The origins of Leominster Golf Club can be traced to 1903 when the course was located somewhere in Kingsland before it moved to Steens Bridge. By the mid-1930s it had moved again to its present location at Ford Bridge. At the start of World War II the course was spared the plough (for food production) but falling membership led to its cessation in late 1942.
There was an attempt to revive the club post-war but it failed, which is the reason we cannot claim continuity since 1903.
In 1967 a small band of hard-working pioneers resurrected a modified course at Ford Bridge and went on to open 9 holes.
This year we commemorate and celebrate the re-formation.
A Sad Beginning.
It was sad that, in January, our retired Head Greenkeeper, Reg Gibbons, passed away. He served from 1988 to 2000 and in that time oversaw the conversion of the course from 9 to 18 holes by 1990. He supervised the construction of a new 11th green, new 5th and 12th tees, the moving of the 12th green, a new 6th hole, a new 15th white tee, a sprinkler system and the moving of the 18th green to accommodate the new clubhouse and carpark. The work of his hands is very visible in the fundamental layout of the course.
At his wake in the clubhouse, there were, among relatives and friends, 17 Leominster GC Captains to pay respects and honour his contribution to the club. Many there enjoyed a mellow tot of whisky in his memory from a 2 litre bottle that Reg had won in the old clubhouse and had kept since the 1990s.
Acorns Hospice Visit
Just before Christmas 2016, the Bargoed Male Voice Choir gave a concert at the club and, during the interval, Gemma Timmins of Acorns Hospice Trust gave the audience an outline of the work of this local children’s charity. In January, Captain Cyril Jennings and helpers were able to visit the Acorns Hospice in Worcester to present Gemma and volunteers with a cheque and toys provided by LGC member’s donations.
Hannah Lockerman Band
It was a return visit in February for Hannah and her band to give a Valentine’s evening of quality singing and light jazz. The cheese and wine evening was organised by the Ladies Section.
Ladies Spring Charity Coffee Morning
In the first week of March the club hosted 50 ladies from 6 clubs for the first of the Coffee Mornings. A commendable sum in excess of £500 was raised for charity. Both red and purple tees were used with prizes for the competition played off each. Additionally prizes were awarded for birdies and nearest the pin on the 6th and 17th holes.
AGM and ALE
After the more serious business of the AGM it was announced that, in conjunction with Wye Valley Brewery, there would be a specially re-named beer dedicated to the Anniversary on sale in the clubhouse. The winner of the competition to name the beer was Brim’ junior with the beautifully parochial name of Golden Lemner.
In mid-March the Ladies Section organized a successful quiz where 10 teams of four had their general knowledge tested and raised a useful £200. The victorious team was the Sahara Desert Canoe Club
In perfect weather, 88 members assembled for a shotgun start and, on the 1st tee, new Captain Mark Lane was joined by President Paul Chapman, Past Captain Cyril Jennings and Vice- Clive Brimmell. The Captain’s awaited drive found its way 195 yards through the trees on the right. Three members estimated the distance within 1 yard although nobody was exactly correct.
The 3 Division winners were Simon Morgan (4) 37 points, Will Gore (13) 38 points and Carl Maddox (24) 40 points and the new Captain was placed 31st overall.
British Heart Foundation
A wrist operation prevented new seniors’ captain, Vince Fish, from driving-in at the beginning of April so the competition was changed to a monthly medal. Afterwards, past-captain Ian Robertson presented Clare Cassidy of the British Heart Foundation with a cheque for more than £700 accumulated as his charity last year. Clare gave a brief talk on the important and life-saving work of the BHF.
Round Robin Trophy Relinquished
For the previous 3 consecutive years LGC seniors have won the trophy competed between 5 local clubs. The past winter’s result was the closest ever with only one point separating the 1st and 4th places. The head-to-head result was needed to separate the winner. The presentation, held this year at Sapey GC, saw Ian having to relinquish the trophy to the victorious Ross GC seniors.
