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WHITGIFT WIN THE CYRIL GRAY!!!

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Friday pm

Whitgift in Final! Against Chigwell.

After six holes, Whitgift are 1dn, level, and3up in the three matches.

This is tight, especially in the top matches. Whitgift were 3up after 11 in the third match.

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Finals day. Epsom have flipped their playing order so the top two matches are likely to be key for Whitgift.

So far, 1up, 2 up, 2dn after six holes.

2 up, 3up, 6dn after 11/12.

Whitgift win 2-1.

WHITGIFT IN SEMI ON FRIDAY V EPSOM

Thursday pm.

Playing Fettes and Watson’s in the same day! Two old Cyril Gray foes. With Whitgift having the worst of it in both cases. Historically.

2up, 1 up, 1 up after 6/7 holes v Watson’s.

1dn, 1up, 4up after 12/13.

Whitgift won the third match. Other two level at 16.

Whitgift won 2-1.

Thursday.

The suspicion is that Fettes have played the ‘undercut’, putting their weakest pair up front. Hayes&Williams (Williams in for Haskell, see below) are 4 up after four, and the other two games playing behind are level, all after 4. Could be tight.

Whitgift up in all three matches on 12.

Whitgift won 21/2 – 1/2. Hayes/Williams won 9&7, Gibson/Edwards won 4&3. Third match halved when result decided.

Wednesday.

Photo front row: Nick Edwards, Martin Hayes, Alan Scovell

back row: Jonny Ufton, Richard Gibson, Mark Haswell

Playing order: Gibson/Edwards, Hayes/Haswell,  Scovell/Ufton

2up, 2up, level, after 4 holes.

4up,1up,level after 8

5up, 2up,2down after12

Won 2-1.

The matches finished W5&4, W3&2, L4&3. Next round opponents are Fettes at 9:20 Thursday.

Alan Scovell’s Captain’s Day was held at Purley Downs (Purley Ups and Downs to the less fit amongst us) in early May. A reasonable turnout, no doubt inspired by the prospect of more Fortnum & Mason biscuits amongst the prizes, took to the course on a warm and sunny day – quite a change from the year’s weather to date – and were rewarded by greens in top condition, running true and (very) fast. Views right across London failed to distract the more diligent players, and Don Anderson (right) came out top, for the first time in …. er …. days. His score of 38 points was two ahead of David Absalom in second and three ahead of Alasdair Grievson,  the latter making his first appearance in a society meeting and, by his own admission, more accustomed to being beaten by Ian Chicken in our knockout competition. The biscuits were shared liberally with prizes also handed out for those nearest the pins on the par 3s, and just about anybody else that had turned up.

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The Combined match (the OWs playing alongside the Masters) against the School took place on a very bright Wednesday in May. The school team was a mix of ages (with boys from the Lower 1st through to the VIth form) and handicaps from 1 to 16, very similar as it turned out to those on on the OW and Masters side. So a good match was in prospect. And so it turned out – with a narrow 3-2 win for the OWs/Masters. 

There were some astonishing reports from the course. Tony Harris reports that his schoolboy opponent hit the back of the 204-yard 16th with a 7-iron; his schoolmaster partner hit the 350-yard 9th with a mishit drive; and most impressive of all, OW Harrison Sellers (far left in the group photo) scored an albatross on the par-5 10th hole (468 yards), holing his 60-yard second shot – yes, 60 yards. Do the maths. Harry explained his 400-yard drive by the fact that it caught the downslope – others pointed out that the downslope only starts after about 330 yards. Some feat and (probably!) the first albatross in OWGS history.

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About 115 schools enter the Grafton Morrish; broadly any of the schools affiliated to the Headmasters’ Conference are eligible. To narrow this down to the 48 that can contest the finals at the end of September, regional qualifiers are held. Whitgift falls in the London region for this purpose (curiously, Rugby do as well, while Dulwich contest the South-West!), and qualifying happens each year at Royal Wimbledon GC. This year’s event was on Sunday, May 19th and 14 schools turned up in the hope of winning one of the six berths available for the finals at Hunstanton and Brancaster. It was a brilliantly sunny day.

The qualifier is an 18 hole scratch stableford, for three foursomes pairs. Whitgift’s team (captained by Toby Kemp who was unfortunately injured) was Harry Sellers/Carl Hills; Joe Carmody-Firth/Max Stanley; and Nic Gates/Nick Baxter-Brand. The received wisdom before the event was that 80 points would be enough to qualify, based on previous years’ experience, but the greens were still a little soft after all the rain we have had. Still, Whitgift’s eventual score of 88 points (with the pairs scoring 31, 31 and 26 respectively) looked easily enough, especially when proven-winners Charterhouse, who were Whitgift’s playing partners on the day, only scored . However it was a close-run finish. Eton (winners of the Hewitt in April) scored 97 points, with two of their pairs scoring 38 and 36 (gross 69 and 71 respectively), KCS 90, Epsom and St George’s both 89, WHITGIFT 88, followed by three schools on 87 (Harrow, Rugby and St John’s) only the first of which qualified automatically for the finals (on count back). Phew! Great scoring but a nervy end to the day for many; Charterhouse, Rugby, Westminster, St Paul’s and Highgate being Hewitt schools who missed out. No wonder some maintain that the Morrish is more difficult to win than the Hewitt – and that was just qualifying!

