Date Sunday 2nd April 2017
Venue: Edgbaston Golf Club
Captain: Pete Clarke
The 2nd friendly of the 2017 season was against Northamptonshire at Edgbaston Golf Club.
On a bright and sunny spring morning Edgbaston Golf Club was in picture postcard condition.
David Atkins, Tom Cleaton, Robert Copperthwaite, Sam Foster, Gary Greenway, Ryan James, Max Martin, Liam Phipps, Paul Walker and Ian Winstanley.
Max Martin & Liam Phipps gave Warwickshire a great start with an excellent 5 & 4 win with a very mature foursome performance.
The start then spluttered a little with our next 3 pairings losing, Gary Greenway & Sam Foster 3&2 with Ian Winstanley & David Atkins and Ryan James & Tom Cleaton both losing narrowly by 1 hole.
Paul Walker & Robert Copperthwaite book ended the morning with a fine 3&2 victory.
Warwickshire 2 - 3 Northamptonshire
As was the case at Cosby last week, the Bears would have to show their teeth in the singles to claw their way back into the match.
This week it was Max Martins' turn to lead the team out and make a statement, with some sparkling golf Max had an early bath with a 6&5 tucked safely into his back pocket. Not to be outdone David Atkins quickly followed this with a very impressive 7&5 to start his season with a bang.
Gary Greenway fought all the way in a nip and tuck match before finally succumbing to a 2&1 loss before Liam Phipps demonstrated his continued maturity by restoring overall match parity with another master class of shot making to record a 3&2 victory against a very good opponent.
The next 3 matches to finish on the course would not go Warwickshire's way, Sam Foster 4&3, Paul Walker 6&5 and Ian Winstanley 4&2 with all 3 players demonstrating some uncharacteristic early season rust.
So with 3 matches left on the course, Warwickshire were again up against the 8-ball, needing to win all 3 matches for an unlikely overall match victory.
Next into the hut was the ever improving Ryan James with a fabulous 5&4 win, well done Ryan.
Meanwhile, out on the course the news was that Rob Copperthwaite had a big lead.
So the key match therefore was with County Boys Captain Tom Cleaton. Tom was learning the harsh truth about men's 1st team golf. Despite being under par and playing some very solid golf, Tom would arrive at the 17th tee 2 down to the experienced Miles Mudge and knowing that a loss would see a defeat for the team. Time for a young man to come of age, a birdie on the par 5 17th was enough to half the deficit.
A pushed drive by Tom from the 18th tee would see the green blocked from view, Miles meanwhile was slightly inhibited on the opposite side of the fairway. A superb punch/cut shot from Tom saw him make the front edge of the green, Miles would find the left hand bunker and splash to 6ft. A well judged approach putt from Tom to gimme length would leave Miles with a putt to win the overall match for Northamptonshire. Now those of us who know the 18th green at Edgbaston will know that the slope is notoriously steeper than it looks. Fortunately for Tom and Warwickshire that was the case with Miles missing on the low side and a hard fought half going onto the scorecard.
Tom will have learned a lot from this experience that will serve him well for the future.
Rob would see out his match comfortably for a 3&2 win that will add to the confidence of this ever improving young golfer.
Another hard fought fight back from a Warwickshire team much changed from last week, this demonstrates the strength in depth of the squad and the fierce competition for places that we have leading into our 2017 Midlands league campaign with the first match being away against Derbyshire at Kedleston Park on Sunday 7th May.
Warwickshire 5 1/2 v 4 1/2 Northamptonshire
Warwickshire 7 1/2 v 7 1/2 Northamptonshire
I would like to thank Graham Bott (1st team Captain), Mike Gilbrook (coaching and player development director) and the Northamptonshire players for the excellent spirit in which the match was played and wish them well in their upcoming league season.
A special thank you to Edgbaston Golf Club for the use and presentation of the golf course and the hospitality shown in the clubhouse from the catering team.
Finally my thanks to our President Bob Harrison and Operations Director Matt Nixon for their support on the day.