Fulford Heath Golf Club

Another first for me as County Captain….. County Match Week. This is when Berkshire take on the other 5 counties in the Midlands South region in the space of 2 1/2 days. A very busy 2 1/2 days….. Each match consists of 2 foursomes matches followed by 3 singles matches. We had a great squad, but not a large one, courtesy of England Golf arranging not one, but two national women’s events in the same week.

We had some seasoned veterans, Tracy Crew, Donna Hunt, Emily Savage, Emma Peters and Sarah Heath, some experienced juniors, Chloe Walkington and Holly Lund and two rookies, Gayle Kennedy and Tess Samuels. A great mix of seriously good golfing talent. The Captain’s buggy was looking resplendent, thanks to 2nd team Captain, Emily Savage.

Berkshire Buggy

Our first match was against local rivals, Oxfordshire. We were in our “second kit” of all navy so as not to blend in too much with Oxfordshire. I chose not to play Tess to let her get a feel for the week ahead. Gayle had to work, so the team consisted of Tracy & Donna and Emily & Holly in the foursomes, followed by Sarah, Chloe and Emma in the singles. Although all the matches were close, we had a comfortable 4-1 win. I should have taken a photo of the leaderboard at that point, because with 4 wins in the match, we were at the top of it!  

Berkshire team CW 2024

Sadly that was not to last. In the afternoon we faced host County, Worcestershire & Herefordshire. Tess got her first taste of County Match Week playing foursomes with Tracy. That was the only change to the squad, and the result again was 4-1……Unfortunately we were on the losing side this time with Chloe winning our only game of the match.

Tuesday morning we were facing National champions Buckinghamshire. I’m not quite sure how many times they have won County Match Week, but it’s a lot….. And they certainly haven’t lost in the last 6 years. I chose to rest Tracy and Donna, and put the two rookies, Gayle and Tess, out in the foursomes, alongside Holly and Emily. The singles remained unchanged with Sarah, Chloe and Emma. My advice to the team was “do your best and enjoy yourselves”.  And they did not disappoint……. At the turn we were ahead in 4 of the 5 matches! I started to dare to dream that we could pull off, what would be considered, a massive upset. Even Bruce, the County mascot, was on the edge of his seat!

Brucie Driving

We knew they would try and come back at us on the back 9, and that is exactly what happened, Emily and Holly lost, but the rookie pairing of Tess and Gayle had a great win. (and subsequently earned my nickname of the “awesome foursome pairing”) 

Jess and Gayle - awesome foursomes

Sarah had come up against a barrage of birdies from Ella Butteriss of Beaconsfield (+3 handicap!) and lost, but Chloe was on a roll, winning her match 3&2. All eyes were now on the final match…. Emma vs Lulu Leitham (+2 handicap) Emma was 1 down but had 2 holes left.

She won the 17th……. All square in the match, all square in the game….. 1 hole to play….I couldn’t watch….. Both hit great drives down the par 5 18th, Lulu some 20 yards longer than Emma. Emma hit a nice 5 wood, but it was a little short and right in the semi rough. Lulu hit her second to the edge of the green. Emma’s third was just inside Lulu’s ball, but she had taken one shot more….. Lulu’s putt came up short…. Emma had seen the line…… Could we still do this?? Emma’s putt just missed, but Lulu still had to hole her birdie putt for the win on a notoriously tricky green. The putt dropped and we had lost the match 3-2….But I could not have been prouder of the team.

The afternoon was another tight match against Warwickshire. I couldn’t possibly split up the awesome foursome pairing of Gayle and Tess, but gave Sarah a break from the singles by pairing her with Emily. The singles were Tracy, Chloe and Emma. It was looking like a win with 1 match won, 2 lost, but both Tracy (who had fought back brilliantly from 3 down) and Gayle & Tess were dormy 1 up! But victory was snatched from us by some great putting and we lost the final hole in the 2 games we were dormy 1 up in, so only got 1/2 points instead of full points. Another 3-2 loss…. so so close…..

The final match on Wednesday morning was against Northamptonshire. Because we had such a small squad, made even smaller by Emma having to go back to work, the team were tired. They had all played a lot of golf over the 2 1/2 days and they had left nothing out there, they had played their hearts out. Sadly, we lost 4-1 with the only win coming from the awesome foursome pairing of Gayle and Tess.

So, 5th place overall….. but it was so close to being so much better. Chloe had earned her County colours, with 4 wins out of 5. Gayle and Tess remained unbeaten in the foursomes. I literally cannot wait for County Match Week next year at Harewood Downs Golf Club. (9-11th June if you want to come and support – I shall remind you all again nearer the time)

A massive thank you to our caddies this week, Ian, Richard, Steve, Kerry and Ann. My thanks to Airlie our President and Jacqui Quilter, our lone supporter!

We have a fantastic squad with oodles of potential. Bring it on!!!

Jules Tarr
Berkshire County Captain

Berskhire team 2024