Almost 20 months after the last nail-biting Seniors' Channel League draw with Cornwall at Perranporth, the DevonGolf Seniors' team were finally back in action. The Warren Golf Club was the venue for Devon Seniors v Somerset Seniors in the first Seniors' Channel League match of 2021 and one thing hadn't changed – the weather.
The informed opinion of the 20 players engaged in the match on Bank Holiday Monday had everyone agreeing it was a long time since anyone could remember playing in worse weather; considering the demographic that’s quite a statement!
The morning format has changed for the 2021 season to Greensomes. The wind was already blowing very strongly as the first group set off just after 9am for the 9-hole matches, playing the 1st as a warm-up hole with the matches playing from the 2nd to the 10th. Devon skipper Colin Papworth (Teignmouth) with regular partner Tim Aggett (Warren) put the first point on the board with a 2/1 win over Andy Harriot and Adrian Deakins (both Burnham & Berrow), but the next three games all went up the 10th and final hole giving an indication of how hard it was going to get in the afternoon.
Pete Bicknell (Torquay) and debutant Chris Audin (Exminster) were 1 down to James Ward and Simon Rudd (both Oake Manor) but a Somerset ball in the gorse allowed the Devon duo to steal a half. The hugely experienced pairing of Tony Allsopp (Tiverton) and Paul Vicary (Saunton) were 1 up on Neil Folland and Andy Fisher (both Burnham & Berrow) and a superb par extended that to a 2up win. The Thurlestone pairing of Dave Eva and another debutant Darryl Day walked off the 9th green all square with Frank Ward (Burnham & Berrow) and Tim Jones (Enmore Park) after Tim holed a superb halving putt,. However, another Somerset ball into the gorse at 10 resulted in a penalty drop and a 1 up win for Devon. Graham Ruth (Tavistock) with Devon’s third debutant Ian Barnes (Saunton) made an excellent 4 at the 9th to defeat Kelvin Green and Steve Francis (both Bath) 2/1.
Devon 4 ½ Somerset ½ at lunch.
When Aggett opened the afternoon singles hitting a 3-iron through the 300-yard 1st it was pretty clear the wind was getting stronger and stronger. The continually heavy wind was accompanied by massive gusts which blew bags and trolleys over or set trolleys running down fairways. Putting became a matter of allowing break for the strength of breeze, at times balls being blown around on the surfaces.
The top game was a seesaw affair, Aggett 4 up after 10, but the game was all square going up the last when Harriot’s attempt to reach the green in two with driver off the deck ended up out of bounds, giving the Devonian a 1 up win. Bicknell battled hard against Deakins but never seemed to get better than level and eventually succumbed 3/1. Papworth was always in control of his game with Folland, winning out on the 16th. The next 3 games all went up the final hole, Vicary securing a half with Fisher and Audin securing a 1 up win over Rudd taking Devon to 8 match points and securing the match win.
Allsopp and James Ward were next up the 18th, again level. It looked odds on Devon when James pulled his second tight to the out of bounds. With Tony on the green 20 feet away in 3 the Oake Manor player produced a brilliant back-handed shot to get the ball on the green. The half was immediately agreed.
Day completed his debut with his second win overcoming Francis 4/3, and was very grateful to get into the Clubhouse as from around 4 onwards the rain began to fall much more heavily, driven in on the mounting wind and making playing conditions even harder. Two of the remaining three games again went all the way to the last, the exception being match 8 where Barnes lost to Green 2/1. Eva and Jones went up 18 with the Somerset man one to the good, an advantage he doubled with an excellent winning par 4 – by now the 390-yard finisher was out of reach in two. Despite being down for most of his round Ruth forced a half out of the 10th and final single as opponent Ward’s approach finished out of bounds.
The outcome is a 10-5 victory for Devon Seniors to begin the 2021 campaign, a year with a changed structure as the team play home and away games with Somerset and Cornwall. The table toppers from that group will play a final against the winners of the other division involving Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Gwent and Glamorgan.
For a full breakdown of results click here
Huge thanks to the Warren for staging the opening event of the year, and providing outstanding catering in such difficult conditions as well as a course superbly presented.
Next up for the DevonGolf Seniors' squad is a trip to play Cornwall at Bowood Park Golf Club at the end of May.