An eight-man team from each of the four competing Counties, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland and South of Scotland contested their championship at Powfoot Golf Club on Wednesday 1 August. The format was the best six scores from the morning round and the afternoon round with the lowest aggregate determining the winners.
After the recent rains the course was in immaculate condition with the greens true and fast. The weather was a strong breeze from the south in the morning accompanied by heavy rain in the afternoon. A considerable challenge for the thirty-two boys, many of whom were only playing the course for the second time.
One of the South boys had to call off unwell early in the morning and Ben Marshall was recruited at the last minute to take his place.
First out to brave the elements in the morning was Jamie Marchbank (D&G) who had a fine outward nine, marred by a triple bogey at seven, and a score of 40, five over par. He played the first six holes of the backward nine in one over par but finished badly with three bogeys for a total of 79. Ciaran Howat (D&C) had a marvellous first nine holes in 35, level par, but he too finished badly with seven dropped shots in the last five holes and also had to settle for 79.
Kaleb Johnston (Portpatrick) had a front nine of 37, two over par, but leaked shots on the way home on the greens made difficult by the strong cross-wind. An inward nine of 43 gave him a total of 80. A confidence building outward nine of 38 from David Sharp (D&C) was offset over the more difficult inward nine for a score of 44 and a first round of 82.
The ever improving Callum McMillan (Kirkcudbright) had a disastrous start dropping six shots in the first three holes but fought back to be seven over par at the turn. His fightback continued on the back nine which he navigated in two over par for a respectable total of 79. After hitting his tee shot out of bounds on the first, Sam Mitchell (Portpatrick) settled down quickly and played the first nine holes in 40, five over par. Two birdies and two bogeys on the second nine produced a score of 35, level par, and he signed for a total of 75, the best round of the morning by a South player.
Ben Marshall (D&C) only just made his tee time after his journey from Dumfries and unsurprisingly got off to a bad start. An outward nine of 60 was followed by a much better backward nine of 44 and a total of 104. Finlay Copland (D&G), not at his best after the long wait to start, dropped five shots going out but seven shots coming home and had to settle for 82.
The six best scores from the South boys for the morning round totalled 474 and put them in third place.
The rain started just after lunch and accompanied by the strong breeze made scoring very difficult. Jamie Marchbank again led the South boys and again played the first nine in 40 blows. This was followed by 38 blows for the second nine and a total of 78. Ciaran Howat had a steady outward nine of 38 and a steady inward nine except for the fourteenth hole where he dropped four shots and finished with 81.
Kaleb Johnston beat his first nine score in the morning by one shot for 36 but dropped shots on the second nine and recorded another 80. David Sharp did not find the conditions of rain and wind to his liking, and although he kept fighting to keep the ball in play his score of 91 did not do him justice.
Two birdies on the opening two holes got Callum McMillan off to a perfect start and although he leaked a few shots he finished the opening nine in 36, one over par. His good form continued on the way home and he finished his round in a very creditable 76. Sam Mitchell could not repeat his heroics of the morning but he again played very steadily to produce halves of 40 and 39 and a 79 total.
Ben Marshall, after a relaxing lunch, played very consistently for seventeen holes. The only blemish on his scorecard was five dropped shots at the sixteenth in his splendid total of 87. Finlay Copland made amends for his poor round in the morning with a very good round of 76 in the worst of the weather. He played some very good golf in the conditions and his short game is a joy to watch.
The South boy’s best six scores amounted to 470, four shots better than the morning, and was a credit to how all the players tackled the challenges and conditions. The CSS in the morning was 71 and 73 in the afternoon.
The Team competition was won by Durham with a score of 910. They had the two best individual scores of 143, three over par, which was magnificent scoring in the weather conditions.
154 Sam Mitchell (Portpatrick) 75, 79
155 Callum McMillan (Kirkcudbright) 79, 76
157 Jamie Marchbank (D&G) 79, 78
158 Finlay Copland (D&G) 82, 76
160 Kaleb Johnston (Portpatrick) 80, 80
160 Ciaran Howat (D&C) 79, 81
173 David Sharp (D&C) 82, 91
191 Ben Marshall (D&C) 104, 87
910 Durham 450, 460
918 Northumberland 455, 463
944 South of Scotland 474, 470
968 Cumbria 486, 482
The photograph shows the South of Scotland team which competed in the NCF Championships. From the left: David Sharp, Callum McMillan, Kelab Johnston, Ciaran Howat, Sam Mitchell, Jamie Marchbank, Finlay Copland and Ben Marshall