This year’s competition between the sixteen Areas of Scotland was held at Stranraer Golf Club on Sunday 18 June 2017. The boys travelled to the west of Dumfries & Galloway full of confidence and much hope following numerous practice rounds at Stranraer over the winter. They knew the layout of the course, the position of every bunker and had a strategy in place to win the tournament. What could go wrong?
Each team consisted of four boys, all under eighteen, and the format was strokeplay with two foursomes in the morning with both scores to count and four individual rounds in the afternoon with three scores to count. The Area with the lowest aggregate total would be declared the winner.
On Sunday morning the four Kirkcudbrightshire boys representing the South, Angus Bendall (Castle Douglas); Iain Rae (Dalbeattie); William Squires and Nathan Watson (both Kirkcudbright) stood on the 10th tee in glorious sunny weather with no wind and a course in immaculate condition and a great credit to the Club and greenkeeping staff, in fact perfect conditions for playing golf.
The first pairing of Angus and Nathan got off to the worst possible start, even though Nathan split the fairway with his tee shot, and a six went on the scorecard. They then had four pars, three bogeys in the next seven holes and finished with a birdie to be out in four over par. They steadied the ship and played the inward nine, their back nine, in three over par for a total of 77, 7 over par.
Iain and William again starting from the 10th, fared no better in the early stages, but regained their composure to finish their first nine in six over par. They played much better on the front nine, their back nine, and came home in one over par for a similar total of 77, giving the team a score of 154 with the singles to come. Not an auspicious start, and not one the boys were proud of.
When all the scores were posted on the leaderboard it was noticed that South had been given a score of 153. On checking with the Recorders Hut it was found that one of the boys had signed for a four at the third when in fact they had a five and South were duly disqualified.
Most of the boys were bitterly disappointed. All that practice and commitment over the winter months ruined by an elementary mistake. All that was left was for each boy to go out in the afternoon and play for the trophy for the best singles score.
Iain led the team off the first tee in the afternoon singles and played the first nine in two under par with three birdies and one bogey. He was affected by the heat and slow play on the back nine and despite two more birdies his score was six over par and a total of 74.
William was able to put his unfortunate error out of his mind and was also two under par for the first nine with birdies at 5 and 8 and no bogeys. He parred the first five holes of the back nine, lost four shots at 15 and 16, and parred the last two holes for a total of 72, two over par.
Nathan was most affected emotionally by the incident at lunchtime and did not produce the consistent play and scoring of which he is capable and finished with a disappointing 79.
Angus, out in the last group, played some marvellous golf in the afternoon being two under after nine with two birdies. He reached the eighteenth tee still two under and unknown to him only needed a par four to win the individual title by one shot. He hit his tee shot down the left and because of a copse of trees in his view could not see the ball finish. With the help of his playing partners and spectators they hunted in the long grass but to no avail. Eight seconds after the accompanying official stated his time was up the ball was found in a bunker 40 yards nearer the hole from where everyone was looking. He went back to the tee, hit a magnificent shot to the middle of the fairway, hit a lob wedge to six feet and holed the putt for a five and a score of 69. This tied him with two other boys and he lost the trophy on countback.
A magnificent round of golf in very trying circumstances, a credit to his commitment and his consistency and a wonderful effort. All the other boys and officials were so disappointed for him.
In the afternoon the South boys scored a total of 215, which was the second best score of all the Areas. If the morning score of 154 had been allowed to stand South would have finished with a competition score of 369, which would have put the boys in 5th place but this was not to be.
The Championship was retained by Lanarkshire with a total of 366
The attached photograph shows the South team before play. From the left Iain Rae, Angus Bendall, William Squires and Nathan Watson.