NIGEL McKEE admits to being left a little frustrated initially after his first season as Leeds's captain in the Yorkshire Inter-District League.
His side lost their opening three matches – albeit two of those losses were against Sheffield and York, who would finish first and second respectively – before closing with three wins in their last four.
It gave them a creditable fourth place after such an inauspicious beginning, and the achievement was augmented by Leeds placing only four shots adrift of winners Sheffield in the end-of-season six-man team championship.
But the proximity of his side's score to the winning aggregate only served to further McKee's disappointment – until it hit home how much his side had enjoyed playing under his leadership.
“I did feel gutted after the six-man event,” he recalls. “Apart from Ben Hutchinson (Howley Hall), who is the Yorkshire champion, I would have picked the same team. He probably would have made the difference, but we had two plus handicappers and were full of scratch players. So to go so close was hard.
“But then both Ben Firth (Moortown) and Tom Broxup (Cookridge Hall) put things up on their Facebook pages - which was really nice - saying what a pleasure it had been to play under me and that they were looking forward to playing in the future.
“Coming from two of the best players in the county, without a doubt it brought a tear to my eye, really.
“I'm 52 so I'm not going to go out with them and go head-banging with them in nightclubs, but I do have a rapport with them.
“I think sometimes golf can be taken a little bit too seriously and I want it to be fun.
“Obviously I would love to have won the six-man team event and finished higher in the league, but I think this year we have got a great blend of youth and experience.
“When you get people like Andy Wiltshire (Pontefract) saying he is going to work hard over the winter on his game - he is 48 - and Adam Frontal, ex-Yorkshire champion; with these guys and the young guys coming through, this year I am sure we will do better, particularly if we get a better start. That is what we need. If we do, I am sure we will go very close.”
McKee adds: “People do realise that this is a great union and they want to play for it and want to put their best foot forward.
“I want to get to the situation where we have too many people wanting to play and that would be my ideal scenario. Onwards and upwards.”
His optimism was increased by matters at Bradley Hall in the six-man championship where only four shots separated the first five teams over 36 holes.
“Conditions were tough and there were some particularly difficult pin positions, but none of our guys shot 80, so I think that is good,” he says. “I have played in these team events and it is a hard format involving 12 rounds of golf.
“I think it was incredible that only four shots separated five unions and it shows what a level playing field it really is.
“I was proud of all the guys; they went out there and played their hearts out and it was tricky.
I am delighted really and for my first year I am not complaining at all. I think I have gelled with the guys and that bodes well for the future.”
Look out for reviews and captains' thoughts on Sheffield and York unions - online on Monday