Donnington Valley ceases to be a Golf Club – from “Newbury Today” dated 8th July 2020

DONNINGTON Valley Golf Club is scrapping its membership scheme to become a ‘pay and play’ venue.

Company chiefs blame the coronavirus crisis for costing the parent business millions of pounds in revenue.

Consequently they say they are no longer able to prop up the club’s finances with cash from hotel guests and corporate events.

The managing director of parent company The Vineyard Group, Andrew McKenzie, said in a letter to club members: “Due to the catastrophic impact on the company’s finances caused by Covid-19, the owners and directors of the company have decided they are no longer able to provide that support in the future.

“Their focus has to be on preserving the future of the overall business and its workforce, which is under severe threat.”

Company flagship The Vineyard hotel and spa is currently open on a part-time basis, while the Donnington Valley Hotel remains closed.

Mr McKenzie continued: “We have assessed all the options available and have decided that as of July 17, Donnington Valley can no longer run on a membership basis and will revert to exclusively pay and play.”

Members who have pre-paid will receive immediate refunds, with free play extended to August 22 to compensate for the period the club was forced to close.

The letter added: “We will review our position over the coming months and investigate all avenues that may enhance golfers’ enjoyment of the facility, including pre-payment with discounted green fees, the ability to offer handicaps and various other options including, potentially, competitions.

“We aim to conclude this review at the end of September when the full consequences of lockdown are clearer.

“When the results of this are published, the temporary green fees discount will be discontinued and replaced by any schemes we introduce at that point.”

The letter concluded: “I appreciate this will come as a huge shock and disappointment for many of our longstanding and loyal members, but the unprecedented nature of this pandemic and its financial impact, coupled with many members’ reluctance to re-join on the same basis as before, has called for this drastic action.”

Mr McKenzie added: “It’s a very sad day as many golfers have been loyal members here for a very long time and will miss the social and competitive nature of club golf.

“The profitability of the course was compromised pre-Covid due to prices not increasing in line with costs and was being underwritten by the company’s other businesses.

“The pandemic has badly affected our ability to continue to do this and we needed to try a different model or face the possibility of closing the course.

“The decision was fast-tracked when many of our existing members decided not to renew their annual subscription at the beginning of July.

“Our plan is to review our options over the summer and launch a new model in the autumn, but we thought it was only fair to be upfront with our members and offer those that had paid subscriptions a full refund.

“Members were also upset about missing out on playing time when we were told by the Prime Minister to close the course, so we are allowing them to play free of charge for the same number of days as they lost.

“Additionally,  we are offering them up to 33 per cent off green fees moving forward.

“In the meantime, we are hoping for fine weather in the summer that will give new golfers the opportunity to try Donnington Valley Golf Course.”

Castaways Meeting Thursday 5th March 2020 at West Berks GC


1st                                           Phil Eltham          19pts

2nd                                          Richard Belcher 18pts

3rd                                           Keith Arlott         17pts


1st                                           Jerry Senior        20pts

2nd                                          Peter Ellen          17pts

3rd                                           Roger Bates        16pts

Winner of the ‘Fat Scotsman’ Trophy – Jerry Senior

Nearest the pin                 Gordon Neilson

Longest Drive                     Mike Daley

Captain’s Message – 13th February 2020

Just a quick mail to let you know that we now have 59 Castaway members with 32 signed up to play at West Berks on the 5th March – let’s hope the weather improves!!

For those of you still deciding whether to play or not, I would ask you to decide by 26th February as I need to give final numbers to the club. To remind you the cost for a round of golf, tea/coffee and bacon bap on arrival and sandwiches and chips after the game will be £20 (£8 for West Berks members) with 2 ways of paying:

  1. by cheque made out to ‘Carswell Seniors’ and sent to Brian Reid or,
  2. by bank transfer to: Richard Tucker

Please reply to this email address with your intention to play and the method of payment as per the above. It’ll be £2 on the day for ‘prizes’.

As a further reminder, our 1st ‘official’ Castaways day will be Thursday 23rd April at Brickhampton Golf Club ( – full details will follow, but please make a note in your diary.

In addition, although we haven’t got actual days/dates organised yet, we are working on the following week commencing dates of:

Week commencing 25th May (this will be combined with the AGM)

w/c 22nd June

w/c 27th July

w/c 24th August

w/c 21st September

Each of the ‘official’ days will be played for one of the ‘senior’ trophies (in addition to the cash prizes) and after the final away day the ‘Captain’s cup’ will be presented to the overall champion (determined by the highest aggregate stableford score from 3 of the 6 meetings). If you have any queries, questions, comments or thoughts on future venues please email me



I hope you are all managing to get some golf in despite the never-ending wet conditions.

