I thought captaincy was posing for a few photos – how wrong I was

The Scoop

I thought it was just about making a few speeches. But I underestimated what captaincy was - and how difficult it would be...

I’ve realised I’m nearer the end than the beginning. When the first signs of spring appear next year, my term as club captain at Sandburn Hall will come to a close.

Barring a stint handing out prizes at the club presentation, shepherding through Captain’s Weekend – we’re off to the delightful Formby – and continuing to ‘encourage’ people to donate to Bloodwise (my official charity), I’m really all but done.

There was a time during the height of summer where it seemed like I was making a speech every time I drove into the car park.

For someone who has always been a reluctant public speaker, I can now deliver a missive off pat at the merest tap on my shoulder. This has been a positive.

My club is a proprietary – it’s run by an owner rather than the members. That means I don’t have to ‘manage’ the club, I don’t sit on numerous committees and I don’t have any say in expenditure.

The role is essentially symbolic. I’m a figurehead – trying to show Sandburn off in the best possible light.

Because of that, I may have underestimated how deeply the role is entrenched in the life of a club.

I figured I’d say a few words every now and then, try and raise a bit of cash and, generally, aim to be an all-round good sort.

But it’s actually been much wider than that. I’ve chaired disciplinary hearings and been the focal point for frustration when members have had concerns.

Captain's Day

There have been enormous highs – Captain’s Day was a huge success – and equally disproportionate lows.

What I have learned is that you need to have patience (never one of my strengths), be prepared to listen and ensure you are always available – no matter how trivial the matter might seem.

You also need lots of support and so I am grateful to our golf manager Emma Brown and her team for the help they’ve given me so far.

It’s been harder than I thought. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

My month in golf

With the nights drawing in, opportunities to get out and about are clearly limited.

The builders have moved in at Sandburn Hall, starting the second year of Open architect Martin Ebert’s project to develop the course.

I’ve been interested to see how the layout will change next season now the specialist shapers have shifted tons of earth. As you can see, there’s already been quite a lot of progress.

It’ll be largely home comforts for me until the New Year. That’s not to say golf will become monotonous, though. We had an over 50s vs under 50s match this month. Needless to say, youth comfortably won the day.

Out and about

Now the threat of .1 has been removed from every time we step on the first tee, we can relax and let our golf run free over the winter.

You’ve been fulsome with your contributions when I asked how your club spiced up their competitions with a bit of variety.

Now I want to know now whether winter brings any new novelties to the golfing schedule.

How do you brighten up a round when the mercury falls below freezing and the fairways are full of snow?

At Close House, where I am a country member, the club introduced a Risk and Reward Flag Challenge.

On each hole, there are two flags and players choose which to target. One’s in a safe position on the green and the other’s in a potentially perilous spot.

Clearly, the rewards differ depending on which flag you choose to hit.

It’s a bit different from the average winter series event and introduces a tactical element into an otherwise nondescript Saturday.

Can you beat that? Drop me a line at s.carroll@sportspub.co.uk or tweet @Steve CarrollNCG and we’ll print the best ones.

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