James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer Roving Mark
You know what golfers are like. From the first amateurish slash ( and miss ) to some sort of proficiency, they pursue perfection from that moment on with an almost religious zeal. I say this, because it staggers me to find that at the Grove golf club in South Wales (Porthcawl ) the committee agreed to give up members precious game time on a Sunday afternoon for a bunch of archers, in aid of charity, to wander around their course shooting arrows into their hallowed fairways. In all my years in archery I have never had the opportunity to shoot archery golf on an actual golf course, the obvious reasons being that the members would object to give up their play so that strangers with an even stranger game would shoot big holes in the sacred turf, or, heaven forbid, set fire to it.
Ah! but we reckoned without the redoubtable James Whale and his assistants, Welsh beauties, JoAnne and Claire Popham to come up trumps. They organised what they hope will be an annual event to aid the charity, James Whale Kidney Cancer Foundation, at the Grove.
What a super event it was too! Wonderfully organised.
JoAnne had e mailed the participants and asked us to arrive by 1pm, meet in the clubhouse (sumptuous) for pre match coffee, have a get together and listen to an explanation of the rules by James. This was duly done, with all the participants having arrived by 1.30. Shoot off was at 2pm. I, by the way, met two old friends from my Co of Sixty days, Mike Hobbs and John Petit, not seen them for years, so it was an excellent re-union and for me, happily set the whole tone for the day.
The weather, I am glad to say was behaving itself, the cloud having risen somewhat and leaving a grey blustery day with the sun, unsuccessfully, doing it’s darndest to get through. Rendezvous was at the first tee, 19 of us had English longbows, ( James had a recurve) although the Welsh lads from Margam and Cymric archers would say theirs were Welsh, just to be awkward.
After lining up for a group photograph, James then gave a very moving speech on the Cancer foundation he has set up giving its aims and ambitions, the sterling help he gets from JoAnne and Claire. The raising of money and awareness concerning this type of cancer, with every kind of event one could think of, one of which was jumping from 12,000 feet ( parachute provided ). The next event, I believe is the Presidents dinner at the House of Lords and then in mid October, Britain’s biggest curry party. Look it up, go, they are fun and in a brilliant cause.
Graham Anderson from Margam Archers gave the safety code talk and after a moving tribute to friends lately succumbed to cancer, accompanied by a minutes silence, we were off.
First flag at around the 130 yds mark ( roving marks ) and shooting into a very stiff breeze, judging flight was awkward. The standard was good, although James with his recurve was tending to overshoot somewhat, given its power, much to the amusement of everyone.
The second was 150yds ish, which was a general rule for the first 9 holes, which seemed to pass very quickly, we shot into a stiff wind that came off the sea, obviously changing direction as did the course, giving some very tricky shots, the shortest distance being around 100yds. James took the walk of shame for landing in the bunkers (twice ). His problem, if one could call it a problem, was that he had a rather special little bow. I had observed its exceptional beauty and speed as we progressed around the course. He told me that he had given Chris Boyton ( very well known bow maker ) a piece of yew and asked him to make him a flatbow from it. I have never seen anything so pretty, limbs heavily recurved at the tips and backed with bamboo, the yew riser fashioned ergonomically to fit his grip and finished beautifully to the very high standard we at Archers Review have come to expect from Boyton Archery. (My advice to James was, when he was next in Canterbury, take it down to Steve at Robin Hood Events, join him for a master class, tune the bow up, match the arrows and bring out the bow’s full potential). To his credit he took the advice and banter, which was just about nonstop, in good part, the witticisms making the day funny and very enjoyable, stopped things from becoming too serious. On the sixth Nick Cox, Co of Sixty, shot the equivalent in golf of teeing off from the 9th and the ball landing on the 10th, ’wrong flag Nick’ not a bad shot, but a serious walk of shame. The golf course itself was, as you would expect, broad and undulating, not too far from the coast and the Bristol channel, giving us plenty of opportunity to really stretch the bows on the long par 5’s, seeing who could get the furthest with a couple of arrows. Usually James with his wicked little bow sending the shaft over 240yds, sportingly disqualifying himself because of the recurve. Then, down half way along the fairway and another couple at the target, varying it, keeping everything interesting. JoAnne was doing good work as the scorer and taking everything in her stride, never losing her sense of humour at the good natured teasing. Toward the end, both ladies, Claire and JoAnne decided that they wished to have a go at shooting the longbow. John Petit of Co of sixty, gave them instruction by virtue of the fact that he was pretty swift on his feet and got there first.
We thought that his instructing the ladies cheek to cheek, was unnecessary.
So after nearly three hours of really good shooting and the clubhouse not too far away, no one wanted JoAnne to read out the scores any more, as she had been doing throughout, just that little bit extra spice to see who would win in the end, the prizes to be won were not shabby. One of the last flags was in a small bunker and we had to drop the arrows into the sand to score, two archers managed it, which was pretty good shooting from 120yds. Judging what was in fact a shadowy dip in the ground with just the top of the flag showing was exceptionally difficult, full marks to Graham Anderson, the course layer for keeping things keen. It’s 5 pm the last hole has been shot, for extra amusement, some more shooting into another bunker, just to round things off. It’s always the same when you are having fun, you just do not want it to stop.
Back in the very comfortable surroundings of the clubhouse we headed for the bar, JoAnne, Claire and James went into a huddle to work out the scores, their work not yet done, we sat content sipping our ale. Outside the rain came down, because we had just missed it only added to our feeling of contentment of a day well spent.
The curry, a mild chicken, with rice and or chips was served in the dining area, very good it was too, just right for the end of a bracing day.
James stood to announce the winner, A Welshman, John Hopkins with 77 and presented him with a war arrow made by Richard Head ( a particularly good example ). 2nd was Nick Cox ( source of much of the witty banter ) £15 voucher and 3rd Graham Anderson of Margam archers £10 in vouchers. Good shooting lads, it was not easy. Your humble reporter won a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon in the raffle, so he was happy.
Rounding off the evening James gave a speech thanking everyone for their participation and hoped that it would be repeated next year. Gave a little more information on the charity and what they hoped for its future, which I think is absolutely brilliant, especially as James himself is a survivor of kidney cancer and is doing everything he and his assistant JoAnne can do to ensure continued funding. It’s people power!
JoAnne has Emailed me and has reported that the profit for the day going toward the fund was £300.
A cracking day’s shoot, coffee and bacon rolls on arrival, meal in the evening, excellent company, all for £20, profit going to charity……..can’t beat it
See you next year.