It is Championship Day at Bassethwaite Golf Club, but all is far from tea and sandwiches. A coup is being plotted in the committee room, British Rail want to build a railway line through the course, BSkyBBC reporters are asking questions about what's in the lake, and, worst of all, there's a proposal that women should be allowed to join the club...
Bassethwaite, sleepy town nestling in Basset Dale since before the Northmen came, thrives on its institutions, and surely none is more central to the town’s image of itself as a friendly, prosperous, settled community than its golf club. And now that the monstrously odorous Morningtime Munchies breakfast cereal factory which backed onto its grounds has closed down (after the company’s takeover last year by transglobal megacorp Mammon Inc), the club is an even more congenial atmosphere for leisure pursuits than formerly.
It often surprises people to learn that the golf club’s present incarnation has only been in existence for twenty years. There was an earlier club on the same site, which collapsed a generation earlier for lack of members, but it took the organizational genius of Roy Brittan and the enthusiasm of his cronies to relaunch the club. All that remains of the previous club is a rather fine putter which the last remaining member, a Mr Stone, gave to Roy.
Since then the golf club has been run by essentially the same group of people, now all in middle years: there is a younger generation of members coming through, but as yet they have been content to leave administrative responsibility to their elders.
Bassethwaite has changed with the times too, its manufacturing strength now almost entirely replaced by service industries. In fact, its pleasant location, set in rolling countryside yet rather handy for the great cities of the North, has led to a recent influx of further business. Property prices in the town have climbed steeply, and the likelihood is that they will continue to do so, with a shortage of good sites on the cards. The local council has hitherto tended to be pretty flexible in its attitude towards development of greenfield sites, but pressure from the townsfolk to change this policy is now considerable. The town has always been prosperous, though, and its inhabitants rightly congratulate themselves on their good fortune to live here, in the best of all possible fellowships.
Today is the golf club’s biggest of the year – its annual general meeting and also its club championship. At the meeting, elections will be held for the three officer posts – chairman, treasurer and secretary. The incumbents (Roy Brittan, Larry Lake and Bert Johns) are the only candidates yet declared – every year prior to this, they have been unopposed.
Any member of the club may, if he wishes, propose a motion at the general meeting – “he” because women are not currently allowed to become members – whether to modify the constitution, or to some other end. A simple majority passes any motion and makes it binding on the committee, with the chairman having the casting vote. Motions can be raised before or after the elections, as the chairman prefers. Other minor agenda items are the contracts of Tim Oakey and Ed Knight, which are both up for renewal. Again, these can be expected to pass on the nod. There may also be some items of correspondence.
The other great business of the day, of course, is the championship, the moment all members long for, to prove themselves on the field of valour. One-off matches during the year, games against rival clubs, these are all very well, but nothing else conveys the kudos of the Bassethwaite Golf Club Annual Championship, or comes with such a handsome trophy. All the members will be competing to their utmost as they stride manfully around the course, seeking ever to avoid popping loose shots into the course’s famous lake (tirelessly patrolled by the young laddie who fishes out stray balls), and being even more wary of the nest of adders that makes the 5th hole such a challenge.
Premiere: EuroGenCon 1998
Subsequent run: FallCon 2000
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Last update: 2nd November 2011