Thursday, 30 September 2010

Old Classics

After Brancepeth four of us travelled south to play two classic inland courses: Woodhall Spa and Moortown – using one of the benefits of being captain, free rounds at other courses (not at all courses, but most, and certainly those two: people say that the courtesy should apply in the year after being captain, because you don’t have the time to use it, but I’ll do my best to get good value).

Both courses also had extra bits of history: Woodhall Spa is the home of the English Golf Union, which owns the course: in effect we as golf club members own it; Moortown was where the first Ryder Cup match was played in the UK, in 1929.
Woodhall is a lovely heathland course which had a couple of advantages compared to Bamburgh: it's flat and it wasn’t windy. But it has exceedingly large bunkers. I’m pleased to say I had a birdie on the first hole, which set the scene for 18 points on the front nine and 15 on the back. Mike Robinson and I (southerners) played John Southern and Keith Whitfield (northerners). After a close start, we were three down with four to play but managed to halve on the 18th. I won’t go through each shot, but they were mostly very satisfying, as was the Chateau Musar in the evening. Continuing to focus on important issues, Woodhall also had a half-way house, something I think we should think about one day.

Moortown was tough; I only had a par on the first (Keith had a birdie) and then didn’t score for ages.. Mike and I were four down after seven holes. But then things turned as we won eight holes in a row. I had an inspirational – some might say outrageous – birdie to put us level; after mis-hitting my second onto the next fairway 150 yards from the green, I hit a lofted wood low (very low) over the rough, between the bunkers and into the pin so hard that it was loud to me 150 yards away. It dropped. Golf is a psychological game. Having got 11 points on the front nine, and two down, I thought the course was disappointing. After getting 11 points on the back nine, but with that birdie and a par, and finishing four and three, I thought it was great. And the Ryder Cup memorabilia was fascinating.
I’d recommend a stay at Woodhall Spa for the village, the course and the hotel. The title “Old classics”, by the way, refers to the courses not the players.

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