The 9th Challenge Trophy was held again at Five Lakes Hotel and Golf Resort near Colchester in late July.
As always Simon Greig and Mark Fleming represented BBUK and Neill Birch and Steve Pilbeam represented A W Champion.
With both of Brooks drives finding the bunkers on the 1st hole it was a nervy start but the hole was halved in very strong winds. On the 2nd hole, Mark’s 3 wood drive hit the hyperspace button and was lost to the wheat fields. Steve hit a long but maybe lost ball which was found and in decent shape but Simon secured the win to take first blood to BBUK. At the 4th Par 3, they took to the tee all square but with strong crosswinds, all four of the players missed the green with good up and downplay from Neill and Steve securing the hole for Champions.
Champions went 2 up at the 6th and 3 up at the 7th playing some steady golf despite the heavy and squally rainstorms.
BBUK steadied the ship halving the next two holes and going into the back nine 3 down. Despite Mark making a par on the 10th, it was still only good enough to secure a ½ after Steve played a great 3 wood second shot to the front of the green.
At the 11th (BBUK sponsored hole) Mark hit a solid 9 iron onto the green and secured the hole to bring it back to 2 down as Steve and Neill failed to find the green from the tee.
On to the 12th tee (where Mark has lost his ball from the drive, every time in the last 3 years …) today alas was no different! Unfortunately, Simon’s drive just found the bushes and he had to hack out. Another hole to Champions getting them back to + 3.
With a combination of steady straight drives from Neill and great putting from Steve, Champions stood on the 15th tee at +4 and on the verge of a long-awaited victory. Despite two good drives from Brooks, Steve had a long 14ft putt from the edge of the green for victory…the perfectly struck putt hit the heart of the hole and broke the hearts of the Brooks pair, who suffered the worst defeat in the 9 years of the competition. Champions had taken the glory 5 up with 3 to play.
Another tremendous day with happy memories (except Mark’s golf) and the coveted trophy has a new home for JUST 12 months!
Next morning, Tom Ford replaced Mark, (much to Simon’s delight!) and the battle resumed, playing for the “Hangover Cup”.
The Brooks boys started well, with Tom playing some of his best golf. On the 7th Tom smashed a blind 4 iron 242 yards to the front of the green. Although the hole was only halved, it still ended up being the shot of the day!
At the turn Brooks were 4 up and feeling rather confident, then Steve managed to pull a terrific 2nd shot out of the bag and won the 10th. At the 15th Brooks were 3 up, and with only Neill and Simon left in play it all came down to a 15ft putt from Neill to keep Champions dreams alive! Finally, at the 16th the Brooks boys won the hole, winning the match 4 up with 2 to play.