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2022 Report

Champeen                                   Charles Webb

Runner-up                                    Mike Webb

Goat                                                Mark Wilcox

Best 1st Round                           Rupert Shires*

Tim Sugden Tankard               Mike Dyson

Nearest Pin 1st Round            Mike Dyson

Nearest Pin 2nd Round          Chris Sampson

Longest Drive 1st Round        Mike Dyson

Longest Drive 2nd Round       Charles Webb

Lost Ball Sweep                          50 - Bill Butterworth

Champion Sweep                      Roger Thomas

Goat Sweep                                  Roger Thomas

* Excluding Champeen
 

2022 will be remembered for perhaps the closest finish in Salver history, with the top six separated by just three Stableford points. As they stood on the final tee, any of the four competitors in the final group could have lifted the Salver. In the end it was Charles Webb - undoubtedly our top golfer - who prevailed, but only by a single point from his brother Mike Webb and Rupert Shires. 

The week was also memorable for better than expected weather, the return of Chris Broadbent after a 12 year hiatus, an unexpected improvement in the catering - though not the plumbing - at the Golf Hotel, and the surreal claim by Webb M that the Queen's death cost him the Salver.

Monday, September 5, 2022 - Furness GC

With last year's opening venue, Ulverston Golf Club, unable to accommodate us because of a prior booking, an advance party of five - Mike Webb, John Shires, Alan Haigh, Chris Sampson and Mark Wilcox - played instead at nearby Furness Golf Club, on Walney Island to the west of Barrow.

Founded in 1872 by a group of migrant Scottish workers from Dundee, it boasts that it's the third oldest links and the sixth oldest golf club in England, but first impressions weren't entirely favourable. The pro was taking a day off, as was the chef, and the bar was firmly shuttered. On the advice of a local member, we decamped to the Ferry Hotel, a pub on the banks of the Piel Channel which separates Walney Island from the town of Barrow. As we sat having lunch in the sunshine opposite the enormous nuclear submarine factory for which the town is famous (below), Webb was heard to say: "I can't see any submarines." To which Shires replied: "I rather think that's the point."

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Furness GC

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Lunch with the BAE Submarine works in the background

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Views over the Irish Sea at Furness GC

Having failed to persuade Roger Thomas to play, which would have allowed us to split up into two three balls, a different format was required. Sambo suggested that the two ball should play with an imaginary third man, who would score two points on every hole, to which Webb replied: "Can I play with him, please?" In the end it was decided that a straightforward individual Stableford competition was the best option, as it usually is in such circumstances.

The  course itself is better than its surroundings, though the greens - heavily sanded that morning - were slower than expected. The first six holes - all downwind and relatively easy - lulled us into a false sense of security, because the rest of the course, much of it directly into an insistent and unusual south easterly breeze, was an entirely different proposition. Even so, the scoring was relatively reasonable, and when we returned to the clubhouse to find the bar thankfully open, it was revealed that Haigh - back in harness after successful treatment for prostate cancer - was the winner.  Even Wilcox, who had been suffering a major crisis of confidence in his game - managed 29 points, and the sole surprise was that Webb could only amass a paltry 24 to finish comfortably bottom of the pile. Even with the help of the imaginary third man, he wouldn't have been in the money.

Scores: Haigh - 35; Shires J - 34; Sampson - 31; Wilcox - 29; Webb M - 24

For the second year running the advance party spent Monday night at The Dunes Hotel on the road between Barrow and Ulverston. It styles itself as one of the most luxurious establishments in the South Lakes. Strange then that the restaurant didn't offer a wine list and the staff didn't appear to know what wines were actually available until retrieving them from the shelf behind the bar and taking a look at the labels - possibly for the first time.

Nevertheless they were very pleasant, and even when our waitress managed to spill an entire plateful of garlic mushrooms into the Supreme Leader's lap, he took it with good grace, turned down the offer of a replacement starter, and wolfed them down as though nothing had happened.

