A strong team of eight boys travelled to Wynyard Golf Club, Teesside to compete in the Northern Counties Championships on Sunday 28 June against teams from Cumbria, Northumberland and Durham. The boys travelled full of confidence after their excellent showing in the Scottish Area Team Championships earlier in the month. The undulating, tree lined course was in excellent condition with strategically placed large fairway bunkers, water hazards and well protected greens. The length of the par 72 course at 6690 yards was longer than any of the local courses and long accurate driving would be essential to posting a good score. A challenge not many of the team had encountered before. The format of the competition was 36 holes stroke play with the 6 lowest scores to count for the team total.
The day dawned overcast with a breeze and a forecast of stronger winds later and the possibility of a rogue shower. Matthew McCulloch (Portpatrick) was first off for the South and after nine holes was one under par but lost 3 shots on the inward nine and could only finish with a 74. Angus Bendall (Castle Douglas), whose driving off the tee is usually so straight struggled to find his accuracy and was 7 over after nine holes. He recovered on the back nine to shoot two over and finish with an 81. Fraser Hughes (Newton Stewart) played very steadily from tee to green but could not find the speed of the greens and was disappointed with his 80. Although Grant Hannah (Thornhill) never gave up, his five double bogeys ruined a promising score. Dylan Cairnie (D & C), making his debut for the South, played with maturity and only a couple of bad holes caused him not to play to his handicap. He finished with a creditable 78. Graeme Hoodless (Newton Stewart) had his now normal first round disaster and could only finish with an 85. Nathan Watson (Kirkcudbright) had a super front nine of one over par and was going well until the wind got up on the back nine and sadly could only finish with a 79. Alex Chalk (Castle Douglas), the team anchorman, reached the turn in one under par and then showed his class and experience to finish with an excellent 68, the best individual score of the competition and a magnificent effort. This heartened the boys and they went out for the afternoon round with renewed vigour.
In the afternoon, even with the breeze getting much stronger, the boys played better and five of the team bettered their morning scores. Most strokes were dropped over the closing holes when tiredness in the legs started to affect the performance levels. Graeme Hoodless returned the best score with a 74 (11 shots better than the morning) Alex Chalk could not unfortunately produce his fine form of the morning and scored a very disappointing 82 to finish in 4th place in the individual rankings. Matthew McCulloch was 5th.
The team competition was won by Northumberland with a total score of 911, closely followed by Durham on 912. South had 928 and Cumbria 987.
It had been a long tiring day for all the boys and officials but on reflection very enjoyable and part of the learning curve which should stand them in good stead for the future and the league matches still to come over the summer.
Individual South scores
150 Alex Chalk (Castle Douglas) 68, 82
151 Matthew McCulloch (Portpatrick) 74, 77
157 Nathan Watson (Kirkcudbright) 79, 78
159 Graeme Hoodless (Newton Stewart) 85, 74
Fraser Hughes (Newton Stewart) 80, 79
160 Dylan Cairnie (D & C) 78, 82
161 Angus Bendall (Castle Douglas) 81, 80
167 Grant Hannah (Thornhill) 87, 80
The photograph shows the South team. Back row from the left: Nathan Watson, Matthew McCulloch, Fraser Hughes, Graeme Hoodless, Alex Chalk: front row; Grant Hannah, Angus Bendall and Dylan Cairnie.