Further to my email of 4th January, and prior to the 1st of our ‘real’ Castaways monthly meets (proposed for April – September), I have now arranged an initial get together round of golf at West Berks Golf Club ( for Thursday 5th March, 1st tee time @ 10:00am (arrival from 9:00am). The cost for a round of golf, tea/coffee and bacon bap on arrival and sandwiches and chips after the game will be £20 (£8 for West Berks members). The Course is in relatively good condition considering the amount of rain we have had but let’s hope we have better weather leading up to March.

Should you wish to join us there will be 2 ways of paying:

  1. By cheque made out to ‘Carswell Seniors’ and sent to Brian Reid, Orchard End, Hanney Road, Southmoor, Abingdon, OX13 5HT, or,
  2. By bank transfer to: Richard Tucker, TSB account: 04978962, sort code: 77-23-05, quoting reference “Your Surname/West Berks” (this will then be fully transferred into the Carswell Seniors account)

Please reply to this email address with your intention to play and the method of payment as per the above.

We will have prizes as usual – 1st, 2nd & 3rd + nearest pin (11th) and longest drive (16th) plus the winner will also take home the coveted “Fat Scotsman” Trophy 😉

We now have 55 signed up members to the Castaways plus 2 more that we are waiting for their forms and payment but as this is our 1st get together I’m unsure of the numbers we will get for this game so would appreciate early replies so I can give the numbers to West Berks, therefore, the closing date will be 21st February.

We do hope you can join us for this next stage of our seniors golf.

Best regards

Brian Reid

Two More Poems about Carswell from Mark The Muse


If you could hit straight drives when those about you

Are hooking left or slicing to the right;

If you could mark their line though both men doubt you,

So find their balls – then hit yours out of sight;

If you could wait while fours in front are crawling,

And still stay calm and hit right through your stroke;

If you could stand aloof from all name-calling,

And calm your partner’s rages with a joke.


If you could meet with bunkers and with water,

And treat those two dread hazards with a grin;

If you could putt in just the way you ought to,

And chip – and always chip straight to the pin;

If you could bear to see the green you’ve driven

Pocked like a teen-aged anorak with spots,

And bend to mend the pitchmarks – may they be forgiven –

Left there by all the other thoughtless clots.


If you could watch the shot you thought a cracker

Blown by the wind a finger-breadth off course –

And find you’d shared the fate of every hacker,

But never find the ball – it’s in the gorse;

If you could stay unfazed by this disaster,

And hit your new ball slap up to the flag –

Then sink the putt to show the course who’s master,

And stay blob-free with two points in the bag.


If you’d got forty points down on your score card

And put it in quite sure that you had won –

And then found out some undeserving bastard

Had handed in a card with forty-one;

If you could sit and smile to see him win it,

And clap as if you’re really having fun,

You’d win the Cup of Life with champagne in it,

And – which is more – you’d be a Saint, my son!

MAWB November 2005


 (an elegy for the Kermit bunkers on the fourth hole at Carswell)

I must down to the sand again, behind the bunker’s wall,

And all I ask is a clean shot an inch behind the ball.

And all I ask is a view of the green as I settle to the task,

And shuffle my feet and waggle my club – is that too much to ask?


I must play out of the sand again, for the first was a miserable mess;

I’ve scuffed it up behind the wall and now I can see even less.

So all I can do is play out to the left and hope to avoid the rough;

Then hit over the pond and stay in bounds? Even Tiger would find that tough.


I’ve got it out of the sand at last – a horrible hoick with my wedge.

It shot past the lads teeing off on the fifth and nearly knee-capped Reg.

I’m four shots adrift and the other chap is on the green in three:

It’s not a question of mastering golf – those bunkers have mastered me.

(with acknowledgement to John Masefield)

MAWB April 2007

Captain’s Newsletter- 4th January 2020

Firstly, Happy New Year to you all and welcome to the new era of the Carswell Seniors (to be known as the Castaways).

I’d like to thank the outgoing Seniors Captain Richard for all his hard work throughout last year and previous years,  it now appears that I have finished my apprenticeship and am now in my probationary period as the Seniors Captain in what will be a very different golfing year for us all.

