The first weekend back after the Christmas break was a truncated one for OUGC. With The Berkshire unfortunately having to close due to the recent inclement weather, the Blues turned all of their attention to their match against Walton Heath. Although one of Oxford’s longest running fixtures, the ever-strong Walton side have not yielded a victory to the Blues in many years, and so it was with hopes of continuing the fine vain of form that saw them beat The Society at the end of Michaelmas that twelve of Oxford’s finest made the trip down to Surrey on a wet Saturday morning.
Thankfully the rain had subsided by the time both teams had arrived at the course, and after a bacon roll they made their way onto Walton’s Old Course to contest the morning foursomes. The top match was a thriller with Crummey and Bastianello playing some superb golf to take their opponents all the way to the 18th, with the match finally ending in a just half. The Walton side, packed with scratch handicappers proved too strong in the second match with Hardy and Van Wijk being on the receiving end of some unstoppable golf. Oxford dug deep in the next two matches, however, with Reynolds and Van Wyk as well as Ryan and Cansfield showing no signs of a Christmas hangover, taking both of their matches comfortably. The dark blue lead did not last long, however, with both of the final two matches going the way of the home club, despite some exceptionally solid golf from the visitors- most notably from Blues debutant Fernando Gentil.
There were no shortage of options on offer during lunch, with the club laying on a wonderful spread of steak pie and gammon which were gratefully received by all. The vegetarian alternative saw few takers. Once fed and watered, and with the match still very much in the balance, the players made their way to the New Course to decide the outcome of the fixture over twelve singles matches. The Walton side immediately showed their intent in the top two matches, with both points going their way. In an incredible display of golf in the second match, Cansfield’s opponent made 6 birdies and an eagle on his way to a 3&2 victory. The Oxford ship was somewhat steadied by Charteris-Black who fought bravely in his match to come back from 3 down with 6 to play to secure a half. Bastianello and Crummey, who had played so well together in the morning, then reproduced their form to win points in both of their matches, temporarily putting Oxford only one point behind in the fixture. The Walton side, though, showed their strength in depth in the bottom matches with the only further points for Oxford coming from some fine play by Van Wijk and Rathore. That left the overall state of the match as a win for the home club by 11.5 matches to 6.5.
The end of the golf, however, did not see the end of the fixture with Walton Heath very kindly laying on a black tie dinner for both teams, other members of the club and Oxford’s ladies golf team, who had also been playing a fixture that day. The dinner was truly enjoyed by all and afterwards some of the more adventurous members of the team headed into one of Reigate’s finer establishments to cap off the evening with some dancing. Of sorts.
The first fixture of Hilary term has really set the tone for the golfing Odyssey that will be the next few weeks for OUGC- with a fully packed fixture list, training sessions and trial rounds that will eventually lead to the shores of East Sussex for the 125th Varsity Match at Rye.