There are a number tournaments in which the Society enters a scratch team – the Halford Hewitt, the Grafton Morrish, the Brent Knoll, the Mellin (O-55s) and the Alba Trophy.
By far the biggest and most prestigeous of these is the Halford Hewitt. First played in 1924, Sherborne’s first appearance was in 1930, when the Tournament was extended from 16 schools to 32. Parry & Simmonds, Cole & Gurney, Griffin & Brakspeare, Shaw & Stables and Lobb & Sheldon lost 3-2 in the first round to Repton.
Founded in 1960 by OS Tom Parry, the GL Mellin Salver is related to the Halford Hewitt in that it is for senior players (over-55s) of schools that made up the 1930 tranche of Hewitt entries. It should be noted, though, that non-Hewitt players are eligible. To reflect the more civilised and gentile nature of the event, it is played in early July at West Hill, comprising teams of 6-a-side.
The first tournament of the year takes place at Burnham & Berrow – the Brent Knoll Bowl, a 6-a-side tournament of teams not only from schools, but from Societies such as the Army Golf Society, the Royal Navy, Lloyds Bank and others. The OSGS has won this on four occasions, including 2013 and 2014.
The tournament year is rounded off with the Grafton Morrish. This is open to all ‘Headmaster’s Conference’ schools. There is a qualifying round in May/June to reduce the number of entrants – usually around 110 – to the 48 which take part in the Finals in September/October at Hunstanton and Brancaster. In 2014 the team of Francis & Couzens, Pralle & Martin and Gillett & Irving emerged victorious to secure the OSGS’s first ‘major’ tournament. Read on for more details. . .
The Brent Knoll 2015
This years Brent Knoll turned out to be a rather wet and windy affair and unfortunately Sherborne were not on their best form. We had beaten both the teams we were drawn against on Saturday last year but they were out for revenge. We were drawn against the Navy first. The top pair started ok with Pralle holing a 10 footer for a half at the first and Whalley chipping dead from the right of the second. After that we took 3 from around the green every time and produced a long run of bogeys which ended in defeat to a steady performance from the Navy on the the 13th green. The second match sparked into life on the 2nd hole when one of the Navy team refused a free drop from a plugged ball from the rough on the right of the second. Various discussions ensued including a phone call to the club house. Eventually the Navy captain in the third match confirmed the free drop as the local rule was printed on the notice board in the club and had also been told to us on the first tee! Nick Aubin was fuming about all the fuss and the Navy player was grumpy for the next 6 holes. The incident inspired the Sherborne pair who are to be congratulated for beating the 2 scratch golfers on the 17th green. The final pair are now standing on the 17th tee 2 up and looking good. However it was not to be plain sailing. With a 30mph wind off the right the high draw from Robin was blown well off course and lost in the buckthorn. Ed Kelly went back to the tee and hit a similar shot into the same place and also lost. The hole was conceeded. Two excellent drives down 18 left short irons to the green. Robin was just off the edge of the green and the Navy were 25 feet away. A good long put from Kelly went 6 feet past and Irvine holed with style and confidence to win the match 1 up.
All the effort on the last few holes took its time and we were already due on the tee when we finished. A rushed lunch and back out 20 mins later we were playing a return of last years final against the Wigorns. The top match got off to a good solid start and were 2 up after 5 and feeling much more in control. However that did not last. Whalley hit a bad drive at 6, a poor second at 7, a good drive at 8 that did not turn on the wind into a bunker and Pralles tee shot on 9 just spun back off the front of the green. We were 2 down at the turn and never recovered against steady golf. The news behind was not good when we heard that the 2nd match were 6 down and the last match were 3 down. However the 2nd match had launched a come back and were now 3 down but with 4 holes left. Unfortunately a spectacular second shot by the Wigorns from a bank on the right finshed 15 feet from the hole and the match was lost. The last match was also staging a come back and were only 1 down with 3 to go when a half was agreed.
A disappointing day from Sherborne who were in the Sunday Morning consolation stableford for the first time in over 10 years. We woke on Sunday to the gale that was forcast, with rain and a 50mph wind. We were relieved to hear when we got to the club that the stableford had been cancelled and the plate competition semi final and final were being played over 4 holes each. It was that bad. Good luck to the main event winners the Navy. They must have had a horrible 36 holes in the appalling conditions.
|v Royal Navy at Burnham & Berrow on March 27th 2015|
|N Whalley J Pralle||M A Selway R J Moore||6&5|
|N Aubin E Fricker||2&1||G P Norris A J Kippen|
|E Kelly R Irvine||1 up||A A Hills S D Howard|
|Result Won 2-1||2||
|v Wigorns at Burnham & Berrow on March 27th 2015|
|N Whalley J Pralle||P R Scarrettt A W Robinson||5&4|
|N Aubin E Fricker||P A Greenhalgh M I Farmer||4&3|
|E Kelly R Irvine||½||N B Peplow D T Oliver||½|
|Result Lost 2½-½||½||2½|
The Halford Hewitt
Report on 2015
We were drawn to play Whitgift on the Friday morning at Deal; our third Friday draw in a row. The potential team had their first outing at the trial weekend which started with 36 holes at the Berkshire at the end of February, followed by 27 holes at Deal the next day and concluding with an 18 hole match against the Club on the Sunday.