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Another fine day saw the OWs take on the Old Alleynians in the annual ‘South London Derby’ at Tandridge. This is always a friendly and well-supported event on both sides and again, it was 16-a-side, with the OAs fielding a fairly low-handicap side including three of their Hewitt side. Whitgift didn’t field any, and had only three players with single-figure handicaps, against seven from the OAs. So the OWs generally were in receipt of shots, and not giving them!

There was some good golf played, especially by the society’s captain for the day, Jeremy Stanyard and his partner Kevin Powell, who played comfortably better than his handicap. Stanyard & Powell prevailed 5&4 and were back in the clubhouse before anyone else. The OAs Jonnie Waugh drove the green on Tandridge’s 16th and furthermore found the back tier where the flag was. This was a very close match which the OAs eventually won on the 18th. Another OA, Hugo Avshu took the prize for the longest drive on the par-5 9th hole, leaving himself only a pitching wedge to the green; however he could only halve the hole with Alan Scovell. Alan and partner Roger Oldfield (the grateful recipient of two shots on some of the holes!) eventually won this match 2&1. Overall, the OWs emerged triumphant by 5 matches to 2, with one halved.

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Every year, Royal Wimbledon host a schools’ putting competition, now named the Gordon Thorburn Schools Putting Competition. Whitgift have only just been allowed back into the competition, having been relegated last time out. Each school team has four players, who play individually against their opposite numbers in seven other schools. There are four qualifying evenings and the leading two schools from each evening go through to a final in the following week . The bottom two teams in each group are relegated.

In this year’s event, Whitgift were represented by Matt Webster, Nic Gates, Richard Gibson, and Chris Blundell (an RWGC member). The team finished in fourth place out of eight, and the individual results are shown below.

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The Whitgift flag flies at Deal in preparation for the centenary competition which starts on Thursday  (cover).

And this is where it starts. The first round today (Thursday) v Shrewsbury at 11.30. Yesterday was Peter Kenyon Bowl and the society’s internal foursomes competition, the Thompson Tankards, at Prince’s. And 55 years after he last won it (yes, 55), Robert Hollidge won the Tankards, playing with Jeremy Stanyard (right). Well done, both.

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It was not to be, sadly. Shrewsbury played some great golf and edged the first round against Whitgift 3-2, with the fifth match going to the last hole. The scorecard doesn’t quite reflect the tension of the match, with the last Shrewsbury pair, 3 up with four to play, being pegged back by Richard Gibson (right) and Nick Baxter-Brand to 1 up with two to play. Whitgift had chances on both the last two holes but could only manage halves on each. To next year.

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The major surprise of the second round was to see Loretto (winners in 2021, 2022, and 2023) beaten by Uppingham. Repton (who lost to Whitgift in the first round last year) are going well and are already through to the quarter finals. Shrewsbury lost to Tonbridge.

In the Plate, Whitgift beat Liverpool in their first round match.

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Whitgift beat Clifton 2-1 on Saturday morning to reach the Plate quarter finals, where they will play Bradfield.

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Bradfield prevailed 2-1 against Whitgift in Saturday afternoon’s Plate quarter-final and will play Forest in Sunday’s semi-final; the other semi features Epsom and Berkhamsted.

In the main competition the semi-finalists are Bedford, who play Cranleigh, and the more familiar names of Eton and Tonbridge. But special mention must go to Brighton, who won three matches against Canford, Lancing and Fettes, before falling to Cranleigh in their quarter-final. Brighton’s previous record in the competition over the sixty three years since 1960 was Won 4, Lost 62 (Covid meant no competition in 2020). Some improvement!

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Following on from the comment about Brighton’s improved performance, we cannot conclude this Hewitt report without tipping our hat to two less-fancied teams who made their respective finals – and one of them won.

In the main competition, Bedford made their first ever final, beating Repton and Cranleigh on their way. However it was their luck to face Eton, who had won every single one of their twelve finals in the Halford Hewitt and were not about to let superstition get in the way of their 13th. And so the centenary edition of the Hewitt ended as had the first in 1924; a win for Eton.

Perhaps more surprising was Forest’s win against Epsom in the Prince’s Plate final. Overall, there is the impression not only that the standard of the competitions is rising year on year, but that the improvement is across the whole field of 64 schools. In football’s Premier League, it is often said that there are no easy games (with just a nod to Palace’s 1-0 win at Liverpool!). Maybe the same is becoming true in the Hewitt .

