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Westerham golf day – 11th April
Having had to cancel our event in March, our first golf day of the year wasn’t until April and even this was a near wash out. The day dawned wet and foggy and when we arrived at the club we were met with the news that no trollies were allowed out – yet again! However, they did allow buggies as they have a dedicated cart path and managed to rustle up enough for all of us to play at a very reduced rate. We played the first 9 holes in very thick fog, it was a miracle nobody got hit but it did lift by the back 9 thankfully. Apart from Dave Chell who won the day with a very respectable 34 points, there were no high scores. Second place went to Norman Beckett with 29 points and Peter Hickson came third with 27 points. Dave also won the Nearest the Pin in 2 while Neil Burton took the prize for Nearest the Pin.
Away from the ongoing damp and freezing British Spring, 18 GCGB members travelled to warm, sunny, dry Turkey for the 2018 Spring break and European Championship.
With the help of ‘Golf and Wellness’, Kate had found a simply magnificent 5-star hotel, the Cornelia Diamond, on the coast in Belek, about 40 minutes’ drive east from Antalya airport. 16 of the 18 took the same Easyjet flight, getting to the hotel approaching midnight, welcomed by some pink champagne and the offer (taken by five of the girls) of upgrading to a villa.
It was an early start on Day One, the Pairs Competition, giving an opportune excuse for the poor play of some that they’d only had five hours of sleep or so. But it did not hold back Ken Hall and Pauline Ronson, who set about the challenging Cornelia Faldo course to record a winning score of 66. Runners-up Brian Cosgrove and Ogy John shot 51. Third place went to Gary Cavill and Mark Hopkins with 50 points.
That evening the group had their first enjoyment of the sumptuous buffet that was available every night, preceded by drinks in the ‘La Boheme’ bar, where most also ventured afterwards for an excellent disco and dancing with the locals who thought we were all a bit of a novelty act but were really friendly.
A welcome lie-in on Day Two preceded a short coach ride to the National Golf Club and the first day of the individual Stableford. Ken Hall’s early form continued as he took an early lead by winning the day’s competition with a score of 32. Second place went to Pauline Ronson with 30 points and Kate’s cousin Pauline Baker came third with 29 points (ALL members of Sand Martins golf club, Gary and Sally Jackson’s old club)
Returning to the hotel, some began to explore the different pools, the beach or the wonderfully-appointed gym, before another evening of the ‘Three Ds’, that is drinks, dinner and disco. We were really into the Turkish dancing by now!
It was off to Carya Golf Club, billed as Europe’s first floodlight golf course, for the next day. This is now adjoining the superb Regnum hotel which hosted the G20 conference a couple of years ago. Though our rounds were not played under lights, but in the hot sunshine that we were starting to acclimatise to: my, those buggies were welcome! Helen Street was the day’s winner, with 31 points on countback to Gary Cavill. Third place went to Linda Rich with 29 points.
That evening, ‘La Boheme’ featured a karaoke, and Ogy John and Simon Grigor each took the plunge, with the friendly support (or otherwise!) of their GCGB pals. Simon’s rendition of Dire Straits’ ‘Walk of Life’ was particularly liked by a Turkish man and (we assume) his daughter. Simon had a couple of dances with the young lady, name of Tuba (musical instrument!), probably an error on his part, as very shortly afterwards he was asked out of the bar, to find Tuba’s family waiting to meet him, and within minutes an offer of marriage being made! Your Vice-Captain was very glad that Kate too had accompanied him. (I think she was asked to come along as marriage broker). Playing a sisterly role, she told a couple of white lies that, back in the UK, Simon was happily married! Although, bumping into the family again the next day, Simon was once again asked for his contact details!
The Sunday was a rest day. Some travelled into Antalya, some into Belek, and others simply relaxed, in or out of the sun, at the Dome poolside restaurant and bar.
Back to the golf, and the next day saw the group at the Pasha Golf Club, venue of the Turkish Airlines Open when Justin Rose won there a few years back. Today saw the week’s outstanding round, a 40-pointer from Ken Mock that propelled him into contention, with one more round to play, and that would be back at the Cornelia Faldo, the resort’s ‘home’course. Second place went to Gary Cavill, this timing taking the countback back lead over Ogy John, also on 33 points.
At the start of that final round, the two Kens, Mock and Hall and Gary all had 64 points, with Ogy John behind them with 58. Ken’s partner Pauline was also in contention with 58 points. Pauline was happy for the four men to form the final fourball - with Pauline Baker, Miles Williams and Simon joining her in the penultimate group. There wasn’t really anyone else seriously in contention and the final days groups proved to be very accurate for the end results.
No-one came from behind and it was the two Kens who emerged to fight a ‘duel in the sun’. It took countback to the back 6 for the daily prize to separate them with Ken Hall winning the last day with 32 points. It was the closest competition in the history of the Spring championship. Ken Hall won the last day on countback but both Kens ended up with 94 points and Ken Mock won the previous day and also had the highest score of the week. So it was eventually decided to call it a draw. This is holiday golf after all! Gary came a very close third with 94 points and Ogy held on to come 4th with 84. Miles Williams came 5th on countback with 83, also on 83 was Pauline Ronson.
A nice meal in the resort’s Italian restaurant was the backdrop to the presentations, and after a restful day awaiting our transport back to Antalya airport, it was Easyjet back to a cold Gatwick, cold enough for your author’s car to need its windscreen scraped free of ice. Quite a contrast!
Thank you, Kate, for all your efforts in putting together a terrific week’s golfing at a brilliant venue. I think all agreed they would be very happy to return there. Thank you too to my fellow golfers for your company. Yes, even you, Gary and Mark, with your ongoing joking about Simon and Tuba’s nuptials…..