Sunday 7th April – Northampton Golf Club

Team: Tom Burgh (Peterborough Milton), Jack Binch (Overstone Park), Jordan Darnell (Wellingborough), Ryan Genner (Overstone Park), Jay Noye (Peterborough Milton), Harry Oddy (Northamptonshire County), Taylor Sargeant (Kingsthorpe) and Owen Watts (Northamptonshire County)

Northampton golf club welcomed us for our first friendly of the 2019 county golf season. The second team looking to build on last season where a number of new players made their county golf debuts and really push for league honours this year. Warwickshire, our opposition, would provide a stern test as they are a large county playing in a strong league. Their captain also informed me on the morning that they were slightly short of players so had a couple of first team players fill the gaps.

Morning Foursomes

Owen Watts and Jordan Darnell played the experienced pair of Paul Walker and Lewis Phillips in match 1. Lewis was new to the Warwickshire side and plays full time in the army. This was a game of the highest quality with both sides making lots of birdies, The Northants pair were around one or two under par when they went down 2&1.

Tom Burgh and Jay Noye took on former first team captain Stu Bloxham and Dan Bardsley . Stu had been a first teamer for a number of years as had Dan. Tough pair to draw, but the Milton pair gave it their all. They were 1 up through 6 before losing five holes in a row around the middle of the course. A late rally at the end wasn’t quite enough and they ended up losing 2&1.

Bad start. 2-0 down after 2 games, déjà vu all over again.

Fear not. Match 3 saw Taylor Sargeant and Jack Binch play Cam Bridger and Chris Staite. Sometimes as a non-playing captain you can see things unfolding in a certain way and in this match it was all good things. Each time I turned up to watch, Jack and Taylor made birdie and always looked in control. The tide began to turn with a 2&1 win.

The final match saw Ryan Genner and Harry Oddy pitched against Ben Goodison and Nev Gardner. Harry looked especially bright-eyed and bushy tailed after a nice early night before the game and Ryan doesn’t lose foursomes. The Northants pair played some good stuff and ended up with the biggest victory of the morning, winning 3&2.

Lunchtime score 2-2

Afternoon Singles

Taylor Sargeant played Stu Bloxham in game one, with Stu showing his first team pedigree. Stu birdied the 3rd and didn’t drop a single shot en route to a 4&3 win. Good to see Taylor back playing and volunteering for a really tough game.

Jay Noye probably had the hardest game of all in taking on Lewis Phillips. Jay got to 2 under through 12 and was still 2 under when he went down 3&2. Tough school.

Having lost the first two singles games we needed a win, step up Owen Watts who played against Paul Walker. Paul had been first team material for some time so it shows where I think Owen is heading as he dispatched him 2&1. Owen will be rewarded with a run out in the first team in the next friendly. Well deserved.

Ryan Genner played Cam Bridger in game 4. Ryan has started to accumulate an impressive amount of points in the second team and is getting a reputation as the team’s postman. A 2&1 win and 2 points..Another decent outing.

Jack Binch played Dan Bardsley in game 5 but sadly ran in to a man in form. A 6&5 loss was harsh on Jack but sometimes there isn’t much you can do.

Harry Oddy took on Chris Staite in game 6 which looked like a rollercoaster game with lots of birdies but not many halves. It was all square through 10 before Harry got a really strange hand injury where it swelled up and made it hard to grip the club. Harry battled on brought the pain but wasn’t quite the same and eventually went down 2&1.

Now the situation was getting precarious. 6-4 down with 2 games left…

Slightly out of order, for effect, game 8 saw Jordan Darnell take on Nev Gardner. Jordan looked at home playing Harlestone and drove the ball great as always. He had a good 30 to 40 yards on his opponent, although to be fair Jordan is probably 30 years younger at least. Despite a broken club on the 8th, from a very dedicated bunker shot close to the lip in the fairway, Jordan ran out a 4&3 winner.

6-5, all down to Tom Burgh playing number 7.

Tom Burgh played Ben Goodison in game 7 and this was the last match on the course and the game was crucial to try and save a draw. Tom was 2up with 2 to play so all looking rosy. A half in either of the last two holes and it would be a good result against a strong team. What could go wrong…

17th tee, dormie 2up… this hole is 5 iron and a wedge, even for someone of my limited hitting power. Imagine my surprise to see Tom hitting his second shot from 200 yards out. What’s going on here?? Uh oh, it was a shank that had ricocheted back in bounds of the tee. Although quite lucky it did lead to a bogey which meant Tom was 1up with 1 to play.

18th tee, dormie 1up… this hole is also a 5 iron and a wedge, unless you losing, or unless you’ve just piped it on 17. His opponent attempted to drive the green but missed it on the left hand side. Tom then hit a soft cut with driver, where all the danger is on the right. If this was last season it would have probably been an unhappy ending…. Not this year. Tom’s ball finished 10 feet from the pin. 2up win, never in doubt, well maybe a bit.

A 6-6 draw against a large county fielding a number of first teamers. Good stuff and a marked improvement on last year’s friendly.