THE END

 

Tandridge GC hosted our AGM and very enjoyable annual dinner, with some team golf beforehand. The evening activity was joined by some 30 people, about half of whom ventured on to the golf course. The AGM itself saw Mark Chatham appointed vice captain, and Laurie Evans and Martin Hayes both elected to the committee. Mark also won the annual knockout tournament, and so was awarded the Challenge Cup, whilst schoolboy Paul Ellinghorst (photo) won the Walker Cup for his contribution to School golf. Paul demonstrated his potential on the golf course too, hitting his 223 yard tee shot on the par 3 13th to within six inches of the hole.

The meeting also saw the launch of society captain Alan Scovell’s appeal for funds to support younger players in the Halford Hewitt and other major competitions. Participation in these events can cost significant sums and the society’s goal is to ensure that players who are good enough for the teams can afford to play, no matter their financial status. The appeal looks set to be well supported by the society.

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Riccardo Fantinelli, OW (see Jan/Feb report) continues his winning form in the US; in early April, he won the Princeton Invitational, which is presumably his home tournament on the US inter-collegiate circuit. He scored at 6 under par for the three round competition.

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The society team’s efforts in the Halford Hewitt are recorded in a separate article under ‘News’

12 OWs joined nearly 800 others at a black-tie dinner at the
Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane to celebrate 100 years since the Halford Hewitt was first played. All 64 ‘Hewitt schools’ were represented, plus several guests, some of them representing the various courses on which the Hewitt has been played over the years.

The dinner was preceded by the draw for the 2024 competition, to be played on 11th-14th April. Whitgift were drawn to play Shrewsbury, in the first round.

l tor: Dudley Thompson, Oscar Bailey, Carl Robertson-Hills; Tom Bloxsome; Martin Hayes     

l to r: Jeremy Stanyard, Nic Gates, Chris Blundell, Stuart Hollins, Richard Gibson, Matt Webster

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The society’s 2024 fixture list has been published on this website. Please see under ‘Fixtures’ in the menu bar. The first formal event will be the AGM and dinner on Thursday 21st March, at Tandridge Golf Club. For the first time, it will be possible to play golf before the evening events; please see under Fixtures for more details. After that, the first formal competition of the year will be the Thompson Tankards, a foursomes event at Prince’s in April. This is our only society foursomes event of the year, and comes at the start of Hewitt Week (see above).

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Riccardo Fantinelli HeadshotFrom time to time, we hear of great things from Whitgiftian golfers playing in competitive golf outside the UK. Members may be aware that there have been a number of golfers who have left school and gone to the US on golf scholarships. One such is Riccardo Fantinelli (left), who has some astonishing accomplishments against his name; readers may recall his finishing runner-up in the British Boys Championship at Deal a couple of years ago.

Riccardo is now at Princeton, where he led the university’s golf team to victory in the 2023 Ivy League team event, and won the individual championship, with a score of 5 under par. He has also represented Italy in the 2023 World Amateur Team Championship at Abu Dhabi GC; the team finished fifth, one of their best three ever finishes in the event.

The late summer hot spell may have been winding towards its end when we visited Piltdown but it was still very good weather and, much as at Royal Ashdown the previous month, the heather was in fine shape! It all goes to show that a good golf course doesn’t need bunkers to make it challenging and interesting.

Piltdown had just sanded the fairways so we were granted ‘preferred lies’ on the mown stuff; in fact the sand provided a useful clue as to where the ball had landed, puffing up as it did when struck. The greens were a little slow, but were not themselves sanded.

We had four guests in our number, and the results put them front and centre. David Bedwell, of Reigate Hill, showed everyone else how it should be done, and scored 34 points, a total which most of the OWs present considered a very good score on a difficult course. Second prize also went to a guest, this time Suffolk resident Gary Seaman, who scored 31. After that, there was a cluster of members vying for third place (and the Autumn cup, which could only be won by a member). Alan Scovell, Mark Haswell and Nigel Huxtable all carded 30
points, and all scored 14 going out and 16 coming back. The need for too much scrutiny of the countback position was avoided however, because David Hughes, who had considered scrapping his card after a poor start  over the first four holes, recovered (and surprised) himself to such an extent that he scored 11 on the front and a highly commendable 19 on the back, which trumped the others’ 16, and so won him the Cup (pictured with President Pip Burley). Never give up!

All were comforted by Piltdown’s evening curry and so much choice of dessert that some felt compelled to sample more than one.

Mark Chatham emerged as the ultimate winner of the society’s Challenge Cup, a knockout tournament played by members throughout the summer months; he overcame Nigel Huxtable in the final, played at Wildernesse.

The season concluded with the Autumn Tour, started in 2011 and managed ever since by John Gould, with his customary precision and bonhomie. This year we played, or tried to play, Seaford, Royal Eastbourne and Crowborough Beacon, relatively local courses compared to some visited over the last 12 years. Seaford was windy on top of the hills overlooking the English Channel, but in fine condition; Eastbourne was considered a little ‘quirky’ by those who played it; and Crowborough was as tricky and tiring as ever, but beautiful with it. Seventeen players played on the tour, and Don Anderson emerged on top over the three days, playing with his trademark touch and tidiness. Thanks are due, as ever, not only to John for his organisation, but also to Tony Harris for managing the finance, and to Alan Scovell for keeping track of all the scores and the sundry awards of prizes for just about everyone that moved – and one or two who didn’t (Dave Mason won the Worzel Gummidge award for fashion choice without even turning up!). Photos of Seaford, Eastbourne, and Crowborough are shown, in order, below.

