It’s hard to know where to begin in sharing the stories and ultimately the excitement of what was possibly our best ever Halford Hewitt tournament.
We start with the fact that we were able to take 12 good single figure golfers for selection – with the luxury of two reserves and the very much appreciated loyal band of enthusiastic supporters that brought our touring group up to 20 for most of the tournament.
It was great to welcome Rob Huxford for his first Hewitt and to welcome back Alex Taylor alongside an experienced and generally youthful side.
Our first match was at Prince’s GC on Thursday against Rossall, a team ranked considerably higher than us in the Anderson Scale and statistically according to the ‘Smale Scale’ a team with a 93% probability of a win over us ranked at 17 out of 64 schools with us at a lowly 57. A very tight match went away from us with a strong win from Burstow and Fleet in the top game, Hobbs and Atkins drawing the ‘UberPower’ of the opposition in string 2, followed by Joe White and Alex Taylor who managed an enthralling half with a strong pair including an ex-professional in the third match. Sadly, our pairs 4 and 5 in the shape of Wimshurst and Carrol, Fairfax and Ogden were unable to outgun their opponents on the windy and challenging course. Never mind – onto the Plate then!
The Plate this year was played over a mixture of slots at Royal St Georges and Prince’s GC to provide additional interest and complications, not to mention the shambolic car parking. We were drawn at RSG to play Stowe late morning on Friday. Our team as announced at the dinner at the Dining Club in Deal the night before, was White & Taylor out first followed by Atkins & Ogden and finally Fleet and our debutant Huxford – the result a crushing 3-0 victory for Hurstpierpoint!
Onto the second round of the Plate, this time back at Princes and drawn against Chigwell (a load of Essex birds we thought..) on Saturday morning once some more accommodation could be sorted – Atkins and Ogden went out top winning 5/4, followed by a 7/5 thrashing for the oppo from White and Taylor leaving the back pair of Fleet and Fairfax with a half to take a solid victory for the team.
Round 3 at Princes was a tough grown up affair against Harrow on Saturday afternoon -(I don’t think we have ever beaten them?) Fleet and Fairfax went down 4/3 in the 1st match, with White and Taylor securing a 2/1 win leaving the responsibility for a win with our third string of Oggers and Atkins, they turned the screw and delivered a 2/1 win for team victory!
OMG, we are back to Royal Cinque Ports Deal for our third venue of the tour and a Semi-final against our old foe of Charterhouse on Sunday morning starting at the 10th tee at 9.00am. On a beautiful hot, sunny, and almost still morning with the greens racing along at 10.5 on the stimp meter – our boys did it again! Gen Taylor and his new young partner Joe White were somewhat out of salts and were well beaten, ‘Danger Mouse’ Atkins and Oggers played very well to win on the last green. Danny Boy Burstow and Fleety won their match on the 18th after brilliant approach shots in close from Fleety and the opposition only to see a farcical 3 put from 6ft for Charterhouse to secure us the match. I believe this is the first time we have overcome Charterhouse (Ranked no1 in the Anderson scale) and we have sadly had far too many opportunities in the past!
The Plate final – this of course saw the team in familiar territory to our infamous run in 2012 when we lost out to Loretto in the final. Loretto ironically won the main Halford Hewitt event this year beating Sherborne in the Sunday afternoon final with both Rossall (who knocked us out remember) and Hailebury losing in the semi-finals. With a bit of team shuffling in and out, Dan had to drive back early doors from Norfolk and ‘The General’ from an undercover spying mission in Rutland…..
Our Plate Final opponents were the past winners of both the Plate and the main event, Epsom, who are ranked 1 in the Smale Scale and 3 in the Anderson scale over the past 10 years results. Match 1 saw us field Oggers and Atkins against a famous Walton Heath pair of Michael Felton and Mark Williamson who we too good for our pair flagging after 7 rounds of golf and countless nights out…In string two Joe White and Tom Fairfax took on the talented pair of Ben Kuhler and Richard Jennings and having been 2 up into the back nine, were sadly ground down and lost on the 17th after an epic contest. Danny Boy Burstow and our Plate Captain Alex Fleet played brilliantly to see off Epsom’s Captain Lewis Kuhler and his highly experienced partner Stephen Schindler 4/3.
A very good and well contested final where we were sadly edged out by the smallest of margins.
In other news and nearly away from the field of battle our President, Rob McCowen was struck nastily by a stray Eastbourne golf ball at Prince’s on Thursday and received a nasty cut under his eye, but unlike the ball he bounced back into play for the evening festivities.
Joe White was one of the stars of this years Hurst side (somebody asked if that was his name as it was on his back, duuuuuur..) he also scored an unexpected ‘hole in one’ in Deal but still made it back to base for his cooked breakfast.
Our complex accommodation arrangements over two hotels and two B&B’s worked out really well, as did our customary wine tasting at Bears Well on Thursday before dinner at 81 Beech Street and the night before at The Dining club with wines supplied by your truly and ‘Gettleman Jim’ Fawcett.
Derick Fulcher arranged for many of our group to play in the Peter Kenyan Bowl on Wednesday (no winning scores that I heard of?) as well as more social golf at Canterbury on Friday.
Our President reports – ” The 2021 Hewitt Award for the most significant contribution to the Hurstpierpoint Hewitt team was won this year by the new foursomes pairing of Alex Taylor and Joe White. With Alex’s past experience as a Cambridge Blue and Joe as the current president of the Liverpool University golf team, they were a formidable pairing holding Rossall to a halved match with an exciting finish on the 18th hole at Prince’s, with Joe hitting a superb 7 iron from 210 yards from the rough to find the green. The pairing went on to record four wins out of five in the Hewitt Plate at Prince’s over the following three days. ”
The spectators, including Joe’s Mum and Tom’s parents on Sunday added to our fellow enthusiastic supporters of me and Rob, plus all of the other touring supporters and cadies through the early rounds – what a week! – what can we do next year now that we have proved we can take on and beat some of the very best sides in the tournament?
à votre santé ……..Waudo
Main event results – https://www.halfordhewitt.org/halford-hewitt-draw-2021/
Plate Results – https://www.halfordhewitt.org/princes-plate-2021/