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Josh in a canter

Josh Hunt ran off with a big win in the 2023 Freddy Kitson and then ran off to the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley
Josh showed the Freddy Kitson field a clean pair of heels

Josh arrived at the course exuding confidence and requested to go in the first group so he could lead from the front (and get to the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in good time where it is rumoured his punting was as good as his golf).

Avoiding the old timers in the final “leaders” group proved to be a winning move and after spluttering down the second with a loss, Josh never looked back. 8 pluses on his card for the day, including two to finish on 17 and 18 for a score of +5 and a +8 total across the two weeks.

This was enough for a comfortable four lengths victory over a fast finishing Blighty who had obviously read and been inspired by last week’s blog that predicted he was primed for “a big run one day soon.” His +6 on the day included 3 “double pluses” so in Grandpar it would have been +9 or a 59 in stroke. After 2 down last week, Blighty’s combined +4 was a strong second place. As they say, maybe he is looking for “more ground” a la the Melbourne Cup or in our case the 3 week club stroke championship coming up in late November, early December.

Prez Priems was just a length back in third after a +5 for the day and a combined +3. After starting with pluses on his first three holes and another at the fifth, Rob was looking the most likely to run Josh down at that stage, but he couldn’t quite sustain that cracking pace over the full journey.

Last week’s co-leader Michael slipped back through to the field to fourth with -1 on the day and a +2 total. His “better than usual” putting last week turned into something else this week and after two three putt losses on 17 and 18 to finish his day he had a major tantrum/hissy fit, call it what you will and stormed off the course with smoke coming out the ears, a broken putter and threatening Brendan’s Guiness Book of Record effort from last week for the number of times saying a certain word out loud. He is reported this week to be back in golf anger therapy-rehab and offering apologies to his playing partners as part of Step 1.

In a rare week of no ties, all single placings, Chrispy rounded out the points in fifth with a square card for the day and +1 total. A model of consistency throughout the day, Chris’s chipping and pitching was a highlight. No less than 6 times he chipped or pitched to “kick in” distance. Playing partners SoS and Michael, whose chipping was less than stellar, kept shaking their heads at his magic with the wedge.

Honourable mentions go to four players with “plus” cards for the day but who didn’t make it into the overall points, including Adam +3 and Chris J, Raj and new member Charles with +2. It was Charles first card after getting his handicap and in all four rounds he has improved each time, so lookout for Charles in the run to Christmas and into 2024.

Speaking handicaps, Josh’s win cost him seven strokes, going from 31 to 24. Does anybody want to run a book on how long until his handicap is lower than his dad’s and/or he beats dad off the stick?

Brendan birdied the first hole (and the 10th) matched by the birdie machine that is Chris J who had his two on the 5th and 9th. Another 8 players had a birdie each so 12 all up for the day. Harry, if you’re reading over there in Europe, what’s the world record for birdies from the field in a week?

The competition for most spectacular birdie was a tie between another Josh pitch in birdie (17th this time after the 8th last week) and SoS’s on the 11th when he nearly drove the green and then managed to not duff either the chip or the putt.

Chris J missed a third birdie on the 18th after another good shot in to win a ball for nearest the pin. SoS was the ball winner on the 15th and after discovering that he had knocked off Charles, who is a lawyer, he wrote “Cop beats lawyer” on the yellow sticky. Apparently SoS had a similar win against a defence lawyer in court earlier in the week.

Meanwhile there is now a triple jackpot of cash on offer for the propin on the 4th. Lately there’s been more people hitting the tree there than the green so you wouldn’t bet on it going off this week either. It’s a pity “old reliable” Craig Cameron isn’t back playing because its his type of low hook under the tree that is going to be needed to win the money.

Bob produced the shot of the day with a near hole in one at the 7th that just missed the hole and trickled by. Unfortunately three putts followed but it still went in the book as a plus for the hole.

Big thanks to everybody who helped with food buying and organising the BBQ set up, cooking and clean up, you know who you are (your blog author was too cranky to notice!). Apologies also for any other good stories told that have since been forgotten and not included here.

With only four rounds left to gather points for the championship season, Raj is looking good in the lead with 98 points for the Club Championship and with Harry on holidays, Brendan would have to win every week from here to knock Raj off. Harry of course has long sewn up the Seniors Championship and James is another certainty for the coveted Harry Vardon Trophy (best score average). There is however some intrigue left in the other big trophy, the Eclectic, with three of four in with a chance of catching long term leader Rob. For details, check out the Eclectic leaderboard on the website under “Competitions.” With birdies of better on the right holes over the next four weeks, Rob could be run down and lose by a nose.