Much of the dinner conversation revolved around health issues; hardly surprising given the number of operations and treatments that the quintet had recently endured, and the number of new bits and bobs that they'd cumulatively acquired. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 - Seascale GC

 

Eschewing the risk of radiation sickness, the Supreme Leader, Chris Samps 'Un had entered three teams in a Seniors' Open at Seascale Golf Club in the shadow of the Sellafield nuclear power plant. This decision had two benefits: it was cheap, as Seniors' Opens are, and we didn't have to trek across the roof of England through the high passes of the Lake District to get there, as we would have done if we'd opted for our usual round at Penrith. That being said, Shires followed his satnav on an extremely circuitous but spectacular inland route. Despite his habitual mistrust of technology, it proved to be the quickest way there, as he and Webb arrived well in advance of the others who'd taken the coast road.

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Seascale GC

While its clubhouse is a little weary, the course itself is well worthy of its billing as the second best in Cumbria after Silloth.

 

There are several interesting holes, with pleasant views over the Lake District and the sea. What's more, the nuclear facility, which looms over the northern end of the course, is not at all threatening; it's nicely landscaped and really rather impressive. Why can't we have more of them?

The competition attracted golfers from far and wide, including a couple called Stephen and Jenny Wong. "Better check their cards closely," said Webb, "otherwise they might sign for the Wong score."

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Webb driving towards the nuclear plant

The Judge arrived in time to team up with Wilcox, alongside a bloke called Mike from Barnard Castle, who had to play on his own as his partner had tested positive for Covid 19 early that morning.

 

Poor Mike must have wondered what he'd let himself in for as Wilcox proceeded to spray the ball in every direction around the Seascale links, bar the correct one. By his own estimation he would have scored just 14 points, hardly contributing to his team's total of 38, compiled almost entirely by the Judge, who thankfully was in much better fettle.

Meanwhile Haigh and Sampson also recorded a creditable 38, while Shires and Webb could only manage 36 - all comfortably eclipsed by the winning score of 46.

Scores: Haigh & Sampson - 38; Thomas & Wilcox - 38; Shires J & Webb M - 36.

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Views towards the Lake District

Almost as soon as his round was completed, the Judge retired to the clubhouse dining room where he took part remotely in a Rugby League Disciplinary Tribunal via his laptop. What qualifications he has for the job are hard to determine, especially as he appears to have very little detailed knowledge of the sport. One of the miscreants being dealt with was the Leeds Rhinos' goalkicker Rhyse Martin, who was allegedly guilty of a high tackle in the Super League play-off victory against Castleford Tigers. The Judge told us that confirmation of his one match suspension would result in him missing the Rhinos' next game against the Huddersfield Giants. In fact they were due to play Catalans Dragons. Good knowledge, Roger.

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While Martin's punishment was actually increased so that he would miss two matches, Roger's judicial duties meant that he would miss dinner, which was taken - not for the first time - at the Lifeboat Inn up the coast in Maryport. 

Although this establishment bears little resemblance to its more renowned namesake on the North Norfolk coast, nonetheless it provided us with cheap and filling fare. Wilcox particularly enjoyed it (see picture) as in characteristic fashion he polished off Haigh's cumberland sausage, as well as his own lasagne.

By the time the advance party arrived at the Golf Hotel in Silloth, Chris Broadbent was already there, fed and well watered - or spritzered, to be accurate.

There followed a discussion about the format for Wednesday morning's golf, with Wilcox helpfully suggesting that, with Andrew Sugden due to arrive in time for a 9.30 tee time, eight of us should go out in threes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The next morning your webmeister discovered that the shower in his bath wasn't functioning properly. Instead of the water cascading from the showerhead, it sprayed in all directions from the place where the hose fits into the tap, soaking the entire bathroom. When Webb went to investigate the commotion, to his consternation he found Shires swearing profusely and prancing around the room naked.

After breakfast Andrew duly turned up on the first tee, having flown in from his holiday home in Menorca the previous day, and rather than taking up Wilcox's suggestion, we decided to play two fourball better balls, with Haigh and Broadbent taking on Sampson and Wilcox, followed by Webb and Sugden against Shires and Thomas.

Halfway through the round - played in fine conditions and a gentle north easterly breeze - Webb noticed that Andrew's new clubs were exactly the same as those that he'd purchased himself last year. "Not sure the manufacturers will be using Andrew in their advertising campaign," he reflected.

However WAS wielded his bats to surprisingly good effect; good enough in fact to put multiple champions Shires and Thomas to the sword. Meanwhile the other match was close throughout, and went to the final green.

