Tenby Golf Club – The Railway, James Braid and Dai Rees

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Tenby is a town with a lot of history. Originally a Norse settlement, the town has developed fairly peacefully for the greater part of its life.  The architecture reflects the steady progress of history with some of the finest buildings remaining intact. For example the largest parish church in Wales, St. Mary’s. It is thought that this has been the site of a church since Norman times and the tower of the current church is over 700 years old.  The 15th century Tudor Merchant’s House on Quay Street is the oldest furnished building in Tenby and still decorated with authentic Tudor fittings.  However the most striking features of the town are the walls that were built following the destruction of the town by Prince Llewelyn in 1260 that surround part of the streets and alleyways. The narrow streets in some parts of the town give it an air of cosiness and warmth, at least for a great deal of the year. In the height of summer this protection from invading armies can become quite claustrophobic as the visitors push and jostle their way along the narrow, medieval streets.

This is in stark contrast to the golf course, situated close to the town, where the layout of fairway, rough and gorse give it the traditional links feel of being at one with nature. It embodies the word ‘links’ which literally means the linking of the land with the sea.

The town of Tenby is known in Welsh as Dinbych y Pysgod. This translates as ‘little fort of fishes’ which would have perfectly summed up the town and the surrounding walls for much of its long history where fishing has always been a vital part of the town’s’ economy.

The steady historical progress of the town came to an abrupt turn with the arrival of the double-edged sword of the railways in 1853. The town was seen as a health resort and Sir William Paxton, politician and merchant banker invested heavily in the town.  The Napoleonic wars prevented the affluent Victorians travelling to Europe and soon the area became increasingly popular. This elite trickle of tourists in the first half of the 19th century became a flood of popular visitors as the railway arrived at Tenby in 1863.

To accommodate the influx of visitors and their increasing desire for sport and entertainment the business people of the town created the golf club. The club was also a focal point for local business owners to relax, play and meet. Although the club was officially founded in 1888 there is evidence that even 13 years earlier the game was played along the coast. In a report in the ‘Laws of Markets and Fairs’ it is revealed that that court proceedings were delayed as the Mayor of Tenby adjourning a case to play.

Tenby is the oldest golf club in Wales. It was established on September 31st 1888 after a meeting in the Town Hall. At the meeting 6 local residents decided to officially form a club. The first membership fees were 10/6d per year or 5/- per month (equivalent to £280 / year or £130 / month today)

Tenby Golf Club was the first affiliated club in Wales and a founder member of the Welsh Golfing Union in 1895 with Porthcawl (founded 1892), Swansea Bay (1894), Glamorganshire (1890), Caernarvonshire (1890), Borth – Ynylas (1885), Aberdovey (1892), Rhyl (1890) and Merionethshire.

The golf course is as perfect as you can make a golf course. The gently undulating but rugged land running along the coast is perfect for seaside golf. The rough and gorse have been used to its maximum effect. If you hit a good shot you’ll get a good result. It’s a course for thinkers not sloggers. It’s not a long course and each hole is different from each other, and different from the previous day. The wind has a huge effect on the course as it should with a links course. The views across Carmarthen Bay and the monastic Caldey Island are spectacular. The course uses the features of the area in a fascinating contest that echoes the original golfing layouts of Scotland. It especially echoes the course at Prestwick, the setting for the first Open Competition. It can be tough, but always fair. Although there are some blind shots they add to the flavour of an ’old-fashioned‘  course compared to the relative homogeny of today’s courses where WYSIWYG. At Tenby there is still that element of surprise and luck that modern golf architects seem to be determined to take out of the game.

This is no accident. The main designer of the course, and the man responsible for the feel of the course is James Braid. Braid a golf professional and course designer from Fife, Scotland won 5 Open championships at the turn of the 20th century. However, it was as a course designer that he felt his great passion and designed over 200 golf courses in Britain including Championship courses at Carnoustie, Troon, and Prestwick. He worked on 20 courses in Wales. He was prolific and worked the same way. He kept the greens committee happy by charging a low fee and communicating his ideas quickly and effectively.

James Braid was brought to the club early in its existence. In July 1902 he was paid £6 to inspect the course and suggest improvements. Five years later he returned with suggestions and the course was expanded to 18 holes. This new course was opened at Easter 1907 and has largely remained the same ever since.

The course has had a number of famous supporters; Lloyd George, the only Welsh Prime Minister and keen golfer was a frequent visitor and had a holiday home close to the course.

Dai Rees, the Welsh Ryder Cup captain that took the Ryder Cup from USA in the middle of a period where British golf was dominated by America was also a keen player.