Results for Saturday, 28 Oct 2023
1st Josh Hunt (+3, + 5, + 8) 2nd Andrew Blight (-2, + 6, + 4) 3rd Robert Priems (-2, + 5, + 3) 4th Michael Gourlay (+3, -1, + 2) 5th Chris Priems (+1, □, + 1)

Seniors Results: 1st Andrew Blight (-2, +6, +4) 2nd Michael Gourlay (+3, -1, +2) 3rd Chris Priems (+1, □, +1)

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 4th Jackpot BallPin No 1 – 15th Stephen O’Sullivan BallPin No 2 – 18th Chris James

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 4th Jackpot BallPin No 1 – 15th Stephen O’Sullivan BallPin No 2 – 18th Chris James

BBQ group still in the race

Chrispy explaining to the group that after maybe a few too many last Saturday night in Cobram he'll stay off the beers on Friday and win the Freddy Kitson next week
No beers for me next Friday night and I’ll win this thing

With an overnight minimum of 22 degrees in Melbourne (and maximum of 23 predicted) the scene was set for some calm consistent golf in the first round of this season’s final two week major, the Fred Kitson Spring Cup.

New member Charles Gibbs (putting in his third card) joined 13 competitors for what is renowned as the club’s most elegant looking trophy. The gossip from last week’s Mustard Jacket weekend in Cobram was doing the rounds before hit off. We will not mention how many putts of Stef shaved the hole and refused to drop, nor Chris J’s final 9 holes when he blew what should have been an unbeatable lead, nor Chrispy’s struggles on Sunday after perhaps having a few too many on Saturday night.

Josh obviously pulled up well from Cobram and hit the ground running with a plus on the first hole, a spectacular birdie on the 8th after hitting trees with his first two shots and then pitching his third straight into the hole. Turning square he had three plusses on the trot at 11, 12 and 13 and held his form to finish as co-leader at +3. Michael joined him on that score, holding his round together thanks to a better than usual day with those awkward short range putts in the 3-5 foot range.

Chrispy produced a solid days work for +1, second place on the leaderboard and as proclaimed in post round discussions, he has a cunning plan for his run to victory next week. His round finished with a flourish after “laying up” a fair way short of the 18th green and then hitting a stellar pitch to the top tier pin and making the putt for a plus.

SoS’s fortunes on 18 went in the other direction. He had a short putt for a plus that would have seen him finish at +2, but it slid by and then forgetting he had a stroke left for a half he picked up and recorded a loss. This was after a brilliant shot off the tee onto the green at the 17th for an easy two putt birdie. His square card was good enough for third place on his own and a spot in next week’s leading group.

Blighty, Raj and Prez Priems shared fourth on -2, only five behind the leaders and all showing form that suggests they could surprise the leaders next week. Raj’s highlights included a “double Priems” on the 8th where his second shot hit a tree and darted to the right heading for the Yarra, only to hit another tree and bounce back into the fairway. Blighty mixed his trademark massive long draws with the driver with a few less than stellar chip shots, but still looks very generously handicapped for a big run one day soon. Rob was very consistent tee to green with one notable exception – his third into the 9th was last heard hitting the clubhouse roof.

Andrew Noble and Brendan snuck into eqaul 5th place on -3. Andrew’s highlights included a birdie on the 1st, one of 10 birdies for the day. Brendan birdied the 14th after he spectacularly drove it through the green. He followed this with a somewhat less spectacular shot off the 15th tee. It went about 20-30 metres and was lost in the rough on the hill to the left. Funny game golf.

Andrew called a penalty on himself when he realised he had played the wrong ball. Same brand as his, so more than a touch unlucky, but he copped the penalty and moved on with good grace and a wry smile. Brendan apparently wasn’t smiling so much during his round. There was a suggestion that he had broken an Ivanhoe world record for the number of time saying a certain swear word (Harry do you keep a stat on that?).

Adam, Chris J, Bobby and Targe brought up the rear of the field and it is hoped at least one of those will cope with BBQ duty next week. A win from that far back is not totally out of the question (a bloke once won a British Open starting out from 10 shots behind on the last day) but more likely we will see one or more of the BBQ group surge into the double points on offer for our majors. So everybody still has something to play for next week, including Charles who will be out there for his first day with a club handicap. Like all new members gaining a handicap for the first time, the tip is that the Punters Club could do worse than put their money on Charles featuring in the points in coming weeks.

