…but alas, not in the manner you might be expecting! The week started ominously, with resident chef Simon Blundell distracted by the prospect of a cup of tea during the preparation of the now traditional team meal on the Wednesday evening before the tournament and forgetting about the light toasting he was delivering to some ill-fated salad-destined walnuts under the grill. Ten minutes later the alarms were sounding, the cooker had melted, the building was smoking and the contents of the cottage were coated with a fine layer of soot. Never let it be said that Bedford dont bring any flair or excitement to the tournament! Undeterred by the potential disaster narrowly avoided, the team bedded down early in preparation for the match the following day, the stresses and strains clearly having taken their toll on some more than others…
Match day arrived, along with the news that 888.com, the betting site, was now offering odds on the Halford Hewitt! Interestingly, we were 66/1, the exact same odds as our competition, Berkhamsted.
With the opposition rolling out some of their big guns from years gone by, in truth a slow start from Bedford never really felt like it was going to be overturned and, coming up against some good, solid foursomes golf, the first three matches were lost. A consolation 3&2 win from Dan Mules and George Wilson and a half for Lee Dinmore and Liam Garratt on his Hewitt début provided something positive to take from the day.
Consigned to the Plate competition, the team returned to face King Edwards Birmingham at Princes GC on Friday morning. Dan Mules teed up with Adam Wilkinson to provide a 7&6 thumping, Tom Langley-Poole and Simon Blundell won 4&2 and William Coker and débutante Ben Dunlop edged over the line 2 up to complete the clean sweep, 3-0.
Through to Saturday golf for the third time in four years, the team then faced a Brighton side whose form belied their record, having narrowly lost in the first round of the Hewitt to Merchiston, the defending Hewitt Champions. William and Ben lost 6&5 but Colin and Simon levelled the score with a 3&2 victory leaving the match in the balance. Dan and Adam, 1 down going down 17, took the initiative with a marvellous tee-shot but followed it up with a 4-putt. A 2-1 loss then and with Saturday golf pleasingly a more regular occurrence, lots to be positive about, but much like the maligned Brian Gillett after his fine 3-wood tee shot on the par three 11th at St Georges below, it was another year of so near, but yet so far.
Last minute injuries left a depleted group of 16 for the Spring Meeting at Royal Worlington on the 18th April, although it was pleasing to see début appearances for three new Old Bedfordians a warm welcome to them. The inaugural Spring Meeting of the new Society Captain, Simon Kimber, followed the age old format of singles in the morning and eclectic foursomes in the afternoon, with four trophies on offer depending on age and handicap.
The Captains prize for best Medal score was won by Robin Maris with a fine net 71 whilst the Handicap and Senior Trophies went to Budge Rogers and Chris Johnson respectively. The Secretary (also on his début) duly apologised to Andrew Rudkin in his absence for prematurely relieving him of the Medal trophy he had legitimately won at the previous Autumn Meeting, not knowing this was only played for once a year. A bottle of brandy was presented as a new prize by the Captain for Best Supporting Player, this dubious and backhanded honour going to débutante Adam Foster with a fine Stableford Score of 19 points.
The Adam Wilkinson vs Iain Pratt rivalry was rekindled under competition for the Scratch Trophy and in a repeat of last year’s result, Adam pipped Iain to it with a gross 79 after Iain smashed two out of bounds right off the 18th tee going for glory. Adam also picked up Longest Drive to round off a successful day for him. Brian Gillett, fresh from his tee-shot embarrassment at the Hewitt had clearly been down to the range in the interim and was duly rewarded with Nearest the Pin.
A quick zip round in the afternoon saw Robin Maris and Richard Mitchell pick up the crystal in the foursomes with a score of 22 points and the Society concluded the day with a swift cuppa and a slice of cake.