“Yes it’s on…..no there isn’t an inspection…………yes all fourteen teams will be there……….great see you in an hour. Bye.”
I must have sounded confident at 7:30am on a very wet Wednesday morning as everyone who had rung at the ungodly hour concerned about the damp conditions turned up at Ashford Manor Golf Club for the inaugural Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare Charity Golf Day. It was a close call however as any more rain that morning would have seen the ‘rain stops play’ signs being displayed by our hosts.
With military precision the gazebo was erected beside the 8th green, the volunteers arrived with hounds in tow and we were ready to welcome the 56 golfers who would be the integral part of today’s fund raiser. One by one they arrived to register, in small groups to start with but soon there was a queue of eager golfers in a multitude of colours waiting to pit their wits and skills on the beautifully prepared course. No one was late, no one had forgotten any equipment and every one of them took a moment to stroke the welcoming hounds. The odd squirrel made an impromptu appearance but soon disappeared back up the tree from which it came.
With bacon sandwich and coffee consumed the golfers were called to gather for a group photo. Everyone was smiling, some were even nervous when they realised who they had been paired with. It was time for the games to begin. The shotgun start. Now a shotgun start is a bit misleading, there isn’t a shotgun. It’s actually a horn that can be heard anywhere on the course. The first tee shots were struck in unison from fourteen different starting points and the next four hours would reveal one winning team.
Bernard’s Bunker on the eighth hole caught out at least two handfuls of players at £2 a time and everyone paid up. It’s unusual for a crowd to cheer when a shot goes in the bunker, but this was no ordinary golf tournament and the crowd had a suspect sense of humour. Having negotiated this hole and the baying crowd it was time for a team photo and the chance to grab some refreshment from the volunteers before making their way to the next hole. The inclement weather that had been forecast threatened briefly to put a dampener on proceedings but the showers were light and intermittent. Nobody really notice or cared, the players were too busy trying to win.
A load roar from the sixth hole could be heard from around the course as a ‘hole-in-one’ was achieved by Chris Bird. That was going to cost him a small fortune in the bar afterwards. With each team finished their round and reminiscent of a scene from the end of the film ‘Field of Dreams’ players made their way back to the clubhouse from four corners of the golf course. To coin a phrase from that same movie, ‘put on a charity golf day and the players will come.’
We finished the day with steak pie dinner in the clubhouse, a raffle and the trophy presentation to the team winners Colin Lane, Steve Cretchley, Graham Cretchley and Steve Chasty and all the other individual winners. At the end of proceedings we had raised a fantastic sum of just over £1,400 from entry fees, hole sponsorships and the raffle. The feedback received on the day and subsequently has been excellent and already people are asking what date they should book off in 2015.
By Kiaran O’Brien