2019 Report

2019 Report

 

ChampeenRoger Thomas
Runner-upJohn Drake*
GoatAndrew Sugden
Best 1st RoundMike Webb**
Tim Sugden Tankard for best 2nd RoundJohn Drake***
Nearest Pin 1st RoundRogerThomas
Nearest Pin 2nd RoundJohn Drake
Longest Drive 1st RoundBill Butterworth
Longest Drive 2nd RoundJohn Shires
Lost Ball SweepMike Dyson (67) 
Champion SweepMike Dyson
Goat SweepAndrew Sugden
 
* But Mike Webb gets the prize because Drake won the Tankard.
** Because Roger can't win the Salver and the best 1st round.
***Though we think Sambo maybe should have got the prize for best 2nd round for the same reason as * (Christ, this is complicated)

 
It was the most predictable outcome to a sporting event since Muhamad Ali knocked out Richard Dunn. Roger Thomas is the Champion golfer for 2019 and Andrew Sugden is the Goat. 


Monday, September 9, 2019 - Slaley Hall

In a major change from previous years, the pre-Salver warm-up was held at Slaley Hall in Northumberland. Having finally jettisoned his Diamond Resorts timeshare scam - sorry, scheme - which had seen us based near Lancaster since 2015, Sambo arranged for us to relocate to the other side of the Northern Pennines. It was an inspired choice. Not only did he negotiate a remarkably cheap deal - two rounds of golf, plus dinner, bed and breakfast for only £179 per person - but the two courses there far exceeded expectations.
Having visited on a Woodsome Hall past captains' trip, Mark Wilcox - amongst others - had warned that Slaley Hall was a tough hard slog, prone to waterlogging, and a typical corporate golf hotel complex.
In the event, those that made the early journey north were more than pleasantly surprised. Despite recent rain, both courses were in superb condition, the layouts interesting and visually a delight.
The advance party comprised Sambo, John Shires, John Drake and Alan Haigh - surely the oldest rookie in golf - who was making his Goldthorpe Salver debut. Although they set off from West Yorkshire in rain, it had abated by the time they arrived, and the forecast was set fair for an early afternoon tee time on the Priestman, supposedly the lesser of the two courses. Not everything boded well for the following two days: the draught beer was off, the keg Boddingtons - at £4.40 a pint - tasted of iron filings, and the lunch service in the clubhouse bar so slow that it almost had to be served on the first tee.
None of which inconvenienced Drake and Shires, who were in inspired form. They never lost the honour, and with a spectacular display of target golf on receptive greens, they trounced Sampson and Haigh 8 and 6, winning the match on the 11th green. To to rub it in, they also won the back nine 4 and 3. Between them they fired three gross birdies, and standing on the 17th tee, with their opponents utterly demoralised, they were still level par gross. Later Sambo was to complain that he had failed to take one of the four shots due to him as a result of his ridiculous handicap. Not only was he told that it was entirely his own fault, but it was also pointed out that he and the unfortunate Haigh would still have been beaten by a dog license.

Shires J & Drake bt Sampson & Haigh 8&6

The one problem with Slaley Hall is its remote location. Unless you are prepared to drive - which we weren't - there's no alternative to eating and drinking in the hotel. However dinner was a pleasant surprise. The hand-pulled beer had been restored, the wine - though pricey - wasn't exorbitant, and the food was more than adequate. Only one dish caused any adverse comment: according to Sambo, the deconstructed Lemon & Lime Eton Mess resembled blobs of different coloured snot. Thankfully it didn't taste like it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - Slaley Hall

Tuesday's round was played off the white tees on the 6,850 yard Hunting Course, where Sampson and Haigh gained some revenge for their humiliation the day before, with Shires missing a tricky downhill 12 footer which would have squared the match on the 18th. 
Mind you, it has to be said that the match was effectively settled by a slice of outrageous fortune. Haigh and Sampson were somehow clinging on to a precarious one hole lead, when Sambo teed off on the 15th, a 200 yard par three over a lake. Yes, you've guessed it. He topped it into the water 30 yards short of the far bank, but instead of sinking like a stone, his ball performed a Barnes Wallis, skimming twice and skipping over the lip of the lake before coming to an apologetic halt on the green. It wasn't enough to win the hole, as he predictably three putted, but with Drake and Shires unable to make their pars after finding trouble off the tee, the half was enough to protect the slender lead.
However it's worth pointing out that had this been a 36 hole contest, it would already have been over, with Drake and Shires winning by, yes - a dog license.

