Playing for the Doris Abraham Trophy, SW ICMW is always a very special event. In 2018 St Enodoc Golf Club hosted the event on behalf of Cornwall and 2019 saw DevonGolf return to Woodbury Park Golf Club and welcome Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire Somerset and Wiltshire for this fiercely contested competition.
Teams of up to 12 ladies from each county converged at Woodbury Park on Sunday for practice day. But that isn't where it begins. DevonGolf, led by Club Services Director Yvonne Alford, have been organising and liaising for the last 6 months. Teams have been practicing hard since Gloucestershire won last year and went on to win the England Golf Counties' Final - a great achievement. County Captains and Team Managers have been organising coaching sessions, team bonding and planning Foursomes pairings for the last 12 months. But when you are in charge of a team that has juniors as young as 14, there are extra responsibilities. Risk assessments to do, transport and accommodation to sort, food and drink to buy..... By the time the teams arrived at Woodbury Park there were already some frazzled faces. Then there's the effort expended by Woodbury Park Golf Club. The greenkeepers worked so hard to prepare a course in absolutely first class condition, with the pin placements changed every day. Yet just 10 days before, Woodbury Park had so much rain that it was thought that cleaning and placing the ball might have to be an option. The catering staff had to go up a gear to feed some 80 plus for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, everyone coming off the course at different times and at lunch in a hurry to make their next tee time. The staff in the Pro Shop were patient beyond belief and Lady Captain Julie Brown pulled out all the stops by organising "County Aunties" and ball spotters for each day to speed play. An event like this takes an awful lot of effort and most involved are volunteers. More than that, Woodbury Park Golf Club members gave up their magnificent Oaks Course for 6 days for this event to take place. The list of "thank you's" is a long one!
The teams of up to 12 play an awful lot of golf in the week. Each county plays each other on a round robin basis, a draw having been made earlier in the year. 3 Foursomes matches in the morning, 6 singles matches in the afternoon, that's 27 individual games of golf each day, 135 games over the week. 9 games points are there to win for each county daily. A county might win by 9-0 or 5-4, either way, after all that effort, it translates into just 2 match points. It's just a ½ point for a draw and nothing for a loss. Should there be a tie on match points at the end of the week, the game points become the deciding factor.
Play started daily at 8.30am with some golfers still out on the course some 11 hours later. DevonGolf's Competition Secretaries Kate and Colleen were in the office before and after play, finalising scores and getting ready for play the next day. Players, captains, coaches and their entourages still had strategies and pairings to work out before they could hit they hay. Yet it's all so worth it when you see the quality of golf that is played throughout the week. When a 15 year old plays 2 over par and still loses the game, you realise the standard of play is breathtaking. And it was. For daily scores round up click here
Last year's winners Gloucestershire were always considered to be the top contenders but Somerset, Devon and Cornwall were all in the mix at different times. Friday's draw proved to be the dream draw as the 2 counties with 6 points apiece, Somerset and Gloucestershire, were playing each other. Local rivals Devon and Cornwall played each other and Wiltshire and Dorset were the final match of the day. Could it have been any closer for the top spot? No. Somerset were 2-1 up in the morning and Gloucestershire needed 4 wins from the afternoon's 6 games, Somerset needed just 3 wins. And what a battle it was. Somerset won the first match, Gloucestershire the second and Somerset the third. The fourth game went to Gloucestershire and the fifth was halved. Gloucestershire's win in the final game meant the day's game points were all square - 4½ points each. It was tense in the Tournament Office as game points over the week were checked and rechecked before the announcement that Gloucestershire were going to the England Golf Counties' final at Delamere Forest Golf Club in September having won 31½ games in the week to Somerset's 27. Congratulations Gloucestershire!
The six counties should be very proud of the fantastic standard of golf played this week, the sheer determination and grit shown by the players as they went out in intense heat, sometimes to play a second 18 holes in the day. The smiles, the camaraderie within the teams and across the counties was a credit to each and every person involved.