Dear Captain…

FAO of The Captain of The Royal Cinque Ports
Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club
Golf Road
Deal
CT14 6RF

16th March 2020

Dear Honourable Captain of The Royal Cinque Ports,

Wonderful running in to you at the club at the weekend during the playing of the 19th Wedge Trophy. You had a few queries / observations about the fixture, and under the obvious stresses of hosting I suspect I failed to properly address these questions, so I thought it best to send a comprehensive reply via letter.

There was some understandable confusion on your part about the title of the fixture as it has erroneously appeared in our club diary several times as an ‘Under 35’s’ occasion. You aired your confusion to me after seeing my morning opposition Mr Nicholas Gates and Mr Stephen Tillie walk into the bar, when you correctly pointed out that this was “clearly not as advertised”. I should though clarify, that while our best dressed Wedger Mr Gates is indeed in violation of the non-existent age restriction, the lovely gentleman that is Mr Tillie is actually one of the Walton young bucks – I am just pleased your sweeping age assumption will never be known to him, your blushes are saved Mr Captain.

Perhaps if I took a moment to explain the history of the Wedge Trophy it might be useful, not just for your good self, but also as a reference for when any future publication worth reading about either great golf club inevitably references The Wedge. It all started some 10 years ago over with a few poolside Coronas (non-viral) in Spain, when Mr Charles Waud was holidaying with Deal’s very own Hedges (not the one on Deal boards over 50 times, or the Walker Cup player, nor the Curtis Cup player, not even the former Halford Hewitt winner, it’s Michael, you know, the taller blonde one). They agreed that the two great clubs needed a proper fixture, but not just a golfing fixture, rather a gathering of fantastic young prospects at each club who knew that true victory was not in sinking a 18th hole birdie to win, but in picking up the slack and finishing off the last 2 carriages of a 24 shot Jager train in front of a packed Kings Head because Pete Roberts was busying napping in a ditch. So no real age restriction Mr Captain, but I suppose a time comes to all of us when we choose to no longer board that train, perhaps we lie fallow in North Wales, or prioritise trivial matters like work, but people will just know when their time in The Wedge is up. Sadly, some will need to be told. Personally, I look forward to the day I take a back seat from the rigours of my role as ‘Assistant to the Captain’ and ‘Occasional (unbeaten) Captain’, when I will assume a non-playing position, simply lunching, dinning and drinking with the new generation of Wedgers, perhaps even telling the odd tale of Wedges gone by. Roll on 2021.

I hope that addresses your initial concern, and I had best move on to confront the elephant in the room issue of the most foul despicable problem within our glorious game; slow play. I can indeed confirm that several Wedge groups did breach the acceptable post lunch round time of 2.5 hours for 18 holes. However, I would like to commend C. Austin, M. Williams. T Farrell & D. Pike for their commitment to rectify their wrongs. On realising they were upward of 5-10 minutes behind this low bar, they used some medium paced lateral thinking and calculated the last 3 holes at Deal often take the longest in tight matches, so at a point as least 4 holes prior to this they plotted for handshakes (or COVID-19 equivalent) on the 15th. Unselfishly they executed the plan to a tee, well green, and duly lost 4&3, just as the course kisses the ancient highway to provide a clear path home, well done indeed. Even more impressively, they presumably knew how well results had gone in the first two afternoon matches. The results on these were c. 2hr 15 minutes if you were wondering Mr Captain.

Finally, I’d like to thank you for forwarding me the beautiful letter you received from The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Admiral of the Fleet Michael Boyce, Baron Boyce. As we all know, he is traditionally responsible for the return of all writs to the Crown, along with the collection of taxes and the arrest of criminals. For him to take the time to send personal thanks to the golf club for supporting this annual fixture which buoys the local economy and the local publicans affectionately call “Wedged Up Weekend”, is a real honour. He was even understanding of the Royal golf club which bears his title welcoming in a club which has never been given Royal ascension, and he was as pleased as he was surprised that an influx of such members had little or no impact on criminal arrest numbers over the years. Though he correctly pointed out that this is likely softened due to the credible defence of “boys will be boys” afforded to those playing The Wedge. While he hadn’t heard of the town, he sent special thanks to The Mayor of Flushville for visiting, and commended the support of his favourite InstaStar; Samuel Smitherman @watchmeswing&flex. Mr Captain, please send our heartfelt thanks and pledge of devotion to our great Warden, the titled Lord that is, not JC’s father in law, or indeed the “other JC’s” father.

I’m afraid I don’t recall the exact result or outcome of the match, but I am sure the better team on the day prevailed. I believe the Walton Vice Captain is no longer allowed to travel to Budapest or Barcelona so he called Shotgun on penning the proper match report. Mr Captain, I direct you to the wonderful Wedge Trophy website to read his always riveting musings. I actually look forward to being refreshed on how the day unfolded myself, the usual post Wedge fogginess has persisted.

Thank you again Mr Captain, and I hope this letter has suitably answered all queries, allayed all concerns, and expressed our gratitude. Perhaps you would be kind enough to share with the incoming Captain, the Club Secretary, and incumbent Professional. If any of you wish to board the train, we would very much like to invite you to join us for dinner in Spring 2021 at the 21st playing of the Wedge Trophy.

Kind regards,

Samuel Mason ATTC, OC