Our outgoing captain, Martin Ward, bids us farewell in the coming weeks and has taken the time to reflect on his year as the top man.
“From the beginning to the end of my year as Captain…
… You stand on the first tee and your only concern is to hit the ball! Not out of bounds, past the red blocks “please”, down the middle would help, but for goodness sake don’t top it. You have done very little preparation that would matter other than to provide the assembled crowd with a tot of whisky. Now you stand very much alone, the crowd is silenced, the announcement made, the £1 wager is forgotten and the expectation is a possible Air Shot!!. You cannot remember the swing, you search for the ball, and there it is, not dead centre, not too high, a few cheers, past the 150 marker. Relief! The start of the year as Captain. Thereafter it’s all downhill… so it should be?
The “New” course, a new challenge and a new handicap. Well the course is a far cry from the old one and I for one have a sense of pride when talking about Wike Ridge and Leeds Golf Centre. I even want to invite people to play here, as well as to see the swing studio, restaurant or Jaguars in the car park. The course is certainly a challenge and I will appreciate the opportunity to visit the new half way house from the indigo tees on the 14th tee or indeed view Alwoodley Golf Club from the 15th tee. However, I should not complain the handicap came down this year, I even got to 18 (not for long), “about time” I hear them say.
Well the weather plays a major part in any Captains year and it certainly did in mine. I have played most Mondays, Wednesdays and of course Saturdays and only got slightly wet twice. We have set off on a few occasions looking skywards threatening to do only 9 holes or wondering why we had started at all. But always finished, always completed 18 holes and the waterproofs tucked away in the bag. Lucky!? Well it snowed in March, but I was doing the Bardsey Beer Festival at the time, and if it rained latterly I was either in bed or having a cup of tea in the club house.
The sun shone and continued to shine for most of the year - so lucky indeed. The weather brought the numbers out and I cannot remember a competition that was not over subscribed or whose numbers had not increased substantially on previous years. From St Georges Day to the Ryder Cup and on to the Guy Fawkes Trophy the number of players were impressive. The support we got for all the mixed events was “heart warming”. That’s what Colin said as he counted the money! It was no different for the “Wigton Chase” or indeed in September for the Captains away day at Wakefield Golf Club.
Captains Day is always the big event, always the one to haunt you and dominate your year. You think the Vice Captains Day is difficult or indeed the Easter Eggstravaganza, but “oh no”; it starts when they hand you the marquee the year before and only finishes when you get over the hangover on the Sunday after. Will the weather be kind? Will people turn up? Will the food be good? Well the weather was brilliant, people turned up, the evening was different and Taste Cuisine saved the day. Just what was there to worry about?
I have a great affection for the Captains Group, it is where I started playing and where most of us started at Wike Ridge. We probably wandered in on our own looking for a friendly face and hoping not to score more than 120. What three cards!! Handicap!! Initially will anyone play with me?? Well how different it is now for each of us, for there are very few clubs where you know and have played with so many.
It is a different ‘Beast’ now, on one occasion there were over 70 players stretching back to 11.00 hrs. Not the cosy 36 that sat around the table for 2 hours, only leaving after an hour or when all hope of winning the Captains Challenge was lost. It is with regret that I could not find a way of continuing with the “captains challenge”, hopefully someone else will come up with a solution to the problem in the future. However, let us celebrate its success and I hope it always continues to prosper. In many cases the friendships that developed on Saturday mornings have now transferred to the middle of the week. Long may it continue.
The year has passed quickly and I hope that future years are longer. I look forward to playing in the ‘new’ Seniors competitions during the mid-week. I hope that the discussions that take place over the next year are about expanding and consolidating “The Seniors”. The work going on in the background should be applauded, especially the introduction of ”divisions” especially for all those of us who feel we win nothing! Equally we should give support to other initiatives such as ”forward tee placements” which would increase participation and offer an alternative to the Par 3 Course. Food for thought?
On to the “Farewell event” and I hope everyone turns up in only to make sure I have gone! I hope you have enjoyed the year as much as I have enjoyed being your Captain. I cannot go without saying a big thanks to my partner in crime Sheila without whose support and humour throughout the year would have been so much more difficult. There are not many who would have put up with me so “Thank you”. Another big, big thanks to my long suffering wife Gill who has kept an eye on me and guided me with a firm grip. Good Luck to Jim who has been an exceptional Vice Captain and am sure will also be an exceptional Captain and have a successful year. Last but not least, a big thank you to the staff for all their support and a welcoming smile especially on a Saturday morning. And finally, before I forget, thank you to all the Saturday ladies for being quicker than the men. Sorry Men!!”
Martin Ward, Wike Ridge Golf Club Captain 2013-2014