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A Message from our Club Captains

2020/2021 Club Captain Stuart McClure

I have the exceptional honour of welcoming you to Hallamshire GC as 2021 Gents Captain. There will be a raft of Captains throughout the country, like Cathryn and I, who are doing a repeat year!  Despite all the trials and tribulations of the past 12 months it has been an absolute pleasure to work with Cathryn and hope that 2021 brings better fortune for all.  We are indebted to our Vice Captains, Andrew Darke and Pauline Bramley, who have generously delayed their year of Office to give us another go. Our thanks are extended to them both as well as to the Past Captains and members for extending the invitation into 2021. In 2020 from March onwards Cathryn and I learnt very quickly to take each day as it came and expect the unexpected. I’m sure we will both carry that view forward into 2021.

Hallamshire has hopefully emerged from 2020 in a pretty robust condition both on and off course. Membership is very healthy and the demand for tee times was at unprecedented levels prior to Lockdown 3. Difficult to predict, at the time of writing this piece, when exactly golf will return as an activity but let’s hope it won’t be too long away and this time the chance of the more social aspect of golf is boosted by the vaccination programme.

 Despite all these issues Hallamshire has been able to continue with its development plans due to effective management from the Board and General Manager and the tremendous faith and support shown from its members. The end of 2020 saw the second and final set of new tees being laid as well as the contract being signed that signals the start of the ground floor refurbishment of the clubhouse that encompasses verandah, bar/lounge, dining room and entrance lobby. It all should be complete for our start of the season (April). It will hopefully also coincide with new catering arrangements which members are keenly anticipating.

2021 will see the retirement of our experienced Course Manager and as a result therefore the start of a new era. The appointment of his successor is expected early in the year to allow for a smooth transition. I’m sure all members and repeat visitors wish Gordon Brammah a long and healthy retirement and thank him for his service, dedication and contribution in making Hallamshire a course to admire and enjoy as a member or visitor.

November 2020 saw the start of a new era with the inception of the World Handicapping System (WHS)  into the UK with a new set of language to take on board. Where previously we just had a handicap we now have a handicap index, course handicap and a competition handicap that will vary according to the format being played. Additionally how many of us will submit a card for handicap purposes away from competition? WHS is part of the push to enhance the inclusive characteristics of the game of golf so results sheets will be closely scrutinised to see what impact it has on achievement!

2021 is a Walker Cup and Ryder Cup year so members were delighted to receive some good news for a change in 2020 as 3 HGC members were named in the preliminary squad for the Walker Cup. We are spoilt in many ways to have already had recent representation in this event but to have 3 potential players in one year is exceptional. 

2021 should hopefully also see the full return of competitive golf below the super elite level. The Sheffield Union league suffered at the hands of Covid so the target of a SUGC and Yorkshire Div1 title will transfer nicely into 2021 instead. For the membership we will hopefully see a proper season of knockout and medal / Stableford competitions return. It is amazing how many of our competitions were completed in 2020 and congratulations to everyone who was a 2020 winner! Hopefully there will be space for the Captain Pro challenge in 2021 and the season closing Captain VS Vice Captain match utilising the more sociable shot gun start.

Lady Captain and I have decided to continue with our support of Sheffield Young Carers as our charity for 2021. Despite the tribulations of 2020 HGC members and visitors raised more than £5,000 for this worthy cause and we hope this will continue with renewed efforts in 2021.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy golfing experience in 2021.

Stuart McClure

2020 /2021 Gentleman Captain 

2020/2021 Lady Captain Cathryn France 

Lady Captain’s year 2020, started as Captains’ years have started throughout the golf club’s history, full of anticipation and excitement for the year ahead. The annual Captain’s drive in was a huge success with a full competitive field, a full clubhouse for the meal and a couple of “average” speeches that followed. Mr Captain was the Victor Ludorum of the trial by drive-in (only by a metre or two), but by far the biggest winner of the day was our chosen charity, Sheffield Young Carers. Thank you all for giving our charity fund a fantastic start.

The ladies winter fiddle continued throughout January proving to be a really popular winter feature, as long as the fog and the rain held off.

 

February became the wettest on record leading to the course being closed for what seemed like an eternity (little did we know what was around the corner!) Golf subsequently returned to normality for a short while. Thoughts turned to the planning of the first competitions of the year - the Lady Captain v Lady Secretary competition, the Start of Season competition and even further into the year, Lady Captain’s day.

 

The middle of March brought news of an infection that sadly has now become part of our daily lives. Covid 19 had become a real threat to the UK, with 600 cases on the 16th March rising to 3,084 cases on the 26th March. The latter date will be remembered as the start of the first national lockdown and the closure of the golf course completely. The administrative side of the club, however, didn’t stop. Board meetings still went ahead, sub committees still met and a new Covid 19 committee evolved to discuss the implications that Government guidelines had on the club; guidelines that seemed to change daily. The Covid 19 group ensured that the members were kept informed of the necessary steps that had to be implemented by the board members. For a period of ten weeks the ground staff had been maintaining the course as best they could, given working restrictions. The local population had discovered the beauty of the course as it became a green space for daily exercise, many of them letting us know how valuable our fairways had been to their health, in what turned out to be 10 weeks of lockdown.

