After missing last year’s Deal Wedge, it was an absolute treat to return to Royal Cinque Ports for the 13th playing of The Wedge Trophy.
As always, excitement was rife as the two teams gathered to do battle, but not before some appropriate sustenance was taken on board to get us through until lunch. As it was St Patrick’s weekend, there were a few pints of Guinness kicking around to wash down the bacon rolls. (that were particularly good rolls this year – must find out where the club got them from.)
The field was an intimate 8 a-side affair, with both sides littered with Wedge legends. Both Captains were trying to get on top early with ‘chat’ in the bar being banded around such as ‘this is the best side we have put out in years’ and ‘I’m saving my Whitgift pairing for the afternoon round’.
Spring had Sprung and we were blessed with fine weather as the teams took to the battle ground for a prompt 9.30 start.
Waud went large and put Walton’s Junior Pro out first with Dave Potter. Social media had been flooded during the week of Smitherman’s pretty serious practice regime – one day using a piece of kit called ‘Trackman’ and claiming he was carrying the ball 280 yards in the air… big chat from the Walton rookie, but surely meant that Walton would claim an early point against Max Williams and James Fox. Needless to say, this was not the case and Walton went 1-nil down.
Out two in the morning was the right handed Walton pairing of Waud and Webster against Deal’s left handed duo of Ufton J and Daws. Daws was hitting the ball frightening distances and we quickly learnt why he used to be off +3. Fortunately for Walton, Webster was on fine form and Walton snuck a victory here bringing the scores to 1-1 midway through the morning matches.
On paper, one of my strongest pairings went out in match three. Bowes of Bowesgate with Chris Young Wootton – famous for his strides and sock combinations – and his purple ensemble certainly didn’t disappoint. Bowes however was off the back of a 2 night stint with 2 different Tinder dates (although he served the same meal both nights) and so maybe that had put him off his stroke. Deal taking this match to take an early lead.
Last out in the morning was the cunning and guile of Wedge stalwart – the House of Payne partnered up with one of Whitgift’s finest – Sir Nic of Gates, my liege. Against them, a formidable pairing of Mr Michael Hedges and another Wedge legend – Martin ‘Fentos’ Fent. I understand this was a great battle – and Walton managed to sneak this match 2&1 to make honours even at the lunchbreak.
For logistical reasons, lunch had to be a short turnaround to allow us to get back in time for the Ireland England game @ 5pm. Having this deadline was possibly the only way we had of not letting lunch turn into an all afternoon affair. One of the highlights of lunch was an impromptu visit from Ken Hannah – who just popped up to the club to buy the Wedge boys a much appreciated beer – because it was his anniversary! (Mrs Hannah did not seem to be in the vicinity…) Anyway, once we had set the world to rights about what the best sauces were to go with chips, we successfully managed to get all the teams back out on the course by 14.00.
So 2-2 at lunch, four points to play for in the afternoon, it was all set to be a cracker. It seems that I had not captained a side to victory at Deal since March 2012, so was looking potentially a little ominous…
I will save going through a match by match write up for the afternoon round – one notable moment however was running into Bowes of Bowesgate, who was 3 down at the hut and whinging that they still had shots to give to Max Williams, who was being a complete bandit and having a blinder. This news had me slightly concerned, as that match sounded like it had completely gone and this afternoon round was going to be tighter than hoped!
Much to my surprise, Smitherman and Bowes managed to get the match back to all square and managed to scramble a half point down the last. (shooting a very decent 1 over par gross for the round).
The afternoon scoreline ended being rather flattering to Walton, as we took 3.5 points out of a possible 4.
Another quick turnaround into J&T to get into the bar for the Ireland game, which obviously wasn’t worth the wait – but the dinner in the Aisher Room certainly was and we were looked after superbly by Alison and her team. The usual entertaining tomfoolery took place during dinner and then those that were able to stand up managed to venture into Deal to mix it up with the locals at The Lane, then in Ocean Rooms. (that’s Rivals in old money)
Many thanks to Michael Hedges for organising another great event. The Wedge Trophy is in rude health and unlike many matches at many golf clubs, there is such a great appetite for this fixture to carry on long into the future. We look forward to welcoming Team Deal back to Walton Heath later in the year.
Until October Gentlemen…and Mrs Hedges.
All the best,