So they arrived, some young, some not so young, in all shapes and sizes (as befits a bespoke tailoring company's golf day); some in hope, some in expectation, some in trepidation and some in awful trousers, to be met with bacon sandwiches and hot drinks to calm the nerves.
The weather was glorious, the banter less so, as desperate men, and a couple of brave ladies, got their excuses in before they even arrived at the first tee:
"...I haven't touched a golf club since last year...."
"...I'm not really a warm-weather player..."
"...I don't remember these trousers being quite so gaudy, or quite that tight frankly..."
And then that dreaded moment when the four-balls are announced and handicaps have to be revealed. It is never pretty to see grown men squirm in public as they haggle over their handicaps which, inevitably, are always higher on the day than they are in the weeks leading up to the event. It is odd that single-figure handicappers in April and May are keen to play off, let's say, 15 in June.
As for the golf itself, well I think it is safe to say that in a week which saw England lose to the All Blacks in Hamilton, capitulate to Sri Lanka at Headingley, and scrape a draw with mighty Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte, it was truly heart-warming to see a group of Englishmen (and women) doing the nation proud as they strode purposefully down those (very) long fairways, battling with the penal rough, dicing with Augusta-like bunkers and navigating their way across greens the size of centre court at Wimbledon. In fact all that was really missing was Phil Neville to catch the excitement of the day with an informed and incisive commentary.
Whilst in truth, we were all winners, a particularly comforting statement for those who recorded a card like mine, someone had to emerge at the top of the leader board, and that someone on this occasion was Brett Budden. It was probably just as well that Brett had to leave immediately at the end of his round as he was flying out to Ibiza for a stag weekend (he was obviously looking for a quiet couple of days after the excitement of the golf), as it is fair to say that some of his fellow competitors were keen to discuss his handicap of 27 (hmm), which enabled him to amass 44 Stableford points. Obviously, this being a Mullen & Mullen event,there were no sore losers present, but as the drinks flowed over lunch, Brett's handicap did seem to become a more and more interesting topic of conversation.
As for the organizers, we were just relieved that this year's vegetarian option was not chicken, as it was last year!!
Here's to next year, and boy am I going to practice in the meantime!!