Sunday 2nd July saw the much-anticipated 3rd round match between RND and Libbaton Golf Club held on the West Course at Saunton. In the preceding weeks to the fixture the course had been baked by the hot weather we have been having, but a downpour Friday saw the course softened up somewhat. However, what was gained by a softening of the ground was lost again due to the fairly strong wind blowing from the West increasing the difficulty level of what we all know is a pretty tough test of golf.
Having rested some players from the previous games and others not being available it gave the skipper a chance to refresh the team and add another couple of new players. The fact that we are able to add and move players around, in and out of pairings without any fuss or negativity speaks volumes about the team spirit we have in the squad with all members pulling in the same direction and happy to play their roles and do their job.
When the pairings were announced on the morning of the game it appeared that RND would be receiving a few shots and with the Libbaton team selecting a few single figure players it looked like the match might be a tough one. What a titanic battle it turned out to be!
Match Report as follows:
M Colwill and C Hazelden
Match 1 saw the pairing of Mike Colwill and Chris Hazelden. Having performed so admirably in the previous match Mike was elevated to our opening pairing spot and was joined by his friend and victory foursomes partner Chris. Mike and Chris both low single figure players were up against Libbatons two best players and the match by all accounts was quite a battle.
Having lost the first hole to a poor opening tee shot, they managed to get a half on the 2nd with a tap in par. It took a gross birdie to get a half on the third and it was clear that the RND pair were up against a quality matchup from Libbaton. However, another gross birdie from the boys on the 5th hole got the match back to all square. After halving the 6th hole Mike and Chris had a shot, which they duly needed. Having seen the Libbaton pair put the ball stone dead after two shots Chris dunched RND’S second shot into the ditch crossing the fairway. Mike then dropped the ball and proceeded to hit an arrow of a wedge to 5 feet and Chris knocked the putt in for a 5 net 4. Rattled, their opponents missed the birdie putt, and a good half was gained for RND. Having gained some gusto, good play down the 8th afforded a win of the hole with a gross par 4. 1up to RND on the 9th tee but further great shot making from their opponents saw the match go level again after that hole.
The back 9 continued to be a very tight affair with the Libbaton pair playing very solid golf. So much so that holes 11 and 12 were lost in quick succession and RND were 2 down on the 13th tee. But yet again a fearless fightback from Mike and Chris saw them win the next two holes and draw the match level again on the 15th tee. The 15th 16th and 17th were all halved and the match found itself all square on the 18th tee. Both pairs hit decent shots onto the green but Libbaton away first and about 50 feet out drained a long bomb and broke a heart or two.
Lost 1 down
Sturman and Loze
Match 2 featured the unbeaten pairing of Shaun Loze and Chris Sturman. Having won two out of two so far this season could they make it 3 out of 3?
Having found the left rough off the first tee shot the RND pair caught a poor lie and the first hole was lost to a par. On the 2nd hole a very good iron shot tight to the pin from Shaun was enough for a tap in birdie and the match was all square. The Par 5 3rd hole was halved in Par but a fine up and down from the Libbaton pair on the Par 3 4th saw RND go 1 down again in the match. But, as seemingly was to be the pattern in this match, RND bounced back straight away and good chipping from Chris on 5 and a stone dead iron to 5 ft from Sean on the 6th saw RND go 1 up on the 7th tee. And again Libbaton bounced straight back with a win on the 7th green with some fine short game work and with a towering drive down the 8th for a tap in birdie saw the RND pair go 1 down again in the match. After halving the par 3 9th in gross pars a massive drive from Chris down the Par 5 10th saw RND pull level with a gross par. Alas, yet again a brilliant tee shot from the Libbaton pair on the long Par3 11th saw them go 1up again.
This match was turning out to be another close battle. But who better than the experienced duo of Loze and Sturman when your back is against the wall?
The Par five 12th was halved in gross pars, but still one down on the 13th tee Chris gunned another drive and a very decent iron from Shaun put the pressure on and the opponents conceded the hole. Match all square. Another Full send from Chris off the 14th tee left Shaun an easy shot and a gross par with a shot on the hole was enough to win the hole and the lads were in the lead again 1 up. Again the Libbaton pair fought back and good play for a par 4 on the 15th by the Libbaton pair saw the match go back to all square again. Having had so many slaps in the face, Chris fired up his courage meter and proceed to hit an imperious iron on the Par 3, 16th to 15 feet. The ensuing Par was enough to win the hole. 1 up to RND going down the Par 5 17th. Up until this point the lead had changed 4 times but nobody could just get that extra hole up to apply pressure. Could the boys hold on?
A Par from both teams on the Par 5 7th and the match was going down the 18th. With both teams clearly nervous Chris had the honour and somehow managed to get one down there left of the green. Not perfect but alive. Sean commented later he “did not fancy that shot one little bit”. So, what do you need when you are one up in the match on the last hole and you are facing a horrible chip up the hill? Well, what you need is for your opponent to carve one way right into the jungle and wouldn’t you know it Sports fans that’s exactly what they did!! Finally the boys had gone two up! 😊
Won 2 up
C Hampton and J Buckland
Match 3 saw the pairing of James Buckland and skipper Chris Hampton.
