This is a transcription of a conversation Tim and Nick had with Graham Lawrence on 18 January 2007 in Tim’s office, at Classic Folios, in Fairoak.
Tim pestered his father to play golf. Tim’s father was Bill Wood who joined Corhampton in about 1973. Bill owned a caravan site behind Botley railway station. When he was 13 in 1978 he had lessons with Paul Mackenzie, one of John Harris’s assistants. The lessons were given on the ground that would have been between the 18th fairway and the bungalow. It was about 80 yards long. Tim gave up other sports and joined Faithorne manor. He was able to cycle there carrying his clubs on a trailer attached to his bike. He joined Corhampton in about 1980.
Nick joined Fairthorne Manor at the age of 14 and played with his friend, Steve Chivers. They had a couple of lessons at the Municipal Course in Southampton on Saturday mornings at a cost of about 25p per half hour. Nick was at Wildern school with Trevor Pearce who used to work for John Harris at the weekends in the shop. Trevor suggested to Nick and Steve that should have a go at Corhampton as there were plenty of people living in the Botley and Hedge End area who could give them a lift. In around 1979 they paid £18 to join as juniors. Their parents gave them lifts up there. Soon they got to know Terry Mason quite well who gave them lifts up to Corhampton. Nick’s father joined Corhampton and was a member for about seven years. Occasionally they’d even cycle to the golf club where they spent most weekends.
When Tim and Nick joined Corhampton the junior section was run by John Foot who welcomed then into the Junior section. They became colts at eighteen years old an then full members at twenty one. They played in nearly all the competitions. They played with Steve Chivers, Mark Keeling, Daren Longman, Ian Taylor, Greg Hughes, who is now the professional at Petersfield, Simon Cookson, who is now the British Blind Golf Champion but was sighted when we played with him. They played with Laurence Christmas, son of Martin Christmas, Walker Cup player and member of Corhampton. Younger players they also played with at Corhampton included Matthew Gattrall, now a professional in Germany, Jason O’Malley (Peter’s son), who’s now the director of golf at Hanbury Manor Golf Club.
As juniors they could only play in junior competitions but weren’t allowed to win senior competitions. When they were both playing as Juniors they were not allowed to play at weekends before 10:30 unless they were playing with a Senior.
Nick got down to a 7 handicap. Tim got down to 4 and turned professional after doing his ‘A’ levels for three years on and off. He worked for John Harris and Andrew Hall at Blackmoor in 1986. He wanted to become a tour pro but never got good enough. Tim has kept in touch with the pro circuit including people like Peter Alliss and Bernard Hunt.
During their twenties both Tim and Nick played a lot of golf including Club matches, evening leagues, County Sevens and Kindred Foursomes.
They remember Saturday afternoons in their late teens when John Harris and his buddies (Peter Reeves, Abie Moore, Terry Nicholas, the Pratt brothers, Laurie Abrahams, Dave Smithers, Dave Sylvester and others) would have a couple of beers and then play golf for some stakes and John would get fleeced and then they’d return to the clubhouse and play cards and John would get fleeced again.
John Harris was a real stalwart of the Club. He did so much to raise the spirit of the place. On Club Championship day he’d run a book every year with the odds based very roughly on people’s handicaps. Their was a great rivalry between Terry Nicholas and Mark Keeling and usually Mark would win. Occasionally Terry would win. One year John got fleeced when Terry won and all Terry’s cronies had had money on Terry. John actually tried to deduct VAT and betting tax from their winnings in order to reduce his losses. When Tim won the Club Championship John gave him some money. He was a real diamond.
They recall when Gary Stubbington did 100 holes in a day. He had caddies but no buggy.
|Both Tim and Nick played in every event during the Centenary Week at the golf club. Tim took a lot of photographs for the Club. They both played in the last Pro-Am of the week with Terry Mason and Freddy George. They played last so that Tim could organise the photographing of all the teams for the souvenir folders which were given to all the participants. There was quite a crowd of spectators for this two-day event. The whole week was blessed with scorching weather. Tim and Nick took time off work to attend. By then Tim had started producing sponsored folders for golf events as part of developing his own business so he was asked by the Club to be their photographer. For the 2000 Ryder Cup, Tim and Nick ran a shotgun competition which started at 9am in the morning. They arranged for a large television screen in the lounge and Sky TV. They got 22 teams of 4 which meant doubling up on four tees. When the competition was over they all gathered in the lounge and watched the Ryder Cup singles matches on the television. There was a great atmosphere in the Clubhouse. Two years later they were asked to do it again but unfortunately the Ryder Cup was held in the USA and the time differences scuppered the idea, also the Club had got rid of Sky TV.|
What they found frustrating was the way the Club Championship lost its importance at the Club. Once it was the golfing event of the year. Gradually over the years it just became another event. Nick recalls one year, when his friend Steve Chivers got married in Plymouth, he got up 3 in the morning to drive back to Corhampton to be on the tee at 7:30 because it was the event to play in. Over the years the entry dwindled. What would have been good would be to make it into a two day event such that the winning players on the first day would come in last on the second day, just like they do in pro events today. There’d be a Clubhouse full of people surrounding the eighteenth green when the winner came in. Tim won the event one year and Nick’s best was coming third. It was also frustrating when the presentation was made to only find the top three and half a dozen other people in the Clubhouse.
The Centenary Pro-Am
Nick Epps, Terry Mason, Tim Wood & Freddy George
In 2005 Nick only played four rounds of golf at the Club because he was prevented from playing more by business and family commitments. Two of the rounds were on Club Championship day so he paid £200 a round. When Nick’s two young boys become old enough to play he’ll take up membership again.
It was a sad ending to Tim’s golf. He stood one day on the first tee at Corhampton and hit the ball over the car park. He went to Spain to play golf but couldn’t. He had lessons but they didn’t cure his hacking. He carried on for a couple of years but never improved so he gave it up. A lot of his competitive urges went in to driving his business and his home improvements so he didn’t need golf. Tim left Corhampton in 2005.
They both got a very pleasant letter from last year’s captain, Alan Feltham, on leaving the club. They’d met Alan a couple of year’s ago when they played against him and Brian Harvey in the Terry Nicholas four-ball better ball trophy which they managed to win on the twentieth hole. Alan still talks about that match.
Tim still runs his dad’s trophy competition – the Bill Wood Heritage Trophy which is a club competition for juniors and past juniors of Corhampton. What Tim is hoping to do for this year is to scour the country for all those who were ever junior members at Corhampton and invite them back to Corhampton to play for the trophy as an open invitation event. This would be different from the invitation events at the Club in that most people playing would not be members at Corhampton. In 2005 the number of people who entered who were not playing juniors was down to a dozen. Of the older members who played were Peter Reeves and Mike Goodall. There are still many active ex-juniors but they have all moved away, such as Jason O’Malley, Steve Chivers and Matthew Gattrall.
As for the origins of the Bill Wood Heritage Trophy, Tim and his mother wanted to do something about a memorial to his father at the Golf Club. They didn’t want a bench or anything like that so they approached Terry Mason who was the junior organiser then and he suggested the Heritage Trophy which would create a link between the Junior and Senior sections thus enabling a Junior to play with someone they would not normally play with.
Tim and Nick both look back with delight at the good times they had at the club, especially in the junior section when most of them were single figure golfers.