Joys of golf in the winter league

Neither for the faint-hearted nor the fair-weather golfer, a winter league is nevertheless an important competition for the well-being of a golf club — particularly from the social and bar-takings point of view.
And for hackers there’s no more suitable event. When you are dressed like a deck-hand on a fishing trawler and being lashed by rain, no-one is going to laugh at your swing.
At The Glamorganshire golf club we pride ourselves in a thriving league that sends up to 144 golfers into action in a shot-gun start at 9 am on 20 Sunday mornings through the depth of winter.
What happens after that provides an unlimited supply of strange golfing antics for this column and has prompted other clubs to request details of the format that provides so much mirthful golf.
The latest is the Trevose club, near Padstow in Cornwall from where Geoff French, a long-time follower of the Hacker column, writes:-
’I am on the committee at Trevose and mentioned your tales of the winter league during a meeting and said we should look at having a winter league as we are finding the focus of our golf is midweek and Saturdays rather than the traditional Sundays as most clubs.’
The upshot is that Geoff has been tasked with researching a winter league and I shall be sending him details of how ours is organised. It won’t be a short letter because it has been evolving for over 50 years and requires some explaining.
Winter leagues tend to differ from club to club and operate under exotic names like Top Dog and Cock O’ the North. Ours is called the Snakes and Ladders because, like the board game, winners move up and losers move down.
We play foursomes match play over two sessions — the ten weeks leading up to Christmas and the ten weeks leading up to Easter. You have to have new partners for the second session and the winners of each play for the overall prize.
Over the course of a session the winners will congregate at the top of the ladder and the losers at the bottom, in dreaded wooden spoon territory. On the final days, contenders at both ends take out Stableford cards as a tie-breaker.
In the interests of equality between low handicappers and hackers, the minimum combined handicap is 20. This encourages fellowship or, in some cases, life-long enmity.
Central to the success of the competition is the chief snake whose word is final. His main task is to conduct the raffle in the bar after all competitors are in and giving the till a bashing.
He entertains this raucous occasion with stories of the more embarrassing displays of the morning and formally announces the names of all those who had air shots together with the time they occurred and the hole on which it happened.
Our present chief snake is Peter ’Jammy’ James, a former dentist who drills out a series of hilarious one-liners before picking up his guitar and singing a song he has composed about the snakes.
To hear over 100 grown golfers singing with great gusto their own winter league song is to realise that his is far from the image of a normal golf club competition.
Unfortunately, my partner Bob Colley and I tumbled down the ladder yesterday but we had a very good time. For a start, the weather was great. It was cold and frosty early on but the sun came out and the views from the top of our course over the Bristol Channel were so clear. They’d give a lot of money for a day like that in sweltering Dubai.
The golf wasn’t too bad, either. We got tangled up in a tree on our first hole and lost it. Then we won the next, lost the next, won the next….. That’s how it went on.
We were playing Phil Parker, off 13, and Dave Halliday, off 24, and they were a very solid partnership. I was driving the odds with Phil who pilots one of these large road-sweeping machines around the Cardiff. He thinks of it as a £95,000 vacuum cleaner.
He drives a big ball, too; miles in front of me from every tee. Eventually, they managed to get two up and when I hit a mighty slice into the woods they looked likely to go three up with six to play.
We took three off the tee and were on the green for six. They were in the greenside bunker for two, took five to get out and we halved the hole in eight.
At least we managed to reduce our arrears to one but we eventually lost on the last. Losing can be bearable if you have a good game against worthy winners. And, since we had previously won three, we are keeping our noses above the wooden spoon territory.

2 thoughts on “Joys of golf in the winter league

  1. You are never spoon material in my eyes,the people of Barry would rise up and protest. See on the barricades,an old ex Chief.

  2. I know a guy who plays that way and is a fantastic lpayer hits darts all day long but suffers when he needs a small touch around the conservational. I am sure if you talk to any lpayer who has been around awhile has come across a guy like this-as a novice golfer I wouldn’t recommend that grip. Here’s the best tip for the grip whatever grip you choose-strong,neutral or weak make sure your bottom hand mirrors the top by having your palms are permanently facing eachother at address. Excellent luck man!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>