Men’s Golf Blog

Little did I know that my last celebratory pint of Guinness in the Members Bar on 17th March, St. Patrick’s Day, on the day I wrote my previous blog, would turn out to be the final pint of Guinness poured at Roehampton Club until Saturday 4th July! We have lived through extraordinary times these past few months but are hopefully slowly edging back to something like normal. I am sure that some of you will have been ill due to coronavirus, or worse, have lost loved ones, and do please accept my sincere condolences if you have been bereaved.

In that last March blog I also recalled that we’d had six months of seemingly endless rain, which one or two of you Members may have occasionally reminded me of (!), and just as it looked like it was finally drying up, an unprecedented global pandemic descended upon us.

As a result, the normal golf competition calendar went out the window, and we were later to be appreciative of the Club being even able to re-open for 9 hole golf in mid-May, playing in two-balls initially, which did wonders for our collective sanities and well-being. Being a little out of condition, myself, and Vice-Captain Paul Taylor both observed that we were rather tired playing our final hole of 9 on the re-opening day! Now, of course, we can play 18 holes on four days of the week and three and fourballs are possible.

I have had so much positive feedback from Members on how the Club has managed matters, and especially on how well the re-opening has been co-ordinated and managed by our excellent staff in such difficult circumstances. This has also been my experience and I hope you would agree that I commend our Board, CEO Marc Newey and his senior managers, Simon Baker and Tristan McIlroy for their outstanding work.

While the Club was closed, Peter Bradburn, head greenkeeper Ashley Allpress and their teams looked after our course, gardens and grounds to the highest standards with some beautiful work on the course in the areas by the 4th and 5th tees and by the 8th tee and surrounding that waste areas. With us ‘pesky’ Members out of the way for a few weeks the fairways recovered from previously inflicted member damage, as did the greens. The team have continued to present the course in outstanding condition since we’ve re-opened, managing this with the exceptionally high member footfall is really amazing, and I’m sure you’ll agree that they unfailingly do a great job for us.

But, gents and ladies, we, as the Members, need to do so much better. On one recent Sunday afternoon I repaired 20 ball marks on the 5th green alone before my back reminded me that it could form a chapter of my mid-life crisis if I did not stop … Our excellent Head Marshall Dhiren despairs at the poor Member performance in the care of the course, and I support him entirely in encouraging all Members to take more responsibility for this. Divots are the other issue, many taken by players practicing on the course, against the rules of our Club and generally any golf club. Do not practice and when in play, replace divots … As regards greens; we were recognised as having the best greens in the South-East (?) of England not so long ago; let’s get back to the top of the table on this people!

Also, bunkers, it’s not difficult, just search on Ebay and spend £10 on a little rake that you clip onto the grip of your sand wedge. If we all did a little raking of the bunkers, they would be a slightly nicer place to be in! (Just to be clear, there is no way I can recommend being in a bunker, unless you are as good as Andy Inglis, one of our Club’s finest players)

As a multi-sport Club we are unique, compared to a standard golf club, as regards the number of memberships that also include golf. I’m told that there are 2,000 Roehampton Club Members with golf-playing rights, and the course has never been busier. Most golf clubs just have a membership between 500 and 700 members by comparison. The new booking system devised by the Club to cope with the demand has worked well and I’m pleased to hear so much positive feedback from the Members on this too.

It has also been particularly heartening to see Members being so inclusive, and leaving playing slots open for others to join them to make up a 2, 3, or 4 ball. Several Members have told me they are preferring and enjoying the current timesheet system because they are playing much more golf with other Members, whether known or unknown, as opposed to just practising solo. I have seen and been part of some quite ‘unlikely’ groupings, where we’ve all had a great time! This is what golf club membership should be all about, and this is maybe an unexpected positive of the lockdown, but a welcome one, and I hope this practice continues as I can only see it as beneficial to all Members.

