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.
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.
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.”