Once again the Old Rugbeian Golfing Society returned to East Lothian and once again we were blessed with clement weather.
The Vice-President (aka Hon Scottish Secretary resident in East Devon) very ably convened, directed, disciplined and controlled the participants; and our profound thanks and appreciation are due to him as always for his effervescent enthusiasm and highly sophisticated sense of humour.
An advance party comprising Jock Fraser, Antony Aitken, Tim Watts & Nick Hills (having driven an aggregate of about 1,000 miles) assembled on the Thursday for lunch at Luffness and played a very competitive foursome in the afternoon with Watts & Hills scraping home. They then repaired to dinner in the Old Clubhouse where Hendry joined us. The absence of Peter Mason resulted in less expensive but lower quality wine in this otherwise esteemed establishment.
On Friday morning we played our annual match against Luffness. Although most games were extremely close, it is with regret that we must report another loss, with only Will Rose & John Todd emerging victorious and with the Vice-President and Hills suffering a van de Velde class meltdown on the 18th in their match with Colin Wood (who very nobly and hospitably captains the opposition) and that youthful octogenarian, Hector Chawla.
After a not very abstemious lunch we embarked on the various competitions which are necessary to secure homes for various pieces of silverware for the forthcoming year. At this stage it must be said that Luffness was in quite incredibly fine condition with really fast and true greens; a perfect example of how a links course should be. The afternoon stableford was won by our Captain, Alick Hay, and John Todd with 40 points; runners up were Hills and our guest star “ringer”, Andrew Gray (of HCEG – ie a member of Muirfield), who kindly made up numbers; as also did the evergreen Hector Chawla (of Luffness).
Friday night dinner once again took place in the Open Arms at Dirleton where the food was first-class and the service considerably faster than in 2017 which probably saved us a penny or two on wine. Once again we were deprived of the company of Richard Lloyd and the text of the Floreat. This must be remedied in 2019. If anybody made a memorable speech this reporter has forgotten it. However, the quality of the entourage was much enhanced by the presence of Hilary Bach as well as two delightful golfing companions of Colin Passmore & Peter Strother-Smith.
Muirfield on Saturday was tough and a little cooler than the previous two days. Muirfield’s clubhouse is undergoing extensive building works but this in no way diminished the excellence of its lunch or the availability of liquid refreshment. The course was, as one would expect, in good condition although the greens were slower than at Luffness and many of the bunkers were rather too demanding for ordinary mortal Rugbeians. But the golf was nonetheless most enjoyable. The morning round was won by Richard Jones and Aitken with 34 ½ points (runners up – Watts and Todd) and the afternoon round was won by John Hendry and John Bach with 35 points (runner up – Hay playing his own ball head to head with Fraser).
The Victor Ludorum (the Howard Thomson Trophy) was won for the third time in four years by Alick Hay – an unstoppable force which we hope (and insist) will be sustained through the Senior Darwin (played at Woking on18th/19th June). The runner-up was John Todd.
The Coburn Osborn Trophy (based on a complicated formula involving golf and age – but certainly not beauty) was won out of habit by Antony Aitken with debutant, Peter Strother-Smith, coming second.
Strother-Smith annihilated the field in the parallel holes-up competition finishing 4 holes clear of the field at 12 up with Todd and Hendry sharing the silver medal.
All in all it was a great meeting in which for the record the following took part: Antony Aitken (M 57-62), John Bach (SH 49-54) David Fargus (SF 60-64), Jock Fraser (K 55-60), Stephen Fontes (SH 52-57), Alick Hay (SF 62-67), John Hendry (B 63-68), Nick Hills (C 61-66), Richard Jones (B 65-69), Charles Osborn (Sh 68-72), Colin Passmore (C 60-64), Will Rose (M 82-87), Peter Strother-Smith (SF 60-64), John Todd C64-69), Harry Turcan (SH 54-59) and Tim Watts (St 66-71).
It is understood that Fraser is already recruiting for 2019 …. when it is hoped (subject to confirmation) that the dates will Friday 7 and Saturday 8 June.
Bernard Darwin Trophy
Woking Golf Club
Burnham & Berrow
Tues 25th & Wed 26th
Match v RND
Royal North Devon
Huntercombe Golf Club