Another Captains Weekend completed with tales to tell and the many utterances among others of, if only.
A mix of weather gave us wet and drizzly mornings clearing to sunny afternoons the downside of the brighter afternoons was the wind/ breeze arrived. Added to a still fiery course, super fast greens and sadistic pin placings it was a true challenge and reflected in the CSS being 72 on both days.
Captain Neil and his trusty group of Past Captains assisting as starters on the first day, saw all competitors off the first tee on Saturday, all hoping this was to be their year.
He was in attendance along with his good lady Ann to greet and commiserate with nibbles and drinks, to all competitors passing the Halfway House on second round Sunday. This on top of hosting the Captains Dinner on Saturday night and concluding with the prize presentation on Sunday night deserves an endurance prize.
Now the results,
First John Cheesbrough playing off 11 Hcp with a nett 138.
Second Simon Begley, last years winner, beaten on second round card playoff, playing off 14 Hcp also with a nett 138.
Third Tim Carter playing off 17 Hcp with a nett 140.
First Jamie Hodgkinson 72 and 73 giving a two round gross 145
Second Simon Pay 74 and 72 giving a two round gross 146
Third Steve Roberts 78 and 72 giving a two round gross 150.
Paul Clarke with 83 less 15 nett 68.
Steve Roberts with 72 less 4 nett 68.
Bob Ewing playing off 19 Hcp with a nett 144.
An additional mention must be for Nine handicapper Jim Jones who had a hole in one on Sunday at the par three eleventh.
The Captains Weekend is fast approaching and as always the hotly anticipated traditional 2 day draw was carried out on the Wednesday night.
2017 sees a super bumper field contesting the most coveted competition at Helsby, this Year hosted by club Captain Neil Johnson. As always all groups will be welcomed to the tee by a team of starters led by Helsby legend Norman Littler.
Getting proceedings underway this Year are the two ball of Jim Jones and previous winner Jaime Hodgkinson at 7:30am. Past Captain Steve Cunniffe will be chomping at the bit after hosting last Year, he gets underway at 8:10am. Reigning champion Simon Begley heads the late morning field at 9:14am alongside recent winner Howard Pay. Two early fancies get underway at 11am with Dean Letford closely followed by John Dodd and Sean Hogarty whos’ remarkable birdie barrage last time out must have given him a confidence boost for the weekend. Another previous winner, Phil Jones, enters the contest at 12:50 alongside Mal Aird and Lee ‘Boom Boom’ Horton with Brian McNamara, Simon Pay and Phil Starkey concluding the competitors start.
After the bright sunny weather of Saturday competitors concluded Sundays round in overcast conditions with threats of rain. That rain came in batches throughout the day, heavy at times but a refreshing break from the humid heat. Playing in the same order as Saturday proceedings got underway at 7:30am with players hoping, dreaming and chasing personal goals for their final 18 holes. The final round was played off a retuned set of tees that saw the course playing 200 Yards longer than the previous day with new angles and different choices to be made.
First to enter the arena again was Tony Archer who followed Saturdays 71 with a 69 to post the very early lead, a level par 140, a score that has won many Captains prizes previously but surely not 2016 with a beautifully presented course and light conditions. Requiring a 81 Gross to tie Archers lead after a disappointing first day, Nathan Kennedy fired out of the blocks early, the 19 handicapper made the turn having dropped just 4 shots. Perhaps a light refreshment at the halfway house or the short spell of rain knocked Kennedy off his stride as his back nine didn’t match the front although he would go on to post a well fought 69. One better than Archer after day one and determined to improve on a frustrating day Mark Poland got about his business, back to back birdies on 7 and 8 saw him turn 1 under par gross. Poland would go on to finish the weekend 2nd overall after signing for a 66 nett a 4 than better combined score of 136. The morning was turning into a scoring frenzy as par was equalled or broken time and again. Joining Poland at the top and enjoying the morning conditions was overnight joint leader Ryan Edghill. Despite playing with a serious injury caused by his good lady, which was really just a small scratch, Edghill overcame some near card wreckers. Doubles at 13, 15 and 17 looked to have thrown his chances away but a strong refocused tee shot on 18 and a 5 foot par putt saw Edghill move into 2nd overall on a CPO behind Poland eventually finishing 3rd overall.
Past Captain Brian Prince had a weekend to remember as he scooped best Vet with a healthy 138 showing for the weekend and a joint 4th overall placing. Round of the day came from another injured golfer, Neil Brow fresh from a recent little finger injury produced his best Golf of the Year to post a fine 72 – 7 – 65, parring in from the 8th following a topsy turvy opening 7 holes. Brow picked up the prize for best 2nd day alongside Junior Captain Sam Long who claimed best 1st day as well as nearest the pin on 11 with Ben Simpson receiving the prize for 18.
71 + 69 – 140 total was good enough for Helsby veteran Alan Rigby to claim the weekends best gross. Rigby got his hands on the new best gross Captains trophy which was recently found in a loft in Cornwall and returned to the club after it was last presented as the Captains prize 98 years ago.
For the second day running 18 remained birdie free, for Simon Begley par was good enough after his first day triple had cost him the overnight lead. After the Simons dominating Day One, Begley would be the only one on Sunday to break 70. Understandably a little nervous being in contention Begley shot a steady level par front, the couple of doubles he chalked up canceled out by his strong pars on 2 and 4. The short greeting from the Captain and his team in the halfway house clearly settled Begley down, putting a 3 hole run of pars together before entering Helsby’s notorious back 6. A more than respectable bogey followed on 13 before a double at 14 cut his 3 under score to 2. 15 was playing long and hard, off the stones and a back left pin all into wind made this a potential card wrecker. Begley again composed his nervous and previous hole disappointment to sink his put for 5 followed by another at 16 and stand on 17 still 2 better than par. The final battle would be fought here, sending his first tee shot out of bounds, playing three off the tee Begley found the cut grass, punched his 4th shot, chipped to 10 foot and hold a solid nervy putt to record a double that brought him back to one better than par. Unbeknown to Begley he now needed a par on 18 to claim his maiden win and a place in Helsby history. Taking his trusty 3 iron he missed the green pin high right, short sided he knocked his chip to 5 feet before again holing out excellently to finish the weekend 67 + 68 – 135 and claim the Captains Prize 2016 by 1 shot.