Due to the Friday first round, we used the Thursday for a friendly match against Epsom at Prince’s as a chance to see who was fit and in form before selecting the team and pairings. However, the quality of golf wasn’t great and it was a display of damage limitation as opposed to classy scoring. The team and pairings were agreed as follows on the Thursday evening: Rhys Francis and Toby Couzens; Robin Irving and Ed Kelly; Nick Aubin and Gordon Curtis; Stuart Gillett and Josh Pralle; Clive Martin and Ed Elliot-Square.
Francis and Couzens led by example. They were confidently hitting fairways and greens all morning and on the odd occasion a green was missed they got up and down. They brought home a solid point, winning 3 and 2. Irving and Kelly were down and Irving was fighting the hooks. Even Kelly’s imperial short game and putting talent wasn’t enough. They were out played, eventually losing 5 and 4.
Gillett and Pralle played “Spiethian golf”, taking only 30 to reach the turn. They won comfortably by 5 and 4. John Youngman who was spectating suggested he couldn’t recall during 55 years of Hewitt experience ever witnessing such outstanding golf. Peter Hedges, who was playing for Whitgift, was shell-shocked!
The news from the engine room wasn’t good. Martin and Elliot-Square were not firing on all cylinders, with the former not at full strength as he was still recovering from flu, and unfortunately their opposition took advantage beating us 4 and 3.
The outcome therefore hinged on the third pair of Aubin and Curtis. Reports suggested that neither side had played the front nine particularly well, but somehow we were still in with a chance. As they turned to play the gruelling back six holes at Deal, the wind picked up, as did the intensity of the golf.
We gifted the 15th after Curtis lost his second shot right, and went two down. Curtis hit his 16th tee shot right into thick rough. Aubin struggled to move it far, but it did find the semi rough. The opposition had lost their tee shot and were now playing their provisional ball. We were 160 yards from the green in two, Curtis hit his iron shot slightly heavy and the ball was now 20 yards short in three. The opposition had a 25- foot putt for a six and Aubin was debating whether to chip or putt up the bank in front of the green. He chipped it, the ball checked and stopped quicker than expected; we two putted and won the hole with a double bogey six – one down.
Aubin kept the momentum going by hitting a good tee shot on the 17th to the right edge of the fairway. A well struck six iron just caught the left swale on the green but we were putting. Whitgift were short right in two and putted up to leave a nerve- jangling six footer. Aubin’s putt from the bottom of the swale was good for pace, but slightly left. Whitgift go for their par and miss, the crowds all sigh, and Curtis has a five footer to get the match back to all square. The ball slides by on the left side and we remain one down.
Surprisingly, Whitgift carve their tee shot at the 18th short and right into the rough. Curtis took a few deep breaths, pulled out his driver, and hit a low bullet, killing a few worms along its flight path, leaving Aubin 170 yards from the middle of the fairway. Whitgift hit an impeccable rescue wood from the right rough to ten foot. Aubin hits a high six iron straight at the flag, leaving a twelve footer for birdie to take the match to extra holes. Sadly the ball slides by the left side of the hole and Whitgift have two for the match from ten foot. Whitgift lag the first put and the match is conceded.
The disappointment amongst the team and supporters after losing yet another first round match was immense. Our opposition continue to improve and we need to do the same. A huge thank you to all the supporters that continue to show faith and travel down to the Kent coastline to support the team, which is much appreciated.
The Plate pairings were confirmed as Francis and Pralle, Irving and Elliot-Square, Aubin and Curtis, with Irving assumed the captain’s role allowing Couzens the chance to return home for the first time in eleven years to celebrate his wedding anniversary.
The mood became relaxed and the boys were going to have fun. First at Prince’s that afternoon were Oundle who we beat 2-1. Francis and Pralle should have tried a little harder, as they seemed to be having far too much fun! The boys continued their fun and celebrations in the King’s Arms, nearly needing to call out the Kent fire brigade, but Aubin got them all to bed, eventually. On Saturday morning, the sun was shining and they quickly got revenge on Glenalmond 2-1 and then Wrekin 2½-½.
There was a short discussion over dinner and Irving decided to keep the same pairs but mix the order a little. Starting from the 10th hole at Royal Cinque Ports, the semi-finals began. Francis and Pralle were solid; Aubin and Curtis were struggling a little and Irving with Elliot-Square put on a real masterclass of short game skills at the end of their contest against Rossall. They were one down with two to play, when playing the short 8th. Irving put Elliot- Square in the first bunker. The opposition then followed into the bunker just in front. Elliot-Square then decided a full shot back into the wind might be easier so knifed the bunker shot 80 yards over the green onto the beach where the ball came to rest on a plastic milk bottle carton. Irving while cursing Elliot-Square, took a few deep breaths, and then put us to ten feet and Elliot-Square holed for a four. All square on the 18th tee they go on to win in extra holes and we had made the plate final against Epsom.
