The Tehidy Park Golf Club squad of Robert MacGregor, Matt Lock, Ian Veale & Peter Simmons travelled to East Devon Golf Club on Friday for the practice round of the England Golf Champion Club event, which sees the Champion Club of each English County competing for the right to represent England in the European Champion Club Tournament later in the year, to be played in Italy.
At East Devon Golf Club the competition was played over 36 holes off scratch, with three players from each club playing 18 holes on both Saturday and Sunday, with all three scores to count towards a six-round aggregate total. Following the practice round it was agreed amongst the squad that MacGregor, Lock & Veale would be the three nominated players for Tehidy Park.
The Tehidy Park trio were amongst the morning starters on Saturday. They were greeted by warm, dry conditions and a wind that focused the mind, especially on slick, contoured greens that would see the CSS on Day 1 become reductions only ! The trio registered a score of 226 (+16), which would see them finish Day 1 in a tie for third, just six shots behind the leaders. MacGregor signed for a 71, the second best score of the day, whilst Veale (77) and Lock (78) were both disappointed with rounds that contained two double-bogeys apiece. However, the team were in the mix, and looking forward to the challenge ahead on Day 2.
On Day 2 the Tehidy trio occupied the last three start-times of 1:30/1:40 & 1:50, and by the time Lock arrived at the first tee the team from the City of Newcastle Golf Golf Club, Northumberland had posted a total of 431 (+11) helped by scores of 67, 71 & 72 on Day 2, which was exceptional scoring in the conditions. The Tehidy trio would need to post a Day 2 total of –5 par between them, a tall order in the conditions, but unfazed they set about the task in hand.
It was clear from an early stage that the Tehidy contingent would not be faced with ensuring their passports were in date for a trip to Italy, when after just 5 holes of the second round Lock was +4, with both MacGregor & Veale standing at +2. Now the challenge was to finish as high as possible. After 14 holes a podium finish was still within their grasp with Lock at +6, and MacGregor & Veale both now at +4, leaving the boys in lone possession of fourth place…………but then the mist descended over the course and the tournament was thrown into what some may say farcical scenes.
Thirty of the thirty three Counties had completed their rounds, with the Tehidy (Cornwall) trio playing with the teams from Burnham & Berrow (Somerset) and Parkstone (Dorset) the only teams left on the golf course. Whilst vision was down to 50 yards two things however were clear; nobody was going to catch the team from Northumberland, and the mist wasn’t going to lift !! The nine players were informed of the predicament facing the England Golf officials (who would be a golf official?!). If the tournament was to be reduced to a number of holes it could not be decided over 27 or 32 holes (32 being the amount of holes every golfer had completed)………the rules of golf do not allow for this, and therefore, if reduced it would have to be decided over 18 holes, which would mean that the City of Newcastle Golf Club would no longer be the winners, as they were in second place after the first days play. To a man everybody decided that could not possibly be ethical, bearing in mind that their aggregate lead was 14 shots and they were clearly the best team on the given two days, which led to scenario number two………….
The tournament would be called over 36-holes…… but if Tehidy Park, B&B and Parkstone did not complete the 36-holes they would effectively be recorded as Nil Returns, thus finishing in the bottom three places. The options were laid out; come back the following morning and play the final four holes, or somehow with the assistance of the officials play the final four holes now, in the mist, and fast diminishing daylight ! Option one was not really an option at all with all 9 players needing to be at work on Monday morning, and therefore to ensure that the right outcome for all concerned was reached, the players somewhat dubiously stepped on to the tee as three officials / volunteers accompanied each group home; one on the tee with radio comms indicating to the other two who flanked the fairway into the distance, when the player had struck their shot. This continued with the second shot, and so on until the final group putted out in darkness at 7:30 pm, some 5 hours and 40 minutes after they had teed off ! (See the picture on this link……… https://www.cornwallgolfunion.org.uk/news.php?newsitem=784 showing our Secretary/Manager, together with playing partners Ben Pritchard & Ron Schroder having literally just putted out on the 18th green……..the image above this one shows our Club President, Terry Chapple and wife Carole carefully navigating their way back to the clubhouse).
All’s well that ends well I guess ? Tehidy Park would eventually finish in a tie for 4th place. The England Officials were most thankful of our efforts; it saved them having to make a ludicrous decision. It was a shame not to see the winning team after we finished, but they had to catch a flight back to Northumberland. If ever near the City of Newcastle Golf Club I should hope that we might have a pint or two of Newcastle Brown lined up for us !
They were the deserved winners, well done them, and best of luck in Italy. The Tehidy Park Golf Club representation, along with the Captain, President, Vice-Captain and loyal supporters did the Club & County proud; roll on the next trip……. Huddersfield 2018 ??