The final of the Jock Stewart Trophy was held at Links Newmarket GC on Saturday 10 th August between St Neots Golf Club and Saffron Walden Golf Club.
Conditions on the day were very difficult from the start with the opening two holes being played directly into winds of 30 mph gusting 40 mph. All players found these conditions challenging and finding par was almost impossible at any hole.
From the beginning the first pairing from Saffron Walden, Tim and Chris Davey began to establish control and continued to build a healthy lead. In the second match the St. Neots pairing of Dave Goodall and Brian Whittingham found trouble on the early holes but managed to steady the ship and the match became a close one. The third match was again a strong showing from the Saffron Walden pairing of Ben Gill and Nick Selves.
Conditions worsened steadily during the morning and as the players were nearing the end of the first round the wind was at 40 mph gusting to 50 mph. The situation was becoming quite serious as three trees had been brought down on the course during the morning and the possibility of calling off the match were being considered.
Despite the horrendous weather the players battled on and at lunch the scores were
- Match 1 Saffron Walden 7 up
- Match 2 St Neots 1 up
- Match 3 Saffron Walden 5 up.
The state of the weather and safety issues were considered during lunch. The break also allowed the green keeper to inspect the damaged trees. Two were cleared from the fairways while the third which still appeared unsafe was roped off to provide a safety zone. After this work had been completed both sides expressed a wish to play the second round and to complete the competition.
During the afternoon Saffron Walden maintained their dominance in match 1 and ultimately took the match 8&6. Match 2 was very hard fought for the first nine holes and then St Neots pulled away to close out the match with a 5&3 win. With two matches completed therefore it was honours even and all down to the final group.
Throughout the afternoon round the St. Neots pairing of Martin Guildford and Andy Clare were working hard to eat into the lead held by Saffron Walden. This was successful as by hole 14 they had pulled back to all square only to ease off and immediately go back to 2 down with 2 to play. Some good play in the final 2 holes again pulled them back to all square after 18 and push the match to extra holes.
On the first extra hole St. Neots showed their composure and played the hole very steadily and won the hole with a very good up and down from off the green, meaning that the trophy went to St Neots with an overall score of 2 matches to 1.
Both teams deserve great credit for playing the match in great spirits under what were very bad conditions.