Will Wates Golf Day, 2003

Cottesmore golf and country club west sussexThe late American entertainer Bob Hope once said: “I’ll shoot my age if I have to live to be 105.” Although he was talking in strokeplay terms, a Radley quartet foundered their way to over 100 stableford points, the highest score in Will Wates Golf day history, to win the annual competition in aid of Will’s Foundation.

A youthful combination of team captain Ben Roger-Smith, Chris Ross-Hurst, Michael Bellhouse and Richard Porter somehow shrugged off the early shotgun start and played the type of team golf that whiffed previous memories of Valderamma and The Belfry and, of course, to which only they themselves can explain. “We maintained our discipline and held firm over the distance,” a jubilant Roger-Smith explained afterwards (at 1am).

However, the joy of this competition is the wait. As each group returned to the brilliantly laid-on suite upstairs, this year’s winners were still awaiting a number of teams in with a chance of claiming top spot, but in the end they did indeed ‘hold firm’.

But I suppose losing my previous copy was a blessing in disguise. Looking back almost seven months later, the annual September day is not always about hole-in-one’s, eagles on the first and practise greens at 7am. For the rusty golfer it is the satisfying clank of silver birch, pine and oak lining the Cottesmore fairways and of course meeting those friendly faces who were close to Will.

As ever, Mr Wates was the first to congratulate the turn out and added that there is now the basis to make this event a continuous success in the future. Rick and Monty then spoke of the Foundation’s growing aims to help disadvantaged young children in the south London area.

And what of that hole-in-one? According to Callum Callan, Cottesmore’s course pro, Jonny Wates’ shot was one of only ‘half a dozen or so’ on the course last year. Even better was the winning Stableford score, which he pointed out wasn’t just a good one. “When I play in a pro-am the top score is usually 18-20 under par which is around 92 points. To score over 100 is just ridiculously good!”

So this year’s 24th September event will be held around the same time as the Ryder Cup. Only time will tell if Team Roger-Smith can raise their game two year’s running.

Rod Gilmour