Mick Swann looks back at a ‘very special’ past six years with Axe Cliff Golf Club

PUBLISHED: 12:35 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:35 29 April 2020

Rob Grove presenting Mick Swann with a tankard at the end of his year as Seniors' captain at Axe Cliff Golf Club. Picture: DAVE BRUCE

Rob Grove presenting Mick Swann with a tankard at the end of his year as Seniors' captain at Axe Cliff Golf Club. Picture: DAVE BRUCE

Archant

It was August 2014 and my wife Sandra and I were strolling along Seaton seafront in the late afternoon sun, discussing our future now that we had finally committed to retirement, writes Mick Swann.

Rob Grove presenting Mick Swann with a tankard at the end of his year as Seniors' captain at Axe Cliff Golf Club. Picture: DAVE BRUCERob Grove presenting Mick Swann with a tankard at the end of his year as Seniors' captain at Axe Cliff Golf Club. Picture: DAVE BRUCE

Sandra, eager to find me a new hobby, suggested that we should drive up to the golf club for an early evening drink and enquire about the formalities and costs involved in joining the golf club.

Upon arrival, a couple were chatting outside the clubhouse and asked if we needed any help.

We explained that we had recently moved to Seaton and that I was interested in joining the golf club.

They introduced themselves as Dave and Bee Sammons, both members of the golf club, and Dave offered to meet me the following morning for a round of golf and to introduce me to the course.

I gratefully accepted his offer but explained to him that I’d never been a member of a golf club before and that I’d only hacked around a nine-hole course with a mate who was arguably more useless than I was!

We teed-off early, and my slices and shanks were something to behold! I could sense that Dave was wondering what he’d let himself in for.

A few days later, my new next-door neighbour saw me struggling to load my golf clubs into the back of my car. I told him that I was going up to Axe Cliff for a ‘bit of practice’.

He offered to pass on my details to a local Axe Cliff member that he knew.

He told me that his name was Sid Pember. Ten minutes later, I arrived in the golf club car park.

As I removed my golf clubs from my car, I was approached by a friendly looking chap who’d just completed his round for the day.

We introduced ourselves to each other. “My name is Sid Pember” he declared. I explained my situation to him, non-member, no handicap, hacker etc, etc.

He was quick to answer: “That’s no problem. I’ll mark your three cards to enable you to get a handicap and then you can join the golf club.”

What a coincidence! The one member that my neighbour spoke about only 10 minutes earlier was now stood in front of me!

Sid and I met a few days later. After submitting cards of 113, 113 and 121, I was eventually awarded a handicap of 28!

I paid my membership fee and was now a proud member of Axe Cliff Golf Club.

Sid suggested that I should join the roll-up on Mondays and Wednesdays as this was the best way to meet other members. I had no idea what a roll-up was, but I rolled up all the same.

All the Seniors at Axe Cliff are really friendly and helpful, although some friendships were severely tested with the constant distraction of helping me to search for my wayward ball, hiding somewhere in the rough.

At the end of my first year, Alan Vincent, the roll-up coordinator, approached me and suggested that I might like to consider taking on the job of roll-up coordinator. I politely rebuffed his offer!

In January 2016, Bob Graham was elected captain. I was in the locker room getting ready for a Friday competition. Bob walked up to me and announced that I was to be the new minute secretary at the next committee meeting, then he disappeared. I began to see a pattern forming here.

Since then, I’ve continued to faithfully record the minutes at all committee meetings throughout both Bob’s one year and Dave Bruce’s two year reign.

The following November, Alan Vincent approached me again, this time with raging-eyes and a clenched fist and insisted that I take on the responsibility of running the roll-up… and he wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer this time!

So, in order to retain my good looks, I agreed. In December 2016, I became the new roll-up coordinator. As I stated earlier, I could sense a pattern forming.

In November 2018, vice-captain Bob Graham took the decision that he could not commit to the role of captain for the 2019 season.

He suggested that I should consider the role of captain for 2019. Aided and abetted by former captains, Dave Bruce and Rob Grove, as well as some encouraging words from my fellow committee members, I decided to give it a go.

James Braid designed the original golf course in 1894, so 2019, my captaincy year, was the 125th anniversary year.

To mark and celebrate this milestone, the club arranged to play Sherbourne Golf Club, who also celebrated their 125th year.

This is a tremendous achievement and as our new owner, Robert Loveridge, stated at the last AGM, let’s hope that the golf club can celebrate another 125 years of existence, although I probably won’t be captain that year!

Taking on the role of Seniors’ captain, after only five years as a member, was a great honour.

I received excellent support throughout the year from all the Seniors, the committee and especially, my vice-captain, Rob Grove.

The captain’s charity fund raised three times the target amount. The membership increased slightly, but during the year, we sadly lost four great characters who will not be forgotten.

In my opinion, Axe Cliff Golf Club is the friendliest golf club in the south west, with a challenging golf course, superb views of the Axe Valley, the Seaton Wetlands and the whole vista of Lyme Bay.

Come and join us and enjoy playing a friendly round of golf at one of England’s best golf venues. I’m really pleased that I did!


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