Vassel Brown wins the “Charlie Sifford Memorial Trophy”
The CGS golfing season as now come to an end with the final event having been held at the Cotswald Hotel and Spa in Chipping Norton Oxfordshire. With a week of rain around the country the thought of playing in the rain was on the mind of most so much so that one member wasn’t taking any chances and bought a new set just in time for the weekend. With a full repertoire of waterproof brands on standby for what the elements may have in store for us we were pleasantly surprised when we were spared the worse, instead we had bouts of sun, wind and some cold spells for the two days which we were happy with.
The course was in excellent condition considering the amount of rain that had fallen during the previous week. The feedback from the pro shop was that the course was good at expelling water and this was very evident in the conditions we experienced. The fairways were surprisingly firm and the greens although they had been hollow tined possibly during the previous week had good speed and were very good condition.
The event was our annual two day major for the Charlie Sifford Memorial Trophy. For those who don’t know, Charlie Sifford was a pioneer black golfer in America who paved the way for players like Tiger Woods. He was the first African American golfer to play on the PGA Tour. He won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969. He also won the United Golf Association‘s National Negro Open six times, and the PGA Seniors’ Championship in 1975. For his contributions to golf, Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. He was awarded the Old Tom Morris Award in 2007, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014, and an honorary doctorate from the University of St Andrews. Lee Trevino referred to Sifford as the “Jackie Robinson” of golf, and Tiger Woods acknowledged that Sifford paved the way for his career.
A few years back the CGS decided to honour Sifford by naming an event after him hence the Charlie Sifford Memorial Trophy.
The event is a challenge with the winner being decided on Sunday after rounds of Stableford golf on Saturday and Sunday with the stableford scores from both days being combined to give the overall winner of the event. Having an event spread over two days is to test our member’s consistency it’s ok playing well on a single day but can you do it over two days back to back!
This year our events have been well attended we’ve averaged 32 members and guests a first for the CGS, the response has been great and comes down to the introduction WhatsApp. It’s this medium which has allowed the response to event requests to be so high. Also with several new members joining the society this as also impacted the attendance. The CGS is in a healthy state going forward and can only get better, we have come a long way in 12 years. The record attendance figures continued into the weekend event with 33 members and guests attending, the figure was a first for the two day event which had previously averaged around the 25 mark.
The CGS brought a mass of culture to the Cotswolds Hotel, it was a site to see us gather on the putting green all geared up and ready to go, we drew so much attention that one hotel resident requested a photo of the CGS from his hotel room balcony which we duly obliged.
The hotel was very welcoming and provided us with excellent service from the pro shop to the waiting staff during our evening meal, it’s a venue we will no doubt revisit.
Competition was hot as usual at a CGS event with Eddie Wedderburn already crowned champion golfer of the year it was a last chance for someone to take home a major victory. The golfers in attendance included guests Owen Mendez, Noel Wright and Fraser Fergus.
The course was very challenging, it was tree lined on most holes so any wayward drive or iron shot would end up being blocked out requiring a shot sideways to the fairway, it was a real test. With only the one course, being able to play it twice was key to improving your score but not guaranteed. “This is golf at the end of the day” – where nothing is guaranteed, we take the good with the bad and no two days are the same.
The scoring on the first day wasn’t anything to be ashamed of with 15 golfers scoring 30 or more points with the top score being 36 points which was a mark achieved by Linton Bell, with Vassel Brown in 2nd and Chris Powell 3rd with 35 and 34 points respectively. The level of scoring meant that all was still to play for on Sunday with several players with a chance to win.
It was a long day for most of us with travelling down to the venue and playing a four hour round, the evening meal and a few drinks was a welcome site. After the meal it was a chance for the committee to present some prizes for the day. The committee decided to host several additional prizes which included four-ball vouchers for venues around the Midlands and also some cash pay-outs for additional nearest the pins and longest drive challenges, it all added to the days competition and to the weekend as a whole.
The evening was a relaxed occasion with good food, drink, discussion and laughter with several staying around until well past midnight.
