My writing of this match report came as a great surprise, although it is true I displayed some awful golf throughout the fixture, as Mr Bali put it ‘you’re an awful bloke’, I was not alone in my embarrassment. Mr Jenks of Keble College decided to keep me company me on the duck and in accordance with standard OUGC golfing procedure a putt-off was on the cards. Being towards the self-assured end of the spectrum I was confident of my ability to prevail report-free; however credit where credit is due, Mr Jenks managed to place a 70 foot putt (no exaggeration) 4 inches from the hole despite the untidy Heythrop Park Resort putting green, not to mention the fact the putt was actually from the rough, the real rough.
The weekend began with a rare but comfortable Friday evening departure from Oxford. One is always optimistic when told that one’s black tie will be required, however, the dilemma of what combination of trews and jacket to don always makes even the best dressed gentleman perspire. After some confusion, investigation still ongoing as to the culprit of the cargate episode, I found myself rather snugly squished up again Robin Sullivan with a deadly cramp attacking my right gluteus maximus whilst Bertie Mills made certain his luxurious front seat was set as far back as circumstance allowed. After just under two hours of drifting in and out of consciousness we made it to the famous (I can’t remember the name) Porthcawl curry house where ‘Our Great Leader’, who needs no introduction, was indulging in a chicken tikka masala, as he puts it ‘the obvious choice’, alongside a rather chirpy Karan Bali who was feeling right at home with a mouthful of naan bread.
After preceding not order any food we arrived at the club to find the troops being rounded up rather unceremoniously by Ed Jenks himself for a putt-off for the final single room. The event started strongly with the 7 contenders all holing out from the 3 foot mark despite a rather aggressive lip in from past captain Henry Howard-Jenkins. Tensions rose sharply when the distance was increased by a putter length to 7 feet; the putt, a savage right-to-left swinger, caused early trouble with my ball performing a 720 degree tour of the hole without taking the plunge. After a potential fist fight regarding the order of play Ed Jenks managed to send his ball home ‘Happy Gilmore style’ and once Conley Hurst had flown his ball by, the room was his. The fist-pumping that proceeded will forever be a dark chapter in the OUGC history books, but Ed Jenks did get an early solo sleep that night and as it turned out he would also repeat this on the Saturday night.
‘Full Welsh?’ delivered in a thick Welsh accent was the Saturday morning wakeup call to which the brave managed a nod to whatever question they actually heard. Post breakfast the 1st tee loomed, however with Jay Wool-z by my side and some greasy food in my belly feelings were running high. The round is much of a blur of good golf but as it turned out my partner and me were on the wrong side of some bad fortune and 40 mile-an-hour winds ending up back in the clubhouse disappointed with shots left out on the course. My spirits lifted, however, when I reminded myself that it was time for some lunch! I must confess I was pleased but not blown away by the sandwich-style lunch, but as I was assumed the effort was being saved for the dinner. Expectations sky high!
In the afternoon round Conley Hurst and I came second.
Again my spirits were raised by the prospect of the dinner to come, in fact I was in such a state of euphoria that I failed to remember to de-waterproof trouser myself and I proceeded to explore the clubhouse prepared for some dodgy weather in ‘the baggiest trousers ever’ quotation accredited to Harry Fitzpatrick. The spirits of our Welsh counterparts were at a low after a heart-wrenching defeat at the hands of the Aussies and so it was ‘up to me’ as Karan Bali put it to supply ample content at the dinner table.
The dinner went as well with Harry Fitzpatrick burrowing into deep conversation with the older members of the table when the speeches commenced. The Royal Porthcawl captain started strongly with some unexpected rugby anecdotes, he did play international rugby after all, and then it was the turn of ‘Our Great Leader’. The speech started as it ended, being simply ‘weird’ (confidential source), with players in the side being attributed star signs. After many a confused glance across the table people began to become anxious regarding their own star sign, however, for undisclosed reasons (discussion required here) the speech ended as abruptly as it had begun with only a third of the team receiving the satisfaction of ‘Our Great Leaders’ judgement on the matter of star signs. The disappointment was palpable.
The post-dinner antics began shortly after the conclusion of the dinner with whispers of ‘streets’ being heard in all 29 corners of the room. The open bar was certainly a highlight of the evening; the first kummel was ceremoniously ordered by none other than Rory Giddins to be followed swiftly by a double. Ed Jenks has keen eyesight as I was about to find out, the speed at which he marched over to the bar was extraordinary, many were amazed he had the capability to move so fast and others remain convinced he simply glided over the wooden panelled floor such was the elegance of his movement, once at the bar he proceeded to order a quadruple kummel to the shock of the barmaid. One quadruple kummel down and seemingly more confident Ed Jenks proceeded to organise a ‘boat race’. The teams quickly assembled and I found myself confronted with the sight that is Karan Bali, my opposite number, holding a pint. The race proceeded in impressive fashion with self-named ’22 second Jenks’ impressing the crowds early on; however, it wasn’t until the race proceeded to Karan Bali that the race truly began. My writing is not sufficient to do justice to the scene I witnessed, what I can say is that Bali never got past the second gulp, ‘awful bloke’.
With the night still young and Ed Jenks in bed our weakened side herded by ‘Our Great Leader’ proceeded out into Porthcawl with anticipation and trepidation in our hearts. The events of the evening are too intricate and lengthy to be given a full reporting here; however, I can report that Conley Hurst performed strongly towards the later stages of the evening in stark contrast to Ben Proos who burst out of the blocks well only to finish poorly despite threatening some magic towards the end. Tim Jukes should have followed the lead of the wise Ed Jenks.
Sunday morning arrived sooner than one would have liked and the numbers who considered themselves brave enough to face the ‘full Welsh’ were well diminished by the time Ben Proos meandered his way into the dining room. There was a general feeling of respect for Ben when he ordered his ‘full Welsh’ and little surprise when it remained undisturbed by the time he climbed onto the 1st tee.
The quality of golf can only be described as ‘just as bad as the weather’. It is said Karan Bali experienced links golf for the first time that morning and that Gustaf Remheb enjoyed a bowl of ‘poráge’, how much of this is true remains a mystery; we will have to leave it to the historians. Only one thing is certain regarding the morning of Sunday 12th November 2017; at approximately 11:15am I obtained knowledge regarding a ‘mate’ and some ‘burgers’ to which I replied ‘surely not’.
Lunch was a quiet affair with knives and forks taking care of the beef and Karan Bali showing his true colours with a fish course, there was general astonishment in the faces of his opponents, only for ‘Our Great Leader’ to remark, ‘it’s not quite a chicken tikka masala is it?’
Showers and thanks carried out in style only the long journey back loomed remained looming large. I found myself a matter of moments later at 2:30pm seated in Ben Proos’ car with Karan Bali (yes, him again) in the Royal Porthcawl carpark. I found it too hard to bring pen to paper regarding what happened next; a wallet, a punctured type and a key code (1945 I believe) were involved at different stages of the afternoon’s conundrum, however, I can reveal that at 4:15pm I was coughing loudly in the Royal Porthcawl carpark with Karan Bali in Ben Proos’ car. Having not touched 51 mph I was treated to the reassuring view of longwall, Karan Bali walking away from me and the thought of a New College formal.
What a weekend.
Many thanks to Royal Porthcawl Golf Club for a memorable fixture.