Wedge-20 (like Covid-19, but less restrictive)

The 20th playing of The Wedge Trophy

In a time of great uncertainty, it was great to bring some certainty back to our lives with the playing of the Walton Heath leg of The Wedge Trophy.

Now in our 20th playing, we had planned a big anniversary lash up, but alas, we had to tone it down to comply with government guidelines that have been imposed upon our great country.
All that said and done, as the great Freddie Mercury sang as the twelfth and final track on Queen’s 1991 album Innuendo, “The Show Must Go On”. And fortunately for us we followed his sage advice, and it certainly did.

A ten aside affair, littered with Wedge Trophy legends, it was a particular treat to welcome back Wedge stalwart David ‘The House of’ Payne to play his 29th and 30th rounds in the Wedge.
After a short foray on the Walton side, we also welcomed back Mrs Hedges to The Wedge Trophy, this time Sarah was batting for the Deal side.

After meeting in the clubhouse, of course following Covid-19 protocol, there was a fine selection of face masks on display. The teams still enjoyed the bacon rolls and Guinness with the usual levels of japery (is that a real word? Let’s pretend it is!) flying around – there was at least some normality in play.

We head out onto the New Course for the morning session – and Walton were certainly keen to come out of the blocks quickly. We had been widely reminded that Deal have won 3 out of the last 4 Wedge’s, and we were in an era of Deal dominance. It was also noted as I looked across the team sheets, that the standard of golf in the Wedge (on paper) continues to surprise given the number of aging and balding athletes in this official Under 35 fixture.

First up was Walton Heath VC George Bezzra, who was partnering rookie Finlay Hutchinson against a very stuffy pairing sponsored by – Duncan Pike and Jake Spearpoint. I assume WH were receiving shots in this game – and Royal Walton snuck this match 2&1 to get the first point on the board for the home side.

In Game 2, we saw Ed Story partner up with ‘influencer’ Sam ‘Number 2’ Smitherman. (Number 2 refers to his position in the WH proshop pecking order, rather than to anything else…) This was surely going to be a hot pairing – but unfortunately came up against the postmen, Ollie ‘The Mayor of Flushville’ Daws and Maxim Williams. A match that made it well down the stretch saw Deal level the team game 1-1, by beating WH 3&2.

Next up in Game 3 was the big money match. The Senior WH dorm of Simeon Stevens and Mark Shaw took on the tried and tested pairing of Mr and Mrs Hedges. As I was playing in the group behind, it was clear there was plenty of drama on the back nine with the match going to and fro – with fist pumps, heads in hands and cheering on and off from both sides. As they made it to the final green, it looked like Deal were going to take the spoils, until Mark ‘Shawsy’ Shaw literally holed it from out the rough – and quite frankly it is irrelevant it came off the hosel, ricocheted off a bank, rolled up and down the slope at the back of the 18th green before finally lipping out to gimme range. Walton Heath cruise to victory 1up.

Game 4 was the old guard partnership of Waud C and the House of Payne playing against Assistant to the Captain of the Deal Team, Sam Mason, who was partnered with Thomas ‘the Country Mouse’ Biggs. A classic encounter, that was nip and tuck for most of the round, was eventually put to bed on the 15th green and Walton Heath go 3 – 1 in the morning session so far.

The cries of bandit were ringing out across the heath (well across the Deal Dandies Whatsapp group) in Match 5 as questions were being asked about Smyler Waud’s 11 handicap. Partnered with Stefan Tillman, this was a juicy pairing (as well as the baldest pairing) playing against young guns George Donoghue and Tom Farrell. Needless to say WH snuck it 4&3 and took a decisive 4-1 lead into the socially distanced sandwiches, chicken goujons and chips lunch – that was appropriately washed down with plenty of vin rouge.

The only blessing of the socially distanced lunch was that there were no speeches, so no opportunity for me to repeat (what I am told was) my rather ‘cocksure’ team speech that graced the Members lounge during the 18th playing of the Wedge.

“Picture the scene, a very confident WH Captain, with an unassailable 3.5 – 1.5 lead at lunch, laughed numerous times at the notion that Deal could come back to win. Needless to say, Deal won the afternoon session that year 4.5 to 0.5 and regained the Wedge Trophy by beating WH 6-4.”

Let’s hope lightning doesn’t strike twice.

Fortunately for Walton, there was no hideous afternoon collapse and their Wedge Trophy stats were in fact bolstered as WH won the afternoon session 4-1.

Particular mention does need to go to Ollie Daws from the Deal side who went unbeaten for the day. It was also amusing to note that when the Wedge Trophy was founded in 2010, Ollie was only 13 years old! Who would have thought 10 years later he would be working his way through his 8th pint of Guinness before heading home.

Another great Wedge among fantastic friends. Many thanks to Michael for assembling a fine Deal team from far and wide that made the long voyage to Surrey to do battle without the promise of the evening session.

We look forward to returning to Deal in March 2021, where hopefully restrictions will be eased and we may even have our new trophy in play – very exciting indeed.

Take care my dear boys…and Mrs Hedges of course.

Click here to see the match results.

Semper Waltonia

Royal Walton Heath Under 35 Wedge Trophy Skipper

p.s. those with a simple grasp of Latin will of course know ‘Semper Waltonia’ means ‘Forever Walton’.