During an excellent pub lunch at the second day of the Guildford & Godalming Advanced Weekend, someone asked "Why aren't there more entrants to this tournament?".
Which was an excellent question, because only seven hardy souls were gathered. It can't have been the lawns - three out of the four are new, with two being newly relaid and one claimed from a bowls club. The lawns could be faster but are extremely true and armed with solid hoops responsible for far too many blobs.
It certainly can't be the location. Set adjacent to a rugby club and with splendid views of the Hampshire countryside, the lawns sit alongside shady woodland which during the weekend we played was just sufficient to offer respite from the blazing May sunshine out of a cloudless sky, in which a buzzard languidly circled.
Perhaps it's the facilities. True, at present the only lawnside structure is a ramshackle shelter, which during the tournament was supplemented by a tent and gazebo niftily erected by manager Tony Mrozinski. However the club is shortly to build a clubhouse, featuring luxuries such as a toilet, thus saving the trek to the rugby club facilities. And the lack of catering was dealt with by a trip to a nearby pub for lunch which as well as top quality grub featured beer which had the real ale types muttering approval into their beards. (As a southerner I am unable to confirm the reputed high quality of the beer.) Some catering was available by the side of the lawn, but alas the walnut cake was enjoyed solely by Luc Berthouze's dog, who earned a rich reward for some innovative foraging and fortunately suffered no ill effects from eating nuts.
Could it be that players fear their play may not be of the required standard? Certainly not the case during our weekend, when all standards were on view. Chris O'Byrne provided the highlight of the weekend - playing off a six handicap and by far the lowest ranked player in the field, he defeated top ranked Nick Parish in the 29th biggest upset of all time (out of more than 300,000 games) and with his first tournament triple peel to boot, all on the day before his birthday. This was the only defeat Nick suffered during the weekend, however, and winning all his other games was sufficient to bring him his first tournament win since 2004. In joint second were Luc, Harry Fisher, and Simon Hathrell, and although Nick Harvey brought up the rear he found his form in his last game to ensure no-one went home without a win.
And so, returning to the pub lunch, we came to the conclusion that perhaps the tournament and venue needed better publicity. "Somebody should write a report for the Gazette/website", it was commented.
And now, someone has.