October 2016 – Staverton Park

The recent meeting of the society took place at Staverton Park near Northampton from Monday 24th to Wednesday 26th October 2016.

Celebrating Freda and Shirley's 80th birthday

Celebrating Freda and Shirley’s 80th birthday

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.

Staverton Park Golf Club from above.

Staverton from above, presumably taken by Patsy arriving in her helicopter

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.

7th hole at Staverton Park Golf Club. Photo credit De Vere Venues Staverton Estate website

7th hole – The Long Par 3

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.

2016 AGM
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:

  1. 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!).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Dames of Gemini - The Musical

Cast in order of queenliness – The Queen (Pam), Prince Philip (Pip), Queen Mum (Norma), Charles (Taff), Camilla (Patsy), Flunky 1 (Kate), Flunky 2 (Weeksy)

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 ……………………

The Par 3 12th – Nearest the Pin hole

The Par 3 12th – Nearest the Pin hole


  • 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


Pink Peril
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

Tex Mex
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.

Spring 2016 – Hawkstone Park

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

Hawkstone Park Golf Club

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

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


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.

October 2015 – Abbotsley GC

Autumn Meeting 2015 – October 25th, 26th, 27th

Autumn at Abbotsley

Autumn at Abbotsley

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.
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October 2014 – Patshull Park

Friday – The Early Birds

Way back in the midst of time this special Meeting was discussed via e-mail, telephone, carrier pigeon, smoke signals and even snail mail! Should we have a theme? Or should we not? A brief chat was held among the OT’s who had founded this Society (OT’s .. Old Tarts!!) and a theme was decided upon … an Oscars evening, movies, TV, etc., and then a retro Disco of 70’s music!

Those who had arrived the night before arranged to meet in Earl’s. We pottered down and met up with some other early birds. Some had had nightmare journeys, driving through heavy rain, road works, accidents, etc. The Kent contingent, in particular, had a pretty horrendous time with the Dartford Tunnel almost at a standstill! Waiting time at this problematical tunnel varied from an hour to the best part o two hours, then the joys of the M25 took look forward to!
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