Day 1: Fixture at Royal Ashdown
OUGC 2.5: Royal Ashdown 9.5
It was the fourth week of Michaelmas, smack dab in the middle of term, and the Oxford Blues awoke from their slumbers to an incandescent red sun slowly rising. The old adage “red sky in morning, OUGC’s warning” clearly excited the imaginations of a few veteran golfers as they proceeded to stuff their cars full of raingear, bucket hats and even Paul Rowlinson’s lake ball retriever in anticipation for another wet round at a fixture that in recent years had garnered the name Royal Splashdown. Despite these heavenly warnings at departure the Blues arrived at the finest bunkerless course on their fixture list to sunny blue skies, the cheery welcome of Royal Ashdown members, and the inspiring sound of Kings of Leon spewing from Lucas Moore’s radio.
After a few cups of coffee, and maybe a dozen practice putts the morning foursomes were ready to get underway. Paired alongside our skipper, I realized it was going to be a challenging match after we stuffed an approach for birdie on hole 3 and our opponents proceeded to snake in a 50-footer for birdie as well. I’m convinced that that putt would have been replayed on Sky Sports that evening if anyone had cared enough to film our match. After a narrow defeat on the 17thwe headed back to the locker room to find out that the team had faired much the same as us that morning. The Ashdown members had clearly fielded an extremely strong side with multiple players currently trying to make inroads on professional tours. Despite out best efforts to avoid the heather and knock in a few putts the Blues finished 4.5 – 1.5 down prior to lunch. The notable point came from Cooper/Reitschel, arguably OUGCs’ most well rounded pairing. Apparently they made good use of the Tonbridgean’s local knowledge that morning and didn’t miss a putt from inside 30 feet.
After a few pints of ale and discussion of new recruit, Will Howlett’s “metronomic” golf swing everyone filtered into the dining room for a Latin prayer and roast lunch. The lunch was spectacular, and the company even better. After a particularly memorable slice of treacle tart and a rousing speech from our leader about lanthanides and actinides we headed back out onto the course for some afternoon foursomes with hope of retribution for our morning woes. Despite the team’s best efforts that afternoon, only the veteran pairing of Sullivan and Frey (dressed in a dastardly combination of blue shades with no particular allegiance to either Oxford or Cambridge) managed to piece together a round worthy of victory. Other notable performances came from Harry/Will and Carl/Lucas whose matches both came down the 18th. So, in the end maybe the old adage “red sky in morning, OUGC’s warning” may be true, as the Blues left Royal Ashdown having only accrued 2.5 points to Ashdown’s 9.5.
The Blues’ spirits were soon lifted though as they arrived at the luxurious Bisson estate, gracious hosts of the OUGC for many years, for evening festivities. After sleeping arrangements in the house/annex were contested and decided everyone sat down for a delicious candle lit dinner. With plates of cottage pie overflowing and glasses topped up to their brims with French red, our captain tried out an interesting new tactic, he tried to enlist Mrs. Bisson’s help in selecting the following day’s parings. This however was to no avail as Mrs. Bisson, seeing through the rather coy request, aptly diverted the team’s attention to a task any Blue’s golfer ought to manage - lighting a bit of alcohol on fire, waiting an appropriate amount of time and then swigging it down. The flaming sambuca was indeed a hit and after a few eyebrows were singed and tongues burnt the team retired to the west wing to take in an England rugby victory prior to heading to their comfortable beds.
Day 2: Fixture at Rye
OUGC 5: Rye 7
The next day started out like most any other for an Oxford golfer; scraping a bit of jam on one’s toast followed by a contentious discussion over the correct taxonomical classification of the platypus. After Barker and Moore got this all sorted the team headed off for what was promising to be another day of spectacular weather and incredible golf at the home of the OUGC, Rye Golf Club.
Team spirit was boosted upon entering the club and seeing a picture hanging in the clubhouse of recently minted Niblick champions Mr. Barker and Mr. Frey. I had the honor of playing my morning match alongside Mr. Barker. In retrospect, I should have asked him to bring along that odd, cork-screw shaped Niblick as it may have provided him with some much-needed help to get his golf ball out of all the odd places I managed to leave him in. Nonetheless, we regrouped on the last few holes and managed to pull the match back to one down by 17. At this stage I was ready to secure a half point and put to bed any thoughts of writing this match report. Golfing providence, however, had other plans and in the end I made the costly error of not identifying our golf ball prior to hitting it out of the fescue on 18. On this technicality we ended up losing the match and thus here I sit paying penance for that horrendous golfing sin, of which I now expect none of you ever to make.
Barker and I bumbled back into the locker room quite distraught at our mis-fortune. Thankfully our captain and Monty, playing some very sensible golf, managed to secure a point thus preventing a morning OUGC white wash. After a delicious lunch, an inordinate amount of cheese and a few glasses of Kummel the team was rearing to get out on the course and snag some much needed post-lunch points. And that they finally did! The OUGC managed 4 points in the afternoon, playing some lovely golf at a course that will see them contest for the Varsity Match next March. Cooper kept up his winning ways alongside Sullivan whilst Sponge and Legh found it difficult to miss a fairway and secured a decisive victory. Mr. Barker’s afternoon play is of particular note as he played a single match, shot level par with 4 birdies and an eagle on the long par 4 15th. And so, in the end the OUGC blues were able to leave Rye golf club with their heads held high and real excitement to return. As for me, I of course lost my afternoon match and look forward to utilizing the much-needed session of golf psychology I took in the following week to avoid having to write one of these reports again this season.
Thank-you to the generous members of Rye Golf Club and Royal Ashdown for providing us with such competitive matches and convivial conversation and a special thankyou to our gracious hosts Mr. Richard and Mrs. Liz Bisson!