Bristow Tankards & Annual Dinner at East Sussex National 2021

Friday, 8 October 2021

The flagship event of the year is The Bristow Tankards which precedes the Annual Dinner and has been held at East Sussex National since 2007.

The shotgun start event on the picturesque West Course is a popular event and fills up very quickly.  It could be said that the numbers for the dinner are limited by holding a shotgun start as there are only so many golfers you can get on the course using this format.  The weather man promised an Indian summer day with temperatures reaching 19 degrees.  This may have been the case but after a drizzly start the sun never broke through.  However, perfect conditions for golf as it was still and mild.

Registration is always a busy affair with 130 odd golfers congregating in Huntington's, the roundel dining room in the clubhouse.  ESN let us down slightly by not having enough staff on to cope with orders for breakfast and bacon rolls.  They also ‘moved' the goalposts on the breakfast prices.  However, yours truly assisted by the ever youthful John Benoy succeeded on welcoming everyone and the silent shotgun when off at 11.30.

Our VIP visitors from some of the Counties we play had their own better ball competition on the East course.  We were delighted to welcome Captains and Presidents from, Bedfordshire, Dorset, Essex, Kent, London, Somerset and Surrey.  Cambridgeshire normally join us but the date clashed with their AGM so all representatives were required at their meeting.  

The East course also staged the final of the 2021 Match Play Championship between our own President, Dave Santa Wilkins and his partner Rod England from Sweetwoods Park and Andy Lamb and Micky Grimes of Highwoods.  The match was refereed by Ian Jaggard who is writing a match report as we speak.  The victorious winners were Andy & Micky beating Santa & Rod 3 & 1.

On touring the course John and I witnessed some sparkling drives long putts and lots of smiling faces.  It seemed all was going to plan for many but some asked us for the phone number of The Samaritans!

Whilst golf was being completed I made sure the National Suite in the hotel was laid up correctly and placed menu cards and prepared a prize table.  I had mixed feelings about it being the last dinner I would organise but as I have been given the opportunity to write this report I can stand on my soapbox and say that in the 15 years we’ve been holding out dinner at ESN they still treat every event as if we've never been there before.  This is mostly because the high turnover of staff.  There seems no recognition of the huge bill we pay every year and the turnover we generate in bar sales and rooms - They now want paying up front and I often feel we are the ones jumping through hoops to make it work.  I've never met a manager in the years I’ve organised the event - Just for someone in authority to introduce themselves and say ‘Thank you for your business” would have gone a long way.  Rant over!

Dinner got on the way bang on time and and three course dinner of Smoked Salmon, Roast Lamb and a sticky toffee pudding was well received.  During coffee the Captain, Keith Talbot assisted by myself presented the prizes.

The winners of The Bristow Tankards were David Turner and his guest Nick Wilkin form The Nevill with an impressive 46 points.  Runners up were Richard Jays and Phil Boole of Littlehampton with 44 points (24 back 9) and Third were Raffa Cowan Boscardi and his guest David Jolley of East Brighton with 44 points (22 back 9)

The guests prize went to the pairing of Derek Grimes, President of The Dorset Golf Captain with their Match Secretary, Dave Picton with 40 points.

The Captain’s guest and Father-in-Law, Ken Grout, a Past Captain of Parkstone Golf Club toasted the Sussex Golf Captains and Keith responded with a summing up of some of our match successes.  Keith also paid tribute to Dave Harmer from Willingdon who was retiring as our Match Secretary. Dave has served 21 years in this role and was presented with a handsome fruit bowl with a fitting inscription.  I was also recognised for my efforts with kind words from our Captain which received a standing ovation.  Thank you gentlemen.  I was truly touched.

Keith toasted ‘our guests’ and handed over the Adger Brown who entertained us with his unique comedy and observations on the mad world of political correctness!

Those who had carriages awaiting filed out but many stayed in the hotel bar, keeping the young people of Uckfield employed late into the night.  

The 52nd Sussex Golf Captains Annual Dinner was another resounding success.

Mark Terry

Honorary Secretary

Thanks to Harold Knight for is photographic skills.