Results: Haigh & Broadbent bt Sampson & Wilcox 1 hole; Webb M & Sugden WA bt Shires J & Thomas 3&2.

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In the weeks leading up to the Salver, the Supreme Leader had been monitoring the catering situation at the golf club. The previous chef had left, and for a time there was no catering at all in the clubhouse. Thankfully, he'd agreed to return on a temporary basis just in time for our visit, so not only were there lunchtime sandwiches, but also a bar menu from which we would be ordering later that evening.

By now everyone - apart from Charles Webb - had arrived, including Bill Butterworth, who'd made a miraculously speedy recovery from a prostate operation.

 

Bill, Rupert Shires, Mike Dyson, Chris Durrans and John Liddiment were all keen to play in the afternoon, but several others were not, and chose to remain in the bar until they decamped to the local bowling green, where they apparently put Wilcox's woods to poor use.

Andrew Sugden was also missing. Even though he'd driven up from West Yorkshire in the early morning, he told us he needed to drive back again to attend a meeting of the Huddersfield Cricket League, of which he's President. But not to worry, he said, he'd be coming back to Silloth straight after.

 

Apparently the League had been accused of racism by a young lad who hadn't been selected for one of its representative teams. The League had taken the view - rather like Yorkshire in the Azeem Rafiq case - that the youth simply wasn't as good as he thought he was. But whatever the rights and wrongs (and the League was to confirm its stance at the meeting) Andrew's decision to drive for 10 hours and 460 miles in a single day, was regarded by some as devotion to duty, both to the Goldthorpe Salver and the Huddersfield League, and by others as sheer lunacy.

 

Back in Silloth those who wanted to play again split up into matchplay fourballs, with Rupert Shires & Dyson prevailing over Butterworth and Durrans on the last, while no records seem to exist from the other contest. It's safe to say, however, that Mike Webb and the Judge beat the two Johns, Shires & Liddiment, since Shires is well aware that he failed to win - or even halve - a match all week.

Results - Shires R & Dyson bt Butterworth & Durrans 1 hole; Webb M & Thomas by Shires J & Liddiment by an unknown but probably quite large margin

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Dinner in the golf club dining room

When Shires, who'd reported his faulty shower to reception in the morning, returned to his room he found that a new hose had helpfully been fitted, but its diameter was now too big to fit in the holder on the wall, so it still didn't bloody work.

The entire party reconvened for dinner at the golf club, where it was noticed that not only was Durrans wearing a particularly informal (though no doubt extremely expensive) jacket, he was also shod in what looked like a pair of slippers.

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Durrans's slippers

At dinner, where Liddy opened the book, the Judge was advised to buy a lottery ticket after drawing out of form Mark Wilcox and top nobber Charles Webb, who'd arrived in time for the meal, in the Goat and Champion sweeps respectively.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Heavy rain was forecast to sweep in at lunchtime, so the traditional group photograph was taken before the first round of the Salver, when the weather was grey but dry. Again there was only a light wind, which had veered slightly to a South Easterly, but even so the scoring was pretty indifferent.

Bucking the trend was Charles Webb, who fired four birdies in a one over par round of 73 and 35 points, to go into lunch one ahead of Rupert Shires.  As for the rest, it was extremely close. Only four points separated the next 10 competitors, with no less than five - including the reigning champion - on 27 points.

Closest to the lead were the Supreme Leader and Mike Webb, who on 31 and 30 points respectively, could still harbour realistic hopes of victory.

At the blunt end, Wilcox predictably propped up the rest on 20 points, but the returning Bunty wasn't able to lunch comfortably with only a four point buffer above the goat zone.

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It was just beginning to spit when the final group left the final green in the morning; when the goat group teed off in the afternoon, there was an insistent drizzle - though it was nothing like the driving precipitation that had been forecast.

But the weather certainly played its part. By the time the leaders reached the 18th tee, their scorecards were so soggy that no one really knew the state of play.

Charles was convinced he hadn't done enough to stay ahead, his brother Mike was convinced he'd blown his chances with a disappointing run from the 15th, and Rupert and Sambo weren't sure where they stood either.

In the event Webb the Elder was left with an eight foot putt on the 18th, which would have given him victory on countback had it dropped. Just as he was lining it up, your webmeister and photographer emerged from the clubhouse to inform the final group that less than 15 minutes earlier the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had been officially announced.