There’s also a jackpot pro-pin to play for on the fourth, although with the tree there not getting any smaller, the jackpot might last until Christmas. Chris J staked a claim for both ball nearest the pins on the 12th and 18th only to be knocked off by Michael.

Chris J’s round was also notable for 3 birdies, all of which would have been double plusses in a Grand Par round. Indeed Josh’s birdie on the 8th would have been a triple plus! Would Harry’s systems cope with a triple plus?

Speaking of Harry, a ripple went across the field as a few phones pinged with a last minute Harry email from the airport. He is clearly nervous about leaving this blog and the handicapping in the hands of his inexperienced assistant apprentice. The said apprentice is also nervous, but will try and keep the show afloat until Harry’s return in late November.

Results for Saturday, 21 Oct 2023
Leaderboard Round 1: 1st Michael Gourlay (+3) 1st Josh Hunt (+3) 2nd Chris Priems (+1) 3rd Stephen O’Sullivan (□) 4th Andrew Blight (-2) 4th Rajesh Mahto (-2) 4th Robert Priems (-2) 5th Brendon Mitchell (-3) 5th Andrew Noble (-3)

Seniors Leaderboard: 1st Michael Gourlay (+3) 2nd Chris Priems (+1) 3rd Andrew Blight (-2)

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 4th Jackpot BallPin No 1 – 12th Michael Gourlay BallPin No 2 – 18th Michael Gourlay

YES, we have NO – bananas on 14/15 October 2023

Steve hands it over
Parting is such sweet sorrow!

Once upon a time, IMSGC members used to be hungry for easy points and, with nineteen members away fighting it out for the coveted Mustard Jacket at Cobram, here was the ideal opportunity to take advantage of a small field to boost your stocks in the Championship stakes. But no, with a measly two registrations and a third interested only if he was going to make it six or more, when one of the two developed an oil leak, there wasn’t even a social game to be had. It would have been a nice day as far as the weather went, however the course did have two temporary greens in operation after a couple of dirt bikes diverted from the flooded river bank onto the course and decided that greens were a good place to wreak some havoc. They should be back in play in the next day or so.

The following report on the Annual Challenge has been compiled from notes provided by a Gord o-thority.

The Cobram-Barooga Golf Course (West and Old) was in fine condition with beautiful fairways and true greens, although the latter were subject to a few undulations to add some challenge to the game. The plethora of roos around the course provided an appreciative gallery as the tension mounted during the course of the game. The venue was deemed so favourable that it was voted to be the venue for next year’s contest.

The first day went some way to sorting the men from the boys, but it was not all over Red Rover, with over a third of the field within half a dozen strokes of the leader. Brent got out of the blocks early, and was able to amass a very handy 35 points. However, he was not alone with Stef breathing down his neck, just a single point behind on 34. In third spot, we saw the two Chris (J and P) a couple of points further back, closely followed by Raj with 31. Fifth spot after round one was shared by Porks and Peps (just about a meal in itself) on 29 points. Steve was dead-set on retaining the jacket, and he put in a pretty good effort on the day to be just a point further back with 28. With that sort of potential in the running, it was anybody’s game.

Party animals
Espresso martinis all round!

However, there was the evening’s events to deal with first, and that can have a powerful effect on the next day’s results. Particularly when the Club captain puts the surplus funds on the bar to shout everybody espresso martinis as a night-cap. But that was not enough for some, who headed out to try their luck with some of the locals. Kazim, it seems, was wedded to the pokies, accompanied by his ‘best man’ SOS. It is unclear whether any profits were forthcoming, but, at some stage the punters did manage to ‘fluke’ a quaddie, and walked off with a handy little dividend. Whether it was enough to get them back into the black was not revealed. For some reason, CJ swears that, next year, he will not be drinking.

