Thorndon Park proved to be an excellent venue for this year’s final Regional Qualifying Tournament for The Golf Club Secretary – 18th Open Championship. The course played its full length thanks to the previous day’s rain; sensibly the tees were moved forward. We got away with the weather, light drizzle early doors disappeared and we all managed to get round in the dry.
Scoring was exceptionally good – you had to play to your handicap to qualify! The winner on count back was Paul Clouting (10) Thorpeness, with 37pts, a novice to the Championship. David Kelly (6) Boyce Hill (from where he is shortly to retire), lost out on the last six, to be runner-up. Stephen Billings (2) Redlibbets came third with 36pts, a score matched by the other two qualifiers, John Aughterlony (11) Rochester & Cobham Park and Andy Izod (11) Peterborough Milton. Congratulations to them all, we look forward to seeing them at the Final at St Enodoc in May next year.
We are very fortunate to be able to play the courses that we do with the Championship and it is a privilege that we never take for granted. It was a particular pleasure to be able to take the event to Thorndon Park , the epitome of the well run private members’ Club. Our thanks go to everyone at the Club, the Captain and Committee (together with previous manager Giles Thomas) for acceding to our request; the Members for standing aside from their usual Monday morning arrangements to accommodate all of us and finally our host, Club Manager James Fuller, and his extremely efficient and very welcoming team, both on and off the course (a special mention for chef Lewis Noah and his individual chicken and ham pies).
Our Supporters all had a great day. Philip Vince of Majestic Crystal (chocolate, photography and prizes) headed the cast. Stefanie Mainstone, Becky Hughes and Kevin Evans of Jonas and Club View saw to all matters technical, whilst Kneale Diamond of Rain Bird, Richard Barker of Teeofftimes, Phil McInley of Eagle, Nick Bonfield and Tom Clarke of Golf Monthly, all played some exceptional golf. Which leaves our Supporter in Chief and guide to this corner of Essex, Barry Gibbs of C C V Sports & Leisure, who ensured that our visit was one that will live long in the memory and will ensure that chef/proprietor of La Bicicletta – Alberto – will be able to take a day off this week. Thank you one and all, without you there would not be a Championship.
We asked if the competitors enjoyed themselves; it was a rhetorical question which was followed by the question: “do you know another secretary/manager who has yet to play in the Championship and would possibly enjoy such a day themselves? If so, please ensure that they enter one of the four remaining Regional Qualifying Tournaments for the 18th Open, in the spring of next year.” Don’t forget!