First away weekend for the collective swindle – the “Swashbucklers” and “The Originals” were up for match. A Sunday/Monday overnight stay saw us visit Dale Hill Golf Club, just below Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Dale Hill has two courses, the Old Course and the more famous Woosnam, and is owned by the same company who own The Oxfordshire and Sandon Hills (and previously, Chart Hills).
Team Captain Phil for the Swashies, and Graham Loveless for The Originals both pulled together two teams of 12 for a singles and pairs match. A modest bet on for each day’s team result and again for overall.
I’m afraid we found the condition of both courses in a poor state. Tee boxes across all holes were not good, the fairways across the Woosnam all cracked and being resurfaced, a small practice area and many greenside areas not looking good. The Old Course had been hollow tined and sanded in the last week, but not all negative, at least the Woosnam greens were better and rolling fairly well. I won’t go on about the course conditions, its obvious that they are having big challenges there with the recent weather (and defintely not alone in this), just a bit unfortunate for us on our inaugural Swindle trip away.
Worth adding that the clubhouse and hotel were both nice, swimming pool given the thumbs up from some, and we all stayed in a very nice newly refurbished accommodation block.
Day 1 – Old Course
Scoring format of both days was ‘Surrey Hills’ – i.e., you play all 18 holes in points-matchplay… 1pts for win, 0.5 for a half. We were in fourballs but played singles matches in our groups in Day 1. Day 2 was paired betterball matches… and obviously site bets for buying drinks.
Both days were quite warm and mild. Breezy on Saturday, cooler and some light drizzle, but Monday was quite still and quite humid.
First groups all headed out from the elevated first tee alongside an ominous right out of bounds. In our singles matches, Sean and I took on Simon C and Graham Loveless respectively. Simon played well but will long remember Sean’s chip for a gimmie 4 on the picturesque par3 15th after being knees deep in the rubbish off the tee. Their match finishing in a fighting half.
Putting not great on those greens and nothing really of note dropped from any of us. Down by 2holes very early on from Mr Loveless’s gritty play, I was fairly solid off the tee and ground things out eventually coming to the final 3 holes 4-up having won the previous 2. So I had some momentum but fair play to Graham who then dug deep to halve each the final holes.
Round of the day appears to have been Danny “Big levers” Betts, who’s golf was being praised by Pam. Pam was convinced he was barely 3 over gross especially as she was on the receiving end of being 6down. Result helped to offset Sharon’s solid 7 hole win against Mr Feez. Well played Sharon. Goes to show how this format works so well in a team event. Originals pair take a singles win, and the Swashies peg one back.
End of Day 1, Swashies found themselves 13 up. A decent score yes, however I was reminding people that really is only 2 big pairs win the next day so all the play for.
Nice food and drinks in the evening… for some strange reason we quickly had the whole of the clubhouse bar area to ourselves that “quiet” Sunday evening.
Day 2 – Woosnam Course
A few weary heads around at the decent breakfast next morning and we all setup for a late morning tee on the Woosnam course. We’d been told there was pick n’ place on fairways around the large cracked surfaces. Layered turf had been burnt and shrivelled back to expose the long cracks. Work had been started – and as a result we couldn’t play the par5 18th, but replayed the 2nd hole instead. (In my opinion a better hole anyway).
Sean and I faced up against Pam and Asif and we had a good game. We all did ok, however was Asif very solid throughout. Pam and Sean coming undone in a couple of bunkers and a couple of loose tee shots from me and as a pair Sean and I felt we were always against it. Of note were some of Asif’s short irons and chip shots – very impressive, always to almost gimmie distance which we had to see in! Last effort and I managed a good birdie on the last hole for the hole and we came in 1 down… tough match.
Originals had a great day.
Lee Snashers and Janine scored well against Jim and Phil, Sharon (….oh, and Graham of course) doing the damage against our low handicap pairing of the Northern Petal and Tweedy.
With Sean and I finishing 1 down match, we now had 3 losses in a row. However, things soon changed with Richie and Danny winning against Bryan and Boney, then Simon B and Mark bought in the win against Backdoor and the Yeti. With the overall looking safe, we were 2 down on the day and last match still to come in. Seemed the last hole turned a couple of matches, and I think I heard that Al Lampost knocked in a long putt on the last to win their match by 3 … the one result we needed to just sneak day2.
Big thanks to Phil and Graham for organising their respective teams.
Everyone had a great couple of days, conditions aside, it was a good away trip and always nice to play somewhere else. I hope next year plans are afoot for another inter-Swindle away day somewhere.