Congratulations to Ben Sclater on becoming the 2016 club champion on Saturday, Ben won this 36 hole scratch competition after a sudden death playoff against Mike Phillips Junior.
Mike, who had teed off first at 7.30 am, played the morning 18 hole round in under three hours, just showing that good golf does not take five hours. Mike is renowned for his speed of play in the county and his simple method. Something our university students could learn from.
Head green keeper John Welsford had set the course up in great conditions for the comp, with some interesting pin positions which was going to test all players' ability. With over twenty category one players in the field, it was tough to pick out a winner. The in form Jeremy Binch was favourite, followed by the youthful Sam Williams and county player Chris McGill. The early starters had the best calm conditions with little or no wind, which was to change mid-morning. After the morning round Ben Sclater and Sam Williams had both finished with scores of 69 to lead the field, with Mike Phillips one behind with a 70. One handicap players Binch and McGill both had tough days on the links with scores over 75 and probably out of contention.
The afternoon round started with the wind picking up, making the course tougher. Mike Phillips used all his knowledge of the Warren, keeping the ball out of the wind, again going round in under three hours and scoring 71, two bogeys on the last two holes looked costly. Ben Sclater then returned a 72 to tie with Phillips and then Williams shot a 73 to finish one behind them, so a playoff looked certain. With Williams finishing three hours later than Phillips, who thought his two bogeys had cost him a chance of the title had gone home. Mike who has not yet moved into the 21st century with mobile technology and the club struggled to get hold of him. Eventually his playing partner, Kim Stoneman, managed to track him down and then became his taxi driver to get him back to the club for the play off, 12 hours after he had started his round at 7.30 am.
A small crowd of competitors had waited to see the play off. Ben won the toss and opted to play first hitting a good drive down the left of the fairway, this was followed by Mike, who, with his no nonsense approach, got up teed up his ball and no practice swing hit his drive, but this time a few practice swings would have helped as he hooked the ball down the left and out of bounds, giving Ben a great opportunity to win his first club championship, Mike did play three off tee and made par with his second ball, but Ben managed to play safe and make a bogey 5 to take the trophy. You can see from the before and after pictures below that Ben's happiness has increased tenfold.