The fiendish par three twelfth on this Harry Colt course
The Annual Summer tour in 2020 having been a victim of the Chinese virus, this year saw twelve going to Yorkshire, where we played some of the best courses in England. Anyone who wasn’t on the tour missed an absolute treat and some gems of the golf circuit. Yorkshire in beautiful sunshine is indeed God’s own county.
Perhaps for the first time ever, though open to opinion, there was but one player who had ever traded in the Ring. A sign of the times perhaps, as the rest of the party was composed of physical traders and senior management figures.
The Captain, Vice Captain and Tanya start the tour at Alwoodley.
Group: David Farrar, John Ambery, Steven Spencer and Tanya Epshteyn
Day One: ALWOODLEY. This stunning course, laid out by Alistair Mackenzie, lived up to its reputation for beauty and challenging holes. A wide range of scores showed that some adapted quickly to conditions unknown in the South, while others floundered. It was quickly apparent who the final leaders would be when the Captain, Martin Abbott, finished with 36 points, still complaining about the speed of the greens, which are seemingly nothing like as fast as those at Roehampton. For those who like to putt on a skating rink, Roehampton would be a good venue. John Ambery, with 34 points was also complaining that he left a dozen putts “out there”. Behind these two came Tanya Epshteyn with 31 and the Vice Captain, David Farrar, and Edward Sawbridge with 29. The average score for the day was 23.5.
At the end of the day the party returned to Leeds to check in to the hotel – a Hilton – to find that the car park must have been designed in the ‘60s for Morris Minors, or possibly Austin Sevens for those old enough to have seen one. Suffice to say no James Bond car chase scene could have been filmed in it, requiring as it did several bays to be blocked off to allow three, five or seven point turns to get up and down the ramps.
Day Two ILKELEY: The party moved on to Ilkely. For your correspondent this was the finest of the courses played.
David Farrar at Ilkely. Tanya with Ilkeley Moor in the background
Another Mackenzie design but with the river Wharfe running through the course and Ilkely Moor towering in the background the setting was magnificent. And OH! the joy of playing on soft turf after the bone hard or soggy fairways of the last two months! In blazing sunshine and with dozens of the local population enjoying the lido that was the river bank, the Captain repeated his stellar performance of day one and finished with another 36 points. Yet again, John Ambery was his main challenger with 33 and Allan Kerr came in with 31, Edward Sawbridge again consistent with 28. The average score was 26.9.
Day Three GANTON: An hour and a half’s drive brought us to Ganton, close to the North Sea coast near Scarborough.
Steven plays out of a Ganton bunker
Group: Clockwise left to right: Jan, Edward, David Farrar, John, Steven, Allan, Seamus, Oksana and Tanya, David Littlestone, David Ratcliffe
Hard running fairways, slick greens, a stiff breeze and cavernous and plentiful bunkers clipped the wings of the Captain, who could only manage 23 points to John Ambery’s 29, so the lead changed hands for the first time. The day’s winners were John and Edward Sawbridge with Steven Spencer and Seamus O’Connell five points adrift. The average score was 24.33
Day Four – MOOR ALLERTON: A complete change of design awaited us on the fourth day as we arrived at Moor Allerton, the home of the late lamented Peter Alliss. Designed by Trent Jones, this was a hilly parkland course with some tricky holes that required thought and a careful choice of club, there being a lot of ditches and streams at inconvenient distances.
Left to right: The President, Seamus and Allan Keer at Moor Allerton
Tanya, Steven, Allan and David Ratcliffe The President, Seamus, the Captain, Oksana
Once again, John Ambery’s consistency enabled him to consolidate his lead with 30 points to the Captain’s 29, but a careful examination of the rule that the worst round is dropped from the final total showed that John was vulnerable to a reversal, his worst round being 29 while the Captain’s was 23. Coming in behind these two were Steven Spencer with 27 and the Vice Captain and Tanya with 26. The average score was 24.55.
