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|