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Driver, take me home! on 18 March 2023

Can he win from here?
May the best qualifier win….

It’s that time of year again. The nights are getting a bit cooler, and the first group is hitting off into what can best be described as the half-light. The ravens are desperate to raid the odd unattended golf bag, and the magpies are chortling their little hearts out. But it is only Round 1, so maybe they shouldn’t get too excited. Anyhow, back to the weather. We were promised a scorcher with strong northerlies, but, thankfully, neither eventuated to any significant degree before we finished the round. As a result, the twenty members who turned out to get their foot in the door for a chance to win the Stuart Clarke Memorial Trophy were faced with a pretty nice day for a round of golf. And, there was some pretty nice golf played (or has the handicapper been too easy on some people?).

At the head of the pack cluttering the Leaderboard, is one of the new kids on the block. In only a handful of rounds since qualifying for his Club handicap, he has appeared on the podium on pretty much every occasion. He is well-placed as the leading Qualifier, to feature once again with his tally of thirty-nine points for the first round. His front nine had a sort of symmetry about it with seven fours and two sevens, which still managed to get him twenty points at the turn. The back nine was not quite so consistent, but a pair of birdies to finish off the round helped immeasurably to swing the leading score. His shot on the 18th was more than good enough to win him the ball for the second BallPin, and the two birdies helped us to a pretty impressive nineteen for the day.

However, Andrew does not have it on his own at the head of the leaderboard. JQ has apparently dipped into the family fortune and bought himself a new driver. The precise specification has not been revealed, but there was a thought that it might have emulated a helicopter after its performance on the first tee. The ball went close to taking out JQ’s kneecap as it headed sharp left and finished about 5m away, buried deep in the shrubbery and didn’t bear searching for. Like a true trooper, John persisted, and the investment began to pay dividends. A healthy enough eighteen points on the front was followed up by a very impressive twenty-one on the back to put him right up with a red-hot chance of the points, if not the trophy.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were coaching Zimmer on how to shave. Now he has a beard and is complaining how his ‘ageing’ body is letting him down, at least as far as playing soccer is concerned. So, soccer’s loss would seem to be golf’s gain, with Zimmer’s come-back round showing that he has not lost much in the way of form despite the aches and pains. His thirty-eight points will stand him in good stead for starting his points accumulation. A couple of points back, the Board starts to get a bit congested, and there could easily be a couple of hopeful Bradburys among the rest of the field. Geoff had his moments today, but somehow he managed to keep scoring points to come home with thirty-six of them. There was a suggestion that he should be called Mr 90% after barrelling shots through trees and managing to miss the 10% of solid timber. Pepsi wasn’t going to come, then decided he would. But, despite some ups and downs in form as the round progressed, he too managed to play to his handicap. He was thinking of not playing next week, but now he thinks he might, because he can sniff a chance for some silver-ware. Porks played his usual well-balanced round of eighteen points each half, and he could only manage just the one birdie today. Only three holes to go, and he will have birdied the course in the Eclectic. Can he do it?

If good things come in threes, then the group in fourth place must also be a good thing. Just a point further back on thirty-five, there would also be some hope beating in the chests of Anthony, Josh and CJ that they will be able to hoist some major points, if not the trophy itself. And, perhaps the last with any real hope of stealing the show, with thirty-four points is the happy quartet of Stef, Harry, Sean and Adam. Game on!

The first BallPin was a jackpot on the 4th, and the rear placement of the tees seems to have played into the hands of the ball burglars, and there will be a double Jackpot on the hole next week. The ProPin was on the 12th, and Harry’s playing partners had pretty much gifted him the money after his shot to 1.2m. However, JQ was jumping up and down in the belief that he had scored a hole-in-one when his rolled towards the hole to finish just 0.9 m short, right in line.

Three matches played out today, and there was some disappointment expressed that there were no chip-offs to entertain the masses. In fact, some of the results were about as far from a chip-off as you could get (almost). Zimmer was up against SOS, and, fairly obviously, Zimmer had a pretty good round. SOS freely admitted that he played like a dog and could not take a trick, let alone a hole. In what was almost a one-way street, the match went dormie six after the 12th and the match finished on the next hole, Zimmer winning 7 and 5. Pepsi was taking on Bob. Pepsi had a reasonable sort of day, and Bob had one of his usuals. The buggy didn’t actually break down, but it was playing up, so he shared the cart with Rodger for the back nine. The match looked like being evenly balanced for a while, but, after the fifth hole there was a pretty steady progression of scores Pepsi’s way, and the match finished after the 13th, 6 and 5 to Pepsi. Then there was Stef and Raj. Stef took an early lead, but Raj hung in there and wouldn’t let him get too far in front so that a three hole deficit at the turn seemed as if it could be turned around. Unfortunately, like King Canute, Raj wasn’t able to turn the tide, and, after the match went dormie 4 after the 14th, it seemed only a matter of time before the match went to Stef 4 and 2 at the 16th.

Ben was here today as well (one day we might see all of the acca-daccas here at once) and he did not make it to the red markers on the 2nd tee. In actual fact, his ball actually went backwards after he topped it very severely. Geoff also scored a draughtie on the 12th, although his ball did actually travel forwards. Pepsi was saved by a tree on the 16th where his ball was heading for the lake, but it was fortuitously deflected to finish well placed in the fairway. Harry left a few putts teetering on the edge of the hole today. One, in particular, was on the 9th so he went to give it a nudge to drop it in. Unfortunately, the nudge moved the ball, but not enough to drop it in. Sean, who played his first round with us today, was moved to comment that he would have thrown the ball much further than Harry did. Steve was quite unable to find anything good to report about his round today.

Next week will be the decider to see who hoists the trophy, and it is traditional for members to wear a suitably loud Hawaiian shirt to mark the memory of Stuart. There will be a barbecue lunch after, and all members are welcome whether you play one round, both rounds or none at all. We just ask that, if you will be there for the nosh, just let us know so that the catering can be adequate.

Results for Saturday, 18 Mar 2023
Leaderboard Round 1: 1st Andrew Noble (39) 1st John Quinlan (39) 2nd Kazim Akdag (38) 3rd Geoff Lyall (36) 3rd Andrew Petricola (36) 3rd Ryan Porker (36) 4th Anthony Browne (35) 4th Josh Hunt (35) 4th Chris Priems (35) 5th Stefan Belevski (34) 5th Harry Boughen (34) 5th Sean Farrell (34) 5th Adam King (34)

Seniors Leaderboard: 1st Geoff Lyall (36) 2nd Chris Priems (35) 3rd Harry Boughen (34) 3rd Sean Farrell (34)

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 12th John Quinlan BallPin No 1 – 4th Jackpot BallPin No 2 – 18th Andrew Noble