With the new Mellin Captain/Organiser now in his second year, and having had the time and opportunity to conduct somewhat of a recruitment drive, the prospects for our 2016 campaign at wonderful West Hill were somewhat brighter than 2015.
A squad of 12 was duly assembled on Thursday July 7th to contest the G.L Mellin and Peter Burles competitions. We would have been 14, and able to contest the over 75 competition with Ormerod (47-57) and Everett (45-54), but sadly we had to withdraw our entry as Ormerod had suffered a recurrence of some back problems and had to pull out the week prior. We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to both his and Everett’s participation next year.
Out first in the Burles (over 65’s), against the hotly fancied Sherborne, were the new pairing of Kimber (58-65) and Rudkin (64-69), they played steadily and defeated their opponents 3 and 2. Playing in the back match were Bevan (50-62) and Maris (48-60). Bevan with one of the best records in the competition and Maris, who in spite of being 74, belies his age and was earlier in the year still playing in the main Grafton Morrish competition (for which he and his partner qualified), were always going to be a difficult pair to beat. They duly cruised to a 4 and 3 victory. Sherborne were out!
In the afternoon, Maris emotionally exhausted from his earlier exertions, and physically exhausted from all his talking, requested a seat at the bar, and debutant Cartwright (59-65) entered the fray alongside Bevan. Leading off again were Rudkin and Kimber playing Hurstpierpoint, who had won through against Cranleigh. This was a tight affair in both matches, with Kimber and Rudkin eventually succumbing 2 and 1, however Bevan and Cartwright managed to hold things together and won out 3 and 2, meaning extra holes were required. Having won their match, Bevan and Cartwright were duly selected to battle on, but against the pair that had defeated Rudkin and Kimber; opportunity immediately beckoned at the 1st extra hole with the OB’s having a putt from 10 feet to take the match. Up stepped Cartwright to drill the ball in to the middle of the cup. Bedford were through to their first Burles semi-final in a number of years. Fist pumps all round! The whole squad departed for their hotel and the now traditional feasting at a nearby Italian.
Friday dawned bright and warm, and the over 55 squad were eager to contest the Mellin first round, whilst the Burles pairings (Maris restored to the starting line up having rested his jaw) were keen to get stuck in to current Burles champions and old foe Oundle.
First out were the Mellin squad; up front, fresh and battle hardened from many years of Halford Hewitt competition, were the tried and tested combo of Henderson (64-71) and Orchart (74-79), the latter a debutant in the Mellin this year. His contemporaries; Dunbar (74-79) and Goodson (69-79) also debutants, were our middle pair, with Mytton (58-68) and Paterson (65-70) bringing up the rear. Sherborne proved far tougher competition in the Mellin than they had in the Burles. Our star Hewitt pairing not really gelling on this occasion, and succumbing some considerable distance from the final few holes! Mytton and Paterson roundly thrashed their opposition meaning the middle match of Dunbar and Goodson had a considerable gallery as it reached its conclusion. An unfortunate spike mark on the 16th green may have been the pivotal point in this year’s campaign, as it diverted Dunbar’s putt past the hole, when it was clearly bound for the centre of the cup. However, after that minor setback Dunbar and Goodson took the game all the way to the 18th and through in to extra time, before eventually succumbing on the 1st extra hole, condemning us to another year in the plate.
Following a very quick lunch the squad was ready to face Hurstpierpoint in the Plate. The pairings were the same but the order changed; Dunbar and Goodson now out at the back to give them more time to recover (eat a sandwich!). Our lead pair fared better in the afternoon taking the match all the way, and gaining an honourable ½ on the 18th. Mytton and Paterson once again proved their value with another easy win 4 and 3, whilst Dunbar and Goodson got their first points with a fine 2 and 1 victory. So another semi-final, and the squad were through to a Saturday for the first time since 2012.
In the Burles semi-final which followed the first round of the Mellin on Friday morning, Oundle proved tough competition. Kimber and Rudkin came up against some very good golf and unfortunately were unable to drag the opposition down to the usual OBGS level! However, our back pair of Bevan and Maris once again proved the benefit of experience and guile, over relative youth, and managed to fashion a victory by 1up on the 18th. This now put the match in to extra holes; Maris and Bevan valiantly stepped forward, but unfortunately could not fashion further magic, and against the lead pair from Oundle who had vanquished Kimber and Rudkin, lost at the first extra hole.
The Mellin squad for Saturday included one change. The captain, Johnson, having dropped himself for the Friday as better men were available, was called upon to substitute for Dunbar who had urgent dog-sitting duties to perform.
Our semi-final opponents in the plate, Forest, looked confident on the tee and in spite of valiant efforts by all three OBGS pairings we failed to record a win in any match, although all three matches could have been won on another day, and all were narrow defeats.
So ended another campaign, in hindsight a valiant effort and one on which to build next year, when we hope for two finals, and at least one pair in the over 75 (Bunny Millard) competition. Well you have to think positively!
With grateful thanks to all of those that took part and gave up their time, in particular Robin Maris for his continual stream of good advice and helpful tips on course management/how he would have played the shot. We will all be much better informed when we commence next year’s campaign on July 13th 2017!
Chris Johnson (66-75)
OBGS Mellin Organiser/Captain