The Final weekend for The Golf Club Secretary – 14th Open Championship proved to be an excellent adventure both on and off the course. The weather was kind for the two days if a bit chilly and breezy, the links were in superb order with good scores distinctly possible
The Sunday foursomes, with a mix on low/high handicaps produced some sparkling golf and after nine holes there were at least four pairings in the hunt with 17 or 18 points. Home advantage proved crucial over the last nine holes when host secretary James Laidler (4) and Scott Ballentine (10) Royal Worlington came in with a total of 36pts (21+15), pipping Niki Hunter (21) Letchworth and Stephen Billings (2) Redlibbets by 2pts.
The ‘caravan’ then moved off to the Flackley Ash Hotel where we enjoyed a most convivial evening including an excellent dinner, the presentation of the afternoon’s prizes, a word of welcome from Rye and James, a most amusing and gracious acceptance speech from Steve Styles for his birthday present of a bottle (another…?) of wine and Majestic’s finest crystal glasses before the main event of the evening – Heads and Tails. Most of our subscribers will be familiar with this speedy way of raising money and on this occasion it was for an extremely good cause. Richard Dixon, Chief Executive of the Golf Union of Wales and a man of presence both in height and girth, recently completed the London Marathon (and has a medal to prove it!) raising over £7,000 in the process, (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RichardDixon for anyone who knows ‘Dixie’ and who would like to contribute) for the cancer Charity Tenovus, the official Charity of the next Ryder Cup in Wales; all those present were pleased to swell the fund by a further £200+, thank you all.
The Hotel’s spa and pool were remarkably empty the following morning… and despite one or two of the finalists looking a little the worse for wear, matters got off to a sunny if chilly start promptly at 08.30. Finalists were given a maximum of 3 and a quarter hours to complete an 18 hole two ball, stableford, which proved almost possible for the majority and totally impossible for one or two. There were however no disqualifications!
With the magnificent Rye buffet requiring us to have a rolling lunch, the prizegiving came in the middle of the main course for some, including a table or two of very patient Rye members, who were thanked not only for their patience but for the generosity in allowing us to take over their links for 24 hours. The Championship was a very close battle with Tim Aggett (2) Staddon Heights first out and therefore first in, scoring a superb 35pts and topping the leaderboard for a long time, but finally losing out to Peter Walter (6) The Royal Household (Windsor Home Park) who came in with 36pts – and thus became a very worthy Champion. Peter’s Club is a recent subscriber to the newsletter which is why this year’s tasteful tie didn’t have any logo or crowns, unicorns or lions! In third came a previous winner Gaye Sjoberg (15) Epping 34pts and the fourth prize went to another relative newcomer to the Championship, Brian Lever (11) Great Yarmouth & Caister, with 33pts, they all deserve our congratulations.
It was by all accounts a weekend enjoyed by everyone. Our thanks to Rye, its Captain, Jeremy Carey, Committee and Members for their generosity in allowing us to stage our Final over their historic and wonderful links and despite a bending of the Sunday lunchtime dress code. Thanks too to their secretary James Laidler and his predecessor John Smith, also to the staff, especially Steward Ian Rason (who sportingly donned a GCS tie!), who all looked after us very well.
The ‘team’ were fully represented and our thanks as always to Philip Vince of Majestic Crystal, Philip McInley and Andrew Brown of Eagle, Paul and Stefanie Mainstone begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting of Jonas/Clubminder, CCV’s Barry Gibbs and Michael Harris and Neil Tappin of Golf Monthly – the Championship would not exist or prosper without them and fortunately they know that!
Entries for The Golf Club Secretary – 15th Open Championship are already arriving in considerable numbers and as we pointed out at Rye, there are limits on the size of the fields at a number of venues, so should you wish to enter the 15th Open, best you get your entries in smartish!