After the most turbulent of years, it was fantastic to finally get the season underway with the first match against Shropshire and Herefordshire on 30th May. Copsewood Grange were again fantastic hosts and prepared a well-manicured and challenging test for the boys, 9 of whom were representing Warwickshire for the first time. The winter coaching days and prior sessions at Copsewood earlier in the year had allowed the boys to form bonds and friendships that will strengthen the group for all of the matches this year.
After weeks of wet weather, we were blessed with one of the warmest days of the year and glorious sunny weather was the perfect setting for the boys. The match itself involved 12 boys from each side, playing 6 matches of 4 ball better ball. Following an agreement with S&H, we agreed to mix the handicap order of the boys and matched the team handicaps to create a level playing field for both sides.
Following a short briefing, the new team headed to the first tee in their pairs. With extremely supportive parents in tow, we had agreed for the watching parents to keep each other updated with match scores via the U14 WhatsAp feed. Our very own BBC streaming service!! Warwickshire were led away by the strong partnership of Captain Callum Lee and Joshua Gardner, who were taking on S&H strongest pairing of Zach Banks and Isaac Jones. It was very clear from opening tee shots that this was going to be high quality match. With the birdies flying in for the young, but experienced pair, it was clear that S&H could not cope with the onslaught. With Richard Lee providing on course news, the Warks pair found themselves 5up at the turn. With such momentum, it was no surprise that Callum and Joshua brought the match to an early end, winning 6&4.
Next out for Team Warwickshire was two debutants, Miles Pegg and Armaan Singh Basra who were taking on S&H pairing of Harry Watts and Lennon Green. Showing no nerves at all the Warwickshire pair stormed into an early lead taking 4 of the first 6 holes and reached the turn 5up. The Warks boys continued the high quality of their play on the back 9 and managed to bring their match to an early conclusion, winning 7&6. A fantastic achievement in their first game.
Up next in Match 3, we had Vice Captain Sam Price, supporting young debutant and club colleague Charlie England, the youngest member of the group. The boys, both from the Warwickshire, were up against the strong pairing of Jack Durkin and Seb Reynolds, who were relentless on the front 9, reaching the turn 3up against the Warwickshire pair. Despite being down, the boys continued to battle throughout back 9 and showed great determination against a number of nett birdies from the S&H pair. As the match reached the 17th, the Warks pair were still 2 down, however, a fantastic chip in birdie from Sam Price on 17 and a great 10-foot putt on 18 from Charlie, earned the team a well-earned halved match.
Onto Match 4, another new pairing of Joseph Williams and Kamraan Arastu took on a S&H team of Harry Slater and Stanley Lee. Despite some early nerves, the match was an extremely tight affair with the lead exchanging hands across the front 9. Unfortunately for the Warwickshire pair, the back 9 saw the S&H raise their game, bringing the match to a conclusion on the 15th, with a 4&3 win for S&H.
Match 5, saw Warwickshire young team of Freddy Montgomery and Jake Frearson take on the S&H pairing of Harry Bryce and Jack Tomlinson. Again despite a very even start, the S&H were able to find the perfect partnering skill of coming ‘in and out’ of almost every hole, something that the Warks pair were unable to combat. Despite their best efforts, the S&H team were able to bring the match to an early conclusion, winning 7&6.
Onto the sixth and final match between Alfie Mitchell and Ethan Gall and S&H Brodie Miller and Ben Stevenson. With the mixing of the handicaps, this was a low handicap match, which was reflected in the scoring throughout. The Warks pair managed to take an early lead, but the match remained level at the turn. On the back 9, the S&H turned up the heat and were 2up in the match walking off the 14th green. By this time, Sam and Charlie had just secured their gutsy half, meaning that the match was 2.5 – 2.5, with everything hinging on the final match. With the WhatsAp communication, revealing the status of the final match, the crowd of parents and boys headed over from the 18th green to the 15th hole. The ‘sea’ of blue Warks team colours running over to support their teammates, further emphasized the early bond this young group have formed. With support in tow, Ethan rolled in a 6 footer on 15th to take the win and then Alfie managed a pressure par down the difficult 17th to bring the match all square playing the last. Unfortunately for the Warwickshire pair, they were both unable to make a par up the last and a solid par 3 from Brodie Millar, gave S&H the match and overall victory 3.5 – 2.5.
It was fantastic to be back out playing competitive golf again and it was a pleasure to see the quality of the golf being played from both sides and the many example of good sportsmanship that was on show. That said, I dint think either side have learnt the art of ‘giving a putt’ to their opponents! Not a new thing for u14’s.
For the vast majority of the Warwickshire boys, this was their first match and first experience of playing in the county colours, something they will never forget! Although the home team were disappointed with the overall result, for this age group it is all about learning and development. All of the boys, especially the younger ones, will be better for the experience and should be proud of the way they handled themselves in front of watching family and friends. Thanks again to Copsewood Grange Golf Club and in particular John Breslin for being such great hosts. Thanks to Shropshire and Herefordshire for providing such a competitive match and finally thanks to all parents and officials for your support and making these matches such a success.
A final thanks to WUGC Mark Reynolds, Neville Gardner, Bob Harrison, Richard Clark and Pete Clarke for your attendance and fantastic support on the day. The Board’s interest and support for the boys is very much appreciated and shows the commitment that WUGC has in supporting the next crop of talent coming through the Warwickshire junior system.
Next fixture:vs WORCESTERSHIRE at Halesowen GC (A) on Sunday 13th June
Warwickshire Under 14 Team Manager