The Hertfordshire Men’s First Team returned to League action on Sunday 30th June with a home match against close neighbours Bedfordshire. The match was played at Letchworth Golf Club with the team looking to build on their winning start away to Middlesex at the start of the month.
With the summer sunshine continuing, the players had near perfect playing conditions with fast and true greens being protected by thick rough for errant tee and approach shots. With accuracy being key, shot selection was critical and as both teams prepared for the morning foursomes.
The squad saw a welcome return for Captain Alex Collman following his impressive win at the recent Mid Age Championship, and he was partnered by Niall Johnston of Letchworth making his competitive debut at his home course. Also on debut was Harry Goddard and he was paired with County Champion Joss Gosling in another strong looking partnership. The final 2 pairs were bringing unbeaten foursomes records into the match with James Surridge and Laurie Owen together, and Phil Dormer and Matt Smith completing the line up.
Once again it was Surridge and Owen that got the match underway and 3 early birdies meant they were 3 up through 7 holes. There were no signs of giving up the advantage as they moved into the back 9 with both players contributing to another impressive display and a 4 & 3 victory.
Match 2 was proving a tighter affair with Gosling and Goddard winning the 6th hole to get the match back to all square. The match remained tight until after the turn when a run of birdies gave the team the advantage until they closed things out 2 & 1.
Match 3 was again proving a close game with the scores level through 7 holes. The long uphill par 3 proved a pivotal moment as Matt Smith put his iron to an inch and left him wondering how he hadn’t made an ace. However it was enough to go 1 up and this soon became 2 as partner Phil Dormer then drove the par 4 9th hole and the team were 2 up at the turn. They managed to hold onto to the lead with some solid golf and finished the match on the 17th with a 2 & 1 win.
The final foursomes match got off to the worst possible start with Collman and Johnston 2 down after 2 holes following successive bogeys. It was home player Johnston who started the fightback with an exquisite chip in for birdie from the sticky rough on the 6th hole as they moved into the 2nd 9 just one back. The pair made light work of the par 5 12th hole as Collman needed only a short iron with his approach to set up a 2 putt birdie and leave the match all square with 6 holes to play. An impressive run of holes saw them win the next 4 to see out the match 4 & 2 and complete a clean sweep once again in the foursomes.
With the team 4 – 0 up from the morning’s play it was a confident group that resumed for the afternoons singles matches. James Surridge was first man out and a close match was still all square at the turn. This time it was Bedfordshire that were stronger on the back 9 with Harry Boyle defeating Surridge 3&2 to register their first point of the day.
Match 2 looked to be going the same way with Harry Goddard 2 down after 8 holes, but this was quickly turned around as Harry secured his 2nd point of the day with a 2 & 1 win.
The middle order was proving to be a formidable line up as after 8 holes both Joss Gosling and Laurie Owen were 3 up on their opponents. This was bettered by the returning Collman who was 4 up at the same point and cruising. All 3 matches continued in the same vein with both Gosling and Collman winning 3 &2, and Owen 4 & 2. With the overall match now secure it was down to the 3 remaining players on the course to finish off what was proving to be a very successful day.
They didn’t disappoint as Johnston who had gone off as anchor man then emerged from the trees to support the team after securing a fantastic 5 & 4 result and giving himself a 100% start to league action. Next up was Phil Dormer who led his match throughout and gained the team's 10th point of the day by winning 3 & 2. It was now down to Matt Smith to close things out and after missing the green on 17, he earned generous applause from the watching crowd as he chipped to within a foot and had the hole conceded to complete the match 2 & 1.
The final score of 11-1 saw the team return to the clubhouse in jubilant mood and looking forward to their next league encounter at home at Letchworth once again to rivals Essex on Sunday 4th August.
Now 2 matches into the campaign, the squad have recorded 8 points from 8 in their foursomes matches and an overall points aggregate of 20 – 4. With a great team spirit and players in form it should be an exciting 2nd half of the season.