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club agm

Why the club AGM is golf’s dentist’s chair

They’re absolutely essential if you’re going to have a happy golf club but there is always a group of people waiting to spoil it, writes Steve Carroll
 

There’s always a moment – lying there prostrate while someone pokes at your gums with a sharp implement – where you really don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. Am I going to get a clean bill of health, or is a needle about to signal a protracted and painful root canal? None of us enjoys a stint in the dentist’s chair and this is exactly how I feel about the golf club AGM.

It’s a necessary evil but it’s a chore to be endured, never savoured.

My golf club AGM is imminent and my mood has been growing bleaker the closer we’ve got to D-Day. At its best, it’s several hours listening to a close breakdown of what the committee have been spending their money on over the last 12 months, and justifying why the cash we splurged out for the junior team shirts was a worthy investment.

But at its worst it’s torture – you run the gamut while the members slice you up like a cadaver on everything from the subscription increase to the Sunday medal that was cancelled in a monsoon eight months ago.

Golf club AGM

I fear this year more than most.

We’ve been busy over the winter, bringing in a new code of conduct, hammering out the handicap review and setting new terms of competition for all our events.

All of which have simply brought us up to date with most other clubs but, if you’ve never been through them before, are also tantamount to inciting a revolution.

We’re about to find out how the membership really feel about the sanction they’ll pick up if they fail to post their scorecard, or whether the player that’s been carping about their two shot increase to anyone who’ll listen in the clubhouse will now unload their angst in front of a prime time audience.

I often spend the preliminaries in the bar – for no one wants to walk in without having something alcoholic to lean on – sizing up the crowd.

And there are a handful of people that, if I catch a glimpse of them, will start an air raid siren in my head and send me running for the nearest mental shelter.

Golf club AGM troublemaker No. 1:  The note taker 

This will go one of two ways. Either they’ve got so much to get off their chest they couldn’t get it all down on one piece of A4, so strap yourself in for a beating.

Or worse, they’re planning to take notes. That will not end well. Long after you’ve forgotten you promised to sort out the coffee machine, they’ll have that commitment down in writing – ready to hurl at you whenever the infernal contraption spits out a latte and not the weak strain of liquid masquerading as a mocha.

Golf club AGM troublemaker No. 2:  The antagonist 

As Alfred says to Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight: “Some people just want to watch the world burn.”

This antagonist doesn’t even believe what they are saying, they just want you to squirm.

They know the pinch points as well. You’ve got through a whole evening with nary a squeak and then, once you’ve called off the mental dogs, they hit with you with a sidewinder – usually something obscure about first aid.

Golf club AGM troublemaker No. 3:  The nuisance

The most feared beast you will encounter at a golf club AGM. They are like a golf evangelist – utterly committed and convinced right is on their side.

Whether they’ve noticed that the 17th is actually playing two yards shorter than it says on the card, that the locker wouldn’t accept their pound coin that one time, or the telephone answer machine failed to reveal that one of the greens was a temporary, they are zealous about clearing up these ‘wrongs’ and desperate for the rest of the membership to know they’ve got a crusader looking out for them. Even though everyone else despises them as well.

The only thing you can do is sit there, take it and hope they’ll soon move on to something else. But they never, ever, will.

golf club agm

For all the misery, the grandstanding, and the arguments, though, I’ll watch on with good grace and answer whatever is asked of me. Despite all its faults, I understand how important the golf club AGM is in the life of a thriving organisation.

For many, it’s the one chance they’ll get to air their concerns in front of the people who can actually sort them out: in our case the committee and managing director.

And often a bit of venting clears the air and everyone comes out of the horror somehow cleansed as a result.

So I’m getting ready to get back in the dentist’s chair – and praying I don’t come out with a mouth full of fillings.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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