An unusual feature of the course is that each hole is named after a feature. Dai Rees is commemorated with the par 3 3rd. Other holes include; ‘Monks Way’, ‘View O’Caldey’, ‘The Railway’ and of course, ‘James Braid’.

***

The American writer and golfer Robert Kroeger toured the links courses of Wales and summed up perfectly many golfers thoughts on Tenby golf course;

“Tenby was my favourite course in Wales. The blind shots didn’t seem overwhelming and the drama of high dunes and deep hollows more than compensated for this lack of visibility. The greens, true, fast, and always undulating, were the best we’d seen in Wales.” – Robert Kroeger

This article first appeared in Cambria Magazine December 2011

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Venus .v. Mars In The Interview Room

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Could a gung-ho, risk-taking attitude at work be giving men a head start on the career-ladder? A look at how women with a cautious nature may be disadvantaged in the interview process.

I am reluctant to write about one particular issue for trainers: the differences between men and women. I have noticed that in many publications dealing with HR issues one step away from the Politically Correct line and the writer gets savaged (Training ZONE seems less guilty than most I must admit).

However it is this sense of saying the wrong thing that is becoming a real problem in training rooms. It’s not that we (trainers) deliberately try to discriminate – but mistakes happen. I’ve been castigated on a few occasions for not including a woman (or man) when I’ve split training sessions up for group work. There was a time when I was mortified and felt like such a sexist pig for failing to have the right mix. Luckily I’ve become far more comfortable admitting my mistakes.

So, what is this difference? It concerns interviewing and competition in the workplace. Interview training is something I’ve done a fair amount of and it never occurred to me that there could be potential problems for women. (“Why would you – being a man,” I hear.)

“When a senior management role was advertised with a salary of £55,000, there were no women applicants. When the same post was re-advertised with a salary of £35, 000, the advertisers were overwhelmed with applications from women.”

There is always competition in the workplace: If people acknowledge this then it is overt competition and often healthy; If they fail to acknowledge this then it is covert competition and invariably destructive. Individuals will compete to be the most popular, the least popular, the most productive, the least productive etc.

A psychologically interesting example of a potential problem occurred recently when a senior management role was advertised with a salary of £55,000 per annum. There were no women applicants. However, when the same post was re-advertised with a salary of £35,000 per annum the advertisers were overwhelmed with applications from women.

On a more day-to-day level I’ve started thinking about interviewing. There are some differences between men and women. (My disclaimer here – I know this doesn’t apply to everyone and people shouldn’t make assumptions, etc. I’m not saying it’s a good or bad thing – it’s just a thing.)

Men tend to be more aggressive and in a workplace situation this often shows itself as taking more risks than women. This has been established through a number of recent studies. Women tend to choose high probability, low payoff strategies. Men will often rush to a high-risk solution and take a chance in a ‘do or die’ gesture. The implications of this behaviour in assessments may well imply to (more often than not, predominately male) interviewers that the female lacks confidence or competence.

In a recent study Fisher and Cox argue that this could well be the underlying reason women, on average, take longer to respond to questions. This can often indicate to interviewers a degree of indecisiveness. In fact they may well need to weigh up all the options. This will be compounded by the fact that women are generally less likely to take guesses than men. Under pressure, perhaps at an interview or in an assessment, men would be more inclined to have a stab at an answer. Women would tend to want to consider the situation and assess the risks. In a real work environment one would suppose these virtues of balance and control would be ideal. In the artificial assessment situation however this failure to respond quickly is often taken as an indicator of lack of confidence.

There is a lot more data behind this and numerous other factors. I feel it is, at the least, interesting and at worse, possibly discriminatory. It’s an area we, certainly I, have never considered before when training interviewees, or interviewees. Maybe I should.

* Reference: Fisher, M., and A. Cox, Gender and programming contests: Mitigating exclusionary practices, Informatics in Education (2006)

Updated Bio

I’m a bit divided.

On the one hand, I write about the world of leadership and management – theory and practice, motivation, leadership skills, change matrices and decision making, communication, customer care, bottom lines, double-loop learning and stress, resilience and assertiveness,  attribution theory, behavioural interviewing, project management, group think, Egan’s Shadowside and Scholes’ excellent Cultural Web.

Which is fine.

However, I also write about golf. If inuits have 50 words for snow (which they don’t) then I wish us Welsh had 100 words for grass. It would make my life a lot easier.

I have written a number of books and articles on each area. However, thus far no-one has approached me to make a film of  ‘Tenby to Celtic Manor:  A History of Welsh Golf’ starring Tom Hardy …. thus far.

