As part of the Golf Foundation’s 70th anniversary celebrations, the charity and the Association of Golf Writers (AGW) were delighted to meet again to play their 34th match at The Berkshire Golf Club (June 7), where they received a splendid welcome.
The match was dedicated to former Chairman of the Golf Foundation, Charles Harrison, and long-term Trustee of the charity and member of The Berkshire, Stephen Proctor, who both sadly passed away in the last 12 months.
The fixture was held after a break of two years due to the challenges of the pandemic, thus continuing the unique match first played in 1987. Every year it serves as a great way for the Golf Foundation to connect with golf writers and discuss its programmes that can create more young golfers from all backgrounds and help change the lives of young people.
Hosted by the Golf Foundation this year and contested by teams of eight over a beautifully presented ‘Blue Course’, plenty of flair and resilience from both sides ultimately led to a 2-2 match draw in this fourball pairs format, and this means the Golf Foundation now retain the trophy until 2023, having won in 2019.
However, only a couple of shots either way and this elegant silver ink-pot and quill trophy would indeed have been back on an AGW desk. First up, a gritty, hard-won match on the 18th (1-up) secured a first blow to the AGW, thanks to the tenacity of Colin Harding and Adrian Milledge against dangerous low single-figure players Nick Bragg and Jim Brigden.
A second point for the scribes was earned by Captain Peter Dixon and Bill Elliott; Dixon’s driving described as ‘tour standard’ in accuracy while Elliott’s fine shot-making stood out. The Foundation’s Mark Coughlan and Ben Evans matched the Writers’ play for 14 holes before surrendering to a 3&1 scoreline.
But the Golf Foundation team would soon rally: first Chairman Stephen Lewis and Sally Stewart brought their best games to beat Patricia Davies and Andy Farrell, despite the latter pair’s own good play, winning on the 15th green 4&3; while the AGW’s Colin Callander and Rob Perkins dovetailed solidly but couldn’t hold Foundation CEO and Captain Brendon Pyle and skillful partner Alan Watkins, as the pair won the match equalising point on the 18th green (2-up).
The match history now stands at 16 wins for the AGW, six draws, and 12 wins for the Golf Foundation.
Foundation Chairman Stephen Lewis thanked all the staff at The Berkshire for their support in hosting the day. He added: “Our Golf Foundation team loves this match as it offers the chance to meet much-valued friends whose skill in writing and reporting helps our charity to bring all the benefits of golf to young people, and encourage many children to start a life in golf. Today we were able to talk about our work in seeking to make the game more inclusive, and our offering greater wellbeing for youngsters through golf at this challenging time. It was also a huge pleasure to talk golf again to the Writers after two years without this match due to postponements because of Covid-19.”
AGW Captain Peter Dixon said: “It was fantastic to meet up for this match with the Golf Foundation again and we couldn’t have enjoyed a better venue than the Blue Course. It’s a wonderful course – again, thanks to the whole team at The Berkshire – and we all relished the experience of playing here while learning more about the Foundation’s team and their great work in helping young people through golf in the UK. I’d like to thank my team for their excellent efforts today and we really look forward to hosting another great match next year.”
Nick Bragg & Jim Brigden (GF) lost to Colin Harding & Adrian Milledge (AGW) 1-UP
Mark Coughlan & Ben Evans (GF) lost to Peter Dixon & Bill Elliott (AGW) 3&1
Stephen Lewis & Sally Stewart (GF) beat Patricia Davies & Andy Farrell (AGW) 4&3
Brendon Pyle & Alan Watkins (GF) beat Colin Callander & Rob Perkins (AGW) 2-UP
Nearest-the-flag prize: Adrian Milledge
Longest drive prize: Nick Bragg