OWGS – 2018 Newsletter and 2019 Fixture List

All,

Below is the much anticipated newsletter from the Captain.

In addition, the 2019 fixture list accessed by clicking the link below

AND by clicking this link to access the OWGS website https://www.owgs.info/events/

I wish you the very best for 2019 and please make every effort to support and encourage our Society through the year!

Best wishes, Nick

Dear fellow Old Wykehamist golfer,

As the 2018-inscribed golf ball takes its final roll at the bottom of the cup and the 2019 ball beckons to be unwrapped, it’s time to look back on a wonderful year of OWGS golf.

Firstly, many thanks to Mark Coulman for passing over the Captain’s mantle with OWGS in excellent shape: the fixture list is well-supported and continues to evolve; overall levels of participation and interest remain strong; the links with golf in the school are flourishing; and a platform for success has been established at the major old school tournaments.  Mark’s commitment to OWGS in the two years of his Captaincy both on and off the course have provided a wave of momentum which it’s been a pleasure for me to surf.

There were many highlights in 2018’s OWGS golfing calendar (as a match manager, the arrival of a full OW team on the first tee at RWNGC is always one of them!) – the Summer Meeting at the Berkshire in early July with 33 participants in baking heat; the conviviality of lunch at Rye another.  But winning the Halford Hewitt Cup after a wait of 70 years takes some beating.  More of that in a moment.  First a few points of admin, if I may.

Save the date:  in recognition of that wonderful Hewitt win, we have decided to hold a Celebratory Drinks Party on Tuesday April 9th, venue to be confirmed but likely to be Boodle’s, to which all members are warmly invited.  The 2019 Halford Hewitt begins on Thursday of that week and your committee thought that it would be a fitting way to mark 2018’s success and send this year’s team off with support ringing in their ears.  Nick will provide further information in due course – but please do come.

Honorary Membership: the Headman, Dr Tim Hands, has graciously accepted to become an Honorary member of OWGS, at the invitation of our President.  Furthering golfing ties in the school is one of the most important and pleasurable of OWGS missions and the Aldington Match, where OWGS is hosted by the Headman, is the centerpiece of this link.  The quality of golfers in the school, underpinned by the Golf Bursary Scheme and marshalled by the inspirational Rob Moore, continues to impress.  Golf is properly regarded as a principal sport and the Headman’s support is very much appreciated.

Subscriptions: OWGS has 166 members (and 203 subscribers to the website / emails), of whom 127 pay a subscription of under £30 and more than a few members don’t pay at all.  A minimum sub of £25 was established more than ten years ago and, without mandating a higher level, perhaps you could have a look at your direct debits and up that level if you feel that it’s appropriate.

Fixtures: the fixture list continues to evolve.  As part of the preparations for the Hewitt, OWGS played its first match against Old King’s Canterbury at Deal in March (noted for Tristan Hanson smashing one of the first floor windows of the clubhouse from his opening tee shot!).  The Summer Meeting, master-minded for the second time at the Berkshire in July by George Close-Brooks, is also a relatively new fixture and highly recommended.  As ever there is always room in the fixture lost for more events and we would continue to encourage members to step forward if they see the need – against a club, school or society. With the advent of technology we are reaching more and more OWs around the country who are keen to play golf and we therefore have the resources to support people looking to launch new matches.

Please do let match managers know if you’d like to play in any fixtures – and also let any OW friends who might not be aware of the Society, that they would be very welcome to join as well.

Match managers: many thanks to all match managers from all of us.  Small plea from Nick (and the wider Society) to let him know the match scores and, if you’re able, to write a brief match report.  These give much pleasure to those unable to attend; the feedback that we receive from members is fantastic who all very much enjoy hearing the stories of colleagues on and off the course!

