Golf Society 2017
September 1st and 2nd:
A weekend at the Ashbury Hotel Golf Complex near Okehampton
On the first day of September 2017, we were blessed with good weather and a fairly clear M5, so everyone arrived at the Ashbury Hotel in good spirits and ready to go. Our tee time had been booked for 12:40 but we met up around 10:30am for coffee, a chat and a light lunch.
Ashbury is somewhat unique in that, along with its sister hotel, The Manor, a few miles down the road, it is dedicated to providing sport, crafts and spa activities at an all-inclusive price. Apart from golf on any one of their nine courses, they offer a huge range of interesting things to do from pottery, glass engraving, archery, swimming, laser shooting, badminton, indoor tennis, bowls and snooker as well as many more. These are all included in the price and so are all meals. We arrived just as school holidays were finishing and managed to arrange an excellent weekend deal of £130 per person. Do have a look at the website www.manorhousehotel.co.uk for a full list of the facilities on offer at both locations. You will be amazed.
At 12:15, we went to collect our golf carts and score cards for the Beeches Course. There is a small charge for golf carts of £12.00. Apart from bar expenditure, this was the only extra cost. Not knowing any of the courses, we had no expectations of the quality of the fairways and greens. We were delighted to find that they were of a very high standard with every hole providing a different vista and challenge with beautifully mown fairways and very true greens. Anne and Bob Taylor, Hartley Heard, Roger Ashton, Philip Cook and myself made up two three balls and thoroughly enjoyed playing the course although it did not help our scores. I managed 32 points just ahead of Roger and Philip with 28 while Hartley, Anne and Bob came in with 27 each. We returned to the hotel bar to join Rosemary Heard, Jo Ashton and Pippa Coombs who had enjoyed a walk around the lakes and a session of water aerobics in the large hotel pool while we were golfing. We checked into our en suite rooms, adjacent to the reception area and golf shop, for a shower and brush up before meeting again in the bar before dinner at 6:30. The meals offered were buffet style with a huge range of starters, mains and desserts followed by tea or coffee. The quality of the food and service was first class.
After dinner we continued to show our sporting prowess on two lanes of the ten pin bowling alleys where the ladies showed us chaps up with their skilful strikes and spares. A visit to the big lounge followed where Gloucester and Exeter Chiefs were on the big screen with an exciting last minute victory for Gloucester. The lounge is so big that a Premier League soccer match was being shown on another big screen at the opposite end and a cabaret singer was serenading his audience behind us!
Saturday’s tee time was booked for 11.00 so we met for a late breakfast at 09.30. Once again the range of food was impressive and the quality was excellent. We booked our golf carts and set off for the Kigbeare Course, the signature course of the complex. At 6,152 yards off the yellows, it does not sound too menacing but add in some steep uphill and downhill fairways and it takes some taming. Once again, it was in superb condition with well tended fairways and beautifully manicured greens, it was a delight to play. All the holes on both the Beeches and Kigbeare were very enjoyable so I will just comment on a couple – the Par 5, 534 yard 16th on Kigbeare which is such a lovely golf hole that it takes your breath away. You tee off from behind a half moon shaped lake to the top of the hill facing you. Your second shot, slightly sloping downwards is still blind with no sight of the green but when you get to the ball, you see that way down below you is the green in a horseshoe of mature trees and light rough. It is spectacular. The third hole on Kigbeare, 177 yards off the yellows, is equally dramatic and is often quoted as their favourite hole by visitors. It requires a good drive downhill from an elevated tee needing a carry of at least 160 yards to avoid the brook at the apron of the green. A par here is a very good par indeed.
After such a thrilling day in beautiful sunshine, we retired to the bar to agree the scoring aggregate for both days. The winner was Roger Ashton 59 pts closely followed by Philip Cook 58 pts, Bob Taylor 57 pts, Hartley Heard 56 pts, Barry Coombs 55 pts and Anne Taylor on 54 pts. These were very good results with only 5 points between the first and last places. Congratulations to everyone who took part.
Once again, we were joined by the non golfing ladies who had endured an equally taxing five mile walk on Dartmoor following one of the hotel’s suggested route maps of local sites taking in a bronze age settlement, two stone circles and two ancient clapper bridges.
