit to the historic market town of Leominster and environs.

At the start of the morning non-playing Sue Redfern (rather complicated knee operation) requisitioned a buggy and set off like the Queen rehearsing for her 90th birthday parade waving to the troops as she headed out to place the Nearest the Pin and Longest Drive markers. Unfortunately, within minutes of returning she realised she had lost her car keys. Sue spent the rest of the day searching – but to no avail. All groups were asked to look out for these keys on the course, and all bags – golf bags, hand bags, and colostomy bags were checked. Search parties were despatched including a Coral led post prandial moonlit search which uncovered only rabbits and badgers.

Sue and Claire must be congratulated on keeping their “sang-froid” (in public at least) – especially as every few minutes they were being asked if they had found them. Finally, the hotel came to the rescue and first thing in the morning (9:30) – two green-keepers with Sue hobbling along behind set off with a metal detector. The keys were found almost immediately in longish grass at the base of one of the first trees on the course. That will teach Sue to do handbrake turns in a buggy!

As per usual after the golf it was a drink in the clubhouse then off to unpack and bathe those aching limbs before dinner. Reports were received of some people needing help to get out of the bath.

Dinner was good, good food and good service and this was followed by the presentations.

The evening’s entertainment revolved around fines. Shirley Moore told a new joke – all about the Nigerian Border! At one point fines were interrupted by a couple who had to fight their way through our private dining area to get to their bedroom –- I’m sure there must have been another way round. I think Coral fined them. They looked suitably embarrassed then but even more so when they had to do the same again to get to breakfast the next morning. (Kept an eye out for them the next evening but I believe they decided to check out a day early!)

As I returned to my room via the labyrinth of corridors (not so easy after a few drinks), I discovered a burglar, ear to the lock, trying to get into one of the bedrooms. On closer inspection it turned out to be Dot trying to unlock the door quietly to avoid waking up Shirley Hodges. (Shirley had retired at her normal bed time – about 6pm). This kind gesture was not helped by me shouting “You look like a burglar” and Dot shush shushing me. However, all was well – our Shirl was already awake.

Day 2 – Saturday April 2- Championship Day

This was to be played on the Hawkstone Course again. Format Strokeplay – in three balls in handicap order – lowest handicaps out first. Gill, Claire and Stocky set off to fight for “The Championship” and the rest of us straggled out to dispute the minor prizes. It was raining hard but Apps indicated that the rain might stop round about 1pm. Unfortunately, buggies were banned – so some players could not even start. No Nearest the Pins or Longest Drives today.

Buggies going nowhere

Buggies going nowhere

The course was very wet with some greens flooded from the start and it was still raining. Knowing that we could “convert” our scores from strokeplay to stableford was one crumb of comfort. As it happened this year there were more “conversions” than at a Billy Graham convention – some as soon as the first hole. The Ravine hole snared a few more – no one in their right mind was going to climb up that bank in these slippery conditions (so obviously some did) – and wet bunkers took care of the rest. It was a matter of last man standing until the rain stopped (which it did after approx. 2 hours) and then the sun came out – life became much easier and lo and behold the golf actually became really enjoyable!! – anyone remember the fifties song by Alan Sherman – “Hello Mother, Hello Father, Here I am in Camp Grenada”.

Taff – please note design on golf bag – dog paws not tea pots.

Taff – please note design on golf bag – dog paws not tea pots.

The rain definitely affected people’s behaviour on the course. Ruth B was spotted hammering her club (from above her head) into the ground in frustration. Afterwards she said she hadn’t had a temper tantrum like that since she started playing golf. Taff had come to people’s attention for taking up a stance as a teapot after every shot she took. First one arm, then the other, then finally much to everyone’s amusement, after hauling herself out of a bunker, both arms.

The fairway bunker on the right hand side of the 8th attracted many players and like Noah’s Ark they entered it two by two.

Michelle’s Irish Grandfather Wilfred O’Birch actually scored a two on the Par 5 8th – most of us were ecstatic with a seven. This plaque is situated at the back of the 8th green to commemorate this feat. (Mr Birch was a founder member of the Hawkstone Golf Club).

