On Sunday 20th of April, 15 Choristers and 5 Vice President/Friends took the M5 south to Okehampton for our annual trip to the Ashbury Golf Hotel. The Ashbury along with its sister Hotel ‘The Manor House’ form a huge craft and sporting complex. There are 7 golf courses within its 600acres and many other facilities including 15 snooker tables, swimming pools with Jacuzzi’s and sauna’s, outdoor and indoor bowls, tennis courts, archery and laser shooting, gymnasiums, arts and crafts and much more.
Our trip was mainly to play golf and to that end we had games booked for every day, Sunday to Thursday, each on a different course. We arrived at 12.30pm just in time for lunch and then on to the front 9 holes on the Oakwood course. This is a lovely ,mainly flat course but with many strategically placed hazards such as ponds and bunkers to catch one out. Although we had a nasty shower halfway through, everyone enjoyed the two and a half hours we were out. Winner for the day was Richie Llewellyn closely followed by Jason Dawe and Ron Powell.
On Monday it poured down all morning. We were all looking forward to playing the long, difficult and spectacular Kigbear Course. Our starting tee time was just after midday and although it was still raining everyone drove off, cocooned in layers of ‘wet gear’. Unfortunately after two hours we had to abandon the game due to waterlogged greens and also very waterlogged golfers; no winners nor losers. Fortunately lunch is served until 4pm so we all had a good feed instead. After dinner in the evening we had one of those ‘magic moment’ sing songs which included a lot of friendly banter with a group down from Liverpool.
Tuesday was the Pairs day. The previous night we drew names out, trying always to match a high handicapper with a low handicapper, thus giving everyone a chance of getting in the frame. This game took place on the Pines Course. The winning pair was Tom Hole / Terry Thorne, second Tony Shepherd / Dave Gould and joint third Steve Davies / Keith Swaine and Ron Powell / Stuart Savage. The evening saw us have another singing session in the bar and a group photograph courtesy of the Ashbury.
The next day, Wednesday, on the Forest Course, we played in teams of four, each team again being drawn out the night before using the same format. It rained, oh boy did it rain. Once again we were unable to complete the match although because every team managed to get as far as, and complete, the seventh hole we were able to have a winning team who were Steve Davies/Mark Stocker/Alyn Dawe/Tom Hole. In the evening after dinner we had the presentations. The overall winner with the highest combined total points for the week was Keith Swaine who received a Trophy and The John Wyson Cup which was donated by John. Second was Karl Gregory, third was Terry Thorne and fourth Richie Llewellyn. The Nearest the Pin Trophy, played on the seventh hole of the Forest, was won by Karl Gregory. There was also a ‘Buiri trophy for the golfer who achieved the lowest score. The evening concluded with the traditional Reading of the Fines Book. This is a compendium of misdemeanors and sayings gleaned throughout the week and compiled by Alyn Dawe and his ‘sneaks and deckers’. Examples:- Phil to Dave “What course are we playing tomorrow” – Dave ” The Forest” – Phil ” Is that the one with all the trees” \… and at dinner Dave to Alyn” You can buy those reading glasses in the Pound Shop” Alyn – ” How much are they?” Dave -“A pound”! How easy it is to fall into the trap!
Thursday we had breakfast early and played the back nine holes of the Oakwood, finishing just as the rain was starting again. Winner was Terry Thorne, followed by Karl Gregory and Tom Hole. We all left about 11.30am.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves despite having rain almost every day. The Ashbury looked after us in their usual way. We had a superb deal which included breakfast, lunch and dinner. Free wine with dinner on Sunday and Tuesday, free golf with free buggies every day along with free use of all the sports facilities. I must thank everyone who came, there was lots and lots of fun and laughter but nobody forgot we were representing the Choir. Oh dear – I’ve had orders to organize another trip next year again – Oh deary, deary me