The following day started for some with a nice relaxing sauna and steam and then onto a hearty breakfast before heading off to prepare for another four hours of mental and physical trials.
The weather was fresh and a little colder than the previous day but this did not affect the scores. The standard of golf on both days was identical, 33 points was Competition Scratch Score (CSS) or the average score. The second day did however provide a higher winning score with Junior Harris making up for a very disappointing first day by scoring the best score of the weekend with 37.
This being a two day combined score event, scoring well on the second day is good for your self-esteem especially if the previous day you weren’t able to get it going but you need to do well on both days in order to win, as mentioned previously this event is about consistency.
Consistency is the key, it’s that feeling of thinking “Hey, I got this!” but we golfers all know that as soon as you start thinking that you’ve cracked it the game brings you back down to earth the consistency deserts you and your back to searching for that allusive feeling. It’s a feeling that for some it’s been too much and they’ve given up the game.
The past two years consistency has been a close friend to Ian Higgins, he’s pretty much dominated the event. It got to a point where Ian was jokingly suggesting that there was no point in him taking the trophy out of his car as it was coming home with him, anyway this wasn’t the case as his old friend consistency decided to move on after Ian had scored 33 on day one to be 3 behind the leader, day two 30 was his score and there was no sign of consistency as it had moved on to another.
After a first round of 34 Chris Powell was in a strong position to make it two wins for the season. At the end of the day it looked like Chris had won with a second day 35 but this was due to an error in the scoring and proper application of his handicap on our handicap software. Unfortunately for Chris the 35 became 33 pushing him down to 3rd place.
Another man who has shown very good consistency throughout the season has been Eddie Wedderburn. With two wins this season Eddie has been very consistent and it also showed over the weekend. A first round 33 was right there in prime position for Eddie adding the final major to his previous two wins this season would have been the icing on the cake for his season but a 34 on the second day was the best he could achieve beating Chris Powell on count back for second place.
This leads us into the winner of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Trophy – with a first round score of 35 points just one behind Linton, Vassel Brown was playing some quality golf. His second round although not as good as the first was good enough to take victory by one point. With 33 on the second day, Vassel secured his first win of the season, his playing partner Paul Ramsey said it best “It was a pleasure to mark the winning card, you played a fantastic game and kept your composure throughout”. Well done to Vassel for showing the consistency that it takes to win this multi day event.
The traditional prizes for nearest the pin etc., were still up for grabs. The first day had offered the players some additional prizes however day two provided the more traditional prizes for the nearest the pin, nearest the pin in two and the longest drive. These were won by Micky Taylor, Roan McLeod and Chris Powell respectively.
A statistic from the weekend:
The hardest hole over both days was the 17th. This was the hole we held the longest drive. It’s a long par 4 with a very challenging second shot, not a single person pared that hole over the two days. Even with a decent drive it still requires a good strike for the second. The conditions on the first day were more favourable not as windy but on the second day hitting into the wind it played a lot longer than the first day. The green isn’t particularly large and does require an accurate second shot, anyway with all this said Eric Queely eagled the hole. When the committee were entering the scores they initially thought that maybe there was an error, “Eric eagled the 17th – the longest drive hole?” this was the question they put out to the rest of us waiting for the results of the weekend. Anyway it was confirmed that Eric had indeed holed his second shot, hitting a wood into the green. When his group arrived at the green they couldn’t see his ball and thought that it had gone out the back of the green or maybe in the trees, they just could not find the ball. As we golfers always do when we hit a blind shot into a green we have a little peek into the hole hoping to see the ball but on the most part end up disappointed with only a white cup looking back at us. On this occasion looking back was the ball. The astonishing thing was that this was Eric’s second eagle in as many days having eagled the par 4 12th on day one, driving the green of the short par 4 and holing the putt. So the only score to be made on the 17th throughout the weekend was a solitary eagle from Eric.
Congratulations to Vassel Brown on winning the event and to all the other winners over the weekend, see you all at the Presentation Dinner and Dance.