A somewhat biased and possibly less than objective match report from the Men’s Captain
“Men dominate the afternoon singles after a dominant ladies morning”
With the sun trying to poke through the cloud cover I made my way to the club on Sunday morning for what I knew could be the most contested internal competition of my year as Club Captain – the Gender Cup.
Before the day the ladies certainly had been doing all they could to raise the stakes: the previous week at Sutton Green one of their key players was so confident that that she offered me a wager on the winning team. How could I not accept? In the lead up the ladies were not giving an inch on anything. They would be playing in their traditional red team shirts and any suggestion of the men playing in their red team shirts was not going to be accommodated. With only one win and a draw over the previous years I was not sure that this had brought them any particularly luck. What was clear was that the ladies were taking this very seriously and I had to accept my year as Club Captain could be defined, in part at least, as a year that the men lost the Gender Bragging Rights.
I arrived at the club shortly after 7.30am but my day didn’t start too well drawing some criticism from other members that the Gender Cup hadn’t been properly advertised to the rest of the club. However, having drawn together a team taken from the men’s committee, the husbands and partners of the ladies section, our Senior’s Captain and a single pick from my swindle I was very pleased with the team and felt it had a reasonable representation across the club. Nevertheless I took the comments on board for further thought later on.
By 8.30am the men’s team had mostly assembled at the club. On the whole everyone seemed upbeat and well up for the day’s 27 hole competition. However, one of the key players in the squad and its lowest handicapper did not have the best start to his day breaking his trolley’s axle on the way down to the club house. I kept thoughts about wheels already coming off to myself. Another was running late and his morning partner was leaving urgent messages for him outside the club house. As I gave the team pep talk in the Sport’s lounge we certainly seemed to be more chaotic with two of the men’s team missing when compared to the oasis of calm and organisation that was the ladies team on the other side of the club house with their fine collection of sweets and cakes.
At 8.40am I called out the running order for the morning pairs with the ladies team captain, Jane Macve. I knew myself and Geoff Russon would be out first and we were picked against my mixed partner Carol and Pauline Renshaw. Both formidable golfers! Jane had also kept her lowest handicappers Teresa and Daisy back in the order and had paired them up. They were drawn against Steve and Senior’s Captain David Crouch.
I felt it was important to lead from the front and get an early point on the scoreboard for the men. Through 5 holes myself and Geoff were one up but it should have been at least two or more with missed winning putts on the 1st, 2nd and 5th. With losses on the 7th and 8th and a tight back nine meant that Carol and Pauline went into the 18th one up. Giving a shot away to the ladies added an extra challenge if we were to win the last hole for the draw. As we walked up to the tee box we were surprised to see the pairs from the final match already on the 18th tee! We were duly informed that first blood had already gone to the men with Dave L and Dr Golf winning against Jane and Beatriz. Knowing the precarious position in my own match and that things were not going well behind us in match two for Sean and Denzil it would all come down to the other matches to keep it close.
Geoff hit a very good drive but my second 5 wood shot veered towards the pond and was caught in the reeds meaning any realistic chance of drawing our match was all but over. By the time the third match was in the men were 3-1 down. Match 4 was then coming in that had the dangerous pairing of Teresa and Daisy. David C and Steve had turned in a much needed win for the men but this turned out to be our last point of the morning.
The ladies had taken the morning foursomes convincingly 5-2 and as we went into lunch they were clearly very pleased with the situation.
Over lunch comments about whether any of the skirts on the pro shop rail would fit me weren’t improving my mood which remained sombre while I reflected on the playing order for the afternoon singles. Mr Adams was concerned about his back and that he may even have to pull out of the afternoon singles. I knew I had Graham in the last match to hopefully bring in what might be the deciding winning – do I bring him forward or leave as is? I decided to leave as is but made a single change swapping Geoff and Dennis in the playing order.
The ladies had decided to bring the afternoon’s tee time forward and we were shortly calling out the afternoon playing order for the afternoon singles 9 holes match play. With 14 points up for grabs we were soon back on the course under a very blue sky. Sean opened up the first match against Jane and I was against Beatriz in match two.
Despite dropping early holes both matches went down the 9th all square with both Sean and I giving shots away. Sean won his match and I drew mine narrowly missing a 7 foot par putt for the win. The gap was now closed to 2 points, 3½ to 5½. A better start!
Geoff held Tracey to a draw and Steve beat Lindsay. 5-6. Phil beat Pam and Jerry drew his match against Margaret by winning the last hole. The teams were now tied at 6½ points.
Dave C and Dave L were in next both winning their matches against Carol and Pauline. 8½ – 6½. I failed miserably to hide my pleasure at how things were going.
After 8 matches the ladies had yet to have a win and the ladies camp in the club house seemed somewhat subdued and their team captain had taken off in her buggy. Myself, Jerry, Phil and Sean took to the patio tables to watch the drama unfold on the 9th green.
Bronwen came off the course winning the ladies first match (match 9) of the afternoon against Brian. Bob had dug deep to minimise the damage halving his match against Indra despite being dormie 3 down (what resolve!). 9 to the men / 8 to the ladies with 4 matches on the course.
Dennis and Joe then came in with wins: 11-8. The Gender cup was won with two matches to come in. I needed a Doombar!
Denzil and Graham A came home with another two points beating Teresa and Daisy. I also believe Denzil made a very large personal sacrifice for the next two years by beating Teresa that redefines the meaning of “taking one for the team”.
This took the afternoon result to 11-3 and the overall result to 13-8. The ladies had secured just one win and 4 halves in the afternoon.
Much male merriment ensued and I had a permanent smile on my face for the remainder of the day.
My eternal gratitude goes out to all of the men for this outstanding result and a special mention for David Little, Stephen McNally, David Crouch and Joe Krarup who won all of their matches. At the same time as the Gender Cup the juniors were playing their championship and I had the enjoyable task of helping with the presentations. Time was getting on and Jane suggested doing the presentations that evening at her house where most people were going back for something to eat.
Many thanks to Jane and Phil for their hospitality and while we didn’t get around to doing any presentations that evening I am sure we will be able to do something soon. However, the important achievement was that the men retained the bragging rights for another year.
As I left the ladies were dancing in Phil’s dining room and I thought to myself “I wonder what they would be doing if they had actually won?”
I wish next year’s Gender Cup Captain all the very best.