By jiminy-can we pick the weather?? 3 days of unremitting sunshine coupled with the traditional brilliant camerardie and fine food & drink in an excellent hotel meant that this year's 'Breakaway' was one of the best since we started them in Carlisle in 2007 since when our number has grown from 25 to this year's 44 which is our maximum to maintain the intimate, friendly atmosphere.
For the 5th year running we were based at the 'Three Counties Hotel' in Hereford which as ever provided us with service 'par excellence'-clean, comfortable rooms, friendly and efficient service and, most immportant, a varied and extensive menu which was thoroughly appreciated by all. As usual the 'apres golf' gatherings committed vast sums to the local brewery and the wine and whisky industries. By the way-golf was also played-details below,
Day 1 was played on a course we hadn't played before-Burghill Valley where we received a great welcome with giant sausage and bacon baguettes and coffee on arrival. It was noticed that 2 of our members who had stopped for breakfast en route at the 'Station Cafe' in Craven Arms were beaten by the baguettes and reverted to taking half onto the course for 'meals on wheels' later. I don't know if this was significant but, no names etc., both of these gentlemen have won the Trophy recently!!
Although I wasn't able to play golf (what's new? I hear) I was nominated to chaffeur our Treasurer, fresh from his trip last week to the Iberian Peninsular. He'd left the cheque book with me and I think he wanted to keep me in sight! The other 3 in our party were St.Melyd's 'Dynamic Duo' Fred and Dave who soon brought Ian Reed down to their level (don't worry Ian that's your penance paid for a few years!)
The general consensus of opinion later was that this was an excellent course and well worth future inclusion into our rota. Honours were taken on the first day as follows:- Winner-Graham Newell (Prestatyn) 33 points. Runner up- Don Fergusson (Holywell) 32 Points and Third-Ray Lewis (Holywell) 31 points. The captain played with Brinley Edwards and, later, rumours circulated that success of this Ffynnongroew pairing contributed to a financial windfall for our Captain after a trip to a 'Hole in the Wall' by 2 Hawarden members with the same Christian names. After Dinner the Captain gave a short, succint run down of their match!
Day 2 was played on another first time course, The Monmouthshire, which I felt was the most scenically attractive Golf Course I'd ever seen. Due to a technical hitch on the club's part there was a shortage of buggies so Les Jeffcott and I sat in the sun, sampled the local bitter and put the world to rights.
Again the course received universal plaudits from our members-we will return'.The Club Captain, Jeff Childs, accepted our invitation to join us for golf and dinner later. He certainly seemed to enjoy himself even though he drew the short straw for partners as he drew our Match Secretary thus enabling the Captain to pick the form horse and let Graham Newell carry him to more financial benefits!
As explained Les & I didn't see much of this course but reading a plaque on the wall extolling the career of one of it's members, the great Iestyn Tucker, it was noted that he had 26 holes in one and was a course record holder at 16 Clubs. Must be an easy course!! I suggest you Google him to make you realise what a golfer this man was.
Results:- Winner-Peter Bateman (St.Melyd)-32 points. Runner-up-Keith Mitchell (St.Melyd)-32 points. Third-Graham Newell 31points.
Day 3. Nearer to home now with only 2 points seperating the leading 3 positions. Henlle Park was our venue a return visit on this occasion. Once again a great welcome and a course in excellent condition enjoyed by all. The home made Steak Pie followed by Apple Pie was a real treat meriting the fullest praise.
Club Captain, Rae Jones joined us and, after a close inspection was selected by Islwyn to help boost the coffers. Fred Davies and Gareth Williams were the latest selected to contribute!
Results:-Winner-Terry Jones (Flint) with the week's best score of 38 points. Runner-up Peter Bateman (St.Melyd) 35 points. Third Ray Lewis (Holywell) 33points.
'Steady Eddie' Ray's consistency over the 3 days took him onto the Winner's rostrum for the second time as he had triumphed at Garstang in 2008 and he carried off the 'John Roberts Trophy' as best overall scorer with 95 points.
Runner-up was the ever consistent Graham Newell who did a 'Devon Loch',falling at the last fence and finished with 93 points, the next two places went to St.Melyd with debutant, Peter Bateman third on 91 points and fourth, Keith Mitchell 89 points.
I think Peter desrves special credit as he suffered a sartorial mishap very early on in the tour which was mentioned a couple of times but he accepted the good-natured ribbing with great humour. I'm sure he'll get his own back in future tours.
My personal thanks go to everyone who was on the tour and whose humour and pleasantries made it so easy to organise. As ever a very special thanks to the other members of our Politburo Glyn, Kevin and Roy without who there'd be no Tour.
Last mention is to the Captain whose presence and short, pithy speeches enertained us all so royally-thanks Islwyn.