Less than 2 weeks prior to the annual Warwickshire Amateur Championship, Harborne Golf Club (and surrounding area) was hit by a huge storm where surrounding towns and roads were impassable from flooding. With this news I did fear the worst regarding the amount of damage such a storm could deliver. However, I had no need to fear as Jim Gilchrist and his team went the extra mile and added the repairs to their list of jobs…. and when the level of growth is such that you have to cut the fairways three times in a week, the last thing you need is more work!
So, before I report on the event itself I would just like to say a big thanks to Jim and his team and also to Captain Nick Clifford, Club Manager Darren Murphy, Club Professional Stuart Matthews, the catering team of Pat, Debs and Kaz, and ball spotters for hosting us so well throughout the day, everything went perfectly.
To the event itself…
We had a near full field of 71 players contest for the title, and great to see a range of ages compete aswell, with the youngest player being only 13 years old and the oldest edging towards their 60’s.
Round one brought some good scoring with at least 10 players within easy reach of the top of the leaderboard. At the top sat Stratford on Avon member and 2017 Champion Rob Copperthwaite with a steady 67 (-3). Rob was closely followed by 2011 Champion Tom Ibbertson (Hearsall GC) returning a score of 69 (-1) and then 2016 Champion Sam Broadhurst from Atherstone one shot further back on 70 (level par).
Sharing 3rdplace with Sam was Steve Keay (Harborne), David Atkins (Forest of Arden) and Ben Goodison (Coventry).
One of the early scores returned from round two was a 66 (-4) and lowest of the day from Kenilworth’s Alex Summers. A great score from Alex that included a bogey on the short par 4 10thhole which he played as his first hole of the afternoon.
Three more sub-par rounds of 68 (-2) were signed for during the afternoon two of which were from Steve Creed (Maxstoke Park) and Joe Macilwraith (Olton) resulting in the early Club house lead being shared on 1 under par between Joe, Steve and Alex.
The third 68 however was from Sam Broadhurst securing a 36 hole total of 2 under par and a new Clubhouse lead.
Our first round leader, Rob Copperthwaite’s afternoon card was a little more colourful than his earlier effort with 3 bogies, a double bogey and 3 birdies to return a score of 71 (+1).
With the afternoon scores added to the morning totals we had a tie for the Championship on 2 under par between Rob Copperthwaite and Sam Broadhurst. To decide upon a winner in this Championship there is a 3 hole play off… and with 18 birdies between them over 36 holes it was sure to be a good finish!
The holes selected for the play off were the 1st, 9thand 18thholes which give a really good mix of holes and with quite a crowd watching Rob was first to tee off hitting a good tee shot but just found the rough through the fairway. Sam teeing off next hit a trademark monster tee shot leaving a short but tricky approach. Under the circumstances both players hit very good second shots into the green with Rob holing his putt for birdie and Sam making a par.
On the next hole Rob chose to hug the left side and Sam straight and long both players again hit their approaches to similar distances this time Sam making his birdie and Rob a par taking them both to the 18thtee 1 under par.
For those that do not know the 18that Haborne it is a 234 yard par 3 that plays downhill but also into wind with bunkers on either side of the green and some serious slopes and mounds to make anything that isn’t on the green awkward. Both players scores had suffered from this hole in regulation play so anything could happen.
Sam played first after his birdie on the 2ndplayoff hole and opted for a 3 iron from 234 yards. He struck it perfectly with it soaring high over the pin and finished 20 foot short of the hole. Rob chose a 3 wood and hit a good shot but one that just didn’t quite fade a much as he would have liked leaving him a tricky shot from the left green side bunker.
Rob held his nerve well and played a good shot to a few feet of the hole leaving Sam to putt up the hill for his birdie.
Sam hit a solid birdie putt leaving himself a fairly easy par putt and putting the pressure back on Rob. Rob’s right to left par putt slide by the hole giving him a bogey leaving Sam to calmly roll in his 2 foot par and take the Championship.
The play off was competed in great spirits and the quality of golf displayed under the pressure of playing for the title and in front of a gallery was fantastic. Well done to both players!
Through winning this Championship Sam is eligible for the English Champion of Champions tournament held at Woodhall Spa in September, however Sam will not be able to compete as he returns to America in August to begin his last year of University… maybe you will get to play in this next year Sam – or will another past Champion have other ideas?
Alongside this event is the Team Challenge Shield where a teams of 3 players from the same Club have their 36 hole scores added together. Out of the 6 teams we had eligible Maxstoke Park and last years winners Coventry Hearsall tied for 2ndplace on 20 over par, meaning a total of 15 over par was good enough for 2016 winners Olton Golf Club to take the title once again. The team of Nick Brooker, Liam Phipps and Joe Macilwraith have the chance to play in the National Champion Club tournament which is held at Huddersfield Golf Club in September. Good luck Olton!
Thank you also to our own Warwickshire Golf Unions Ernie Stene, Alastair Scott and Claire Barker for all their help throughout the day.