Golf returns at last....again!
Monday 29th March 2021
Having suffered what seemed to be an endless Lockdown #3, the powers that be “released the shackles” and golf was finally allowed to return.
Having been hampered by Nature for two months, the greenkeepers at AVGC had a monumental battle on their hands to ensure the course was ready for the onslaught of foot traffic across the “hallowed turf” that we call “Our St Andrews”. Thankfully the course had dried enough to get the mowers out and ensure the course looked respectable.
The week before opening, the “chatter” on the Social Media groups reached fever pitch. Some members were reminding others it was only 5 sleeps to golf !!!!!!! What the??????
But at last the gates opened and the members started to arrive. First on the scene was soon to be crowned Vice-Captain, Johnno Oakley. As from the first lockdown, Johnno was first player to tee off at Ash Valley. Johnno is defending Club Champion and Handicap Champion and was determined to set off after more glory than last year. True to form his first tee shot went straight down the middle.
This is Johnno, Johnno is a golfer. Welcome back everyone. Don’t be fooled by appearances, Johnno has teeth!!!!!!
04/04/2021 Captains Drive in medal
In keeping with club tradition, the season opener is the April Monthly Medal. The masses assembled (Covid-19) rules observed to witness the Past Captain, Captain and Vice-Captain tee off. The usual roars of approval were apparently heard in Hunsdon. As the scores came in, the usual suspects headed the field. A splendid 73 from Mark Forster sent a few vibes around the field to the tune of “ooh, underdog year again”. But Adam Hicks and Mick O’Connor soon put paid to that with a near par busting 72. Mick claiming the lead on countback and posting the lowest gross score.
Last year proved you can take nothing for granted at Ash Valley. A relative newcomer, Glenn Evans returned an outstanding score of 66. Glenn took the honours on the day and showed it was a sign of things to come.
After the competition the hoards assembled around the 18th green to see Alan Smith “putt out” as his final act as Captain and bid him a fond farewell. An excellent 2 putt with a hickory putter was a good effort (especially as he’d just broke the new ceremonial one). Attention then turned to the first tee to see incoming Captain Dave White “drive in”. The only club the committee could find as old as Dave was the same Hickory club Alan drove in with the year before. Well done old chap, good drive to find the fairway.
The season continues apace
Hot on the heels of the Captains medal, the newly created Sunday medal was held. Richard Picton showed some unexpected early season form with a creditable 76 to claim 4th spot. The ever steady Steve Garnar posted a respectable 75 to match Tony Gallery (who nicked it on countback). Here we go again. Glenn Evans, having stole the show the day before, did it again. A massively impressive net 72 was enough to claim the spoils. Good shooting Glenn.
The midweek players then had a shot at glory. Third place showed an extraordinary set of results. Mark Dowling posted a creditable 75 but was pipped not only by a newcomer, but a junior. Alfie Ketteridge in his first club competition shone to steal third great effort Alfie, we are all proud of you. Dad, Dan must be so proud. Unfortunately Brian Stenson returned a 72 to eclipse the youngster and claim second spot behind Kenny Chapman by a solitary stroke. Well played Kenny.
With the medals out of the way for the month, the Stablefords took centre stage. The ever popular Stableford Cup drew an impressive field of 32. The draw was made and as results came in, records began tumbling by the group. Over half the field scored 30 points or more. Graham Jackson (36) and Ian Shipp (37) narrowly missed out on qualification for Club Championship poor Ian missing out on countback. With the same score as Ian, Mark Forster pipped Peter Phillips to third on the dreaded countback but then the drama really unfolded.
Club secretary James O’Sullivan, stunned everyone with a miraculous return to form with an immense 43 points to sit rather smugly at the top of the tree. He took great delight in telling anyone that listened he had 12 gross pars in his round. Unfortunately for James, the last group where just finishing off their rounds on the 18th green. Here he comes again, yes you know who, none other than Glenn Evans handed in his card with an astonishing 46 points (yes that’s forty six, not 4+6). Wow, after entering the cards and confirming the result a quick check was made on World Handicap System (WHS) to find Glenn’s handicap index had been carved up reducing from 28 to 11.7. Both Glenn and James joined Peter and Mark in the hat for club championship day.
The Stableford Slam is a new competition created this year which mirrors the Stableford Cup. Introduced for members who can’t make Saturdays but to give them the experience of the same format (best 4 rounds from 6). It also offers up 3 Club Championship qualifying spots so there is plenty up for grabs. Again over half the field of 18 returned scores in excess of 30 points. Kevin Kelly and Adam Hicks both returned 33 points narrowly missing out on the top three. Ricky Knight ended up third with 36, one point behind new member Peter Cooper (37) who was in his first club competition. Well done Peter. The star of the show with an excellent round of 40 points was last year’s Rabbit Cup champion, Matt Squires. The top three making the hat for Club championship day.
The midweek Stableford concluded April’s qualifiers for the club championship. An unusually massive field of 22 turned out in pursuit of the one spot available and in keeping with the high scoring of the Cup and Slam, we weren’t disappointed. Yet again well over half the players returned a score of 30 points or more. Immediate past Captain Alan Smith finished fifth with a very respectable 33 but was nudged back by Alan Webb who carded a great 35. The ever dependable Mick O’Connor ended up third with 36 but second place was taken by John Hawkins with 38. An unexpected winner came from one of the late starters. Previous years “timid scoring” from Danny Doyle made his 40 point score more remarkable than first appeared. Danny’s previous best gross score was smashed by 11 shots. Unfortunately for Danny, the WHS handicap chainsaw went to work and he now plays off 16.7.
Golf is finally back and the club competitions seem to be thriving. It’s great to see so many smiling faces back at Ash Valley. The course has missed its members and I know the members have missed their course. Now both are united, the sky is the limit. We have had a massive influx of new members and the future looks bright. Have a great summer everyone, happy golfing.