For the first time all the Team series competition finals were held over one weekend (and a day!) at one location. The venue chosen for this inaugural weekend was Breadsall Priory, Derbyshire chosen for its courses and facilities.
The weekend began with the Final of the Hawtree Trophy (mixed greensome). Played on the Moorland Course. Rose Hill (Midlands & North) won their way to final by beating Iver (Home Counties West) in the semi-final. Their opponents at Breadsall were Trent Park (Home Counties East) who defeated Hoebridge (South East & South Coast).
With a magnificent score of 42 points of Steve Frost (H/C 8) & Megan Wood (H/C 27) led the way for Rosehill. Trent Parks pairing of Allan Forbes (H/C 12) & Billie Waters (H/C 23) 40 points narrowed the gap. However the remaining pairings for Rose Hill proved steadier and more solid than that of Trent Park and the team from the North & Midland group were the eventual winners by 147points to 135 points.
The second final of the day was the Siemens Bowl (formerly High Handicap) competition which also was played over the Moorland course .Basildon, Rose Hill, Thorney Park and Tilgate Forest had qualified for the final with four pairs representing each club. The course was in very good condition on a cool, breezy but dry day. The format for the competition is better-ball pairs and the scoring all round was very good. Tilgate Forest however were exceptional and averaged 41 points per pair for a total of 164. The battle for runner-up went to countback with Basildon pipping Rose Hill on 149 points. Thorney Park had a very creditable 147 points.
The Sunday of Finals weekend also saw two competitions played to their conclusion. First out was the men’s Clapham Common Final playing for the Platinum Shield and Ellis Cup. This year was the second Final played in the revised format with only four pairs per team instead of the six pairs used for many years. This year’s entry of 82 teams was such that we again had eight areas instead of the seven of recent years.
The Priory Course at Breadsall was in excellent condition. The weather was dry but chilly and although there was a breeze most pairs teed off with hopes of beating the 36 points par target. In the 2014 Final at Thornbury seven of the eight teams achieved par of 144 points from their four pairs. Nine pairs had scored 40 or more points. This year as the scores started to come in it became obvious that The Priory was a very tough proposition. Only Ronnie Vir and Stewart Farrell from Haste Hill achieved par with their 37 points.
At the half way stage with all clubs having returned two cards Haste Hill led with 69 points followed by Basildon (68) and Birley Wood (66). It was the Yorkshire club that finished most strongly with 62 points to the 57 of Basildon and the 56 from Haste Hill.
This gave Birley Wood their first title with 128 points with Haste Hill winning the Ellis Cup with 125 points. Previous winners Basildon were third with 123 points.
Play was at a good pace with the first pairs finishing in just over than 4 hours. The last pairs completed their rounds on the tiring course in less than 5 hours. John McBride refereeing his first NAPGC Final answered any rule queries.
The Ladies Whitewebbs final played behind the men’s competition. Teams from Easthampsted © and Abbey Hill tackled the very difficult Priory Course with only Lizanne Muller making it look easy with 37 points. The eventual winners were Abbey Hill by 116 points to 94 points.
Having had decent golfing weather for two days heavy overnight rain meant that the playing of the Final of the Mitchell-Thomson Seniors greensomes competition on the Monday was in doubt. Buggies were banned by the course marshals on the hilly Priory course but were allowed on the flatter Moorland course. Knowing that some of our senior golfers would need buggies, the only two tee times available that morning on the Moorland course were hastily booked which gave the option of one pair per team playing the Moorland. The situation and the various options were explained to the team captains and eventually it was agreed that one pair per team would play on the Moorland course with buggies and the other pairs all walking on the Priory course. This allowed all the finalists to field full teams
The four qualifying teams were Hainault Forest, Bournemouth Queens Park, Ruislip and Wishaw with four pairs representing each club in a stableford greensomes team aggregate competition. Scoring was quite difficult on the Priory course where Wishaw led with 98 points from their 3 pairs. On the Moorland course we had some strong scoring with 43 from the Ruislip pair and 40 from Queens Park. Wishaw however held on to their lead from the Priory with a solid 36 from their Moorland pairing to win with 134 points to the 128 from Ruislip.
It was a very difficult day all round and thanks must go to the four teams who agreed to the unusual arrangement so that the competition could take place fairly. Thanks also to Colin Ballantyne who managed the starting on both courses and was generally busy all day. Finally very special thanks to Phil Askew, the referee from England Golf, who helped resolve the issues over format and then spent the day refereeing one competition on two courses and all on foot.
Next year’s finals will take place at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire. We look forward to seeing many of the teams again and hopefully some new faces as well.
Images from Finals Weekend