 

Seaford

Royal Eastbourne

Crowborough Beacon

 

The close season is now upon us, but there is planning afoot for our events next year, not least of them the Halford Hewitt in its centenary year. Whitgift will have a new captain, Matt Webster, who will be putting his squad of scratch golfers through its paces in order to establish the five pairs who will represent Whitgift in the 2024 competition. Watch this space for more details, or look out for news on oldwhitsgolf.com.

 

 

Our August open meeting was the Hornsey-Walker Cup, looking resplendent having been polished and with the base now firmly fixed to the cup by 2022 winner Andrew Winterbotham. The cup was first presented in 1927 and so it is approaching its centenary; we shall have to plan an appropriate celebration.

The fixture was held at Royal Ashdown Forest GC, and this time we played the Old Course, with players having

the choice of using the yellow or red tees. Whichever choice was made, the key for all players was to keep the ball on the fairway, since the slightest deviation either side meant playing the next shot from the prevalent heather, which was in full and lush condition. So much so that many a ball was lost, and many a 3-minute spell spent foraging in the purple heather for a glimpse of white (or yellow). No-one completed their round in less than 5 hours.

Having finished as runner-up on his last two outings, Nigel Huxtable was due a win, although his victory speech afterwards suggested that he had miscalculated, since he said that he wanted to avoid the consequent cut to his society handicap! Nigel’s winning score of 32 points, very  creditable in the conditions, was also achieved by David Absalom, who lost out on countback by the narrowest of margins, one less than Nigel on the last six holes. Third was David Hughes (29 points) who also finished ahead on countback, this time at the expense of Mike Berners Price (also 29).

We welcomed three new members, Daniel Emkes, Trevor Watkins and Ben Rudall, all making a debut appearance on probably the most difficult course of the summer!

The next (and last) outing of 2023 is at Piltdown GC, in September.

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We played a match against Croham Hurst GC in August. All very enjoyable in lovely weather, but a 4-0 win for the hosts.

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The frenetic activity of June is over and the relative calm of July has arrived. Why there should be such a difference is beyond me!

Anyway, July brought with it our President’s Day meeting at Addington Palace and there was a decent turnout for this one, although still low by historical standards. Our President, Pip Burley, now in his fourth year of office, teed off first alongside Messrs Forbes, Skeen and Champness (all pictured alongside), and another five groups followed behind. All participants seemed to enjoy themselves, on a generally fine day on a fine course, with traditionally fast and true greens, and a varied background of holes, some of which wind their way through narrow gaps in the trees and others of which are in open parkland, nearer the palace itself. A good challenge.

It was fitting that Pip himself should be amongst the prize winners, finishing third on countback from Peter Kelley with 34 points. Second was Nigel Huxtable, a member of Addington Palace, and demonstrating the validity of his handicap with 36 points, 18 on each nine holes. Nigel may have regretted sharing his knowledge of the course with playing partner Mark Chatham (pictured right, with Pip), who pipped him to the President’s prize with 37 points; apparently the lead changed hands only on the 16th hole, where Nigel found a bunker and looked likely to stay there for the duration.

Thanks are due to John Gould, who managed the match for us superbly, but was unable to participate because of injury.

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Over 80 people – OWs, parents, staff and guests – attended either the golf or the dinner, or both, at the society’s charity gala day on behalf of Whitgift for All. In total, £20,000 was raised for the school’s bursary fund, enough to fund one boy for one school year, ample reward for a day when members and guests enjoyed fabulous weather for golf at Croham Hurst and then again, during the early evening when everyone mingled together on the School quadrangle for drinks prior to dinner in Big School.

Croham Hurst was in first-class order as players went out in fourballs to compete for both individual and team prizes as well as for nearest the pin and longest drive. There was some encouragement for participants with Laura Bonar, a member of her County women’s elite team, stationed on the difficult, long par 3 16th, gifting her tee shot for the team to choose before putting out. Always provided the team had contributed towards charity funds first! The prize-giving followed the golf (right, presented by David Creswell, deputy head) with the team prize won by Andy Marshall, Phil Marshall, Ed Parsons and Malcolm McKinlay (88 points, pictured left), who pipped the runners-up, Peter Gale, Jonathan Gale, John Gould and Harry Sellers (87). Second prize in the individual competition was won by guest Tricia Topping (37 points) with best individual, Ed Parsons, taking the Whitgift Golf Charity Cup with a gross 68, scoring 40 stableford points off a handicap of 2.

