Sixteen Layabouts ventured out in the heat on Saturday to showcase their golfing skills in the annual Layabout Golf Day at Villa Golf in Blackham. Kicking off with bacon baps and Larkins, the first few holes were relaxed and enjoyable as everyone soaked up the late morning sunshine.
New social secretary Mark ‘Doggs’ Doggett decided not to play and took charge of the beer buggy, making sure all the golfers were well watered and verbally abused as he took flight in his two seater golf cart. He has set a high standard for the upcoming season.
With 4 three ball groups and a single four ball setting off at 11am, the competition was set: nearest the pin, longest drive, team stableford and the coveted individual stableford. Would Duncan ‘I only play golf once a year’ Alldis win the individual stableford competition for a third year running? Who would be crowned ‘Bandit of the Day’ with a dubiously high handicap? Would Brad ‘Mr Competitive’ Clarkson get on the winners list? How would Zach ‘seriously I have never played golf before, that’s why I didn’t bring any clubs’ Merricks fair on his Layabout Golf Day debut?
Villa Golf is a superb 9 hole golf course ideal for societies, occasional players, beginners or those who just love fantastic scenery. Nestled amongst the hills and literally on the border between Kent and East Sussex, the course was in immaculate condition despite the scorching sun and recent lack of rain. With most holes having a different tee and/or green position for the inward 9 holes, the knowledge gained from playing the outward 9 makes for an overall enjoyable and testing 18 holes of golf.
At the turn Chris ‘Fester’ Taylor was in the lead with 23 points, Sam ‘Cushion’ Marsden in second with 20 points and a pack of chasers all with scores in the teens. Unfortunately, John ‘The Landlord’ Masters had to temporarily retire after three holes to attend to an issue back at the Fleur, but returned in time for the inward nine. The par 3 5th was the nominated ‘Nearest The Pin’ hole. With a beautifully elevated tee position, the views are delicious but despite the size of the target, the distance of 164 yards just proved too much for most. It was only Duncan ‘Govey – I so hate that nickname’ Alldis who managed to get onto the green, just. For the longest drive on the 8th, no one had managed to stay on the fairway. So all competitions were up for the taking still. But by now the legs were getting heavy, the golf swings lazy, an increasing frequency of lost balls, matched with an increasing amount of banter between the groups as a few more beers were supplied by Mark ‘Drive-by Abuser’ Doggett in his trust beer buggy.
And as the players returned to the clubhouse the winners started to emerge.
- Individual Stableford: 40 – Chris Taylor; 38 – Chris Attwell; 35 – Brad Clarkson.
- Team Stableford (team average): 46 – “The Masters Brew” (John Masters, James Masters and Chris Attwell)
- Nearest the Pin: Duncan Alldis (well over 30 foot away from the pin but still the only one to hit the green)
- Longest Drive: Sam Marsden (approx 225 yards)
- Wooden Spoon: Chris Austin (7 points)
When it comes to stableford competitions regular golfers are often quick to proclaim that any golfer who wins with a high handicap are by default ‘a bandit’. Therefore victorious Chris Taylor playing off 22 was surely a worthy candidate for the title of ‘Bandit of the Day’. But upon sober reflection it should really be that golfer who can successfully understate their golfing ability to their fellow golfers in a subconscious manner. And this golfer did this successfully by showing up to a golf day with no clubs whatsoever, he was even thinking of hiring some from the club house until he was lent a set of 40 year old irons. Through the round he gracefully took advice from his two fellow golfers, he humbly learnt the ways of golf, and without claim or grandeur amassed 26 stableford points from a 36 handicap. And for this, the ‘Bandit of the Day’ monicker just has to go to Zach Merricks. And it was the following events on the 18th that gave sufficient evidence to tip the balance in his favour.
By the 18th tee Zach was showing Messrs Alldis and the eventual winner Taylor a relaxed and confident approach that any professional would be proud of. Just as they were approaching the 18th, Zach had to take a work phone call. Taylor had the honour, took out his driver and pushed a long drive off to the right and into the sloping rough. Alldis stepped up, also took a driver, opened his shoulders and let loose with a drive which cleared the pond and high trees to the left, eventually landing in the rough between 17th and 18th fairways. Neither were particularly happy. Along came Zach, who handed his still live phone call to Taylor with a ‘Hold that for me!’, grabbed an iron, placed the ball on the tee, swung and knocked it 150 yards straight down the middle of the fairway with a satisfying ping. He then nonchalantly took the phone back, placed the club in his bag and carried on with the call. Maybe he has played before.
Big thanks to the team at Villa Golf for hosting us again, making us feel welcome and avoiding the pomposity and protocol that some courses place on societies. Just like the Layabouts’ inclusive approach to rugby, this is social golf at it’s best, allowing everyone to have a bash without being made to feel uncomfortable.
There’s talk of a winter society. But for certain the Layabouts will be back at Villa Golf in 2019.