Sampson & Haigh by Shires J & Drake, 1 hole

The trouble with playing in mid-morning on a golf trip is that you don't know what to do in the afternoon. However Sampson had an inspired idea: why not kill time with some more golf? And Slaley Hall gained another tick by allowing us to play another nine - free of charge. Sambo reckons it was his charm that persuaded the young lady in the pro's shop to grant our request; a more plausible explanantion is that the course was completely deserted.
On this occasion the honours were shared, though not without some controversy. All square on the signature 9th hole, Sampson twatted his drive into trees on the left and played a second off the tee. All four searched in vain for the statutory three minutes, but then - after the others had all played their second shots - Sambo announced that on the way to his provisional, he had found his first ball. Unabashed he played on, and since the 9th is the stroke 1 hole, he was on the green and close to the cup for 3 nett 2. Fortunately for his continued well-being, he was shamed into offering a half - which was gladly accepted.

Sampson & Haigh halved with Shires J & Drake

Post round drinks were enlivened by the presence in the clubhouse of a party of Glaswegians. They seemed to be having a jolly good time, though in the absence of an interpreter, it was impossible to ascertain why.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - Penrith GC

Soon after arriving at Penrith, where the Supremo joined us in a non-playing capacity, a cunning plan was proposed to prevent The Judge winning the Salver again. It was considered underhand to arbitrarily slash Roger's handicap, since in the Woodsome computer there was irrefutable evidence that he had failed to play to it all summer. Instead, although HIS handicap would remain the same, all other competitors would (on account of the incontrovertible fact that they are even shitter than he is) be granted three extra shots.
However when play commenced, Roger showed that whatever sanctions were imposed he would be hard to beat, as alongside Chris Sampson he triumphed against the redoubtable partnership of Alan Haigh and Mike Webb.
In the other match Mark Wilcox - predictably fortified by an enormous lunch (pictured right) - teamed up with Rupert Shires to put John Shires and John Drake to the sword. The Beast and the Almondbury Strangler singled putted four of the first five holes, and even though they were only one over par after 5, Shires and Drake found themselves three down. Drake in particular did well to claw back the deficit, but the game ended on the 17th green.

Sampson & Thomas bt Haigh and Webb M, 1hole; Shires R & Wilcox bt Shires J & Drake, 2&1

Over the previous month, your correspondent had spent considerable energy on selecting a hostelry for dinner, eventually settling on the Queen's Head at Tirril, not far from Penrith. As far as Rupert's satnav was concerned, it might as well have been in Outer Mongolia. Forty minutes after their arrival, the rest of the party - none of whom had his mobile phone number - were sufficiently concerned to ring his missus back in Huddersfield. Even after contact had been made and fresh directions issued, our latter-day Livingstone continued to explore the highways and byways around Ullswater for at least another 35 minutes.
The delay actually worked in our favour. Since the round at Penrith had been completed in a little over three hours, we were extremely early for our restaurant booking. By the time Rupert arrived, we were bang on time.
Throughout, the staff at the Queen's Head were extremely understanding, and as the pub also served decent food, it may well be worth another visit.

