On what were probably the hottest three days of the summer so far this year the six Counties of the England Golf Men’s South West Region gathered at Ferndown Golf Club for the 2021 SWCGA Seniors Championships.
Ferndown’ reputation precedes it and indeed it lived up to all expectations. The course is a fantastic test, presented immaculately and the welcome by staff through the Office, Bar and Pro Shop was excellent.
After a few hiccups with team selection, injury and illness having an effect, eventually the eight-man squad were identified to represent the County.
Five of the eight arrived at Ferndown later Sunday afternoon for a practise round and although not able to see the end of The Open, were able to play in a temperature a little cooler and were immediately impressed by the lay out.
The other three members, all who had played the course previously, were playing at their home clubs and I am pleased to report that Mark Snape (Tidworth) and Mike White (West Wilts) both won their club championships, a nice way to arrive at Ferndown.
From the squad of eight, six are named in the County team which would be playing to qualify for the England Golf Seniors County Finals being held in Lancashire in October. The qualifying would be decided by the best scores of five of the members of the team on each day.
Wiltshire Seniors had never been higher than third place in this event in previous years but, as was noted by several of our opponents, we are in a transition period and five members of our squad had never played in this event before and hopes were high that we could improve our record.
After the first day we were in good position having posted five scores in the seventies with the highlight being Mark Snape’s 71, (a great score but trailing Pete Bicknell (Devon) by 3 shots!). With the team in second position at the end of the day trailing Dorset by just 5 shots we looked in great shape. Our customary opponents Devon, Gloucestershire, Cornwall and Somerset were left somewhat behind, and it looked as though just the two top teams would be in the hunt to qualify for the finals.
The second day started just as hot as the first, even at 8 o’clock in the morning, and with the individuals teeing off in score order the final standings wouldn’t be known until the final three players finished their rounds.
Again, the Wiltshire team posted five rounds in the seventies which was enough to beat all the other counties with the exception of Dorset who were able to hold on to and extend their lead at the top of the table.
With three of the Dorset team, all Ferndown members, in the top five of the individual event their team were worthy winners and qualifiers for the finals. Mark Snape was runner up in the individual competition, a great result and leading the team to second place. (16 shots between the top two teams sounds a lot but when calculated this was just 1.6 shots per man over the two rounds). Every member of the team contributed to the final score and but for a couple of ‘if’s or putts’ who knows what may have happened.
As previously mentioned, the other South West Counties had noted the transitional Wiltshire Team and with this result it has confirmed that the future looks good, and we are now becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Next year at Bristol and Clifton let’s see what we can do then.
My thanks go to all the Wiltshire players, the team of Paul Bloomfield, Simon Dymoke, Colin Edwards, Al Paterson, Mark Snape and Mike White together with Graeme Wright and Chris Graeme for their efforts, patience and comradeship over the last couple of days. My best wishes go to those ill and injured and unable to play, get well soon. Also, thanks to those players who did not make this team but for the support they continue to offer and to the County for their support.