Official Charity

 

Westminster Hotel Spa

Welcombe Hotel - Stratford
18-19 May 2019

As we feared that we might not be allowed back into the UK due to Brexit, this year's Spring golf party was held in Warwickshire, at the imposing Welcombe Hotel in Stratford on Avon. Rather than play three times on the hotel course, the first round of the tournament had been arranged on the way up at Terry’s first golf club, Broadway. After heated arguments that he should therefore take a two-stroke cut for local knowledge (a mere 50 years ago!) and a further two for winning at Henley the previous week the matter was escalated to the organiser (TW) and the handicap secretary (TW) and, surprisingly, both recommendations, despite the majority vote, were rejected (see “Brexit”, above).

18thOn a rather gloomy day with some sharp showers the course and splendid distant views over the Severn/Avon valley were enjoyed by most, with eight of the ten starters finishing the 18 holes. Terry’s 32 was pipped by playing partner Dave Tulloch on 33, then Mike Houghton with 34, only to be topped by Mike Mawtus on 35 including the only two.

Fifteen of us then congregated at the magnificent old hotel set in wonderful gardens. Gordon Whickman was a forced absentee, only able to travel up and play on Sunday and Tuesday due to his wife’s riding accident and broken arm and shoulder – we all wish her a speedy and complete recovery. A very busy dining room full of “Sunday Driver” golf parties coped very well with our pre-booked three course dinner. The quality and presentation drew many compliments.

clubhouseMonday dawned gloriously sunny as promised. An excellent breakfast and a free morning were followed by a drive round to the clubhouse. The course was soon found to be hilly, scenic and well presented, with great views in many places of the Warwickshire countryside and the grand hotel architecture. The semi-rough was just the right height to conceal a golf ball and to make it difficult to hit out cleanly. Those who walked had a tremendous workout for legs and lungs. More buggies were ordered for Tuesday.

Once again Mike Mawtus was in great form, scoring 34 for a clear victory by three over Terry, with Peter Breakell, Richard Gower and Mike Houghton on 29 and Dave Tulloch on 27 – the last two with the compensation of a two apiece. With the three ladies completing their rounds Libby Coleman led by one point from Linda Barton, and Jean Jones just three more adrift, with Rita hitting some nice shots after a lay-off.

dining roomAnother excellent dinner in the main dining room overlooking the formal garden in the evening sun was well appreciated before an early night for most. Another civilised start time around 10.30 gave time to check out after breakfast, but the pro shop had failed to pass on the buggy message so two pairs were unlucky – more vigorous exercise for them.

partyThe pre-dinner discussion had been whether Mike M could hang on to his 6-stroke lead. After all, hadn’t the world #1 almost lost a 7-stroke advantage on Sunday? With Terry, Mike H and Dave having nothing to lose and going for their shots it might be close, and so it proved, with Dave scoring 35, and Gordon returning to equal that score. Mike H dropped out of contention but scored a second two of the competition, so Mike M needed a minimum of 26 for a share of the clubhouse lead. Which is exactly what he did score, so a countback might be needed unless Terry came in with 33 or better.

Meanwhile, out on the course, the said TW was enjoying really mixed fortunes, with multiple visits to bunkers being balanced by bounces out of woods, one of which had him walking foolishly ahead to search and being chastised by a golf ball from Val between the shoulder blades dropping him momentarily to his knees. “Why not 12 inches higher where it would do less damage?” may have been thought but not spoken. Second time in five weeks he has looked as though he was having a heart attack, this time for 7 seconds not 7 days! Not even a bruise, Val, so the claim for compensation may not succeed.

So, all down to the last few holes. After a wobble on 12-14 Mike had finished with 8 points in the last four holes. In turn, Dave had scored 9 points in 3 holes from the turn but then scraped only one on 13 & 14 before a strong 9-point run to home. Blithely unaware, perhaps fortunately, having scored 28 in 13 holes, Terry then slumped to 2 points on 14-16, partially recovering with a nett par/par finish. The resulting 34 points gave victory for the weekend by two without actually winning any of the events.

wowlindaThe ladies’ championship was even closer with Libby recovering from her front nine that had put her 5 behind overall to get to one adrift with two to play and her two nett pars on 17 & 18 forced a tie with Linda.

Prizes – made available thanks to last year’s Le Touquet travellers as the Golfing Experience loyalty points earned gave £60+ to spend – were distributed on the terrace, Rick and Val having had to depart hastily for a “mandatory” council meeting (I hadn’t realised there was such a thing!), to Gordon for his joint winning score on day 3, to Linda on countback with one point more than Libby in her final round, to Mike M 3rd on countback day 3 from Dave 2nd, and Terry for the tournament win by two strokes. Did someone say he should have been cut two for prior knowledge at Broadway?

Tremendous good fortune with the weather, presumably because Mike Houghton was with us, gave us all a very enjoyable trip, some thirty years since Dave arranged the first one at St Mellion in slightly different meteorological conditions. Twos were rewarded with their three quid back, only Mike H making a profit, netting £17 for Peter’s charity.

Click the image to see all the photosmonkeys

As I said at the conclusion of this year’s event, I’ll be happy to set one up next year but would like to come along just as a golfer, so we will need volunteers to arrange the social side (just getting people down for drinks and dinner, really, unless the volunteer likes to expand that role) and the golf (times, groups, cards, counting). Venue suggestions warmly welcomed if you know or hear of recommended locations with a chance to play more than one course and a good hotel and location. Non-golfing partners (this year Sue Tulloch, Wendy Houghton, and Libby’s partner Tudor Morgan) and those who want to take a day off also need places to explore not too far away. You might expect a questionnaire to find out what you would like to do, please respond.

Terry