The Overall Captains Prize standings can be viewed Here
A wonderful warm welcome from the Captain and the sun greeted players to the tee for round one of the 2016 Captains prize. With kind conditions throughout the day, a light sunny breeze, combined with beautifully prepared greens, the course was there for the taking. Each competitor was treated? to a ball stamped with the Captains face on it, with many a smile as the face was blasted off the tee.
Tony Archer got proceedings underway, starting with a bogey Archer would take the clubhouse lead with a steady 71 before playing partner Alan Rigby signed for a one better 70. The first early notable score to be posted came from Simon Ness. After a disappointing front 9 aside from a birdie at 7, Ness turned up the heat on the back to shoot a hugely impressive 37 and sign for a strong round of 67. His lead only lasted 1 hour however as the unmissable Ryan Edghill took over, shooting 66 aided by an eagle at 10 and birdie at 17. Edghills lead was threatened briefly by Simon Begley who after 17 holes stood 5 better than his handicap. A birdie run at 6 and 7 and a steadily controlled back nine had set Begleys round up before unfortunately finding trouble off the 18th tee to finish one off the lead, with 67, still very much in contention for tomorrows final round. Defending champion Phil Jones is in the hunt and hungry to defend his title after a 69 and joint 4th overall.
The chances that a Simon will take this Years prize are better than even as 4 out of the 5 competing posted 70 or better and only players called Simon shot 67, joint 2nd place. Best gross Simon went to Simon Pay who signed for a 69 gross, pipped for best gross on the day by Junior Captain Sam Long. Names beginning with S are dominating proceedings. Long played the stronger back nine in 2 under gross to cancel out his 1 over front, a round that included 4 birdies, 2 of those being 2s. Long and Edghill are joint overnight leaders alongside Dangerous Dave Langley. 5 under his handicap after 10 thanks to a carefully constructed round containing a single birdie Langley was frustratingly unable to break the back nine and will in particular rue his finish on 18.
So the first round closes with a surprising CSS of 70 having delighted and destroyed so many players, all who will be back tomorrow to compete for the ultimate Helsby prize and a place in history.
The Draw is now completed, has been e-mailed out, is viewable on howdidido.co.uk and there is a link to it below.
Tony Archer will be hitting the first shot of this Years prize partnered by Alan Rigby with one of these guaranteed to hold the clubhouse lead. The last tee shot will be struck by Dave Sanders at 14:26 partnered by David Perry and Simon Costin. After missing last Year past Captain Colin Ford will be looking forward to his weekend tee it up at 10:50 with Bill Foulkes and Graham Arnold. Defending champion Phil Jones heads the late afternoon groups at 13:46 with Mark Kiberd and Andy Sayers. Remember that the tee times and partners are the same on both the Saturday and the Sunday.
As always the Captain will welcome each and every competitor to the tee on the Saturday, partnered by Helsby Legend and 1st tee announcer Norman Littler. On Sunday all players will be greeted at the halfway house by the Captain who will be providing refreshments, entertainment and perhaps the odd hug for those who need it.
The prize presentation will be held on the Sunday night from 7pm. There are a mass of prizes to be contested, best vet, best 1st and 2nd day, with a new trophy for the lowest gross and of course the resplendent Captains trophy for the overall winner. Traditionally gents attending the presentation are expected to wear jacket and tie (suits) which matches beautifully with all our past captains who attend in their red jacket attire. The presentation is highly recommend and open to all members and closes off what is always a fantastic weekend at Helsby.
Whilst most people were in work today the Captain, Chairman of Match & Handicap and Chairman of Greens were out and about in the wet conditions working together to set up the course for Mr Captains special weekend in July.
Working together with the Captain both the M&H and Greens committee plan to deliver a weekend course that offers something specially unique, will challenge both young and old, high and low and sets out the biggest club competition of the year from all other majors.
A quick reminder
The list of qualifiers so far is now on the notice board in the locker room. We would be grateful if everyone that has qualified could indicate their preferred tee time on the sheet or indicate that they are not available for the weekend.
Our Club Captain Steve Cunniffe is undertaking a remarkable challenge to play 6 rounds of Golf in 6 Counties (Old Counties as stipulated by past Captain Martin Mann!) in 24 hours (Well should actually be 17 or he’ll miss the hog roast!). Steve is raising money for Helsbys Powered Wheelchair appeal providing disadvantaged youngsters with life changing wheelchairs. Everyone is welcome to attend a hog roast on Monday 20th June from 6pm at the club to celebrate Steves achievement.
Message from the Captain
My clubs are clean and I am ready to set off to Garstang golf and country club with Martin Mann. I will be teeing off at 3.30am and am playing in six English counties…Bentham GC Yorkshire…..Kirkby Lonsdale Cumbria….Newcastle-under-Lyme Staffordshire……Market Drayton Shropshire …and Finally Helsby Golf Club Cheshire.
Golf ….36412 yards ….20.689 miles
Handicap 10 so hopefully around 500 strokes!
I am raising funds for Helsby Golf Club Powered Wheelchair Appeal.