 

Wednesday May 13th. An important day. We were allowed to return to the golf course and play the game we all love. Booking sheets and a booking system were set up to allow a safe return to the game. New rules and restrictions became essential for safe play, rules that became part of the game throughout 2020 and which remain in place for the foreseeable future. Gradually playing restrictions eased from singles and pairs to fourballs, allowing the element of competitive golf to return. The knockout and trophy competitions returned with some slight alterations, to allow their completion in the time restraints we had. The weekly competitions were pencilled in and not surprisingly the demand to play golf was huge. A lovely spell of hot weather ensured the course stood up well to the footfall it was now experiencing. The groundstaff had worked incredibly hard in getting the course ready to withstand the huge number of rounds that were being played. Unfortunately most of the external competitions we all take part in had been cancelled for the year. As the summer months unfolded a few AM/AMs and Opens were able to take place and the laughter and light-hearted banter about the awful shots returned.

 

Lady Captain’s day, that had been evolving in my mind, just wasn’t going to be what I had envisaged. The restriction on any social gatherings prevented anything other than a competition. You only get one Captain’s year and the social aspects of this are hugely important. I kept telling myself “hopefully the social side of golf will be better in September and October”. As the year moved into autumn it was clear this would not be the case. A hastily put together Lady Captain’s Autumn Series at least provided three separate competitions of different formats, with prizes and a trophy for the overall winner.

 

October came and went. On November 5th we entered another lockdown and once again the golf club closed.

 

By December 3rd we were back on the course prepared to play in rain, hail or shine. The weather wasn’t kind, and with fog and rain the days the course was open were restricted.

We did manage to hold our annual Carol concert. With a bit of creative thinking (ensuring all Government guidelines were strictly adhered to) “Hallamshire Carols in the Car Park” evolved. December21st, a cold dry Monday evening, saw a gathering of Hallamshire’s finest voices. Armed with torches, lanterns and carol sheets we occupied our empty car park. Hallamshire’s trusty Salvation Army band member, Keith, kept us in tune and in time. A lone trumpeter, in his golfing shorts, helped raise £450 for the Salvation Army. Singing carols together became even more special given that plans for everyone’s four days of family Christmas celebrations had just been reduced to Christmas Day only. Boxing Day golf, a first for me and something I was looking forward to, became yet another casualty of heavy rain which resulted in a very waterlogged closed course.

 

2018 /19 saw the start of an initiative to encourage more women and girls to play golf at Hallamshire. Taster sessions led to group coaching and to a couple of ladies taking up our Pathway to Membership offer. Covid 19 saw the planned sessions for 2020 cancelled but new sessions are planned for 2021. As a result of this initiative the club decided to apply for, and were successfully awarded, the Women in Golf Charter by the R&A in December. As Charter signatories the club is committed to being proactive in encouraging women, girls and families to play golf.

 

2020 was a difficult, challenging year for us all. Some of us have lost loved ones. All of us have had to make sacrifices and have missed out on events, opportunities and so many other things. Family would have to be on the top of my list, with hugging a close second. We have all missed the things that golf and being a member of a golf club brings us. The friendship, the laughter, the break from the stresses of daily life (offering you different ones to think about), the competitive element and for some, an extra bit of cash in your pocket. Covid 19 has made it so hard to support fellow members at times when they needed it most. We mustn’t forget that the golf club provides a lifeline to many of its members.

 

So, in a nutshell, that was Lady Captain’s year 2020. I think I can confidently say that it has been like no other!

 

2021 has given me another chance at a Captain’s year. Thank you to everyone for allowing me a “second throw of the dice”. January has welcomed in a third lockdown and the closure of the course. Who knows how we will be eased out of this one? Some things however I do know:

 

·        The start of 2020 was better than the start of 2021.

·        The job of the Board and committees, that I am part of, will still be going ahead. Zoom meetings have become fairly slick and my IT skills have improved, having had a few months of enforced practice.

·        The new World Handicap System (WHS) will take a bit of getting used to.

·        The support from Mr Captain, the Ladies Committee, the Board of Directors, the General Manager, the Professional staff and all the other employees, was invaluable in 2020. I can’t thank them enough for their help and support. It is reassuring to know they will all be there in 2021.

·        I have really enjoyed my year working with Stuart. Thank you for all your help, support and laughter throughout 2020. Hopefully this year we will be able to bring the membership together in some social events.

·        Our Captains Charity remains the same as for 2020. Sheffield Young Carers still need our help in 2021. The restrictions on social gatherings in 2020 had a huge impact on our ability to raise funds for our Captains charity. Without the sterling efforts of Collette rattling her charity bucket at the Halfway House on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Open days our donations would have been massively reduced. Collette’s Christmas Hamper raffle raised over £1,200 pounds, taking her total raised in 2020 to over £2,000. A big thank you Collette from Stuart, Sheffield Young Carers and me.

·        You will have new Captains in 2022. Without Andrew Darke and Pauline Bramley agreeing to defer their captain’s year to 2022, the chances of experiencing the “highs” of a captain’s year would have passed me by. Thank you both.

·        I do know what a wonderful diverse group of members we have and feel very honoured to be your Lady Captain for a second year.

I am sure we’re not sure what 2021 will bring!

Here’s hoping,

Cathryn France

Lady Captain 2020 – 2021.