Golfers on par at Shirley Park

By Trevor Bond
John Samuel and Keith Whitehead were the joint winners of the Phil Sheldon Trophy at the SJA Golf Day at Shirley Park Golf Club on Monday, with Whitehead, a guest, posting the day’s best Stableford score of 36. His host on the day, Don Cave, playing in the first group, won the plaque for shot nearest the pin on the tricky 13th hole, and Hugo Philpott, with a massive hit on the 18th, won the longest drive prize.

From the overnight 15 acceptances for the three-ball Stableford competition, two late drop-outs left us with three threesomes and two pairings. All admitted that they found the course tough but challenging and as General McArthur famously said: “We shall return”. Good coffee and bacon rolls, 18 holes and a super meat pie lunch. With elegant wine and great Guinness. And a very helpful golf pro in Mick Taylor and assistant secretary Jayne Thomas. Our thanks to them and all their staff.

Hopefully Mark Salter has now been found by the AA to deal with his car which broke down on his way.

We welcomed a super team of snappers – ringleader Hugh Routledge (who was offered the chance to play on the same day nearer his home in Hertfordshire, but put us first), Hugo Philpott, first time with us, as was Glen Campbell, a Canadian, having just spent five days following Tiger at The Grove.

Some special regulars were also there: Chester Stern (another to forego an alternative offer to play with us), John Samuel, David and Sam Emery, Peter Luck, and Mark and Duncan Bond.

Stern, who won the Phil Sheldon Memorial Trophy with Ian Stafford at Surrey Downs in May, missed out this time but he and Samuel were a fearsome pairing, although nobody can explain why Chester’s handicap remains at 20 when he seems to win almost every time he plays. Stern says: ” I cannot understand it, either.”

Samuel thought he would have won had he had his favourite 8-iron, lost somewhere in deepest France earlier this year.

Cometh the hour, cometh the 8-iron! John returned to the Clubhouse to discover his beloved club awaiting him – delivered earlier in the day by David Richmond, via Tom Clarke who somehow recovered it from whence it was lost in France. That is the SJA for you.

David would have played but had to ferry his lovely wife Jean to an old school reunion at Carshalton which did include some ex-Borstal pupils. David denied he was one of them.

And joining us for lunch was Tony Smith, former sports editor of the Sunday Mirror – recovering from serious illness, just back from a “magnificent cruise” and swapping nostalgia with Bill Bateson… two ex-red top sports editors in their dotage but firing on all cylinders.

We were delighted to have them on board but we do need more SJA members to commit themselves to the event in future. Members, please try to be there next time. We shall be trying to arrange dates and venues in 2007, clear of all other your other golfing committments – Bill Bateson and myself are going to sit down to discuss this in January. We will enlist the help of the Press Golfing Society.

Brian Spicer, an SJA member, joined us briefly and said he would love to be involved in future SJA events, not least the golf day. There must be many of you out there who feel the same way. I do need to hear from you.

Bill Bateson did a wonderful job in helping me organise the day at Shirley Park. I thank him.

Photograph shows the day’s winners (from left), Hugo Philpott, SJA social secretary Trevor Bond, Keith Whitehead and Don Cave. Picture by Hugh Routledge