The completion of the league phase of the Men’s Winter League at Burghley Park saw some cracking scraps taking place for the last places in the quarter-finals.
In League A, last year’s beaten finallists Doug Hunter and Brian Barber were already assured of their place in the knockout stages, but were in no mood for complacency when they took on Tom Hutton and Tom Dunn, emerging two up winners to go through as league leaders on 18 points.
But there was a titanic struggle for the second qualifying spot as the sides in second and third spots played each other in a winner-takes-all situation.
Mark Johnson and Carl Taylor went into their match with John and Jordan Mayman knowing that a half would be enough to see them through. Both pairs had 12 points, but Johnson and Taylor had the better holes won stats.
Fittingly, the match was a stunner, with neither pair managing to make a decisive break, and finished halved, to send Johnson and Taylor through.
In League B, long-time leaders David Jackson and Javan Argent had already booked their place in the quarters, despite having no match in the final round.
The interest lay with the fate of the second qualifying spot with Bill O’Driscoll and Terry Austin, and Gary Harrison and Dave Marsden both in with a shout, although O’Driscoll and Austin had the advantage of a superior holes won record.
In the end, Harrison and Marsden were thwarted by the determined Adrian Boyden and Shean Smith, who held them to a half, while O’Driscoll and Austin overwhelmed Ray Rose and Derek Reid Hughes 6&4 to ensure they went through as league runners-up.
League C went to the wire as well with four pairs in with a chance of making it through and two of them playing each other to spice things up.
Fourth-placed Kev Lawrence and Ian Jacobs took on leaders Paul Wilkinson and Bob Emmins, knowing that their only chance was to win, and win big.
They managed the first aim, winning 3&2, to then suffer the frustration of discovering that it wasn’t quite enough, ending in third spot with the same number of points and holes won as Dave Tilley and Graham Bedford.
However, they lost out as Tilley and Bedford had beaten them in their match earlier in the season.
Tilley and Bedford were themselves fortunate, going down 2&1 to Dunmore Hind Stephen Moody, not knowing that had they lost another hole they’d have been out.
The other contenders, Richard Gilbert and Richard Cook took on Martin Ash and Stuart Blessett, but couldn’t quite deliver either, going down 3&2 to end their campaign.
So in the final reckoning, it was Wilkinson and Emmins, and Tilley and Bedford, who went through to the quarter-finals.
The two qualifiers from League D had already been decided before the final round of matches, which was as well as they found themselves pitted against each other.
Leaders Paul Ramm and Richard Allen made no mistake, however, over-powering Chris Quinn and Hugh Riddlesdell 4&3 to go through as league winners.
Stewart Ward and John Tyrrell took third place.
The quarter-finals are due to be played this weekend and, with the strong field of qualifiers, there are going to be no easy matches in the knock-out stages.
In the top half of the draw, Brian Barber and Doug Hunter take on Terry Austin and Bill O’Driscoll while Bob Emmins and Paul Wilkinson play Chris Quinn and Hugh Riddlesdell.
In the bottom half Javan Argent and David Jackson are pitted against Mark Johnson and Carl Taylor, with Paul Ramm and Richard Allen taking on Dave Tilley and Graham Bedford.
Big decisions were made by the members at Burghley Park at their annual meeting when they voted overwhelmingly to introduce automated tee booking to help underpin the new Lifestyle Membership scheme which has just gone live.
Under this scheme, new members can choose what level of subscription works best for them, given how many rounds they are likely to play during the year.
Club chairman Chris Lees welcomed the decision, noting that the future of golf depends upon finding membership arrangements which are much more closely attuned to the needs of increasingly busy people, giving them more certainty about when they played and how much they wanted to play.
Interest in the scheme from potential members is already high and the club is excited about the prospects for growth.
General Manager David Ford (01780 753789 Option 5) is happy to discuss the scheme with anyone interested.
A special award was made to David Elliott who has been a member of the club for 50 years, joining in 1968.
He was presented with a framed picture of the golf course by club captain Bill O’Driscoll, along with other mementoes and free membership for 2018.
David thanked the club for their generosity and for the pleasure he had experienced playing there over the years.
Outgoing captain O’Driscoll reflected on his year, thanking the many people who had helped ensure it had been successful and enjoyable.
He announced that he and ladies’ captain Anne Fensom had raised nearly £9,000 during the year for their Captains Charities, the Army Benevolent Fund and Peterborough & Fenland Mind and thanked everyone for their generosity.
The incoming club captain will be Bob Collier and the ladies’ captain will be Lynda Lancaster, who will drive-in to office next month. He also welcomed incoming juniors’ captain Keilin Harper.
It was all change for Burghley Park’s Seniors on Monday, when incoming captain George Clayton-Jones took over from Alan Gray at the seniors coffee morning.
The event was the traditional season-opening nine-hole Mixed AM-AM, played in teams of three, with 57 players braving the icy blast.
Conditions were challenging for the early starters, the hard frost generating some interesting bounces, but nonetheless scoring was impressive and competition intense.
In the final analysis, victory went to Roger Metcalfe, Janet Metcalfe and Rob Sorrell with their 47 points, but only just.
Also carding 47, but losing out on countback, were Phil Hunt, Gail Huntand Janet Duff, to finish second.
In third spot were Janet Roberts, David Newell and George Clayton-Jones on 46. Dave Rae won the nearest the pin prize on the third.
Doing the presentation, captain Clayton-Jones announced that his charity for the year was to be Diabetes UK, and that £70 had been raised on the day from the sale of pin badges.
Burghley Park head professional Mark Jackson celebrated the new range of Callaway equipment which had just arrived by running a Pro Shop competition on Sunday with prizes sponsored by Callaway.
Despite the cold weather, which deteriorated steadily through the day, 38 hardy souls took part, with George Grant (17) defying all the odds to card an unbeatable 44 points to claim first prize of a Callaway bag.
Barbara Newell (24) upheld the honour of the ladies by taking second spot with an impressive 41 points to win a Callaway wedge while Rob Dennis (20) was third on 38.