The men’s Hopbine Trophy, a four day running Stableford, was run through the weekend. On the first day, Richard Maloney Jnr shot 67-5=62 which equalled Craig Brimmell’s best round on the course since the new 3rd tee was added. “Winter Rules” were in play which gave an advantage but it was an excellent achievement and justly won the trophy.
Ladies Open Am-Am
Ten clubs were represented on a beautiful Saturday 22nd April. The course was playing well and witnessed a hole-in-one by visitor Alison Harvey and it was visitors who also took prizes for the longest drive and nearest-the-pin. LGC ladies were in the majority of the 3rd placed team and LGC members Kath Parsons, Jo’ Jull, Jackie Price and Wendy Lawrenson took 1st place in the team prize with 85 points.
Fun Open Texam
On May Day an open 4-man competition was run with a novel format where the preferred drive was selected then 2nd and subsequent shots as normal golf. LGC took the first 2 places, top honours going to Phil’ and Kev Green with Tom and Kev Tandler, 104 points cb. Chris Chadd, Kirby Jones, Jon’ Small and Taylor Merrick took second, 104 points. Bromsgrove GC’s Ryan Coy, Woody James, Ray Cole and Paul Davibell took 3rd with 102 points.
Senior Mixed Open Greensomes
A week later Kath Parsons, with Ian Robertson, took first place with 42 points in a Greensomes where 12 clubs were represented, the furthest from Northants. Second were Mike and Anne Belshaw, Church Stretton GC 40 points, 3rd were Debbie & Hugh Jones, St Giles GC 36 points cb and 4th LGC’s Kath’ Carter and Phil’ Green also with 36 points.
Seniors’ Open Texas Scramble
Local knowledge and a dry course clearly played a trump card in this competition where only one prize went to a visitor from the other 10 clubs represented. Dave Leeson from Minchinhampton GC was closest to the pin with his 2nd shot to the 18th. Prizes for the longest drive went to Rob Harris, nearest 6th pin Paul Oatley and nearest 14th pin Kevin Waterman. The 3rd team captained by Ray Chambers scored 57.7 (and the only double two), the 2nd team captained by Paul Chapman returned 57.1 and the winning team captained by Bob Holloway 55.9 (below, L to R, Kevin Waterman, Bob Holloway, Bryan Leech and Rod Garvey).
LGC Evening with Alan Kennedy ex LFC
Ex captain Wayne Barton (Chelsea supporter) pestered ardent supporters of almost every other footbal club in the league to attend what became a well-supported evening of laughter and discussion of football. Alan Kennedy, of Liverpool FC fame, has an amusing manner of speaking and entertained an attentive audience on his exploits at Liverpool, Newcastle, Sunderland, Wigan and all stops between, including Barrow!
He was backed by comedian Freddie Farrell who extracted some intriguing information from club members in the audience!
A rewarding change from sitting in front of the box.
The Long and Short of it
The third week of May saw a victory for the ex-Captain and his team in the Seniors’ Yellow Ball.
Herefordshire Men’s County Championship
The course had been beautifully prepared by the greens staff the first Saturday in June when the Club hosted 34 of the County’s best golfers. BVGC’s Kris Jones (1) laid down a 68 gross first round which allowed him to slip to 5th in the second round when he shot 75 but his 143 was still 3 shots clear to win the Championship.
LGC’s men took the first 3 places in nett scores with Simon Morgan’s consistent 69+70=139, Kevin Gibbons’ 72+69=141 cb and Taylor Merrick’s fine 70+71=141 cb. Jack Castle had a notable equal lowest nett with his 2nd round 67 matching Kris Jones’ 1st round.
Over a hundred players took part in Captain Mark Lane’s competition. Tom Morris (9) won the Cup with 39 points, 3 points clear of his nearest Division 1 rival and a point clear of the nearest 2nd and 3rd Division players. The SHUGC Chronicle Cup Qualifier was run in tandem for those players with handicaps 10 to 24.The 4 qualifying players were Graham Lloyd (17) 38 points, Rob Leney (15) 38 points, Mark Humpage (20) 38 points and Andy Chambers (15) 38 points. They have the opportunity to represent LGC for the individual Chronicle Cup and the Club Team Handicap Trophy at Arscott GC on 12th August.
