Midland South County Week 2018

Back Row: Djura, Emily Savage, Julia, Laura, Avril, Becky, Sharon, Emily Shaw, Claire Randell. Front row: Sheree, Elspeth, Ann, Charlie


I went to Denham full of hope and apprehension in equal measure. It was a new format for the competition and a new(ish) and reduced squad. The format - each match taking place in half a day - was challenging and intense, giving us no time to regroup at lunch, or to swap players who might be having a bad day. Having 2 foursomes and 3 singles games was also a challenge - the foursomes became a significant proportion of the points on offer, meaning that good partnerships were more important than low handicaps.

We started against Northamptonshire on an overcast, cool Monday morning. As County Champion, Sheree Dove-Wilde hit the first shot for us, going out in the foursomes with Djura McRae-Stoelwinder - a partnership which tested the Starter so early in the morning!! They were followed by the Emilys (Shaw and Savage) in the foursomes and Laura Webb, Julia Warke and Becky Webb in the singles. By the time we got the sharp end of the match the sun was out and some good golf had been played. Laura in particular was superb, holing putts from everywhere, and conserving her energy by winning 6/5. The other matches were closer, all going to the 17th. The Emilys fought back from a poor start only to lose 3/1, Sheree and Djura won 2/1, Julia won 3/1 and Becky lost 2/1. So a winning start for Berkshire 3 - 2.

No time for resting on our laurels. After a superb lunch - the catering at Denham was very good indeed - a shame that we couldn’t really do it justice because of having to play some golf - we set out for the afternoon match against Oxfordshire. They were coming in from a very close match against Warwickshire - losing their 3 singles matches on the 18th - and were looking for a good result against us. The only changes to the team from the morning match was Sharon McAsey replacing Sheree as a partner to Djura in the first foursomes and Sheree playing singles in place of Becky. I put Sheree out first in the singles and she drew the ‘short straw’ of having to play Cara Gainer (a member at Castle Royle, who is hoping to turn pro later in the year). Despite not being at her best, her caddy having to rake numerous bunkers during the round, Sheree fought hard but eventually lost 2/1. Thanks to Margaret Berriman for raking!! This time out the Emilys did not manage to recover from a poor start and lost 5/4, but Djura and her new partner gelled well and, amid some high fives and very good golf, won 3/1. Julia had obviously decided that she needed a rest, so played magnificent golf to win 7/6. So the match was all square and it came down to the last singles match out on the course. Laura’s putting touch from the morning had deserted her, whilst her opponent holed several monsters at crucial times. It was all square playing the 18th, and despite a very good chip, Laura failed to hole her birdie putt and so the game and the entire match ended all square.

Not a bad day for Berkshire, but it was 8 very tired golfers that sat down to eat that evening.

Tuesday dawned, the afternoon match against Buckinghamshire was on my mind when selecting the team for the morning match against Worcestershire and Herefordshire, as was the form and fitness of the players. After their fine victory against Oxon, I decided to keep Djura and Sharon together, but the Emilys had to be parted. Emily Savage was paired with Sheree for the foursomes, whilst Emily Shaw was out in the last singles game. Laura and Julia were out to play their 3rd singles matches! Worcs and Heferford had lost both their matches on Monday and had obviously decided to put their good players out in the foursomes in order to get some momentum for their team. Their strategy worked as they won both the matches on the 17th. So we needed all the singles to win. At the halfway stage it looked good for us, but unfortunately Laura was still finding the greens tricky, and could only manage a half, and Emily was finding the rough rough, and lost 2 down. Julia was as cool as she had been on Monday and won comfortably 5/3. An unfortunate loss1 1/2 - 3 1/2.

