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  • Craig Markham

Club Championship's new face

Collier Park - Lakes Pines

(No pics on the day so will need some from the presentation night)

The last two weeks of the season were dedicated to the Club Championship which are the most prestigious trophies on the calendar. If you only win one thing, this is that ‘thing’ you want.

As usual the Handicap Championship is anyone’s to win and with the Open Championship the potential winners are in realty halved, however it's ultra competitive and the slightest error can cost you.

There were many players practicing during the week and hitting balls before each round, this included myself that spent many hours on the driving range mid week . Others weren’t that bothered and stuck with the usual routine of turning up and playing to the best of their ability on the day. This turned out to be the best method.

In the first week the Handicap side of thing was really even across the board with a number of great scores with the lowest being two 68’s. The Open side a few issues with previous winners Norn and Mike not doing all that well on 88, this left a few of the mid range golfers with good days right up amongst the leaders and only a couple of shots off the pace, Nigel, Hammo, Matt and Mike Newman were the main ones there. Johnny was his relaxed self and had an 80, myself had an 81 that looked like 101 and the ever consistent Mitch was hovering a couple of shots off. Dave Ovel was a high price favourite but couldn’t make week one due to other commitments

Unfortunately a few more dropped out of week 2 due to work, injury and other engagements, Norm, Mike Patton and Mike Newman to name a few.

Week 2 was interesting as the playing groups were sorted by score from the previous week, so myself and Johnny could keep an eye on each other. We both had very different preparation, I practiced 2 hours a day, Johnny didn’t, I went to bed early, Johnny was out until 2 am. Turned out to be interesting as Johnny was relaxed and I had over practiced to form new bad habits which I couldn’t fix on the run, missing every fairway, rarely on in two and it was just a lucky short game that kept me in it. Johnny on the hand was driving superbly, even one he butchered into the bush popped out onto the middle of the fairway. Still 240 out he then hit a rescue club around the corner to 3 meters from the flag Meanwhile, me trying to play safe, hit things and went deep bush and I had to hit backwards or side ways. That all equated to a 4 shot lead at the half way point.

Next hole, my birdie lipped out and Johnny made a longish putt for a 7, lead was two. Next hole we both let slip with doubles. Next hole my birdie lipped out and Johnny got up and down for a 3 and it was one shot lead. Coming down the long Lakes 4th I crunched my drive long, he went bush and hit sides, my second was short his third was just off the green and away from the hole, he sank that putt to go back up by two. Over the water I was short of the hole, with a 3 meter up hill putt, he was way high on the right side of the green having to hit down and across the slope. My birdie missed by an inch he put his within a foot. Matt Gibson broke some kind of record as his ball nearly went in on the full and finished agonisingly close to the hole on the high side. It's amazing it didn’t roll back that extra 5 cm or so for a hole in one. It's the closest I have seen in a very long time.

Coming into the 8th it was tied. We both were indecisive about what to hit, I went first with a 9 iron and hit it slightly left which left it about one foot short of the green and plugged in the face. That took two to get out of, Johnny sank a massive pressure putt again to make Par and take a two shot lead into the last hole. He had a little trouble on the way to the green of the Par 5 ninth, his 5th shot on from about 50 out just missed the big bunkers by a foot and rolled to the edge. Already sensing defeat, I putted my 5th casually from about 6 meters and unexpectedly sank it. Johnny need his 5 meters putt for an outright win or take a 7 for a tie, and like he did all day he sank it for the win. That putt secured not only the Open by the Handicap title as well. His play under pressure was just sensational, long putts, great chips and dangerous angles on drives which he seemed to do in his sleep. It's only the 8th time and I think the 5th person to win both which is the pinnacle of achievement within the club. I'd like to say I added to the pressure playing with Johnny having being around a while now but it didn’t seem to bother him, although I was one to two shots off all day it felt 10. He was that consistent. Congratulations to him, it was great two weeks and congratulations to all the other winners.

Special mention to Nigel as well as he took home the putt off !!! Well done mate, it should cover your Medicare gap on your sliced up finger. I hope that gets better soon.

On behalf of myself, thanks for great year under strange times, we made some changes this year to our regular day to day business which had worked out for the better and may be adopted in years moving forward. Next year I am hoping someone else puts their hand up for the Captain role to give me a break and also assists in succession planning. Myself and others will be around to lend an hand if you are a bit hesitant to jump in, so don’t be shy to nominate.

I want to thank everyone else on the committee as well for their efforts, in particular those having to do dual roles (Dave) and Basil for keeping track of all the electronic transfers, which is a daily task and new for the club. See you all at the dinner or next year

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