Halford Hewitt 2018

Although OWGS is about much more than simply doing well at the blue riband event which is the Halford Hewitt, it was a wonderful achievement for the team to lift the trophy at the end of four days of competition, as well as being enormous fun.  This was a side whose members believed in themselves and in each other and where that confidence translated into a sense of real momentum on the course and great companionship off it.

For those of you who would like a greater insight into the derring-do of the combatants, you should also find below this newsletter a copy of the jottings I made at the time.   Forgive the style – I am not a blogger and was never an avid diarist – but I hope it brings to life the focus of matches and the elation of victory.

It was wonderful to see so many OW golfers turn out to support the side over those four days: evidence of the importance of the Hewitt as the backbone of the Society’s elite competitive year, and also of the desire to see those decades of frustration wiped away.  It was particularly special for us to celebrate the moment with Murray Lawrence, whose support for the side has been unstinting both as player (with a 74.7% win rate from 79 matches) and as spectator.

Equally special to be guided to victory by David Wybar whose compendium-like knowledge of each of the schools against whom we were drawn, their pairings and likely order provided invaluable intelligence which was the envy of every other team in the tournament. And a tactic that many are now seeking to replicate and are now discovering the Herculean task that DKW undertook to give the team a strong starting advantage. The best news is that an update to “The Book” cannot be far away?!

It’s fair to say that we are not complacent about the factors that contributed to our win: we were drawn at Deal for all of our six matches at times of day which were never challenging and against schools whose records were no better than ours.  We avoided the top 4 teams in the draw. That being said, the team won through 5 rounds to face Ampleforth in the final and who were duly dispatched by 4/1. In winning, the OWs lost only five games in 6 rounds, went down the 18th only twice and once only into extra holes. This was the first time Win Coll has won the Hewitt since defeating the Watsonians in 1948- they were also defeated finalists in the inaugural competition in 1924.

Our statistician has also reminded us that we have just equalled OWGS’s longest first-round-winning streak…  So we will not be getting ahead of ourselves on Thursday 11th April 2019 but by the same token hope that we will be able to lift the trophy again before another 70 years is out!

Congratulations again to the team of James Cameron (K, 03-08), Claudio Consul (C, 00-02), Mark Coulman (K,77-82), Tom Hawkings, (G, 76-81), Nick Holt (F, 93-98), Tim Lewis (F, 03-08), Jack Keating (C, 09-14), 
Richard Sanders (K, 84-89), Dino Varkey (D, 94-99), Jay Varkey (D, 98-03).

Other notable competitions: Grafton Morrish, Bernard Darwin (Sen, and V Sen)

Perhaps, in the interests of space, let’s just say that we are hoping to build on the momentum of the 2018 Hewitt to show a more consistent performance in each of these other important tournaments.

Individual achievements:

Claudio Consul started the year in spectacular style for OW golfers by winning the Presidents Putter at Rye for the second time.  Claudio also added the Bulgarian Amateur Open to his roster of European Amateur wins in September.

Tom Hawkings finished Tied 27th at the Senior Amateur Open at Royal Porthcawl shooting a fine sub-par final round

David Bonsall, as Chairman of the R&A rules committee, has just completed the project of re-drafting the Rules of Golf (launched 1st January 2019), assisted by David Wybar a fellow Rules Committee member

Anthony Goodrich is Vice Captain of the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club and will take over as Captain in April

Jack Keating is President and Captain of Aberdeen University Golf Club, currently lying in second place behind Stirling University in the Scottish League

Sergej Stojiljkovic, a recent school leaver and a beneficiary of the Golf Bursary Fund finished second in the Serbian Open where he shot 72,70, 74. Unfortunately he just missed the birdie chance on the last for a playoff

Apologies to other OWGS members whose fine achievements I should have noted.  Many thanks to Nick Holt who does a wonderful job as OWGS Hon Secretary in maintaining the OWGS website and marshalling fixtures and entries, to James Whittington as Hon Treasurer for overseeing the purse and to our President Tim Rowan-Robinson for his ever-calm, reassuring bonhomie.

