OW Golf Society – July / August 2019

Matt Webster reports on Grafton Morrish qualifying in May. “Harvey Byers and Neill Williams, Matthew Webster and Jack Raison, Carl Hills and Nic Gates represented Whitgift on a sunny but challenging day at Royal Wimbledon in an attempt to qualify for the Grafton Morrish Finals. Amongst a competitive field of 14 schools we posted 81 points (31, 26 and 24 respectively by the above pairs) to qualify in 5th place of 6 qualifiers. Amongst the 8 unlucky schools are past winners Eton and KCS Wimbledon, so a strong result and we look forward to the finals.” Those finals take place on the Norfolk courses at Hunstanton and Brancaster in October.

Five schoolmasters and five OWs combined to take on the school at Croham Hurst. Some OWs refer to this as their annual golf lesson, administered by boys fifty years younger than them but somewhat more flexible. The sight of the youngsters hitting the ball nearly 300 yards, not always in a straight line, is wonderful to behold and, of course, a testament to the success the golf academy has achieved in school golf. Very occasionally in this annual match, the masters/OWs win. Not this year; the school notched up a 3-2 success.

John Gould organised the Hornsey Walker meeting for us at West Hill. Here is his report. “There was a coach or bus on fire on M25 between Leatherhead and A3 junctions which delayed the arrival of some 6 or 7 people! It was all frantic at the start and the order and groupings had to change as and when people arrived (or hadn’t). Nigel Platts (no mobile phone) arrived at 1.15 and went off in the last group of 3 whilst our Captain, Alan Blok, joined the penultimate group on the third hole at about 1.45, muttering something about ‘a meeting that over-ran’. That said, on the 3rd hole (his first) his drive went a mere 20 yards in the heather and he still managed a point. He had 3 birdies on the par 3s and a second nine of 21 points. Despite only playing 16 holes, he scored 36 points off a handicap of 9! It was not enough to win, however; he came second to Nigel Huxtable who scored 37 points, and therefore won the Hornsey Walker Cup – the society’s oldest trophy – for the third time (the first being in 1987). Third was Don Anderson on count back – 32 points, enough as the highest placed player aged over 65 to win the Veterans Cup. For those who arrived in time, the West Hill brunch was superb with all the Full English contents along with kedgeree, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and kidneys. Endless toast and limitless coffee. Top venue, fast greens, staff superb and helpful.”

Early June saw the society’s annual match against the OMW golf society, now known as Trinity Golf Society. In honour of the occasion, Donna Lewis, once of this parish but now working for Trinity’s alumni programme, arrived at Shirley Park armed with camera and notepad. With thanks to Donna, most of the participants on both sides are shown in the photo below. The match itself was mostly played in consistent rain, but in good spirits, rounded off by a typically wholesome Shirley Park dinner. The result was a 2-2 draw, the third in successive years, much to Trinity’s frustration because it means the OWs retain the trophy.

The hotly contested Schools Putting Competition is played on Royal Wimbledon’s expansive and testing putting green, also in early June. Captain Alan Blok, alongside Hewitt players Jack Raison, Alex Atkinson and Toby Kemp, took on seven other schools in the qualifying round, and finished fifth out of eight. So we didn’t make the final, but nor did we suffer the indignity of being relegated from the competition; that fate befell Epsom. Jack Raison finished third in the individual putting stats with 11 points out of 14; well done, Jack.

The annual match against the Old Alleynians was lost 8-1, almost the same result as the last time we lost this Tandridge fixture, way back in 2012. Our first defeat in seven years coincides with the arrival of a new President for the OAGS, one Nigel Farage.

The society’s next meeting is Dudley Thompson’s President’s Day at West Sussex on Wednesday 24th July. If you wish to participate in our events, and/or join the society, you should contact the secretary at peterbgale@sky.com.

Peter Gale, OW (1963-69), Hon Sec