Hillside – 17th / 18th May 2015

"Was it the best Final ever?" - No, not quite, thanks to the atrocious conditions for the front nine (or more) holes for the Final itself. Did everything live up to expectations - we'd like to think so!?

There are many stories to tell and quite a few that should remain untold. This year’s tie was much admired, so we must try harder next year! The Tie Survey having conclusively come out in favour of retention, the 20th Open one will be distinctive. The Ladies, too, seemed to appreciate their Woolovers, with one kind enough to suggest that Viv might have been involved in the embroidery…

On Sunday afternoon, and having skilfully avoided the Captain’s Prize Giving in the lounge and having been very well catered for with bar snacks and drinks, it was time for play to get underway.

We were presented with a superb links on which to play foursomes golf in a testing wind with almost unbroken sunshine. Play was disappointingly slow behind two club fourballs, with the last two groups playing a five ball down the last in order to get to dinner on time.

However, it did not prevent the field playing some excellent golf, with the very worthy winners on 37pts being John Douglass (7) Liphook and Brian Lever (10) Great Yarmouth & Caister, a comfortable three points clear of runners-up Adrian Dawson (9) Woodcote Park and John Doyle (9) Old Ranfurly. In third place came Richard Dixon (8) Golf Union of Wales and David Owen (9)
Poulton Park – with 33pts.

All the Finalists that played on Sunday afternoon recognised the need to get their skates on to be ‘next door’ at Royal Birkdale in time for pre-dinner drinks and The GCS – Justin Rose Charity Challenge. This involved a ‘Champion’ from each of the nine dining tables trying to replicate Justin’s pitch to the 72nd hole in the 1998 ‘other’ Open. The selection of Table
Champion was simply – the golfer whose birthday was the nearest to May 17th. The video of this extra ordinary event will follow shortly.

Neill Ellice, aka the 8th GCS – Open Champion, struck the most glorious pitch to just 6ft, winning his table of East Anglian ‘cousins’ a magnum of champagne, which was presented by Mike Harris of Golf Monthly with great humour (also see the video) and duly dispatched after dinner by the ‘cousins’. The Challenge also raised £500 for The Golf Foundation – thanks to all for their generosity.

Viv made the presentation of the afternoon’s foursomes’ prizes and in accepting the prize on behalf of the winners, John Douglass made reference to the legend that winners of Augusta National’s Par Three Tournament never win the main event. I bet he is rueing voicing that now…?

Dinner in the Royal Birkdale clubhouse was an absolute treat, many took pictures of the varying dishes as they were presented – the gravlax, the hot pot and the selection of desserts (one for almost every day of the week) were stunning, with service to match. Praise too for the Wine Monitors, an onerous task, but one that ensured that everyone had what they wanted when they needed it and that it was properly accounted for! Thank you – all.

A memorable evening drew to a close with three rounds of Heads and Tails, which raised a further £200, which went to The Stroke Association as nominated by the Club.

For the Final the weather did what the forecast promised and it lashed it down from dawn until noon together with a stiff wind, making the open nine holes or more exceedingly uncomfortable. In fact, the better golfer you are meant that you had proportionately more of the bad weather. But in true GCS style the sun eventually came out and the majority of the field were able to
play Hillside’s majestic back nine in sunshine.

With such trying conditions scoring was extremely difficult and it was hardly surprising that good ball strikers, with just a few strokes to play with, came for the fore! Alan Davey (5) Pyecombe became The Golf Club Secretary – 19th Open Champion scoring a splendid 33pts, a point ahead of John ‘The Prophet’ Douglass (7) Liphook, with David Kelly (7) in third on countback and ‘local’ Martyn Senior (6) fourth on 31pts.

Alan has been a very loyal and well-travelled supporter of the Championship. All who were left to witness the presentation agreed we had a most worthy and genial winner. For others who didn’t fare so well there was the consolation of individual pies and delicious pudding and there is always another year; as with the Olympics it is ‘the taking part…’ Thanks to all the Finalists for their enthusiasm and their ability to enjoy themselves no matter what!

We have written to both Royal Birkdale and of course Hillside to thank all concerned for their part in a most enjoyable and, we believe, successful couple of days.

Mention too must be made of those who support The Golf Club Secretary – Open Championship and without whom it simply wouldn’t happen – Philip Vince of Majestic Crystal, Paul Mainstone of Mainstone Associates, Dean Poynter and Eddie Comerford of Eagle Promotions, Mike Harris and Chris O’Hagan of Golf Monthly, Rob Corcoran of Teeofftimes. IF you support them we’ll be here for
a long time to come!? And of course, not forgetting the video maestro himself Jezz Ellwood of Ellwood Golf & Media (more of Jezz’s video skills will be on-line very shortly).

The Golf Club Secretary – 19th Open Championship – Final

The GCS/Justin Rose Charity Challenge

Hillside Golf Club View Flickr Gallery