Alumni reunited for thirteenth Golf Day

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Alumni Golf Day at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, Wirral

The annual Alumni Golf Day resumed this year for an extra special event after the day was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Alumni, staff and students joined together at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, Wirral for the annual tournament. Alumni Golf Day organiser and Sport Liverpool’s Sport Development Manager, Stuart Wade shares his account of the event.

“The Alumni Golf Day has been a highlight of the golfing season for many of our golfing graduates since its inception in 2008. Our first year attracted thirty-three alumni. That number reached over fifty in 2019. Since 2008, the day has been bolstered by students, staff and a team representing Royal Liverpool with total numbers in attendance reaching eighty, two years ago. We had hoped to keep that progress going in April 2020 before a pandemic reared its ugly head and put paid to much of what we take for granted. Excitement was high as plans were put in place for a 2021 resumption.

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again”

“Happily, the event was resurrected taking place at Hoylake on the 15th October 2021. We attracted sixty-six graduates in total to the day and normal service felt very much resumed as alumni mixed in the bar reminiscing about the days when they bestrode the links like a golfing behemoth.

“To help us capture its usual essence I have enlisted the wisdom of Charles Dickens; a man touring the country performing his public readings in the late 1860s when Royal Liverpool was taking its baby steps.

“The day started as usual with a greeting from staff from our alumni team who were running the registration desk. The annual collection of the logoed ball and University tees provided the warm up for the bacon roll and coffee. A couple of hardier souls seemed happy to sup a pint to steel themselves for the challenge ahead. Since the 2019 event there had been a number of course alterations as we approach the Open in 2023. Royal Liverpool would test the alumni to the hilt.

“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape”

“Dickens experienced and wrote with great knowledge about the suffering of the 19th century. He may not have visited Hoylake and his views on golf are unknown but our day can be guided by his wise words. The 15th of October was a beautiful day. A slight, not mighty wind was offering pleasure not pain. Alumni were busy planning their assault on the unusually forgiving links. The links usually has the last laugh but would it in 2021? We know these golfers could be broken but would they end up in better shape?

“Scores as often reflected the weather. The green course hosted the scratch stableford competition and saw eleven scores in the 70s which was two more than the nine scores in the 70s in 2019. A new guard jostled for supremacy with only 80s icon Paul Williams threatening the top three. Arthur Jennings, Dan Cawley, James Pinhorn, Andy Jones and Craig Oliver all mounted a serious challenge. Angus Harris-White and Ethan Davies of student vintage pushed hard. A shroud of happiness seemed to envelop the course and clubhouse as a number of happy red-faced golfers returned clutching scorecards. There was however visual evidence of an element of communal suffering as a number of scores in the teens were returned!

“It was, however, a student that prevailed as it took a gross seventy-one by Sam Potter to win the day with thirty-seven points. Sam plays off plus five and won by three points from student Mike McQueen with thirty-four. The 2019 winner, Flora Keites, came third on count back with thirty-four and secured the leading lady prize. Ethan’s 2021 student team proudly took the team prize back from the mid-80s perennially high achievers led by Sean Hamilton.

“Reflect upon your present blessings – of which everybody has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which everybody has some”

“All students this year played the green course leaving the yellow course to the elder and higher handicapped brigade who after turning left at Elysium and right again at Nirvana still find the key to golfing perfection impossible to locate. Those of us opting for the yellow course did indeed count our blessings. Nobody more than Dermot Staunton, a dentist of the early 1980s era, whose forty-one points was too good for the others. Dermot’s early 1980s team took all before them with eighty-four points just pipping the Brabner late 1960s/early 1970s vintage return of eighty-two points.

“Sleeves of balls were secured on nearest the pins by Olivia Hunt who prevailed on two holes and old boy Tom Garner from the early 2010s. Flora Keites and Mark Hayes of the student members took the longest drive prizes. Youth was having its day in the sun.

“At 7pm the housekeeper, Shaun Herbert, banged his gong with gusto heralding dinner. A wondrous act in itself. After traditional post-golf socialising we climbed the stairs on being summoned to allow the end of the day’s proceedings to run their delightful courses.