There were some changes in form on day 2, which could very well relate to the quantities consumed or the lateness of the hour of getting to bed. Brent was one to take a slump, but it was not enough to knock him off the top spot, and he was presented with the Mustard Jacket, by Steve for his overall total of 65 points. Stef suffered exactly the same loss of form to finish in second place, just two points behind with 63. ChrisJ matched Stef’s score for the day, and maintained his spot on the leaderboard. Matt and Brendon, on the other hand, managed to improve both their score and the position on the podium, to leap into fourth place with a total of 59 points. Raj slipped one place to get just the one point for his total of 58. Despite having the advantage of wind and range-finding Collingwood flag, CJ slipped off the podium by dropping seven points from day 1. Porks and Peps faded even further from contention. There were no reports on Josh’s behaviour overnight, but whatever he got up to, he produced the turn-around of the weekend, charging from 15 to 31 points, possibly saving himself from holding the Narga aloft.

multi shots
Every picture tells a story.

It’s a good thing Raj has his wits about him. Despite never having been on an Annual Challenge before, and, despite Captain Matt leaving him off the email circulation list, he managed to make it to the right place and at the right time. Geoff was so intent on lining up his putt from a distance behind (as recommended by the experts), he failed to take account of the positioning of his buggy and both he and it ended up base over apex. The course was not without its hazards, which included a number of bunkers. One of these took its toll on Porks, who missed the ball entirely in his effort to extricate himself. He did move some sand, it must be said. Gordo has a ‘shoulder’, and he had a bit of trouble with his swing plane. One shot from the tee went so low that it inflicted some damage (fairly serious by the looks of it) to the red tee marker, located some 20m to the fore. This might have qualified for the Cock’s Plate award, but there might have been other, more worthy candidates. All in all, Gordo did not have the best weekend on the course, and he managed to collect the Narga for the event. He does take some consolation in the fact that Adam had him in the Calcutta, and collected the $25 on offer.

It was good to see Mehmet and Kazim, after a fair time away from playing with the Club. While they didn’t feature, they didn’t embarrass themselves either. The Birthday Birdie wants to give a shout out to AndrewN who will be blowing out some candles this week.

Results for Saturday, 14 Oct 2023
Ivanhoe: No Competition

Challenge: 1st Brent Rowley (35, 30, 65) 2nd Stefan Belevski (34, 29, 63) 3rd Chris James (32, 29, 61) 4th Matt Hunt (27, 32, 59) 4th Brendon Mitchell (28, 31, 59) 5th Rajesh Mahto (31, 27, 58)

Seniors Results:
Ivanhoe : No Competition

Challenge: 1st Chris Priems (32, 25, 57) 2nd Steven Gervasoni (28, 25, 53) 3rd Geoff Lyall (19, 27, 46) Ken Watson (20, 20, 40)

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – – No Competition BallPin No 1 – – No Competition BallPin No 2 – – No Competition

Mongrel double trouble

Brent (2023 Match Play winner) and Harry (October 2023 Monthly Medal winner)
Harry showed more mongrel but both winners were grinners

With some parts of Victoria experiencing fire and flood this week (e.g. clubs at Maffra and Sale closed due to flooding) there were no problems along the banks of the Yarra at Royal Ivanhoe and all was set for a big monthly medal from the dreaded back-tee white markers, except there were no white markers to be seen.

A somewhat exasperated Chris in the pro-shop explained that there had been a staff no-show and he was on his own and if we wanted the white markers out then we were welcome to do it ourselves.

While the Collingwood supporters mulled about giving each other secret handshakes and generally looking smug, SoS came to the rescue by getting on his bike and herbing about the course putting out the white markers in a cart.  Luckily there are no speed cameras on course and the job was done in record time.

Harry is about to head off on a long holiday to Greece, via Helsinki, Berlin and Prague and he looked determined to keep adding to his points tally before his departure.  After an up and down front 9, he hit his straps on the back coming home with 39 off the stick (86 in total) a net 66 and a very impressive win.  It takes him into second place in the Club Championship race behind runaway leader Raj and further extends his lead in the Seniors Championship.

Harry hit the ball beautifully off the tee all day, was solid with his iron play and stellar with the putter, including one on the 8th that had missed left for all money by a good few inches but somehow did a 90 degree right turn at the hole and dropped in.  When the pressure was on late in the round, Harry made a number of crucial 3-4 foot putts to keep his round on track.  Playing partners Michael and Stan were in awe of an all round brilliant performance from the new Old Reliable.

In second place, it was good to see Stef back playing and his three birdies helped him to a 74 (net 68).  He is one to watch for this year’s Mustard Jacket at Cobram.  Five other players added a birdie each for a total of eight, including a couple for Johnny Q and Blighty that helped their eclectic score, although both are well behind eclectic leader Prez Priems.