Dinner again at 6:30 and again an excellent range of dishes followed by indoor bowls taking two rinks of the bowls centre. It was really good fun and a great way to end the day. As the forecast was dire for the next day, we decided to forgo our Sunday tee time at 8:56 and head for home before the M5 became too clogged. It was a wise decision as it rained all through the night and heavy rain continued next morning, so much so that you could get a soaking just loading the car. Nevertheless we all enjoyed the weekend and would certainly recommend the venue for any golfers or sports minded people. Our only extras were the golf cart hire and bar bills. All the sports, crafts, meals and entertainment options were included in the price of £65 per person per night. Amazing value considering the high quality of all the activities and especially the golf, so much so that we have already made enquiries for next year when we would expect a larger contingent of our members.
All QEH Old Boys and former pupils of Red Maids and Redland High School are very welcome to join us at any of the chosen venues. The standard of golf may not qualify us for the Open but we do have a very enjoyable social day at some excellent local courses. For more details of what’s planned for the rest of the year and next season, please email email@example.com
Visit to Henbury Golf Club July 25th 2017
This fixture turned out to be the most well attended of the year with sixteen players. The day was beautifully warm and the course was in tip top condition having hosted the Men’s Invitation Day only two days before. We met at 12:15 for a first tee time at 1 o’clock which gave us plenty of time to catch up with those that we had not seen for a while. It was great to see Mike and Hazel Sheppard again, back for the first time this year as was Laura Cole, after illnesses. This was a great comfort to Anne Taylor as it has been over a year ago since all three ladies had played together. Another returning player was Mike Roll, a member at Henbury.
We played four three balls and a four ball. First off were Mike Cole, Hartley Heard and Phil Cook, followed by Nigel Coombs, Roger Edwards and John Hargraves, Anne Taylor, Laura Cole and Hazel Sheppard. Barry Coombs, Bob Taylor and Peter Elford, Mike Cole’s neighbour making up the fourth group. Last out were Mike Sheppard, Roger Ashton and the two super fit recent octogenarians, Jerry Croome and Mike Roll.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable day but most of us were baffled by the speed of the greens and the subtle borrows. There are some lovely holes with the dramatic 7th par 3 requiring an accurate shot from a high elevated tee across the river Trym to a narrow green with thick rough behind it. All the par threes were interesting with sloping approaches and greens, they need careful placement to score, especially as they were protected by bunkers adjacent to the front aprons.
Several of the par fours had intimidating approaches, particularly the 8th with a long carry through a tree lined fairway on the left and the river Trym on the right.
The most spectacular hole is probably the 18th, a 434 yard par 4 sloping down to an enormous green with very tricky to read undulations. A par here would be quite an achievement even if you reached the green in two.
The best scores went most definitely to the Henbury members. Peter Elford came in with 40 points, followed by Mike Roll with 37. Hartley Heard came in with the only respectable score amongst the visitors with 29 points and even that was below his normal points score.
The rounds were followed by large and delicious portions of lasagne with salad or French fries, which everyone enjoyed. It was a great end to a very pleasant day’s golf in very good company. Our thanks go to Mike and Laura Cole who set the day up for us and provided the prizes for the day.
Our next foray is over the weekend of September 1st and 2nd at the Ashbury Hotel in Okehampton with three rounds of golf from a choice of nine excellent courses. We have been lucky enough to get a special offer of £130 pounds per person for two nights including golf and all meals. The hotel also offers snooker, tennis, swimming pools, badminton and lawn bowls as well as many other activities should we get rained off. We look forward to a splendid few days in the Devon sunshine.
Visit to Thornbury Golf Club 28th June 2017
After a brilliantly warm week of summer weather, the clouds looked ominous for our visit to Thornbury. After meeting at 10:30 for bacon rolls and coffee, watching the rain roll down the club house windows, there was still doubt about the wisdom of going out to play but it eased off slightly by the first tee time at 11:30. The sky was beginning to brighten up so it was decided to take a chance on it improving. Fortunately, after a couple of holes, this gamble paid off and the sun came out for the rest of the round.