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule”

“Moving to the Club Room with its unrestricted views across the estuary to North Wales is always a pleasure. Like many things in life it is easy to take such a view for granted albeit at an October event darkness takes over shortly after 7pm. The strength of this day seems to me that all who attend do not take lifelong pleasures such as friendship and camaraderie for granted. The evidence tells us that those who attend every year lead the way in ensuring the flowers of friendship surrounding their feet never stop growing.

“A well delivered joint grace by two members of our 1964 team; Philip Dyer and Martin Eyre welcomed dinner in their own inimitable style. As guests sat down the MC welcomed a masters student called Carlos who had arrived from Mexico four days earlier. In that time, he had not only located the golf club at University but had also got himself invited to an event at Royal Liverpool. Clearly a good addition.

“The haddock starter and beef and stilton main course were complemented by chardonnay and malbec; a high performing duo. The sticky toffee pudding played its role and the cheese plate and coffee administered the culinary coup de grace. The evidence once again justified the admiring looks as dinner was as always served in excellent fashion by an outstanding team at Royal Liverpool.

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life”

“Postprandial saw us move into the speech phase of the evening. I offered a toast to Royal Liverpool Golf Club, in the absence of Professor Ronan McGrath, and gave an overview of the University club’s history and long-standing links with Royal Liverpool. Former Captain and author Joe Pinnington responded on behalf of the club and entertained those present with some trenchant reminisces of life at Hoylake and of the strong relationship Royal Liverpool enjoys with the University. Joe celebrated the excellent relationship that is approaching 60-years. It remains one of many supportive facts that Liverpool remains the only University golf team in the UK who play all fixtures at an Open venue.

“Next on the dais was University Captain in 2021 Ethan Davies. Ethan gave a positive resume of the 2019/20 season which had seen the 1st team very nearly reach the inaugural Premier League finishing second behind Newcastle in the top northern tier. The second team hung on after being promoted the previous season. A number of individuals had performed well with Flora and Ethan reaching the final round of the BUCS Tour. As a member of Birkdale Ethan was very well placed to offer his thanks to the club for the condition of the course and support for the students throughout the club. The student members have never taken for granted the opportunities available to them as golfers at the University of Liverpool.

“It is a far far better thing I do than I have ever done”

“The last speech of the evening was delivered by Tony Parker. Tony spoke of his student days in the 1960s when Liverpool was the centre of many people’s sporting and musical world. He delighted us all with reminisces of being a golfer in the days prior to weekly university match play competition where trips to Ireland and other more local clubs provided a memorable golfing experience. Friendships forged then remained strong to this day.

“Dermot then addressed the room to offer a brief remembrance of his good friend and Liverpool alumnus, Clive Brereton who had passed away recently. Clive was part of Dermot’s University golfing era but was well known and well-liked by many golfers all over Merseyside during his time as a member at Formby and Birkdale. He was a supporter too of the early years of the Alumni golf days. The room raised a glass to Clive and toasted his memory.

“The students chariot once again carried them off at 10.45pm with the usual few older alumni jumping aboard still believing the Cabin may let them in. It shut ten years ago. The yellow course players and Joe stayed behind to imbibe a little longer and to enjoy the chance of actually hearing each other. Both groups as usual sought pleasure and happiness in their own way. They keep coming back though which always a good sign.

“The event has been well supported by a good number over the years. Our ongoing thanks go to Mike Cresswell, Adrian Mitchell, Mike Harris, Tom Woodhouse’s team, Sam Cooper, Andy Smith’s team and the staff of in the Alumni Relations team at University. Their support has added a delightful topping to this delightful cake.

“Please sir may I have some more”

“So, another splendid event has been and gone. Royal Liverpool looked resplendent in the autumn sunshine providing the customary memorable Alumni Day. Charles Dickens would, I am sure, have given it his seal of approval as the event continually reconnects old pals and creates great joy. He wasn’t all misery Charles as many of his works confirm.

“The Hard Times of 2020 are giving way to Great Expectations as we look to the next event in April 2022. Two in six months feels like too good to be true and its proximity in no way lessens the feeling among the alumni golfers who certainly wish to have more.”

- Stuart A Wade