"Wilfred Birch holed in two at the green"

“Wilfred Birch holed in two at the green”

We finished in a more upbeat mood than we started and as ever adjourned to the clubhouse for a spot of lunch and a few drinks. War stories were swapped and smart phones were at the ready to monitor the football scores.

The bar

The bar

We were requested to meet in the dining room at 6:30 for “The Meeting”. The new committee are working hard on our behalves. Apparently they even have conference calls! New systems are in place including an online bank account for deposits and memberships fees to be paid into. (Contact Jo Osbourne if you still need this information).

There was a discussion about whether the society should take out third party golf liability insurance. Someone asked if this would cover the society if somehow we were to “trash the hotel” and if, however unlikely, keys were lost. It has been proposed that we pay two instalments of £15 at each meet to cover prizes and membership fees to make it fairer to those that don’t make both meets each year. How this would work for non-players still needs to be decided.

Discussions are also taking place regarding matches between the WCAGS and the MCC and Lady Taverners to see if they can be spread more geographically. Pip is on the case. The amount of any subsidy that may be available for the players also needs to be resolved. The possibility of discontinuing “The Championship” had been informally discussed by many on Day 1 and this will be discussed fully at the AGM in October – bring your thoughts.

Onto dinner (menu rather similar to yesterday) and prize giving. A common theme at the presentations was the shocked faces on the majority of those who won. Other than Gill and Claire some extraordinarily high gross scores had been returned. There were many prizes covering different categories. Dot on receiving her prize argued that she had been given the wrong trophy and that she had been “given that one last time”. For Facebook users there is a slow mo video of Dot taking a swing.

The Prize Table (pre-assembly)

The Prize Table (pre-assembly)

Only a few fines were collected as these were being replaced by a different entertainment. In a sketch narrated and written by Taff (thanks Taff) Barrack Obrown (Kate Brown) phoned our President Val following reports that there was a golden glow coming from the golf course area in Hawkstone. Sniffer hens were sent in (June and Sandy) overseen by Coral’s pet hen. Basically you had to be there to believe it but the climax included the hen doing what hens do (quite painfully) and laying an egg and unexpectedly Sue’s Car Keys. (Sue at this point had realised that her keys had gone missing again but was still to traumatised to mention this to anyone).

A few arose and told jokes and June (a little the worse for wear) read the bathing costume monologue – without spectacles – so that we were treated to wonderful misreads including among others “a designer trump”.

The dining room was very hot for those ladies of a certain age but cold for those for whom “hot flushes” are only a distant memory. A battle to open or shut the windows followed (the radiators were fully on). Battle lines were drawn but eventually the “ladies of a certain age” prevailed – probably because there are so many of them!!

Day 3 – Sunday April 3

For those with any energy left we were to play a waltz on the Championship Course, a 6763 yard Par 72. First tee at 9:00. Stocky was pleased as she believes she is always out first when there is an early start involved. This time she was out last – at 9:40. At least the early start meant we would be able to finish in time for the start of the Mens T20 Cricket final. It was all a bit of a rush first thing what with packing, paying bills and finding the shortest way out to the carpark with suitcases. Those that thought it would be a good idea to check out at 11pm the night before had been politely refused. Not a criticism of the hotel staff as they had been very helpful and friendly throughout our stay. I suppose they had to go to bed at some stage!

Debbie declared that her team was the “Dream Team”. Claire believed hers to be the “Prettiest Team” (picture on Facebook that I refuse on principle to put in here) and I believed mine to be “Dark Horses”. Unfortunately, to say that this course was “very boggy” is a slight understatement. The rain from the previous 24hrs was the cause of the problem. Picking and placing did not improve matters much and a good drive down the middle of the fairway was generally rewarded with a plugged ball. The first few holes were OK but then the difficult conditions just ground you down. Things improved a bit on the holes closest to the lake but not for long. There really was nothing enjoyable about this round other than the lovely company and the fact that we could still retain a sense of humour. The lucky players were those injured and in the clubhouse watching the Woman’s T20 final.

