The eyes were on the prize as Gloucestershire commenced their assault on South West Week on Sunday 10th June with the opening match against Dorset.
This was always going to be a tough skirmish as 4 of our players were away in national tournaments. The singles were pretty even with our boys sneaking it by 4.5 to 3.5.
However, the afternoon foursomes were halved 3.0 to 3.0 on the last green and the last putt to give us our first win of the series.
This was literally a nail biting affair with my thumb nails almost disappearing; this was to be the theme for the remainder of the week…..ouch!!
Monday’s match against Cornwall was arguably going to be our toughest, as we were still missing 3 of our full time golfers who were travelling back from the St Andrews Links; we just had to get through the singles to give ourselves the best chance possible in the afternoon foursomes.
Well, what a job our boys did by taking the morning 4.5 to 3.5 with 6 matches going to the 17th or 18th holes respectively.
The afternoon foursomes was very, very close indeed with Cornwall taking 2 of the first 3 games. This left Mitch Waite and his partner Josh Denley needing a win for us to take the spoils.
When we spoke on the 15th Green, they were 2 down with 4 to play. Mitch strolled around behind me and whispered in my ear ‘What do we need to do Skipper?’, to which I replied ‘Nothing else but a win will do’. Well, up stepped Josh and confidently stroked his putt from 15 feet to win, and then he did the same on the next; we were now AS with 2 to play.
Following a discussion on the 17th tee, with Mitch, he decided to hit 3 wood, and OMG what a shot it was, landing on the green at around 40ft, Josh took one look and cosied it up to 2 feet for the hole, 1 up. Josh’s tee shot at 18 was a little nervy, short and left, but lying nicely and in play. Cornwall were up the middle.
It was Mitch to play first, and for the first time in a while, he showed some nerves, but when over the shot, business as usual took over, as he finished up 15ft from the hole. Cornwall hit to the back of the green and 2 putted, leaving Josh to nudge to the hole, take the game and the match 7.5 to 6.5. What exciting stuff this game of golf is!
Picking the 6 man team from 12 very talented players was never going to be easy, but pick it I did, with Nick Day, Mitch Waite, Jack Cope, Joe Long, Jake Phillips & Alex Ireland chosen to represent us.
I have to say, somewhere in my stomach, there was a little confident feeling telling me we could do this and we did just that. Myself and my able advisor Dave Hares decided not to follow any of our players. In fact Dave offered to take me out into Bath for a day out to take my mind of things. “Sorry Dave, not for me I’m afraid” was the reply.
The next 4 hours were a bit of a blur, to be honest, with Dave talking and me doing my usual of not listening (sorry Dave), but when Nick Day came home 2 under, followed by Haider Hussain 5 under, Mitch and Alex at 4 under along with strong scores from Jack, Jake & Joe, we were joint leaders at the half way stage. Game on!
Round 2 was equally as stressful as the first; this was the longest 4 hours of my life, but I shouldn’t have worried as Mitch came in with a cracking 64, followed by Jack 66, Nick 70, Alex & Jake 70 & Joe 73.
OMG, we had just won the most prestigious team event in the South West for the first time in 12 years! What an absolute dream come true for all of the GGU! We now go forward to represent the SW Counties at the EG Finals on the 28th to 30th September at Aldeburgh Golf Club in Suffolk.
Incredibly, Gloucestershire actually had 14 players tee up in the stroke play with 10 of them finishing inside the top 20, so, once again, it just goes to show what great depth of players we have today.
As the singles commenced and progressed through 8 holes, we were actually down in 7 games
This definitely felt like the blues after the previous day’s hype. However, as in all of the previous matches we had played, the back 9 was definitely our favorite, and it showed as we clawed back the deficit to go into the afternoon foursomes just 1 point adrift.
Following a quick lunchtime chat and clarity that we needed to win 3 out of 4 games, the afternoon got off to a pretty nervy start, with our lads being down in 4 matches through 7 holes.
As they went through the turn though, the boys picked up hole after hole and following wins by Nick Day & Alex Ireland, and Jake Phillips & Tom Workman, the final acclaim went to Haider Hussain & Joe Harvey who sank a putt on the final green to take the win.
Following the match, the team got together for a barbecue with our fantastic group of supporters, and our victory in the stroke play was celebrated in the most appropriate fashion.
Well, this match was really going to be the decider with both teams unbeaten.
Yet again, we were off to an indifferent start being down in 5 through 9 holes, but as before, the back 9 gods shone on our team as we took the morning 4.5 to 3.5.
The afternoon was a different affair as we took to the front through the early holes (not a good omen for us) and as it turned out we lost the foursomes 3 -1 to receive our first loss this season 8-6.
What a gutter!
After licking our wounds, a BBQ and a couple of relaxing beers, we turned on the offensive against a team trying to avoid the wooden spoon (beware of the wounded animal came to mind), but not in this case.
Our boys were having none of it as they powered their way to a 6-2 lead in the morning singles and halved the afternoon foursomes 2-2, thus winning the match 9-5.
Overall, we finished 2nd in the match play table. Not a bad weeks work for our boys, was it?
As always, my thanks must go to our supporters during the week, there are too many to mention, but they are all most definitely part of the team.
Will follow shortly