A short turnaround at lunchtime left us with little time to lick our wounds and regroup - let alone do justice to the buffet! Despite Sharon’s bad back and lack of match practice, I decided to stick with her and Djura in the first foursomes for the crunch match against Buckinghamshire. For the other foursomes I went for a pairing that had been successful last year at Kings Norton and gave Laura a rest (?) from singles by pairing her with Becky. The singles were Sheree, Julia and Emily Savage. Bucks’ strategy was not obvious from their team selection, but they had put out 2 of their best players in the first foursomes. They overpowered our girls comprehensively and had a comfortable 7/6 win. Sharon and Djura were understandably devastated, but they had fought valiantly and were beaten by two very good golfers who play almost faultless golf. The rest of the games were much closer, at the half way stage we were up (just) in all of them! By the time we got to the 15th, the Bucks coach was stressing (a good sign!) as we were up in all the matches. First to play the 16th were the Webbs. Laura’s putting had come back (finally, according to Becky!) and they were 2 up on the tee and managed a half to stay 2 up. Sheree was her usual calm self as she parred the 16th to go dormie 2 up. Julia looked out on her feet - the effect of the heat and playing her 4th singles match in a row, but managed to hit her tee shot to a few feet on the par 3 16th to take a 2 hole lead - another guaranteed 1/2 point. Emily Savage was battling well in her first singles match of the ‘week’. Having holed a good put on the 15th to stay 1 up she kept the momentum going and won the 16th - yet another 1/2 point guaranteed! The layout of Denham means that you cross a road from the 16th green to the 17th tee. From there you can see the edge of the 17th green and the 18th tee. As I made my way across I could see a sea of green - we must have won at least one of the matches. I looked carefully - yes, there were the Webbs (1 point), and Julia - 2 points - where was Sheree’s hat? Yes there it was was - they had done it, we had 3 points and the win!! Through the tears of joy, I saw Emily hit a wonderful tee shot and dashed off in my buggy to join the team by the green. Emily must have worked out what was going on, but played the hole beautifully for a half, to complete a most wonderful afternoon, a 4 - 1 win over the holders of the title.

With the other results in it became apparent that any of 3 teams could win the competition. Bucks had 3 points, and Oxfordshire were tied with us on 2 1/2 points. With Oxfordshire playing Buckinghamshire on the last day, a win for Oxfordshire meant that we would win if we beat Warwickshire and they would win if we didn’t. A win by Bucks meant they would win, and if they halved their match and we won, it would come down to games won - too much to worry about!!

It had been a day of contrasting emotions, ending on a high and it was very very tired golfers and support staff that finally sat down to eat. The squad changed on Tuesday as Emily Shaw had to leave and Avril Schmidt arrived (in time to see our wonderful victory) to play the last day.

Sharon’s was struggling with her back, so I had only 7 players to choose from. As 7 are required it meant that no-one, however tired was getting the morning off!! Our final match against Warwickshire. They had had contrasting fortunes - winning both their matches on Monday and losing both on Tuesday. They wanted to end on a high, as did we! Having checked with Julia that she was OK after a good night’s sleep (and a bacon roll for breakfast!) she was playing singles. Avril was fresh, so she also was playing singles. Djura had played 4 foursomes matches, so I gave her a chance to tee off on the odd holes and put her in to the singles as well. This left the Webbs and Sheree and Emily Savage for the foursomes - the team had selected itself!!

Having done all the hard work of seeing them out on to the course, I retired to the comfort of the clubhouse for a well deserved (!) cup of coffee, leaving the team in the capable hands of Cathy Jones, who was driving the buggy - having replaced her L plates from last year! I rejoined them for the back 9, refreshed but slightly downbeat - Bucks were up in 4 of their games against Oxon at the halfway stage. The news from my team was good. The Webbs and Julia were well up, Avril was battling hard, but the fact that she hadn’t played the course as much as her opponent was hampering her slightly - the course was playing very hard and runny making approach shots very difficult to judge. The other 2 matches were very finely balanced and could go either way. The Webbs (4/3) and Julia (7/5) duly won. Avril lost (4/3) and again it came down to the last few holes. Playing 17, Sheree and Emily were all square and Djura was 2 down. Sheree and Emily halved the hole - all down to the 18th! I stayed with Djura whilst she also halved the 17th - no handshakes? It seemed that I had been given duff information by her caddy - she was in fact only 1 down, so all down to the 18th!! I watched them tee off the dashed up to the green, just in time not to see Emily and Sheree losing the hole to a birdie - a tough way to finish a tight match. Djura’s opponent, Gemma (a member of Denham, despite playing for Warks) hit a lovey shot on to the green, to cheers from the blue clad supporters. I gave my team permission to whoop (normally not allowed - only polite handclaps! Wild celebrations are usually left to Bucks) if appropriate. On cue, Djura hit an amazing shot, which just cleared the green side bunker and rolled up to a yard from the hole. Gemma putted, and just missed. Djura putted and holed. A magnificent half - it exemplified for me the way the whole team had played over the course of a very long two and a half days. I am so proud to have been part of the squad.

