The players named in the Hertfordshire squad this year were Anna Collis, Nicola Callander, Micaela Du Plessis, Helena Holland, Holly Hunter, Kelly Hutcherson ( Captain ), Alison Leake, Bronagh O’Keeffe, Millie Pratten, Hannah Screen and Esther Strous. This group included five newcomers, three of whom are junior golfers, who were about to meet probably the biggest challenge of their golfing career.
Hunstanton golf course has a long history and has hosted many prestigious championships, ranking 59 in the top 100 course in the country. During County Match Week the course was particularly dry, the area having had little rain since November. Now with the excessive heat, the fairways were crisp and brown, allowing the ball to run much further than usual bringing many of the deep revetted bunkers into play. Many holes run between the dunes providing excellent viewing points. There was plenty of undulation on both the greens and fairways so plenty of factors to consider during your round. The motto for the week was decidedly “stay away from the bunkers, ignore at your peril!”
We left home on a day when temperatures were forecast to reach at least 30 degrees but all the time thinking a course running along the coast would have a nice sea breeze to allow a pleasant afternoon learning the course. How wrong we were! So, after a few very slow holes in terrific heat, the team decided to walk some of the holes and concentrate on the par threes to conserve energy for the following day’s match against Norfolk.
The next day proved to be just as hot and with only eight of the squad available, most of our players were going to have to play morning and afternoon. In the foursomes for Norfolk, the successful mother and daughter Williamson team won the first point, but our most successful pairing of the week, Nicola and Kelly, soon levelled the score.
We were 2-1 down at lunch with all to play for. Again the Williamsons gained a point each in the singles, Hannah was one up coming down the 18th but had to settle for a half as her opponent slotted in a putt for a birdie. Anna rallied at the end of her match to secure another half. Unfortunately we ended the day losing the match 4-5, thinking what might have been!
Tuesday started out much cooler with a good cloud cover, much to everyone’s relief but the strong wind that arrived during the day made clubbing very difficult. The opponents were Cambs and Hunts often thought to be the weaker county. There were wins for Bronagh and Helena, Anna and Millie in the morning, the other foursomes was halved. At lunch we were up 2.5 to 0.5 but by our afternoon starting time the wind was reaching its peak. There were wins for Anna, Kelly and a 7/6 win for Bronagh which clinched the match 5.5 to 3.5 but the other players were left wondering just how to manage the wind.
Wednesday saw the match against Bedfordshire, who had beaten Cambs & Hunts 7-1, so we knew their players had the potential to win. The wind had dropped and the sun was out again. Anna and Bronagh had a strong finish for a 1 up win, our only point in the morning.
When the first two singles failed to score a point we were relying on the end of the field. Wins for Esther, Bronagh and Kelly left Nicola going all the way to the 18th and playing well to gain a half. The final score for the day was a draw, Herts 4.5 – Beds 4.5.
Our rivals of recent years were next, Essex. Another windy day, but this time from the SW so more rethinking to do! With only a few holes played the thunder started, down came the rain and play was suspended for thirty minutes. Kelly and Nicola, and the young pairing of Holly and Micaela managed to win. Up again at lunch but Essex are good at fighting back and only Anna and Kelly, who both had excellent wins, were able to add to our score. After a promising start to the day we had to concede a 4-5 defeat.
It was now clear Suffolk was in the driving seat, but other results were possible. The Norfolk and Essex Captains came over to wish us good luck as our result was crucial to their success.
The conditions were quite chilly and the wind was back with a vengeance. The foursomes only brought us one point, a win for Kelly and Esther. In the afternoon Bronagh playing Alice Barlow, the Suffolk county champion, and Anna playing Fiona Edmond, the British Seniors champion, pulled off remarkable wins. The 18th had not been our friend during the week and Kelly came to this hole 1 up but her ball agonisingly rolled off the edge of the green and the final result was a half. The final match result was Herts 3.5 – Suffolk 5.5.
Suffolk will represent the East Region in the English Counties finals at Felixstowe in September - we wish them luck.
This year the Mary Oliver brooch for the most wins during County Match Week was retained by Kelly Hutcherson (Welwyn Garden City) with seven wins and I am pleased to announce that Anna Collis ( Letchworth ) was awarded her County Colours for reaching a total of eight wins over the past two years. Well done to both of you.Jane WalterCounty Captain25 June 2017