Result: Win (10-8)
Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, 3:28pm. The 55thhole of the weekend. Scores of spectators have gone quiet in anxious anticipation. The silence only broken by the roaring sound of waves crashing onto Porthcawl’s rocky coastline and the howling wind whistling through the participants’ ears. It is cold, muscles tense up for the golfers, resembling battle-weary soldiers on the last leg of their journey home. Yes, you got it right: It was time for the match-report putt off, and few Oxford golfers were spared. Neither half, nor a full point would have kept one safe, despite the weekend comprising only three instead of the usual four competitive matches. A record of 7 players were on the line, and, by nature, one would end up writing this report. In one of the most competitive events of the season, it fell upon Rietschel to conduct this coveted task.
The day before Streets
The weekend started with a spark of Friday evening excitement for the Oxford team, as the Fitzpatricks and Giddins were able to hold the Ryder cup in an event at Vinnies (the cup apparently had suffered from rather tumultuous celebrations after Europe’s recent win). Some may consider it a stroke of luck, but it would be foolish to disregard this as anything other the potential unfolding of destiny: With Oxford’s golfing prowess and team spirit already shaping up akin to their European colleagues, they will be hard to beat in the season finale.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team was already well underway to reach Porthcawl. But despite some festival-level electronic music along the way, the evening was otherwise a rather quiet one, probably best represented by Barker’s choice to choose a Dhansak curry over his spicier favourite, the Madras. There were however reports of night time golf and the surprising discovery of a U-shaped valley in the dormy house’s carpet.
The day of Streets
As the team rolled out of their beds into the clubhouse for breakfast on Saturday morning, hopes were high for fair golfing weather. But the calm view of the beautiful course from the dining room was misleading. The course was in fantastic condition, but when the top match stepped onto the first tee, a torrential rain storm unfolded. One Oxford player remarked that, despite wearing full rain gear, his underwear and the inside of his shoes were dripping wet after the 2ndhole.
The opposition had drafted a strong team with a mix of local and country members, including many familiar faces from the Society. Perhaps the most menacing presence was John Jermine, former Welsh Amateur Golf Champion, who unsurprisingly went on to win 3/3 points. The weather played into the experienced hosts’ hands, who could gain a comfortable lead in the early matches. But not all was lost, and Oxford players Barker/Sully, Giddins/Howlett, and Springett/Cooper emerged victorious to take the match to a 3-3 draw at lunchtime.
After a quick soup and sandwich lunch, and only partially successful attempts at drying clothes and shoes, the afternoon held up with no further rain. B. Fitzpatrick/Moore proved that this was no hindrance to their game, and bounded back from the morning with a solid win. Sully/Springett combined for some scintillating golf, including a spell of 4 under par through 6 holes, to dispatch their opponents in emphatic manner. This left the hosts with a 7-5 overnight lead, and the match well-poised for a compelling conclusion.
Importantly, the result also meant that confidence on both sides was high for an enjoyable evening. After tucking in to a fantastic black-tie dinner, the captains’ speeches caused for widespread amusement, with parallels found between the Royal Porthcawl players and current world-leading golfers. Oxford’s players were encouraged by their skipper H. Fitzpatrick to keep focused on the next day’s golf at hand with a gentle reminder of the now legendary Sunday morning black-tie golf the team was forced to play several years ago. This would not hold anyone back, although on the hosting side some preferred deliberate, others – in their enthusiasm after Wales’ rugby success – more accidental early nights. Oxford’s team on the other hand had 100% turnout in the town of Porthcawl, starting out at the Marine pub, and later moving to infamous night club Streets.
The evening was eventful, with Jenks, Howlett and Barker immediately competing for the Porthcawl audience’s chat award, whilst Sully kept his wits in managing the dangers to avoid putting his Sunday performance at risk. Rietschel was mistaken for a local rugby player, although caught off-guard in a dance-music filled tackling practice session, after which Frey and Barker found their true calling as honorary OUGC diplomats. Outside, Giddins recovered from the effects of the club’s hammering bass in Porthcawl’s fresh seaside air, before B. Fitzpatrick and Springett got Royal Porthcawl’s VIP limousine for their way back home. Others were not so lucky, and enjoyed the coastal stroll to the dormy house, although Cooper stayed behind succumbing to his late-night cravings of the region’s Italian delicacies. The audience award eventually went to the joint effort of Howlett and Barker for their efforts in recruiting new local talent to Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, and they celebrated in style with tea and biscuits as the last to return to the dormy house.
The day after Streets
Royal Porthcawl had been warned at dinner: In previous years, Oxford teams had been known to do the unthinkable – that is win a Sunday morning golfing session – and this year would be no different. The previous evening’s preparation was duly noted by the captain for future reference, as the OUGC Blues produced some extremely high-quality golf.
Whilst the top match was lost to yet another outstanding performance of Jermine, even he had to acknowledge his opponents’ brilliance when Moore controlled his 8-iron into the wind to close range on 7. All five other matches went Oxford’s way: Rietschel holed a 12-footer on 17 with nerves of steel, before playing partner Barker pitched it to a foot on the last to seal the first point of the day for the visitors. Cooper, having been fully in control of his irons, including setting up a 10-foot eagle chance on the 5th, joined with on-form Frey for another victory. Jenks upped his wedge play to lethal levels for an up-and-down from over 100 yards on the par 5 8th, helping partner Sully win his third point out of three matches for the weekend. Springett managed the same feat, aided by a Mickelson-style flop shot on 15 – short sided, out of thick cabbage – that H. Fitzpatrick skilfully lagged to aid their strong win. B. Fitzpatrick also found some magic, setting up an eagle putt on the 5thwith just a 5-iron from 215 yards. Supported by Howlett, who did not miss a fairway all day, they set up the biggest winning score of the day of 5/4.
Oxford’s Sunday comeback resulted in an overall 10-8 win for the university. Closely fought and great sociable fun, it was one of the highlight weekends of the OUGC season and a truly enjoyable fixture for all. We would like to thank the members of Royal Porthcawl Golf Club for their great company and generosity for inviting us.