"And now, the end is near!"

Greetings Golfers,

Welcome to the final edition of “By the Fire with Captain Paul.” I hope you have found these musings informative and interesting over the last 12 months. At times they may have seemed like the ramblings of a deranged mind and, if I’m honest, that’s exactly what they were. But anyway…. Indulge me one last time!

I never would have imagined that 2020 would have been the year that it was. Maintaining enthusiasm and energy was to be a great challenge. But at least I had the advantage of blaming all mistakes on Covid-19! I was really looking forward to being Captain and I had clear pictures in my head of what lay ahead! I knew I had a great team around me and the future looked bright! Whilst I may have been disappointed on a personal basis with how things turned out, it was a very humbling learning experience for me, coming to the realisation that the captaincy was not about me, but about the whole of North West Golf Club. In that regard I can honestly say that the year has been a success. Firstly, we have survived the most catastrophic pandemic since Bubonic Plague and we are emerging out the other side with the knowledge/hope that things will begin to get better. Members have rallied round in support of the club; difficult decisions had to be made and were made; the course was a shining light amidst all the gloom and drew praise from various sources; the club’s business proceeded seamlessly.

At this point it would be remiss of me not to congratulate the efforts of Council members during the year. It has been extremely busy. We probably have had more meetings over the year than has ever been the case in the past. Each working group beavered away with the business at hand and the results were there to be seen. Issues were explored and debated, sometimes over long hours, in order to find the most suitable outcome for North West. Notice I said, “suitable outcome,” not, “perfect outcome.” Rarely were issues straightforward and often discussion continued on long into the night. But we got there in the end. I think we can hold our heads high, safe in the knowledge that we did our very best to meet the needs of North West.

Members, thank you sincerely for all the good wishes and the support that you have shown me over the year. Yes, there have been those who were unhappy, and voiced their displeasure. But on the whole, I believe the vast majority of members have appreciated the efforts being made on their behalf. So thank you for that. It has been gratifying that so many have encouraged me to seek another year as Captain. Thank you again but, after long consideration I believe that it is in the best interests of our club that there be a new hand at the wheel; one that can bring fresh ideas, but, more importantly, energy to the post. I know in-coming Captain John will do just that and I encourage everyone to come on board with him; it could be an exciting and fulfilling journey.

Inspite of everything there has been a lot happening during the year. We engaged our new Pro, Brian, who is proving to be a fantastic asset for North West. Our new mower proved a shot in the arm for our greenkeeping staff who have used it to present the course at its magnificent best. We managed the introduction of WHS which was no mean feat in itself. Only time will tell if it has been a success. I honestly think that once all the wrinkles are ironed out it will be a much fairer way to look at handicaps and will give us the opportunity to involve all categories of members in our competitions, for example with mixed tee competitions, something I have been advocating for a while now. Whilst opportunities for sponsorship have been curtailed, we have manged to develop a sponsorship package that has proved effective in attracting new sponsors. My sincerest gratitude to all of those kind people who have generously come on board this year. We could not manage without your help.

Congratulations to David Robb, winner of my Captain’s Prize. The Day was different from what we were used to but with great teamwork we managed to pull it off, when, honestly, for a long time it was not looking like we could have the day at all. Many thanks to Lady captain Ann for her support and flexibility in making the arrangements. Our away day to Greencastle brought a bit of normality back to proceedings and those that stayed for a bite to eat seemed to enjoy the craic. I know I did.

Not everything has gone to plan though. Our efforts to engage a caterer were scuppered by Covid-19. Our Lotto ran into difficulties and, of course we have had course closures imposed by Government in order to protect us from Covid-19. These have been disappointments but in the face of these things we need to show resilience. If I may quote once again from Churchill, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm!” Going forward this is the attitude we will need. There will always be obstacles in the way but with fortitude and enthusiasm we can prevail. There have been many times this past year when my enthusiasm and energy has been tested, but thankfully we have managed to put disappointments behind us and look to the future. During difficult times it is especially important that we have the support of members.

Our AGM is fast approaching. In an effort to ensure that the club’s business continues without impediments we have decided to host the AGM via Zoom Webinar. This is a new venture for all of us and we respectfully ask that the meeting is kept to essential business only so that we can manage procedures effectively. At this stage all eligible members should have received an invitation to register for the AGM. I encourage you all to do this.

Finally, may I wish all our members a happy, safe 2021. Hopefully I’ll get out more often on the links as I have to supplement my pension and I know there are plenty of lambs out there just waiting to be relieved of their Euros. I’ll have to get practising though, especially if we are going to defend our Debonair Doubles Title. Did I mention that Brian and I won the Debonair Doubles?

Go raibh maith agat

Captain (but not for long) Paul

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