Past Captains Report

It is usual for the out going Captain's report to begin with the statement about how quickly the time has gone. That was definitely true for me; however, what really struck me looking back over the events of my Captain's year is just how much activity there is at this golf club. There is the ladies' sec¬tion, the seniors' section, the jun¬iors' section, an A team, a B team, mixed matches, captain's matches, mid week leagues, knockouts, inter- club knockouts, charity days. Over the year it was a privilege and a de¬light to find out just how complex and diverse this golf club is. Almost my first duty was to officiate at the first round of the Davis &Tate — the most prestigious club event in the county. We had the misfortune to be drawn against the strongest team and eventual winners of the event — our oldest rivals Willingdon. Even the wind was blowing in the wrong direction that day and despite some determined performances, particu¬larly in the singles, Willingdon won comfortably. Elsewhere the men's teams fared slightly better. Following a couple of remarkable victories at the end of the season we managed to get off the bottom of the Club Inter- league and finish in a respectable mid-table position. One particular highlight for me was a rare victory against Highwoods at Highwoods in our annual club match — sadly they managed to beat us at home in the return leg. But while the A-team struggled to make progress in the county com¬petitions both the Senior and Junior teams had outstanding years. The seniors' team got through to the final of the Cyril Blake trophy for the first time in the club's history. Unlike the Davis & Tate, the Cyril Blake is a handicap competi¬tion and at least two occasions the Downs faced teams with 20 handi¬cappers who wouldn't have looked out of place in the Willingdon A team. Despite that the team made it through to the final at East Brighton where they lost narrowly to Bognor GC. Meanwhile the junior team made it through to another county final — the John Berry plate — again another first for the club. They faced West Chiltington at Singing Hills in October, every match went to the wire — but in the end West Chiltington edged it 2? - 1?. In the past Down's golfers have been criticised for being only good in wild weather conditions or on wide open courses but both the junior and senior sides won matches on courses all over the county. Both teams now know that they are capable of beating any op position on any type course — so let's hope that in the centenary year they both go one better and bring back the trophy. The ladies, section, like the men's section, had a relatively quiet time in terms of the major club events. Nevertheless there were still plenty of highlights; there was a good run in the Daily Mail foursomes compe¬tition which sadly ended before the semi finals and Rachel Black was selected to play for Sussex. But surely the most impressive performance of the year was that of Jenny Hughes who returned from serious illness to win the Ladies Club Championship. Unfortunately the historic victory of the Captain's team over the Lady Captain's team last summer may have spoiled what was otherwise a very successful year for Ladies Captain Gerri Traynor. I was very impressed over the year by the effort the women have put into boosting their section of the club. For example, they have established a "buddy scheme" to ensure that new members are welcomed into the club. I was also impressed by the work that has gone into devel¬oping and expanding the ladies open and invitational events — even though as starter it meant I was standing on the first tee for hours. Let us hope that these efforts have laid the groundwork for a very successful programme of centenary events this year. I could also make almost exactly the same points about the senior section of the club — both the Seniors Invitation and the Seniors Open are among most impressive events this golf club does — both in terms of the size of the fields and also in terms of the friendly spirit in which these competitions are played. We should all congratulate the outgoing seniors captain Ray Pearce and his committee for an excellent year — and also for beat¬ing Willingdon 5-0 in a recent club match. In terms of events, I would have to say that there was one that stood out as the best of the year — and that was the Charity Day hosted by Bernard Gallacher last Easter. Because I did not have a year as vice captain I was not involved in the preparations for the day and I cannot claim any of the credit for it. Thanks to the hard work and brilliant organisation of the Harts, the Smiths and their helpers, it attracted more than 90 competi¬tors and raised a very significant amount of money for the Junior section and Cancer Research. Even the sun was shining that day.Unfortunately it seemed as though that was the last time the sun did shine last year. In fact during the Borough Trophy in May I think I got as wet as it possible to get without drowning. Nevertheless, the weather did not affect two of the stalwarts of the Cyril Blake team, Noel Traynor and John Chappell, who went on to add the Borough Trophy, to a long list of competition victories during the year. In between the rainstorms there were many golfing highlights during the summer. In 2007 Eastbourne Downs hosted the match between the Kent and Sussex county teams; the match between the Kent and Sussex Golf Captains; as well as the Eastbourne Amateur, won in brilliant style by Mark Wootten. Many Club competitions were also affected by the weather. Captain's Day as many of you will remember was a damp one — luckily I did not have to play in the competition and took shelter in the beer tent for the duration — along with a growing number of competitors. I have only really scratched the surface of the golfing year at Eastbourne Downs and could have mentioned many other achieve¬ments and memorable moments including: Bradley Turner, who won both the Club and Junior Champi¬onships in 2007 and has been selected to the Sussex junior squad; Josh Hardy making it to the grand final of the HSBC Wee Wonders competition at St. Andrews; Paul Stephen scoring 2-over-gross in the June Medal; Rhys Caillie driving the 9th green from the back tees; or Daryl Bedford's 6 foot putt on the 18 for a share of the Member's Cup prize. To sum up, 2007 was a fantastic year for me and one I will never forget.