Here’s to another good year in 2019.  Enjoy your golf; participate in as many OWGS fixtures as you can; and look forward to seeing you on April 9th for Celebratory Drinks if not before on the links.


Andrew Tusa

Captain, OWGS

The Halford Hewitt Cup 2018

April 5th – 8th 2018

The quarter final picture… amended post event – not happened in 70 years!

Thursday 5th April; am Blundells

Weather beautiful; clear blue skies, only a little wind and, strangely, blowing from the North.  First is downwind and all of our thoughtful preparation/discussion of laying up on 6 is thwarted.

Oppo all in red caps, as is Sanders to disrupt their team unity.  Holt drives first for OWs: 3 wood which he hits miles.  NH’s driving has been a bit patchy but this is top drawer.

Keating inspecting the ball on the beach at 3… it always looked like a 5 from here!

Word goes out to the rest of the team: 3 wood only. Solid four to start. Top match wins 3rd with a 5, NH having driven onto the shingle beach.  JK hits a gutsy 8-iron back onto the fairway: “Don’t worry about the club: OWGS will make you whole”, pledges the Hon Sec.

NH tops on 5 but a quality pair will win comfortably 4&3.

Richard and James Cameron oozing class.  RS looks like the proper sportsman.  Caddy in attendance adds to the aura.  They go up rapidly and stay up.  +5 through 7.  Run out 7&6 winners.

Claudio/Dino a tighter start.  They should win standing on their heads but can’t quite get away.  Dino is long.  Claudio hits on 15 (I think) to 8 feet: CVD “that was worth coming all the way from Suffolk for!”

My spectating is somewhat haphazard; haven’t got to grips yet with where to be on the course and when.  Seeing all the pairs tee off, then make for the 4th green to assist on club selection.  Then on to 8 for similar role; scuttle round to the hut and pick up at the loop.

Back with Richard and JC on 10.  Cameron hitting the ball beautifully; plays with enormous self-belief and composure.

Tim and Mark less happy.  Lewis frustrated: he wants to win so much, which is a good thing.  Tim’s hitting the odds, probably the wrong way round; they will change.

Tom and Jay, I hardly see; they get up quick and stay up.

Team order is simply to make it hard for other teams to find Claudio and Dino.  If there’s a strong oppo pair we don’t mind who takes them on. 

Good win 4/1: we should really have won 5/0. 

Friday am: Uppingham

Want to find Allingham and Debenham and pair them against C&D.  Not concerned about a sacrificial pairing against Uppingham’s best which is a strong point.  All five pairs capable of producing points.  Sure enough, find A&D at the top of the order.  Slight confusion at our team order being wrongly typed out by Deal admin team.  Looks like a direct copy of the day before.  Error corrected before the start.

The draw v Uppingham – DKW has done his homework and we get the draw that we want

Weather conditions more overcast: wind into down the first.  Looking for a strong start.  This is NOT what we get.  C&D halve the first but Jay sends all spectators cowering with a huge flair over the clubhouse.  Where did that ball land?!

RAS (has received accolade from his caddy for Thursday, “He’s a good player”), looks the part but hits fat into the water down the first.  Mark drives behind the bull rushes and Tim has to chip out sideways.

We lose 3 matches down the first!  Anyway, enough class to recover.  By 8 we are up in 3; even at the top and down in the bottom match (have reversed driving order of Tim and Mark).

Wind shift on 4 has Claudio hitting 9-iron close; others following suit but coming up short.  Tim hits beautifully: ball 15ft past the pin.  U’ham hole from short left for a winning birdie.

Andrew Hancock playing with Henry Small suffer a little from HH inexperience.  They make 5 on 4.  Richard and JC too good for that.  On 6 I see AH on the side of the fairway.  What to say?  Don’t want to ignore him at 3 down.  “Keep your head up, you’re a good player!” suffices.  They then win 6!

