Tuesday, 13 July 2021
Sussex Captain’s Go To The Races!
Today’s golfing adventure takes our golfing heroes to the Sussex Surrey border and the delights of Lingfield Park Golf Course, Hotel and Country Club. As a special treat, Surrey even organised horse racing.
The Marriott resort complex sought to test the team’s mental faculties by employing a distinct lack of signage and confounding the most sophisticated satellite navigation. Fortunately, Harold came prepared with a 1973 edition of the Ordnance Survey, and we managed to get into the car park.
In preparation, the team spent several days studying the weather forecast, which had predicted; dry, showers, rain, thunder, lightning, monsoon, biblical flood and the apocalypse. The only thing missing was a rain of frogs. But the Sussex boys were prepared for everything, except the warm, dry and windless day, which we enjoyed. Go figure.
As everyone eventually rolled in, the banter and bonhomie that makes these events such fun created a lovely lunchtime atmosphere. Notably, everyone, apart from Woody, avoided discussing the previous night’s football. Thus, we were in good spirits when Graham Horn, (Surrey) welcomed us to the club.
He took us through the house rules, explained the handicap system and ran through the directions to the twelfth. So, after getting back in the car, utilising Harold’s map, driving across the racecourse, turning left at Haywards Heath, twice round the roundabout and left at the local Spar, we eventually found ourselves back on the golf course.
Cars parked, clubs unloaded, wet weather gear stored, finally, we were ready for the off. Turns out that as it was race day and we were parked in the wrong place, once the meeting started, our cars would be trapped on the wrong side of the tracks! Oh, how we laughed.
With that, it was back to the local Spar, turn right, once round the lake and park in the local woods. There were a bunch of guys huddled around a Ford Fiesta, it was unclear what they were doing, but they seemed to be enjoying it.
Meanwhile, the group at the 12th tee got to grips with calculating handicaps. Unfortunately, no one had taken a picture of the stroke chart. This was on display on the wall of the Pro’s Shop, beside the first tee…in a different county. Mitch Clark saved the day by explaining the formula; Handicap x slope rating / 113 -10%. By using the 125 slope rating, a calculator, an abacus and in one case a bit of finger counting, each group was finally able to work out the shots.
Suddenly a phone beeped, some ba**ard had sent through a picture of the stroke chart. Turns out that the slope rating was not 125, but 134, and the sorry process needed to be repeated.
I’d like to thank the WHS for the introduction of the new handicapping system. It’s made the process simple to understand, easy to operate and much better than it used to be. Sadly, I’m not sure my ‘O’ Level in Maths is up to the job.
At this rate, it would be dark before we got back into Surrey.
But finally, we were off!
Keith Talbot (Captain) and Santa Wilkins (Pres) took on John Graves (Surrey Captain) and Graham Horn. The Surrey lads started very well, quickly going three up. But Keith and Santa have been here before (see previous match reports) and got back to level at the turn. Sadly, the Sussex pair’s form returned, and they lost 4&3. Keith thought the course played very well, and the company was great. Apparently, it is the taking part that counts!
Mark Terry (Hon Sec) and Craig Millyard faced Clive Smith and Nyren Scott-Malden. Mark and Craig exploded out the gate and were six up with seven to play. Their combined score was 5 under par. Ever the gentleman, Mark suggested easing off, but Craig said “Nay”. They were soon on the home straight, cantering across the winning line, 5&4.
Next up were Tim Ingram and Peter Snook v Richard Carr and John Chard. Our heroes dovetailed well. Although the notes point out that “Tim was slow to start but Peter stood firm”. They were 2 up after 2, and keen to get in before the non-existent rain. They maintained the pressure, running out 6&4 winners.
Ian Potter and John Benoy challenged George Thorne and Alan Tickner. This was a very even game, all square after six holes. Unsportingly, the Surrey boys, took a two-hole lead, before pulling away to Dormy Four. Rousing themselves, John and Ian won the next three. John mentioned “Chiff Chaff” * and all hope was lost, they halved the last, losing 1 Down.
The beautiful Peter Ward and the less glamorous Dave Kemp faced Richard Kennett and Keith Pitts. The Surrey pair were two good for Peter and Dave, and our lads lost 4&3. Despite the soggy bottom, there was plenty of good, and everyone enjoyed the day.
In the last match from the first, in Surrey, near the clubhouse and on the right side of the tracks, Colin Prior and Richard Jays took on Mark Elliott and Mike King. Richard says that it was nice to play in a match where he receives shots. Colin played very well, taking full advantage of his fourteen shots, which allowed the Sussex lads a comfortable 4&3 win. It appears Richard’s shots weren’t much help.
Tony Philippou and Alan Butcher were up against Graham Woolcott and Mike Weaver. Asked to fill in their match report, they wrote “5 birdies and 1 eagle”, “5 up”. It was suggested they add some detail, so they penned “Tears from the other guys”. Shortly afterwards, Tony came over and asked to borrow a pencil. Looking for further exposition of the ups and downs of the game, I noted he had added: “for a net 1” next to the eagle. They won, 5 up.
Soon to be married, Mitch Clark and Just for Men Model, Harold Knight played Roger Croft and John Drinkill. This was a tough gig. The Sussex boys were giving 10 shots to a chap who had once played off 8. Apparently, Mitch was the star of the show. Asked for a comment, he said, “it was lovely to play with Harold”. Do you think he has a Ford Fiesta?
The Copthorne pairing of Ian Wood (Sheffield Wednesday) and John Macauley were up against Alex Horn (Child) and Mike Wickings. It is worth noting that due to a Surrey Captain withdrawing on the way to the game, Graham’s son Alex (Aged 7 3/4's) agreed to step in at the last minute. It turns out he was Lingfield Park’s ‘Club Champion’ two years running.
Ian was delighted to face a ‘proper golfer’, as it would ‘make a game of it’, although he put it somewhat differently.
Introduced as the sacrificial lambs, playing against the club champion, Wood’s and Macauley managed to gel well after a poor start and ran out 4&3 winners. This was much to the surprise of the Surrey Match Organiser, and Pater Familias, Graham Horn.
The last match saw Joe Angella (Vice) and Rod England play popular 60’s duo, Sandy (Willison) and Paul (Giddean). This was a close game with Sandy and Paul playing well. They soon went 2 up. Joe found the repeated dog legs, blind shots and oddly placed trees, ‘a bit tricky’, while Rod took to playing Army golf.
Meanwhile, the Surrey chaps were sure and steady, which made for an entertaining match. Gradually we wore them down. Rod’s putting was incredible, never more so than when we arrived at the second last one up. You should have seen the look of joy on Sandy and Paul’s faces when he sunk a 40-foot putt. With a 38 footer, to take the match to the last, you should have seen the look on our faces when Paul sunk his effort.
1 up at the last, Joe drove into a drainage ditch, hacked out, before chipping in for a birdie, to win 2 up.
It was a great day, with a lot of fun and laughter. The winning was a bonus.
Result - Surrey 3 – Sussex 7
So, in summary, what to make of the day?
Despite the difficulty in finding the place, the journey to the tee box, the repeated dog legs and the weather forecast, it was a thoroughly splendid day. It shows that when you have good company, great spirit and an Ordnance Survey Map, you can have a brilliant time. Perhaps it is the taking part, rather than the winning, that matters most.
*Don’t ask me, I just type out what ever they write on the sheet.