Captain’s Blog – 22 October

Hello Shirland Golfers

Could we really be turning a corner? This week I’ve seen and heard some excellent comments about the condition of our golf course, and there have been a number of beautiful pictures, of the course, posted on Facebook. The course is looking tremendous. My hope is that the recent progress will continue for what remains of the growing season and that we have a milder winter than last year. Let’s face it, we’re due some good fortune. I want to say a huge thank you to Paul, Nick, Adam and Jim for all their hard work over recent weeks to get the course looking close to its best again.

Most will have seen the email that came out earlier this week, announcing that we have started using the winter fairway mats, as a little extra that we, the members, can do to help the course stay looking its best into the winter months. I’m sure that we will all see the benefits when the Spring comes around. If you haven’t located your winter mat, do it now. I found mine earlier this evening, conscious that I didn’t want that sinking feeling, upon arriving at the course at the weekend.


I am sad to announce that, for personal reasons, John (Simon) Baker has decided to step down as Vice-Captain. I want to express my sincerest thanks to John for all the support that he has given me during this quite-awful season and for the kindness he has shown me through his communication of his decision. While I completely understand his decision, I am sad that he will not be stepping into the role when I step down at the end of next season. I know that it was a role that he was looking forward to and I hope that he will get another opportunity at some future point in his golfing journey.

That leaves me with a fresh dilhemma (not my first of 2020). I need to find a new Vice-Captain for 2021, who will then step up to become Captain in 2022. The search starts here.

Now I am aware that a number of our members are undecided about their future involvement in Shirland Gold Club for a number of reasons. I can only hope that, if the course continues to improve as it is doing, those citing the condition of the course as their motivation, will find it in their hearts to look beyond our 2020 troubles and see their way clear to renewing for another season. We potentially have an exciting future, with a new clubhouse and an more stable members club, under the stewardship of Mr Richard Coates and his committee.

So, while being the Captain is no walk in the park (speak to me if you want to know how tough it can be) it remains an incredible honour and a great opportunity to contribute to the success of the club. The Vice-Captain’s main responsibilities are as follows:

  • Right-hand man to the Captain
  • Member or the Full Committee
  • Organiser of Captain’s Friendly matches (including picking the teams)

When the Vice becomes Captain, he:

  • Becomes a focal point for the members
  • Leads the club in inter-club competitions/matches
  • Host of opens/charity events and junior competitions held at the club
  • Selects the nominated charity for the club and has licence to work that opportunity with the backing of our tremendous club membership
  • Is entitled to free membership[1] for his year of Captaincy
  • Can play anywhere in the UK for free during his year of captaincy (when he’s not too busy Captaining 😉)
  • And, the Captain gets to choose his successor.

Obviously, we cannot be certain what 2021 is going to look like, but we have to hope that it will be an improvement on 2020, and with the investment that Colin Hancock is making on the development of the clubhouse and the site in general, we have to be optimistic that we will continue to rise from the depths of the 2018 EGM and recover from the 2020-dip.

Normally, the search for a Vice-Captain starts around June-July and is done and dusted by early August. As I’m restarting my search now, I don’t have the luxury of as much time. So, I’ve decided, taking account of all the above, that I’m going to run things differently, to hopefully get us back on track as soon as possible.

Rather than ringing round possible candidates and risking delays while they mull it over and then decide that it’s not for them, I’ve decided to invite expressions of interest. I am aware that this is the approach taken at several other clubs that I’ve seen, but please note that this is an approach for this year’s vacancy only. The next Captain is not obliged to take the same approach when their time comes.

So, if you would like to be considered as my Vice-Captain 2021 (and our 2022 Captain) I invite you to contact me privately, by 6 November 2020 to throw your hat into the ring. My hope is that I’ll get at least one expression of interest, but if there are several interested members, I’ll conduct interviews with each applicant and make a selection at the end of that process.

All applications will be treated in the strictest of confidence. i.e. if you apply and are not successful, no-one will be any the wiser, so you will not lose face.

Please do consider this opportunity very carefully, recognise that it is an important and (mostly) rewarding job, and a chance to make your mark on the future history of this wonderful club.

Applicants should email me at

Thank you

This week’s golfing quotes (referencing slow play), for you to ponder until the next edition:

There was a thunderous crack like cannon-fire and suddenly I was lifted a full foot and a half off the ground. There was a loud ringing in my ears like a tuning fork, my hands were flailing and I couldn’t breathe. I was stretched out like a vibrator. “Damn”, I thought to myself, “this is a hell of a penalty for slow play!” – Lee Trevino on being struck by lightning.

“What’s he waiting for?” shouted a spectator as he watched a player standing motionless over his ball. His friend replied, “He’s waiting for the grass to grow up under his ball and give him a better lie.” – Bobby Jones

One more, for luck….

Bernhard Langer should be called Bernhard Longer. It takes him longer to address a ball than it would take most people to address a postcard to Saskatchewan. – Annabel Green

Happy golfing

Mr Captain

[1] When it became clear that I would be Captain for 2 seasons (due to COVID-19 disruption) I decided that I would not seek free membership for both years, and elected to pay my second year’s membership a year early, as a show of solidarity for the greens staff at a time when we could not be certain that the club would be able to fully afford their wages for the whole season. That’s what Shirland GC means to me. Hopefully, this pandemic will be under control by the time that 2021 fees are due.