Geoff Freeman wins twice in the matches that weren’t.
What a weekend for golf……..what a weekend of golf! Golf on ice anyone? ‘First thing in the morning if you can manage it!’ That was the cry on Friday when the call went out on Whatsapp from one Geoffrey Freeman, and those of us who read it and had seen the forecast, thought, ‘Is he mad?’. Meanwhile, sat with his wife on Pannat Hill, having shared a glass or three of Christmas cheer one man thought: ‘I think I can fit it in between bike rides!’ And like so many before him a wishful tipsy thought transmitted itself via the interweb and became tomorrow’s regret. Who else could it be but Jon [sometimes John] Holmes. And lo and behold we were wrong again, there wasn’t just someone mad enough to play on Saturday, there were two of them.
The day dawned differently to those earlier in the week; no sun to burn the worst of the frost off. Deep, deep frost it was too but not too much for those two. Bitterly cold? So what! Temporary greens? No problem! Balls bouncing high in the air? Who cares! . And so they set off…madmen posing as golfers…hero and villain… winner and loser…but which would be which? Each met the challenge of the first tee well and after concerted efforts succeeded in getting their tees into the ground! And away up the fairway they went. Geoff’s 5 brought him 2 points but Jon[sometimes John] was unlucky with frozen worm casts and could only manage a 6 for 1. Good drives off the second went helter-skelter and a tricky pin on an even trickier green led to 7’s for both. But by virtue of a higher handicap GF’s brought him a point. “Who chose to put that green there?” Jon was heard to mutter. And back came the ghostly reply, the spirit of Silecroft, the one we call Ken. “That was me!” it whispered, with a grin. Geoff 3 points, Jon [sometimes John] 1. On the third it was Geoff’s honour and as he looked in the distance for the flag he was forced to ask where the ‘new’ green was. “It’s where it’s always been.” Said the spirit of Christmas Golf, the one we call Ken. “Why couldn’t you have just put it on that flat bit short of the green?” “Toooooo easy!” And by immense effort, accurate iron play and the power of prayer both came away with fours. But for Geoff off 20, that’s another 2 points, whereas for Jon [sometimes John], off a niggardly 14 it’s only 1. The score moves on, now it’s 5 – 2. On to the 4th where each scored a 6 for 1 and at 6 – 3 it looked a likely win for Geoff. “Who mowed these greens?” Asked ‘almost gone Jon’. “”Nowt wrong with em!” replied Geoff. “Thaaaat woooould have been Gunger.” The ghost claimed, with a wicked laugh. But you don’t get up at 6 for a bike ride around in the dark by giving up and you can’t stand in front of a classroom of miscreants and bring them to heel without a degree of fortitude either….and so it began…. unknown to Geoff… the fight-back was on. A 4 on the 5th was soon followed by a three on the 6th and a birdie on the 7th all meant a massive 9 points in three holes. Not that Geoff was playing badly either with 6 points of his own over the same three holes. But suddenly it was 12 – 12 with two to play. Was it the bit between his teeth? Coloured balls? Something someone said? A trip to left field or just pure bad luck? No one will ever know because what happened on the 8th is staying on the 8th. Sometimes John, it’s best to forget. Geoff’s 6 was good enough for 2 points, 14 – 12, we’ll say no more. Rallying on the 9th was much more Jon’s style and two points there left Geoff needing one point to win. It was there that, thanks to an outrageous rebound off one worm cast and an in-off another he was able to count a six and win by the narrowest of margins. Final score Geoff 15 Jon 14. But wait, who was that figure in a Kangol hat approaching the green? Could it be Gunger? Yes it was. “What are you doing here?” They asked in unison. “I couldn’t believe that anyone would be daft enough to play in this and I had to find out!” Said Gunger. “Well we did.”They answered. And so the pair shook hands and went home, anxious to tell their grandchildren that once upon a time they played ‘golf on ice’. “You’re mad as a Hatter.” Said Geoff’s.” On yer bike.” Said Jon’s.
And as all three left an eerie sound was heard, which echoed and swirled and drifted and carried a message from The Spirit of Silecroft Golf Club in his nearby workshop, to golfers everywhere….and if you concentrated and listened really carefully you could just make out what it said….”Yes we’re open…all through the holidays..if you’re mad enough.”
It was the best of days [that weekend] not the worst of days [this year] and our hero had found a different playing partner, a certain Stephen Butterfield, who was prepared to travel from Keswick to give Geoff a game and would also push him to the limit. Stephen’s 19 points consisted of good three pointers on 3,5,6 & 9 and a particularly brilliant iron shot from 140 yards onto the miniature temporary green on the ninth. But Geoff remains in scintillating form and despite the hiccup of a 7 on the 8th was able to better his handicap by three shots and come home with an outstanding 21 points. Having posted 44 points in the Christmas Comp Geoff was naturally keen to play this weekend and was able to add a 21pts to his order of merit. Stephen’s 19 points was no mean feat either. With insufficient numbers to constitute a competition entry fees will be carried over to their next Natterjack rounds.