Wednesday, 24 April 2019
Littlehampton was the venue for the first match of the season, Sussex facing the touring Devon side who had camped at Chichester overnight. They included old friends and new bandits in what looked like a confident team.
In Mark’s absence, Dave Harmer proved a capable deputy keeping us in order and on time. Captains Phil Williamson and Ben Lynch introduced the players who enjoyed a fine lunch together, only to emerge into a cold windy afternoon, the grey sky threatening to rain at any moment.
And so, it began…
As is tradition, Captain Phil and partner Home Captain Steve Robinson lead the way in the first match. They played steady golf but were unable to make any impression as the Devon boys holed putt after putt, (mostly from 20ft apparently!), to frustrate them. Having found the greens to their liking, the visitors surged ahead to achieve a deserved 3&2 victory.
During this match, the ‘locally trained’ seagull moved Steve’s ball nearer the hole but sadly Ben and Malcolm made him put it back.
Match 2 saw last year’s Captain, Pete Ward teamed up with this year’s President Ian Wood. This powerful combination of Tarzipan and Mister Memory started well and established a comfortable lead. However, as the old timers tired, Devon’s Bob and David came fighting back to push them all the way. Nevertheless, our heroes held out to register a victory by 1up. Phew!
Next up in the third game, Andy Lamb and Neil Smith got off to a disastrous start. Three down after 3 holes, could it get any worse? Yes, as after a scrambled half, they went four down, not helped by Neil picking up his marker when he had a putt to win the hole! (Clearly the onset of dementia). Feeling they had suffered enough humiliation, our intrepid pair stormed back to reduce the arrears to just one down. Unfortunately, at the 17th Devon’s Neil and John won the hole to record another point for the tourists by 2&1.
In Mike Grindell and John Maynard, Sussex had a redoubtable duo in match 4. A half at the first though simply lulled them into a false sense of security, as Devon’s Lew & Val suddenly hit the accelerator. A fabulous chip by Lew at the 3rd put Sussex 2 down, a sign of things to come as the Visitors short game kicked in, leading to a comfortable success for the West Country men by 6&4.
So, to game 5, in which Sussex had first-timer Shaun Anderson from Worthing partnering Tom Hutchinson in a fierce encounter with Devon’s Terry & Graham. In a nip and tuck game, it finished all square at the last, a fair outcome of a very competitive match. One highlight was the re-appearance of the Littlehampton seagull, this time taking Tom’s ball on the par5 fourth. Despite dropping the ball several times, it finally succeeded in taking the stolen trophy off into the woods.
The 6th contest featured the two Nigels for Sussex (Land and Powell) up against Roger & Trevor, representing Devon. The visitors used their shots well to counter the Sussex chaps solid play, then had the temerity to win three of the last four holes, which enabled them to run out 3&1 victors, thus securing another point.
Sussex’s Andy Plowright and Dave Harmer suffered a heavy defeat in match 7, being on the wrong end of a 5&4 score. David reacted with his usual equanimity; Andy …..
(Editors note: still awaiting Andy’s version at time of going to press)
The final encounter brought the Devon Vice-Captain Brian and team-mate David into contention with Sussex’s Vice-Captain Keith Talbot who was paired with debutant Micky Grimes of Highwoods. All looked good for Devon after 4 holes as 2 birdies put them 2 up. However right from the start, Micky demonstrated why Andy Lamb said he was the best short game player he knew. His talent provided two wins to bring Sussex back level, before Keith joined in with 2 birdies to put Sussex 2 ahead at the turn. Continuing their progress, the Sussex pair eventually ran out 4&3 winners just as the oft-threatened rain began.
FINAL RESULT: SUSSEX 2 ½ DEVON 5 ½
The Littlehampton Club is to be commended for their excellent hospitality throughout the day, culminating in the fine fare at the post-match dinner. There followed the traditional addresses from both Captains, Phil recounting that in bygone years, it was necessary to get a rowing boat to reach the Course. Fortunately, we were heading home by car or a few Sussex Captains may have disappeared overboard!!