West Hill has adopted a serious approach to COVID precautions, without it becoming intrusive, and all praise is due to its attentive clubhouse staff for making everyone welcome. We were provided with an excellent lunch, sensibly taken in the marquee erected over the terrace at the back of the 18th green. The course offered a stern challenge and was presented in first-rate order by the greens staff. Happily, the day remained dry, but there was a sufficiently brisk wind to keep everyone on their toes.
At lunch, the result of the morning fourballs was tied at two and a half points apiece. Alex and Yang held off one of the Bank’s single figure players and its lady Captain for the half. Steven Smith and John Ambery, together with Seamus O’Connell and the Hon Sec, were victorious. The usually reliable dream team of Hardy and Smit were overcome on the 18th by the Bank’s other single figure player and perhaps the very best 16 handicapper on the planet. David Farrar and Colin Griffiths had a slightly earlier bath (or would have done had the locker rooms not fallen victim to the pandemic).
Fully refreshed and with all to play for the afternoon greensomes over holes 3 to 13 (because of the fast diminishing daylight) yielded a series of closely fought results. Together with Steven Smith, Yang recorded her second halved match of the day while Hardy & Heath and Ambery & Griffiths came out on top of tight games. David Farrar and Steven Spencer were seen off by two of the Bank’s wilier competitors.
Bill and Seamus were defeated by one hole, but this result deserves closer examination and a learning moment. The bank team, led by the single figure player who had overcome Bill in the morning, announced on the opening tee that they would be giving Bill and Seamus two shots. He had mistakenly used the foursomes handicapping approach of ‘half the combined difference,’ which should anyway have given three shots. But he went further to declare that, as the match was over 11 holes, they should only get two shots and, that as index 1 was the 14th, in effect they should only receive one shot.
This is wrong on several levels: the greensomes rule of a side’s handicap is to take 0.6 times the lower handicap and 0.4 times the higher, at the end of which the difference is taken at the stroke index holes as they fall on the course, regardless of which holes are to be played. This should have resulted in a difference of 3.6 rounded up to four, in which case Bill and Seamus would have won by one hole rather than losing by one due to accepting the Bank’s incorrect foursomes-based approach. Even if using the foursomes rule correctly, the result would have been halved. Bill is still firing up his blockchain computer installation to further refine what his result should have been!
However, the result was not challenged, and the upshot was another shared session with an overall match result of all square. This fixture was won by LMEGA in 2018 but cancelled because of the heavy rains of Autumn 2019, with LMEGA retaining, and now with this tied match, LMEGA continues to hold the, still strangely unengraved, silver platter. Given the slight handicapping kerfuffle, this does not seem an unreasonable position at the end of another well humoured encounter with the Bank.
The presentation would have been made by our special guest, the President of West Hill GC and World Golf Hall of Fame member, Ken Schofield. However, as the trophy is locked away in COVID secure conditions at the LME, the presentation was replaced by a few more drinks from West Hill’s well-stocked bar.
By unanimous vote, the fixture will return to West Hill next October. West Byfleet’s members may yet regret the decision arbitrarily to cancel all corporate and society commitments in deference to the tee time demands of all those presently WFH!