May/June 2023 report

Phil Marshall, Andy Marshall, Malcolm McKinley, Ed Parsons

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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


Messrs Blundell, Webster, Jones and Hunter (l to r) – and the edge of a puddle (extreme right)

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.


Robert Hollidge in front of one of the many ‘Hollidge’ boards at Shirley Park

Tony Harris (R) received the Veterans’ Cup

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).



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.

l to r; Haswell, Scovell, Mason, Chatham, Hayes, Sage

Martin Hayes and Neill Williams

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.

Haswell plays out of the bunker on the 3rd

Hayes plays the iconic 10th