PU3A GOLF BREAK 2017
As the year tumbled into July, 22 of the PU3A golfers and 6 of their non-playing partners and friends made their way to the Crown Plaza Resort near Maldon in Essex for 4 days of golf and fun. There was a little trepidation regarding the weather for 4 consecutive days, but as the previous weekend weather suddenly perked up we all kept our fingers crossed.
A few of the happy band made the decision to either extend the stay to include the Sunday night or find a local hostelry with a room to avoid the Monday morning rush down the A14. From those who tried the travel from Peterborough on Monday morning this would appear to have been a good move, as there were hold ups due to both road works and accidents that morning.
Everyone arrived in good time for the first tee-off at 1:15, and even though not all of the rooms were quite ready, we were all at the tee for the off
Our first game was to be on the Links Course, which for the uninitiated means that the grass off of the fairways becomes very long and very wispy very suddenly. So, if your ball left the optimal route you had a job on your hands finding it again. As there was a competition for the loser of the greatest number of lost balls – golfers are weird like that, we make a competition out of negatives as well as positives – there were a couple of early contenders for the title after just a few holes.
The groups golfing prowess ranges from mid handicappers (around the 15 to 20 range) through to those who play in the upper regions of handicapping (28 for lads and 36 for lasses), and a random draw was made to mix the golfers up – with some taking to golf buggies and others who felt fitter deciding to push a trolley with their clubs – I will add that with 4 games in the offing I decided to go for a buggy on each day we could hire them. This round was just a warm up with no pressure of competition involved – although truth be told the whole week was more for fun than winning the various prizes on offer.
The course was a nice warm up with our first day of warm sunny weather. There were some testing holes and some that were considerably easier but with the heat of the day we were all ready for a quick reviving drink after the round, giving the golfers a chance to relive some of their better and worse shots – and as always there was chat about how much better they could have done.
The non-golfers had acquainted themselves with the layout of the hotel, finding the pool and the spa, and of course the various restaurants and bars. One intrepid lady had even found a small grass snake who seemed to frequent the grounds close to one of the ornamental ponds and around the outside area of the bar.
Inwardly refreshed, we all set off for our rooms to wash off the day’s dust and sweat in a nice forceful shower. Then it was off to the restaurant for our buffet evening meal. There was lots of chat and the wine flowed freely whilst we ate and got to grips with a testing quiz. The large 30 seater table split up into teams to try and guess the answers.
We finished the evening with a brief opening speech from Hilary Keegan – our organiser, and jokes from Harry Baldwin and Mike Henton. Then it was off to bed to rest before the first competition tomorrow.
The general consensus on Tuesday morning was that the beds were nice and comfortable so everyone was refreshed and ready for the breakfast, which covered most tastes, from cornflakes and fruit to a full English breakfast.
All fed and watered, we made our way to the second course on the complex – The Lakes for a 10 o’clock tee-off. This course looked as if it would be a little less daunting if you left the fairway as the rough was lighter, but it was populated with many more trees. After yesterday’s exertions there were quite a few more of our number taking to buggies, but the hardy ones stuck to their trollies to transport their clubs. The format for the day was a Texas Scramble which meant that all of the players were seeing holes from a different angle, as each player got the chance to play shots from where others had driven their ball. You really have to play as a team in this format – and I was lucky enough to have 3 fine team-mates who encouraged one another when things didn’t go quite to plan.
The non-golfers seemed to split off into a couple of groups, with one going off for a trip to Clacton and the other starting with a planned 3 mile walk and then off to Tiptree to visit the Jam Museum
On leaving the course after another 4 and a half hours in the very warm golfing sunshine, or the day’s exertions on trips, some bar refreshments were a must, so we congregated for a tipple or two.
Then we had a “whole group” putting competition on the practice green. Golfers and non-golfers alike were wielding their putters looking for that elusive hole-in-one – and a few were found in the next hour, with at least one going to one lady who has rarely looked at, let alone picked up a club.
