Scratch and Handicap Challenge to be decided this weekend

PUBLISHED: 20:02 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 20:02 28 June 2018

Golf club and ball

Golf club and ball


The first round of the Scratch and Handicap Challenge took place at East Devon on Saturday, writes Paul Willoughby.

‘Scratch’ means the player does not have any handicap advantage (so I could play against Tiger Woods and we’d have to play on level terms – the outcome might not be too hard to predict!), whereas the handicap element speaks for itself i.e. I could play against Tiger Woods and have a bit of an advantage, though the outcome would probably be the same!

Well, the US Open is now over and the title went, and deservedly so, to Brooks Koepka, who held it together for the full four rounds.

Whatever ‘it’ is, I’d like some! He was followed closely and by one shot by our own Tommy Fleetwood, who equalled the course record of 63 on his final round.

He only had a par (only?!) on the 72nd hole; had he had a birdie, he would have set a new record. Excellent play and with his winnings he can now afford a haircut! However, did the Shinnacock Hills greens people learn anything from the 2004 debacle when the greens were cut so short that balls kept on rolling; in some cases a good shot was penalised and the player saw his ball running off the green.

The answer is, No. Their greens were as slick as ever and a lot of players complained that good shots were still unjustly punished. I think they’re probably right and those players missed the cut – however, Koepka, Fleetwood et al managed.

What conclusions can we draw from that? Not a lot; they were all paid a lot of money and their unfortunate experiences made excellent television!

Now they know how the rest of us feel!

The results of the two-weekend contest will have to wait until next week, but the leaders in the divisions were as follows:-

Division 1: 1, Jason Wride, gross 77, net 71 from a handicap of 6; 2, Danny Lewis, 77, net 71 (6); 3, Paul Sear, 80, net 72 (8); 4, Robin Murray, 76, net 72 (4); 5,Glenn Page, 76, net 72, also 4.

Division 2: 1, Barry Devetta, 78, net 66. His score was under his age – very impressive, Barry; well done; 2, Geoff Millardship, 80, net 68 (12); 3, Julian Turnbull, 84, net 72 (12); 4, Ian Peacock, 81, net 72 (9)

Division 3: 1, Ben Platt, 91, net 71 (20); 2, Mike Trapnell, 87, net 73 (14); 3, Terry Harris, 88, net 74 (14); 4, Simon Harding, 95, net 77 (18)

The conditions were the same as they have been over the past month, dry and getting drier – bad for farmers and golfers.

Whilst golfers can now hit prodigious distances, the ball takes on a life of its own and bounces all over the place, often not in the direction the player intended; that will explain why there were so many No Returns – of the 93 contestants, there were 32 whose scores didn’t match up to their player’s expectations! There were only four twos, who shared a purse of £180 - £45 each.

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