Old Seafordian golf team lose narrowly to Millfield at Grafton Morrish Golf Finals

Grafton Morrish Finals Report 28th Sept - 1st October 2017

Seaford College Old Boys Society were represented at the Grafton Morrish finals at Hunstanton and Royal West Norfolk Golf Clubs (otherwise known as Brancaster), over the long weekend of September 29th – October 1st. The OSGS captain Nick Tull assembled a team consisting of 2 ex Corsicans, 2 ex Adair, and 2 ex Charmandean alumni were drawn to play against GM plate specialist Millfield old boys team over the Brancaster Links on the morning of Friday 29th September. The Millfield team consisted of 4 scratch or better golfers and 2 very low single figure golfers, it fair to say if it had been a club match several shots would have been received by Seaford, however the format was strictly foursomes scratch match-play and Seaford were fully prepared for this challenge.

Max Farrant and Nick Tull went out first and got off to an average start, they should have had their noses in front after 6 holes but some sloppy approach play meant they were behind up until the start of the back nine. Three birdies in a row from the 10th hole turned the match around and from there Seaford’s top pair won comfortably 4&3 closing their match on the 15th green with a deft chip and a solid 4 foot par putt, to end the Millfield pair’s 4 year winning streak.

Seaford 1 – 0 Millfield with 2 more matches to be decided.

New team members and making their debut at the finals were John Wheatley & Kieron Russell who helped Seaford qualify for the finals in regional qualifying at North Hants GC, Fleet, back in May. The Charmandean pair also happened to attend Seaford at the same time back in the mid-to-late 80’s, separated by just one year group and are members of the same golf club, so this was a natural pairing to form. Teeing off when the rain was at it’s worst didn’t help but they started brightly lipping out for birdie on the 3rd green, on the 4th hole both sides had birdie chances, Millfield took theirs but Seaford didn't match them. Two more losses meant the 3rd pair for Seaford were up against it all the way round the front nine. An outrageous sand-save by Millfield from the most fried-egg of plugged lies in the deep greenside bunker on the 10th hole knocked the stuffing out of the Seaford pair who shook hands with the opposition after Millfield drove the short 313 yard par 4 13th, and had two putts for the match. The score line of 6&5 flattered Millfield and the Seaford boys should take credit for giving the much lower handicap pair a real fright. John & Kieron were worthy of their place in the Seaford line up, were 100% committed to the team and trip to Norfolk. It is a real bonus to have found 2 more fantastic team members.

Seaford 1 – 1 Millfield with 1 more match to be decided.

Tim Banks and Will Gilsenan were at Seaford at the same time just, in the early to mid 90’s, their paths hadn’t crossed since but clearly reacquainted themselves very well during the team dinner the night before which was hosted by injured Neal Fox, who travelled up to join the team whilst still recovering from a detached tendon injury sustained during qualifying at North Hants. Banks & Gilsenan played some sublime golf going out at number 2 pair for Seaford, Banks was steady all round all day, add this to Gilsenan’s deft chipping and short iron play meant that several holes were won and halved in birdies all through the first 14 holes. They surrendered a 2 up with 4 holes to play lead over the closing stretch as the wind increased to a 3 club wind. The match went down the last hole with Seaford needing to win the hole to half their match, Banks hit a stunning hybrid from 200 yards in to the wind for their second shot, in to the heart of the green to 15 feet from where Gilsenan putted up to the edge of the cup for a conceded par 4 and the vital win they needed to halve their match.

Overall match score: Seaford 1&1/2 – 1&1/2 Millfield.

Due to the halved overall match score the rules state that the halved match must continue to play sudden death match-play until there is a winner. Banks & Gilsenan headed back down the first hole in a high pressure situation knowing the overall match was completely dependant on the outcome of their sudden death playoff.

Banks hit a solid tee shot down the right hand side of the fairway, leaving Gilsenan 165 yards to the green. Will’s approach initially cleared the two greenside bunkers but the slope to the right of the green sent the ball back down between the two bunkers, and the ball just dropped in to the back portion of the second greenside bunker. Sadly on this occasion the ball was almost unplayable in the bunker which are created using huge railway sleepers to line the bunkers and support the sides of the greens, after 2 attempts to extract Seaford’s ball on to the green the damage was done, Millfield had found the green in two and a straightforward par 4 won them the hole, and in turn the overall match was won by Millfield who went on to make the last 16 of the competition.

The challenge of competing in these types of scratch match-play competitions which are played out on rugged, traditional, links courses is keeping the ball in play at all times, with the emphasis being on to always give your partner the best opportunity on the next shot, the margins between success and failure are so slim and anyone who’s plays golf knows you need a little luck from time to time to be successful.

Seaford went on to feature in the Solihull Salver later in the weekend’s scheduled events played again at Brancaster with the format being the same as qualifying, scratch foursomes stableford scoring – finishing mid pack as one of the early starters. With the weather conditions easing as the day went on the top four teams, who go on to be invited to playoff for the Committee bowl at Hunstanton, all came from the late starters who played in bright sunshine and no wind whatsoever, this they say is the luck of the draw! The Committee bowl is contested concurrently alongside the Semi Final and Final on Sunday.

In summary the Seaford Old Boys Team did exceptionally well to take Millfield in to a sudden death playoff in their first round match, they improved upon their first finals performance back in 2014 and, with a current 50% success rate in qualifying for the finals, very much look forward to growing the squad further and trying to keep improving on their Grafton finals performances, well done and very well played to all involved this year.

Thanks also must go to Tim Banks for providing the team with brand new top of the range free Titleist golf balls, Nick Tull for organising the self funded team outfits, Neal Fox for travelling up for Seaford’s pre-tournament dinner held at the team’s Thornham base, and the wider SOOS society for their superb support of Seaford's most active old boys society. Finally to Robert Mummery who has stepped down from OSGS duties this year, Robert got us all going on the idea off forming OSGS back in 2014 and to compete by entering The Grafton Morrish and we wish him well.


Grafton Morrish - Competitions

The Grafton Morrish Finals competition was the culmination of another hugely successful year for The OSGS society, the annual golf day in April in its own right once again far exceeded expectations with old boys flying in from America and driving from Cornwall to Hampshire to take part in the event, which was also attended for the first time by current pupils attending the college, this was introduced on a ‘by invitation’ basis which further expanded the societies reach to help spread the game of golf and participation within it. The OSGS golf day also doubled up as a practice round at North Hants GC for the team’s qualifying for the Grafton Morrish, North Hants is Justin Rose’s home course and is still regarded as one of the finest traditional heathland courses in the south of England.

Details for 2018’s OSGS society events will be released soon.

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