My day with the Monday Orton Meadows Golf Group started in a very James Bond way – as we stood in the car park getting the clubs out and shoes on, a hot air balloon floated silently across above our heads, occasionally roaring as the gas burners were fired to keep it afloat.
However, this did not detract from the fact that this was the mainly unadvertised final round of the Ryder Cup happening at Orton Meadows. The UK and Europe team turned up, but as there was no sign of the USA Team we decided that we had really won the cup by default on the part of the Americans.
Our team consisted of 12 players – Jeff, Ray, Bob (henceforth known as West Ham Bob), Jim, another Bob (henceforth known as Yorkie Bob), Sartorial Tony, Derek, Noel, Terry, Gordon, Les and your ever present Roving Reporter.
The group met at 9am on a chilly but bright, sunny and dry autumnal Monday morning in the Orton Meadows golf facility car park. After signing in at the desk and doing the obligatory car registration sign in (to avoid the new car parking charges) – we moved on to the first tee to complete the pairings. This was partially sorted automatically as some wanted to play just 9 holes and others the full 18 (more on that later). Groups of 3 and 4 were sorted out with myself going with the one group who wished to play the full 18 holes.
THE EARLY BIRD BOYS
The course was a little damp underfoot with a heavy covering of morning dew sitting on the grass, but with everyone wearing their best waterproof shoes and warm jumpers or jackets we set off. The standard of golf within the group ranges from seasoned golfers on mid handicaps up to high handicaps for those who have taken up the game relatively recently for some exercise. This said the whole point of the game is for a bit of sport and exercise, but competition is not something which features heavily – it is all about playing against yourself and your own handicap and trying to improve.
I already knew Sartorial Tony – he gets the name because he is immaculately turned out when playing golf, with today’s attire being a nice ensemble in red and black – but the two bobs (West Ham and Yorkie, not two shillings) were unknown to me, however the whole group are a happy band who welcome you into their number and conversation soon found a friendly level with lots of laughing and joking being the order of the day.
Not having played the course before I relied on my playing partners to give me pointers on where to aim the ball – but aim and outcome are often two different things. The weather slowly warmed up so jackets and jumpers started to be removed, and the grass slowly started to dry out. The course is very nice, with each hole having a characteristic of its own – some long, some narrow, some with water impacting your direction, but all being of a good standard of maintenance, so no blaming the course for bad shots. You don’t need to be Rory Macillroy to play this course, but there is more scope on this course to whizz off into the trees than the other local course at Thorpe Wood, but conversely at Thorpe Wood you need to hit longer to achieve a good score. So you pay your money and take your choice.
Those just playing 9 holes play the first 8 and then swing away to play the 18th to make up the nine holes – this is likely to take around the two to two-and-a-half-hour mark depending on ball searching and normal hold ups. In our group Yorkie Bob decided that 9 holes was his preference today, so he shook the hands and took his leave from us at the 8th green. The three of us left, Sartorial Tony, West Ham Bob and I, moved on to play the 9th to 17th in the slightly separate part of the course. This section is a series of somewhat shorter holes with five of them being par 3 and the remaining four being par 4 holes. This part of the course is more to do with knowing how long to hit your drive and placement to avoid various obstacles and natural contours.
After hole 17 you re-join the main part of the course for a final dog-leg hole to bring you to a close.
The groups tend to congregate in The Granary pub for a cuppa or a beer after their round (whether that be 9 or 18 holes) where they pull apart their round or put the world to rights.
All in all this Roving Reporter can thoroughly recommend a round or two with the Orton Meadows Monday Golf Group – give the organiser a ring and I am sure you will be welcomed in.
See here for a picture Gallery of the day
(Roving Reporter AL 3/10/16)