Many golfers (but not all) then changed into black tie and made their way to the School where they joined Headmaster, Chris Ramsey, and other guests for dinner. Following a welcome by the Headmaster, who explained the objectives of WFA, Sarah Harvey and chef Leszek Karpinski laid on a magnificent three-course meal which was greatly enjoyed. Entertainment was provided by the four -piece jazz group, Kingham Express, comprising four current pupils; Reuben Karas, Lucian Ng, Roony Ng, and Bakari Leon. Not only was their performance enthusiastically received but, later in the evening they were invited by guest Rob Holland to perform at his top West End venue, Brasserie Zedel in Picadilly. Dinner was followed by an auction entertainingly conducted by Simon Beck and Pip Burley, in which the generously donated items were soon snapped up by the assembled company.

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The match against the School, in early May, fell foul of thunder and lightning soon after the matches had got underway, and was soon abandoned with the greens waterlogged. However, it was notable that several quite young Whitgiftians are playing off low handicaps, which bodes well for golf at the school in the coming years, and for OW golf after that.

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Qualifying for the Grafton Morrish took place at Royal Wimbledon. A generally young and able Whitgift team – Nic Gates/Laurie Evans; Oscar Bailey/Harrison Sellers; Owen Richardson/Toby Kemp – competed against 12 other schools in scratch foursomes for the six qualifying places available. Nic Gates reports –

“Royal Wimbledon was in excellent condition, although that did make things a little tricky with lush rough and fast, firm greens. Despite the tough conditions the scoring from the other schools was high which makes our result hard to explain. We had a team of youngsters who had an average handicap of scratch, accompanied by myself as the more experienced member of the team.

Scratch foursomes stableford is an acquired skill, and following the post round discussions I think that the chasing of points led to a few non scoring holes; a few missed greens followed by a chip and 3 putts seemed to damage a few scorecards. A couple of short putts missed and some wayward driving led to a much lower than planned cumulative score. The pairs scored as followed: Gates and Evans 25; Bailey and Sellers 22; Richardson and Kemp 23.

70 points has qualified in the past, but it was 9 short of the required mark on Sunday. Only 3 points per pair (one par and one bogey) away from qualifying, but a poor collection of scores for all.”

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Distinctly better news for Nic Gates and Laurie Evans in the prestigious Alba Trophy, where the pair, representing the society, came third out of 42 pairs at the scratch medal foursomes event, held on a Woking course in great condition and with very fast greens. Nic tells us more –

A field of some of the best genuine amateur golfers in the south had assembled for a day of foursomes golf, and as the weather improved from bobble hat to short sleeves, the players set off to see how difficult scoring was going to be.  A shotgun start across 4 tees had the field on the course in good time and the competitors soon discovered how challenging the course could play. From the very tips of the black tees, Woking showed what a world class strategic challenge it could present. 

The morning was tough, with few pairs breaking 80, however the lunch was of a standard that made most forget the frustrations of the first 18 holes and vow to better their morning score. Some excellent white burgundy proved to be the catalyst for the afternoon round. An exciting start with a birdie and an eagle in the first four holes led to the best score of the day, a 72, which after a morning 80 left the OWs as leaders in the clubhouse. After a nervous yet delightful wait on the wonderful terrace overlooking the 14th green, the score of 152 was finally beaten by a shot by two other pairs.

Well done, Nic and Laurie. KCS OB won the event.

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Three matches are scheduled in the month of June, and we may have to reconsider this going forward, as numbers of available players are frequently an issue. This year, the Trinity match was held at Betchworth Park GC, a new venue for this fixture but it proved a good one for Whitgift, who prevailed 3-2 in the Croydon derby, and so reclaimed the Harrods Putter, the trophy for this fixture, after a gap of two years.

Numbers are rarely a problem at Tandridge for the match versus Old Alleynians, provided there are enough Tandridge members in the mix to act as hosts for the day, and so it proved again on a glorious day, on a course that is in first-rate condition and on greens that were lightning-fast. 16-a side is the most either side muster for any of its matches, and indeed Whitgift turned up with 17, due to an oversight by an already tested match captain, who had flown in from South Africa on the morning of the match and had to play with borrowed clubs. Nonetheless Jeremy Stanyard prevailed heroically alongside Ian Chicken in a match that went all the way to the 18th green, and their point proved to be the deciding feature in a narrow 41/2 – 31/2 win for Whitgift. An unusually healthy meal followed the golf, but the arrival of potatoes appeared to save the day for some.

The match against KCS has been cancelled due to a lack of numbers, this time on the KCS side.

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Whitgift’s relationship with the Schools Putting Competition has been a difficult one over the years, with relegation from the competition at fairly frequent intervals, often prompted by difficulties with getting a full team out. However there is now a Plate competition, especially for schools in the two-year absence that relegation entails, and so a useful team of four, led by Chris Jones, took to the putting green at Royal Wimbledon with a degree of optimism, undiluted by a rainstorm brought on by the month’s hot weather, which delayed the event marginally. Only four teams contested the prize, and in the end it came down to the last match of the ‘all play all’ format – Whitgift v Dulwich (again – see above) – in which a win for Whitgift would have resulted in a playoff for first place. But Ian Hunter’s putt on hole 17 stopped in the jaws, whilst Dulwich holed theirs, and so Dulwich won the Plate outright. Chris Jones finished third out of 16 in the individual table.

