The Goldthorpe Salver
Champeen Roger Thomas
Runner-up Charles Webb
Goat Steve Sutcliffe
Best 1st Round Charles Webb*
Tim Sugden Tankard Roger Thomas Best 2nd Round Peter Butler**
Nearest Pin 1st Round Peter Butler
Nearest Pin 2nd Round Charles Webb
Longest Drive 1st Round John Drake
Longest Drive 2nd Round Charles Webb
Lost Ball Sweep WA Sugden (69)
Champion Sweep Roger Thomas
Goat Sweep Roger Thomas
* Excluding Champion
** Excluding Champion
2013 will most be remembered for a comfortable first victory for The Judge, Mike Webb losing his car keys, and the fact that the 2013 match report finally saw the light of day in 2014.
Monday September 9, 2013
Cleveland GC, Redcar
A team of four decided to break new ground by making a week of it, starting at what's apparently the only true links course in Yorkshire. That's as maybe, but it's also perhaps one of the least beautiful.
As many will know, Redcar is less than 10 miles from the truly awful town of Middlesbrough, and only a stone's throw from the heavy industry and refineries of Teesport. Even so Redcar could still be a pleasant haven, a seaside idyll, a welcome retreat from the grime and grubbiness of its ugly neighbours. It isn't.
Redcar is one of the most unrelentingly depressing and dismal places on the planet. The links are dominated by the giant Indian-owned Sahaviriya steel works at the northern end of the course, and if that wasn't bad enough a huge car scrapyard looms over the western edge. All that's needed to complete the picture is a gypsy encampment on one of the fairways.
On arrival at the Cleveland GC clubhouse - a relatively new blocklike building in keeping with its surroundings - we were informed that there was no catering on Mondays, so we drove into Redcar to buy sandwiches, which were hastily consumed by the first tee so that we could get off before a group of ladies.
This left the Supremo extremely harrassed because he couldn't eat fast enough, but he recovered his equilibrium sufficiently to record back-to-back gross birdies on the front nine, giving him and his partner Chris Sampson an early lead over Charlie Kaye and John Shires.
Having recently hosted the Yorkshire Team Championships and the English County Finals, the course itself is clearly much better than its surroundings would suggest. Fairways on the front nine are relatively generous - only two balls were lost all afternoon - but the further you play, the tighter, more
Above and top - the delights of Redcar
difficult and more interesting it becomes. Kaye and Shires clawed their way back in the game, and the 2011 and 2012 Champion closed it out with a birdie 4 on the final hole to win the match.
Result: CM Kaye & JJ Shires beat CV Sampson & RMB Nicholson 1 hole.
Because he has some timeshare points type of thingy that no one really understands, Sambo had booked us in to Redworth Hall Hotel (pictured below), a Jacobean Manor House between Darlington and Bishop Auckland. It looks very grand from the outside, and has been converted so that it can accommodate vast hordes of guests on coach tours. Why that should mean that the beer served in the bar should be unremittingly awful as well as expensive, I don't know, but it's a well known fact that coach tours and crap beer do go together.
The bedrooms, though, were perfectly acceptable - once the furniture had been re-arranged and the twin beds separated as far as possible.
However there was one further problem. Unfortunately when Charlie Kaye had been asked before the trip whether or not he snored, he lied.
Accordingly, instead of bringing along a pair of snug earplugs to deaden the quite unbelievable noise, your correspondent had to make do with wet, rolled up lavatory paper stuffed in his ears instead. And it didn't work.
In view of the coach tourists, we didn't fancy eating in the hotel, so after consulting various pub guides, we took a taxi to the County in nearby Aycliffe village. This was a revelation - so good in fact that we returned the following night. It was more of a restaurant than a pub, but the beer, food and service were all excellent.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Hexham GC, Northumberland
The original intention was to play our second round back on the East Coast at Seaton Carew, just the other side the River Tees south of Hartlepool. Like Cleveland, Seaton Carew is a true links course, good enough to be chosen to host the 2014 English Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
Unfortunately, while we'd escaped showers predicted for the North Sea Coast the previous day, the forecast for Tuesday suggested heavy downpours for coastal areas. After a quick re-think we decided to travel inland, away from the rain belt, to Hexham, where we'd played in 2012.
Hexham is a parkland course set in beautiful countryside, with a Grade 2 listed Georgian clubhouse dating from 1802. Not surprisingly after such a glorious summer, the course was in much better condition than the previous year, although it was clear that there had been a good deal of recent rain. The greens, though well manicured, were very slow, and we suspected that had not been able to cut them for a couple of days.
The golf was of a reasonably high standard - Nicholson actually completed his second full round with the same ball (though the uncharitable might say that he doesn't hit it far enough to lose it).