Thornbury was in good condition and the fairways and greens were very true. There are some very interesting holes with two where the lakes come into play. The most difficult 15th needs a very well judged shot to manoeuvre between them before taking on a long uphill fairway wood to the green. Two par threes are particularly difficult to judge surrounded as they are by bunkers. The short 136 yard sixth needs a very accurate shot to avoid running away down the right hand slope or catching a bunker on the left. The 157 yard 14th is a steep downhill slope to a narrow entrance flanked by bunkers and needs a well-placed iron or wood to avoid these hazards and stay on the green.
As usual, our merry band of nine took it all in their stride and came in with some good scores. Phil Cook took top honours with an excellent par 36 points closely followed by Mendip stars John Hargraves and Roger Ashton just pipping John on countback, with 33 each.
The round was followed by a very tasty chicken dinner as part of the special package which was excellent value for £25 a head which also included the bacon butties and coffee on arrival.
Our thanks to Thornbury Golf Club for giving us this opportunity. My thanks also to all who took part and especially to Anne and Bob Taylor for running the event when I had to pull out at the last minute.
Our next Foray is to the highly rated Henbury club on Tuesday July 25th. As always any OE, Red Maid or Redland High former pupils are welcome to join us. Please call Barry Coombs on 01453 822546 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also thinking of going to the Ashbury Hotel, Okehampton, in September. If you are interested please contact email@example.com
The Golf Society Visit to Wells Golf Club on April 28th 2017
With the extremes of climate in April, the forecast for the day of our visit was carefully watched throughout the few weeks before the event. Whilst there was a cool breeze on the day, there was no rain and even occasional bouts of sunshine, which greatly pleased the eight members who had turned out for the game.
Following the traditional infusion of coffee and bacon butties, we teed off in two four balls at 11:00 am. The first team off comprised of Nigel Coombs, John Hargraves, Roger Ashton and Bob Taylor, were followed by Anne Taylor, Jerry Croome, Roger Edwards and Barry Coombs.
Wells GC is a beautiful course in a lovely valley, close to the city centre, with views of the Mendips all round. The first tee looks down a narrow fairway with out of bounds on the left and mature trees on the right, so a good drive is essential to score well. The second half of the fairway goes steeply up to a sloping green. All came in with creditable scores on this hole but it was a different story on the second where thick clumps of trees on the left, a sloping fairway on the right with bunkers and a steeply sloping green with the flag at the top, gave us some problems. From the first tee to the 11th the ground slopes away either to the right or the left making accurate shot placing essential. The last six holes at the bottom of the valley are much flatter but defended by both streams and some large bunkers, so it is a great test of golf. The tenth hole is a picture, 166 yards steeply downhill from an elevated tee with a steep bank on the right and an impenetrable wood on the left. You have to hit the green or the near fringe to have any hope of scoring.
We all enjoyed our round and we stayed dry which was a bonus because the forecast did say that we might get rain towards the end. Back in the club, scores were counted and prizes given for the first three places. Roger Edwards came in first with 36 points. Jerry Croome was second with 34 points, Anne Taylor and Roger Ashton were joint third with 32 points each. It was a hugely enjoyable round and all our thanks go to Nigel who set it all up and to the green staff who had kept the course in such good condition throughout the long dry spell this winter.
Wednesday 29th March Chipping Sodbury
This could have turned out to be a disaster for several reasons but eventually had a happy ending. Firstly, after a week of glorious sunshine, the weather turned on the eve of the event and there were several hard showers. By next morning, the sky was still heavy and overcast but no showers. Next came the sickness and injury list. Barry had already cried off because of damage to his collar bone after a fall but Jerry Croome also had to drop out because of back trouble. John Lloyd succumbed to a nasty sickness bug as did Anne Taylor which ruled out Bob Taylor as he had to be on hand to take her to the surgery if need be. Mike Cole was contacted and told not to come because of the small numbers.
Nigel Coombs had already left home and could not be contacted because, unbeknown to him, his mobile was out of charge which meant that he would be driving to the course from Wells, an hour and a half’s drive only to find no-one there. Luckily Roger Edwards, in the true spirit of an OE’s Fairy Godmother drove down to Chipping Sodbury so that Nigel would at least have a game after the long drive. The following report is verbatim from Nigel and Roger.