Our presence at the event does guarantee us a starting place in the main competition next year.

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Only eight players made it to the first tee for the Veterans’ Cup, played at a parched Shirley Park in temperatures approaching 30 degrees. Happily all eight also reached the 18th. One of our number was Robert Hollidge, who was a member at Shirley Park for 52 years before his move down to Canterbury, holding virtually every office at the club at one time or other, and consequently was awarded lifetime use of the golf course when he left. Robert was also a long-time secretary of the OWGS, captain and president, and has won more ‘open’ meetings than any other player. He represented the society in both the Grafton Morrish and Cyril Gray. In recognition of his efforts and successes on behalf of OWGS golf, Robert was presented by President Pip Burley with an ‘outstanding contribution’ award (photo left).

On the course, Robert scored 32 points and was beaten to the main prize by Tony Harris (right), who harvested a commendable 35, and by Nigel Huxtable (33).

 

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The Cyril Gray is a scratch foursomes competition for those over 50 years of age, contested by the same 32 Hewitt schools each year at Worplesdon (above), near Woking. Whitgift has won the competition twice, in 1974 and 1999. The quest for a third title began against King Edward’s, Birmingham, the only side whom Whitgift had never faced in the main competition. Tony Mason’s side were soon ahead and in truth it was never a close contest, with all three matches being led comfortably from a fairly early stage. Martin Hayes and debutant Mark Haswell overcame their opponents 4&2; Roddy Sage & Alan Scovell won their match 6&5; and Tony Mason & Mark Chatham prevailed 3&2, in a 3-0 win.

The second round opponents were Blundells, who had won the competition the previous year and whom Whitgift had never beaten: they therefore represented stiffer competition. However, Tony had a secret weapon up his sleeve, with Neill Williams, newly over 50 and a +4 golfer, brought into the top pair for the Thursday. Partnering Martin Hayes in the top pair, Neill made a winning start to what will hopefully become a successful experience in the Cyril Gray, and Mason & Chatham also won in the third pair, giving Whitgift a 2-1 win in the morning. Similar success followed for Williams & Hayes in the afternoon’s third round, this time against familiar foes Watson’s, and this time it was the second pair of Haswell & Scovell who gave Whitgift the vital second point, with Mason & Chatham able to claim a half in the unfinished third match.

Word was now spreading that Whitgift had a strong pairing upfront, which gave Tony Mason a tactical dilemma, because a common strategy in such circumstances is for the opposition to ‘sacrifice’ a weaker pairing in the top match, whilst hoping to prevail in the other two matches. Tony also knew what his semi-final opponents, Rossall, did not – that Neill Williams was unavailable for the final day! So was this time for a bluff, or a double bluff?! In the end, he decided to put himself and Mark Chatham out first, and they played some of their best golf of the week. Nonetheless it was not good enough to carry the day, against a Rossall side who have strength in depth and who have reached the final five times in the last nine years (losing each one, as it happens). Tony & Mark succumbed on the 15th, whilst Alan Scovell & Roddy Sage lost 6&5 in the third match, again against a very strong pairing. Hayes & Haswell were 2 down after 13 but able to claim the half since the overall result was already determined.

So, overall a good week, and one that shows the potential for Whitgift to record another win in the near future, with other former Hewitt players joining Neill Williams in the over-50s category.

 

Scratch Cup entrants were scratching their heads when they turned up for this year’s event at Royal Cinque Ports GC, Deal. The temperature was above freezing, the wind was hardly blowing, it wasn’t raining – could this really be the Scratch Cup? Yes, the first to be held in benign conditions and eighteen players competing for the prize; and especially good to see some new candidates in the field – Aidan Millham, Matt Spriegel, Owen Richardson, Chris Jones and Paul Harrup.

Paul, in his own words ‘only there to make up the numbers’, caused an early stir. An 8-handicapper, he left the ninth green announcing that he was 2-under. ‘Against your handicap?’ came the response. No, two under par, gross, putting him in the lead at the halfway point. Also at the ninth, Paul’s playing partner Ian Hunter holed his 6-iron approach for an eagle two. Sadly, none of those in the halfway hut were paying attention, and neither Ian nor Paul saw it go in either. Eventually Paul suggested looking in the hole ‘for comedy value’!