Surprising Netflix has offered me obscene amounts to make a TV series of ‘ 25 Management Techniques in 90 Minutes’, featuring Andrew Scott. I’m assuming they are involved in some bidding war with Amazon Prime.

I have been a columnist and feature writer for a diverse range of publications – Across The Board (U.S.A.), Business Day (South Africa), Career Times (Hong Kong), C.F.O. (Australia), Golf Today (U.S.A.), Management First (U.K.), Management Today (Australia), Marketing Magazine (N.Z.), Public Servant (U.K.), The Age (Australia), The Guardian (U.K.).

I was the author of Tales From the Front (HRD Press, U.S.A – and 25 Management Techniques in 90 minutes (MB2000),  From Tenby to Celtic Manor – a History of Golf in Wales ( Gwasg Carreg Gwalch) ‘.

And I’ll go t’foot of our stairs …… I’m listed on the Writers of Wales database

Tommy The Cat – Meanest Man In Cwm

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Tommy the Cat saves money with new ‘electric’ trolley system

Last summer the club needed some money. They offered members who had been members 20 years or more a deal –

Annual membership is £600.

The deal they offered was a one off £6000 payment for life long membership. Nothing to pay ever after that.

Tommy the Cat is intrigued. He is 65. He’s not in the best of health, to be fair, with a recent heart op and a gammy leg. Still, it’s something he could easily afford. He is a millionaire with a chain of bakeries in the valleys area and a lot of money in the bank for a variety of ‘projects’.

Tommy decided not to take up the offer.

Me – Why not Tommy?

Tommy – I went to see Dai Doggs, the doctor.

  • Tommy – Dai, tell me straight doc how long do you think I’ll live?
  • Dai – You’ll live for ever you daft, evil bastard.
  • Tommy – Stop pissing around Dai. Tell me seriously, honestly.
  • Dai – Well if I was a betting man I’d say 10 years more or less.
  • Tommy – More or less?
  • Dai – Eh?
  • Tommy – More or less?
  • Dai – Possibly less, I guess

Tommy – So I thought it’s not worth taking the gamble is it?

Tall Tales From Tregethin – 1. Bobby Jones And The Ystrad Mynach Cup

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Dai Rees Lounge, Cwm, Wales
“It was the week before the Ystrad Mynach Cup when I met Bobby Jones first. Bobby Jones – the legend, the man. Probably the greatest golfer in, well, in ever. Here in Tregethin was the man that entered twenty majors, won thirteen and lost seven. Here was the winner of three proper Opens , four yankee Opens, and whatever number is left Amateur Championships. And there he was in the flesh, as sure as I’m sitting here, as close as I am to Dai Copy. Bobby Jones walking down Balaclava Terrace like, you know, like a normal person. Bobby Jones the grand slam amateur winner – an amateur! Well – amateurish. But, wow. Bobby ‘the man’ Jones. He won almost everything. Almost everything.”

Doctor Dai Doggs lifted his pint of Guinness and finished the final third in a long, slow gulp. By the time he had wiped his mouth with his cuff there was another in front of him. It had been bought and delivered by a nameless tourist who walked backward slowly back to the other end of the table awaiting the nod of recognition from Dr. D. Never one to disappoint Dr. D. gave the faintest of head bows and resumed.

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Doctor Dai Doggs lifted his pint

“Although he had won everything in golf, he hadn’t won everything in golf. He hadn’t won the big one. The big prize had eluded him, the hufen de la hufen, the ‘Chair’, if you will, the Ystrad Mynach Cup – the Y. M. C. A unique competition. One of the most unique competitions in the world. It was the tournament, quote, they all loved to win. It is still the one. The thing to have on your mantlepiece or your C.V.. The thing to put on your Wiki page alongside your Nobel prizes, your Pulitzer prizes, your Ballon d’Ors, your Christmas number ones. It’s the Y. M. C.. A number of great golfers have won this prize, and a number of great golfers have not won this prize. You won’t see your Ben Hogans or your Sam Sneads or your Ian Woosnams names on the wall. And I’ll tell you why.”

Dr. Dai Doggs half-swivelled in his chair to point at a wooden mahogany board roughly six feet high and twenty foot long attached to the wall containing a list of all the Ystrad Mynach Cup winners. He drank the first third of his new pint.