The QEHOBS Golf Season got away to a great start at Chipping Sodbury on Wednesday 29 March. The weather was cloudy and overcast with a short shower towards the end of the round but that did not inhibit those who braved the elements from playing great golf.
The expected turnout on Tuesday was good but due to some unfortunate illnesses the actual turnout was slightly depleted. In fact only Roger Edwards and Nigel Coombs played a closely fought match.
Both ended with 43 points but Nigel won on back nine countback with 23 points, this despite Roger’s hole in one on the tricky par 3 at the twelth. Roger was delighted there was only one to buy a drink for.
It is possible the destination of the Presidents Putter will be decided at Wells in April if Roger and Nigel consolidate their position with an average performance particularly if yet again nobody else turns up!
Congratulations to Roger Edwards for achieving the first and only Hole in One at an Old Boys Society event. It was a splendid achievement.
Thank you, Roger and Nigel for turning out when all others had fallen by the wayside and for upholding the QEHOBS Golf Society motto – Dum tempus Habemus Operemur XVIII Caula!
Barry Coombs April 1st 2017!!!
Come and join us
Any Old Boy, former Red Maid or Redland High School Old Girl is welcome to join us in 2017 with their partner or a guest.
We try and meet once a month throughout the summer, visiting different courses around the West Country. It is social golf so anyone of any ability is welcome.
Just contact Barry Coombs 01453 822546 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or check on the website http://qehobs.org/events/golf/ for fixture news.
Golf in the Outback
From our own correspondent – Barry Coombs
I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Australia during December and January. What a nice surprise to find that the days were long and sunny after so many drizzly days in the UK. Being a fair weather golfer, it was a wonderful opportunity to get in a few rounds, once I was allowed out, of course. Western Australia is a very special part of the world and is home to some of the most amazing natural features, reefs and marine life. It has many beautiful parkland and coastal golf courses but it also has a kind of golf course that you won’t see in many other parts of the world. These are to be found in the outback or slightly off the beaten track. They are mainly fun courses for the local population and often have no club houses, just a post with an honesty box where for $5 or $10, you can play a round. We did not take our clubs with us on the flight so had to rent them at each location. This is no problem in Australia where you experience great kindness and trust especially in the outback clubs.
Cervantes is a small coastal town some 200 kilometres north of Perth, the nearest town to the Pinnacles. It is known as the crayfish capital of Australia. The fishing boats here come in laden with crayfish and for a splendid meal you can do no better than visit the sports and social club which happened to be directly opposite our hotel. Close by is the lane leading to the golf course. I had arranged to play here via the sports club and was told that they would leave some clubs for me at the first tee. There would be no charge as they belonged to a member who was happy for me to use them. Sure enough they were there and luckily were not left handers. It is hard for an English golfer to imagine a course such as this one, without having some prior experience. The days are extremely hot at the time we travelled, sometimes well over 30C. With very little rainfall in the dry season and no course irrigation system, the grass just dies away and you are left with fairways of sand. It is like playing golf on a beach.
The tees and greens are made firmer by mixing the sand with diesel oil and rolling them until they are solid. It is easy enough teeing off but reading the greens was a nightmare. Playing off soft sand on the fairways is an art which I could not acquire so I played winter rules and teed up every shot.
To add to the wonder of this course, there were kangaroos on every fairway, some waiting and watching from under the trees and some hopping along beside you. I had a strong suspicion that these might be laughing at me. To add to the entertainment we were joined by a couple of emus and flocks of lorikeets, beautiful parrot like birds with glorious technicolour plumage. There was no way that one could play golf seriously and it dawned on me that was why there were no Cervantes residents taking part at this time of year.
So we relaxed and in that way enjoyed a very pleasant walk, or rather trudge, through the sand marvelling in the fact that we had the opportunity to enjoy such delightful surroundings. It was surreal and all that seemed to be missing were Bambi and a swoop of bluebirds. It was the strangest experience that I am ever likely to encounter on the golf course but one that I would not have missed for the world.