The time was 7:10am, Roehampton was the venue, and in just 50 minutes time, after a quick bacon roll and cup of coffee, another epic battle was set to instil!
Although all was not as it quite seemed!
The lights were dark, and the clubhouse eerily quiet…… and as my team started to arrive, there was no sign of Roehampton Captain Colin Rae or any of his colleagues!
Then, as they started to filter in towards the first tee time, Colin realised he had told us the wrong start time and we were all there 45 minutes too early! Well, at least we got more time to tuck into another bacon roll or two!
Eventually, on went the waterproof trousers and off to the first tee we trotted.
The weather had been so bad these last couple of days, that it was simply amazing that Roehampton was even playable let alone in the immaculate condition it was in!
If you’ve never had the chance to play Roehampton, it’s something I suggest you get around to!
It’s an absolute gem of a golf course tucked away in the expensive real estate of South London and always kept in tournament condition 365 days a year.
First up was the usual Captains match between Colin and myself.
While he paired himself with this year’s County Mid Age Champion and Roehampton First Team Player Mike Piesse, I had faith in Mike’s former University buddy Luke Gorman making just his second appearance for Surrey.
Then, as I threw the ball to Luke to take the first tee shot, he threw it back stating “Captains should go first!”
Right…… put in my place then!
The first tee suddenly became packed with players from both sides, and as Scott Stanley from Roehampton pulled out his phone to take a video, the fairway suddenly looked an awful lot narrower!
Swoosh….. “There’s no need to watch you again today. It’s not getting better than that!” Said Scott as I flushed one straight down the middle to a rapturous applause!
Luke then continued to hit every shot he played from the middle of every fairway as the round developed.
Although, as I was hitting my 3rd punch shot from under the trees on just the 12th hole, he did apologise for not doing the same! 🤦♂️
Nether the less, his iron game was spot on and we romped home to victory 4&3
Hugo Demaya and Daniel Johnson were both making their second appearance for Surrey and got off to a solid start. They fought bravely in the windy conditions right up to the last hole where Daniel sadly shocked all involved sending a ‘rocket socket’ from 83 yards about 83 degrees right over the ‘out of bounds’ fence to hand the match 2up to the very solid Fergus Jacobs and George Palmer from Roehampton.
Third out were my bankers…. my experience, and my dream team pairing - Long term European Tour Director Ian Barker and “The Postman” Surrey A Team Captain Phil Brittain.
All was going to plan, as Ian was splitting every fairway and Phil was holing everything he looked at.
Then, on the 12th hole, the shenanigans began……
Ian blocked his tee shot right and left Phil up against a tree. So upset with his position, Phil’s first attempt at recovery saw him strike the tree on the way down, completely missing the ball and taking a divot about 6 inches to the left of the ball!
A few seconds later after Phil had recovered from laughing and trying to explain how it was supposed to go, Ian was left with the same shot! “I’m going to try for the same shot, hack out left and get it back in play!” he said….
Well, as luck would have it, the same happened again! Ian caught the tree on the way down, completely missed the ball and took the same divot about 6 inches left of the ball! The hole was then quickly conceded as they walked back towards the fairway!
What happens on the 12th, certainly doesn’t stay on the 12th and well, gets told to everyone! 😉
Sadly, from that moment on, they couldn’t get themselves back into the winner formula and lost 4&2 to the very talented young Max Stanley and ever steady Dave Birn.
The final pairing saw First Team Player and last year’s County Champion Jacob Aaholm take Surrey first timer Sam Hessian out on the start of an epic journey!
One that saw some of the golf of the day finalized by one of the best finishes of the day.
After Roehampton’s Harry Blake smashed it way right off the 18th tee deep into the thick stuff, all Niels Verbeek could do was to get him within 50 yards of the green still in the rough.
Then, a great second from Jacob from the middle of the fairway left Sam about 25 feet and a probable 2 putt victory.
Harry Blake then performed the pitch of the day from the right-hand rough finishing just inches behind the hole for the most unlikely par 4!
This was it…. Scores were 2-1 to Roehampton a Surrey needed a hero………
Boom…… Sam slams his birdie putt into the back of the hole and fist pumped in delight!
2-2 Game on……..
Lunch was nothing short of spectacular as it always is at The Roehampton Club, and both Captains delivered their usual speeches.
