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Oh my goodness! O’Sullivan wins his own event!

By now everyone at the Club was in full swing and enjoying the hot summer weather. The course, although brown, was playing wonderfully and members were grateful for the extra distances to be gained off the tee. The green staff were working tirelessly to ensure that the greens were well watered each day and all that played were appreciative of their efforts. The month of July began with the welcomed return to form of Alan Smith who won the Midweek Medal quite convincingly from Bill Griffiths. A few days later in the Monthly Medal Alan would come close to achieving a double but Bill Benton (69) and the “Player of the Year, so far” Peter Phillips (67) had other ideas.

Charity Day 2018

After the success of last year’s Charity Day everyone was delighted to see that it had been included in the new seasons fixtures. Once again the Club would be raising funds for the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance in recognition for the outstanding work they do and for the part they played in helping save the life of Club Professional Steve Barker after his terrible accident in 2016.

There was a change in format from the team competition, which proved so popular last year, to an individual Murphy’s Points system. In essence the system works very much like a traditional Stableford with points being awarded based on the players nett score relative to par. The big difference is that the Murphy’s system incurs negative points for poor scores and zero points for par scores. It’s only birdies, eagles and albatrosses that translate to positive totals. Therefore a score close to zero is always considered good. There were many eyebrows raised and sharp intakes of breath as members gathered and discovered exactly what they’d let themselves in for.

The summer heat wave had turned the course a golden brown with eighteen very green greens, dotted here and there. The green staff had worked tirelessly to ensure that the course was in wonderful condition and it received much praise from all those that played. The biggest challenge, apart from the fast fairways and punishing rough, was going to be the heat as temperatures soured into the thirties.

Early indications from the course suggested that the players had adapted to the new format very well. Kevin Tomkins holed out for an easy birdie on the first and was awarded with five points. On the twelfth Mark Dowling chipped in for a two after nearly driving the green and picked up eight points. The speculation that the scoring would be good was further fuelled when the first pair out, Club Captain James O’Sullivan and his guest Dean Palmer, both returned home with the unbelievable score of +9 points. When you consider that a score of zero is effectively par it was easy to tell that both players had exceeded all their expectations. The general consensus in the clubhouse was that both scores would remain atop the leaderboard all day.

If you have played golf long enough you get to a point where nothing ever surprises you. Golf teaches us that the impossible is possible both in the good sense and bad. One minute you are the hero and the next you’re the clown. There was one man out on the course who knew this all too well. Keith Squirrell was battling as much against himself as he was the course on the final few holes. The last four holes are a real test, especially on a hot day and many a card has been ruined coming home. Standing on the fifteenth tee Keith had a score of +8, one point off the lead. There would be no room for any error. After two par scores the situation was still the same as he prepared to drive down the seventeenth. Always ranked amongst the tougher holes on the course it would be hard to pick up the birdie he needed to take the lead. Even after splitting the fairway with a wonderful drive there was no guarantee. With out-of-bounds just behind the green and the severely sloping putting surface anything could happen. It takes a clear head to play the right shot at the right time not to mention calm nerves. Everyone knows that the safe place to play for on the seventeenth is the front right of the green and that’s exactly what Keith did. Two careful putts later he was the tournament leader.

Standing on the eighteenth tee with a slender lead is a dream we all have. It will truly test your golfing skill and if you’re not careful it can quickly turn into a nightmare. We try and tell ourselves that it is just a game but our heart is pounding and our hands are sweating. Emotionally it’s hard to keep control under pressure. Keith has worked hard on his game and understands his limitations as well as his strengths. Taking one shot at a time he secured the par he needed to edge just past James and Dean.

Players returning to the clubhouse for their ploughman’s lunch were amazed by the three scores that stood head and shoulders above the rest. There were notable efforts from Peter Phillips who finished on +3 and Gerry Smith and Dave White who both scored +2. Dave Richardson and Karl Brown were the only other players to return plus figures out of the sizeable field.

No one could deny that the day belonged to Keith and he gratefully received the trophy from Club Captain James who missed out on the runners-up spot to his good friend Dean by virtue of a slightly worse back nine total.

Once again the Club had come together to make the day a great success. The money raised on the day was £653 with an estimated £250 being donated via the clubhouse collection tin. At the prize presentation Steve gave thanks to all those that supported the day and for the continued support of everyone at the Club.

Later in the month members returned to the Club for the Midweek Stableford. John Hawkins managed to put in a very creditable return but the day belonged to Barry Watkinson who played superbly well to secure his first victory in a long time. The Monthly Stableford saw some excellent scoring. Barry continued his good form to record another excellent score but it wasn’t enough to stop Michael O’Conner, Malcolm Rosborough and eventual winner Kevin Tomkins finishing just ahead. Kevin’s score of 40 points saw his handicap get cut a full two shots.

Captain’s/Club Day 2018

Always billed as one of the biggest days of the year, this year’s Captain’s Day didn’t disappoint. Club Captain James O’Sullivan had provided a wonderful prize table for the members to play for and there was much excitement as everyone gathered in the clubhouse. There was a threat of rain in the air and a cooler strong gusty breeze was forecast all day. The change in the weather was welcomed by many but even after the overnight storms, that helped soften the fairways, it was plain to see that scoring well would be a challenge. Captain James gave all competitors the opportunity to guess the length of his opening tee shot. There were some optimistic guesses that maybe put a little more pressure on James than he would have liked. The resulting effort travelled a mere 129 yards and the closest guess of 75 yards went to Malcolm Rosborough who has played with James often enough to know that sometimes the Captain can be prone to the odd bad shot!

Out on the course it was becoming clear that the winning score would be somewhere close to par. The early starters returned with totals that wouldn’t feature long on the clubhouse leaderboard. It wasn’t until the Captain himself returned 34 points that a real target was set. Slowly but surely the rest of the players returned. The best of the scores were close with Michael O’Conner and Mark Dowling both matching Captain James. Last year’s Captain Graham Jackson and Vice-Captain John Dixon both managed 33 points and Shane Waller, playing in his first major event, came home with 32 points. At the close of play that’s how the final positions stood. Malcolm Rosborough won the nearest the pin prize after an excellent shot on the 5th and one of the guests Mick Riseborough won the longest drive on the 13th. The actual guest prize for the best points total was won by Vince Taylor who relegated the Club’s Head green keeper Michael Bassett to the runners-up spot. The ladies prize went to Chrissie Fothergill who completed her very first 18 hole competition in grand style. Michael took home the top prize by virtue of a better finish than Mark but it was the Captain himself who bettered the inward totals of both Michael and Mark who carried home the trophy. In his closing speech James thanked everyone who had helped make his day one to remember.

With two months of the summer season remaining Peter Phillips has a slender lead in both the Order of Merit and Stableford Cup. Karl Brown heads the standings in the Nett Championship and Club Championship and Alan Smith leads the Eclectic table by a few shots over Keith Squirrell. There’s still much to play for so we look forward to seeing you giving your best effort in the weeks to come.

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