The Goldthorpe Salver
Champeen Roger Thomas
Runner-up Jonty Thornton
Goat Andrew Sugden
Best 1st Round Rupert Shires
Tim Sugden Tankard Roger Thomas
Nearest Pin 1st Round Jonty Thornton
Nearest Pin 2nd Round Steve Sutcliffe
Longest Drive 1st Round Chris Durrans
Longest Drive 2nd Round Rupert Shires
Lost Ball Sweep Chris Durrans (60)
Champion Sweep John Liddiment
Goat Sweep Jonty Thornton
The 2018 Goldthorpe Salver will chiefly be remembered not so much for the winner - the Judge, inevitably, again - his subsequent victory speech, the weather, or even the standard of golf, but for the extraordinary fact that Steve Sutcliffe again won something, and it wasn't the Goat Prize.
Monday, September 3
Yet again the weather forecasters got it wrong. Throughout the previous week we had been promised an Indian Summer for our annual drinking, eating, laughing and golfing extravaganza, but the advance party set off for Clitheroe on Monday morning under leaden skies.
Once over Windy Hill it started to drizzle, and once past Rochdale it began to slash it down in earnest.
Unsurprisingly most of the members at Clitheroe had been put off by the elements, but we Yorkshiremen are made of sterner stuff, and after an hour's delay - and a couple of pints - Sambo, Kaye and Shires J teed off in thick drizzle, accompanied by the Supremo in his buggy.
As it happened the weather cleared after six or seven holes, and for the record, playing a 4-2-0 format with the first to 12 points claiming £1, Shires won the first set, Kaye the second, and together they shared the third. Sambo was comprehensively ahead in the fourth, but much to his chagrin he ran out of holes.
One feature of the day's golf, which was to be repeated throughout the week, was the Supremo's extraordinary lack of ability as a spotter.
Despite the fact that he had bugger all else to do, apart from sit on his backside in a buggy and take a few photographs with his new camera, the question: "Did you see where that went, Mark?" was invariably met with a blank look and a sorry shake of the head.
Kaye & Shires J each won £1.50 from Sampson
For the final time our digs on Monday and Tuesday were at Thurnham Hall just south of Lancaster. After buying in to the Diamond Resorts ponzi scheme many years ago, Sambo has finally managed to get rid of his share. Considering that when we returned from another decent evening meal at the nearby Mill at Conder Green at a shade after 10pm, the bar was firmly shut, it begs the question, why didn't he sell up earlier?
Tuesday, September 4
By way of a change, we headed off on Tuesday morning to play at Grange over Sands - a tight, treelined course, with several acute doglegs. It's a layout which demands that the golfer thinks his way round, hence it was no surprise that Shires didn't do very well at all.
Grange is a kind of mausoleum for the only just living, the sort of place where traditionally people go to die - Shires' paternal grandmother being a case in point - and on several occasions, as he failed to rid himself of a destructive hook, it looked as though he might follow her to the grave by his own hand.
Nevertheless Kaye and Shires halved the first set, Kaye won the second, and Sambo the third.
After the game, Kaye as usual raised the subject of his handicap, but his request to play off 24 for the rest of the week was met with universal derision.
Kaye won £1.50 from Shires J. Sampson finished even.
After dinner at the Fleece at Dolphinholme (where the food and service were again excellent) we rushed back to Thurnham Hall in a bid to arrive before the bar shut.
We stepped triumphantly over the threshold at 9.59pm only to be told by the surly youth behind the bar that he was no longer serving. "But it's not 10 o'clock," we cried. "It is now," he replied, turning off his till with a smug and disdainful flourish.
Bedtime at 10.05 then.
Wednesday, September 5
For probably the last time in their lives, the advance party breakfasted at Glasson Dock, where the Supremo befriended a large and extremely hairy dog. Sadly for Mark, we suspected that the animal was less interested in him than the bacon and egg sandwich he was eating.
And so again to Penrith, where six more arrived to play in a Seniors' Open.
As soon as everyone had rolled up, a large sandwich order was placed behind the bar, but for whatever reason, the food failed to arrive by the time our first fourball was due on the tee, which led to the Supremo's buggy doubling as a mobile catering cart for the first few holes.
It also left everyone rushing to make their tee-off times - much to the irritation of the official starter, who was quite simply one of the rudest, most miserable humourless bastards we've ever encountered. Perhaps he was related to the barman at Thurnham Hall?
