Captains' Drive-In 2014

In complete contrast to last year’s Captains’ Drive-In which took place with several inches of snow on the ground and the referee couldn’t be distinguished from the snowman, this year’s event was blessed with glorious Spring sunshine, daffodils in bloom, and all course restrictions lifted. A large and expectant gallery gathered on the Club patio to witness Stanton’s answer to Ian “Bulldog” Woosnam flexing his muscles on the first Tee – his technique being closely observed by the Lady Captain who doubtless hoped to pick up a tip or two. Anyway, the hushed onlookers weren’t disappointed. With eyes bulging and forearms knotted the new Captain ripped into his first drive with all his renowned enthusiasm. The ball was launched from the clubface like an exocet missile and with several hops and one bound on the newly-mown fairway, came to rest not far short of the ditch in front of the first green. A truly splendid effort which drew gasps of astonishment from the President, who wryly enquired what the Captain had taken and could he have a double helping! 

The Lady Captain, not to be intimidated in any way, dispatched her first contribution with a style and elegance not seen for many a year. Although the distance carried did not quite match that achieved by her illustrious partner there was a unanimous vote of 9.5 for artistic merit from the applauding audience. The Captain’s final attempts were a pale shadow of his premiere effort – indeed; some of the wildlife enjoying a well-deserved siesta between the 1st and 3rd fairways were rudely awakened. In contrast, the Lady Captain managed to improve her qualifying distance with her penultimate drive, much to the delight of those who had wagered a high value for the combined length of the Captains’ best efforts. 

The winner of this popular contest was Tom Davies who had submitted a total of 373 yards, closely followed by Richard Pell whose estimate was only a yard or so less. All proceeds were donated to the Captains’ Charity – Guide Dogs. The combined driving distance was officially recorded as 374 yards by Assistant Professional Henry Walton, using a variety of sophisticated and carefully calibrated measuring devices at the limits of their range.

A five hole any-pair-combination better-ball Stableford fun competition then got under way. The course was in superb condition – beautifully prepared by our hard working Greenstaff for the County Trial which had taken place in the morning, resulting in the afternoon competitors being faced with very slick greens. It was rumoured that the Head Greenkeeper had double-cut and rolled them, but having realised what a high Stimp Meter reading he’d produced, decided they were too fast for his putting technique, withdrew his name from the competitors’ list, and went to London for the day! This left his young partner Shaun Bullin alone, and so the Green Chair, never one to be defeated in a crisis, rallied to the cause and press-ganged veteran golfer Gary Pike (who had been enjoying a well-earned afternoon nap after an exhausting 18 holes in the morning) into action. Like most tales of fiction, this one had a happy ending as the “dream-team” gelled, somehow amassing 13 points – the old man starting and ending with birdies, the young blood making decisive contributions on the other three holes. Although Vice-Captain Harry Hayward and Lady Vice-Captain Margaret Ferguson also finished on the same score, after a convoluted count-back system had been applied, it was they who were adjudged the runners-up.

Players, supporters and honoured guests then gathered in the main lounge to welcome the new Captains to their Year of Office. They were treated to an exquisite mix of nibbles, tit-bits and canapés, all prepared by our “stand-in” Chef par excellence Claire Tuttey, who, as she has done many times in the past few months, came up trumps once again. The prize winners were presented with their prizes – some of whom were quite lost for words!

Altogether an excellent start to the year’s social events – congratulations and thanks are due to the Captains for hosting a superb afternoon’s entertainment, and similarly equal thanks are due to the Membership for attending in such large numbers.