in the rain

There are few harder challenges to a golfer’s sense of etiquette than when it is pouring down. When you set out with two playing companions for a monthly medal it is right and proper you all return together; if not successfully then, at least, in harmony.

Unfortunately, rain can have a dissolving effect on the resolution of some of us and I suspect much depends on the state of your card when the wet starts penetrating the nether regions.

With regular partners, you have a good idea of your collective attitude to playing in the rain. Some will head for the bar at the first appearance of a dark cloud; others will give it ten minutes before deciding whether it is a passing shower or ‘ in for the day’.

But playing in a medal with unfamiliar partners it becomes a more delicate and diplomatic decision. If there is a good card blossoming among the three of you then it is matter of honour that, no matter how foul the weather, the possessor is accompanied for as long as he wants to be.

Whatever the circumstances, however, it is not done to be the first to bring up the subject. You may be desperate to call it a day but you’d prefer someone else to moot it. Saying; ‘How much longer are we going to put up with this crap‘ is not very helpful when the other two are trying to concentrate.

Neither is moaning about your shoes leaking or your grip being affected. You have to soldier on until a natural consensus arrives.

In the May medal I was playing with one of my regular partners, Max Kipling, and Alan Davies, who was coach to the Welsh rugby team in 1991-95 and was previously coach to Nottingham RFC and a member of the England coaching staff.

Rain had been forecast but we were hoping we could get in a good few holes before it struck. Unfortunately, it started before we got to the first tee and the gloomy sky was scarcely promising.

It wasn’t too bad for the first few holes but it was gradually getting worse. We took it like the brave souls we are but it wasn’t easy going especially not for me. Because of my chemo I am not playing regularly and my game is not even up to my low standards.

I wasn’t complaining because I was delighted to be out and I’m happy enough to get around in whatever state. But when we got to the halfway house after the eighth hole the rain was starting to be a real pain.

Still, we munched our meat pies without even a mention of quitting. One of the group behind us poked his head around the cabin door and asked: ’Are you boys hoping to hear the hooter?’

The hooter is sounded when they decide to cancel the round and call everyone in. We assured him we were going on but they were welcome to go through. He said they wanted to stop for refreshment.

When we walked out to the tee and gazed up the ninth, it wasn’t an inviting sight. The ninth is a 533 yard uphill par five which takes you away from the clubhouse towards the furthest extreme of the course.

The rain seemed to be getting worse and I didn’t fancy it at all. I’d already scored 65 and my prospects of bettering that on the back nine were slim but I wasn’t going to be the first to buckle.

Then one of us, I can’t remember who, said it would be just our luck if they called it off when we got to the far end of the course. Then we agreed that the greens were already showing signs of ponding.

There was a unanimous turn of the bodies back towards the clubhouse. ’No point in going on,’ was the tacit agreement. Nobody was more delighted to see us depart than the group behind us. We’d made up their minds as well and as soon as they finished their pies they followed us home.

When we got back to the clubhouse a few hardy souls were on their way out. We warned them but they wouldn’t listen. We were comfortably ensconced in the bar three-quarters of an hour later when the hooter sounded to postpone proceedings. We felt good — home and dry and with honour intact.

2 thoughts on “Etiquette
in the rain

    • Sorry Mark. Just reached the end of my chemo treatment and will be restarting the Hacker soon. But I’m feeling fine thanks. Cheers, Peter.

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How Quinters
proved them wrong

As it says at the top, this column is usually dedicated to the less gifted of golfers because it is at our end of the game that most of the more interesting dramas and disasters take place. It is also kinder than saying it is dedicated to crap golfers.

This week, however, it is dedicated to a golfer who is not only very good but who last weekend produced an inspirational performance, especially for anyone beset by cancer.

Mike Davis was 20 years old when he won the club championship at Glamorganshire in 1966 and his name has appeared regularly on the club’s honour boards. He has been an immaculate member on and off the course.

His nickname is ‘Quinters’, which is short for quintessential Englishman……..tall, handsome, distinguished, debonair and with no trace of the uncouthness we Welshmen tend to be blessed with. He doesn’t even spell his name the Welsh way.

I first met him shortly after taking up the game in my mid-forties when I made the mistake of entering the singles knockout. I’d never played against a category one golfer before and was so mesmerised I didn’t bother to keep score.

When we walked off the eleventh green he said, quietly: ’I think we’re supposed to shake hands.’

I looked at him quizzically. ‘The game is over,’ he explained, almost apologetically.

