Sunday, 10 April 2011

Ponteland Friendly

It’s Spring, it must be the Masters, the traditional start to the golfing season. Except in a little corner of NE England, where another start is the friendly match between Bamburgh and Ponteland, at Bamburgh. This year we had a lovely day, calm and warm.

As always, team selection is critical. I played with Keith Whitfield, a good choice: a combination of me having 8 shots and Keith being able to putt meant that we won a tight match (tight after being three up after three, which made all the difference). Dan Taylor had volunteered to photograph the day and gave us periodic updates on the other matches: we seemed to be doing OK but as Rory McIlroy found out later in the day, a lot can happen on a golf course.
I’m not sure why we hardly ever use the seats by the 18th green to watch people coming in; it’s a great place to have a drink, look at the view and see how people play the 18th. But today we all gathered there although the conversations seemed more interesting than the play. We did well at first – winning three and drawing one of the first four matches but then lost the next two. Fortunately we had a couple of bankers for the last two groups and accordingly won. We play for a trophy (pictured in my September post) that unfortunately was stolen – along with a couple of others – at a break in at the clubhouse earlier in the week. We haven’t had time to see if its recovered or to think about how to replace it, so with the help of a marker pen and a side plate I created a china “salver” which Malcolm Sym, the Ponteland captain, kindly handed back to me. He was polite about the day – although I suspect there’ll be some critical comment about our handicapping in the bus going back... The “salver” now sits proudly in an otherwise empty (and windowless) trophy cabinet.

One unusual feature of the day was the inclusion of Ponteland’s vice chairman in their team – unusual because she’s a she. Nicky Rose played, significantly lowering our average handicap, in the mixed group with Mike Robinson. I was pretty relaxed about this, (although it did cause comment at Ponteland) because the key was that as hosts we should welcome our guests. Golf clubs were one of the last Government’s targets when they introduced the new equality legislation and we have to combine common sense, the need to have good golf competitions and a respect for legal requirements.

The Drybrough Cup, the Saturday competition, was by the way notable for a full entry, my return to acceptable golf (36 points), a lot of birdies (by other people) and what must be a record number of disqualifications – all for not filling in cards properly. It’s a shame they didn’t: there’s a clear description of what to do by the start sheet and technicalities shouldn’t get in the way of the score. But.. golf is a game of technicalities.

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