Northamptonshire’s 1st team season began with a friendly at Northampton Golf Club at Harlestone against Bedforshire. It was a chilly day and overcast for most of it with a chilling breeze throughout the day. The course looked in good condition despite being very early in the year, the rough wasn’t too punishing and the fairways were easily identifiable.
The first game of the season saw new captain Adam Myers take charge and a few new faces were introduced in the mix. The team comprised of Mikey Chambers, Charlie Salter, Miles Mudge, Tiger Adams, Joe Quinn, Liam McNeela, and debutants Max Hayward & Josh Pritchett. It must have been one of, if not the youngest first team ever to have played.
The morning foursomes consisted of 4 matches, followed by 8 singles matches in the afternoon. The matches got underway on time with Mikey Chambers & Charlie Salter in match one, Tiger Adams & Liam McNeela in match two, Joe Quinn & Josh Pritchett in match 3 and bringing up the rear Max Hayward & Miles Mudge.
The greens were going to be a challenge despite some friendly pin positions and patience was key. Charlie and Mikey played solid tee to green and maintained a comfortable lead throughout but unfortunately the putters went a bit cold on the back nine and they struggled to convert the necessary putts to finish the match off. The Beds team Captain Norman Cilliers and Seb Lovell fought back and holed a few putts for birdies down the stretch and the match finished all square.
Tiger and Liam were next up and came up against some strong opponents halving with pars at one and two birdies at holes three and four. Liam and Tiger won the 5th with a par before halving the 6th, losing the 7th and 8th to go one down. Tiger and Liam then kicked in birdieing holes 9,10 & 11 going 5 under for the day and 1 up. Unfortunately a few bogeys saw them 2 down with 3 to play. The lads had it all to do to secure a half and with big hearts they dug deep halving the 16th leaving just two to play. Beds went OOB on 17 which brought the match to 1 down with 1 to play. On the 18th green Tiger had a difficult right to left 15 footer to halve the match. It was a pure stroke and the ball was tracking nicely and fell into the cup and thus halving the match. A great result having been 2 down with 3 to play showing the competition that the Northants team have buckets of heart and determination.
Joe and Josh were up next with Josh making his debut. They were up against two extremely strong players in Scott Armitage and Olly Bryant from Beds. Pars and birdies were order of the day, however Joe and Josh found themselves 1 down after 5 and 3 down after 11 with some stiff approach shots from the beds pairing. Both Joe and Josh both kept their patience and showed maturity, belief and hung in there. A birdie on 12 saw the lads back to 2 down and 1 down after 14. They fell back to 2 down after 15 and knew they had it all to do to secure a half due to the outstanding play by the Beds duo. On the 16th tee Joe stiffed a 7 Iron to 5ft below the hole and Josh converted for the birdie winning the hole. The 17th was halved and Joe and Josh were 1 down with 1 to play. It was Joe to tee off first and out came the driver, it was 271 yards uphill into a cold breeze. As we stood near the 18th green Joe took his shot and we all lost the ball in the air until a few seconds later it landed 4ft short of the pin and almost rolled in for a one. This forced the Beds pair to do the same but unfortunately for them, their drive came up short right and OOB..Joe and Josh secured a half from the match with an outstanding finish by both young players.
The final foursomes were Max and Miles and they both played solid throughout the match. Max was extremely long off the tee and was consistently 20-30 yards ahead of the competition. It was however nip and tuck front nine with Max and Miles 1 up after 9. The back 9 saw our boys winning 12, 13 and 14 to go 4 up with 4 to play. A birdie on 15 sealed the match 5 & 3. With Miles usual consistency and Max’s long straight driving proved an unstoppable force for the Beds duo.
Foursomes results: Northants 2.5 – Beds 1.5
Over a welcome lunch break, Northants captain decided to put Mikey out first in the afternoon in the singles matches up against talented Jack Hawksby. Unfortunately Mikey went 3 down after 3 but then fought valiantly back by having an eagle on the 6th and birdies at 8 and 11 to bring the match back to all square. Jack made a few good putts on difficult greens and a misjudgement by Mikey on the 15th lead to a 2 & 1 loss.
