The County Men's Team enjoyed a fantastic time when they took on the best amateur golfers in the region in six days of gruelling competition golf at Parkstone Golf Club in Dorset.
South West Week is a highlight of the golfing calendar where the counties best golfers take on like-minded teams from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire; and this year's event proved to be as memorable and exciting as any other. The 'South West Week ' story just rolls on and on, providing memories year-on-year that are cherished by everyone involved.
Parkstone undoubtedly lived up to it's billing of 'No Better Place', and provided an inspiring environment for players and spectaors alike.
If you haven't played there yet, it's certainly a trip worth making to enjoy a beautiful and mature heathland course with incredible greens and a layout that is challenging in many ways, yet rewarding to golf of the highest quality.
And golf of the highest quality was certainly on show this year, not least from the Goucestershire boys who were expertly captained as always by Gary Ward (The Kendleshire).
The six days of competition offered the opportunity to compete for four separate titles on both a team and individual basis, and the 'Green Army' were brilliantly represented in every one of them.
The South West Stroke Play Championship was played over thirty six holes on Tuesday, and included an individual event alongside the all-important qualifier for the Engand County Finals.
We went into the event with high expecations following our triumph at Cumberwell Park last year, and the boys played superbly to return a three under par total score of 861. Unfortunately, that wasn't quite good enough on this occasion, as Tom Plumb and Tom Sloman (both England Internationals) led from the front to take Somerset over the line with a fourteen under par total of 850 (full results).
Tom Plumb played superbly all day, his two rounds of 66 being made up of thirteen birdies and just a single dropped shot. He took the title by six clear shots from Tom Sloman and our own Joe Harvey (The Kendleshire). Joe was a model of consistency all day, and continued his impressive recent run of form with two three under par rounds of 69.
The match play golf is played over five separate days, each team competing against the others over thirty six holes of singles and foursomes. Four foursomes, each worth one and a half points, follow eight singles in a unique format that always delivers exciting finishes.
Our week started perfectly with a good win against Somerset (8.75-5.75), but we were brought back down to earth on day two by Dorset. The host County included five members of Parkstone in their line-up, and home advantage proved crucial as they over-turned a fast start by our boys to lead 5-3 at lunch.
The team battled hard in the afternoon, but the task of winning three foursomes out of four proved to be a step too far, and we slipped to a 8-6 defeat overall.
Dorset, with a win on the first day already under their belt against Wiltshire, were now in a position where three more wins would guarantee them the team title. Could they keep it going?
For our part, all we could do was maintain the pressure by winning our own matches, and Gary managed the squad superbly to do just that.
Only eight players take part in each series of games, and Captain Fantastic balanced the load brilliantly, rotating players in a way that allowed us to overcome Cornwall (10-4), Wlitshire (10-4) and Devon (10.25-3.75) over the last three days.
All eyes now turned to Dorset. Having beaten Somerset and Devon on days four and five, they 'simply' needed to beat Cornwall on the final day to take the team title for the first time since 2002. Could they do it?
The home team got off to an excellent start, winning five of the morning singles, but it was a completely different story in the afternoon. Cornwall, led by the vastly experienced Ian Veale, are always a dangerours team, and they showed their class at just the right time for us.
Three wins and a half in the afternoon foursomes saw Cornwall home by 8.75-5.75, and their victory handed us the match play title.
Over the week, our team won 45 points from the 70 available, setting a 21st century record for Gloucestershire that eclipsed the previous record of 44.5 set in 2002 (and equalled in 2016). A tremendous achievement.
Every one of our players made an incredible contribution to the team cause, both on and off the course. Joe Harvey's record of seven wins and a half from his ten games matched the best individual performance of the week alongside David Norton (Dorset) and James Reed (Devon).
As always, our thanks go to everybody involved in staging the event, and of course, we also send our thanks and appreciation to all of our supporters who give up their own time and money to cheer us on.....thank you all.
Could we win both stroke play and match team titles at Burnham and Berrow next year?