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Warwickshire’s 2nd Team faced Shropshire & Herefordshire at the somewhat familiar surroundings of The Herefordshire Golf Club, where we had triumphed over S&H 2 seasons ago. Memories were positive and with 5 players returning from that 2014 match, confidence was high – but not nearly as high as some of the climbs out on the infamous James Braid designed golf course. A win for Warwickshire would mean a 4th straight win this season, and would mean a 2nd consecutive league title, with a game to spare!
Finding myself in the Team after a last minute change of personnel, the players and I made the long drive from Warwickshire and played a much needed practice round, to either acquaint or reacquaint ourselves with the short but extremely undulating golf course.
All but a couple of the team stayed at a nearby hotel, and upon arrival at the golf course the players could already feel a considerably stronger wind than the previous afternoon, today would be all about keeping the ball under control and in play.
Looking to get Warwickshire off to a winning start was Chris Laird (The Warwickshire GC) and Mark Davies (Coventry Hearsall GC), these 2 experienced county players however could not match their S&H opponents steady style of golf and would lose 6&5. Not the start we were looking for but better news was to come.
The 2nd Foursomes Match saw undefeated pair Danny Launchbury (Coventry GC) and Rob Copperthwaite (Stratford on Avon GC) looking to claim another pairs win, they wouldn’t disappoint claiming a 4&3 victory to add to their impressive points tally.
3rd to tee off in the foursomes were the stalwarts! Handsworth’s Karl Smith, partnering Maxstoke Park’s Steve Creed, both ex-Warwickshire Team Captains. The duo lead early on and continued their dominance into the back 9, 2 up with 3 to play. But thanks to a S&H fight back and a loose shot from Warwickshire off the 17th Tee which finished out of bounds, the match would ultimately be halved. A valiant effort non the less.
Match 4 paired Morgan Jackson (Stratford on Avon GC) with Ben Goodison (Coventry GC), the latter having claimed victory at his home club’s competition on Saturday morning, before travelling to Herefordshire, so was clearly a man in form. The young duo appeared to have the match under control but a late S&H comeback meant the match went down 18 all square, and S&H’s comeback was complete when a par was good enough to claim a 1up win and the point for the home team. Unlucky Morg & Ben
Lastly, but hopefully not least to tackle the foursomes format was Stratford Oak’s Karl Mason, teaming up with 2nds Captain Chris Leonard (Coventry Hearsall GC). The pair made a solid start and took a slender lead into the closing holes, however a loose shot on the very difficult Par 5 16th cost Warwickshire 1 of their 2 hole lead, but a half on 17th, and a S&H lost ball off the 18th tee meant the game went in Warwickshire’s favour, a 2up win.
Honours even at lunch 2.5 – 2.5 and all to play for in the afternoon’s singles.
Chris Laird led the singles off and had a close fought match with S&H’s Tom Alford. The game seemed inevitable to go down the last hole and it did, ultimately ending in a half point for each team.
News was not so positive in Match 2 where Mark Davies couldn’t match the solid steady golf from his opponent and would succumb on the 15th Green, a 4&3 defeat the score.
3rd and 4th out was Rob Copperthwaite and Danny Launchbury respectively. Rob fared better than anyone in the singles posting a 6&5 win, and thus skipping The Herefordshire’s testing last 5 holes. Good thinking Rob! Danny unfortunately could not keep up with his opponents sub-par scoring and would valiantly battle but lose 4&2. Hard luck Danny.
Karl Smith and Steve Creed were out in matches 5 & 6, Karl took a lead into the back 9 but then had to birdie the last to earn a brave half point! Meanwhile ‘Creedy’ seemed to have the better of S&H 2nd Team Captain Andrew Porter, but came a late fight back from their skipper, including an eagle on the long & tight Par 5 16th. However Steve weathered the storm and hung on to win his point by the slenderest margin, 1up.
Matches 7 (Ben Goodison) and 8 (Morgan Jackson) both went in favour of Warwickshire as both players claimed victories 4&3 and 2&1 respectively. Well done to both Ben & Morg.
The Match Score was even tighter when Match 9 went in S&H’s favour with Karl Mason unable to continue his good play and losing his match 5&4. Which meant a 7.5 - 6.5 score line with only Match 10 left on the golf course, a half would be good enough to claim the match, and therefore the league. No pressure then.
Fortunately 2nd Team Captain Chris Leonard had fought back from 1 down through 10 holes, to lead 1up after the par 5 14th. A Warwickshire par was good enough to win the Par 3 15th, before S&H’s Martyn Travis birdied the tricky 16th to draw again within one. A loose S&H tee shot down 17th and another steady par from Chris meant the match finished on the 17th green, with Warwickshire taking a 2&1 win, and an overall 8.5 – 6.5 victory.
The visiting players gathered and celebrated knowing the league had been secured for a 2nd straight year, great playing from everyone concerned on a well fought and unbeaten season, we’d won the league – with a game to spare!
Which just leaves me to thank Andrew Porter and his Shropshire & Herefordshire team for the match which was played in fantastic spirits, we look forward to welcoming them back to Warwickshire next season, on a considerably flatter golf course no doubt! Thanks also go to The Herefordshire Golf Club, their catering staff and professional’s shop for looking after all the players over the weekend. A big thank you to John Jewsbury who due to myself playing in the match, took a couple of my usual duties and alleviated some of the stress from me, thus allowing me to focus on playing.
And finally a huge thank you and well done to the Warwickshire Players, not only those who played on Sunday, but all those who have represented the 2ndTeam this season, I have included names below as a reminder of how many talented golfers have represented the Warwickshire 2nd Team during our 2nd victorious campaign in a row.
David Atkins, Kieran Blundell, Rob Copperthwaite, Steve Creed, Mark Davies, Elliot Forbes, Sam Foster, Nev Gardner, Ben Goodison, Gary Greenway, Morgan Jackson, Chris Laird, Danny Launchbury, Chris Leonard, Karl Mason, Joe McIlwraith, Liam Phipps, Karl Smith, Chris Staite, Paul Walker.
Warwickshire 2nd Team Captain