From the 7th green with C&D, “Get up!” cries Jay on the tee (390 yards away).  Ball skirts front of the green and finishes short of green-side bunkers!  All in awe.  U’ham presses on the tee and dumps it in the rough. 

Richard is buried on 7 off the tee but somehow they make a miraculous 4.  They look comfortable, as do Tom and Jay.  Time to find the top match.

Wonderful quality: A’ham and D’ham playing top for U’ham (!) have a record and quality to rival our own top pair.  They are scratch and +2 according to DKW.  On 13 we have more length than them off the tee (Dino).  Claudio hits from 175 yards off the fairway to a back pin and leaves it 12 feet away into the wind.  Wonderful.  Dino doesn’t hole.

Winchester wins 14, however: Claudio’s tee shot (driver?) into the wind is just long – A’ham has hit it left: talks to himself on the tee!  Dino putts up and we win with a 3.

Winchester wins 15 (I wish I could visualise this hole properly).  But on 16 we give one back.  Caddy’s advice to Dino is to “aim on the steeple”. Well, there are two steeples on the Deal skyline and the one in question is too much of a defensive line and the ball finishes left of the green in the swale.  Claudio is cross: “Caddy gave him the wrong line”, “Advising him like he’d play himself”.  U’ham get up and down from green right and level the match.

Aware that matches behind are finishing: R&J have won comfortably, as have T&J and Nick and Jack.  Claudio wants to finish 17 but accepts the half.  Bottom match halved: Tim and Mark have fought back from -3 and are level when hands are shaken.

Mood in the camp is good: quick lunch of coronation chicken sandwiches.  U’ham supporters very convivial.  Consoling arm round A Hancock.

PM against Rugby.  Their on-course reputation is poor – but in the end we think this is misplaced: a few short putts not conceded, some banging of clubs back into bags when the outcome isn’t perfect – but some very fine golf played and nice spectators.  Quite familial.  There’s a mother recording every shot either on iphone or a big camera (although her son loses to Tim and Mark, now firing).

Top match is heroic/comic by turns.  NH blasts long down the first – and straight.  JK then hits into the water (9-iron from 150 into the wind…better long not short here).  Then on the 2nd, JK fails to replace his ball properly and concedes the hole.

We lose this match visually very early on, other close-finishing matches going down 19 cut in (one goes on until 22nd).  We catch up on 12 – all square, then never more than one in it.  JK loses his ball on 13 (then finds it closer to the fairway but beyond 5 minutes).  We win 15 (why can’t I picture this hole?) but lose 16 to a really classy up and down from below the bank.  JK has hit a career shot to recover from a hit left from Nick.  Buried in the downward slope of the tee a thinned, top-spun low-one bouncing onto the up-slope guarding the LHS of the green and leaving a 30 ft putt.

17: JK’s redemption.  With Rugby 15ft away, he hits to two feet.  We’re not conceded the putt but Rugby misses and we hole for birdie.

18: Jack left off the tee: I see the bounce.  Nick hits on from 176 in the rough – extraordinary.  Rugby hit to 15 ft from the fairway.  What a shot.  We don’t get up and down: Nick’s putt so nearly makes it – curls round the cup.  Rugby easy two putt.  One down top match but we’ve won with Dino and Claudio and Tim and Mark.

I make my way back from the 18th following the victorious Rugby pair who then greet their mates on the 16th with hugs.  My reading of this is inauspicious – I infer that Rugby need only one further point and that JC is facing a putt to keep his match alive on 16.

At this point I’m thinking that we’re out of the HH if he misses.  How has it come to this?  All of the work and expectation.  Dumped out by Rugby?

Of course, JC misses: it’s over 25 feet and unbearable pressure.  I go up to Coulman to commiserate.  “Don’t be stupid”, says he in response to my “There’s always next year”, “Don’t forget about Tom and Jay!”  We’ve got our fifth match on the course and they’re all square through 15.  I can’t say how relieved I am and am only pleased not to have embarrassed myself further.

