Despite being battered by high winds, lashed by rain and robbed by crows, eight of us gnarled veterans of the golf-writing industry managed to enjoy our annual outing last week. Our little golfing society is called the Dregs because we were always last in the bar at whatever golf tournament we were covering.
Now we like to visit, play and write about courses we never had time to enjoy before. We're still last in the bar but we don't feel as guilty.
Before describing our adventures, I must confess that I failed miserably last weekend in my quest to break 100 in a medal. I came in with 114 which, believe it or not, is my best score of the year and I feel comforted by the fact that a third of the entrants also failed to break 100.
Joining the Dregs for a few days was just the diversion I needed. Our sentimental journeys have taken us all over the country and for the last two years we were in France.
This year we decided to visit south Wales, which happens to be my neck of the woods, and Visit Wales arranged for us to play three superb courses at Royal Porthcawl, Southerndown and the Wales National at the Vale Hotel and Spa.
When we gathered at Royal Porthcawl on Sunday a few drinks in the warm sunshine outside the clubhouse hardly prepared us for the howling wind that greeted us when we arrived to play the following day. Porthcawl's rough makes it a forbidding test in the best of weather but the wind made it merciless.
Between the eight of us, we lost 51 balls, which included two which were picked up by a crow. The language of the two players who saw the bird rob them of two of their better shots would not have impressed the RSPB. It happened to me not long ago and I consoled them with the thought that somewhere there's a female crow going barmy trying to hatch all the balls he brings home.
Our top score was 21 points, the lowest was seven, so my 13 was not a disgrace.
When we turned up at Southerndown the following morning the gale had been joined by torrential showers. Chief executive Alan Hughes made us very welcome and said they had already cancelled a competition that day and would understand if we didn't want to play.
Undaunted, we set off gamely but after five holes we turned back. Putts were being blown off course and our buggies threatened to go airborne. It was a shame because this cliff-top course is so inviting even in those conditions.
The weather for our third round was a vast improvement – still windy but sunny and warmer. We were generously entertained by the Vale's general manager Ben Daniels the evening before, which was reflected in the scoring.
The Vale complex acts as the hub of Welsh sport. Not only is it the training headquarters for the Welsh rugby and football teams – and for Cardiff City – but it has also hosted most of the top teams from over the border. They all try their hand at the massive National course, which is a tough task but usually leaves you with a ball or two and the local crows are far less acquisitive.Reuse content