Surrey golf - best players, courses and Tales from the 19th
PUBLISHED: 18:19 19 September 2012 | UPDATED: 20:30 20 February 2013
Every month, sports journalist John Whitbread, of the Surrey Golf Partnership, regales Surrey Life magazine readers with tales from the 19th. Below are abridged cuts from our monthly Surrey golf column...
Blazing a trail
Addington Court Golf Club has introduced some 2,000 children to golf over the last three years, so its hardly surprising that they have just won a top national award for their schools programme. They were among the winners of the 2012 Community Sport and Recreation Awards from the Sport and Recreation Alliance and, what is more, its the third time in two years that they have been recognised for their work with schools.
Wentworths wonder girl
Becoming the youngest-ever winner of the prestigious Surrey Ladies Golf Championship at Hindhead in April, 15-year-old Inci Mehmet so dominated the three-day event, which attracted the countys top 50 women and girls, that she walked off with six of the seven glittering trophies on offer with the seventh being open only to 19-25-year-olds. It was amazing and even a bit embarrassing, says Mehmet with a huge grin. It took three of us, including my mum Seshi and my coach James Lockrose, to put them all in the car!
BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth
The eyes of the British sporting public will be trained on Wentworth from Thursday May 24 to Sunday May 27, when world number one Luke Donald attempts to retain the BMW PGA Championship crown he won in such thrilling style last year. Getting a special close-up view of Europes top 150 players and all of the action, on and off the course, at the European Tours flagship event, will be a proud and excited group of Surreys Young Golf Ambassadors.
100 years of Woodcote Park Golf Club in Coulsdon
Woodcote Park Golf Club first set course in 1912 the same year that Titanic set sail on her ill-fated maiden voyage. While ice may not have sunk the Coulsdon club, it has caused the 500-plus members some headaches, as I found out on a visit in mid-February. The ladies who had hoped to compete for the Valentine Trophy had been forced to withdraw for coffee and bridge in the very comfortable clubhouse, thanks to a blanket of white still covering most of the fairways, tees and greens...
Wentworths captain fantastic
When he drives up to Wentworths imposing clubhouse, Joe Gallagher must feel a mixture of both pride and good fortune.
As the 2012 captain of the famous Virginia Water club, it represents the success of a golfing journey that began as a teenager hitting balls in an overgrown field.
My brother Michael and I used to live near Harefield Place Golf Club, in Uxbridge, where we used to hunt for lost balls and sell them back to the members, he recalls with a smile. Those balls we could not sell we used to hit to each other across the field using clubs we bought from a junk yard for 50p.
Now 48, Gallagher admits he faces a really hard act following 2011s larger-than-life captain Lent Pietsch, who raised a remarkable 50,000 for disabled golfing war veterans.
In an Olympic year, I feel like I am in the high jump, but Lent has raised the bar to pole vault height, he jokes.
Gallagher has chosen to support five local childrens disability charities, including White Lodge, Chertsey, under the banner of Olivias Wish.
His daughter Olivia was one of triplets born prematurely at 24 weeks. Brothers Luke and Ryan sadly died within a year of birth but Olivia, who was delivered at just one pound 11 ounces, is now ten years old though suffers from cerebral palsy.
We are so proud of her and so thankful to the charities that have supported her and we want to do everything we can for them, he adds.
Previous fund-raising efforts have already resulted in the building of the Gallagher Suite, where parents of disabled children can stay overnight at St Peters Hospital in Chertsey.
With this inspiring man at the helm, it certainly looks set be another memorable year in this distinguished clubs history.
Womens golf in Surrey
If Surreys male golfers have had a good year, then the same can certainly be said of our ladies.
Among the female ranks, the most heartening story was how Ottershaws evergreen international star Laura Davies helped a largely inexperienced European team claim a memorable 15-13 Solheim Cup victory over the red hot United States favourites in Dublin.
The 47-year-old West Byfleet Golf Club favourite, who has won 81 tournaments around the world, including both the US and British Opens, has played in all 12 of the biennial transatlantic golfing battles, of which Europe has won just four.
A focus on Surreys mens game
While golf may not be part of this years Olympics (its due to return for the 2016 games after a century-long absence), we can at least console ourselves that Surreys male golfers go into 2012 in fine health and full of confidence after another super 12 months on and off the course.
Topping the list was Wentworths Steven Brown who won the English Amateur Championship and went on to join Stiggy Hodgson of Sunningdale to play a starring role in Great Britain and Irelands thrilling Walker Cup victory over the elite amateurs of the United States.
The English Golf Unions fine squad saw Brown and Hodgson joined by Surrey men Andrew Cooley, Warren Harmston, Josh White and Alex Christie.