Having graduated from just playing 9 holes in two-balls to being able to play 18 holes in 3 or 4 balls, we then dipped our toes into competitive golf with a Club Stableford on Saturday 20th June, It was great to see it fully subscribed with 102 entrants, and a significant reserve list. Commiserations to the unfortunate Member who injured himself at home early that morning, came to the Club still hoping he could play, but had to withdraw after a few practice swings …

Outstanding player on the day and our overall winner was James Goode, playing off 10, with an excellent 3 over par gross 74 for 43 stableford points. The ever-impressive David Le Guern, also playing off 10, scored a tidy 76 gross for 41 points. To what I imagine was huge surprise all round, I found myself in third place with 40 points on countback just pipping Tristan Aylward, who in turn also just squeezed ahead of Richard B Williams on countback with 40 points. Just behind our little group were some fine rounds by Brian Crotty, Dan Birn, Rob Findlay, Tim Fulstow, Richard Spalding and more. Mike Piesse, also ever impressive and consistent, shot a neat 1 under par gross round for 38 points. A good day, lovely weather, and we all, mostly I think, embraced scoring on the course using the IG App!

You will all have received the email of 29th July sent out by Tristan on behalf of Golf Committee Chairman Scott Stanley, Ladies Captain Angela Atkins and myself re. golf in July and August. Suddenly I find myself wishing I were 55+ with a sub-10 handicap, like a certain Mr Graham Terry, who has an unexpectedly full competitive golf calendar at his disposal depending on family holidays etc! Our mainstream event is on the 8th August where we have a merged medal event playing for the Founders Cup and George Gadd trophies. We are also starting again with a 4BBB knockout which will run correspondingly later than usual. We hope to run the Arthur Clarke Foursomes medal, later in September or October which I think is the oldest of the trophies we play for, and is one of my favourites, as a foursomes enthusiast.

For the moment we are not able to run roll-ups, but I do encourage you all to submit supplementary scorecards, easily handled using the IG App on your phones. I had another surprisingly good day recently, just after the Stableford, and managed a supplementary round with 42 points, but that was pretty mundane compared to Past-Captain Richard Lurcott’s effort last week, shooting a gross 79 for a whopping 44 points. He has been suitably penalised with a handicap cut from 16 to 14, or so I thought, but he’s popped in another card for a further 0.3 cut. Clearly I need to up my game or think of other ways to punish Richard!

Speaking of upping one’s game, my trusty 4BBB and usual Captain and Pro partner, where he normally switches into Speith-at-his-best-putting mode, Brian O’Boyle, made a hole in one on the 17th on 16th June, having previously aced it in 2007. I can think of better moments when he could have pulled this off (!), but joking aside, a great achievement on our signature par 3 I think.

I don’t know if my new brighter red golf bag (about as red as red gets, to be fair) unwittingly catches the golfer’s eye but I’ve had a few stray balls come unerringly towards me recently. None better than Richard Bayley’s pull/hook on the 16th hole in the June Stableford that amazingly missed Vice-Captain Paul, hit my beacon-like bag, and ended up in a pocket I’d forgotten to zip closed!

As regards the golf captaincy for 2020 and into 2021, the Board has decided that Captains, Committee Chairs, and Committee members should simply continue for a further 12 months, should they wish to do so. I’m grateful, as I’m sure Angela is, that the Board recognises that being Golf Captain is a highlight of anyone’s membership, to be cherished and enjoyed. I’m very humbled and hugely grateful to the Board for their consideration on this and I’ll be delighted to share the second year with Angela, a good friend, while hoping for relative golfing normality. I should also like to say that Vice-Captain Paul had spoken to me about such a captaincy rollover, before the Board’s decision, proposing that he defer his Captaincy for a year in any case, for the same sort of reasons. So, you can be assured that you’ve got a top-quality guy coming in as Captain in 2021.

It was great to see so many familiar faces on the course at the weekend and afterwards on the terrace for drinks. Lots of jollity, cheering in various players on the 18th; one or two who seemed to respond especially well with heroically holed 20+ foot putts etc! I’ve been delighted to re-connect and play with Members I haven’t had the chance to play with in a while, plus Members I haven’t played with much previously, or at all, and thoroughly enjoyed every single game. The Club is packed with great people; I encourage you all to continue to reach out and enjoy the same.

Gerry Dennigan |  Men’s Golf Captain

Roehampton Club Golf Dress Code – a reminder

All golfers must be appropriately and suitably dressed in golfing attire while playing on the course or on the practice areas. Members need to ensure that these requirements are made known to their families and to their guests. The Club wishes to foster a smart yet congenial atmosphere for playing golf. Click here for the dress code