The inward half at Deal is always the true test, although that is normally because of the prevailing wind, which wasn’t prevailing this time. Owen Richardson (pictured left with Dudley Thompson) coped best overall, and got back to the clubhouse with a gross 70 (two under par), winning the cup in front of Aidan Millham (72), Toby Kemp, Stuart Hollins and Matt Spriegel (all 73), and Richard Gibson (last year’s winner) (74). Martin Hayes won the Silver Medal as the leading player over 50 years of age (the Cyril Gray qualification); he registered 75, but this year he did at least have competition and wasn’t the only over-50 in the field! In normal circumstances it would be true to say that Martin’s is the only name on the Silver Medal, since he has won it in every year of its existence; however, it is not actually true, because Richard has never had the plaque engraved. Clearly he is looking to economise on the eventual cost!

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We held our Annual Dinner at a new venue, Tandridge GC, on Monday 20th March. It proved to be an enjoyable evening and a successful venue, with 24 attendees and two guests; Neil Kendrick summarised the current state of golf at the school and Archie Adlington received the Walker Cup from our President Pip Burley (pictured together, right) for his achievement in school golf. The award was particularly poignant this year, since Charlie Walker, who donated the cup to the society several years ago, sadly passed away during the year – John Gould spoke eloquently afterwards about his friend of many years.

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Also at the Dinner, Simon Beck encouraged more entries for the upcoming Gala Day golf and dinner on Friday 26th May, details of which can be found in the previous post (January/February report). He explained that the day is in aid of the school’s bursary fund, providing education at the school for boys who would otherwise not be able to afford the fees. The fund has not grown in recent years, meaning that, after inflation, the total number of bursaries provided has fallen. So this is a worthy cause and entries from members and guests will be greatly welcomed. Please join in!

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Six Whitgift pairs participated in the Peter Kenyon Bowl, a foursomes competition run by the Halford Hewitt committee, at Prince’s, Sandwich. Played over Prince’s Dunes and Himalayas courses, this was on the day before the Hewitt itself got under way. It was very windy, but essentially dry. The Whitgift winners on the day were David and Peter Hedges, with 31 points, who picked up the Thompson Tankards – the society’s only foursomes trophy.

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Halford Hewitt 2023 report

This one was different. Not so much in terms of the result, because Whitgift again went out relatively early in the competition, but the approach, the performance, and the mentality all demonstrated something new. This is a Whitgift team which can achieve something. It has a better balance in terms of age – there are players in their twenties, thirties and forties (ok, two were over 50, but they bring experience, and in Neill Williams’ case, a +4 handicap!) – and a good team spirit. Also note that there are another ten or so scratch or near scratch golfers, all of whom are young, who can play for us in the future, if only we can get them to make themselves available in Hewitt week. The future is bright.

This year’s first round opponents were Repton, a team ranked in the top-10 over the last five years, based on their performances. A tough draw. It became apparent quite early that their strongest players were all playing at the front, whereas Whitgift had even strength throughout, so Whitgift’s top two pairs (Gibson/Bailey and Hollins/Hayes) found the going tougher than pairs 3,4 and 5. Indeed, Whitgift’s third and fourth pairs (Raison/Sellers and Evans/Spriegel) won their matches not long after the first two had succumbed, leaving the tie equal at 2-2 with only Matt Webster and Toby Kemp to finish. A wild Repton drive on 15 brought that match back to all square, and then Matt Webster holed from eight feet on 17 to put Whitgift ahead. Repton were tidier around the 18th green and so took the match to extra holes – a test of nerve that Whitgift have struggled with over the past ten years or so. Toby Kemp took the long walk back to the 1st tee (the 19th), with the firm intention of hitting a drive as reliable as he had proved throughout the match, but it was not to be. It went wide, so wide that it collided with the clubhouse (out of bounds) guttering, with an almighty bang, and then bounced high on to the road – and from there back in bounds, greeted by cheers from the Whitgift contingent (see photos below). An outrageous piece of luck, and one which Whitgift consolidated after Repton left their approach to the green short of the water. Webster holed from seven feet for a par 4, beating Repton’s bogey 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epsom were the next opponents, and another top-10 side. Both teams knew each other well, especially those who are members at Walton Heath. The weather for day two was awful. Strong winds of 35mph and over, plus horizontal rain at times. Standing to spectate was an achievement in itself. Swinging a club smoothly, or trying to maintain composure whilst putting, was impossible, and was reflected in the scoring. Raison and Sellers won the 12th with a 7 to Epsom’s 8, both having lost a ball.

At the turn, there was nothing between the sides, all matches being within one hole. Thereafter, the overall lead appeared to change every five minutes, and it became apparent that this was going ‘to the wire’; extra holes were a possibility in all five matches, and clearly the side which held its nerve and conviction was likely to finish the winner. Williams/Gibson, Whitgift’s leading pair, set an example in this respect over the closing stretch. One down after 14 holes, they birdied each of the 15th, 16th and 17th, to win their match 2&1. Richard Gibson holed putts of 20ft and 30ft on the last two holes.