Predictably none of our 4 fourballs was amongst the prizes, although considering the glorious sunshine and spectacular views across to the Lake District, and the fact that even had we won, it
was unlikely that - considering previous experience - we would have actually received them, no one was particularly bothered.
MF Webb & Drake 39 pts; Butterworth and Liddiment 39; RJ Shires & Thornton 38; JJ Shires & Sampson 36
As the afternoon drew on, Shires J realised that in his haste to get saddled up in time, he had failed to switch to his golfing spectacles.
It came as no surprise that he should use this as an excuse for another abject round, which included the loss of four balls on the same hole.
As someone mentioned afterwards: "Should have gone to Specsavers."
Meanwhile in the bar afterwards, rookie Jonathan Thornton was puzzled as to why there was no Premier League football that afternoon, before suddenly realising that it wasn't Saturday. Presumably if you've got as much brass as Jonty, every day's a weekend.
There was also a discussion about another competition and trophy in memory of the late and much missed Peter Butler. Ideas ranged from awarding it to the best score over the morning 18 holes at Silloth on Friday, to holding it at another course on another day.
Drake helpfully suggested something called a "Sealed 9" competition to be held at Lightcliffe, whereby the winner would be the one with the best score over nine holes selected at random and revealed after the round. All well and good, until it was pointed out that there are only 9 holes at Lightcliffe anyway.
Finally, there were dramatic scenes in the clubhouse as the Supremo realised that he'd lost his boxfile containing not only all the golfing, eating and billeting arrangements for the next few days, but also the records of every Salver past (well, at least going back to when Sambo last lost them).
For the next 40 minutes the premises were turned upside down; the steward helpfully rang the club chairman, who rang the professional, who confirmed that they definitely weren't in his shop when he locked up.
As the Supremo, who was quite adamant he'd left them next to the table where we'd been waiting for lunch, became ever more agitated, just about the only person who didn't help in the fruitless search was the miserable bastard starter.
Imagine everyone's relief when the file was found in Sambo's car, where the Supremo had put it before everyone went out to play. By the time we arrived for a bar meal at the golf club at Silloth, he had only just recovered his equilibrium.
Thursday, September 6
At breakfast at the Golf Hotel the following morning, we were greeted by a new waitress. It soon became clear that she had got our measure, and was not to be trifled with.
As we quickly realised that she preferred to bark orders rather than take them, even the normally loquacious Sambo was momentarily lost for words, and there was plenty of conjecture that she may be the wife or sister of the Penrith starter.
Mind you, if she'd have said it was Christmas, all of us would have started singing carols. What's more, requests for 12 different variations of poached egg on toast (buttered toast/dry toast on the side of the plate/dry toast underneath to mop up the excess water/brown toast/white toast/no sodding toast at all - and that's just for starters) would have tested the patience of Mother Theresa.
To be fair to her, breakfast was conducted with a certain brisk efficiency - the same sort of efficiency that was the hallmark of concentration camps in war-time Germany, or the train timetables in Mussolini's Italy - and we arrived at the golf club in plenty of time for two fourballs to go head to head in a three to count Stableford competition, with the two Shires, Sampson and Thomas taking on Webb, Drake, Liddiment and Andrew Sugden.
In a freshening northerly wind, which brought in one extremely hefty rainstorm that caught out anyone (including your correspondent) who'd failed to put waterproofs in their bags, scoring was predictably mediocre, and with both teams amassing the same total, the contest was halved.
Shires J, Shires R, Sampson & Thomas (80pts) halved with Webb, Drake, Liddiment & Sugden WA (80pts)
Before going into meltdown the previous day when he'd "lost" his box file, the Supremo had conducted his own card draw to determine the captains - Thomas and Thornton - for Thursday afternoon's competition, which was played in increasingly windy, but this time mercifully dry conditions.
It was however incredibly clear; for the first time we could remember, the hills of the Isle of Man (pictured below) around 50 miles away down the Solway Firth were clearly visible (see picture below).
As a foretaste of what was to come the following day, the Judge's team won narrowly to take temporary custody of the magnificent silver trophy, though disappointingly the Ryder Cup format didn't extend as far as the two captains driving buggies around the course, encouraging their troops and exhorting them to greater efforts.
In fact they didn't even get out of their chairs in the bar to greet their footsoldiers off the 18th green.