Day Five MOORTOWN: The final day is always played in reverse order of scores, so that the potential winner is likely to be in the final group. Moortown, another beautiful Mackenzie course and the venue for the first Ryder Cup to be played on British soil in 1929. was a tough proposition for some of the party after four rounds in four days.
Tanya, Edward Sawbridge and Jan Rommer, who had played throughout with a shoulder injury, went out first in a threeball, David Littlestone, having struggled throughout the tour, being unable to play. Tanya shot a creditable 29.
The second group out was Seamus O’Connell and Allan Kerr, both of whom scored 32 points, playing with Steven Spencer who didn’t score 32 points.
The last group, the Captain, the Vice Captain, John Ambery and Tanya’s guest Oksana Ivanyk, were keenly awaited in the clubhouse, where Tanya was the early leader as things stood with a total of 112 points over the four rounds she was able to play. The Captain started on 124 points but would have only 101 points after dropping his worst score of just 23. John Ambery was on 129 points but only 97 points after dropping his worst score of 29. The Vice Captain, David Farrar was on 103 points, but a net 82 after dropping his lowest score. Oksana who, not being a member, could not win the trophy, was on 106 points, net 83.
Should the Captain’s last round score score be 4 points less than John’s but with both scoring more than 29, John’s worst score, the Captain would win.
David Farrar finished on 31, bringing him to 113, a point higher than Tanya’s total. Oksana scored 33 for a creditable 117 point total.
Meanwhile the Captain and John went head to head until John slipped up and registered only 24 points, his new lowest score. This might have helped, as it replaced his previous worst of 29, thus making his best four rounds a total of 126. But the Captain once again steadied his ship and came in with 32 points and a total of 133 to win the 2021 Foster Plate.
Tanya, the 2019 winner, presents the Foster Plate to the Captain
Image: The plaque commemorating the 1929 Ryder Cup. The first to be played on British soil.
Captain's Day and the Spring Meeting combined to launch the golf season in fine style at Walton Heath on Friday 11 June.
The morning dawned with a spitty drizzle that faded away to a cloudy day. 28 players eventually turned out after a spate of injuries had put paid to the aspirations of ten players to win the Silver Challenge Cup. After coffee and bacon rolls, some intrepid players ventured on to the practice green to see what they should expect out on the course and left visibly shocked.
The Old Course is not a friend to high handicappers, of which we had many, and searches for balls lost in the heather stretched the morning round out to about 4 3/4 hours, delaying lunch and the afternoon foursomes.
The early leader in the clubhouse was Yang Liu with 33 points but as the back of the field came in two players had tied for the lead at 36, Brian Collins winning the Silver Challenge Trophy on a countback from Rakesh Gupta, with Steve Ball coming in third. The guest prize was won by Brian Watt, the guest of Rakesh Gupta.
The afternoon round was a foursomes competition and the afternoon grew hot and humid, sapping the energy of players drained by the efforts of the morning’s ball searches. The Charles Davis Salver, over 12 holes of the New Course, was won by Martin Abbott and Yang Liu for Sogemin with 24 points. The runners up were Seamus O'Connell and Colin Griffith for Mocatta. The open foursomes was won by Brian Watt and Phil Beck, both guests for the day, with Brian Collins and his guest David Heath coming in second.
Yang Liu won the Directors' Cup, the Captains' Cup and the Carr Sargant. The King Cup went to Brian Geddes and Steve Ball took the Scratch Prize.
The trophies are on display in the gallery at the L.M.E..
Clockwise from top left: The Captain presents the Nearest The Pin prize to Alex Heath; The Captain and Yang Liu, winners of the Charles Davis Salver; Brian Collins receives the winner's prize from the Captain; Seamus O'Connell and Vice President Colin Griffith, runners up in the Charles Davis.
Left: Steve Ball wins the Scratch Prize. Top right: Brian Watt wins the Guest Prize.
Bottom right: Rakesh Gupta, second prize in the singles.
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