The 2014 South West Boys Championships was to be played at Bowood Golf Club, Wiltshire, a course notorious for its full length of 7,500 yards. Thankfully the boys would not be playing the full distance, however a challenge of 6,850 yards was presented as a test of skill and character. Representative teams were offered from Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset.
A practice round preceded the main competition day, and with virtually all boys having already visited the course prior, we had the great benefit of professional Martyn Thompson in attendance who is a three-time winner of PGA events on the course. The course is set in very picturesque parkland, and nicely spread out so that holes are mostly isolated from one another (an isolation once enjoyed by our future king in the pretty cottage in the grounds!). The ‘bite’ of the course is given by its length, its bunker placement and large undulating greens. Martyn methodically went through each hole with the group of boys prior to the practice round, emphasising that although the course is long on paper, it is a true ‘plotters’ course where driver from tees was not needed anywhere near as what one would expect. On the course, Martyn worked with group to discuss club selection and target points to keep away from traps. Each boy committed that the hatched plan would be kept to for the following day.
With an early start on competition day, the weather was a little more gloomy and a little more blustery than was expected, and it became quickly apparent that the course setup was going to be tough going for the entire field. As the morning rounds completed on the final greens, somewhat despondent faces became slightly cheerier once they saw how their scores faired against others in the field. On conclusion of the morning session, a mere 10 points separated the entire field of teams, with Dorset’s Budgen and Atkins posting solid scores of 76 (+4) and 78 (+6) respectively. The competition remained wide open.
After some more constructive guidance from Martyn on the putting green, the afternoon session commenced with improving weather conditions. Around the turn, the Dorset boys looked pretty encouraging. Each boy continued to commit to the plan that Martyn had given them, and while other counties were joyfully hitting drivers into all sorts of trouble, our boys were playing sensibly to minimise the chances of them finding hay or traps, and aiming for the parts of greens that would give them the best opportunity.
First to arrive home, Billy-Joe posted another impressive score of 75 (+3) despite feeling decidedly unwell since lunch. In fact, the improvement across the afternoon scores continued to look encouraging, and a sense of optimism grew in the boys. With Baker finally arriving with an excellent 75 (+3), the boys started to believe that it could perhaps be Dorset’s year, but as the final scores were posted, Dorset stood just 3 shots short of the overall winners, Wiltshire.
So, despite a final placement of second place, 2014 has seen a significant improvement in our 6 Counties fortunes and this seasons result at 4 Counties. This excellent result was further capped by an individual award to Billy for his morning round.
A big thanks to Martyn for preparing the boys and getting them to truly understand how to play Bowood and the importance of setting, and sticking to, a plan. Thanks to Rob Jones for helping with the pre-arrangements and on the day, and to Messrs. Kennedy, Clark and Hulse for their on-course support.
A final thanks to the boys who showed true grit and discipline, and proved that Dorset has the capacity to put on a fight and bring home a very good result.
Full Team of 8 (from which 6 boys were nominated, and best 5 scores used)
Billy-Joe Budgen (c)
For the 36 hole totals click here.
For the Team scores click here.
South West Counties Boys Championships will meet again at Teignmouth Golf Club, Devon, in 2015.