Having played Epsom in a friendly on Thursday and being shown how to play the game, this was a good chance to make amends. Francis and Pralle did just that playing good golf and winning 2 and 1, but unfortunately the middle pair lost by 6 and 5, so the spotlight was shining again on Aubin and Curtis. Were they able to draw upon the disappointment of losing in the main event against Whitgift? Thankfully yes! They came through a tight game eventually winning 1 up and Sherborne had won the Halford Hewitt Plate.
Match details from round 1 of the main draw
|v Whitgift at Deal on April 10th 2015|
||3/2||1||N Gates & J W Garmody-Firth||0|
||0||M J Hayes & S A Hollins||5/4||1|
||0||M D S Webster & J S Marchbank||1 up||1|
||5/4||1||P J Hedges & J J Beck||0|
||0||R S Gibson & J D G Ufton||4/3||1|
|Result lost 2-3||2||3|
The Grafton Morrish
Report from Toby Couzens
After automatic qualification into the finals as defending champions, the team arrived on the Wednesday night energised and in fine form. Practice at Hunstanton on Thursday was good with Elliot Square playing some particularly good golf.
The draw was tough, and in true Grafton form, there were a few shocks in the early rounds with more and more schools having good, colourful young golfers to strengthen their old boy’s sides.
The first round saw us drawn against Sedbergh, who we have not played before. Our pairings were: Francis and Couzens; Irving and Kelly; Gillett and Elliot Square. The top pair struggled from the off, three putting the first, finding gorse on the second and then a fairway bunker on the third. Unusually for them they didn’t find any sparks and had a frustrating game eventually loosing 3 and 2. The second pair were asked to repeat their Brent Knoll form and that’s just what they did. Ten pars and three birdies was enough to see off their opponents 5 and 4, great golf! The third pair started strong but then struggled to keep the ball in play, eventually being out putted with the opposition holing from thirty foot on the 14th and twenty foot on 15th to seal the match 4 and 3.
The team headed into the Hunstanton Clubhouse, in shock, disbelief and mildly angry. This was a match that we should have comfortably won, but Friday September 25th 2015 was just not our day. The team wanted to go put things right so we signed up for the Solihull Salver playing with Brighton and St Columbus at 09.24. The pairs were slightly altered as we were now playing at Brancaster and we wanted to get as many points as possible to qualify for the Committee Bowl by finishing as one of the top four schools. The sun was shinning brightly, the wind was calm, and the course was in stunning condition.
The stableford scores were: Gillett and Couzens 31; Francis and Elliot Square 25; Irving and Kelly 28; giving Sherborne a total of 84 which was only good enough to finish 7th equal. Our 2015 Grafton Morrish quickly came to an end…..
The team all thank the OS society and squad members for their continued support and hope that 2016 will prove more successful. The team is committed to continue practicing, strengthen our minds and look forward to the next scratch event in April.
|v Sedbergh at Hunstanton on September 25th 2015|
||0||J F Edgar & C B Abraham||3&2||1|
||5&4||1||C T Webb & H E Flather|
||0||A Smith & W J Jeffries||4&3||1|
|Result lost 1-2||1||2|
Grafton Morrish 2014
The first round saw us drawn against Hymer’s who we had played a few years ago and we were confident of our chances. They had a couple of good, young players that strengthen their team. Our pairs were Rhys Francis & Robin Irving, Stuart Gillett & Toby Couzens, Joss Pralle & CliveMartin.
Francis & Irving struggled while Gillett & Couzens managed to scrape a win on the 17th which was enough thanks to a point secured by Martin &Pralle, who played well. There was much debate at lunch over tactics and it was decided to change the first two pairings to Francis & Couzens and Gillett & Irving.
This seemed to spur on the team and it proved to be a pivotal moment. The dynamic changed instantly and a renewed enthusiasm saw St Johns, Leatherhead dispatched 3 – 0. A tough match against Haileybury saw us prevail 2-1 and then a more comfortable win against Shrewsbury in awful weather saw us head to dinner on Saturday evening with a semi-final place against Loughborough.
They proved a tough team and all matches were close with Francis & Couzens winning on the 18th, Gillett & Irving losing on the 17th but Pralle & Martin secured the decisive win on the 16th. Then the fun started!
Clifton managed to scrape through their semi-final with only two pairs after one of their team suffered back spasms in the night and was unable to play. We assumed that we would then only need 2 pairs for the final so Gillett & Irving opted to stand down. Some debate ensued as to how the draw should be made but the rules were clarified and it was decided that, as Clifton only had two pairs, we only needed to put two pairs forward and the 3rd match would be a point to us.
Only 15 mins before the final the Clifton captain announced that he had to be on a flight to Heathrow at 8pm and couldn’t therefore risk playing! Clifton therefore started the final somewhat flustered to say the least, but we didn’t mind! Francis & Couzens played sublime golf and were 4 up after 4 which proved to be decisive as they strolled to a 7 & 6 victory which gave us the long overdue win in one of the ‘Majors’.
It was a victory that was well received in the clubhouse afterwards and special thanks must go to the parents of Irving, John of course in his capacity as OSGS Captain this year, who supported us through each round so it was very special sharing this with them.