But in my double-counting erroneously, I genuinely thought we were out.

We’ve not thought too deeply about Rugby pairings.  The one thing we know is that they play a stuffy pair off five and that they are likely to be over-powered by Jay.  This is smart and utterly accurate.

Varkey and Hawkings close out the match on the 17th… Friday night, sun setting and Winchester are set for a quarter final on Saturday

I can’t remember the details of 16: chip and a putt from Tom/Jay?  Would have been Tom’s drive… Anyway, we win.  Perhaps oppo have carted it right – yes, I think that’s it.  Oppo lose 16 to go one down: they’ve been in the right rough.

So to 17 and Jay hitting against a ‘club’ golfer: perfectly respectable but not Jay.  Suffice to say it’s one of Jay’s best: massive into the wind, in the face of which Rugby press and hit into the right rough.  Tom faces the pressure of an iron into the green which he executes with his customary wonderful rhythm.  They’re off the green in three and we shut out that match 2&1.

Into the quarters, a photo, Sherborne.

Saturday evening – late

Dark now and writing by the bay window of Room 1 in the Dormy House.

Masters on the TV – 3rd round and OWs empathising with the pros under the spotlight whilst genuinely thinking how they might do better or as well!

So, the fact is that we’re semi-finalists.  First time in 57 years!!  So exciting.  But the job remains 2/3rds done only.

Tomorrow we face Repton at 8.30am.  Time to shut down the TV and send all to bed!

11.30pm and Tim R-R and DKW despatched on their way.  Atmosphere overwhelmingly positive (should it be?).  We believe we have five pairs that can win.  Immensely reassuring if you’re down and know that you can rely on your team-mates.

So, what happened today?

Team meetings!  We’ve had a few, in fact always in front of our matches – and the focus today was on the first hole, in fact THE FIRST HOLE!! (writ large).  “Ignore the flag” etc and similar ministrations…worth nothing.

Team meetings were great fun but also a fantastic way of passing on observations of the course and opposition – this was a group really playing as a team
There was a 15 minute debate as to which club should be used from the 10th tee

Upshot of which is that we’re 2 down after the first from 5 matches.  The peril of modern golf is the ghastly range finder which gives an exact yardage to the pin.  There are times when what you need is the yardage to the back of the green!  Anyway, we’re soon down in matches 2 and 3 annoyingly. 

How to encapsulate the drama of the following holes?  Jay and Tom off first are way ahead…I catch up with Jay eventually on the 8th.  He is wreathed in smiles having a) hit the 7th and b) made birdie (eventually).  I ask how his match lies and am told Winchester 6 up!  I seek confirmation: not the number of holes played but how many up?  Jay confirms.

I walk to 11 to see how they finish, also want to shepherd JK a bit who, whilst being a great competitor, can get down on himself.  Amidst general flubbing from the oppo, OW wins the match 8&7.  Tom and Jay have been an inspirational pairing.  All of Tom’s concerns about loss of length have been counter-manded by Jay’s ferocious hitting.

So, we’ve won the first point of the day!

Nick and JK next, and the anxiety of a spectator hoping that they don’t have to go through what they did on the previous day.  I decide to stay with them to put an arm round Jack (more in a moment).

How wonderful it is to be part of a team of well-striking golfers on form!  12: decent drive by Jack and the oppo dead left.  Nick has 180 or so to the green off a scruffy lie just in front of the fairway bunker.  One of the best shots of the tournament ensues as Nick hits a peerless (5?) iron 20 ft beyond the pin into the breeze.  Pure class.  What was that lie like??

Winchester win 12 to go 2 up.

