New golf captains take the helm at Saddleworth Golf Club

LONG-STANDING members Ken Barnes and Ann Walsh are the new Captain and Lady Captain at Saddleworth Golf Club.

And the pair’s year of office began last weekend when they were presented with their special jackets at the club’s annual meeting.

Ken, who lives in Mossley, has been a member for over 30 years but never previously served in any office until last year.

“I had a very good year as Vice-Captain. It was spent shadowing Captain Charles Nicholson and was a great experience,” he said.

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Captain Ken Barnes (left) and president Dave Newman

It was though his father-in-law, who was a member at Crompton and Royton, that Ken started playing.

And he remembers playing indoors in the sports hall and Royton and Crompton School with air-flight balls.

“Crompton and Royton’s professional put on sessions for beginners at the school, and I went along. That is how it began,” he explained.

Ken, a 57-year-old electrical engineer, plays off 13. He has been as low as 11, and he has played for both and ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams at Saddleworth.

He has won one major, the Mountain Ash in 1985 and not long after he became a member. There has also been one hole-in-one at Northenden.

It is also a case if you can’t beat them, join them as Ken’s wife Lindsay recently took up golf and is beginning her second year at the club.

Ken is keen to promote Saddleworth as these are challenging times for golf with membership at most clubs in decline.

Saddleworth are faring better than most, but Ken said: “We are trying to organise more social activities, and not just for golfers.

“We are holding monthly socials, both for members and non-members and also push weddings as the club is a great venue.

“We have a new secretary, new caterers and a new marketing and social committee.

“A lot play society golf and use 2 for 1 offers, but we want to get across you can’t beat being a member because, part from the golf, there is the social side.”

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Captain Ken Barnes, lady captain Ann Walsh, lady vice-captain Sheila Cooper, president Dave Newman

Meanwhile, Ann joined Saddleworth in 1994 saying she “drifted into golf later in life”.

The mother-of-two has other sporting interests before then as she was keen on tennis, netball and badminton as well as being a PE teacher at Grange School.

Ann came from a golfing family as her parents Kenneth and Dorothy Spencer were members at Oldham while her husband John is a keen player.

Indeed, Ann is following in her mother’s footsteps as she was Lady Captain at Oldham in the same year as Dorothy’s brother-in-law Leslie was Captain of the club.

She said: “I played occasionally when John and I got together and when we went on holiday I took a set of my mum’s old clubs.

“And it was many years later that I realised I had a choice to make – take it seriously or forget it.

And since retiring, 70-year-old Ann has thrown herself into golf playing three times a week during the summer.

“I cannot contemplate life without golf. It is not just competitions and playing for the teams, but also with friends as you make so many.”

Ann, who lives in Delph, plays off 25 and her only major victory as an individual was Lady Captain’s Prize in 1998, not long after she joined.

She has, however twice won the Henry Hartley Mixed, a major, with husband John.

Ann, who retired as assistant headteacher at Grange School, and John love playing golf overseas. They have taken their clubs to Florida, Barbados, Tobago, Mauritius and their favourite destination is southern Spain.

Ann has scored two holes-in-one at Saddleworth and on holiday in West Virginia.

“If you get one in America they celebrate in a big way. You become a member of the Acer Club and get a certificate,” she explained.

Ken and Ann have a joint charity, the British Heart Foundation as Ann’s mother died at early age through a heart complaint.

 

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