Golfers turned back the clock 100 years to celebrate the installation of new Leighton Buzzard club Captain Graham Freer on Sunday…with plumes of smoke billowing over the fairway as a tribute to his 27 years in the Fire Service, writes Stuart Oliver.
For the 57 year old former fire-fighter was attired in tweed Plus Fours and used an 80-year-old wooden-headed driver for his first shot as Captain of the Plantation Road club, watched by a 150-strong gallery of members, friends and family.
The drive-in ruse was the work of his Vice Captain Tim Mitchell, supported by club colleagues to recognise golfing traditions at a club preparing to celebrate its centenary in three years’ time.
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Plus Fours, free-fitting trousers which extend to four inches below the knee, have been widely used by golfers and game shooters since the 1920s, and famously by the late professional golfer Payne Stewart who died aged 42 in a mystery plane crash in 1999, just months after being crowned the US Open champion.
Not that Graham has ambitions to become a golf professional, but he has a single-figure handicap and a reputation for being “a dedicated follower of fashion.”
And in true tradition and to his great surprise, his captaincy was “challenged” on the day by three spoof wanna-be skippers, Shane Bentley, Steve Gillette and Ada Stephenson – all of whom failed to hit drives longer than Graham’s first shot as Captain. Seniors Captain Andy McDonald, junior Captain George Stephenson and Ladies Captain Lesley Bednarek also teed-off on Sunday.
A keen sportsman, Graham’s career in the fire service saw him rise from fireman to Station Commander, and as he prepares for retirement, is currently welfare officer for the Buckinghamshire Fire Service.
In his year as Club Captain, Graham, 22 years a member of the Leighton club, will jointly with Ladies Captain Lesley, raise funds for the Milton Keynes based charity Emily’s Star which provides much needed support for children with life threatening illnesses. With the 2022 season yet to kick off, they have already raised more than £2,000.
The traditional two clubs and a putter competition, restricted to 12 holes because of the adverse conditions following heavy rain, was won by 36-year-old Dean Oakley with 28 points, which included three birdies and a ‘blob’. Jon Woolford and Justin Moss were joint runners-up with 27 points.
Graham was formally presented with his Captain’s brown jacket at Friday’s club AGM, and on Saturday led the “throw out” celebrations to mark the end of Simon Rossiter’s two Covid-hit years as Club Captain.
Members were told by treasurer Phil Whitecross at Friday’s AGM the club remains in a sound financial position and that work is now almost complete on a new £700,000 course irrigation system.
Leighton based catering company boss Trevor Stimpson was installed as Club President, succeeding Brian Carter.
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