On 13, Nick hits a huge drive.  I look through the binos and follow the flight of the ball.  Long, long.  Jack hits a quality shot to 30/40 feet to leave Nick, effectively, two for the hole.  “2 for 3” says Nick, the 3 being the quantum up; to which Jack says “I don’t like that!”…the synopsis rather than the effect being unappealing!  So…Nick unfortunately mis-reads the putt which is taken by the wind and provoked by the down-slope.

OW, having looked 3 up in the face remain at 2 up only for that to be whittled down by the loss of 14 to a 4.  Nick and Jack are seething.

I have tried to be ‘ovuncular’ to Jack, arm round the shoulder etc.  But after another booming Holt drive I seek Jack out on the 15th fairway.

“Would you mind”…says he…”giving me some space for the next few holes?” Up-front and cool!  No problems at all, say I, and distance myself quickly.  Whereupon JK hits an extraordinary 4-iron ca 200 yards over the carry to ca 18 feet from the pin.

Oppo have no answer and 2 up is regained.

Cue the 16th.  Scene of tortuous drama and a loss to Rugby the night before.  Don’t tell me it’s the same again?

Big drive from JK with oppo in trouble left.  Sure NH will learn the lesson of yesterday and play short for the chip and putt 4?  But no…out comes the 3 wood/rescue (No?!!!) and a blast left.  Clearly sub-optimal.

I hurry forwards to the green/left rough and see the OW pill glinting on a rubber-clad pathway.  A) we’ve found the ball, B) any chance of a drop?  No to B!

JK, post rumination about drops etc hits an extraordinary pitch clean at the stick.  It holds and a 4 is conceded leading to a 3&2 victory.

So pleased for N&J that they don’t have to re-live the trauma of Friday 17 and 18.

So, two points in the bag, but it looks like RAS and JC have conceded.  Truth is that they’ve fought bravely back from 5 down to 2 down on 13 but haven’t made par on 14 & 15.  They lose 4/3.  Richard feeling positive having sucked up one of their best pairs.

Where is the next point coming from?  Text from Wybar: C&D are one up through 14 having been 4 down (against club golfers).  We feel confident.

Coulman and Lewis are 2 up on 15.

Lewis smites a stunning drive down 16.  200 or so for Coulman, “Lay up”, thinks AT instinctively.  “Clear the ridge!” says Lewis.  In the end, MC hits 3 wood short of the ridge, but putting.

Sherborne get up and down from LHS for the half to leave OWGS dormy.

So, to 17.  Weak drive right from Sherborne, matched by weak drive left from MC.  Somehow all on the green for 4 and OWGS down in 6 not bettered!  Match to OWGS!!

Repton in the semis on Sunday – first time in 57 years!

Dinner at the George and Dragon Saturday evening; late-ish given the time of our finish.  Frewen, Hardy and Healy are there from Ampleforth, fellow semi-finalists and well-known to the OW fraternity.  “Not dining together?” I ask.  “Well, some of our lads don’t drink and it’s not quite like it used to be”.  Over on the OW table, we’ve just drunk the G&D dry of Monkey 47 and their Crozes Hermitage!

This group were becoming closer and having more fun the deeper they went into the competition – the pressure should have been increasing but the players were loving every minute of it

Semi-finals: Repton Sunday 8.30am

Team meeting at 7am over breakfast (without DKW and TR-R who have cried off afte r a late night). Geoff has assured me that he will be up to open the clubhouse but he’s overslept.  We have the meeting in the car park.  “Don’t play any different just because we’re in the final stages…Keep in the present”.  How wonderful to have Tom, Claudio, Richard, Dino to give advice.  But in truth everyone knows how to win.

Invoke Bond on the 10th at Royal St Mark’s, reading from a battered paperback edition of Goldfinger.  “Somebody’s going to lose this game and I’m damned if it’s going to be me!”

Repton: my recollections won’t be a DKW hole-by-hole.  We lead off with James and Richard who are playing against Keith x, notching up his 100th Hewitt match.  Wow.  James is long and a bit left on 1 – in between the rushes and an ok lie.  Oppo are straight down the middle.  RAS is confident of the lie and stiffs it.  Our birdie wins – that’s more like it!