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Pensioner Dave – a strange name for a strange person

“Look at the early years and you see some sparkling players from the last but one century and right up to the early years of the last century – the ‘roaring twenties’, as they were known in Wales. There were your great names – your Tom Morrises, your Joyce Wethereds, your Laurie Auchterlonies, your Harry Vardens, your Ted Rays, your Glenna Collett-Vares. But… look at the later years – the swinging seventies, early eighties, naughtical nineties and beyond and you see your Tiger Woodses, your Tom Watsonses, your Bradley Dredges, your Michele Wies, your Inbee Parkses,your Anika Sorenstenses. What you won’t see are your Walter Hagenses, your Henry Cottonses, your Babes Didriksonsses or your Nick Faldosis. This magnificent board behind you reads like a who’s who golfing list of stars, it’s fair to call them that, yes stars, who have won the YMC. A list of the greatest and the good. However, in a way it’s only half a story. It doesn’t tell the story of who the best players were for forty years in the middle of the twentieth century. if you look at the list from the thirties through to the seventies – the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties, you see how domineering one name features. Every year bar one from 1930 to 1970 there is just one name to see. A strange name for a strange person – a name that describes him as well as naming him – ‘Pensioner Dave’. A period of total domination. Well, almost total domination…..

If you look closely at the year 1934 you’ll see that the winner has been scratched out. It could be ‘Pensioner Dave’ or it could be any other name. The traditions of this club uphold the vision of this club –  ’peidiwch â throi o gwmpas’ – never look back. Thus there are no amendments to rules, no updating of golf fees in line with inflation and most definitely no reworking of the winners board. There’s been a debate for many years about that Sunday, 15 July 1934. Some say Pensioner Dave won it and got so excited pointing at his five time champion’s name that he eroded the barely dry paint. Some say Bobby Jones won it and Pensioner Dave rubbed it off in a fury. Some say Virginia Van Wie was so excited after she won the playoff with Reg Whitcombe that she gouged the surface of the board with her name on it and kept it as a memento where it took pride of place in her home in Alaska. (The fact that she retired soon afterwards has somehow been seen by some to add credence to the story). Some say potato some say potato. I know however, what really happened in 1935. I saw it. I was young but I was there.”

………

 

Saturday Morning Golf School On Tour

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EXT. COLD WINTER THURSDAY, CRIEFF GOLF CLUB.

It was Sparky’s first year on the Scotland golf tour. Every two years the SMGS (Saturday Morning Golf School) went to Scotland on the Wales v Scotland international weekend and played golf for a week. The group played a number of golf clubs every day in and around Edinburgh and watched the match on Saturday. Sparky was nervous. He’d been playing golf for a few years but had only encountered the electric, intense Saturday Morning Golf School atmosphere on a few occasions and knew very few people in the group.

It was the first tee at a nameless, but tough and windy proper links course. There were 11 others waiting around the first tee pretending to stretch and wake up and have their last cigarette (of the front nine).
Tommy the Cat (has become the self-appointed leader, and official welcomer)
TOMMY THE CAT
Sparky, as a special honour you get to tee off first.
Very muted applause, some abuse and a general murmur of ‘bandit’.
TOMMY THE CAT
Here you are I’ll even get Dai Proper to tee it up for you.

Dai Proper duly walks onto the tee and stares into the distance.

Sparky shakily places his ball on the tee and mutters to himself

SPARKY
Slow swing…slow swing
His bottom is going like a trout’s mouth as he lifts the club and hits it, not great but straight and quite long. He smiles at Tommy the Cat.
Tommy the Cat smiles back, then turns Sparky around 180 degrees.

TOMMY THE CAT
Well done. Now there’s the first fairway.
He points down the fairway, in the opposite direction to Sparky’s tee shot.

TOMMY THE CAT
I suggest you wander back to your ball and see if you can hit a couple of 5 irons back in this direction.

The Joys of Writing

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I manufactured for myself a full morning of writing and it started so well. Blah blah blah blah blah blah – full stop – new paragraph – capital letter – blah blah blah blah ….. Then from nowhere … BANG. Complete stop.

Temporary blip – check emails, twitter … go back ………

Where was I? oh yes blah blah blah blah ….. nothing…..

Another temporary blip.. watch end of rugby … go back..

Where was I? oh yes blah blah blah blah ….. nothing…..

Perhaps that’s all I’ve got? Maybe I can make what I’ve got into a short story. Sure why not that’s a great idea.

Research short story – free entry of course – lots – get a spreadsheet and list them all in closing date order – with links and everything. Done that – stop – that’s not going to work – it’s a terrible idea – delete spreadsheet.

Where was I? oh yes blah blah blah blah ….. nothing…..

Oh I know what I’ll think about choosing a cover for the book – that’ll be a great use of my time…. Look at images for a time – pretty – interesting – sardonic – choose one. Done that – stop – that’s not going to work – it’s a total waste of time – delete image.

Where was I? oh yes blah blah blah blah ….. nothing…..

Oh I know .. I’ll write a blog…….