Mynydd Brawdafad Saturday Morning Ball School Origins

A mystery wrapped in an enigma

The year of the inaugural Rider Cup saw the advent of the SMBS or to give it it’s full title the MBGC SMBS.

The original members were Ianto Rider, Fred the Bread (local baker), Aneurin Bevan and Keith. Over time most of the personnel have changed but the principles of fair play, respect, camaraderie and fairness are as distant today as they were nearly a century ago. This is Welsh valley’s golf. It’s not pretty, and it’s not English, It’s rough, raw and a bit sweary.

Every Saturday since 1926 there has been a Saturday morning ball school, apart from a brief period in 1941 when German bombers rendered the course unplayable. As a memorial to the war the course remains as it was after that day – harsh, unplayable, with a dozen 40 feet bomb craters lining the 5th fairway.

The principle rule of the SMBS is turn up, moan, pay up. Although it is now possibly illegal to pay for cash and still be considered an amateur there are members of the SMBS (well one) that has had to declare the SMBS as his primary source of income for tax purposes. The Club is fairly catholic in that any player born within a radius of almost 3 miles from the club, has a relative, or friend played and is willing to lose £1 a week for the first 6 months can take part. Under these restrictions it would be difficult to get a person non-eligible as it is a truism that there are only 3 degrees of separation between any Welsh person – fact.

There are rules, I suppose, although they tend to vary from week to week. There is however one constant – fun. You’re not allowed to have any. Over the past 8 decades there have been many SMBS members who have gone on to bigger and better things – amongst them Bradley Dredge, Ian Woosnam, James Dean Bradfield, Kathryn Jenkins and Ban Ki- Moon. All, in their way have contributed to making the world a nicer place – with the possible exception of  Moony  who left under a fairly substantial Cumulonimbus and still owes £1 (1,800 South Korean won) from his last game when he lost a bet and failed to make 4 after a great drive 80 yards short of the 18th.

Dredgie was a regular in the school in the 80s but was forced to move away from the area, turn pro and take a drop in wages after the 1991 scandal involved Dredge, Dai Snips and Keith. Nothing was ever proven and the Steiff bears were all eventually found and returned to the Museum of Childhood Memories.

Dai Snips who had a lucrative barber shop in the middle of Deri with celebrity clients including Julian Cope  was forced to sell up and move to Calgary, Alberta, Canada where he became a butcher and business consultant.

Keith has missed just 7 of the 4,888 Saturday games and still uses the same tee he was given for the inaugural event by Ianto Ryder. Keith has played on the professional circuit, finished runner up in the Welsh Open on 3 occasions and has won 5 cars for holes in one in the past year alone. He is currently playing off 15. He hasn’t handed a card in since 1956 and has 7 children.

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