Further to Richard’s emails on the 6/11/19 and 14/12/19, no new officers for the committee have been proposed and no objections have been raised to the constitution (as detailed on the seniors website), therefore it’ll be the task of myself and the other members of the committee, Nick Tomaszewski (Vice), Peter Ellen (Treasurer), Terry Clark (Secretary & website), Bill Baker (Competitions), Richard Tucker (Entertainments) and Bob Howard (Golf venues), to make the new golfing environment of the Carswell Seniors (to be known as the Castaways) as enjoyable as possible.

We now have 49 members who have joined the Castaways (i.e. sent form and paid) and a few more that have made clear their intention to join. We will continue to use the Carswell Seniors website ( and emails will be predominately be sent from the email address. For those who have not yet joined/registered it is important to note that to be kept in the loop you will need to register, as this will be the final mail you will be included in, and it will help us comply with GDPR rules. I have attached a membership form should you still wish to join.

I thought I should outline what our current thoughts are regarding the frequency of our golf days. It is our intention to have one a month between April – September choosing courses not too far away from us (some being at courses we have joined and some that are new to us) – each one will be played for one of the Seniors ‘Trophies’. Actual dates will be sent out as soon as we can in order for you to put dates in your diary. I am also going to speak with my club, West Berks, to see whether I can arrange a day along the lines of the ones we had at Drayton and Hinksey Heights for either the end February or early March – I will email as soon as its arranged.

For those that have joined, or are planning to join and to help us choose future venues it would be helpful to get your views as to:

  1. distance you are willing to travel (using Carswell as the starting point),
  2. we intend to keep costs down but to help us decide, what kind of food would you expect, i) bacon bap on arrival + sandwiches after the round, ii) a more filling sit-down meal after the round, or iii) no food at all?

If you could respond by the end of January this will help Bob and I locate suitable venues for our future golf games.

In addition to the golf, we intend to hold a couple of social events such as quiz nights, race nights etc during the year. Obviously we now don’t have a venue to hold these but the Presentation Evening held in December at Wantage Comrades club seemed to go down well, and the cost to hire the room was very reasonable, so this seems a sensible choice although we are open to other venues. If you are aware of any other venues, please let me know.

I will send out the new ‘Castaways’ contact list towards the end of January.

The Carswell Seniors accounts for 2019 have now been finalised and can be found on our website home page ( Follow the link on the home page and then use the password Cars19 (case sensitive), it will remain available to view throughout January 2020.

Finally, happy golfing and I hope those that haven’t yet joined will join and that I’ll see you all soon.


Brian Reid

Captain’s Report for 2019

Captain’s Report 2019

Well, how do I start with my Captain’s end of year report, so much happened during this time which pales into insignificance with recent events.

During the year we enjoyed various functions within the club such as, away days, race nights, the popular quiz nights and of course the annual BBQ, not to mention some of the team games concocted up by the competitions secretary.

The Seniors Open was one of the most successful that I had experienced during my six years membership at Carswell and this was undoubtably due to the hard work of the Vice Captain, so thanks go to Brian For a job well done.

 We ended the year with the presentation / Christmas celebrations with eighty one members and their guests attending, Terry Clark has posted the photographs of the presentations onto the website for all to view.

During my time has Captain I owe a great deal of thanks to the committee members who supported me during the year and they truly are the backbone of the Seniors, their efforts make everything happen seamlessly whether it’s a weekly roll up, away days, financial management or inter club matches for which they gain little or no appreciation for giving up their own time and on occasions money.

As we now all move onto different clubs I’m confident that we will look back and appreciate what we had at Carswell, the membership was well supported and certainly in my experience a place that I enjoyed playing every week, it also provided me the chance to socialise with everyone, however I certainly believe in the saying “never look back” and I’m sure  Brian with the support of Nick Tomaszewski as his vice captain along with the continuance of the committee members the seniors will flourish going forward.

I understand that more than 35 members have now signed up for the next year with a few more waiting in the wings, this proves that there is a will to ensure the section continues, for those yet to decide I have also attached a form to this mail.

You can find the constitution for the new set up on the seniors’ website in the documents section.

It is important to note that should anyone wish to be kept in the loop that they sign up by the end of December as only those registered will receive any communication regarding games and any other events.

The financial results of 2019 will be published as and when finalised on the seniors’ website.

I look forward to meeting up with everyone when the seniors play together in the New Year.

As this is likely to be my last communication to everyone it only falls on me now to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.