Dorset v Sussex at Rushmore

It was a bright Summer’s morning as our intrepid band of 16 Sussex Captains travelled deep into the West country in pursuit of their quest for the Holy Grail; an away win against Dorset.

The venue was the parkland of an old country house, which is split between Sandroyd (a public school) and Rushmore Golf Club. It has two notable features – firstly it has 9 holes in Dorset and 9 in Wiltshire, the latter having no bunkers as they were not allowed! Secondly it has about a one-mile drive from the entrance to the actual Clubhouse.

The tie this year also pitted the author of this epistle against his father-in-law; a contest that saw no quarter asked or given. Indeed, the friendly hospitality of lunch was quickly replaced across both teams, by a steely determination to win at all costs.


So it was that we were led off by Captain Brian Street and his able confederate, Roland Heath, who had stepped in for the poorly Tarzipan (alias Peter Ward). Sussex quickly gained the upper hand to lead by 2 at halfway. There was nothing between them on the back holes until the 17th when Sussex again took the lead only to be pegged back at the last for honours to be shared.


Match 2 saw the eagerly awaited confrontation between Keith Talbot and his father-in-law Ken Grout with two Nigels selected to play the actual golf. Things did not start well for the Sussex lads as they lost the first two holes but a birdie, then par from Keith levelled matters at the 5th. Ken then made good use of his shots and his partner Nigel, good use of his course knowledge to forge ahead again, resulting in them being 2 up with 3 to play. Nigel Powell had virtually played on his own since the turn, so it was something of a surprise when Keith birdied the 16th to reduce the arrears. Nigel then capped off his fine performance with a glorious birdie at the last to ensure a halved match and family pride intact on both sides. 


The 3rd game featured ex-President Norman Milburn and his long-suffering accomplice, David Schwartz. Their sketchy account of the round suggested an even contest where apparently, a drive of 180 yards was the best achieved by anyone! Such dubious quality golf was somewhat bettered by the enjoyment had by all and the sharing of the spoils was well merited.


Next, the engine room of the team saw Jerry Hibbs & Dave Wilkins in harness against a very tough uncompromising Dorset pairing. Described as “nip and tuck” throughout the contest, our valiant pair narrowly lost to the final putt on the 18th green another fine match played in great spirit – just the wrong result.


Fifth up were Phil Burley and Tom Pether who came up against two “in form” Dorset players. Apparently, Sussex came a distant second as the home side ran out worthy winners 4&3.


Onto the 6th match, which saw those great old Sussex stalwarts Harold Knight and John Boniface pitched against long-hitting opposition. Remaining unfazed by Dorset’s ball disappearing into the distance (indeed Harold was heard to say it looked like Sussex were hitting wedges by comparison), our heroes triumphed by 2&1 to herald our first success of the day.


So to the 7th game, where Sussex had craftily placed our powerhouse pairing of Dave Harmer and John Kinnear. Dorset were stunned when John chipped in from the trees for an opening four, not suspecting it was all part of their masterplan. They followed this by Dave having a birdie on the 4th and John doing likewise on the 5th. Clearly moving from Wiltshire to Dorset suited our canny pair. The bemused Dorset chaps never recovered from these exploits and our dynamic duo coasted to a 3&1 victory.


Everything was now resting on the final match. Representing Sussex was Nigel Wates and Peter Snook, the latter a Dorset man by birth so back in familiar surroundings. However, this advantage could not offset the large number of shots partner Nigel had to concede to the home pair so despite a brave effort, Dorset won the game 2&1.


Thus, the quest went unfulfilled for another year although 4½ to 3½ suggests we are getting closer. The post-match fare was excellent and so, after thankfully short speeches, we set off to try to find the way home.


Keith Talbot

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