Result: CM Kaye & JJ Shires beat CV Sampson & RMB Nicholson 5 & 4.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Before setting off for Penrith, advantage was taken of the crazy golf course on the lawn in front of the hotel. Happily the Supremo finally found a green he could putt on, recording his first ever hole in one (pictured right). This helped him and his partner Sambo to a two hole victory over Shires and Kaye, who'd brought out his trusty Penfold Commando for the occasion.
After a brief stop at Barclays Bank in Barnard Castle, where your correspondent unblocked his debit card after a senior moment the previous night when he forgot his PIN number three times, the quartet made their way to Penrith, where they were joined by Mike Webb, Mark Wilcox and Andrew Sugden.
Wilcox lived up to expectations by ordering steak and ale pie while everyone else had modest sandwiches, and Andrew was also true to form, arriving so late that he hardly had time to eat anything at all.
With persistent rain sweeping in from the south, Charlie Kaye - perhaps also mindful that another impressive showing might give the handicap committee further ammunition as they sought to reduce his chances of winning the Salver for a third successive year - decided to sit out the afternoon round.
That left two threeballs: Webb, Shires & Wilcox playing against Sambo, the Supremo and WAS in a two-to-count Stableford.
From the photograph (left) it appears that Andrew - impeccably shod in new footwear on the first tee - had forgotten his waterproofs. Either that, or he's even more daft than we thought he was, because he played the entire soggy round in a tee shirt, and by the 18th cut a very bedraggled figure indeed.
Although the course was in excellent condition, the weather took its toll and scoring was poor. Webb recorded the best individual total of 31 points, one ahead of of Sampson and Shires, the highlight of whose round was holing his 140 yard approach to the par four 13th. Sadly it was for a 3 rather than a 2, as characteristically he'd made a hash of his second.
Result: MF Webb, JJ Shires & ML Wilcox (70) beat CV Sampson, RMB Nicholson and WA Sugden (64).
After the usual lengthy discussions we set off for a new venue for our evening meal - the Oddfellows Arms in Caldbeck. A good choice, as it turned out, especially for those who like their grub. It's safe to say that if we return in 2014, no one will feel the need to order a starter.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Because of the well-publicised difficulties over tee times this year, only one fourball played on Thursday morning, while the remaining three enjoyed the manyfold delights on offer in Silloth. This took about 20 minutes.
On the course Wilcox and Mike Webb set off clearly expecting a comfortable victory against Shires and Sugden, but their arrogance was misplaced as Andrew put his many shots to good use. In the end, the match - played over 10 holes (1-3 and 6-12) - was halved.
Over lunch it became clear to what lengths some members are prepared to go to ensure success at the Goldthorpe, as it was revealed that former Woodsome Hall captain John Liddiment had been taking lessons with Alex Keighley at Huddersfield Golf Club. On the other hand this could have been because Woodsome pro John Eyre has completely given up on him.
Lunchtime took an unfamiliar course, with the Supremo conducting the various draws and sweepstakes under public gaze and scrutiny in the clubhouse bar. It was also memorable for the following exchanges:
Wilcox (after unsuccessfully trying to start a conversation with Charles Webb): "I think Charles is going deaf."
Mike Webb: "Maybe it's just that he doesn't want to talk to you."
And when someone asked whether Cecil Leitch - the great lady golfer whose photograph (below) hangs proudly over the mantelpiece, fixing all those in the bar with her steely eyes and haughty expression - might have been on the other bus, someone (who shall remain anonymous) replied: "I think the fact that she's wearing a tie and a trilby hat might just give the game away."
The first round of the Salver that afternoon will be remembered for the dethroning of the reigning champion in unfortunate circumstances. Charlie Kaye turned his ankle tripping up in the rough and was forced to retire. If that wasn't bad enough, he then had to put up with Wilcox groping his poorly leg.
As the light began to fail it became clear that Roger Thomas had assumed Kaye's mantle of Bandit-in-Chief, as he came in with an impressive 39 points, three clear of Bill Butterworth and Charles Webb, who knocked it round in his customary 73 nett. Mention should also be made of Peter Butler, whose 32 points gave him an outside sniff of a maiden victory the following afternooon.
Before dinner at the Golf Club, a small delegation went in search of a different pub for a modest aperitif. We found ourselves in the Albion, a small and cosy hostelry on
Eden Street less than 100 yards from the Golf Hotel. We might even have contemplated a return in 2014 were it not for the simply execrable liquid that was passed off as beer.
Our own resident brewer, John Drake (left), was left speechless, but nevertheless quite grateful to have found that there are brews worse than his own.
Dinner in the Golf Club was an altogether more pleasurable experience, with good food, good wine and the presence amongst
another golf society of a couple of attractive ladies, who we suspected were not of the Cecil Leitch persuasion.