Further back, Harry Sellers and Jack Raison were 2 down after 11, but recovered to lead by one after 14. The pendulum swung yet again and the match was all square going down the last. Epsom drove into the long rough on the left of the 18th but recovered well, halving the hole in 4 after a 25ft putt down the slope. Extra holes beckoned, and Jack rose to the task with a great drive down the centre of the fairway, which Harry Sellers converted with a 120 yard wedge to within 2 feet of the hole (all this in 35mph winds, don’t forget). Brilliant, and a birdie which Epsom could not match. 2-0 to Whitgift and overall victory apparently within reach, as Hollins/Hayes (the next pair) had been reported as 2up after 13. But, after a fight back by Epsom, the match also appeared on the 18th tee all square, and although both sides were short of the green in two, Epsom edged the match as Whitgift, struggling with the gusting wind, took four from forty yards out. A similar misfortune befell both Webster/Kemp, who 3-putted 17,  and Evans/Spriegel who, already 1 down coming down the last, had to go for broke to square their match and found the stream.

So Whitgift lost 3-2, but it was close, very close, and remember that Epsom are a side which has won the Hewitt twice in recent years, and consistently gets to the latter stages. Typical then, but all the more encouraging, that Epsom should go on this time to reach the final, where they came up against Loretto, winners of the Hewitt in both 2021 and 2022. Loretto edged the final 3-2 to earn themselves a hat-trick of victories.  Congratulations to them.

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The last action of this report period took place at The Addington, designed in 1913 (the year when the OWGS was founded) by J.F. Abercromby. A great deal of work is being done by the current owners to return the course to something like its original condition. Certainly the views over London have been opened up and make for a splendid sight, especially when the sun is out. The course however is in transition, and probably was not at its best when we visited, with removal and construction work still in progress; and the awful April weather will not have helped either. There were only 13 starters for the competition, the Captain’s Cup, which was disappointing for a Sunday meeting, when there would normally have been the opportunity for some to play who work during the week, but we had not allowed for the fact that this was a bank holiday weekend and there were other priorities in the diary.

Or maybe the absentees knew the difficulties presented by The Addington! The scores reflected the problems faced, with the winning score being 31 points, achieved by Alan Scovell, the captain, who was awarded his own trophy by Pip Burley, our President (right). Alan narrowly defeated a triumvirate on 30 points, Mike Berners Price, David Absalom, and Adrian McMillan. Rather than try to separate them on countback, the Captain decided that they should all be presented with magnificent runners-up prizes, in the form of Fortnum & Mason biscuits! A tasteful end to a very enjoyable day.

The next open event is our Gala Charity Day on Friday 26th May.

 

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The society AGM will be held online on Monday, March 6th and the Annual Dinner will be held at Tandridge GC two weeks later, on Monday, March 20th.

Whitgift have been drawn in one of the tougher sections of the Halford Hewitt draw, made on Wednesday (11th January). A first round match against Repton beckons at Royal Cinque Ports GC, Deal, on Thursday 30th March at 8.20am. So another early start, the fourth year in succession that we have been in one of the first two matches out. There are some interesting ties elsewhere in the draw; Malvern take on Tonbridge; Merchiston and Watson’s clash in an Edinburgh derby; and Harrow face Epsom, the winners of which will hopefully come up against Whitgift in the second round.

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Details have been released, and entries invited, for a Gala Charity Golf Day on Friday 26th May, 2023, in aid of Whitgift for All, the school’s bursary fund. Details are provided below –

A Gala Charity Golf Day

Croham Hurst, May 26th, 2023

Followed by a Black-Tie Reception and Dinner in Big School

All Proceeds to the School’s ‘Whitgift for All’ Bursary Scheme

 

 

Inspired by the philosophy of its founder, John Whitgift, the School has launched an ambitious bursary programme to raise funds to enable a wider range of deserving pupils to enjoy a  Whitgift education. John Whitgift founded the School for the ‘poorer sorte’ in Croydon and – with the help of former pupils, staff and friends – the intention is to ensure that Whitgift remains a school for all in these difficult times.

The OW Golf Society will be supporting ‘Whitgift for All’ with a splendid Charity Golf Day at Croham Hurst, a local course with strong Whitgiftian connections. The day will begin with a full English breakfast at Croham Hurst, followed by 18 holes of social golf and prize-giving.  In the evening there will be a gala reception at the School with the best school dinner you’ll ever enjoy!  Plus, entertainment and an auction – a grand event in itself.

Supporting ‘Whitgift for All’ and open to all…

…This magnificent day is open to golfers of all standards, male and female, young and old – current and past pupils, parents, family members, current and ex-members of staff – as well as colleagues and friends. There will be prizes for individuals and teams, as well as ‘longest drive’, ‘beat the pro’ and ‘nearest the pin’.

Cost for the full day including golf will be £175 per person, or for dinner or golf only £95.  Tables of ten can be purchased for £1,650. As we are anticipating a heavy demand for this unique event, please book your places at the earliest opportunity.

For further details or to book your place contact:

 Pip Burley, at pip@philipburleyltd.co.uk  tel: 01372 363689, or Peter Gale at peterbgale@sky.com .

Alternatively, speak to Val Baxter at val@whitgift.co.uk tel: 020 8633 9922

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