Having reported to you last month that I had already visited four regions, during late April/early May I attended spring meetings in East Anglia (Bishop’s Stortford GC), Yorkshire (Hallowes GC), North West (Bramhall Park GC) and South East (Royal Cinque Ports GC). I was due to attend Chiltern & Home Counties (Muswell Hill GC) but a short-lived bout of bronchitis prevented me from doing so and I have kindly been invited to their autumn meeting (Beaconsfield GC) in September.
What has been interesting at the regional meetings has been the variety of topics covered by invited speakers. In the main these have been very relevant and I am sure that those present gained valuable information to take back to their clubs. Whilst some meetings have been well attended, others have been less so, with some Regional Managers being disappointed at the turnout. Whilst it is understood that taking time off can be problematic in some instances, the information available can only be of benefit to those present and subsequently their clubs. In addition, regional meetings form an important part of the communication and educational element of the new regional structure. So it begs the question: “Can any Secretary/Manager afford not to attend their regional meeting?” Please make an effort to attend for the information provided may be of great benefit to yourself and consequently your club. However, if you think the agenda for your region’s meeting isn’t tempting, or you would like to see other topics covered, do let your Regional Manager know – I am certain they would welcome help in planning speakers and topics to be covered.
I also attended the first National Committee meeting, at The Belfry, under the revised structure and it was good to see all Regional Managers present together with JR Jones (President), Mike Hoare (Chairman), Bob Williams, Niki Hunter and Mike Hyde from HQ. I found the meeting to be very productive (please see the CEO’s report for more details).
At the AGM I prophesied that, unlike my predecessor, I would not stay dry for the year and so it has proved. Following the morning meeting at Hallowes GC, the rain began as we walked to the first tee and persisted throughout. Whilst having arrived at Royal Cinque Ports GC in splendid sunshine, not a ball was struck as the rain was so severe, but I have kindly been invited back there too. At all the venues, I have much enjoyed the company of Regional Captains and in some instances Club Captains, not to mention the many regional members; all of whom have made me feel most welcome. My congratulations are due to those who have qualified for the Fairway Credit Finals. The courses have all been interesting and have been in good condition, especially since the cold spring and lack of growth still persists at the time of writing this article. Thanks are due to all those clubs who have hosted the regional events and I can assure you that their generosity is not taken lightly by the regions or the GCMA as a whole.
The month’s golf also included the first International match, away to Ireland (IGCMA) at Cork GC (see Mike Hyde’s report on the website). The course was very interesting and included parkland holes as well as superb holes by the sea and in an old limestone quarry. Having originally been laid out by Harry Vardon, but enhanced by many course architects including Alistair MacKenzie, Dave Thomas and Robert Trent Jones, it provided a stiff but fair test of golf, with a variety of interesting holes. Furthermore, it was in excellent condition with fast greens and lush fairways and rough, probably testament to the extra rain they have had in Ireland compared to the UK this year. The clubhouse is an elegant building, with superb decor and layout belying its age.
The match was hard fought; local knowledge was a distinct advantage, with the Irish victorious by 8 games to 4 – a score not truly reflecting the effort of the GCMA team. IGCMA President Matt Sands, who happens to be the Secretary at Cork GC, deserves praise for the arrangements he had made: the hotel was excellent and within a few minutes of the golf club, the plentiful food which was superb and finally the Irish hospitality which was exceptional. I certainly had a memorable few days, as did the team as a whole, and I would like to sincerely thank those who gave up their time and funds to represent the GCMA. My congratulations to the Irish, but we will be hoping to avenge this result when we play next year at Enville GC, a great course on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border.
I now have a bit of a lull in activities, with only the Board meeting at Bristol & Clifton GC and the National Golf Day at Beau Desert GC to attend in June. This allowed me time to play for the Midland region against London & Home Counties region at Moor Park GC. This splendid venue in Hertfordshire was where in 1996 I attended the AGCS (as it was then) Introduction Course, run in those days by Ray Burniston – where has the time gone! The match itself was played in splendid spirit, with the renewal of many acquaintances. My personal thanks are due to London & Home Counties for their gracious welcome. The result, which almost didn’t matter (but needs to be mentioned), was a win for the Midland region by 4 matches to 2.