Axe Cliff Golf Club and yours truly – a look at the golfing times of Dave Bruce

Dave Bruce (left) together with Caroline Bond and Dave Morgan at the 2018 Axe Cliff captain’s Drive-

Dave Bruce (left) together with Caroline Bond and Dave Morgan at the 2018 Axe Cliff captain’s Drive-In meeting. The 2020 Drive-In became an early casualty of the Covid-19 crisis. - Credit: Archant

The Axe Cliff course is now fully closed but the senior section remain ‘in touch’ thanks to seniors’ captain Rob Grove and his brainchild – a regular pod cast – or, as yours truly likes to call it, ‘a round-robin newsletter’, writes Dave Bruce.

A view of the 16th at Axe Cliff. Picture: DAVE BRUCE

A view of the 16th at Axe Cliff. Picture: DAVE BRUCE - Credit: Archant

The concept has certainly helped – it is packed with inventiveness and shares lots of very welcome ‘good humour’.

With no competitions or golf going on I thought I would do a short biography, on willing members, on their life story which brought them to playing golf at Axe Cliff, which I hope will be of interest not only to our members but to the general public.

I shall ‘tee off’ this week with the willing Axe Cliff member that is David Allan Bruce [yours truly].

Apparently my father misspelt my second name when registering the birth

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in a little village in the Punjab, India in 1943 during the Second World War.

My father was seconded to the Indian Army as a captain from the Seaforth Highlanders, in Scotland.

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I have two elder sisters- Doreen and Shirley and a younger brother, Derek- the latter being the only ‘foreigner’ in our family given that he was born in Poole, Dorset, when we returned to England in 1946 at the behest of the Indian Government.

Doreen was born in China and Shirley, like me, in India.

We were brought up in Exeter, with our first accommodation being part of a large council flat complex which is, these days, home to the Exeter Crematorium.

Sadly, my mother and father split up when we were all young and my father took a £10 ticket to emigrate to Canada with his second wife. My lovely Mum, Daphne brought us up, mainly on her own, earning £20 a month from British Rail but she did get five shillings a week maintenance, for each of us three children, from Dad.

I went to Hele’s Grammar School for boys and when adulthood arrived in 1959, I joined Lloyds Bank in Ottery St Mary, earning just under £5 a week.

Living in Exeter and working in Ottery meant a daily 32-mile cycle ride to and from work but that ‘exercise’ helped keep me fit for my then beloved football! A highlight of my footballing time was a Devon Minor Cup success with Exmouth Amateurs. The final was played on the hallowed turf at the St James Park home of Exeter City.

In terms of my working life, I spent time in 10 branches of the bank, before becoming sub-manager of the branch in Petersfield, Hampshire.

It was in the late 1970s that I recall, the then branch manager, Bill Trodd, returning from lunch to advise that we were taking on the Petersfield Golf Club account and that was how I got my initial introduction to golf.

Work and golf continued to run hand-in-hand as I enjoyed spells as a member at Ashford, Kent; Kingswood, Surrey; The Mendip, North Wilts and Devizes.

I took early retirement in 1995 and three years before I met my ‘future wife’ when Sharon began working as my assistant manager at the branch in Devizes.

We had two children, James, born in 1993 and Victoria, born in 1995, before we moved to Seaton in 1998 to run a small bed-and-breakfast business.

After helping to convert four of our bedrooms to three with en-suites we had our first guests- six Indian gentlemen all born and bred in Birmingham.

One morning I came down and they were all around the breakfast table. I greeted them saying: “Hi, I am your brother!”

They all, as one, looked at me strangely and I said that I was born in a little village in the Punjab called Jullundur.

One of the six, in a broad ‘Brummie’ accent said: “Little village! It’s bigger than Birmingham.” Apparently, these days, Jullundur is home to over two million folk!

With our business – and home – overlooking the 16th green at Axe Cliff Golf Club, I finally found time to venture out for a game. I recall it well- it was 1999 and with no one around, I began to play alone and promptly lost four balls across the first four holes!

Upon discussing this with a neighbour, he invited me to join his club, Woodwhistle, now Cricket St Thomas, some 25 minutes away.

Sadly, after a year or two of us playing together, my golfing neighbour became ill and this prompted me to give Axe Cliff another chance.

In late 2000, early 2001, I found some seniors to venture onto the course with and was soon hooked!

I cannot remember those first playing partners, but I do recall being asked by Terry Jessup to become his vice-captain in 2005 which led to me being named as captain for 2006.

Terry and I donated the Seniors Open Trophy in 2005 – and it is still played for to this day – replacing the previous Silver Salver.

Terry and I played as a pair in the 2005 competition and I remember very clearly saying to him, on the first tee: “Wouldn’t it be funny if we were to win the new trophy.”

His reply was a swift: “No chance!” However, win it we did and it is now known as the JB Trophy.

I played in a lot of matches against other clubs and remember George East, from the Vault and Bill Cook, who no longer play, and the late Iain Bain was my Emerton Court partner.

In recent years I have been the club seniors’ captain on a couple of occasions and nowadays I play a lot with Geoff Hughes who helped me considerably when I had Osbornes Big and Tall menswear shops in Beer and Seaton.

He [Geoff] always makes great sandwiches when we play and I bring the flask of coffee, I want to make it public though that we do not waste time and never hold anybody up as we drive a fast buggy. Fellow golfers are always welcome to ‘go through’ but never ask.

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