On Tuesday 19th April saw Honiton Seniors arriving at Long Sutton for the first fixture to be played between the clubs at Long Sutton.
As third-choice Captain for the fixture I was very encouraged by the absence of cancellations in the selected team. In particular it was good to see Tim Forward, a player new to the Seniors’ section doing his bit for us. Martin Hawkins was another welcome face, not least for his intimidating handicap. We had a range of handicaps, 7 to 26, amply demonstrating that skill is no factor in putting together a team for any one of our friendly inter-club matches.
I had asked for fine weather, and we were given just that, with light winds, and a good amount of sunshine, all in all good golfing conditions. Honiton arrived in good order, in fact Dave Scott, our former section member, was early enough to take part in Andrew’s couching session .
First out were Peter Hill and Len Collin who had a very tight game with gimmies becoming a rare thing as the match went on. The match ultimately and rightly ended as a draw.
Second out were Simon Scarborough (15) and Dave Butcher (20). They were up against Alan an 11 handicapper and Mike on 18. The visitor started off with straight drives down the first, followed by Simon's. Dave's went left into the trees, however a good 5 iron got him back into striking range of the green. Luckily, for Dave, the visitors did not fare well with their second shots. Dave's third found him to the right of the green near the bank and a good chip shot gave him a gimme for 5 (Thank goodness for Andrew's coaching session earlier). The visitors along with Simon all hit 6. One up. The second hole was Dave's as well after a fine drive followed by a fluky thinned pitch shot that end at the back of the green then a chip and a putt for par. That was the end of Dave's performance. Alan (the 11 handicapper) then parred the next three holes. Simon did manage to halve the fourth so they were back to level by the sixth tee. The next two holes were halved and Simon won the eighth to put them back to one up. Simon and Alan both landed on the ninth green and both parred to halve the hole.
Alan then won the tenth to level the match again. At this point Alan's form started to fade whilst Simon start to find excellent form and won the eleventh, halved the twelfth, won the thirteenth and then halved the fourteenth. Mike the other visitor then won the fifteenth by beating his partner to the hole with a par and preventing him getting a birdie. Back to 1 up. The sixteenth was lost to a 6 from Mike (had a stroke) over Simon so all level as we started down the seventeenth. No one hit the green on the nearest to the pin hole, in fact, Dave's faded right never to be seen again. However, a solid chip and a putt from Simon put them one up again, where it stayed until the end of the match. According to Simon this was the best round he has had at Long Sutton since he joined from Taunton Vale; 34 points- well done.
I went out in the third group with Colin Hardaway, playing against Honiton’s Captain, Alan Pollock and his partner Tony Williams. Colin and I were really encouraged when Tony, a 13 handicapper, sent his opening drive 10 yards straight into the OB. We shared a look that said ’we’re in here!’ , however we were a little premature.
We took the first hole, but then Tony made a solid par at the second, having shown formidable length off the tee. I managed to birdie the third to go one up and the game was well under way then. We lost the fourth, won the fifth and were never down until much later in the round. Tony made a brilliant birdie at the eighth (!) and we were all square or one up from then on, despite Tony going OB twice at the twelfth. At the sixteenth we went behind for the first time. We halved the last two holes to lose by one hole. Alan played a solid supporting role, being another long hitter in comparison to either of us.
Colin has to take a major part of the blame for our loss. I think he has been reading some mind-game books, or possibly taking advice from a gypsy. For some reason he refused to clean any mud from his ball at any time during the round, which gave him a distinct disadvantage when putting. In any event the four of us enjoyed a really good game, played in the spirit we all might wish for.
The fourth team of Martin Hawkins and John Packett came home after an enjoyable round; winning 2 up.
Unfortunately, the fifth pair of Tim Forward and Andrew Elfick fought bravely but went down by one.
So it all depended on the last pairing of Gavin Baker and John Thomas and it was a relieved Match Captain to hear that they won 4 and 3.
One of the visitors, Malcolm Matthews, took the prize for nearest the pin on the seventeenth, showing appalling manners in beating the home captain to the prize. He was berated roundly at the presentation, (by the home captain!).
We all enjoyed meeting and playing with the Honiton Seniors, especially, this being the first time they have come to Long Sutton for a friendly match. We look forward to hosting them in the years to come.
Long Sutton 3½ Honiton 2½
Match Captain (no one else wanted it!)
Edited by Dave Butcher