Our two short golfing breaks, organised to perfection by Clint, have been the highlights of the Sandpipers' golfing year.
In spite of the lure of Jack Daniels and Lager (not mixed, I hasten to add), the Scarborough courses - Malton & Norton, Scarborough North Cliff and Scarborough South Cliff - were enjoyed to the full. Some members even decided to visit places on these courses that other golfers have seldom seen.
Sinbad indulged his fondness for patios on more than one occasion and many a ball was blessed by the Pontiff but still failed to go where he intended. The prisoner's trusty six iron appeared whenever the occasion demanded - rumours that he actually does have other clubs in his bag remain just that (rumours) but he does have a putter, I think. Mister Sainsbury fell off his trolley. Someone should remind him to get a buggy next time he wants to ride round a golf course.
The hotel provided excellent food and the friendly management left the bar open as long as we wanted (who needs the Samaritans when you can drown your golfing sorrows with a pint of JD!).
Our first trip was a hard act to follow but this year's Wicklow outing equalled it. The addition of two new members, Red Sonya and Filofax, greatly enhanced both the company and the competition.
The Bridge Inn at Wicklow provided comfortable accommodation and the absence of a residents' bar possibly contributed to some good golf being played. I blame these early nights, however, for my failure to defend my singles title - how can any self-respecting Sandpiper be in bed before 3am?
The trip was memorable for the excellent food and wine, organised by Filofax, who else, at two of Wicklow's notable restaurants.
The Guinness was almost as good as the golf. Roundwood - designed by Vision Express - was definitely a course for the future. The many blind holes really mean you need at least two rounds to appreciate this course but it is a good test of golf and was in good condition. Staff were very friendly, as they were at each of the three courses we played. Wicklow was a good mix of links and parkland, with some interesting par threes. This was the most challenging of the courses, with a great variety of holes. Again, the course was very well kept, with excellent greens. Blainroe was a mainly parkland course, notable for the floral surroundings on most tees. This provided a very enjoyable challenge for all standards of golfer, with two knee-trembling drives on the back nine. A welcoming clubhouse delayed Bunter's phone call to the Samaritans. Never mind, Bunter, we'll have a charity day to buy you some new golf balls (preferably with homing devices).
There were some apparent problems on this trip: The Pontiff appeared to have lost his faith - he no longer blesses the ball before he drives off and rumour has it that he's using a wok rather than a driver; The Prisoner was spotted using a three wood (what sacrilege!) and Chucker didn't chuck once. Sinbad appears to have almost lost his affinity with patios and Lawrence visited the sand so seldom that his camel was almost redundant. Mr Sainsbury liked electric trolleys so much he invested in one and Clint and Red gave the local lobsters a run for their money.
A fine trip was finished off with a half-day at Blainroe, organised by Filofax, and a finely judged arrival at the Seacat- thank goodness they left the doors open or I'd never have made it.