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Bernard Darwin 2023

Match report by skipper Ian Burn


Woking Golf Club, was at it’s magnificent best for the start of the Bernard Darwin. Despite a chilly wind we were all thrilled that the first match got off without incident; clearly the increased security vigilance at Woking and the threat of multiple elderly golfers attempting a “ Jonny Bairstow" was enough to deter even the most hardened “Just Stop Oil” protesters from disrupting this historic event.


Recent history did not fill the Wellington team with the greatest of confidence however nobody ever said that Wellingtonians were anything other than gritty, determined combatants and the skipper was filled with pride as the team warmed up on the terrace and pledged to strain every sinew and creaky knee in the pursuit of golfing immortality.


Neil Sedgwick- Dwane and Jamie Salmon lead the team out against Rugby, followed by Ben Wessely and Tim Lord , with Ian Burn and John Risman bringing up the rear. 2:1 to Wellington an extraordinary feat; we had failed to “qualify” for The Plate by actually winning. Having informed the skipper that he had broken his toe a week earlier the Skip was concerned about Jamie's ability to play 36 holes so had taken the precaution of having a high quality replacement in the form of John Denham on stand by. Jamie tells the skip that he has been dropped by the All Blacks coach and been dropped by the England coach so he can take being dropped by me! I of course informed him that he wasn’t “being dropped” he was being rested due to the new Bernard Darwin toe injury assessment protocols.


So out we went again against a strong Clifton side; who would have thought it but Wellington triumph 2:1 . This was not in the script! All sorts of plans suddenly have to be altered; chiropractor appointments, coffee mornings and Friday morning Bingo; all cancelled. The Skip calls Jamie to tell him the news and without hesitation he says "I’m in “ only to tell us later that he had turned down an afternoon of Dom Pérignon in a box at Lords. This is the sort of dedication Wellingtonians are known for.


Now we are up against it; Uppingham. Recent past winners in 2017 and a very fancied side this time around. After a gritty 10 foot putt on 18 by the Skip , Burn and Risman win to make the match tied at 1:1 . Retrieving one errant team member who got lost in the bar , a full team watches Ben drill it down the middle on the 19th hole, Tim chip to 20 feet and Ben hole the putt for a birdie 3 and an epic win. What a team! Uppingham hadn’t anticipated the underdog fighting spirit of the OWs.


Charterhouse, regular participants in the final were at their majestic best and a bridge too far for the OWs. An outstanding performance from a resilient OW team who all played and competed above themselves were beaten by more fancied rivals. Well done all.

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Highlights: Ben’s infectious giggles heard all over Woking GC for 2 days. The same giggle heard in the Stanley 45 years ago. Jamie , Neil and John D’s stoic resilience, leading us out against the best of the oppo on both days. Risman when finding himself 2 up after 6 holes against Uppingham asking his partner ( the Skip) “what’s your pep talk this time Skip , we are normally 3 down at this point?” But top honours must go to Tim and Ben who were unbeaten in 4 matches over 2 days.

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