Our second evening meal followed pretty much the same format as the night before, but tonight we had a couple of golf-related poems from Hilary with Mike Henton coming up with some new jokes (well new to some) and your ever-present Roving Reporter was persuaded to retell one of his own jokes. The quiz reappeared for us to start to solve some of the harder questions. After a couple of bar drinks, and a lot of banter, it was off to bed again.
Wednesday morning was the day of the singles competition, where each player was dependent upon their own skills to make a challenge for the various prizes on offer. The weather gods smiled on us again with clear blue skies and temperatures which were almost too warm.
Again, a random draw was made for playing partners with many taking to buggies as the exertions of the week started to bite – 3 rounds in three days starts to take its toll for us older players, we may have knocked out 36 holes in a day in our youth – but realism has to bite sometime. This second round was again on the Lakes Course, so everyone had the experience of yesterday to adjust their shots and club selections to make the most of the round. Prizes on offer were for Men’s and Ladies Nearest the pin on 2 par three holes and similarly Men’s and Ladies Longest drives, with the main prize being for both Men and Ladies highest Stableford scores.
The contest was hard fought and it was good to find that all of the prizes went to different players, with one of our least experienced players carrying off the Ladies Nearest The Pin. The full results of this, the main day, are shown at the bottom of this report.
The final evening meal was another jovial affair, with much quaffing of ale and grape juice interspersed with trying to come up with the final answers to the quiz. Eating and drinking over, we retired to a side room for the prize giving for all the semi-serious and fun competitions of the previous three days. We started with Hilary giving us another golf poem and Mike and Harry spinning off another couple of jokes, and again I was encouraged to join in with a stolen joke from another golfing buddy. There were prizes for all of the non-golfers for putting up with the seemingly endless chat about golf. One prize was awarded for the best round in the putting competition and one for the worst round in the same game. Then there was a “winner” for the most lost balls over the three days. There were men and lady’s prizes for day 3’s Nearest the Pin, Longest Drive and highest Stableford Points and finally a prize for the most Birdies scored over the first 3 days (see below).
Hilary was then taken a little by surprise when Jill Buxton made a presentation of a Bay Tree, a bottle of Champagne and a card as a "thank you" from all of us for doing such a wonderful job of arranging the golf break. The formalities over, we again retired to the bar for a swift nightcap.
However, the golfing was not quite finished for the break – a dozen hardy souls decided to brave another day of fun on the Links Course, playing a round in the Waltz Format. This is played in teams of 3 with scoring done by repetition of one scoring player, then two then three – hence 1,2,3 – 1,2,3 as in a Waltz. Somehow Liz, Mike and I won this last game although we aren’t quite sure how.
After a refreshing reviver in the bar the last of the golfers made their way back to Peterborough after a thoroughly enjoyable 4-day break.
I suspect the event will be on the calendar for next year
Peter Jansen, Geoff James, Barry Pike, Mike Armitage, Jill Buxton, Pat Bate, Jan James, Hilary Keegan, Janet Gilbey, Brian Keegan, Penny Ibbotson, Mike Henton, Jan Butlin, Liz Norfolk, Chris Mannion, June Mannion, Steve Boote, Harry Baldwin, Alan Locke, Jeff Smith, Pat Bate, Tony Bate, Jean Fisher.
The Supporters Club
Elaine Locke, Judith Jansen, Maurice Gilbey, Chris and June Mannion and Jean Winch
Texas Scramble Team (highest Stableford score)
Pat Bate, Jan James, Tony Bate, Jean Fisher
Putting Comp – fewest strokes
Putting Comp – Most strokes
Ladies Nearest the Pin
Men’s Nearest the Pin
Ladies Longest Drive
Men’s Longest Drive
Ladies Highest Individual Stableford
Jan James (23 points)
Men’s Highest Individual Stableford
Brian Keegan (36 points)
Most Lost Balls
Most Birdies for the 3 days
Brian Keegan & Alan Locke (2 each)
Waltz Team (highest Stableford score)
Liz Norfolk – Mike Armitage - Alan Locke (62 points combined team score)