Thursday, September 12, Silloth-on-Solway GC 


In predicting an 80 per cent chance of precipitation at Silloth on Thursday morning, the weather forecasters were being hugely over-optimistic. The Rain Radar app revealed a 100 per cent certainty that it was going to lash it down for hours. Nevertheless 10 intrepid Yorkshiremen - including Andrew Sugden, who arrived with a brand new Ferrari-red trolley (pictured) - set out to battle the elements, splitting up into a fourball and two threeballs. During the usual lengthy discussions about a suitable scoring system, Wilcox was adamant that, to speed matters up in the rain, we should play Greensomes - until it was pointed out to him that it's actually quite a difficult format for a threeball.
In the event, he and the rest of his quartet - Sampson, Drake and WAS - didn't feature in any sort of scoring at all, as they wimped out after only 11 holes, bleating about the weather. The remaining half dozen struggled manfully round the whole course, with Thomas, Haigh and Butterworth coming out on top. Not surprisingly there is little photographic evidence of their triumph since the Salver's official photographer does not possess an underwater camera.

RM Thomas, AB Haigh and WJC Butterworth 94pts; JJShires, RJ Shires & MF Webb 84pts; Nancy Boys (WA Sugden, CV Sampson, JA Drake & ML Wilcox) DNF

It's fair to say that the four who'd neshed out in the morning came in for some ridicule at lunchtime; it was decided that they might not be the sort of chaps you'd want next to you in the trenches. Drake responded by opining that those who'd braved the downpour just "thought they were being clever. They're aren't," he said.
Rupert's riposte: "We paid our brass - we weren't going to waste it," surprised no-one familiar with his legendary parsimony.
Four more arrived by 2pm, amongst them John Liddiment, who'd lunched at the Pheasant at Bassenthwaite on his own. He'd apparently arranged to meet Durrans, but had been stood up.
With the rain still hosing against the clubhouse windows, Rupert wondered whether the Rain Radar was predicting a 90 per cent chance of everyone getting pissed in the afternoon, but the new arrivals - Liddiment, Sheikh Mik-al Dyson, Jonty Thornton and Durrans - all insisted they would definitely play a few holes. Gradually the remainder - apart from Butterworth and Haigh, who'd been to the chemist to have a poorly finger attended to - dragged themselves off their backsides, and away from the Test Match on the TV, to join them, though not before Wilcox and Shires J trounced Butterworth and Durrans on the snooker table.
As it happened, going out again proved to be a good decision as the afternoon ended in bright sunshine, and everyone completed 18 holes.

Dinner was served in the Golf Club dining room, although Shires J nearly didn't make it following a brush with the Grim Reaper. While showering, he slipped and fell out of the bath, destroying the shower curtain before crashing his head against the washbasin. Thankfully little long-term damage was done, although Shires now believes that his misfortune resulted in 
the temporary amnesia that is clearly to blame for the tardy production of this report, while Webb claims to have recurring nightmares about the hideous scene he witnessed when he opened the bathroom door to investigate what had happened.
Dinner - also notable for an act of cannibalism, with Duck choosing duck for his main course (see left), and for Jock Whiteley's strident views on the Brexit crisis - concluded with the Supremo's draw for the Salver pairings and the various sweeps. These didn't go quite as smoothly as usual owing to the fact that the names of absentees Broadbent and Kaye were still in the hat.


Friday, September 13, Silloth-on-Solway GC

At breakfast Wilcox was so impressed with his poached eggs that he asked the very large waitress to pass on his compliments to the chef. When she returned she remarked that henceforth the chef would have great difficulty fitting his swollen head through the kitchen door. Cue the following remark, sotto voce, from Webb: "If she can get her arse through the door, I don't think his head will be much of a problem."

And so to the Salver. Thankfully Thursday's rain had blown through, leaving glorious blue skies, but also a strong to brisk north easterly wind in its wake. Maybe it was those conditions, or perhaps the sight of a young foreign lady teeing off in a knee length coat (see picture) before setting off in a buggy with her baby, that derailed all but one of the 14 competitors. Predictably it was the Judge who remained unaffected, and after amassing 41 Stableford points he was able to lunch in beautiful sunshine on the terrace fully ten ahead of Mike Webb, his nearest challenger, with Drake and Dyson a further point behind.
Inevitably there was again much discussion about Roger's handicap of 19.3, and it was unanimously agreed that on our return his card would be handed in to the professional at Woodsome Hall. Disappointingly for those who were anticipating at least a four stroke reduction, his handicap was subsequently cut by only 1.2, to 18.1.