Webb claims he was so distressed that he could barely see his ball through a mist of tears, and missed the putt by some margin. His playing partners are convinced he would have missed it anyway. Either way, it's a good story, and it left Webb the Younger the Champion, a point ahead of his brother and Rupert.

Meanwhile Mike Dyson stormed through the field with a splendid 35 points to finish fourth ahead of Sambo on countback. It also earned him the Tim Sugden Tankard for the best second round, in addition to winning both the Nearest the Pin and Longest Drive awards in the first round.

Opening drive for Little Charlsie

Webb's fatal final putt

The great trolley disaster

In the race - if that's the right expression - for goat, Wilcox had a familiar rival. Andrew Sugden, who'd stunned the golfing world with 29 points in the morning, reverted to type with only 14 in the afternoon. In contrast, Wilcox actually improved, though by not quite enough to avoid donning the Peruvian Waistcoat.

Of the recent invalids, Bill Butterworth was told by his wife that he shouldn't play 36 so sat out the afternoon round; the reigning champion John Shires might have undergone heart surgery in January, but he couldn't blame that on his inability to drive the ball straight; and Alan Haigh couldn't even drive his trolley straight. Embarrassingly he lost control on the edge of the 18th green and both he - and the trolley - ended up in the bunker in front of the clubhouse.

Before dinner in the Criffel Room of the Golf Hotel, Shires realised that although he'd polished the salver and Sugden Tankard to a splendid shine - well, his wife had - he'd forgotten to pack the famous champion's check jacket. Charles Webb was therefore presented with Jock Whiteley's jacket instead.

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What an Eton mess

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We don't know whether or not the hotel management read the criticism of the standard of catering in last year's report on the website, but they certainly upped their game. It's not haute cuisine, but it was a considerable improvement, and the food was delivered promptly and efficiently. 

Toasts were proposed to the new King, to Philip Goldthorpe, and to other absent friends, including Steve Sutcliffe who sadly died earlier in the year, while Liddy revealed that the book had made a £29 profit, and Shires spilled someone else's Eton Mess all over the table.

After Sambo announced that next year's Salver would be held on September 7, there was much discussion on whether we should still be playing it over 36 holes. Mark Wilcox, who will probably be getting a replacement knee next year, was one understandable dissenting voice, but not for the first time the general consensus was that we should keep going as normal for as long as we can manage it.

Friday, September 9, 2022

As if to prove the point that, for some, even six rounds in four days still isn't enough, all five of the advance party who'd started the week at Furness - Shires, Webb, Haigh, Wilcox and Sampson - finished it with another 18 holes on the way back to West Yorkshire at Clitheroe Golf Club in Lancashire. They were joined by Rupert Shires and John Drake, who'd missed the week because of his caring duties.

Of the septet, Drake played comfortably the best golf, and had it been an individual competition he would have walked it with a Stableford score in excess of 38 points. Of the rest, the least said the better. The two Shires and Webb - playing in a threeball - were particularly dreadful. At one point Webb said he felt they had been condemned to an eternal state of purgatory, with no escape from a succession of rubbish shots.

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Webb also voiced his dislike of Clitheroe's parkland course. "It's just trees, fairways, greens, then more trees, fairways, greens, ad infinitum," he whined. Bit like Augusta then.

Result: Drake, Haigh, Sampson & Wilcox (107 points) bt Shires J, Shires R and Webb M (91 points - 2nd man doubled)

And so another superb week came to an end. The weather was a great deal kinder than forecast, the Supreme Leader's organisation was spot on as usual, and even if the standard of golf wasn't exactly scintillating, that's not really the point, is it? 

FINAL STANDINGS

 

1      Webb C             35 + 31 = 66
2      Webb M             30 + 35 = 65 
3      Shires R             34 + 31 = 65
4      Dyson                 27 + 37=  64
5      Sampson          31 + 33 = 64

6      Liddiment         30 + 33 = 63
7      Durrans              29 + 30 = 59
8     Shires J               27 + 30 = 57

 9      Haigh                  27 + 29 = 56

    10    Thomas              27 + 29 = 56    
11    Broadbent.       24 + 22 = 46

12    Sugden WA      29 + 15 = 44
13    Wilcox                 20 + 21 = 41

Butterworth     27 + N/A*

(Absent for 2nd round)

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