The 2nd team travelled to The Staffordshire golf club in search of their first league win of the 2018 season. Chris Staite had kindly offered to do some reconnaissance for us on the Saturday evening having gone for a practice round.
We arrived Sunday morning and Chris’ description regarding the course and its condition which we had digested late Saturday evening were extremely accurate. The long dry spell we are going through is affecting some courses more than others, The Staffordshire was predominantly yellow in colour and resembled the very best open links courses after a dry spell. However, with The Staffordshire’s many harshly sloping fairways and raised greens, it was sure to be a frustrating day for all players.
Unfortunate late changes needed to be made leading up to the match as player availability shifted. Still with contingencies in place, we managed to field the full team and were ready to play after a wonderful breakfast.
The foursomes started with Antony Gascoigne and Alex Summers leading the way. The tone of the day set when Ant’s first tee shot with a 5 iron went over 300 yards down the 1stfairway.
Never too much in this match they reached the 18thall square. Both teams were on the back edge in two and the door was left ajar when the Staffs team three putted. However, Ants putt for the win did the full 360-degree horseshoe and the honours were even.
Next up was Mason West and Ben Goodison and they also made it to the last – only this time one down. Staffs found the trees from the tee and Warwickshire were again on the back of the treacherous 18thgreen in two. Needing 2 putts for a half point, again we saw a lip out cost us a three putt and the match would slip away to a 1 down defeat.
Better news was incoming as match 3 saw Gaz Greenway and Josh Davenport playing some wonderful golf and actually making Birdies! (yes birdies) despite the tricky conditions. This proved unmatchable and they ran out 4&2 winners.
In match 4 was the “all youth” pairing of Dan Pearce and Jacob Parsons. Watching these guys for most the morning the 4 & 2 defeat they suffered was not an indication of the quality of golf shots they played. I witnessed several unlucky bounces; one hitting a crack on the front edge of a green and then bouncing at near right angles into a greenside hedge.
In match 5 Chris Staite and Nev Gardner started slowly but got to grips with the conditions and their match to close out a win 2 & 1.
This put the match all square at 2.5 each following the foursomes. Lunch was amusing as we all regaled stories of various degrees from Guinness Book of Records worthy wedge shot distances to a 325 yard 4 iron.
Alex Summers led us out in the singles but eventually lost out 3 & 2.
Gaz Greenway playing next would lose his match 4 & 3.
Josh Davenport played wonderful golf all day and mastered the conditions better than anyone I saw. His towering high irons negating as best they could the impossibly hard bounces. He would win his singles 6 & 5 and go unbeaten for the day. Super Impressive.
Ben Goodison (fresh off reaching the Warwickshire Matchplay final) would also come out on top winning his match 3 & 2.
Mason West would lose out 4 & 2.
Ant Gascoigne was next in and he would win his match 3 & 2 using all his experience and guile to stay ahead of a competitive opponent.
So with 4 matches remaining the match score was all level.
Jacob Parsons was next and he fought all the way but would lose out 5 & 3. The same fate would also befall Dan Pearce who’s 2 & 1 defeat was despite some good golf I saw.
So now the best we could achieve was a halved match and it was over to the tail of Chris Staite and Nev Gardner. Unfortunately for Warwickshire it was not to be, Nev losing out 4 & 2 to a member of the host Club which was an advantage of biblical proportions in the conditions. Then as if to throw one last right hook, the 18thgreen cost us once again as despite fighting hard all-day Chris Staite would 3 putt the difficult last green to gain us a half point when a victory was very much deserved.
So the match result was a 9 – 6 victory for Staffordshire.
Congratulations to Stuart and his team for a well-played match and we wish the Staffordshire guys the best for the remaining games this season. Our thanks go to The Staffordshire Golf club for their hospitality throughout the day.
My thanks also to Bob Harrison for his continued support, company and council – we do very much appreciate the time you invest in our matches.
In terms of our team’s performance, I’d like to thank the Warwickshire players for the way they handled themselves and the conditions, accepting in good spirits what was at times a lottery in terms of where the golf balls were finishing. At this level of ability in the conditions, I truly believe anyone could have beat anyone and I don’t feel we can read too much into this result at all unfortunately.
Our next match at Stratford Upon Avon golf club is sure to be a better indicator of where we are as a team.
On the plus side – if you add the iron yardages of this match to your stats, Dustin Johnson might be taking a 2ndlook J
2nd Team Captain