The NAPGC Super Finals extended weekend returned for the third successive year to Frilford Heath Golf Club. Located to the South of Oxford on 500 acres of glorious undulating Heathland and is considered to be one of the best venues in the south of England. The classical Green Course may be the shortest of the three courses that Frilford Heath has to offer, but at just over 6,000 yards, it is no pushover. The third hole is the only par five and birdie opportunities from there on are few and far between. The affectionately known “short 9” of holes 5 to 13 have even after 85 years retained their original layout that includes two exacting Par 3’s, a true testament to their designer J H Turner!
The mixed greensomes Hawtree competition began the weekend with four teams Farnham Park, Rose Hill, Basildon and last year’s champions Richmond Park competing for this year’s title. After the first pairings had completed their rounds only two points separated three of the teams -this then stretched to eight points after the third pairings were in. As ever the competition would be decided by the results from the final groups. Despite the Basildon pair of Carole& Graham Hammond and producing the best score of 39 points it wasn’t quite enough to deny Rose Hill victory by two points.
The second final on Saturday was the Siemens Bowl. Originally introduced as a high handicap team competition with 4 pairs per team of 19 or higher handicap, this stipulation has been relaxed in recent years to allow some players between 16 and 19 handicap and also to allow teams to keep players whose handicaps improve to below these limits. These changes meant that there was an improved number of entrants in 2018 with 33 teams competing in four regions. Belhus Park, Rose Hill, Thorney Park and Easthampstead were the qualifying teams from these regional knockouts. The scoring all round was solid – averaging around 38 points per pair. Rose Hill played very well scoring just over 40 points per pair to be clear winners. There was a very close contest for second place though with Easthampstead just scraping home from Thorney Park with 153 points to 152.
Two more finals were contested on Sunday – the Clapham Common Shield and the Ladies Whitewebbs trophy. The Clapham Common competition celebrated its 70th final this year with five clubs involved – Ruislip, Queens Park, Rose Hill, Wexham Park and two teams from Basildon. The secret to a wining Clapham Common team is usually to ensure that none of your six pairs have a below par round. The only team to achieve this in the 2018 final were Ruislip -their winning margin of 10 points and score of 233 points was the best in the three years that this competition has been held on Frilfords Green Course. Queens Park took home the Ellis Cup finishing in the runners up spot with 223 points. Third place was shared between the Basildon Clubs -both scoring 221 points Basildon A beating Basildon C on countback. Hopefully Ruislip will be able to defend their title next year -all is dependent on them being able to rehome “Ruislip GC” as their course is due to close shortly -we wish them well!
The Ladies Whitewebbs final was contested by four teams- two from Easthampstead Ladies, Abbey Hill and Rose Hill. There had been some very high scores returned in the regional knockout rounds of this 2 pair betterball stableford competition but the Green Course and the occasion meant that only 4 points separated 4th place from the winners! Abbey Hill Ladies took the honours with scores of 42 & 32 points narrowly beating Rose Hill with 33 and 40 points.
The good weather held for the final day of our extended “weekend” -today would see the last of the team series finals and the culmination of the match play events. First out on the course were the teams from Rose Hill, Royal Epping Forest, Ruislip and Southsea competing in the Mitchell-Thomson Trophy. This is a senior competition for male players aged 55 or over with a handicap limit of 24. There are four pairs per team playing a greensomes aggregate competition a tough format and the average score per pair was only 34 points.
Southsea got off to a very good start with 40 points from John Goater and Johnnie Walker as first pair out. Ruislip pulled that lead back though and with one score per team to come in led by 2 points from Southsea. The final scores though meant that we had a countback on 141 points between Southsea and Ruislip. The back 9 countback was very narrowly won by Southsea with 70 points to Ruislip’s 68.
The finals of the Men’s and Ladies Toprock Bowl and Salver followed. Both competitions are match play greensomes and all the pairings had battled through tough matches to reach this point. In the Ladies Toprock Salver the Basildon pairing (Lorraine Cooper and Carol Hammond) were impressive winners beating White Lodge (Glenis Clarke and Ann Tibbats) 6 & 4
In the match play events honours went to Easthampstead in both the Ladies and Men’s Competitions