The story of Le Tournoi Golf Society is a tale of two pubs. Starting in 1999 there were 4 guys (Chris Asher, Brett Smith, Trevor Waite & Dan Czaplinski) sitting in the Cricketers pub in Rainham, Kent, who were all getting too old for lads holiday, or at least were not getting the permission for lads holidays anymore.
Their cunning plan was to devise a way to get abroad for a piss up and golf gave the perfect excuse. The first holiday was planned and the 4 were soon 8 as they were joined by Darren Smith, Toy Shed, John Dutton and Steve Lawson. The location was picked, and 8 people in a convoy of cars travelled to Rouen in France for a golf holiday, organized by Trevor Waite.
A team game was played, a trophy was purchased. The trophy needed engraving, and taking advantage of Tony Shed’s vast knowledge of French – the holiday was called “Le Tournoi Golf Holiday”. The Tournament was born.
The holiday continued in 2000 with 8 people, in 2001 there were 12, and in 2002 it had increased to 16. Due to having 16 people in 2002 there was a need to hire a minibus, and that required a large deposit. The bus was given back unmarked on the outside, but the inside was not looking so good, and we doubted we would recover the deposit. Fortunately we got the full deposit back and there was then a decision to make. Do we refund all the players the money? Or do something else? We decided on something else. Why not start a golf society?
The first event was planned at Dale Hill and the society was officially born. It was decided by those founding players that the format for this society would be 4 events each year at good golf courses in the South of England. We would have a Secretary, a Treasurer, a Captain and a Vice Captain – hence the names of the trophies even today. We would not play average courses, they would be the more expensive courses that would allow us on, and there would be prizes at every event.
The first year for Le Tournoi Golf Society was 2003 and the first event was at Rochester and Cobham, which saw the infamous Alan Kenny 1 point stableford round. (The point was a 7 for 1 on a Par 4 Stroke index 10 if you are interested!). The society was successful, and we changed rules, competitions as we went along to make it enjoyable for the members, and to make it as fair as possible. 2003, 2004 and 2005 were all completed, and enjoyed.
In 2006 disaster struck, as Chris Asher was ruled out of golf through injury, and none of the rest of the committee bothered to book any events for the year. The society was nearly over before it had begun.
At the same time in 2004, and in another pub in Medway, there was another independent society beginning. The pub was The Falcon in Gillingham. The Society name was imagintively named The Falcon. This society was incepted by Ciaran Rowe and Martin Wells (who was also the landlord). The original concept of this society was to run an annual golf holiday based on The Ryder Cup format (this event is still hotly contested today)but by 2006 had expanded to include an annual Society competition. This was run as 1 event a month at some of the more affordable courses in the Kent area, and run on a league basis. This society also flourished, and saw large numbers of players.
Le Tournoi got back on track in 2007, and the two societies began to cross each others paths, so that by 2009 we had a core group of players playing in both societies.
Unfortunately it was hurting both societies. Le Tournoi was losing some members who wanted to play the cheaper golf, and The Falcon was losing members in the month Le Tournoi were playing as they wanted to try different courses. It meant that for 4 months of the year, both societies were battling for numbers, and competing with each other.
So towards the end of 2009 a decision was made to merge the fixtures for the two societies for 2010. We introduced the concept of Division 1 and Division 2, with Promotions and Relegations, whilst maintaining the Majors that have prizes. We also introduced an Xmas society as a fun event for people to come and play, and hopefully take some treats home for their families.
The combined society has continued to go from strength to strength, now averaging an annual membership of circa 30 players, and is in our biased opinion the best, and fairest society in the world.
2017 has seen the official disolving of The Falcon society, as in the committees opinion it makes more sense to combine all of the admin that is done behind the scenes to allow the society to continue to be successful, and improve over time.
The Falcon will never be forgotten, and will always remain the logo of Le Tournoi Golf Society.