Golf Society News – Nov/Dec 2019

The last open event of our season was held on a fine late August day at Betchworth Park. 20 players contested the Autumn Cup, which is now in its 7th year, having been donated by Mike Spanswick and Pip Burley in the year when they were both Presidents, Mike of the society and Pip of what was then the OWA.

Betchworth played well, although the greens were a little slow, having undergone significant treatment in the preceding weeks, and there were a couple of temporary greens, which is always frustrating and adds an extra element of chance to proceedings. All round, the scoring was good, and certainly better than the corresponding event in 2018.

The winner was, as last year, Don Anderson, who retained the trophy with a very creditable 38 points, playing off 10. Mark Chatham was runner-up with 37 points (he also won both Nearest the Pin and Longest Drive), and Paul Cohen (36) beat Mike Berners Price to third place. It was great to welcome David Hedges – a stalwart of the Halford Hewitt team – and our thanks went to Mike Spanswick for organizing the day.

The last match of the season was played against Croham Hurst in September. Given the close connections between the club and the school, there are several players who qualify for both sides, so this is always a fun afternoon. Croham Hurst repeated last year’s win, this time by a score of four matches to two. An excellent dinner followed.

The Grafton Morrish is a prestigious tournament and with a wider entry than the better-known Halford Hewitt, it is arguably more difficult to win. Whitgift successfully negotiated their qualifying round at Royal Wimbledon and reached the final stages in October at Hunstanton and Brancaster. The team had a fairly easy win in Round 1 against Coventry, but then narrowly lost to Sutton Valence in the second. That meant we played in the Solihull Salver on the Saturday, which is for both first and second round losers.

The Salver, which Whitgift won in 2018, is different from other Plate competitions – each school’s three pairs play scratch foursomes stableford. Whitgift’s team scored a total of 91 points which meant we finished in a tie for fourth (out of 28) and qualified for the Committee Bowl on the Sunday.

The Sunday suffered from persistent wind and rain. In the semi-final against Merchant Taylors, Whitgift were 2.5-0.5 winners. A tense final followed against Millfield. Stuart Hollins and Mark Coppell won the first match 3 and 2; Tom Bloxsome and Jack Raisen lost 2 and 1; and in the deciding match, Nic Gates and Neill Williams lost to a birdie on the 19th, the first extra hole, having had a chance from 10 feet to win on the 18th. So close, but well done to the team.