The evening, however, ended in confusion with Mike Webb discovering that he'd lost his car keys. After enlisting the help of the staff in a fruitless search of the entire clubhouse, while accusing anyone in earshot of an infamous prank, he was forced to walk back to the hotel, where he retired to bed a very unhappy camper.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Friday the 13th looked like being a very unlucky day indeed for Webb M. The minute he woke up he began hunting for his car keys. As soon as the clubhouse was open, he was there organising a second systematic search of the premises. Alas no-one had handed the keys in; it was simply a mystery for which there appeared to be no logical explanation.
Webb's immediate concern was for his golf clubs, which were locked inside his car, and without which he would be unable to play that day, since he had already established that the Club Pro did not have a set to rent.
His second concern was that if his keys remained lost, he would be unable to drive home the following day. After a number of increasingly frantic phone calls to Huddersfield, a spare set was found at his home, and a courier was located who was prepared to drive them from West Yorkshire to Silloth - at a cost of £180.
In the meantime, Webb borrowed Charles's clubs for a shortened round of 10 holes, after his brother had decided to join a party playing bowls. Incidentally, mention should be made of the bowls competition, if only because it was some time before the five bowlers realised that it was not a crown green, and they were therefore breaking all rules and etiquette by playing across it rather than up and down.
When the mistake was rectified, Drake - an experienced bowler, who should have known better - did at least prove his prowess by trouncing Nicholson by a scarcely believable 21 points to 1. In the other match Sampson, who also clearly knows his thumb from his finger peg, beat Charles Webb and the injured Kaye by a score they refused to divulge.
Back at the clubhouse, Webb M decided to have one more search before giving the courier the nod, and he encouraged everyone else to go back to their hotel rooms to rifle through their possessions as well.
Imagine everyone's surprise when the news filtered back that the keys had been found - in Andrew Sugden's pocket! It appears that he picked them up off the dinner table in a drunken haze and stuffed them in his pocket the previous night thinking they were his.
In retrospect it was always such a plausible explanation that it's truly extraordinary that no-one had actually pointed the finger of suspicion at him before.
However that would have been to ignore the presence of Steve Sutcliffe, who, it's fair to say, was most people's number one suspect.
And so to the conclusion of the Salver.....
Sadly the return of his clubs didn't do much for Mike Webb's game, and Charles Webb's challenge uncharacteristically fell away as he could only manage 32 points in the second round - enough, though, to secure second place again. Bill Butterworth also suffered meltdown, leaving Butler to come through into third.
At the other end of the field John Drake was in serious danger of a first ever goat prize after scoring only 14 points in round one, but he rallied on Friday leaving Sutty to claim the wooden spoon again.
Dinner on Friday night was held back at the Golf Hotel, where I'm pleased to report the food and wine were much improved from the last couple of years.
Meanwhile after a good deal of discussion about the merits - or otherwise - of this year's enforced changes, it was agreed to hold a "postal" ballot over the future format of the Salver, and it might come as a surprise to learn that the result was to return - if tee times allow - to the traditional 36 holes on Friday.
Many thanks as usual to the staff at Silloth GC and the Golf Hotel, and to the Supremo who goes through months of anguish to organise our annual pilgrimage to the Cumbrian coast. It's a tough job, and it's important to make sure that it's not a thankless one as well.
PLAYER BY PLAYER RANKINGS
1. Roger Thomas 39 + 33 = 72 His claim that this was a victory for tee-totalism can't be proved because most of the rest of us have never played sober.
2. Charles Webb 36 + 32 = 67 The only hope to prevent another bandit winning. Alas he let everyone down.
3. Peter Butler 32 + 33 = 65 Playing 36 holes over two days was clearly a benefit to one of the older members of the party.
4. John Shires 31 + 30 = 61 Distinctly average.
5. Bill Butterworth 36 + 24 = 60 Given the amount he plays, he has no excuses.
6. Rupert Shires 28 + 29 = 57 Consistent, but consistency at this level is nothing to get excited about.
7. Mark Wilcox 30 + 26 = 56 After a decent summer with two victories at Woodsome, he was highly fancied - but reverted to type again.
8. Mike Webb 29 + 24 = 53 Has the excuse that he was severely discombobulated by the theft of his car keys, but still an abject display.
9. Chris Sampson 28 + 21 = 49 Retirement clearly doesn't agree with him.
10= Andrew Sugden 19 + 27 = 46 A creditable performance from a man of such limited ability.
10= Mark Nicholson 24 + 22 = 46 Ditto
12. John Drake 14 + 29 = 43 At least his second round spared him utter humiliation.
13. Steve Sutcliffe 10 + 22 = 32 This display came as no surprise to anyone - least of all himself.
Charles Kaye Injury casualty during the first round, but hadn't showed winning form anyway earlier in the week.
John Liddiment Business engagement prevented his arrival until Thursday evening, but second round of 22 hardly suggested he'd have been in the winner's enclosure.
Jock Whiteley Quiet as usual.