Champeen Roger Thomas
Runner-up Charles Webb
Goat Andrew Sugden
Best 1st Round Rupert Shires
Tim Sugden Tankard Roger Thomas
Best 2nd Round Roger Thomas
Nearest Pin 1st Round Steve Sutcliffe
Nearest Pin 2nd Round Andrew Sugden
Longest Drive 1st Round Chris Durrans
Longest Drive 2nd Round Mike Webb
Lost Ball Sweep CVS & MFW
Champion Sweep John Drake
Goat Sweep Chris Sampson
2017 was chiefly memorable for perhaps the worst weather we have endured in recent years, and for the second year running, an administrative balls-up by the authorities at Silloth, which meant a change of format for the Salver. As if that weren't bad enough, we then had to endure more gloating from Roger Thomas, who made a miraculous recovery from a back injury to retain his title as champion golfer.
Monday September 4, 2017
The week hardly got off to the best start. A pile up on the M62 in Greater Manchester meant that the usual quartet of The Supremo, Sambo, Charlie Kaye and John Shires experienced varying degrees of delay and frustration en route to Clitheroe Golf Club. While Nicholson and Sampson by-passed the worst of the traffic by travelling over the tops through Oldham, and Kaye took the scenic route via Todmorden, Shires missed all the radio traffic bulletins, foolishly ignored his satnav's instructions, and consequently found himself stationary in a 20 mile queue stretching back from the M60 junction to Outlane.
After a host of increasingly profane mobile phone calls to report his progress, he finally arrived at Clitheroe two minutes before the appointed tee time, changed in the car park, and was so thoroughly discombobulated that he and The Supremo plunged to ignominious defeat at the hands of Kaye and Sambo - beaten by a dog licence.
Mind you, it must be pointed out that Kaye was, as usual, an utter bandit off his ridiculous handicap, while Sampson played extremely well - a magnificent birdie at the long stroke two 12th was the highlight of a round that would have netted him more than 40 Stableford points. Oh, and Nicholson wasn't very good.
Kaye & Sampson beat Shires J & Nicholson 7&6
Nicholson's decision to obey his doctor's orders and cut down on his alcohol consumption meant that - after a trouble free check-in at Thurnham Hall near Lancaster - we could travel to The Mill at nearby Conder Green by car instead of our customary hike across muddy fields. A good job too, as during the evening the rain, which had mercifully held off during the golf at Clitheroe, arrived with a vengeance.
Tuesday September 5, 2017
In a change from previous years, Sambo had booked a late morning tee time at Heron's Reach, a resort course on the outskirts of Blackpool. Unfortunately his warning that it's an American-style lay-out with lakes all over the place proved to be uncannily prophetic. Continuing heavy rain meant the lakes now encompassed the greens as well, and the course was closed pending a midday inspection.
A late breakfast wasn't entirely straightforward either, as our order of four bacon and egg sandwiches was met with an unusual response from the young lady behind the bar. She said that while it was perfectly possible to provide us with bacon rolls - or barms, as they're known in Lancashire - fried eggs were out of the question since she wasn't permitted to cook them on health and safety grounds. Tim Sugden - whose experience with exploding boiled eggs is well documented - would have concurred.
A quick look at various mobile phone weather apps revealed that while the rain would continue in Blackpool for at least a couple of hours, the forecast looked much better a few miles further north.
This prompted a quick call to Fleetwood Golf Club, which - according to the professional - never closes, and where they were more than happy to accommodate us. It was a good result all round: Heron's Reach refunded our green fees, and Fleetwood charged us only £15 per person.
Fleetwood might not be the most photogenic course on the Fylde coast, but it is apparently the only true links, and in a strengthening wind it proved to be a decent test. Too much of a test for Nicholson, who decided that his body and his golf were both so decrepit that he would only play when he felt like it, and certainly not at holes where there was any carry off the tee.
That left the remaining trio to play amongst themselves, and it appears that Sampson, who played beautifully for the first 14 holes, probably came out on top.
CV Sampson +£4.50, J Shires +£4.00, CM Kaye +£1.00
With Nicholson again at the wheel, the horizons for our evening meal were widened considerably. The Fleece at Dolphinholme - just off the M6 near Forton Services - proved to be a good choice, and is well worth a visit.
