2018 - A Winning Year.
The Senior Darwin is a scratch foursomes competition for those over 65 who attended the first 16 schools to play in the Halford Hewitt. Until this year, Repton had only won this prestigious trophy on one occasion.
The original team selected was Keith Andrews, Peter Gill, Martin Kippax, Benson Greatrex,Tim Sale and Myles Elliott…. however on the first morning Martin Kippax declared himself until with a recurring back problem and at the very last minute David Pepper stepped up to play in his place.
The perennial favourites Tonbridge (who amongst the number include a past player in the amateur Championships and several members off low handicaps)- are used to just turning up and winning with casual ease - were put to the sword in the Final by mostly ‘ard men o the north” (but captained by a "southern softie”!!)
The early rounds were against Winchester who we beat 2:1 Marlborough who we beat 2:1 Charterhouse who we struggled a bit to beat but came through in the deciding match on the 18th green against Roddy Gamble who played really well and his partner Robin….. ( but only after Benson holed a rather steamy downhill 4 footer …phew!) for another 2:1 win - it was the only time Elliott and Benson had been up in that match.
( Benson has played really well all the way through this competition).
In the final against Tonbridge our first pair stars Keith Andrews and Peter Gill powered through to a 3 and 2 win .
Our third pair Myles Elliott and Benson Greatrex (previously undefeated) - were put to the sword by Tonbridge's star and his partner so leaving all the drama of the final to Pair Two - Tim Sale and David Pepper ( who was drafted in at the 11.95 hour when Martiin Kippax’s back went painfully out an hour before kick off!!)
We pick up the deciding match on the 16th tee where both teams (Sale and Pepper for Repton) - are level.
The 16th is a short par three with a difficult tee shot requiring a carry over a bunker to a tiny landing area from 145 yards with the pond waiting for any slight mishit.
Tonbridge have the honour and hit a very good tee shot clearing the bunker but running through perhaps a little further than they would have wished into the rough behind the green
Tim's tee shot very nearly hits the flag but runs through a yard or so into the rough grass - perhaps no more than 25 feet from the flag.
There is quite a crowd of onlookers gathered around the green. The sun filters through the pines - other than a gentle zephyr there is no noise as Tonbridge step up to play their recovery chip to the green .. the shot comes up 10 feet short.
Now it is David Pepper to play - he takes a casual look at the target and caresses the ball to within a foot of the flag for a concession this is followed by a missed putt by Tonbridge … Repton are one up
The long 17th par-4 requires a straight drive to have any prospect of finding the green and even then it is a big ask... neither Tonbridge nor Repton play it with distinction but Tonbridge do just enough to win with a bogie …all square
18th hole is not a long par four but a good straight drive is required to leave an easier second shot through the gap between the bunkers to a triple tier green (with a pond awaiting any miss hit!!)
Tim Sale puts David into a splendid position with the best possible line into the green from the left side of the fairway. It is now David to play first to the green ( and he knows Tim sale does not like bunkers! - so added pressure) and by now there are 60 spectators gathered to watch his shot. As he did at the 16th …….he took a relaxed look at the target and with a smooth swing made perfect contact to leave the ball nicely placed at the front of the 18th green.
Now it is Tonbridge to play - their drive has found the slightly heavier rough on the right and under some pressure - they fail to make good contact -leaving their third shot to be played from short of the bunkers.
Their third shot is well played but the ball runs onto the front upper part of the green but without enough momentum to carry it down the ‘steps’ in the green to the safer lower area.. so leaving a very tricky downhill across the break. This is a putt of some 25 feet ...with the almost certainty that if the weight of the putt was not exact the ball would carry on down to the lowest part of the green.
Repton to play…….Tim runs a delightful putt across the green to within 6 or 7 feet for three
Tonbridge's putt misses the flag - and as we all guessed would happen - it runs on down to the lowest tier of the green - from where their fifth shot does not go in ……….. and the hole …..and match are conceded !!!
Repton has pulled it off!!!…. Well done every one - especially our eldest players - who under great pressure came through to give us the second victory in the Senior Darwin within 5 years .