It was Members/Guest day at Royal Ascot yesterday. I think I am safe to say I'm probably the only member who until 9.00am yesterday morning hadn't even met his partner let alone played with him. My guest was a young 24 handicapper called John Sneddon from near Welwyn Garden who I knew via the Golf Monthly Forum and who had jumped at the chance when I offered a place online.
We went out to play a few holes so he could at least get to know some of the layout. I doubt I filled him with much confidence when I hit my tee shot on the first off the white markers right towards the trees never to be seen again. My tee shot at the 2nd wasn't pretty either but I settled down after that. I think John was a little anxious and the fact that the greens had been made ultra fast with some dastardly hole placements didn't help much. We played the first thirteen and went back in time for lunch.
The format for the main event was fourball better ball off full handicaps with a shotgun start. We started on the 13th which John played well to ensure a safe two point start. We were ticking along by the time we got to the 15th where John hit a great tee shot with his 3 wood (he doesn't use a driver). I was a little to the left of the fairway and saw him hit his second which sounded great but I couldn't see where it had gone. I was well chuffed to find out he'd only gone and hit the green in two. So much for a 24 handicap. He duly two putted for four points and we were off and running.
He then started to struggle for a few holes and it was left to me to try and carry the side. Regular readers will know my former partner Hywel became very adept at that role and regularly carried my ineptitude with him. However it was uncharted waters for me. We did alright and didn't commit the cardinal sin of not scoring any points between us. There was a nearest the pin prize for Ascot members on the 6th. I hit a decent shot which came in off the right hand bank and finished about 12 feet away and was good enough to nudge the marker closer. I didn't for one minute think it would be good enough but it was just nice to find the green for a change.
My long standing war with our par 3's is far from over but I definitely won the battle yesterday. I parred the 6th following that tee shot but also parred the long 1st and got a four at the others with the exception of the 8th where a wonderfully struck 7 iron finished 5 feet away and I managed to convert for a birdie.
John has only been playing for a couple of years and this was the first time he'd played in anything like this. I think he did brilliantly and was superb company on and off the course. He has a tidy swing and hits his 3 wood miles. He needs to brush up his chipping and putting (don't we all) but he'll soon get down much lower. After the round we enjoyed a gorgeous three course meal before the prize giving. We'd finished with 42 points in the end and although respectable was never going to be enough. In the end there were three groups on 46 points so we weren't too far back. I thought we'd just be sitting and clapping politely so was pretty surprised when I got called out to receive the prize for nearest the pin. I think it's the first time I've ever won one of these so I was well chuffed.
My day and evening got even better when the raffle prizes were drawn as I managed to win a fourball voucher to play at Windlesham Golf Club near Bagshot. Although it's just down the road it's one of those courses I've never played very often and I think I've only been there once when it first opened. I've got until next June to use it so I think I'll wait for the warmer weather next year.
All in all it was a grand day out. My thanks to John for making it a very enjoyable game and to the club for their catering and prizes and I'm looking forward to next year.
Total number of lost balls in 2010 = 66