Royal Navy Rugby Union Golf Day
Bright shirts, dazzling trick shots and a verdant course contribute to the success of the Royal Navy Rugby Union Golf Day
It was an easy choice for Royal Navy Rugby Union Secretary, Cdr Alan Church (Retd.), to once again opt for St. Mellion International Resort for the annual golf day, as the fine weather equalled the generous hospitality of the resort management. The Jack Nicklaus designed course was described by Golf Manager, David Moon, as the best it had ever looked. To the layman the course proved to be firm, fast and fair. The four balls listed a wealth of competent golfers as well as ambitious beginners featuring Royal Navy Rugby Union sponsors, executive committee members, referees, players together with some St Mellion staff and members to guide the newcomers around the perilous Cornish course.
Ben Hogan, notable for his profound influence on golf swing theory and his legendary ball-striking ability, said: “The most important shot in golf is the next one” which aptly lends itself to the chosen format of Texas Scramble. This equitable version of the game ensured that each team of four played ‘friendly golf’ with all four players playing from the best lie though each player was obliged to produce 3 drives from the tee for their overall score to count. Time between shots was time to get to know each other and discuss rugby (Lions selections and the success of the Royal Navy Sharks season thus far) and any other suitable topics, accentuated by P.G. Wodehouse’s maxim, “To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.”
So to the driving range where trick shot extraordinaire, Paul Barrington, treated the competitors to a show that quickly drew in bystanders to witness a combination of ridiculously long driving with a variety of trick shots using a putter and clubs from 2ft to 7ft long. Paul’s show is more than just a display, it is a performance with the audience left paralysed with laughter by his dry wit and banter. David Ward (Marjons) will rue the day he ever ‘volunteered’ for one of the challenges as by this time, Paul’s patter was in full flow and no-one was safe!
As the sun dipped slowly passed the yard arm, the final quartet shook hands on the 18th with all the competitors having been challenged by the complexity of the course, the heat and the lack of a breeze in the dell of the 12th to the 15th holes. After the final count it was the purple bedecked team that ended as overall winners, lead ably by Royal Navy Rugby Union Chairman Colonel Ewen Murchison, supported by previous winners Jock Easton (Help for Heroes) and Paul Barrington who were joined by the lynchpin of the side, Chris Barnard, representing SA Group. Peter Cooper VW Group again were forced into the silver medal position but remained in contention throughout.
A rich spread of food and refreshment was laid out in the clubhouse, where Royal Navy Rugby Union President Vice Admiral Ben Key gave a vote of thanks to all those involved in the organisation of this well received event. Prize giving followed with a small memento presented to each of the teams. Depending on your viewpoint the event can be seen as the culmination of a packed 2016/17 season or the curtain raiser for an exciting 2017/18 which includes a tour of the eastern seaboard of the USA for the Senior XV as well as the Commonwealth Navies Rugby Cup in March when the USMC, RAN and RNZN bring their teams to the UK to compete. Either way it has become an important part of the Royal Navy Rugby Union calendar and ever may it remain so.
1st: Ewen Murchison (RNRU), Chris Barnard (SA Group), Paul Barrington, Jock Easton (H4H)
2nd: Darren Cooper (PCVW), Russell Lempka, Simon Williamson, Charlie Craft
3rd: Dave Kassapian (RNRU), Simon Fox (MBDA), Terry Gibson (H4H), Bob Gray (ESS)
Longest Drive Simon Fox (MBDA)
Nearest the Pin Steve Boot (NBC DRAKE)
Nearest the Remy Ewen Murchison (RNRU)
Words by J Campbell-Baldwin
Images by RNRU © Trevor Burrows