James the son of the long time and much-loved member Dr Robin, MBE, has been knocking on the door of the team for a while now and with him paired with the experienced skipper for his first outing, could he etch out his own legend in the annals of RND history?
Having played two fine opening shots to the front of the first green the RND pair found themselves one down after a stone-dead chip from the opposition. However, the next hole was won by RND after some fine chipping from the RND pair. With halves on the next two holes the match was all square on the 5th tee. Having lost the ball off the tee from a poor shot from Chris, James gunned the reload to within wedge range and after a small search the ball was found in the right hand rough. Chris then hit the fourth shot to 2 feet and the hole was won with a 5 net 4, after a lost ball! The next hole was similar with a tee shot from James in the left rough hacked out by Chris leaving James a wedge which he dropped on the green with aplomb and after a two putt 5 the pair were 2 up. A fine tee shot from Chris on the 7th hole and a lasered seven iron to five feet from James was enough to take the hole and the lads were three up going down the 8th. A half was managed on the eighth but a missed short putt from Chris and the opposition pair had clawed one back. Still, at 2 up stood on the tenth tee the lads were feeling chipper and James proceeded to bomb another tee shot down the fairway with the opposition in the right rough. Alas, Chris then hooked another poor shot into the bushes and James had to hit a reload that ended up in the right rough 70 yds out, played 4. While this was happening, the opposition seemed to be having their own nightmare having stumbled to the edge of the green – also played 4. Chris right on cue then wedged another beauty from the rough to 5ft, the opposition missed theirs and James then smoothed the putt in for a 6 net 5 and another hole won after a lost ball!!
Over the course of the next few holes Chris was struggling with the longer clubs but still able to hit good recovery shots. With some seriously heroic hitting from James and some mistakes from the opponents the RND pair still found themselves 3 up after 14 holes. A four from the Libbaton pair on the 15th took the hole and they had the honour on the Par 3 16th, having clawed a hole back to be only 2 down. Unfortunately for the Libbaton pair they over clubbed their tee shot and the ball took a hard bounce on the green and rolled off the back into the ditch. James then cannily “laid up” short and in the rough. After a chip on the green from Chris and another fine putt from James the match was won.
Well done Bucko a first-class debut!!
Won 3 & 2
B Colwill and D Willoughby
Match number 4 featured the as yet untried due of Bob Colwill and Dean Willoughby
Having halved the first hole the boys got of to a slow start losing the 2nd to good chipping from Libbaton. On the third hole a fine drive from Dean and a towering 3 wood onto the green from Bob meant a standard PAR 5 was enough to take the match back to all square
On the next hole the Par 3 4th Bob hit a very good 8 iron to 8ft and won the hole. 1 up to RND. This followed by a regulation par on the 5th to go 2 up.
Having halved the following three holes the boys were coasting at 2up stood on the Par 3 9th tee. After an astute safe shot from Dean to the front of the green, the Libbaton pair find the bunker from their tee shot and a clumsy effort to get up and down saw the RND pair go 3 up in the match.
After standard pars on the 10th halved the hole, RND win the par 3 11th with a fine shot to the centre of the green from Dean. 4up to RND. This was given straight back on the PAR 5 12th as Dean found the ditch on the second shot.
After halving the 13th hole the 14th was lost to the first of what was to be a few putts from “downtown” that Libbaton made on the day. Still 2up to RND but where was the momentum?
By the time the match reached the 15th tee matches 1-3 were finished with RND 2-1 up in the game and the crowds of people began to build up around the 16th green and par 3 17th green. Dean had hit a very good tee shot to the middle of the fairway and the opposition were also in the fairway too. As the players rounded the corner of the hole they must have seen the large crowd assembled as both second shots were poor, the opposition possibly a lost ball, and Bob having dunched the second, was followed by Dean putting them in the bunker. In any case the opposition somehow found their ball halfway up the hill adjoining the green in the steep bundii, chipped out and managed a 5. Unable to sink a putt RND lost the hole. 1 up to RND stood on the Par 3 16th tee. The opposition play a poor shot and RND win the hole. The pressure is really building.2 up with 2 to play.
Bob commented after that he wondered after if it was the right strategy, but the RND duo agreed to just try and match the opponents on the way in and the match should be won. However poor play from both pairs including a visit to the ditch from RND culminated in a another monster putt from Libbaton taking the hole. 1 up to RND going down the par 3 18th.
Libbaton with the honour and they fly the green into the bundii out the back of the green. A good 6 iron tee shot from Bob left them to the right of the green. Both second shots chipped onto the green leaving 15 foot or so each to the hole. RND away first and Bob Lags one down to the hole side- given for a 4. Libbaton now, with a putt to bring the match to all square and BAM! Like a dagger to the heart, he holes it, another bloomin one!!. All Square after 18 holes sudden death to follow!
With the crowds watching up along both sides of the first hole the atmosphere (and tension) was building. After good tee shots on the 1st extra hole Libbaton found themselves in the fairway and RND over in the left rough just off. With the pin up on the back tier Bob hit his shot which was true but just not enough and ended up on the lower tier of the green. Step up the Libbaton pair and they knock it onto the upper tier surely a par. Unfortunately, Dean could not lag the first putt close enough and the ensuing bogey meant a tap in par for the opposition wins the hole and the match.