I’d been done like a kipper, eight and seven, but it had been so pleasant my only regret was that it was over.

It was Mike who encouraged me to think of myself as less gifted than some of my more lurid self-descriptions.

Like me, he also plays at Royal Porthcawl where he is one of a small group of patient playing partners who help me look for my ball.

And, like me, he has fallen foul of cancer in the last couple of years. While he was having a hip transplant, it was discovered he had myeloma which eventually required a stem cell transplant.

A year ago, he was told that there were serious doubts if he could ever play golf again which was a savage irony considering that the version of the disease I had didn’t carry such a harsh fate.

However, he ventured out after a while wielding a wedge over a few gentle holes and gradually worked his way up to a full game, then another…. until he came into this season playing regularly.

Last week he reached an unbelievable crescendo. He played on Wednesday and Friday at Porthcawl. On Saturday he ventured out in the Barbarian Cup, one of our most prestigious competitions, after making a late decision to enter.

Beginning in 1901, the Barbarian rugby club used to make our club their headquarters for their Easter Tour of South Wales. They used to play Penarth on Good Friday, Cardiff on Saturday, Swansea on Easter Monday and Newport on Tuesday.

On Easter Sunday they used to spend the day at Glamorganshire, playing a strange form of golf and joining members for a big sing-song in the evening.

In 1925 the Barbarian players had whip-round to present the club with a solid silver cup which is now our prized possession. Although the Easter Tour is sadly no longer we still hold a Barbarians weekend on which the members play for the Barbarian Cup on Saturday and the rugby clubs who used play the Baa-Baas, plus a couple of ex-Baa-Baa sides, play for a trophy on Sunday.

As it is our first major tournament of the year, there is always a big entry and the course is stretched to its longest.

This year the conditions were perfect — dry course, warm sun and no wind — but no-one ran riot. The highest gross was 76 and four players were tied for first place on nett 70.

Traditionally, we don’t do count-backs in the Barbarian Cup so a play-off was ordered for 8.30 the following morning which was a touch awkward because by the time they learned they were in a play-off the four concerned were already embarked on their Saturday night drinks.

One of them was Mike Davis who was enjoying a convivial night at the club’s fish supper.

Mike, who used to play off four but is now off 11, was a bit concerned at having to play in the morning because he had already agreed to play in the rugby clubs’ comp in the afternoon.

In the four with Mike were Steve Scarrett (off 7), Nathan Waters (12) and Chris Burns (19) and although the golf was average they had a great battle. Going down the 17th, Steve was in front but he took a nine and then drove out of bounds on the 18 while Mike stayed calm over the final two holes and sank the winning putt.

He then had 20 minutes to get ready for the afternoon round for which he gratefully accepted the use of a buggy. But his winning day wasn’t over. He won the best two-ball prize with Ifan Davies and the best team prize with the President’s team.

At the presentation that evening Welsh International Billy Raybould was fed up handing him prizes.

What Mike didn’t tell the audience was that not only was it the first time he had won the Barbarian Cup it completed a total of 48 years since he won first trophy at Glamorganshire. A year earlier, you could have got a million to one against him registering such a winning weekend.

In case anyone is interested, I was also in the Barbarian Cup. My total was 102

after 15 holes. I then drove into a leylandii tree and it stayed up there. I couldn’t be bothered to go back to the tee and Nrd.

I have six weeks left of my chemo/radio therapy treatment and my ambition is still to break 100 in a medal round. But I’m not sure it would bear close comparison with Mike’s achievement.

2 thoughts on “How Quinters
proved them wrong

  1. How lovely to read your page. This brings back happy memories of the days when I was a member of the Glamorganshire back in the late 60s through to the early 80s. I am now reduced to 9 holes three times a week at Bovey Tracey having had four hip replacements,prostrate cancer and other unwanted visitors. I can sympathise with the life of the hacker, I’m nearly back to where I started! Would I be right in thinking you took over the post of”Chief Snake” from Graham Scarrett?

    Could you please give my very best to Graham James who was affectionately known as “hooky” in the old days, but I expect that is non pc nowadays, I can always remember tightening his grip with a screwdriver on th 12th, and having a drink with him in the men’s bar afterwards. An absolutely remarkable man.

    Many thanks. Tony Mason

    • Great to hear from you, Tony. Yes, I did take over from Graham back in the 80s. The Snakes are still going strong but you sound as if you are going pretty well yourself.

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