This year, in an attempt to add variety while keeping costs down, we decided to visit 'pastures new' and all five fixtures were at courses we hadn't played before. These venues had their own merits and demerits, mostly the former. It is true that a small minority were not happy we had, in their eyes, 'downgraded', preferring to stick with prestige courses. However, the committee decided that most members would not be willing to pay £100-plus for the privilege of playing 27 holes at a more famous course. As numbers have declined steadily over the past five years it was (and is) felt that everything possible should be done to encourage the 'occasional members' to come along and also bring a guest. It is problematic whether this succeeded in 2016 - and so we have reverted in 2017 to a mixture of old favourites. Another innovation was to replace the morning Greensome with a Better Ball Stableford which offers better value for money. I think this was successful and will be continued.

The Spring Meeting was played in the remotely situated wildest Essex, Toot Hill, which was a new course designed to the American style with water on many holes. Most liked it for its challenge but the unseasonably cold weather for late April was reflected in the scores. For the first time the prize for 'nearest the pin in two' was not won even though it was a short, downhill par four. Cunningly placed (and unseen) water gobbled up what many had thought were nicely played wedge shots to the green. The Jack Ryman Cup was won on 3 way countback by Ollie James with 29 points.

Then on June 2nd to Surrey to play a lush valley course, Woldingham. Not as flat as you would expect with some unusual holes. Warren Evans won the John Bond Cup with 31 points.

Next to a lovely parkland course in Surrey, The Drift for the President's Trophy on July 14th. The general consensus was this was a course worth returning to. Playing of 3 handicap, Chris Phillips scattered the field with a score of 37 points.

There followed the usual summer break until the Captain's Outing on September 14 to 16th attended by some of the folk we don't usually see. The captain chose wisely and very well. It was difficult to fault Stoke by Nayland as a venue for this annual event. Two excellent long courses plus excellent food and accommodation and, for the first two days, warm and sunny weather (as attested by the photos taken by Liz Morgan and viewable on the website) The Captain's Salver, played on the Gainsborough course was won with 36 points by David Littlechild closely followed by the captain on 35. Unfortunately the weather broke on the final day and the Am-Am competition at Colchester had to be curtailed after 9 holes due to torrential rain. Still, two out of three ain't bad. It was a popular and enjoyable visit, up with the best of the past.

Our final visit was on October 27th to the links of Luton Hoo, a long and varied layout where I had expected our members and guests to be fully tested. Not so, with five pairs managing 40 points or better and David Morgan and Keith Jinks emerging victorious with 46 points to take the Peter Tilley Trophy.

Thus concluded an interesting season under the stewardship of our captain, Eric Smith and our thanks go to him (and his able secretary Judith) for his efforts and willingness to serve for a second term.

We congratulate the winners of the annual aggregate trophies: Alan Wood (Watkins and Liberty) Eric Smith (Tolley) and Chris Phillips (Guildford, Spicer and Conlon) and look forward to the 2017 fixtures: May 12th (Aspley Guise & Woburn Sands) June 16th (Burnham Beeches) July 21st (Tyrrell's Wood) September 14/15/16 Captain's Outing (Nefyn, Bull Bay, Henllys Hall) October 26th (Tandridge)

As usual I conclude by expressing appreciation to all members for their support, my special thanks to our Treasurer David Morgan and to our keeper of the records and website manager Geoff Fowler.

I am sure you will join with me in wishing the incoming captain Martin Bender every good fortune and hope he will be blessed with excellent golfing weather.



Richard Johns
Hon. Secretary

21st February 2017





Secretary's Report 2016
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