Club Championship Weekend
The course was excellent, as was the weather, and Jamie Mee set the pace on Saturday with a par round 70, 2 shots ahead of Kev’ Tandler, 3 shots clear of Rich’ Maloney Jnr, 5 clear of Craig Brimmell and 6 clear of the dangerous trio Simon Morgan, Taylor Merrick and last year’s Champion Ryan Painter. There was a reversal of scoring on Sunday but Jamie clung on , shooting 70+76=146 against Simon’s 76+71=147 and Rich’s steady 73+75=148.
The Ravenhill Cup for best 36 holes nett went to younger brother Will Mee with rounds 86-14=72 and 77-14=63, the latter being the lowest nett over the 2 days and earning a cut of 2.1 shots.
Saturday’s prize in the Country Members’ Cup was won by Kev’ Tandler with his round 72-5=67 and helped place him 4th in the Championship with 72+77=149.
Sunday’s Stableford Ford Bridge Cup gave the higher handicappers a chance to get among the prizes and this was taken by Matt Powell with 94-26=68 (40 points cb) earning a trophy and a cut of 1.6 shots.
R.J.Barrington Team Trophy
This is unique being the only trophy for a 4-man team competition. The format is Yellow Ball which gives each player added pressure on 4 holes where they have to score, or earn barracking from their team mates! This was its 2nd running and the 2nd time ‘Fudge’ and team were placed 2nd. Winners were Chris Chadd, Kirby Jones, Jon Small and Chris Harris with a 2 point clear win of 162 points.
Men’s Invitation Pairs
To encourage greater participation in these less sociable times, the Invitation was opened to non-handicappers and players with non-competition handicaps. This resulted in 15 CC handicap pairs and 16 CN handicap pairs (all LGC participants having C handicaps) and prizes were correspondingly 2-tiered. Winners of the CC section were Jamie Blythe (13C) and Knighton GC’s Dan Roberts (18C) who scored an impressive 50 points. The CN section was won by Jack Castle (9C) and retired LGC player Adam Jones (27N) with 45 points.
Captain Mark Lane and 17 past captains competed the Captain’s Vase followed by an evening meal. Current President, Paul Chapman, returned 44 points against a competition scratch score of 67 and earned a 1.5 shot handicap reduction.
Golden Anniversary Celebration
Saturday 15th July was marked for celebrating the 50 years since the re-formation of Leominster Golf Club at Ford Bridge. The evening was very warm and the entertainment began with the Got2Sing Contemporary Choir (Hereford) whose energetic performance, under the direction of Cathy Hart, raised the temperature even higher!
Echoing the fashion of pubs in the 1960s, basket meals of sausage, chicken or scampi (very exotic then!) and chips were served throughout by caterers Caitlin and Denise.
David Sayers,ex-captain (twice) and ex-president, joined the club soon after it re-formed and is among the few still playing and with connections to that event. He gave a brief recollection of how the club had developed remarking that there has been much change, for the better, and that change must continue. LGC was the last members’ club to be accepted into the Shropshire and Herefordshire Union of Golf Clubs because subsequent courses that have opened have been run as businesses.
He proposed a toast to the continued success of Leominster Golf Club.
The evening continued with music and dancing to the talented rock group Rubble while Maya, Jackson, Taylor and Tom worked hard to meet the needs of thirsty people.
The Neil Diamond tribute act encouraged, and got, the audience to sing, or la-la, along to a number of easily recognisable songs. He was nearly upstaged, however, when he invited broken-legged Ronnie to join him in singing.
Those with enough stamina ended the evening with further dancing and music from Rubble.
Seniors’ Open Pairs
Ian (“The wing-commander”) Robertson organised a popular, 46 pairs competition with 13 clubs represented. The course was playing beautifully and local knowledge enabled the LGC, first 5 pairs to score within a 2 points band of each other. Derek Langford and Pete Sandall took the honours with the only 46 points score.
