What a festive way to end the golfing season and once again a prize table full of wonderful Christmas presents straight out of Santa’s sack. 

           There was a bumper turnout of Northcliffe’s finest golfers for the Christmas Scramble with Roast Turkey and plum pudding for lunch, Christmas crackers, paper hats and fun and laughter all the way.

           The golf was just as good with The Berkshire’s Red Course taking no prisoners on the challenging long holes and slick greens to deceive the best putters. 

         There was also a special “present” for all players from Santa, a new scoring format so that each player had to play four drives with no-one dropping out for the second shot, not forgetting the traditional packet of “Paxo Stuffing” awaiting the competition’s most enthusiastic team. Even the odd shower of rain did not spoil a great day.

         Add in the fund raising auction of prizes, a raffle table straining under amazing donations, champagne to bid for from the Society President, Lord Rothermere and a luxury holiday villa in Grenada that is still waiting to be unwrapped as a present for someone. 

       Santa must have abandoned his Reindeer and Sleigh and travelled by Tube train to deliver the prizes as the top two winning teams both came from Metro and they took home Christmas Hampers and boxes of French wine. 

       With a winning score of 59.6 after handicap allowance, the “I love Big Putts and I cannot lie” team of Captain Craig Fawcett, Joe Marvel, Andy Guiton and Dan Hall won the luxury Hampers and the Centenary Trophy, just beating the “Smith and Groans” team of Captain Martin Smith, Ben Mason, Will Clazie and Chris Law, by the tightest margin of “point two”, the thickness of Christmas wrapping paper. 

     Last year’s winners, “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and John” of Roland Agambar, Gordon Thomson, Adam Kemp and John Morgan, missed out on the double but took third place with 61.2, ahead of “Snail on Monday” Captain Nick Craven, Ross Slater, Jonathan Bucks and Ben Ellery, from the MailonSunday, with 62.3.

   Having presented the Society with the “Centenary Trophy” to mark its 100 years in 2010, the North Foreland team of “The Lighthouse Flashers” have yet to win it, but again were not far off with 62.7. 

     As before, the North Foreland assistant secretary, Pauline Warrington travelled up with the team of Vice-Captain Richard Keel and next year’s vice-Captain Michael White and Mark Harrop and Andy O’Reilly. While players were out battling the course, Pauline spent her morning organising the raffle table. 

     They won Christmas Puddings having beaten on count back the “Business Services Fore Calling Birdies” team of Captain John Tucker, Barry Theobald, Harry Grindrod and Lee Terry who won boxes of chocolates.  

To help with weight watching, the “Christmas Cracker” team of Garth Burden, Keith Cottington, Ian McGowan and John Heywood, who scored 63.7, won tins of Panettone and then there was only the team winning the Paxo Stuffing to be decided.

After much analysis of “The Fabulous Aged Four” scorecard, renowned wine connoisseur Captain Guy Zitter, Daily Mail cartoonist MAC, columnist Peter McKay and “Kick A…” enthusiast Geoff Levy, stepped up to loud cheering to collect the Paxo. 

Champagne for “Nearest the Pin” on the six Par Three holes were won by Andy O’Reilly (2nd), Edmund Davison (5th), Phillip Woods (7th), Mark Harrop (10th), Adam Kemp (16th), and John Morgan (18th)  

This year’s Society Match Play winner for the Cousins Bowl, Ian McGowan who had beaten Mike Creaby in the final, was presented with his prize along with the Order of Merit winner for the Iain Walker Trophy, Adam Kemp, who narrowly beat David Crump, Clive Heard, and Lisa Heywood in the play-off to become “Golfer of the Year”. 

Secretary Garth Burden said that play-off finalist Lisa had set a remarkable Society record during the year, reducing her handicap from 19 to 13. Both finals were played at The Grove, the Society’s opening fixture for the 2019 season on March 11.

The auction for Society funds and charity donation was expertly conducted jointly by Society Chairman Vyvyan Harmsworth and Mail on Sunday photographer Ian McIlgorm, who persuaded so many to dig deep into their pockets.  Society vice-Captain Barry Theobald and committee members kept a record of who won each of the auction items.

Vyvyan presented the Team prizes with the vice-Captain of North Foreland, Richard Keel and Pauline Warrington with a “Thank You” bottle of champagne for all her help during the day.

Over £5,000 was raised with the offer of the 2-week stay at the luxury villa in Grenada, donated by David Dutton, not quite as yet reaching it’s reserve price.

There were seven winners in the “Back the Winner” contest with £20 won by Ben Mason, Michael Pelosi, William Clazie, Jayne Burden, John Heywood, Dennis Hunt and Martin Smith for picking out the winning team, with £80 raised for the funds. 

The Vincent Mulchrone Trophy for help and services over the year to the Society was, by a unanimous decision, presented to Daily Mail cartoonist MAC.  

Society President, Lord Rothermere, who enters his own team when possible, was unable this year to join in the fun of the day.

PICTURES: DAVID CRUMP

FULL REPORT OF THE MATCH PLAY KNOCKOUT AND THE ORDER OF MERIT PLAY-OFF AT THE GROVE ARE IN THE RESULTS SECTION