Coincidentally, the tournament was taking place two years to the date that he was first admitted to hospital. Before I had fully realised why my mum asked me to take my coat off I was addressing the ball, golf bat in hand, posing for a photograph. I'm not a golfer, and it's unlikely I ever will be. I possess neither the skill nor the patience to play the game. Also, I don't like walking.
However, as I looked down, friends looking on, I really wanted to hit that ball. That tiny, tiny ball balanced on a tiny plastic perch. It mocked me. It knew I wouldn't hit it, but I slowly realised that I really wanted to. A hole-in-one was on the cards.
I remembered some instructions I'd been given on a driving range about fifteen years ago, so I probably looked pretty professional as I raised the club and swung it, as hard as I could, at the ball. I was expecting the head of the club to hit the ground, digging five or six inches of grass and soil out, but it didn't. The swing, I'm sure, was perfect. So perfect that I hit the ball with such power, speed and accuracy that it went right around the world and landed back on the tee just a split second later.
I'd missed. I was almost devastated, but not surprised.
The weather was looking, well, Welsh, but the mood on the course was good. Banter and (the most polite of) trashtalk flew between players as they shook hands, inspected each others' latest golf attire, and waited for their teeoff times to come around.
Every ten minutes or so players teed-off for their round of Stableford Four, a scoring system designed to take the pressure off a player if they do a bad job of one or two holes. It makes the game a little more relaxed while maintaining the competitive spirit.
The course at Greenmeadow is spectacular. I've been there many times before but this was the first time I'd made it beyond the 19th hole. The views are incredible as you look out across the valley towards Llandegfedd and Usk to the east, and Abergavenny to the north. Those views become magically imposing in low cloud and rain. I suppose being Welsh I prefer looking out under a moody sky than I do a clear blue one.
While watching the players from the 13th tee, looking down and across the valley towards Llandegfedd, we were offered the use of a golf buggy. Now, I've never driven one of these before, but reckoned I could figure it out a pedal for stopping, a pedal for going, and a lever to switch to backwards-going mode. Simple. Once I figured out how to release the parking brake we were off, haring around the footpaths at 3mph, occasionally interrupting people's rounds and occasionally rolling, noisily, backwards down the slopes as I tried to figure out how to engage the no-going-at-all mode.
As the day progressed the weather improved from Simply Drizzly to Cloudy & Damp, but players continued to tee-off, wrapped up in their all weather golfing gear. At one point it looked like the cloud would break as patches of blue fought against the grey, but, alas, the will of the cloud was greater than that of the blue.
The last competitors returned to the 19th at about 5.30, just in time for the presentation and raffle. Many of the players who'd finished hours earlier had waited around, catching up with friends, chattering the afternoon away in good company, so they could be present for the awards ceremony.
Many had won some of the generously donated raffle prizes, ranging from various tins of chocolates to golf lessons with the pros at Greenmeadow, and even rounds of golf at some of Wales' most prestigious golf courses. Golfers, captains especially, form deep friendships regardless of their home clubs, and I understand that many prizes were given by people who weren't asked but wanted to support the event.
I'm sure I broke many club rules and stretched course etiquette far beyond what is usually be acceptable. For starters, I was wearing jeans, which is an imprisonable offence at some clubs. However, players all around the course tolerated my ignorance and poor handling of the golf buggy, cursing me secretly under their breath, no doubt.
I cannot express my thanks to all the players, club members, and wives & girlfriends who put so much effort into making the day a success. Peter, the General Manager, not only waived some of the membership terms to allow weekday members to play, but he very kindly reduced the green fees to just £5 per player, and then gave all of that money to the charity pot.
Due to their efforts over £1,000 has been raised, split equally between Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and Anthony Nolan, two charities that unfortunately have a place close to our hearts.
I knew my dad loved to play golf, that much was clear when I'd get out of bed at 10ish on a Saturday morning to meet him coming back in from a round of 18 in the pouring rain, but knowing that this event was organised in his name, and that someone now has a trophy with his name engraved across it, would leave him slightly bemused and thoroughly humbled.