Thomas bt Thornton 3/2; Drake & Butterworth bt Sutcliffe & Wilcox 3/2; Liddiment & Durrans lost to Shires J & Webb M 1 hole; Sampson & Kaye halved with Sudgen WA and Shires R. Team Thomas bt team Thornton by 2 ½ / 1 ½
As usual much attention at dinner at the Golf Club centred on who would partner potential goats Sutty and WAS. To everyone's disappointment, Webby dodged the bullet, whereupon, to no one's surprise, Andrew went to sleep at the table. At least that meant he kept his hands off our car keys.
Friday, September 7
The wind continued to blow for the morning round of the Salver, though it had swung round to a more familiar north westerly direction. Nevertheless Rupert Shires mastered the elements to compile 36 points - including a scarcely credible 23 on the tricky front nine - to take a three shot halfway lead.
Most of the other competitors struggled - put off, perhaps, by the Supremo, who careered round the course all day in a buggy in his new capacity as assistant official photographer.
It has to be said that the results of endeavours were slightly mixed; several shots of the grass, sky and his fingers didn't make the final cut, but there were more than enough decent photographs to warrant inclusion on the website.
As for the sharp end of the contest, foolishly the Beast didn't rehydrate enough at lunchtime, and seriously weakened, he could add only 22 more in the afternoon and fell away badly.
Jonty - who hadn't realised that the competition was held over 36 holes until after he'd agreed to join us - performed
creditably in both rounds, and Durrans also gamely battled obvious deficiencies in his swing to take his place in the final group.
However none could match the consistency of the reigning champeen. Bedecked in horrid lime green trousers that only Wilcox found acceptable, the Judge retained the Salver again with scores of 33 and 34 - the second of which meant he'd also retained the Tim Sugden Tankard as well.
Inevitably this led to much discussion about handicaps. But while some muttered darkly about banditry, Roger pointed out in his victory oration that since he'd won with 67 points, he hadn't played to his handicap anyway. There is therefore some merit to his argument that while we're all shit, he'd won only because he was marginally less shit than the rest of us.
Though the identity of the Champion was no surprise, the fact that Sutty avoided Goatdom was something of a shock - as was the fact that he also won a prize for being nearest the pin at the 9th in the 2nd round.
It was left to WAS to retain the coveted Goat Tie; no less than he deserved after a quite risible eight points in the afternoon round.
Special mention should be made here of Charlie Kaye, who sat out the first round on account - he said - of extreme old age and decrepitude. In fact he scored 30 points in the afternoon, which was comfortably better than WAS, and only five short of Wilcox, even though he played half as many holes.
But some things never change. As the Presentation Dinner at the Golf Hotel progressed - and happily the food and wine were entirely acceptable again - it became clear that Sutty had
completely forgotten everything he'd ordered. "I've got short term memory loss," was his response, which brought the inevitable riposte from Webb: "Your long and medium's not so good either."
In truth, Steve's points haul, which would have seen him runner-up in the Salver, wasn't quite as impressive as one might first have imagined, since he'd been granted special dispensation to use the blue tees - those normally reserved for ankle biters and coffin dodgers - which on some holes gave him an advantage of up to 70 yards.
And he still didn't manage to win the longest drive.
After the presentations there was more discussion about a competition in Peter's memory (no decision reached), and over whether, in view of increasing age and infirmity, we should reduce the Salver to 18 holes. Once again the general consensus was that we should continue to play it over 36 - at least until there's a death on the course.
Thanks as usual go to Liddy, who ran the book with his customary efficiency to make an £8 profit, to Sambo who organised the tour for the advance party, and to the Supremo, who notwithstanding various administrative crises - and the fact that he says he's unlikely to play in the near future - will continue to steer the good ship Goldthorpe with the same sure hand with which he navigated the fairways on his buggy. Where would we be without him?
1. RM Thomas 33 & 34 = 67
SG Sutcliffe 29 & 32 = 61*
2. JH Thornton 33 & 27 = 60
3. CF Durrans 33 & 26 = 59
4. WJC Butterworth 29 & 29 = 58
5. RJ Shires 36 & 22 = 58
6. CV Sampson 28 & 28 = 56
7. MF Webb 26 & 27 = 53
8. JJ Shires 27 & 24 = 51
9. JA Drake 24 & 26 = 50
10. JRLiddiment 24 & 26 = 50
11. ML Wilcox 17 & 18 = 35
12. WA Sugden 16 + 8 = 24
CM Kaye DNP + 30
*SG Sutcliffe ineligible for runner-up prize as he played off blue tees