In January 1971 a young Brenda Allvey joined Piltdown Golf Club, having started playing at Seaford Head where, in those days, golfers had to queue from 6.30am for a tee time. At Piltdown she earned her first handicap of 32 and at her peak played off nine. Today, after fifty years, Brenda has a handicap index of 17.2 and remains one of the most consistent ball strikers in the Ladies’ section.
Over the past fifty years, Brenda has won practically every competition the Ladies’ section has to offer. These golfing achievements are too many to list, but they include the club championship twice and the Hamilton Russell knockout an eye-watering seven times between 1992 and 2018. An excellent foursomes player, Brenda won the Hamilton Russell 36 hole Mixed Foursomes in 1998 and the Millennium Trophy in 2002 and again in 2016. She also has her name on the Easter Trophy, a competition played over five days and involving foursomes, greensomes and individual play, but Brenda herself will tell you that winning the Brown Bowl competition twice with her son Phil when he was a junior player gave her the greatest pleasure.
Brenda’s achievements, however, are not confined to golf itself, but also involve many years of service to the club. She served as Ladies’ Secretary for six years from 1987 and as Assistant Juniors Organiser from 1988 – 2003. Brenda found this a specially rewarding task and enjoyed watching the progress of the juniors she helped over the years, including her own sons Mark and Phil. Her year as Ladies’ Captain from 1998 – 99 was one of great fun and blessed with wonderful weather. Lady Captain’s Day coincided with a day at Wimbledon where play was abandoned due to thunderstorms and the weather country-wide was generally dire, but at Piltdown the sun shone all day.
Brenda played an active part in the Centenary Committee of 2000 and was responsible for a number of golfing and social events that culminated in a magnificent Centenary Ball in 2004 attended by over 300 people. Also in 2000 she took on the task of helping to organise a Pro Am for the late John Amos’s benefit year.
Busy as she was during these years with Piltdown affairs, Brenda did not confine herself to the workings of her own club and in 2000 she took on the role of Assistant County Organiser for the Sussex Junior girls, a position she held for five years. She also served as President of the Sussex Captains and Secretaries Association between 2003 and 2006. Brenda continues to take a keen interest in the Sussex County Ladies Golf Association and the work they do to promote women’s golf.
A short pause in officialdom ensued, but Brenda continued to use her golfing knowledge and experience for the benefit of the club in general and the Ladies’ section in particular. She was especially aware of the needs of the growing number of working ladies and responsible for ensuring that they were able to compete at weekends and participate fully in the life of the club.
In 2010 Brenda became the first lady to be invited to sit on the Board where she served for seven years, first as Director of Marketing and then Director of House. During this time, she launched the highly successful Piltdown Golf Academy and introduced the idea of a blue tee course which was accepted by the board and has become a great asset to the club. Acutely aware of the need to move with the times she was also responsible for the abolition of the ‘long sock rule’ for men, considered by many to be her greatest achievement!
Asked about her fifty years of golf at Piltdown, Brenda said “In the early days the membership consisted largely of ex-military and ex-pats. I knew most of the original ‘Tuesday Boys’ depicted in the painting that hangs in the clubhouse and among them were some truly interesting characters. The club has grown and changed over the years and today is a more friendly and inclusive place. The course has changed, too, and looks better now than it ever has. The ethos, however, has never changed, and that is what makes Piltdown such a special and unique place.”
Brenda continues to play and compete with the same enthusiasm and love for the game that she had when she first joined the club fifty years ago. She also continues to lend her expertise to the social committee, to the very important wine committee and to the equally important job of Troncmaster responsible for collecting contributions to the staff Christmas fund.
Reflecting on Brenda’s fifty years at Piltdown, Club President Terence Coghlin said “Brenda was the first member I met when I joined Piltdown. The warmth of her welcome helped me over the somewhat frosty attitude to newcomers that then prevailed. In subsequent years she has been a leader in thawing that attitude and eventually replacing it with the friendly welcome that newcomers enjoy today. Brenda may have scored fifty, but she is definitely ‘fifty not out’! I believe she will continue to shine for many years yet – through her personality, golfing prowess and willingness to accept office for the benefit of all of us”.