The 8th Wedge Trophy

The greatest dichotomy in Wedge history was on 24th March 2012. A Walton Wedger remembers a day of jubilation and dominance as the forth wedge on the trot was won in embarrassingly convincing fashion on Deal soil (/sand).

For a Deals ‘not so’ Dandies it was a dark day indeed, having been close in early Wedges the thrashing that day was humbling, perhaps lesser teams or weaker men would have been broken. BUT, as our wise Captain sang in a moving song he penned and performed in the aftermath of defeat: “For the loser now, will be later to win. For the times they are a-changin”!

Forward, 25th October 2014, how the Wedge landscape had changed. Walton not registering a win for 2.5 years, with interim fixtures throwing out a couple of halved matches, a snow abandoned fixture, and a historic Deal win. Hardly comparative to how Walton owned the early Wedge years but certainly a change of tide towards the SE Kent shores. This match was significant, a Walton win and the Deal comeback era looked like a blip, while a Deal victory would cement the new home of the Wedge Trophy.
Every Wedge I take greater and greater pleasure basking in the exceptional atmosphere of the two great teams coming together; many friendships now well established but even for a rookie they enter the fold to a rather unique environment with unrivalled character. This Wedge epitomised just that, and we were treated to ludicrously fortunate weather for late October.

The Wedge Trophy 2014 - Walton Heath Golf Club

To the golf! Walton’s Mexican pairing Zorko/M. Waud took on Deal’s stalwart pairing of Waltham/Earlington. How would marriage have impacted Zorko’s game? Would a ‘sober October’ impair Earlington’s usual ritual? The depressing answer given the average Wedgers alcohol intake and the threat of marriage many are under; a comfortable Deal win!

Clark/Richards partnered up to tackle Captain Hedge/J. Hedge, the latter being brought in was an effort by M. Hedge to buy a win with his cousin who has a swing some people believe is divinely blessed as it nods to the golfing gods at the top of every back swing. However, Hamish may be Scottish but he’s no Stephen Gallacher, also Richards chat would upset the rhythm of most men. A Walton point.sam_mason

The tenacious Walton Captain grabbed a favoured partner in Edward Story who can be distractingly funny on course. They played the Deal VC/ATTC Mason who had the experienced rookie Jimmy Upton, aka Jimmy Ufton (greatest rugby player never to play for England). A ding dong match, never more than one it, but J. Ufton refused to lose with a partner who last time out had won with his brother. A rare defeat of Waud/Story, Deal nudge ahead.

Walton VC and best ball striker Berryman took stewardship of the only Walton rookie Stephen Tillie, who I can attest to being a ruddy good bloke and excellent addition to the Wedge. Taking on a pair of Deal Rookies Seeley/McGahan, both being blooded for much anticipated Wedge careers. A cracking match ensued, but Harry refused to be the first MCGahan to drop a Wedge point, halved game.

Great seeing John Carroll becoming a Wedge regular, playing alongside Mr Wedge; David Payne. Up against a compact Deal team of Biggs/Fewster. By all accounts a good match but Carroll and Payne make a rather formidable pairing and give nothing away, as such the Mouse and Hobbit were trapped and fell short respectively, a Walton point and the match in the balance.

The anchor morning match saw semi-professional Roberts and Bowes of ‘Bowesgate’ disgrace take on M. McGahan and P. Glynn. With some out of character shots from Walton and a steely performance from the Deal’s form man Max and the Irish maestro meant Deal would have the very unusual position of lunching on a slight lead – In fact Deal had shockingly never before had a lead at lunch (though the last three Wedges had been 3-3 at drinks).

Lunch sponsored by the Waud Wine Club offered up a sparkling rose number from Mas de Daumas Gassac which strangely suited the summery October day! After this sun and alcohol drenched break was over to the Old Course to decide who would take the honours. As usual I tire of match by match commentary and take a more high level view of the afternoon’s proceedings, in the main this is pure laziness though no doubt the post lunch haze plays some part.

In recent Wedges the fixtures have been so tight it had been going down to the last match on course, but Deal Captain Hedge has been very clear he expected a result to be delivered early. This out of character persistence from the Deal skipper stemmed from him forgetting to actually bring the Trophy itself, it remained locked safely in the RCPGC trophy cabinet, a “tactic” he later claimed was to create an inspiring metaphor. It may just have worked because unlike any of the seven prior Wedge Trophies this afternoon would see Deal board the runaway victory express, bypassing ‘Disappointment Central’, direct to ‘Sweet Redemption Parkway’.

A few moments of the afternoon demand some attention:

– Five Deal men stepped up and completed victory for a 2 point haul; Max McGahan, Jonny Ufton, Dave Waltham, James Earlington, oh and me! Well played boys.

– Fewster asked personally that I published his defence as the only Deal man on ‘Nil Poi’; apparently a lack of libations stunted his golfing ability. Poor form all round then.

– Dave Waltham & Tom Meredith Biggs did a Justin Rose as they staged an epic comeback against excellent opposition (Payne/Bowes) – “3 up with 5 to play never wins” Chuckles ’14.

– Walton were not to be labelled invertebrates; both John Carroll and Phil Richards have to be commended on two excellent victories apiece.

– Deal Captain Hedges decided to deliver an afternoon point with rookie Seeley. Indeed the 4 captain rookie picks contributed towards no less than 4 points.

– Apparently Pete Roberts has written to the R&A asking for his amateur status to be reinstated.

– Notable by his absence Brodie remains the only man never to win a Wedge.

So such a comfortable Deal victory of 4-8, very much a first in Wedge history, as was the lack of full participation in an evening of Wedgers doing what they do best. Though I understand the Walton team represented themselves more impressively with their evening performances over a Clapham based session. In an evening of distraction Walton drowned their sorrows and gained some short term pleasure from grinding the night away in the Clapham Grand, but no doubt Sunday’s hangover would have been extra painful.

Make no mistake though my Deal Dandies, the Walton boys will not slip away into obscurity, they will come to Royal Cinque Ports in March hungry for success. For whether you call Walton or Deal home, as a Wedger we are destined to continue our wonderful biannual tradition of gracing these great courses to do battle for the coveted Wedge Trophy.