Round the lake - in summer

Round the lake – in summer

Despite all the water on the fairways, the water in the lakes was as magnetic as ever, attracting many a ball. The imaginatively named hole called Swan Lake had swans by it – one of them was the biggest I have ever seen. It was safety in numbers as we closed ranks and delicately tip-toed past them. As a loo had been provided on the Hawkstone course it was hoped that a similar facility would be available – but no. Alas the trees and bushes had not developed sufficiently for too much discretion and without Lesley we were lost. All of those with “outdoor relief paranoia” were in for an uncomfortable round and the hole called the “Wee Burn” was aptly named. Finally, a porta-loo was found tucked away as you approached the 17th tee. With the benefit of hind-sight this was also accessible from behind the 8th/9th – oh how our scores could have been so different. Actually that is rubbish – the inability to hit more than 70yds in the mud was the problem.

Finally, up the 18th and alongside the clubhouse. Sue R hung over the balcony asking if anyone wanted to know the Ladies cricket score and there was much rejoicing that the West Indies had won! Sue said she had never seen so many players look so miserable – I think she was referring to the golfers not the Australians. The TV, courtesy of Sue, was set up in the clubhouse – one for the football and one for the men’s cricket T20 final. Leicester were winning and England were losing wickets.

Prizes were awarded to third place with scores well below Par for the format. The Dream team actually came second. Unfortunately for Dot, Michelle and Anne there was a set of prizes over and these were awarded to the team who had come last – Us – from Dark Horses to Blackpool Donkeys. It wasn’t as if we hadn’t tried! As per Eric Morecambe playing Grieg’s piano concerto, we could score points but not necessarily in the right order.

As England’s 4th wicket went down most of us took it as our cue to leave. With fond farewells, and a “see you at Cricket Week“, or a “see you at Staverton” it was all over.

Competition Results

Fri 1st April: Tri am
1st: 75 pts Debbie Stock, Claire Jenkins, Liz Whelan
2nd 66pts Clare Mulvaney, Gill Clayton, Pip Vyvyan, Chris Watmough, Susie Garner
3rd 65pts Kate Brown, Dot Furby, Jo Morris
Nearest The Pin Val Castle
Longest Drive Bronze Shirley Taylor
Longest Drive Silver Gill Clayton
Presentation is everything

Presentation is everything

Sat 2nd April: Championship
Champion and Silver Gross Winner 91 Gill Clayton
Runner up 92 Clare Mulvaney
Bronze Champion 102 c/b Liz Whelan
Runner up 102 c/b Sue Thornley
Silver division best nett 87 c/b Anne Crawley
Bronze division best nett 76 Coral Handley
Over 70’s Champion Gross 106 Val Castle
Over 70’s best nett 87 Dot Furby
Stableford Winner Ruth Bailey
Sun 3rd April: Waltzing through muddy treacle
1st 62pts Kate Brown, Gill Clayton, Coral Handley
2nd 57pts Claire Jenkins, Debbie Stock, Liz Whelan
3rd 54pts Shirley Taylor, Ruth Bailey, Sue Thornley
Nearest the Pin Clare Mulvaney
Longest Drive Bronze Coral Handley
Longest Drive Silver Gill Clayton

Attendees
Maria Bagust, Chris Bailey, Ruth Bailey, Michelle Birch, Kate Brown, Val Castle, Sarah Clarke (one day), Pam Craine, Gill Clayton, Anne Crawley, June Edney, Mary Evans, Dorothy Furby, Susan Garner, Sandy Gristwood, Nan Haggerty (NP), Shirley Hodges (NP), Coral Handley, Norma Izard (NP), Claire Jenkins, Taff Martin, Shirley Moore, Jo Morris, Clare Mulvaney, Frieda Northcott, Jo Osborne (two days), Frieda Simpkin, Debbie Stock, Shirley Taylor, Sue Thornley, Pip Vyvyan, Chris Watmough, Liz Whelan

Thanks

A successful and happy meet despite the best efforts of the weather. Once again, from everyone who attended, thanks to all the committee members and helpful others who have invested their time and hard work into making this event as enjoyable as ever.