It was ideal conditions for golf as the best golfers in the County gathered for the 1st round of 2016 County Championships at the Gog Magog Old Course. The course was in the best condition that I have seen it since the early 1980s. Although in magnificent condition for the Championship it was going to be difficult with the fescue rough up to 3 feet high to severely test any wayward golf shots. The greens were fast and true with some testing pin positions that would catch out anyone not on their putting game.
Early 1st round scores indicated that the course was taking its toll on many of the early starters with a 76 from Mbachi Knana and then a number of 77’s the best scores on the board.
The big guns were out at the rear of the field and by the end of the morning the scoring had improved considerably. Leader in the clubhouse after round 1 was County Champion James Reeson with a fine 68, closely followed by his club team mate Danny Loveday on 70, with Dave Quinney of the home club next on 71.
The highlight of the afternoon round saw Nicholas Smits recover from an outward score of 3 over par with 30 shots for his last nine holes for a 68 and a 36 hole total of 141. Nicholas is an American who recently joined the Gogs and finished 9th in the Lagonda and his ambition is to secure a place on the European Tour. This however was not enough to secure the lead as Reeson, playing with Smits, almost matched him with a 32 for his last nine holes to post a score of 139 and retain the lead going into Sunday.
2 shots further back was Loveday on 143, with County Vice Captain Mark Reeve on 144.
There were no real fireworks in the 3rd round as Reeson and Smits posted 74’s, Loveday 75 and Reeve 77. Going into the final round the lead was still two, with Loveday a further 3 shots back, then young Callum Brookes of Saffron Walden, six shots off the lead with a fine 71. Other good scores on Sunday morning were by Jason Evans of Links with a 69 and home club youngster Ollie Rust with a 70.
It was a special afternoon for Mbachi Knana, the current captain of Elton Furze Golf Club who had his 1st ever hole in one at the 17th hole and was presented with a memento at the prize giving to mark the occasion.
The final round developed into a battle between the two pre tournament favourites James and Nicholas, as other contenders fell away one by one. By the 10th hole the American had drawn level, being out in level par 35 opposed to James’s 37. However a birdie for James at the difficult 12th hole and a dropped shot by Nicholas at the 16th hole saw the defending champion home by 2 shots to win his 3rd championship in 4 years.
I was impressed with the performances of our youngsters in this championship with 14 years old Ollie Rust finishing 5th , Callum Brookes 8th, David Marris 11th ,who recovered well from an opening 84 to finish with rounds of 73, 72, 73, and finally 14 years old Owen Meeds from St Neots who finished a creditable 18th out of a field of 58 competitors. The future looks very bright for the Cambridgeshire team in the years to come.
The January Cup which is the net championship, played for over 36 holes on the Saturday, was won by Callum Brookes with 142 net. Second on 143 net was Mbachi Knana, who was just pipped at the post by Callum late in the day.
The Championship Shield was won by the Brampton Park team with an overall score of 432 with Gog Magog 2nd on 438. Brampton now go on to represent the County in the English Champion club tournament at Stoke By Nayland Golf Club, Suffolk on the 17/18 September .
A special thanks to the Gog Magog Golf Club, captain John Evans for his support during the weekend, manager James Fuller, professional Harry Harrison, John and his bar staff, Alan and the caterers, and finally to Andrew Howarth the course manager who efforts on the course over the past 5 years have brought the premier club in Cambridgeshire back to the top of the pile. All of the competitors were very complimentary about the condition of the course and as a test of golf, the word most used over the weekend was “brutal”!
The members of the club must feel very privileged to play a course that is in such excellent condition.
Next year’s Championship takes place at the Brampton Park Golf Club on the 10/11 June 2017.
Written by Neil Hughes