Wednesday September 6, 2017
Fortified by bacon AND egg sandwiches obtained from a new venue in Glasson Dock since our usual café was closed for holidays, the advance party meandered north to rendezvous at Penrith Golf Club, where they were joined by Mike Webb, John Drake, John Liddiment and Rupert Shires.
Once again the Supremo had booked two starting times in the Seniors' Open, and while this should have led to a straightforward decision to split into two fourballs, alas nothing is ever simple. Charlie Kaye wasn't allowed to play in the Seniors' competition because he doesn't have an active handicap, and Nicholson decided that such is the frailty of his body, he didn't want to play at all. It ended up with Shires J and Drake pairing up against Webb and Shires R, while Sampson and Liddiment played alongside Kaye, who acted as a marker.
In view of the fact that none of the three official pairings were likely to win the Seniors' Open, and even if they had, if past experience was anything to go by, they probably wouldn't receive their prizes anyway, we also organised our own competition. This was comprehensively won by Shires and Drake, although it must be admitted that Shires didn't have much to do with it. As predicted, their total of 39 points was nowhere near good enough to reach even the top ten of the main competition.
1.JA Drake & JJ Shires J 39 pts; 2. MF Webb & RJ Shires 34 pts; 3. CV Sampson & JR Liddiment 33 pts
Memorably Sambo managed to achieve the impossible by plugging his second shot in the rivetted face of a greenside bunker on the 12th (see left), and John Liddiment not only won the prize for being nearest the pin in two on the par four 8th, he also achieved the longest drive on the 18th - though only because no one else actually managed to find the fairway.
Two conversations are also worth recording. When Webb shanked his tee shot to the par three 14th 80 degrees right, he complained that he was between clubs. "Yes," observed Rupert, "Penrith & Silloth."
And moments later, when Drake boomed a drive into the middle of a thick forest to the left of the 15th fairway, Webb helpfully told him where his ball was to be found. "It's by that tree."
After a couple of revivers in the bar, and a quick drive to check in at the Golf Hotel, dinner was taken in the dining room at Silloth Golf Club, where everyone appeared satisfied with their meal, apart from Webb, who thought his chicken curry resembled cat vomit.
Thursday September 7, 2017
The rain had been only intermittent at Penrith, but as forecast it was belting it down on Thursday morning at Silloth, with high winds gusting in straight off the Irish Sea. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that a succession of administrative mix-ups - which led to us being given tee times far later than
usual - meant that it would be impossible to complete 18 holes in the morning.
With Kaye opting not to play, and Nicholson unsurprisingly deciding that he still had admin duties to complete, seven players took to the links, with Liddiment and Drake taking on Webb and Shires in a four ball, and Sambo, Rupert and Andrew Sugden, who'd arrived in a familiar state of dishevelment just in time to tee off, bringing up the rear.
Conditions were so bad that the three ball headed for the sanctuary of the clubhouse after six holes, while the four ball showed considerably more fortitude, battling on to the 7th and playing in from the 14th.
JR Liddiment & JA Drake halved with JJ Shires & MF Webb; CV Sampson, RJ Shires, WA Sugden - who cares?
Once Roger Thomas, Chris Durrans Steve Sutcliffe and Charles Webb had arrived in time for sandwiches, much discussion was given to the format of this year's Goldthorpe Salver.
Given the appalling weather forecast for the next 36 hours, and the fact that Friday's tee times meant that only 9 holes would be possible the following morning, it was decided that the competition itself would be played over the second 9 holes of Thursday's afternoon round, and an outward 9 on Friday morning, followed by a full round in the afternoon.
Accordingly, the draw for the Salver was made immediately, and, in view of Nicholson's impending departure immediately after lunch for a wedding, much attention was focussed on who'd get be lucky enough to get Sutty in the Goat Sweep. Happily - or so he thought - the winner was your humble correspondent.
In side matches played over the first 9 on Thursday afternoon, Liddiment and John Shires - who'd bought new waterproofs at lunchtime after discovering to his cost that his old ones were no longer doing what it said on the tin - beat the Judge and Durrans by 1 hole.
In the other fourball, Drake and WAS astonishingly overcame the mighty Webbs by the same margin.
The back nine, which heralded the start of the Salver proper, should have been relatively straightforward since all but the Hogsback were downwind.
However scoring was distinctly average. Only Rupert Shires could claim to be satisfied, after posting the overnight lead on 18 points, Lowlights elsewhere included a four putt for his cousin on the 16th, while on the 18th Mike Webb - thinking he'd been outdriven as usual by his brother - played the wrong ball from the fairway. At least he had the consolation of hitting the afternoon's longest drive.
