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.