The Oxford English Dictionary describes lunch as “a meal eaten in the middle of the day, typically one that is lighter than an evening meal”. Obviously, nobody has yet told this definition to either Denham or Sunningdale, as the Blues found out on a weekend of fine golf and even finer food at the end of 2nd week.
Things are really starting to heat up within OUGC. With only two weeks to go until the Varsity team is selected, and coming off of the back of two big wins in Norfolk last weekend, the Blues were keen to put in a big performance against two historically very strong opponents- the Moles at Denham and the club at Sunningdale.
For once, the weather forecast for the weekend didn’t come attached with a red alert warning for filth, and so the team set out from Oxford on a crisp but clear Saturday morning. Clearly, though, the Met Office had been informed that JC had been teaching the team some shot shaping on Wednesday’s training session, and so a healthy dose of wind was also predicted- perhaps the low, rising, 45yd draw off a downslope would come in useful after all. JCB muttered prayers to Jupiter that his holes would be downwind.
Having arrived at Denham, it transpired that a third of the course was unplayable due to the recent downpours and so it was agreed with the Moles to delay the start of play and to contest the matches over the 12 open holes. The boys had thrived in a similarly shortened format last weekend at Hunstanton and so hopes were high as the team got acquainted with their opponents’ teamsheet. Play eventually got underway and the Blues flew out of the blocks with Reynolds and Cansfield leading from the front to claim the top match. Van Wijk and Bastianello then ground out a brave half in the second match before the Moles finally proved too strong and took all of the 3 remaining matches. Undeterred, however, the Blues headed into lunch confident that they could turn the fixture around. If you’ve never had a lunch at Denham, and want to know what its like, read one of the feast scenes in a Redwall book and imagine its taking place in a safari.
Afterwards, the players returned to the course to decide the outcome of the fixture. Things looked bright when Ryan and Cansfield triumphed in their match, soon followed by a win for Reynolds and Charteris-Black. However, in a carbon copy of the morning session, Oxford lost all of the 3 remaining games leaving the result of the match at a 6.5-3.5 point win for the Moles.
After heading back to Oxford, the team reconvened bright and early on Sunday morning, hoping to get to Sunningdale with sufficient time to enjoy their no holds barred breakfast. Having been well fed, the teams headed out onto the magnificent old course, basking in the January sun, to contest the morning foursomes. Clearly the top of Oxford’s order were awestruck by the delightful contours of the Sunningdale hills, because not a single point went to the Blues in the opening three matches. Oxford’s first point came from the “height gradient” pairing of Cansfield and Charteris-Black who put on a fine display of regulation golf. There was more joy in the next match when the unbeaten pairing of Rathore and Hardy teamed up for another famous win. Rathore would later remark to Fergus, quite romantically, that he was proud of two, and only two, things: “That India have never lost to Pakistan at cricket, and we have never lost together at golf”. Where the latter may well be true, the former is almost certainly not, with Pakistan actually leading the Indians in both Tests and ODIs. Hard luck pal. The rear guard of Kamm and Wilson then brought another half point home for the Blues in the anchor match to leave the match finely poised at 3.5-2.5 at lunch.
Play resumed, again on the Old Course, in the afternoon. Sunningdale forged ahead in the opening two matches, taking them both, before some minor heroics from Ryan and Charteris-Black led to Oxford’s first half point of the afternoon. Finding themselves four down with four to play, the boys threw caution to the wind and Ryan narrowly missed a 15 foot putt on the 18th to finish with four consecutive 3s. Textbook. So the overall result of the fixture was now mathematically in favour of the home team, but the dark blues were keen to recover some pride in the bottom two matches. Bastianello (taking time off from budgie smuggling to be with us this weekend) and Mercurio pulled out some stellar golf to win their match, before Kamm and Van Wijk produced some equally fine golf to win theirs. So the final state of the match was a win for the home club by 7 matches to 5.
The Blues came up against some tough opposition this week, and although both fixtures resulted in losses, the team can gain confidence in the fact that all the points won this weekend were hard earned. Having said that, we’re going to adopt the Rathore approach to all of this and deny it ever happened. OUGC remain undefeated!