Starter’s Blog – March 2019

Are you ready for the new season?

Right you ‘orrible lot, you’ve had all winter to practice, honing those golfing skills to a peak of performance, training hard to reach a state of physical perfection.  Erm……..probably not, you’ve been keeping warm and dry, wrapped up in multiple layers, scoffing bacon butties and drinking beer.  Go on, you can admit it, we’ve all been there and will no doubt be there again, despite promising ourselves that ‘Next year will be different’  It won’t, chaps, I promise you it won’t.

This season commences with a gentle start, being a Stableford qualifier on Saturday the 30th of March, where I will commence my starter duties for the year, greeting you all with a friendly welcome and erstwhile encouragement for a good game and season ahead.  If you believe that, you’re mistaken, it will be the usual round of insults and disparaging remarks that you have been used to for the last few years.  New members (and there seem to be quite a few), will hopefully quickly accept that this is quite normal at Ramsdale, and won’t let it affect their game too much.

Again, in line with tradition, the Starter’s bucket will be on the first tee, ready to accept all those 50p’s for straying into the first bunker.  Nottinghamshire Hospice, as last year, will be this years’ charity, a well deserving charity that deserves our backing.  Your support last year was superb, but we can do even better with a bit of effort. I did have a quiet word with the greenkeepers to enlarge the bunker in order to increase revenue, but unfortunately, this was blocked by management, who thought this was ungentlemanly and against the spirit of the game.  This is the same management who destroyed the Starter’s hut. (I believe this was mainly due to me marking down Steve Norton’s score for his drives on the first tee, which were indeed pathetic)  The Starter’s hut was an icon of the course, a place where weather reports and other notices could be posted for member’s benefit, a place of respite from the ravages of the English weather, a place where the starter (who is, after all, a pensioner) could at least shelter from that biting wind and try to get back some feeling into his cold and shivering frame.  But no, there is to be no new hut, times are hard, money is scarce and must be diverted to ‘more important’ stuff.

Another tradition (well, it’s only been going a year, but members seem to be expecting it, so it will be a tradition I suppose), is the Starter’s pens.  There were two versions last year, as the first ones soon ran out and I had to order more.  These are now collectors items.  This year, I’ve gone a bit more upmarket.  The pens are better quality, which makes a dent in my pension, but nothing is too good for you chaps.  There are four different printed versions, gold, silver, bronze and one you don’t want to get.  Additionally, there are colour variations within the versions, for instance, there are only three gold pens in the gold category, so expect some competition and one upmanship to be occurring in the clubhouse.  I have a list of what points each colour represents for your drive off the first tee.  Bribes will NOT be accepted to increase your standing.  My decision will be final.  You may, however, at my discretion, refuse your appropriate pen after a poor score, in the hope of doing better next time.

I must welcome this years captain, Mark Oldershaw, commonly known (among other things) as Oldo.  He’s a good golfer and a decent chap and I am certain he will be an excellent captain and a credit to the club.  Welcome also to his vice captain, Richard Hone, another excellent choice.  This is a good time to remind members of upcoming events, like Captain’s away day etc., are posted on the main noticeboard, and the website.  It is also good practice to have a routine when you arrive for a game, 1. Get card from pro shop and pay entry fee.  2. Sign in on the computer, 3. Check main notice board, 4. Check notice board in lobby for any rule changes etc.

Time to talk a bit about the course and golf in general, which is what we are all here for, really.  So far, it has been a weird year, with shorts and tee shirt weather in February, with dire predictions for water restrictions, drought and the necessity for desert wellies.  This proved unfounded later as it was ‘a bit wet and windy’.  However, water (or lack of it) will be an ever present problem as highlighted by Steve Norton in the excellent and informative speech he gave at the Seniors AGM,  I advise anyone who has not read this to have a look, there are some valid insights into golf and also some interesting information more specifically about Ramsdale.  The link can be found on the Senior section of this website.  Well worth a read.

One or two people, who will remain nameless, have been whinging about the state of the greens, as if it has been aimed at them personally.  Get a grip lads, things have to be done at certain times of the year for the greens to be as good as they are in the season.  Johnny and his team do their utmost to cause as little disruption as possible.  They don’t do all that work for fun, or to interfere with your golf, it’s necessary and  it’s important. (End of that little rant).

Mole control, a pet hate, has improved, but the new bugbear is worms.  Yes, worms.  The EU, and I’m not going anywhere near Brexit, have outlawed the chemicals previously used to ‘control’ worms, hopefully they will not become a protected species.  Therefore, you may have noticed a proliferation of worm casts on the greens and fairways.  The little buggers are getting everywhere.  To the extent where new equipment has had to be attached to fairway mowers to ‘sweep’ the worm casts away.  more time and money to be spent, less for huts, hmph.

Which now brings me onto the new rules.  Whoopie doo.  Some are good, some debatable, but we’ve got them and will have to abide with them.  I’m not going through them all, you should all have read and inwardly digested them by now, I shall just mention two, one I personally like, one I don’t.  I like the flag stick in or out, it’s a choice that players can make and to my mind is sensible. (I like it in, as the actress said to the bishop).  I don’t like the drop from knee height.  I would have understood if the drop was from between the shoulder and knee heights, again, giving golfers a choice, just seems a bit silly to me, but obviously that is purely a personal opinion which matters not a jot to those who make the rules.

Even though you were spared by wanderings over the winter months, I’ve probably waffled on for long enough now, so I’ll sign off until next time, but I’ll be back.

Brian Bailey