At the rear of the field it was looking like a straight shootout between Andrew Sugden and Steve Sutcliffe for the coveted Goat prize. Neither should have slept soundly overnight - though for differing reasons, both probably did.
Dinner in the club dining room, where no one ordered the chicken curry, ended with Sutcliffe - resplendent in a piratical eye-patch - buying a round of liqueurs to celebrate his impending marriage.
Incidentally, earlier it had been good to see Fausto and Christine - former owners of the Golf Hotel - in the bar. Sadly Fausto had recently suffered a stroke; we wish him a full and speedy recovery.
Friday September 8, 2017
At breakfast Andrew Sugden announced that before his morning round, he intended to have a haircut. Although few could actually spot much difference, it clearly affected his performance, as like Samson, he appeared to be shorn of his prodigious strength and couldn't even knob his opening drive far enough to get it into that little patch of heather in front of the first tee (see picture below).
Subsequently another stereotype was confirmed when, after Andrew had fired his second attempt from the tee into deep rough, Mike Webb marched off straight down the middle of the fairway, oblivious to the convention that one should always make at least an attempt - however half-hearted - at looking for one's playing partner's ball.
Conditions were slightly better than the previous day, but the wind was still extremely strong, which made the front nine a proper challenge. Alas it was a challenge to which the majority failed to rise.
When everyone arrived back at the bar after the long walk back from the 9th green - where most needed at least a six iron off the tee to get the ball pin high - it was revealed that only Rupert and the Judge had reached the 30 mark, with the Beast enjoying a one point lead. And only little Charlsie and Drake appeared to be within realistic striking distance, three points adrift of the leader on 28.
The rain returned briefly in the afternoon, prompting John Shires to reach again for his new waterproof trousers - with hideous results. As everyone knows, it's never easy to pull waterproofs on over your trousers, and his first attempt ended in embarrassment when he got his shoe stuck, lost his balance and fell over backwards in a heap. Two holes later he tried again, and - determined not to suffer similar humiliation - he removed his wet trousers altogether, unfortunately forgetting he had an enormous hole in the seat of his underpants. No wonder none of his playing partners were able to mount a serious challenge.
With no such distractions, the Judge romped home. He'd already given notice that he was running into form with the highest score of the morning, and despite his supposed bad back he went on to compile comfortably the best round of the afternoon - five points better than his nearest challenger, Charles Webb - to win the Tim Sugden Trophy and retain the Salver. Behind them the Beast faded badly, though not as appallingly as Drake, who only just managed double figures.
Meanwhile the battle between Sugden and Sutcliffe to avoid Goatdom was ultimately a one horse race, as WAS managed a pitiful score of just seven points. Yes, seven.
Dinner at the Golf Hotel was notable for Charles Webb's demonstration of WAS marking his ball on the green - though why he thinks Andrew resembles a demented octopus is anyone's guess - and for the widespread incredulity when it was announced that the two nearest the pin prizes had been won by Sugden and Sutcliffe - or "the idiots" as Mike Webb described them uncharitably. Giving them a box of ProV1s each as a reward was, he said, "rather like giving your elderly mother a Maserati."
With the Supremo absent, the prize-giving ceremony was conducted by Sambo, who failed in his primary task of preventing Roger Thomas turning his victory speech into a diatribe about the evils of alcohol. It prompted Rupert Shires to proclaim: "Next year, Roger, I'm going to have a right skinful and beat you."
With weddings (Wilcox and Nicholson), 60th birthdays (Frank), families taking part in triathlons (Charlie Kaye), something better to do (Butterworth), and of course the very sad absence of Peter Butler, there were fewer of us present than usual as the week came to a close, but as always a good time was had by all. Many thanks to Mark Nicholson for his assiduous organisation, to Sambo for temporarily assuming his mantle, and to John Liddiment, who made his customary £15 profit on the book.
1 RM Thomas 30+34 = 64
2 CP Webb 28+29 = 57
3 RJ Shires 31+18 = 49
4 MF Webb 26+22 = 48
5 CF Durrans 21+26 = 47
6 CV Sampson 26+20 = 46
7 JJ Shires 21+23 = 43
8 JA Drake 28+13 = 41
9 JR Liddiment 20+20 = 40
10 SG Sutcliffe 16+10 = 26
11 WA Sugden 11+ 7 = 18