 Had that reduction been applied immediately it would still have been nowhere near enough to prevent him winning the Salver yet again, even though in the afternoon he did show signs of fallibility, struggling to what by his high standards, was a poor return of only 31 points. In the end he had a three point cushion ahead of a resurgent Drake, whose afternoon round of 39 not only confirmed that he appears to be back in love with the game, but also won him the Tim Sugden Tankard.
Drake's score was later to be the cause of some controversy. So impressed was he with his rediscovered form that he too decided to hand his card in, but close examination by the pro at Lightcliffe revealed that although the nett scores had been entered correctly, his partner Mike Webb, for whom arithmatic was always something of a tricky chap, had added up the points wrong. All this led to a seismic panic attack for the Supremo, who seriously considered disqualification on the grounds that Drake had signed an incorrect card. However, after consultations with senior Salver colleagues, it was decided that Webb was wholly to blame and, considering that Drake's adjusted score was still fully four points better than Tankard runner-up Sambo, the unfortunate matter would be swept under the carpet.
As for the rest of the field, the less said the better, although mention should perhaps be made of the returning Sheikh, who managed a creditable 30 points in the morning, and Sampson, who totalled a steady 33 in the afternoon. Webb himself was model of consistency - or perhaps mediocrity would be a better description - with 31 points in both rounds.
The battle for the Goat Prize was closely fought. Jonty Thornton completely lost the plot on the back nine, barely registering a single point, and was convinced that he was doomed. He should have known better, as predictably his dreadful effort was comfortably eclipsed by Andrew Sugden. There was however some conjecture as to whether or not Andrew's abject display was down to his inability to control his new racing trolley (see above), or simply because he'd drawn himself in the Goat sweep. 

Two weeks before our arrival in Silloth, the Golf Hotel had asked us to inform them of our menu choices for Friday night's dinner. It came as no surprise to anyone that despite 14 days notice, two of the starters were 15 minutes late. 
The presentation that followed included a rare event: a prize for John Shires, who'd beasted his tee shot at least 330 yards down the 18th to win the longest drive award in the second round. Alas, he rather spoiled the occasion with a disgraceful display of triumphalism (see picture).
More controversy came to light after the all the prizes had been distributed, with Webb pointing out that because competitors are not allowed to win a minor prize as well as a major (except for nearest the pin and longest drive), he - and not Salver champeen Roger - should have won the prize for the best first round (£20), and he - not Tankard winner Drake - should have been awarded the £30 as runner-up.
Predictably this, of course, has led to even more sleepless nights for the Supremo.
Less predictable perhaps was the Judge's response to his victory. Did we detect in his speech a little humility, and a touch of embarrassment that he had triumphed for the fourth consecutive year? 

As usual thanks go to Mark for his organisation, which despite the amount of stick we give him, is truly appreciated by all; to bookmaker Liddy for another job well done, and a profit of £20; to the professional at Penrith, who charged us only £20 per person because of our late tee time; and to the pro at Silloth who waived some green fees on Thursday because the weather meant no one completed 36 holes.

We all look forward to meeting again on September 10 and 11 next year!

FINAL STANDINGS

 
1      Thomas              41 + 31 = 72
2      Drake                 30 + 39 = 69
3      Webb                 31 + 31 = 62
4      Sampson           27 + 33 = 60
5      Butterworth       28 + 27 = 55
6      Dyson               30 + 23 = 53
7      Liddiment         29 + 22 = 51
8      Haigh                24 + 26 = 50
9      Durrans             26 + 24 = 50
10    Shires R.           26 + 23 = 49
11    Shires J.            22 + 26 = 48
12    Wilcox               22 + 24 = 46
13    Thornton           23 + 18 = 41
14    Sugden             24 + 16 = 40