Of the three new clubs in the SECF which have benefited from the fund, Dogmersfield has flourished under a good team of enthusiasts and is quietly looking for an alternative site to provide better facilities for its full capacity membership. It received an injection of funds from SECF when the equipment belonging to the host hotel was unexpectedly withdrawn. One of its members, Roger Barnacle, was runner up in the final of the Centre Stage GC Competition held at Edgbaston.
Ringmer has already moved to a better location and is now renamed the Cheyney Croquet Club. RMA Sandhurst has continued as an affiliated member of the CA but with the rapid turnover of cadets and their intensive training program, one cannot hope for much more than that some seeds are being sown for the future.
Sadly Worthing has finally been forced out of the Hill Barn Golf Club by a rapacious developer. There are lingering hopes of assistance from the local authority to form a replacement club in Worthing, albeit with reduced facilities. However several Worthing members have already joined nearby Sussex CCC.
Royal Tunbridge Wells started the season well by winning the Apps/Heley Award, followed by a successful season enjoying their vastly improved facilities.
Rother Valley received a £1000 grant from the Development Committee and £500 from SECF to construct a half court to add to their refurbished two full sized courts, thereby completing their present plans for development. The club ran a much enjoyed weekend short croquet tournament in September and was able to invite four local clubs to compete with the hosts on their five half lawns. Recruitment is also progressing steadily in this rejuvinated club.
Woking at full capacity for its regular two courts with over 70 croquet playing members has received a £5000 development grant to help to install irrigation over the winter for all four of its courts used for CA tournaments. Like Woking, Dulwich Croquet Club is a section of a larger sports club and is hoping to receive grants from the CA and the SECF in order to carry out Phase 2 of the resurfacing of its three courts this winter. A resurgence of recruiting backed by an active coaching program has brought new vigour into this club.
Sydenham has for the moment abandoned plans for a second lawn but has already carried out work on improving its one lawn, sadly sabotaged by torrential rain after seeding. It hopes for a grant to finish it off and add a hut.
The popular Silver and Bronze Courses run by Bryan Teague and his team of Grade 1 and 2 coaches at Southwick were once more well attended as was the Summer School lead by Daphne Gaitley. Overseas attendance on these courses continues. Bryan Teague is taking a back seat next season and is giving up acting as lead coach. The CA and the SECF owe so much to Bryan for the incredible amount of work, time and effort he has put into his club and devoted to the sport, especially regarding coaching and bringing along both hundreds of players and many coaches over at least the past two decades.
A number of clubs took advantage of one day golf and association courses, tailor made to their requirements by usually teams of two Grade 1 coaches from nearby clubs. These courses are self funding in that the club is asked to pay the coaches their travelling expenses and provide them with refreshments, their coaching being otherwise free. Innovations this season were an over subscribed SECF GC Advance Tactics Course for middle bisquers held at Surbiton and a supper and GC Laws quiz at Dogmersfield. Both seemed to hit the mark.
An encouraging development at Eton is a new master in charge of
croquet who will, I believe, play a much more active part in the
games played there.
A GC Training for Coaches was held at Southwick early in the season for nine students, also an Association Laws Course at Surbiton and Golf Croquet Laws Courses at Woking and Hurlingham. The conversion rate from student to qualification was low for the referee courses, partly because the standards for both AC and GC are set high and do not cater for the need for more referees in ordinary clubs and at Federation events (rather than for prestigious CA tournaments), who could improve with experience if qualified but at a lower (Grade B?) standard.
This is an appropriate moment to congratulate the very first recipient of the Lifetime Coaching Award, Don Mears of Sussex CCC, for his long history of coaching both in his own and local clubs and on the CA Silver and the SECF Bronze, Improvers courses and Summer School over many years.