Banter prior to the day forewarned us of ‘Widney Manor Standards’ from the best golfer on tour, who was the only man present when Bacon and I arrived with all of 20 minutes to spare before the first tee off time. Meeting Ron and his shoes for the first time was an enlightening experience, but having played 18 with the man, I don’t think he restricts his flamboyant dress to the course and clubhouse. Happily I think we can all report that Ingon Manor is certainly not ‘Stratford’s Widney’ and is genuinely a nice, challenging course, and that a Round with Ron can occasionally help players like me remember how to concentrate and manage your way round the course to build a winning score.
Fortunately, the rest of the field arrived with all of 3 or 4 minutes to spare – plenty of time to sort out payment and the Prof’s book for the event. Apparently, even though it is just off one of the main roads into Stratford, and therefore less than 30 minutes from Solihull, at least 2 vehicles in the WHV caravan were being driven by men who have swapped their testicles for SatNav’s. Real men read maps, and don’t get sent on and off motorways at the whim of their TomTom’s. As would appear more customary at Sunday events (Friday nights don’t offer the same depth of opportunity for ‘mishaps’ as full day Saturday sessions), the initial debrief from several contestants was quite colourful.
My previous Sunday event was the Brizzle, where the TD failed to make it to his hotel, never mind the event. At the PEA, Juice, we were reliably informed, had cried off with a broken nail, or some split ends or something that wouldn’t have stopped Brian Jacks winning at Superstars, but qualified as an athlete’s injury and prevented him from playing. It has been 3 and a half weeks since the PEA, so Pedro has probably done something more ridiculous than wrecking his hand whilst falling over in a footrace against a girl, that he lost, or sleeping on the drive of his mum’s house, so I won’t go into too much detail here to embarrass a 35 year old man who can’t win his own challenge to a girl, not actually get anywhere with that girl, and then end up sleeping in the garden.
The course was bathed in that peculiar late summer weather of bright sunshine, showers and drizzle for most of the round, a number of my group lost count of the number of times they were putting on and taking off hats, jumpers and waterproofs. I don’t think the weather could be blamed for an aggressive, across two-fairway moon by the Tour Director at the start of the back nine, however.
I believe there may be board investigations into a number of contentious issues following the PEA:
- quality and timeliness of handicap administration, my own handicap remains unclear and the result could yet be overturned
- clarity of the actual procedure to be undertaken in the case of a tie – the convoluted countback approaches attempted by the President to secure his own victory were verging on desparate, if the burgers hadn’t arrived, I’m sure he would have found a way to calculate the countback in his favour
- the longest drive competition was moved from the 7th to the 9th by the lead-off group with no prior notice to the rest of the field, many of whom may have used their ‘one good drive of the day’ on the wrong hole unwittingly. I doubt that shenanigans were behind this, as the winner and main challengers for the longest drive weren’t in the leading group (or likely to be), so perhaps this incident could be an object lesson in making sure at least one ‘grown-up’ is in the group that goes off first
- even on the ‘wrong’ hole there was trouble – with Ron booming off a monstrous exocet of a drive that finished a few inches behind the marker – showing Showelly as the man responsible for a great drive. This was not accepted as possible by Ron, a man of his stature cannot be beaten by one with the build of an adolescent hobbit. As I too lost out on the longest drive at the President’s by a couple of feet to Little Richard, I knew how difficult it can be to accept that sometimes David can beat Goliath. However, the TD was having none of this and is considering introducing random testing (of Showelly) to make sure he isn’t blood doping or something – a proposal not helped by the accused when he claimed his 290 yard drive was ‘all right, but I didn’t hit it that well’. I suspect this move would be supported by Ron, who is likely to ‘forget’ to bring the Hulk to any future WHV events.
- finally it may be time to retire the ‘Nearest the Pin’ competition to obsolescence, if the Prof can win it, is it really worth anything anymore. (I don’t know if he took 4 to get down from his winning tee shot…..which could mitigate the concerns) The lake in front of the green suggests a 7-iron stinger did not ‘run out lucky’, and he may actually have hit a proper golf shot.
Having said that, 4 scores over 30, particularly the 34 I witnessed Ron putting together, speaks to some good scoring, but not too good if the President scored 38 with a 10 on his card, and I scored 38 with a 9 on the same hole – but that would be the benefits of the Stapleforth format. Apparently I was also way too honest in applying R4, throwing my ball into thicker rough that any of my playing companions would choose. Fellow rookie Showelly is showing good form and should surely be short odds for the Jug after a couple of top four placings in a row.
Due to the rush to meet tee times, the Prof’s lesson on the correct use of the fish slice wasn’t delivered until after the event, the burgers and the end of the Liverpool-Villa game (could any match be a less boring prospect?) and the walk to the car park, and could therefore have been missed by a number of members – Mike Buttery and I were in the queue for the car park barrier. Hopefully these lessons will make their way online – newer members such as myself could be disadvantaged by not being in the same position in the ‘Prof’s Course on Better Golf for Hangovers and Duffers’ as the rest of the society, particularly with the Claret just around the corner.