Presidential Ponderings

So this is the week that determines our nation’s future. A high turnout in the Referendum means a triumph for democracy in our country and a clear statement of intent to our EU partners and countries throughout the world.

Set against momentous news stories, for good or ill, at home and abroad, our sporting “bubble” at Exeter Golf and Country Club seems very minor by comparison. Yet for many of our members, as I hear when I chat to people around the Club, it is a big part of their leisure and social lives. As such, the Club performs a huge service to young and old alike. I put myself squarely in the latter category, but it has been a personal joy to Maggie and me that our little grandson (not quite 3 months old) is already appreciating the Club’s facilities – including the gardens that June employee of the month, Daryl, keeps so beautifully. I should also mention Kerry, joint employee of the month, who (along with the other members of the award-winning Spa team) keeps our sporting strains and niggles at bay.

The past few months have been a busy time for the Club in the build up to the formal re-launch of the Golf Course. Chris Jones, John Parr, Jenni Ashford and many others in the team have worked tremendously hard to prepare the Club for a great week of sport and leisure – from 18-25 July. A new addition to the team is Darren Everett, the Club’s golf professional. I welcomed Darren to the Club recently and congratulate him and his team on their success, against the odds, in having the pro shop and facilities ready just in time for the Ladies’ Pro-Am. This in itself was a great success – with the ladies of our Golf Section, led by Chris Norton, seemingly having held their own private “Bake-off” to provide cakes for the competitors as they raised funds for South West Children’s Hospices.

Talking of fund raising, I was so privileged to be part of the Club’s 12-person team of marathon runners in April. We had a get together afterwards to compare notes on our “war stories”. Collectively we raised over £20,000 for our charities (including my own – the Motor Neurone Disease Association). A big thank you to our supporters, many of them Club members, and special congratulations to Lee Cooke, our Gym Manager, who did 3 marathons in one month.

The Club touches the interests of our members in so many ways, whether they are rackets players, swimmers, “keep fitters” or social members who enjoy the wider facilities and ambience of the place. I’d like to highlight two examples. In Chairman Will Gannon’s absence, I represented the Club at the Council Planning Committee’s discussion of the proposed golf driving range – which as part of a land deal with Heritage Homes will generate much needed capital funds, for the benefit of all our members. Getting approval for the driving range was a key objective and, as Will has already reported, the application was successful. Thank you to Will especially for all the hard work he has put into this project, also into the deal with Persimmon which enabled the restructuring of the golf course.

The second example was the Referendum debate at the Club, attended by over 100 members. I spoke for the Remain side and Steve Hawkins, a young graduate from the University of Exeter, spoke for Vote Leave. Ruth Smith, a past President, chaired the debate. Questions and comments from the floor were very constructive and, while the discussion did not solve everyone’s voting dilemma, the debate was conducted in a much more courteous spirit than many of the events that have been so heavily publicised across the media.

Looking forward, we have a juniors’ swimming gala on Sunday afternoon 3rd July, which Dan and the life guards are organising. Please do sign up for this – a family friendly activity in our beautiful outdoor pool.

The Club’s “big week” includes Exeter Chiefs in the golf course re-launch on 18 July; and I can’t resist mentioning the Chiefs’ contributions to a fantastic Premiership season and to England’s series win in Australia. Talking of huge achievements, our member, Paul Vice, won 7 medals at the Invictus Games this year and will be speaking to members about overcoming the challenges of his remarkable life on Wednesday 20th July.

There is a night golf event on Friday 22nd July, the Summer Ball on Saturday 23rd and, as a unique opportunity, a guided walk around the golf course at 6.45 am on Sunday 24th, followed by an Open Day covering all the Club’s facilities in the afternoon. Please do sign up at Reception for as many of these events as you are able.
Looking much further ahead, we are planning a Christmas Variety Show, with an opportunity for Club members young and old to display their talents at an “audition” on 13 September. More of that anon. But summer holidays come first – for which I extend to all members my very best wishes.

Kevin Butler

Club President, 2016

Kevin Butler