It is time for me to say “good bye”.  Don’t get too excited; I am not leaving just handing over the Club Captaincy on Monday 1 October at the AGM!

One of the items of business at the AGM is to appoint the Honorary Independent Examiner of the Members’ Funds Accounts.  Chris Jardine is retiring from the post this year and so we are in need of a volunteer.  The position is not onerous (with only 3 or 4 days in the last week of August and first week of September) required and a brief role description is accessible from the AGM Notice on the website.  I would like to record my thanks to Chris Jardine for performing those duties for us for the past six years.  A new encumbent does not have to stay in the role for that long!  We do need members to help with the running of our club.  I ask anyone remotely willing to please contact me for more information.

As is customary at the AGM, I shall give a parting speech.  As a member of the Club for the past 24 years I do understand that the majority of you will not be there.  So I probably need to use this communiqué as the vehicle for my parting comments.

I feel the need to apologise to you all for the gap since my last communiqué.  Some of you will be aware that my father became seriously ill and passed away in April.  I became somewhat pre-occupied with that and helping my mother, who fortunately now lives in Camberley.   I have tried to make myself available at the Club for you; but sitting down and writing stuff is not one of my strengths.   I am merely providing an explanation, not seeking sympathy.  Dad was 90 and I (together with my sisters) have much to celebrate.

The committee thought that we had organized ourselves well to cope with the structural changes that we put to you at the last AGM.  We had, but there was more to deal with than perhaps we expected, despite good planning.  The year has been challenging but I think we have managed to meet most of your expectations.

The biggest change, of course, was to eliminate the position of Lady Captain.  We also eliminated the post of Men’s Captain – but that is of little consequence to the Men’s Section.  One day – and I hope in the not too distant future – we will have a lady taking the position of Club Captain.  For the Ladies’ Section to lose their figurehead was a big deal.  I want to go on record to thank every single one of the ladies for making me feel so welcome when attending their activities this year.  They have all gone beyond my expectations in accepting me as their captain and for that I am most grateful.  I am looking forward to my last “hurrah” with them at the Ladies’ Autumn Dinner.

Before I comment on activities and events, it is probably appropriate to address the condition of the course.  There is no question that the majority of golf clubs have experienced problems associated with the weather this year.  We are no exception.  Leigh Powell and his team have had a real struggle to present the course as they would wish.  They have put in a lot of work, but the near drought conditions have created a real problem.  Although they continued watering the greens and tees, the team could not cut them as short as they would have liked because that would have caused real damage.  The sustained hot weather conditions and soil temperatures meant that our ability to provide sufficient water across the course was not possible given our irrigation capability as the net evaporation process exceeded the net moisture gain – and even if we could it might have been ecologically irresponsible.  The fairways have started to recover, but insufficiently.  That has caused the team to implement an over-seed programme.  The fine slits that you have witnessed in the fairways and aprons is where the equipment forces the seed into the ground.  It is unsightly, but essential for the recovery.  You may be unhappy with the current condition of the course; I can assure you that so is the management team.  Leigh is doing everything he can to rectify the situation for us – I ask for your forbearance and understanding.

So to the golf.  Our members, representing the Club externally at golf, have done us proud.  The Ladies narrowly lost their Maple Leaf Final against Farnham, reached the semi-final of the Pearson at Burhill and finished well in the Druce at Tyrrells Wood.  The Men have performed very well in their first appearance in the Annodata and delivered well in the Surrey 5s and Tigers; not so well in the Rabbits and Ling.  Of course, we won the Tigers League for the last few years so coming runner-up this season – losing on “goal difference” to Chobham – is a shame!  Seriously though, Malcolm Wells has done a fabulous job over the past few seasons leading the Tigers’ team.

The friendly matches have gone well for us (generally) and I would like to thank Andrew Fraser (the Committee’s Inter Club Match Coordinator) for his leadership and organization with the team captains.

Our Juniors have been fantastic this year both in Windlesham representative teams and individually.  I probably ought to discuss the Juniors’ successes; but there are too many to mention here.  I had the pleasure of participating in the Junior Captain’s Charity Day on Sunday 9 September.  Joe Silcock (our Junior Captain), with the significant help of his parents, delivered a “Ryder Cup format” day to remember and raised an impressive £1,619 for my Captain’s Charity – thank you Joe.

The Juniors also performed caddy duties on Master’s Sunday for the SAS group and 9-hole Social enabling a further £600 to be raised for the Charity.  Some of the younger Juniors were allowed to use trolleys!

Earlier in the year we held the Captain’s Charity Day.   Instead of playing, I chose to roam the course with chocolate bars and water for you all.  It was a warm day, so putting the chocolate in my fridge the night before was a good move.  With all the activities on the day, including the auction, we raised an amazing £8,167 between us all.  I am very grateful to you for your generosity.

I am similarly grateful for the significant contributions from the Bridge Club (£1,045), the Highwaymen (£1,200), Ladies’ Section (£2,190 from their Charity Day & Christmas event), WGML (£2,400 from the WGML Charity Day) and some very generous individuals during the year.  In total we have reached £20,000 this year.  I can assure you that PARITY will be enormously grateful.

I have many other thanks to deliver.  I have already thanked the Ladies’ Section – but that is worth repeating.  I need to thank the members on the Main Committee and Competitions committee for all their help this year – nothing could have been delivered for you without their dedication and hard work.  I need to thank my wife, Susan, for her patience with me.  Susan knew that she would have to give up on my attention while Club Captain; but I don’t think either of us anticipated just how much time would be involved with that Club Captain responsibility.  Thank you Susan – I shall be all yours after the Captain’s Drive-in on 7 October and you can dig out that DIY list that I have been avoiding for the last year.  I would like to thank Tony Trueman and his staff for their support this year – in particular the Pro-shop and bar staff; particularly the latter who have looked after my regular and frequent need for refreshment!  One of those bar staff worthy of mention is Tomek.  Tomek’s last day with us was Sunday 16 September; he has departed to further his career at Goring & Streatley Golf Club and I am sure that you will join me in wishing him the very best of luck.  At the lunch on Finals Day, I said a few words of thanks and he received a well-deserved standing ovation – Tomek was moved.

Lastly, but by no means least, I wish to thank all the members for making my role so enjoyable over the past twelve months.  So many of you have spoken to me whenever I am in the Clubhouse; will that continue when I am an ex-captain?

I do hope that the AGM follows the Committee’s proposal and passes the resolution to appoint Lee Wood as Club Captain for 2018/19.  I want to wish Lee as much, more if that is possible, enjoyment next year.

Thank you,

Graham

Your grateful Club Captain

PS We do provide free wine and canapés after the AGM!