Elsewhere, Bucks beat Oxon 4 -1 to take the title (again). Our half with Warks meant that we were 2nd - a fantastic achievement, especially considering that several potential team members had not made themselves available, and that Avril had only been allowed one day off work.

Particular congratulations must go to Julia Warke - she played 5 singles matches and won all 5 of them!! Also, very well done to Djura, Sheree, Emily Savage and Laura who also played all 5 matches. They played far more holes than Julia and also it is much more stressful and tiring when things aren’t going your way! Sharon, Emily Shaw and Becky each played 3 matches over the 3 days as well as caddying when they weren’t playing. I had a small squad, but they all contributed magnificently and I hope that, with the benefit of a few days recovery, they all enjoyed the experience.

It would not have been as enjoyable, or as easy for me, without the help of the non-playing members of the team. Claire Randell, Cathy Jones and Charlie Keenan were all listed on the Squad sheet - just in case we were hit with injuries. Charlie organised the caddies (amongst other things!) and along with Claire did a lot of caddying, as did Margaret Berriman and Carol Taylor, who came to Denham especially for that purpose. Elspeth Cooper was her usual wonderful self. Caddying if necessary, organising meals and generally making my job as easy as possible - she also did some Starting!

So, what of the new format? It was tough - brutal some might say - on the players. Much harder than playing all the games under the previous format. Each point counts for so much and there is no time for reflection. As soon as the morning match is over its on with the afternoon match. For Berkshire it was a good thing that you can manage with a smaller squad, however, this has the downside of making it difficult to bring in new, inexperienced players. Buckinghamshire organised the event very well, they chose a course which made the timings of the games reasonable (a round was to take no more than 3 hrs 20 minutes, according to the Chief Referee’s instructions) and they used a 2 tee start. We shall have to wait and see how it works next year when Oxfordshire host at Frilford.

Finally a big thank you to all who sent ‘Good Luck’ cards, those who came to support, my ‘management’ team and of course the players.

Ann Williams,
County Captain

COUNTY WEEK MATCHES

MONDAY Morning
Match 1 08:30 - 09:02 Northamptonshire v Berkshire
Match 2 08:50 - 09:22 Oxfordshire v Warwickshire
Match 3 09:14 - 09:46 Buckinghamshire v Worcestershire & Herefordshire

MONDAY Afternoon
Match 1 13:30 - 14:02 Oxfordshire v Berkshire
Match 2 13:50 - 14:22 Northamptonshire v Buckinghamshire
Match 3 14:14 - 14:46 Warwickshire v Worcestershire & Herefordshire

TUESDAY Morning
Match 1 08:30 - 09:02 Buckinghamshire v Warwickshire
Match 2 08:50 - 09:22 Berkshire v Worcestershire & Herefordshire
Match 3 09:14 - 09:46 Oxfordshire v Northamptonshire

TUESDAY Afternoon
Match 1 13:30 - 14:02 Berkshire v Buckinghamshire
Match 2 13:50 - 14:22 Northamptonshire v Warwickshire
Match 3 14:14 - 14:46 Worcestershire & Herefordshire v Oxfordshire

WEDNESDAY Morning
Match 1 08:30 - 09:02 Worcestershire & Herefordshire v Northamptonshire
Match 2 08:50 - 09:22 Oxfordshire v Buckinghamshire
Match 3 09:14 - 09:46 Berkshire v Warwickshire

DENHAM GOLF CLUB

Tilehouse Lane, Denham, Buckinghamshire, UB9 5DE

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MATCH TABLE

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County Fixtures
Played
Points
Berkshire 5 3
Buckinghamshire 5 4
Northamptonshire 5 2
Oxfordshire 5
Warwickshire 5
Worcestershire & Herefordshire 5 1


GAMES TABLE

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County Games
Played
Points
Berkshire 25 13½
Buckinghamshire 25 16
Northamptonshire 25 11
Oxfordshire 25 12
Warwickshire 25 12
Worcestershire & Herefordshire 25 10½

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