Well done to the Libbaton pairing of M Lake and J Weeks. To bring home a point for your team after being 4 down took some doing.
Lost 1st extra hole
F Stone and G Fisher
Our final Pairing saw Frank Stone and Gary Fisher paired up for the first time. It speaks to the superfluous nature in the squad that Frank has already won 2 matches with two different partners so far this year. Could he bag a third win with a third different partner?
After halving the first the RND pair took the 2nd with a standard par. The 3rd was halved but a poor tee shot and great up and down from the opposition meant the Par 3 4th was lost and the match back to all square. Then followed a run of solid tee to green play from Frank and Gary and by the time they had reached the 9th tee they were 3up. However, the par 3s were looking like the boys nemesis and they also lost the 9th due to a poor tee shot. All things considered and on the balance of play they looked good for their 2up stood on the tenth tee. Further good tee to green play and a solid up and down round the green ensured they were three up stood on the Par 3 11th, which yes you guessed it they lost to another poor tee shot. Having only managed bogey on the 12th they lost the hole but rallied somewhat and the RND pair managed to hold their ground until the 15th tee where they were 1 up.
After a long wait on the 15th the lads managed to make a fantastic up and down to the cheers of the RND support that was now following both the last two matches and they went 2up by the time they reached 16 tee. And again, a par 3 hurt them and failing to get up and down from a drop from the ditch they lost the hole and they were back to only 1 up with 2 to play.
By this point the match was becoming really tense with quite a lot of crowds assembling along the holes that both of the last two groups were playing RND needing only 1 win out of these two games to go through.
Frank hit a decent tee shot and Gary had a blind second which he hit perfectly only to get up there and find it in a secret ditch that I don’t think anyone knows is there. In any case a good putt on the hole to the sounds of cheers from their fans secured the hole for the Libbaton pair and the game was going down the Par 3 18th all square.
Libbaton with the honour and they hit a poor shot to leave it 60 yds short. Gary plays his tee shot and the ball ends up slightly long and right but with an easy chip that Frank chips up to 8 ft. The Libbaton pair can’t get up and down and post a 4 on the hole. Gary with a putt to win the third round of the Palairet for RND…………. ahhh lips out on the right. Gentlemen we are going to extra holes.
Now it must have been that both pairs were now extremely nervous with the fate of the match potentially in their hands but in testament to the way this match was played both teams hit fine tee shots right down the middle of the first extra hole with the RND pair slightly further back. Gary to play about 200yds out into the wind.
It must have been daunting looking up at the green to see that match 4 had been lost by RND and it was now all on these guys. Cometh the hour cometh the man, Gary steps up and rifles a 4 iron to the front edge of the green an unbelievable shot in the circumstances. Under pressure now, the Libbaton pair block their second shot out to the right of the green into no mans land. Two chips later they are out the back 15 foot away, in 4. Frank then coolly lags his putt to 4ft. In terms of the crazy things that went on in this match the Libbaton pair quite expectedly drained their unbelievable putt for a five. Step up Gary, and he said after that he did this purposefully, but to all watching he just stepped up and with no time to think knocked his putt in and took the match for RND!!!! Cue unbelievable scenes, hats off, fist pumping, cheers, pats on the back and cuddling!! What a win. And the RND juggernaut keeps rolling on.!!!
Won 1st extra hole
Match result: RND WIN 3 TO 2
At the point in which the third match had finished, RND were 2-1 up in the match with the final two groups 2 up with 3 to play. Whilst nobody was counting their chickens, it was fair to say, at that point we thought we would be safe. Nobody expected what was to come but after a Herculean effort from the final two Libbaton pairings, having been down most of the way in both those matches they managed to get the two matches back to all square on the final hole. In the end it came down to one putt on the first extra hole and RND go through to the next round.
A very tight match played in the best of spirit was followed by a fine Roast Dinner and speeches from the Captains. Many thanks must go to Saunton for hosting us on the day.
Thanks also to our President Val Cook who came out to support us. The boys as ever, really appreciate your support. I hope your fingernails have grown back now! Thanks also to Dave and Kevin who came out to support us and look for balls in the rough!
We are now through to the 4th Round and we will be playing Fingle Glenn on the moorlands of Tavistock on Sunday 23rd July.
Can't rate Josh highly enough. He is sensitive to the golfer in front of him, adapting his advice and comments to the swing he sees. Backing any comments up with data that is equally as sensitive - a great combo. Josh doesn't try & overhaul a swing and make you feel lost, rather he provides care
Awesome golf course in an unreal setting and very well maintained, highly recommend playing here if you get the chance. Demanding but fair course that makes you think. If you’re getting a caddie ask for Dave, great guy who knows his stuff
At points wide open. The rushes and bushes are what will swallow your ball. The thing that makes this course tricky will always be fighting the wind and judging yardage. Greens true and well paced. Starter was helpful. Clubhouse like a museum of history