Charlie Salter was next up to play against Seb Lovell. Lovell proved to be a very tough opponent and it was ebb and flow for most of the round and Cahrlie was 1 up going into 16. Seb hit his tee shot long left and virtually had an impossible up and down. Charlie hit a 7 iron just north of the pin spinning back to 10ft. Seb couldn’t make the par and the hole was conceded. Charlie was now 2 up with 2 to play. Seb’s tee shot was left side of the fairway with 120 left in. Charlie’s tee shot had a slight over fade and drifted into the right rough behind the two pine trees with 137 to the pin. Charlie played a truly superb shot over the trees with a controlled fade to 15ft above right of the pin. Sebs ball came up short from the pin by 25ft. Seb showed he wasn’t giving up and holed the putt leaving Charlie a tricky 15 footer to halve the hole and win the match. Charlie kept his nerve and made a pure putt which tracked all the way dropping in the cup and thus winning the match.
Liam McNeela was up next against Greg Osborne. Liam was in a buoyant confident mood for the singles match looking fresh from lunch and ready for the challenge. It was a very close game toing and froing and both players playing well. Liam just had the edge over Greg and his positive body language was evident 500 yards away. Liam ended up securing his match 2&1.
Tiger Adams was next against Olly Bryant who played some outstanding golf for Beds in the morning foursomes, so Tiger had it all to do. Tiger lost the first hole, but immediately returned fire with birdies on 2 and 3 to go 1 up. Tiger continued his good form and another birdie at 5 put him 2 up. A win at 6 saw him 3 up, and still 3 up heading to the 8th. A par at 9 was enough to make the turn 4 up and birdies at 10,11 and 12 saw him win 7&6. Superb golf from Tiger, outstanding.
Joe Quinn vs Luke Bareham in the next match. Joe started well by winning the first hole with a birdie. A superb 4 iron from Joe to 6ft on the par 5 3rd saw him 2 up having secured the eagle. Joe was 6 under gross after 12 and walking with a spring in his step being 4 up. Luke fought back and got the match back to 2 up after 16 to Joe. Joe won the 17th securing a 3 & 1 victory.
Josh Pritchett was up next against Scott Armitage. Both made bogeys on the first and then Scott followed up with 2 birdies with Josh also making a birdie on 3 Josh was one down. An errant shot off the tee saw Josh 2 down. Josh’s putter went slightly cold and missed a few birdie opportunities and was 2 down after 10. Scott went on to birdie 11,12 and 13 and Josh found himself 5 down with 5 to play. Scott was 6 under through 14 and a very tough competitor on the day. Josh played extremely well and his driving was true and long. Had a few putts rolled in it would have been a different story for Josh.
Max Hayward Vs Norman Cilliers. It’s fair to say that Max dominated this match with an early lead which Max maintained throughout with scattered birdies. An eagle on 11 putting the match within arms reach and securing a 6 & 5 victory for Northants.
Mile Mudge vs Paul Kenna brought up the rear to complete the singles. Miles got up early in the match with a kick in birdie on the first and managed to keep his momentum going throughout the match. A long par putt on the second halved the hole which is always an energy sucker for any opponent. A birdie on the par 5 3rd secured that hole going 2 up and with Paul making mistakes, Miles took full advantage with his experience to go 3 up. Another birdie on the 6th got Miles to 4 up. A slightly tugged drive on the 8th going into the left rough left a shot that can only be described as Seve-esque as other players had been in the same place and could only manage 20ft from the pin. His opponent must have felt he’d won that hole but Miles somehow stiffed it to a few feet and won the hole incredibly to go 5 up. Both birdied the 9th and Miles holed 20 footer on 10 to go 6 up. Miles piled on the pressure and eagled the 11th to go 7 up and was 7 under. A par was good enough on the 12th to win 7 & 6. Awesome golf.
Singles results: Northants 6 – Beds 2
Totals – Northants 8.5 – Beds 3.
This was truly an excellent team performance from the Northants team and it was mentioned by their president and captain how young and talented our team were. It was an extremely enjoyable day and every Northants player contributed towards the result and gelled well with the pairings with some good banter afterwards by Charlie. Both sides had great respect for each team and Beds were in awe of Northants young talent. Great pairings from our captain and great support from Adam throughout the day making sure each player received individual and equal attention which isn’t as easy as it sounds sometimes.
A massive thank you to all the players who gave it their all and securing a win for the county..well done boys!!
Joint 1st Team Manager