It’s inevitable, I suppose, that when you bring together a group of 16 talented, charming young men in the prime of their lives, good things will happen. However, of the bunch that turned up at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club last weekend, only three were deemed talented, two charming, and more than half were so old that the government now refers to them as ‘high-risk’. Still, this eclectic bunch came together and strived for greatness all the same. All in the spirit of the legendary Wedge Trophy, now on it’s 19th playing.
The morning gathering was jovial as ever, the biannual together of many old friends over a few bloody marys and some of the South-East’s finest bacon-brioche cakes. Handshakes were not on the menu however. Following government advice, we all coughed furiously into our elbows before ensuring that those same elbows were rubbed against all 15 participants. Textbook.
Then to the golf course which was in phenomenal condition despite the apocalyptic winter we’re slowly emerging from. Pike & Austin vs. Smithers and Berryman up top – we won’t dwell too much on the standard of golf on what turned out to be a very windy, mucky morning. All you need to know is that Walton snuck it on the last, one up in the game and one up in the match.
The rest of the morning was a massacre for the away team, Waud and Shaw falling to the annoyingly good Spearpoint and Williams, Carroll and Kuhler suffering the same fate against the metronomic Hedges and Farrell, and finally Gates and Tillie were chatted off the course by a jubilant Mason and Daws. The home team 3-1 up at lunch.
Walton were understandably despondent after such a pasting, and naturally Guinness the nectar of choice for most of the team, who needed to take the edge off this feeling. No Guinness in the hands of John Carroll however, although he was having a go at a new Guinness world record for the largest ever portion of scrambled eggs to be served at a golf club, whilst sipping his trademark cup of tea. As is becoming tradition in the Wedge Trophy, we were fully expecting the home Captain to launch into a speech about how insurmountable the lead is, or about how pathetic the away side had been. Bizarrely however, not a word of it from Michael Hedges. This was strange and disappointing to see from a man normally so respectful of golfing traditions.
Back onto the course for a slightly warmer and less windy afternoon. Could Walton pull off one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the Wedge, could Deal close out the win and pull back to within three of Walton (of the 18 matches played so far, Walton were 11-7 up). In a much more fiercely contested afternoon, team Deal managed to snatch victory from the jaws of victory when the dream team of Oliver ‘400 rounds a year’ Daws and Spearpoint took down the sometimes-dangerous pair of Smitherman and Carroll. The trophy was retained and the pressure was off. Now it was up to the Deal nightwatchmen to put a few more runs on the board and, in what is becoming a confused sporting metaphor, really hit Walton for six!
The Walton Wolves still had a little bite left in the tail however, as they bought home the final two matches. These fantastic wins, coupled with a very competitive half in the committee match up top, all added up to a very close final score of 4.5-3.5 to the home side.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening was then had by all, culminating in classic style at the Kings Head, in what can only be described as the diametric opposite of ‘social distancing’. Fingers crossed we all meet up again in six months for the twentieth playing of this wonderful match. It’s not an exaggeration to say that, in these strange and uncertain times, the Wedge Trophy has become an anchor for us all, the still point at the center of our turning worlds.
The committee has some big plans for the 20th playing, including a ‘proper dinner’ at Walton Heath and even potentially some cameo performances. Alternatively, we may all be sitting in isolation on the sofa playing multiplayer ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2025’, or whatever it’s called now. Either way, however this all shakes out, I for one, will be drunk.
VC Walton Heath