Sixteen golfers booked themselves a trip to Florida today at the final of the Travelbag Team Championship, the opening event of England Golf Week at Frilford Heath Golf Club, Oxfordshire.
Leading the way was a quartet from Cheshire, who scored an extraordinary 97 points on the Blue course, while four from Surrey were hard on their tails with 96. Travelling with them will be golfers from Gloucestershire and Yorkshire.
The finalists came through England Golf regional qualifiers and from Travelbag events for clients and the top two teams in each section are now heading to Florida.
They’ve qualified for the Travelbag Invitational at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort from November 17-22.
Overall winners on 97 points were Joe Lauder, Dave Lea and John Newton from High Legh Park Golf Club near Knutsford, who teamed up with Tom Hollingworth from Prestbury Golf Club, near Macclesfield.
Winners of the England Golf section were Pyrford Golf Club in Surrey, represented by club captain Peter Smart, club champions John Hennessy and Jacqui Smiter-Green, and six-handicapper Rob Pountney.
Joining them in Florida will be the two teams of runners-up. Scoring 91 points were Glynn Andrews, Karen Andrews and Stuart Nice, of Waterton Park Golf Club, with John Robinson of Low Laithes Golf Club, near Wakefeld. On 89 points were Neil Duffy, Larry Duffy, Ashley Chandler and Brett Gardner from Gloucester Golf Club.
The Cheshire winners are a great advert for their coach, Matt Dixon of High Legh Park. They all have lessons with him and over the last year John has dropped his handicap 21 to 14, Dave has come down from 26 to 14 and Joe, who packed six hours of lessons into the last 10 days, has come down from eight to four over the past six or seven months. Tom, meanwhile, is a three-handicapper and planning to start his PGA training in the autumn.
Their plan today was simple. Tom, who is known for his consistency, was to provide the base score and the others were to chip in whenever they could. It worked, Tom was round in level par and the others all played their part.
Meanwhile the group from Pyrford were stunned by their play. “It’s unbelievable,” said Hennessy who plays off three and was three-under par gross today, helped by five birdies, four of them consecutive. “I’m super-shocked. I think it was amazing we got that score, it was phenomenal,” added Pountney.
The prospect of a trip to Florida was a great incentive and Jacqui commented: “I’m astounded and shocked and exhilarated.”
Peter remarked: “It was just one of those days when all the putts dropped, the chips went in from off the green and we all contributed.” He and John are no strangers to golfing travels, they’ve previously won trips to Morocco, Dubai and Portugal.
The Travelbag Team Championship final was the first event of this year’s England Golf Week. It’s a five-day festival of handicap golf with a host of finals of team and individual event.