Tom and Jay next; all fine.  Then Dino and Claudio who, unfortunately, hits it in the water.  Looking through the binos I’m sure I’ve seen a bounce on the green and the strike looked ok….”Good shot”, say I, and then feel like a prat to discover that it hasn’t made it.

Weather, incidentally, is calm and still.  Overcast.  The noise of the shooting school is magnified by the low cloud and wind – will which mount through the day – from the north.  Church bells from St Clement’s peel out; larks singing.  Sunday morning at Deal isn’t bad.

They’ve topped off the tee on 2 in the top match but we’ve lost ours right.  Move on.

Get up to the 4th.  Pin on 3 is cut at the very back and protected by a large ridge.  Signal to Tom – hands up for back, down for front.  He hits well but the ball rolls back down the ridge having just failed to make it all the way.

RAS hits 6 iron to a back pin on 4.  Nice but not perfect.  They’re a bit short and right.  Tom goes with 5 – lovely strike, middle of the green.  Jack, when he tees off, hits 7: middle of the green.  Jack’s asked for space this morning – no problem.  Tell Claudio about the back pin on 3 but he’s more concerned with the mis-representation of our win against Sherborne on the HH website.  I ping Dolores and sort it out at lunch.

Coming round the turn I begin to follow Richard and James: think this will be a crucial match.  We’re two up with three to play.  James driving it long and RAS playing nicely.

On 16, Richard hits it right and the ball disappears into the rough.  I haven’t had time to see it land and it’s gone.  Re-load but despite best efforts it’s a lost hole.

17: they’re down the middle and lying well.  We’re on the path right of the fairway.  Horrid lie, compacted sand, tyre marks – and blind, blind pin.

Their shot first – all over the pin, barely 12 feet away.  Richard hits well but we’ve a long putt.  Their 3 wins the hole.  Down 18 all square from 2 up with 3 to play.  DKW sends disbelieving text!

I offer Richard moral support on the 18th tee which he accepts.  “You’re made for this stuff, Sanders!”  They’re long and straight.  Richard hits 3 wood decently, bit right.

We get up to James, scratching his head.  “ An awful lie.” Ball sitting well down, can’t see the bottom of it.  175 yards away?  Bit closer maybe.  James does well – ball short of the green but a putt straight up the bank.

Keith steps up for their second.  Down 18 the previous evening against Charterhouse he’s hit a poor shot.  Not this time.  Ball 20 feet away – pin-high.

RAS putts past the hole – stop, ball!  But it’s 8 feet away.  Their attempt at birdie grazes the hole but stays out.  Momentum-builder for the whole team if JC can hole.  He does.

Down 19…ok drive by them but short.  James hits into the same place as the morning.  For one horrible moment, I’d thought that James’s drive was in the rushes, but it’s just over.  Then, a moment’s reprieve.  Oppo in the water.  Sanders is on and dry.  Fantastic.

Keith plays a world-class chip and they make a wet 5.  RAS for a four and the match from four feet.  Makes it.  “Finals, baby!” texts Jay!

Other recollections: Jay driving onto the beach on 7; Keith holing putt after putt – on 12 particularly.

Final vs Ampleforth

See George Hattrell (nephew playing top for Ampleforth with Simon Hardy) and Katherine at lunch: great anticipation.  Sun comes out and we have a sun-baked team meeting on the out-door veranda at Deal.  Job 5/6ths done. The break is kind to us allowing a good 90 minute gap between rounds (enough time for Holt to put away three pints of Guinness) whilst Ampleforth are involved in a tussle with Epsom (a repeat of the 2017 final) that means they have a quick turnaround before a final they mentally think that they have won by knocking out last year’s winners.

