‘Ignosce mihi, frater, quia peccavi - Forgive me, brother, for I have binned ’. It was with these words that the disciples continued their ecclesiastical golfing odyssey at West Hill Golf Club at the end of 6th week. Taking a leaf out of the elite national rugby teams currently competing for the 6 Nations’ book, OUGC had decided to have a rest day on the Saturday amid growing fears that the physical limits to which the boys were testing their bodies week in, week out would soon lead to serious injuries that could jeopardise the whole season. We’ve also read Mark 2:23-28 and thought it best not to play on the Sabbath. Some used the free day before West Hill to good effect, others didn’t. We all showed up.
The weather forecast for the day was one of a downhill trajectory and so the players were keen to get out quickly in the relatively benign morning conditions to try and avoid as much of the rain due later in the day as possible. Contrary to my opening quote, Oxford made early inroads in the foursomes with the Reynolds/Cansfield and Ryan/Charteris-Black pairings getting up quickly in their matches. Both pairings would apply the pressure for a sufficient amount of time to convert these early gambits into Oxford points, giving the Blues an early 2-0 advantage. The home side, unfortunately, refused to roll over and came back strongly in the next two matches with the Van Wyk/Hardy and Bastianello/Wilson couples coming up just on the wrong side of some close games.
Now, if you’ve not been to West Hill then you’re really missing out on their wonderful finishing hole- a 440yd par four, generously bunkered that plays up a continuous gentle incline to a green that stands no more than 10 feet from the clubhouse patio and all your pals. Jibbers welcome. And so the early finishers descended on the scene like vultures, waiting expectantly for the fun and games to begin. Unfortunately, it didn’t come in the penultimate game with both teams making rather clutch regulation pars to end up all square. Good half. The last game, though, gave the crowds what they came for- before the hole was out there were escapades into bunkers, advances made on the practice green and sorties into bushes. Wonderful half.
West Hill is a highly prized fixture for the Blues because it is one of the few on which we get to play singles in the afternoon and so all were looking forward to getting in some well needed practice in the solo form of the game before Varsity. Everything was still to play for with the morning session all tied up at 3-3 and 12 points on offer in the afternoon. The club started well, taking all three of the top matches before OUGC charged straight back at them with captain Reynolds leading from the front followed by Cansfield and Charteris-Black. Rumour has it that Reynolds had spent his week learning the Kenneth Branagh version of the ‘Once more unto the breach’ monologue and was now bellowing it out across the fairways. It had limited impact as Oxford went on to lose the next two matches. Ryan (Pistol) and Wilmore (Bardolph), however, were quick to respond, crying ‘God for Harry, England and OUGC’ and going on to win their matches. In fact Wilmore may as well of single handedly taken on the French as his winning margin (8&7. Cave canem license) was more Agincourt than we’d bargained for. Unfortunately these efforts were not enough and the home side squeezed home in the closing matches to eventually claim the singles by 6.5 points to 5.5 leaving the overall state of the fixture at 9.5-8.5 to West Hill.
This weekend, although ending in a tight defeat, has been an invaluable one for OUGC providing the team with some high class opposition that will surely stand them in good stead in three weeks’ time. Or as Caesar put it- ‘Libenter homines id quod volunt credunt - I’m really looking forward to Rye, it should be cracking ’.