This years preparation for the Halford Hewitt started on Sunday 24th March at Woburn Golf Club where thirteen Salopian Golfers gathered under the watchful eyes of The President, Anthony Smith and Captain Andy Pollock.
This was the best turn out for sometime and especially good to see a collection of golfers in their twenties and thirties. Making their first appearance were Stefan Hindmarsh, Douglas Stormont-Darling and James Taylor who has taken up golf now that his International cricket career has been curtailed. In addition, James Shaw, “the General” , was invited following a couple of years of excellent golf at Denham and his continued good form in the Mellin.
As regular readers will know the Halford Hewitt takes place at Royal Cinque Ports and Royal St Georges, it involves sixty four schools in teams of ten playing scratch match play. There are practice days on the Tuesday and Wednesday with the first round on Thursday and the finals on Sunday. It is a big commitment of time and money for young members with developing careers and family commitments. Shrewsbury is not the only school that is finding it hard to get their best ten golfers to play.
Unfortunately this year due to work commitments five players who would have been selected to play were unavailable. However, the practice day at Woburn demonstrated that we do have a good squad of golfers with experience of the competition and we were still left with a selection problem of having to leave out a player who was available for selection.
This years opponents were Whitgift, a school with a very similar record to Shrewsbury in the Hewitt and one also going through change. One of their players told us that this year he went from being third youngest to third oldest as they had a sudden influx of younger golfers newly left school or at University.
Our expectation was that we would have a close match and it could go either way. Our side had an average handicap of 4 which is the same average we had when we reached the semi final three years ago; however their combined handicaps were 5 giving an average of 0.5!!
Leading pair Jonty Campion and Richard Roberts hung in losing eventually on the seventeenth, second pair James Skelton and Laurie Briggs were up early but lost ground around the turn before succumbing on the sixteenth, Angus and James Pollock were also up early but a run of birdies and missed putts saw them lose in the country. At four Will Campion and James Mainwaring were all square going down seventeen and at five “The General” and the Captain, after a poor start, were one down on sixteen when both matches were declared as halves, the overall, match having been concluded.
A disappointing result but understandable against a team of such high quality. Five of their team were under twenty five and interestingly they played Radley in the next round who had the same number of under twenty fives with an even better combined handicap of 3. Radley won three-two. They then lost to Charterhouse 3-2 with a match decided on the twentieth hole with a three wood being holed from over two hundred yards into the wind! These results demonstrate the quality of golfers playing in the Halford Hewitt.
The search goes on for the young Salopian golfers of the future. There is a strong squad of younger players with great potential and who we hope, once they taste the buzz of the Hewitt, will be able to match the skills of some of the other sides. While not currently at the top of the tree, Shrewsbury are still in the top quartile of competing schools as we showed by reaching the semi final three years ago.
One interesting aside was that in match five, the Captain and James Shaw with a combined age of one hundred and thirty one, combined handicap of 8 and average height of six foot four were playing against a Whitgift pair with a combined age of fifty, combined handicap of two and average height of five foot ten!!
Finally the usual plea to the Salopian golfing community to let us know of anyone you know who is playing good golf and who you think should be considered for selection to play in the Halford Hewitt. Google it to get a feel of what it is all about and admire the success of Shrewsbury in the eighties and nineties when we had seven county golfers in our team.
Thank you to everyone for your continued support and keep on playing.
Andy Pollock, Captain OSGS Halford Hewitt Team