The tenth playing of the West of England Seniors Scratch Open provided a new and popular winner, Tim Aggett from Torquay Golf Club. Players assembled on Tuesday morning to clear skies and a mild yet chilly breeze. Bad weather was forecast for the afternoon but the early signs were hopeful that the worst might pass us by - how wrong we were in our optimism!
Stephen East from Leeds Golf Centre and Moor Park's John Ambridge set the early pace, out in the first group and each returning with a gross 74. Reports coming in from the course suggested that the cold weather was adding some distance to the course and that scoring would not be easy. 74 proved to be the benchmark with only Tim Tim going lower when he came in with a very impressive 71.
Conditions deteriorated markedly in the afternoon for the later players. The skies darkened as a storm approached, which then broke with a speed and fury that took officials and players by surprise. A sudden and severe hailstorm lashed down onto the course leaving the playing surface covered in ice, whilst the thunder rolled around the skies of the Bristol Channel interspersed with some lightning. These later groups did unfortunately suffer out there, but as the storm passed, the temperature rose again to melt the ice and play continued. Eventually all returned to the welcome warmth of the Clubhouse.
Day Two arrived with hopes that the weather would be kinder to us, but it was still cold with the ball travelling shorter than normal. The round of the day was another 71 from David Price representing Test Valley, with Mark Stones from Boyce Hill a shot behind. Tim Aggett held a 3 shot lead from Round 1, but his nearest challengers were all dropping shots to the course. Tim reached the turn 3 under par on 33, courtesy of two birdies and an eagle on the par five 8th, the only blemish a bogie on the 5th.
Turning for home and playing into the wind, a shot was dropped on 11, but was regained with a birdie on 12 and another on 13. The inward nine was completed in 39 shots for a total of 72, finishing one over par for the two rounds.
After the prize giving, Tim spoke for all of the players when congratulating Burnham & Berrow on their hospitality. He was equally complimentary about his fellow competitors, commenting on the quality of the field and the sportsmanship of all of the entrants. He asked Peter Amos, the Club Captain, to pass on the thanks of the players to all of the staff and members who had made the competition so memorable and now firmly established in the Seniors' calendar.
Special thanks are also due to Sean Palmer anfd his bar and catering team for the service they provided over the two days. The clubhouse was open early on Wednesday morning to provide breakfast,the day ending with a selection of hot meals to, hopefully, send all on their way contented.
We look forward to the 2018 competition and welcoming you back to Somerset.
The competition, now in its 9th year, was the brainchild of Burnham & Berrow member Graham Gregg and SGU stalwart (in many guises!) Dennis Longden. Thanks to the continuing support of the Management & Members of the club, the competition has gone from strength to strength. It is now recognised as one of the leading Seniors tournaments in Britain and was used by the Golf Union of Wales for Order of Merit ranking points. We have always threatened that we would ballot out entries in favour of the lower handicaps should the need arise - and this happened for the first time this year. Faced with a maximum number of 81 competitors, we received well over 120 entries and were forced to move the last entry date forward to allow players to make travel and accommodation plans that they would not have to cancel at the last minute.
This year we had a new Champion, David Nelson from Northenden GC near Manchester. With rounds of 74 and 69, his total of 143 gave him a 3 shot cushion over previous winner David Niven from Newbury & Crookham. Martin Galway from Brighton & Hove was not able to make it 3 wins in a row, but put up a stout defence of his title to finish in 5th place. David is seen receiving the trophy from the Club Captain David Huxtable.
The balmy weather of previous weeks had disappeared to be replaced by a very cool and stiffening breeze as the record number of competitors assembled for this years competition. Celebrating its 125th anniversary, the course was baring its teeth to provide the field with a challenging test of golf.
Setting the pace on Day 1 was David Barton, returning to Burnham & Berrow representing Christchurch Golf Club. His opening score of 73 was the joint best of the Championship and saw him secure a tie at the top of the leaderboard with Douglas Cameron from Moor Park. The best net score was secured by Burnham & Berrow member Graham Gregg with a score of 71. Graham was the instigator of the competition along with former SGU President Dennis Longden and so this was a very popular performance to witness. Defending Champion Martin Galway had the leaders in his sights with an opening 75.
Sadly, 2 players had to withdraw on Day 1 with injuries, and another had to return home so it was a slightly reduced field that assembled for the second round. There had been very heavy rain overnight and this persisted for the early starters. Fortunately the wind had dropped for them, but they were revived with a warming drink provided by the new halfway house behind the 9th green. This is a new initiative this year at Burnham & Berrow by Sean Palmer and his catering team.
The rain eased off to be replaced by blue skies, but as the tide turned the chilly wind picked up to continue to make scoring difficult. In the final group, David Barton sadly could not maintain his form and dropped back into 7th place overall. Martin Galway & Douglas were now the only 2 players really in contention for the title. Martin held his game together and his round of 74 saw him overtake Douglas to win by 2 strokes and successfully defend the title he won last year.
Burnham & Berrow Golf Club again presented the course in excellent condition, and on behalf of all the competitors, Martin thanked the Members and Staff at the club for their hospitality