In third was Brent who turned up with his dodgy ankle with the match play final on the line (see more below) and snuck it around in 81 (69 net on his club handicap, which, incidentally, appears to be very generous compared to his Golflink handicap).  Club stewards may wish to investigate that before the big weekend at Cobram. This is Brent’s second win in three years in the Match Play and despite being awarded 16 points for the win, unlike other 16 point majors, the Match Play champion doesn’t get docked any winner’s handicap penalty. Something for the rules committee to ponder perhaps.

Brendan and Johnny Q were three shots back in joint fourth place with 72 net. When asked for what he would like to contribute for the day’s blog stories, John said “concern about SLOW PLAY and PUT THAT IN CAPITALS PLEASE”.

The most interesting scorecard of the day belonged to 5th placed Blighty whose net 73 included four 7’s and 10 on the 8th (including two shanks out of bounds).  He also spectacularly near slam dunked his second shot at the 14th into the hole for an eagle, the rattling of the pin startling the group ahead on the 16th fairway.

One of Blighty’s 7’s set off some discussion about the drinks buying protocol when you have had two shots and are still behind the ladies tee. Is that two beers?  Apparently not. It was noted that Rob has previously  made a Presidential decree that you can only owe one beer per round.  The story goes that this rule was invoked on a day when Rob potentially owed 6 beers but that may be another member with the same surname telling porkies.

Speaking of Porks, he was 2up after 3 in the match play final against Brent and looking good. Still 1up after 11, Brent was able to claw back to square with a handy handicap advantage when both parred the 12th (Porks had to give him 5 shots, including the 12th).

Porks then made an 8 on the 13th and Brent hit the lead. It was back to square after 14 when Brent hit his drive out of bounds and despite making a birdie with his second ball, Pork’s par was enough to win the hole.  The 15th was squared and standing on the 16th tee it was set for a grandstand finish. However two holes later with par/birdie on 16/17, Brent secured the win 2 and 1.

Witnessing the match, Brendan was struck by the friendly spirit in which the game was played. However rather than commending Brent and Porks for this, it appeared Brendan was suggesting both boys needed a bit more mongrel in them.  Maybe Gordo we can add a new “Sportsmanship Award” to the club trophy list this year for Brent/Porks, and maybe a “Best Mongrel” award as well, although it should be noted Brendan would have some competition for that award.

With those heading to Cobram for the big Annual Challenge weekend planning ahead, and those not going wondering aloud if they would be able to muster the minimum 6 for an Ivanhoe comp next week, SoS was busy as always on the finances and handing out the balls.  Michael managed to bunt one down the 7th with a 3 wood (Stef hit 7 iron on the same hole) to collect a triple ball jackpot, Brent knocked off Matty and Harry for the double ball jackpot on the 18th and the highlight of the day for Geoff was a shot to 4.86 metres on the 15th for pro-pin jackpot winnings of $30+.

Another type of win was had on the 16th when Matt and Chrispy had a drag race of their buggies. Chrispy declared himself the winner but like Usain Bolt in the 2011 World Athletics Championship, there was a false start controversy and the suggestion that Chrispy might have jumped the gun.

Your club Apprentice Assistant Handicapper (on duty this week) is still a bit befuddled by various aspects of the data entry and blog systems Harry has been trying to teach him.  This includes the Birthday Report, which this week shows up no less than 5 birthdays in red (which means we might have missed them – the sorrys there include Beast, hope you had a good one Beast) and also our tee marshall Adam, who might have had a birthday this past week.  Happy birthday Adam.

Meanwhile big thanks to all of today’s 16 players for getting scores and totals 100% accurate. It does help the admin when cards are nice and clean and add up. The only mistake this week was Harry’s marking of Stan’s round, with Harry signing off Stan’s card with a handicap of 23 when after his win last week Stan was a 22. Nice to know Harry ain’t perfect.

Results for Saturday, 07 Oct 2023
1st Harry Boughen (66) 2nd Stefan Belevski (68) 3rd Brent Rowley (69) 4th Brendon Mitchell (72) 4th John Quinlan (72) 5th Andrew Blight (73)

Seniors Results: 1st Harry Boughen (66) 2nd Andrew Blight (73) 3rd Bob McDonald (75) 3rd Chris Priems (75) 3rd Michael Gourlay (75)

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 15th Geoff Lyall BallPin No 1 – 7th Michael Gourlay BallPin No 2 – 18th Brent Rowley