Sadly, Colin Rae from Roehampton had to shoot home, so Scott Stanley stood in as Skipper for the rest of the day.
With the scores all level and the afternoon singles carefully lined up and ready to go, Surrey stood a great chance to do the unlikely at Roehampton and save them from needing a new extension to house another Surrey A Team defeating plaque on the wall!
First out for Surrey was the solid Luke Gorman against Roehampton’s afternoon skipper Scott Stanley.
A match that would have seen Luke play against his long term friend Mike Piesse, but Mike decided to drop himself from the afternoon match and give another Roehampton team member some scratch golf experience.
Such is the depth in quality that Roehampton have, that anyone of a dozen players could have picked up the mantel and given Surrey a great game.
This was certainly the case in the opening match as Scott defeated Luke 2up in a great match full of pars and birdies, but to say it was without the odd mistake would be lie.
This was evident as Luke was spotted (sadly for him by his Captain with his phone close to hand!) playing his second shot on 16 with a 3 wood from about 50 yards from the tee after an apparent skied tee shot that failed to make the fairway!
(evidence below, sorry Luke 😉)
Also in the opening pairing was great match between Surrey’s Hugo Demaya and Roehampton veteran Niel’s Verbeek. Sadly for Surrey, it was a game that Niel’s controlled from the start that saw him cruise to a 2&1 victory.
Not a great start for Surrey….. 🤦♂️
Next put saw the grudge match of the day, Surrey Captain against Surrey Captain.
I wanted to attempt the impossible and at take the scalp of Andy Inglis on his home turf, something that I’m not sure has ever happened!
Then, as my opening tee shot found the trees left, (something I’m blaming on a big lunch, old body and lack of afternoon warm-up!) it then needed a solid 7 iron up and over the trees in front to about 10 feet and silky smooth putt for birdie to edge in front from the off!
A lead that was never surrendered as several birdies later including a final blow from 3 feet on the 14th saw Andy’s defeat 5&4. Something I was indeed very proud of!
Playing with Andy and myself was Surrey’s Daniel Johnson against the recent Boys Knockout Final Champion Fergus Jacobs.
This match went all the way to the end with some stunning golf from both players.
Fergus’s par save on 16 was a particular highlight.
After his tee shot missed the fairway left into the trees, then the attempted hard draw out and under the canopy of branches stayed straight, a simply incredibly pitch from way right of the green to a tough flag left him 10 feet followed by a fist pump to stay all square!
Daniel then hit two great tee shots on 17 and 18 going 1up and securing a fantastic victory down the last!
Current score 4-4….. match on!
4 singles left and all to play for!
Sam Hessian, playing in his first Team Match for Surrey, then managed his double for the day bringing down the talented Max Stanley 4&3.
1 more down, 3 to go!
Sam and Max then made way for my talisman Ian Barker and Roehampton’s Harry Blake to finish off their match alone.
Then, as Ian walked up to the 16th Green, he informed me he was 1 down.
“I have total faith in you Ian” I reminded him!
Then, two holes later and Ian was standing over a 20 foot putt on the last for birdie.
A putt from a similar line that we all saw Sam slam into the hole earlier this morning.
Both teams waited, and I held my breath! Boom! Great birdie! All Square and faith confirmed!! 💪
Two matches left and Surrey held a tiny lead 5.5 to 4.5
Then it got tense……. Phil “The Postman” Brittain was sent packing by Dave Birn 2up to level the scores 5.5 all!
It was now all up to Jacob Aaholm who was playing the steady George Palmer from Roehampton for the trophy!
The rest of us had all done our part and all we could do now was watch!
So, as both teams lined the side of the 18th Green, the last match was currently all square and Jacob had 20 feet for birdie that did everything but drop!
It then left George, who was in trouble off the tee and now had just 4 feet for a par and a half.
It felt like shades of Kiawah Island in 1991 (for those like me old enough to remember!).
Then, just like Langer, the putt slid past the right lip!
6.5 to 5.5
What a game!
I would like to thank Colin, Scott, and Chief Executive Mark Newey at Roehampton for their incredible hospitality, friendliness and work they put in behind the scenes to make this fixture what it is every year.
Until next year, the Plaque stays with me! 😉
Surrey A Team Captain