Help for Heroes Battle Back Golfers from Headley Court, Leatherhead
ITS all too easy for sports writers to fall into the trap of calling a football teams comeback brave or a cricketers century courageous. Such words of praise were totally deserved, however, on a very special day at Wentworth recently yet even they do not seem enough to fully convey the truly remarkable triumph of sporting spirit over adversity. Twenty-two soldiers, sailors and air force men, some competing with one or two prosthetic legs, artificial arms, or one eye, each skippered a team of members and guests at the Wentworth Captains Day on the Edinburgh Course.
Surrey's brightest young golfing stars
THEexploits of young English amateur Tom Lewis thrilled millions at this years Open Championship. He is far from a lone prospect for an international future, however, with two of Surreys brightest young guns Henry Smart and Ben Taylor also making waves in the sport.
Why the men better watch out...
BRITISH golf has never had it so good, with a record five players including Surrey's Paul Casey in the top 10 of the world golf rankings. But when it comes to Britains women, it is a rather different and far less uplifting story. You have to cast your eyes right down to No. 49 in the world before you find our first entrant and that is Ottershaws 47-year-old evergreen star Laura Davies ... If commitment and dedication count, however, then Wentworths scholarship and junior programmes might just have found the answer, with a quintet of highly talented youngsters aiming for the top. Wentworths five in a bid for fame are Dana Greenslade, Abbie Audsley, Jessica Sewell, Inci Mehmet, and Annabel Dimmock.
Senior Open Championship at Walton Heath
ALWAYSa highlight of the golfing calendar, the Senior Open Championship will be viewed with even more relish than usual this year. When the worlds top over-50 players tee up at Walton Heath Golf Club later this month, it will mark a special reunion for members of the European and United States teams who did battle on the famous Surrey course in the unforgettable 1981 Ryder Cup match. Most sporting experts agree that the 12 men who competed under the Stars and Stripes that September share with Michael Jordans 1992 Olympic basketball squad the title of Americas best-ever sporting team ... It was the first Ryder Cup that I attended as a journalist, and as sports editor of the Surrey Herald, I had special interest in Wentworth duo Bernard Gallacher and Sandy Lyle.
Coombe Hill, Kingston celebrates its centenary year
YOU arrive at Coombe Hill Golf Club via a rather bland suburban side street just off the A3 at Kingston, but bland is the very last way to describe this historic club, known for its style and panache, and with so much to celebrate in its centenary year ... For a start, the membership list could easily have been lifted from the pages of Debretts or Whos Who, headed by the royal approval of the Prince of Wales, later to become Edward VIII, and the Duke of York, who reigned as George VI after his brothers abdication (pictured together). Winston Churchill was an early member and he was joined on the fairways by Herbert Asquith and David Lloyd George. Prominent writers such as Somerset Maugham and James Bond creator Ian Fleming shared the tees with media magnates Lords Northcliffe, Beaverbrook and Rothermere, while London Palladium impressario Val Parnell introduced American superstars Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye to Coombe Hills delights.
Surrey's best players and courses
Leading the way on the world stage are Ryder Cup stars Paul Casey and Ross Fisher, both products of trail-blazing scholarship schemes ... Casey, 33, from Weybridge, who gained his scholarship at Foxhills in Ottershaw and was a junior at Burhill, before having his skills honed at Arizona State University, is currently ranked sixth in the world ... Meanwhile, 30-year-old Fisher, a star of the European teams fantastic victory over the USA in last years thrilling Ryder Cup match at Celtic Manor, learned his golf as a student on the Wentworth scholarship foundation ...A strong supporting cast includes fellow Ryder Cup stars Oliver Wilson, from Weybridge, and David Howell, from Virginia Water, as well as European Tour regulars James Morrison, from Chertsey, and Nick Dougherty and Anthony Wall, who live on the border in Sunningdale ... Our county can also lay claim to the queen of British womens golf, Ottershaws evergreen star Laura Davies ... Success has not been limited to our countys players, however, with no fewer than ten courses, more than any other county, featuring in Golf Monthlys United Kingdom top 100. There are plaudits for Sunningdale Old and New (both courses are in Surrey, despite the town and clubhouse being over the border in Berkshire); Wentworth West and East; Walton Heath Old and New; St Georges Hill, Weybridge; Woking; Hankley Common; and West Hill, Woking.
- The Surrey Golf Partnership comprises 111 clubs in our county, which are
also affiliated to the Surrey Golf Union and the Surrey Ladies Golf Union. For details, see www.surreygolfpartnership.com.
Every month, sports journalist John Whitbread, of the Surrey Golf Partnership, regales Surrey Life magazine readers with tales from the 19th. Below are abridged cuts from ourmonthly Surrey golf column...
Photo: Peter Dazeley