RNLI Open at Borth
The tradition of LGC and Leominster golfers travelling to Borth to play in the “Lifeboats Charity” Open continued this July. Ryan Painter (6) had a great round, scoring 44 points to win the competition and a one shot cut. The course was kind to players in the middle of the day with sunshine and little wind. Later starters had to contend with heavy rain. Joss Ingram boomed a drive down the 18th to take the prize for longest drive in consecutive years. On the Sunday when Spieth was winning The Open with 12-under, Ben Morris, Jamie Mee and Chris Dixon carded 11-under in the Open Texas scramble.
Ladies Club Championship
Meanwhile, the same weekend back in Leominster, the ladies played the club championship. Anita Dart took the crown for the 3rd consecutive year with 89 + 89 = 178 and Carol Gardner won the nett competition with rounds 91 – 21= 70 and 99 – 21 = 78. Just 3 shots separated the 2nd to 5th placed players in nett scores.
Ladies 3 Ball Alliance
Seventeen teams representing nine clubs enjoyed a warm July day playing a Stableford 3 ball, best 2 scores with all 3 scores on holes 9 and 18. Honours went to the Redditch GC team of A.Kiernan, R.Daws and J.Freeman with a score of 83 points. The LGC team of Lesley Turbutt, Carol Gardner and Liz Moore took 2nd with 81 points and the mixed LGC and BVGC team Geraldine Kelly, Julie Powell and J.Bowen were 3rd with 78 points. Ladies Captain Wendy Lane made the presentations which included prizes for birdies, nearest pins and longest drive.
Senior Captain’s Away Day
A mid-August Friday had around 3 dozen seniors descend on Cradoc GC to play in Captain Vince Fish’s 3-man Texas Scramble. The glorious setting, a course in good condition, kind weather and feisty companions made an excellent day out. Victory went to Kevin Waterman, Alec Tandler and Rod Garvey with a nett round of 61. The new Senior Captain’s Away Day Trophy was donated by Vince’s grandson James Willerton.
“Leominster” vs “Hereford”, Stakeholders and New Members’ Competitions
Probably due to holidays and the Scratch League match, the number of players in this annual favourite was noticably fewer than usual. Nonetheless 33 players competed in a frisky breeze and not easy conditions. Clive Malcolm returned the best individual card with 38 points, Julie Powell took the prize for best ladies’ card, Rhys Dolloway best New Members’ card and Chris Dixon was the highest scoring Stakeholder. The day ended with a barbeque manned by Chris who also organised the day.
Oh yes, “Hereford” members beat “Leominster” members by 477 to 454 points and the trophy was presented to Captain Mark Lane.
Summer Bank Holiday Monday
On Bank Holiday Monday there was an Open Greenkeepers’ Challenge played over 11 holes which had modifications, mainly on the greens. It was played by a number of families and enjoyed by those who entered. A taste of the obstacles is shown in the photo below.
Herefordshire Alzheimers’ Golf Society
The annual Open HAGS competition, organised by ex-captain Wayne Barton and 3 golfing mates since 2010, was held this year at Burghill GC. HAGS had raised over £100,000 last year and continued its success in raising money to be spent in Herefordshire. Next year it will return to LGC on its 3 year cycle. This year’s comp’ will be memorable for LGC member “Codger” Stephens who scored a hole-in-one on the 12th par 3 hole for an Audi car.
Stewart Thomson Memorial and Air Ambulance Charity Day
Ex-Captain Chris Dixon repeated his successful organisation of this popular competition on Saturday 16th September. Jane and sons Chris and Andrew again attended with some of Stewart’s friends. Many helpers volunteered their time and talents to make the day go smoothly and a good number of players remained for the prize presentation and auction. Town crier Peder Nielsen gave voice to explain the background and purpose to the day. It raised well in excess of £3000 for the air ambulance. The only downer came a few days later when a gale blew Chris’s marquee across the car park causing some damage to the poles and canvas!
