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CLIBBON TOO HOT TO HANDLE in Ash Valley Open Scorcher!

By early June the course had started to take on an entirely different feel to that of the first part of the year. As the dry conditions continued and the temperatures increased a new set of difficulties tested the patience of the membership. Gaining distance was no longer the problem for most. Getting the ball to stop was now the main challenge. The greens became lightening fast and there was a huge premium on hitting the ball in play and avoiding the heavy rough. Thanks to the tireless work of the green staff the course looked in magnificent condition and when you added in the baking weather it presented a stern test for all that pitted their wits against it.

The months competitions began with the Midweek Medal. Alan Webb returned a very respectable score that was just too good for last year’s Captain Graham Jackson, who had to settle for second. The Monthly Medal saw Karl Brown continue his excellent form with a straight forward win, although Mark Forster pushed him hard. Both Karl and Mark easily qualified for the following weeks Match Play Championship finals. Karl was drawn against Peter Phillips also in great form and the match promised to be a classic. However having taken an early lead Karl never took his foot off the gas and won through to the final 5&3. In the other semi final Mark went head to head with his long time playing partner Mark Dowling. The pair know each other’s game inside out and it looked a sure bet that their encounter would be a tense one. With the lead ebbing and flowing on the front nine Dowling managed to take control on the 10th and never let go eventually winning 4&3. The final was scheduled for 1pm that same afternoon and in true sportsman like fashion the beaten semi finalists agreed to caddy for their friends. It would be fair to say that the match didn’t get off to the best start for Mark. His opening tee shot found the heavy rough and after several failed attempts to find the fairway he gifted the hole to Karl. Momentum is so vital in any match and Karl made sure that it stayed with him. Despite a valiant effort Mark never really threatened and shook hands with Karl on the 15thgreen. It was a well deserved win for Karl who along with his caddy Peter has been the standout player so far this season.

Another player that continues to improve and establish himself as a contender is Steve Monks. Playing in the Midweek Stableford he returned a very good score to claim his first victory after quite a few runners-up spots. Keith Squirrell also deserves a mention after posting a fine score to finish just a few points back. The Monthly Stableford saw Peter Phillips reaffirm his dominance with a narrow victory over Mark Forster. It would appear that both players have put the disappointment of their match play semi final defeats well and truly behind them.

At the end of the month everyone gathered for the annual Ash Valley Open, one of the major competitions played each year. The entry sheet was full and there was a real sense of excitement as the players began their rounds. Considering the recent form of Karl Brown and Peter Phillips it was hard to look beyond either player as the eventual winner. The reality was very different and neither player figured on the clubhouse leaderboard. The conditions were perfect for golf even if the course posed a threat to scoring. Anyone in the hunt for the lead would have their patience tested to the limit. The early returns were respectable but probably just a little short of good enough. Steve Monks was the first player home with a score to pose a threat, despite not managing to score any points on the home hole. Gerry Smith also suffered the same fate over the closing holes and was just a shy of joining Steve at the top. Then Ian Clibbon came back with a score to match Steve and for the first time all day there was a tie for the lead. In a remarkable twist, playing in the last group out new member Bill Benton equalled both Steve and Ian to leave a three way tie at the close of play. For the first time the winner of the Open would be decided on count-back. Steve would rue his last hole disaster and have to settle for third place. Bill came up just one agonising point short which meant that the 2018 Open crown went to Ian. It’s hard to remember a more popular champion and there were cheers ringing out when Ian collected the trophy at the prize ceremony. After having tried for so many years Ian produced a wonderfully crafted round just when it matted most.

The standings for the Clubs ongoing competitions are starting to take shape. Keith Squirrell currently tops the Summer Eclectic Table with a nett 60 and recognition should be given to him for achieving the remarkable feat of scoring a gross two on the opening hole! Karl Brown leads both the Club Championship and Nett Championship tables with Peter Philips still holding onto the number one spot in the Stableford Cup.

The entry sheet for this year’s Captain’s day is now on the notice board. Club Captain James invites you all to take part on Saturday 28th July and enjoy a great day of golf.

Good luck to you all and thank you for making all the competitions a real success.

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