On Sunday, 13th August, Woodbury Park Golf Club hosted the Palairet Memorial Finals Day 2023 which saw Tiverton, Exeter, Ilfracombe and Royal North Devon ready for an anxious but exciting day ahead.
One of the morning semi-finals was a repeat of last year with Tiverton drawing Exeter, the second semi-final was Ilfracombe against Royal North Devon. Much to Tiverton's delight, they were able to right last year's wrongs and get the win against Exeter 3½-1½, giving them the opportunity to play for the Palairet Memorial trophy in the final.
The second semi-final between Ilfracombe and Royal North Devon had to be seen to be believed. With 4 of the 5 results in at 2 points apiece, it was left to the final pairing to decide the result. Messages from the course saw the Ilfracombe pair 3-up after 15 holes, meaning a half would be enough to see them through to the final. The RND pairing of Frank Stone and Gary Fisher had other ideas! Back to 2 down after 16, 1 down after 17 and then winning the last meant this semi-final result was going to be settled in a play-off. With momentum and confidence on the side of the RND pair, it was enough for them to seal a come-back to push RND into the final (just!).
The afternoon's final was set between Tiverton and Royal North Devon. You could cut the tension with a knife as Tiverton had never won the trophy since it started 90 years' ago - and RND had not won it for more than 50 years.
Live reporting from the course showed RND take an early lead and, after 9 holes, held a 3-2 lead across the 5 matches. The thoughts by the spectators after the comeback by RND in the morning was that it seemed to be their day, although Tiverton after 90 years' of trying were not going to roll over easily.
Tiverton got the first official point on the board with an impressive 6-5 win by Jay Scott and Rob Hagley but the Baker brothers were 2-down at the turn. With game 3 in the balance and games 4 and 5 strongly in RND's favour things were looking ominous for Tiverton. But it is a final and we have seen so many different scenarios play out over the years!
The Baker brothers of Eliot and Joe were on a charge after getting back to 1-down after 13. With no shots left for the RND pair, the combined handicap pair of +2 began to show their class winning holes 15, 16 and then a tap in birdie on 17 after Eliot spun his approach to 2-feet to get a 2-1 win. As the result came in, game 5 finished in favour of the RND pair of Stone and Fisher winning 4-3 which was less dramatic than their morning match.
Game 3, at all square, seemed to be the critical game as game 4 saw RND ahead 2-up with 4 to play. How things change when the pressure ramps up as the Tiverton pair of Allsopp and Sampson were on the charge. Back to 1-down after 16, with an outrageous putt from Allsopp on the 17th from 40+ feet to bring their game back to all square as they stood on the 18th tee. Game 3 could not be separated and headed down the 19th. It was clear Tiverton were struggling off the tee and RND seemed to have a grip on the playoff as they headed down the fairway so it was very much all about game 4. The Tiverton pair found the 18th green, some 30 feet short of the hole, but this was enough pressure to cause the RND pair to slip up as they found the water. With space to take 3 putts for the hole it was enough for the pair to seal the victory for Tiverton to become the Palairet Memorial Champions for the first time ever!
Huge congratulations to Tiverton Golf Club on their first ever Palairet Memorial Trophy success, as well as congratulations to runner up Royal North Devon Golf Club on reaching the final and getting oh, so close, to winning again after more than 50 years.
Congratulations to Chris Hampton, Palairet Captain and the team on an amazing run.
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