Presentation Day for Men
Two competitions were contested on the final Sunday of September, the Tune Trophy and the prestigious President’s Bowl followed by presentation of trophies.The larger field of the Tune Trophy played first and the octagenarian recognised by the trophy competed before attending later to present the trophy to the winner. This year it was ex club champion Kevin Gibbons with a round of 71-4=67. The President’s Bowl, later presented by President Paul Chapman, was won by Tony Williams with a stunning 83-22=61 also rewarded with a 3 shot cut!
Captain Mark Lane, ably assisted by Vice- Clive Brimmell, made the remaining presentations.
Snippets from October to December
CONGU issued notice that, from 1st January 2018, handicaps up to 54 could be held by lady and men golfers and they would be competition handicaps, beyond 28, forming Categories 5 and 6.
Pete Morris was videoed taking 19 shots, with around 5 penalties, trying to get out of a bunker before throwing the ball out in defeat. Thousands of people were entertained by it on Facebook.
The left-hand bunker in front of the 5th green was removed.
In weird, reddish light (photo below) caused by hurricane Ophelia, the seniors’ captain and vice-captain’s teams vied for victory which went to the captain Vince Fish and his team by 632 points to 607.
Between Ophelia and storm Brian, the seniors’ President’s Cup and Presentation Day competitions were abandoned after heavy rain flooded greens.
Lifesaving skills were taught at a course run by the Herefordshire Heartstart Charity.
Senior Captain’s charity day competition raised £250 for the RBL Poppy Appeal.
The President’s vs Captain’s vs Vice-Captain’s mixed teams competed in a keen contest which resulted in victory for the Captain’s team (404 points) over the Vice’s- (374) and President’s (371). The same evening the club combined with the Leominster Hockey Club for an enjoyable and successful Race Evening in the clubhouse.
Following his bunker epic, ex-Captain Pete Morris holed in one, to be followed by the ex-Seniors’ Captain, Ian Robertson, less than a week later. That brought the total of HiOs to 10 for members acing on our course this year.
Following Julie Powell last year, Wendy Lane fought off male competition to win the Committee Cup with 38 points.
In the same competition, it was a great pleasure to welcome Dave Barnes, one of the 3 pioneering founder members of the re-formed Leominster Golf Club in 1967. He was the 4th Captain (1971) of the newly established club and has named after him the Dave Barnes Cup for the winner of a medal competition for 0 to 18 handicappers. He is seen below (left) with David Sayers, ex-President and twice Captain of LGC. Dave now lives in Shrewsbury and is still a regular player at the Wrekin GC. We owe him, Jack Welsh and Les Hollings a debt of gratitude for their hard work and foresight.
The end of October saw the season’s last Wednesday evening presentation in the clubhouse following the Wednesday Roll-Up. The Roll-Up continues but length of day allows only daytime participation. Wednesdays now have a Games Evening for pool, darts and cards. All are welcome.
In November the Ladies held their second Charity Coffee morning of the year. 17 teams representing 6 clubs took part and raised £200 for Herefordshire Headway.
The second week in December brought the heaviest snowfall for many years, closing the course.
A few days later the weather did not prevent the Bargoed Male Voice Choir arriving to perform to a full house. Under the direction of Sophie Murfin they gave a varied and entertaining evening.
Past Captain Cyril Jennings, with assistance from Steve Grealy, organised a collection of toys to repeat last year’s donation to Acorns Childrens Hospice, Worcester. Many people responded but speciall thanks are due to Marcus Williams and Richard Morris of TAG, Leominster for their generous donation of John Deere toys.
The 50th anniversary year has been successful with many and varied events. It began with the sadness of Reg’s passing and it ends with the sadness of losing Jess, our manager since 1999, who is leaving to take up a new challenge at Whitecross School, Hereford. Also our caterers, Caitlin and Denise, will not be renewing their contract next February. We owe them all our gratitude for their service and friendship to the members of Leominster Golf Club and wish them well in the future.
It only remains to wish all members a Happy and Prosperous New Year and hope our club has a strong future as successful and adaptable as the last 50 years.