I put our order in: we’ve gone for Claudio and Dino at 4; Tom and Jay at 3.  They draw Hague (on paper the only better player than Claudio in the field) and Jackson.  David Piggins (my Ampleforth counterpart) wonders whether we might not lose the top 3 before the match even gets to Claudio and Dino?!  I don’t think so.

Momentum from the off.  Richard and James halve the first then go on a tear.  They’re five up through six and run out 8&7 winners.  So sorry for George and Simon but they’re out-gunned and haven’t really got started.

Behind, we’re playing well.  No-one really in trouble.  Hague is struggling with Jay’s length: hits it left on 7, bunker on 9, eventually finds the fairway on 11, where Jay is narrowly short of the green.

Jack, up front, and Nick are absolutely bombing it.  Nick at his very best on 7.  On 11 I see his drive land left and long, long but in the rough.  Jack looks back to the tee for direction and I shout “longer than that…on the green patch before the brown rough, further than that…”  Simon Hardy later comments that the Amplefordian pair had to back away from their putts on the 9th because of the disturbance!

Gloomy afternoon but not for Winchester – by the turn we are well up and on our way!

Leaving Dino and Claudio and Tim and Mark to their devices.  I feel more comfortable at the top.

Nick and Jack go 5 up on 12.  They’ve hit the green in two and oppo haven’t got up and down.  We see the honour change hands on 13: 4 up.

Jay and Tom win 12 as well and then take 13, although we can’t be sure from distance as they retain the honour.

Claudio and Dino have gone up in the fourth and we’re reassured that Tim/Mark have done similar in match 5.

I run up to catch up with Nick and Jack and reach them on 16.  Another booming drive from Jack and Nick is fairway central in a place from which we’ve seen a few dramas left.  Not this time: ball green front.  Two putts for the match – “There’s only one word for that”, says Jack: “Flawless!”

Quickly back to catch up with others.  Chance of an Amplefordian fight back?  In a way I’d like it but just don’t see it happening.  “Looking good for Winchester” say Piggins and Healy but we’re not counting our chickens.

I latch onto Tom and Jay: why not watching Claudio/Dino?  Just feel that we can rely on them to get the job done.  Tim and Mark?  Likewise, plus I don’t like being too far behind the field and DKW/GCB are providing updates.

Now Hague is two down on 15 – he won’t lose, says George.  I still can’t picture 15 – what’s my problem?

Anyway, to 16, still 2.  Hague hits one of the shots of the tournament.  Raking second to 20 feet pin high.  Tom putts from below the bank and the ball runs on.  Jay narrowly misses for his four.  Back to one up.

17: I think this is the place from which Nick Owen’s “Mahooosive drive from Winchester!” tweet emanates.  Anyway: it’s extraordinary.  Hague goes with 3 wood.  Nicely.

It’s as they walk off the 17th tee that Hague remarks to Mark Whitaker that Jay has made Deal look like a pitch and putt and that he’s never seen anyone hit it further!

The team are assembling around the 18th green to take in the achievement

Tom’s lie isn’t perfect: he’s off the fairway left.  Jackson hits it to 12 feet.  Quality.  We know that Hague will hole, which he does.  All square going down the last – quick, look behind – what’s happening in Claudio and Dino’s match?  Handshakes.  Hugs.  That’s it.  Points from Claudio/Dino; Jack/Nick; Richard/James.

Jackson and Tom drive down 18: Hague is short and Jay on-board but there’s no need.  It’s a win for OW.  Job done.

Feel a bit sheepish – we’ve worked for this for so long and have accomplished it without really any fuss.  Make my way gently back to the 16th green and celebrations, feeling thoughtful – no euphoria yet.  Then see Jack belting down the 17th fairway – arms outstretched, huge smile, pumping the air.  Yup, that’s the feeling.

Keating in practice at 8 – Holt & Keating birdied the hole three times in six rounds
The 1st at Deal setup for Saturday
Friday evening v Rugby – a big win but somehow without the usual OW frenetic pressure
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