As the trees lost their leaves and the academic year began again, the Blues braved 1 hour and 40 minutes of dubiously surfaced Midlands motorways to get their new season underway at Little Aston. The fixture has historically proved trying for the light blues and with a Little Aston side fielding several ex-pros, three plus men and the legendary Cantab alumni James Cumberland, the blues knew they needed to be on their ‘A’ games to come back home to Cambridge with a W.
Maxwell and Trinkwon went off top and after a gritty ‘all-worlds’ par on the probably-much-easier-than-Maxwell’s-drive-made-it-look opening hole, lost 3&2 to the big-hitting Jim Mercurio and Myles Pearson, who had recently posted a bogey-free 64 and is handicapped off plus 3. A similarly tough pairing awaited Cambridge captain Adam Parkes and Jack Irvine, who despite pulling clear early on, lost momentum over the home stretch and got caught on the 18th. With no points from the first two matches, things were starting to look bleak for the light blues, but spirits were soon roused by a 4&3 victory from Eliot Ebert and Joe Chandler, and while Josh Thomson and Mihir Patel lost heavily to Mike Skerrit and John Everton, a half point courtesy of Seb Hickman and Andre Neto-Bradley kept the Cambridge side within touching distance as the teams headed inside for some grub.
With both sides suitably imbibed play got underway again with a vintage thinned tee-shot from Parkes. Adam, buoyed from a surprisingly entertaining first captain’s speech over lunch, took the brave (read: foolish) decision to lead the Cambridge boys out in the afternoon singles, a decision he would immediately regret when a confident-looking Myles Pearson arrived to meet him on the first tee. But despite pulling quickly ahead after 9, Pearson’s smile started to wane when Adam’s trademark combination of match-play grit and distractingly long monologues on the 12th century Arabic peninsula broke the LA frontman’s stride and enabled a stoical Parkes to get back to all square. A series of late Pearson three-putts saw Adam ebullient at having somehow conspired to triumph against Little Aston’s best player 2&1 and damning Irvine and Trinkwon, the captain’s unfortunate car-fellows for the evening drive to Blackwell, to a seemingly endless account of his brilliance.
But Parkes was not the only Cambridge player to come good in the afternoon matches. Eliot Ebert downed ex-challenge tour player James Bishop to put another early point on the board for the blues and though Hickman and Maxwell were to fall short in the next two games, an imperious Joe Chandler, making an impressive debut, came away with the scalp everyone wanted (James Cumberland’s) on the last. Will Trinkwon also took his match to the 18th, but wasn’t so competent, losing 1 down to a Skerrit par, however, Andre Neto-Bradley and Jack Irvine were to more than make up for this with another two points in the matches that followed. With only two pairings still on the course, Cambridge were on the threshold of a rare halve or even a victory. But any such hopes were quickly extinguished when a deflated-looking Patel trekked back to the clubhouse, having been beaten soundly by John Everton, and it was left to the disconsolate figure of Josh Thomson to relate how he had secured himself the dubious honour of becoming the first player in blues history to air shot a driver enroute to a 2&1 loss to Bill Jordan. The final scoreline, then: Little Aston 8.5, Cambridge 6.5. And, all things considered, a respectable first performance by the blues.
The Blues second fixture of the weekend saw them descending down south to the stomping ground of an always competitive Blackwell Golf Club. A round of drinks was quickly knocked back at the clubhouse and more were to follow over dinner, but the evening was by CUCG’s typical standards a fairly tame one, with an unusually restrained new Blues crop not wanting to jeopardize their next morning’s play.
As it was, however, their golf proved more than capable of jeopardizing itself. Trinkwon and Irvine succumbed to the dampening winter turf on 18, taking more earth than ball on their approach shot to lose 1 down on the last, while Hickman and Patel were also to fare badly, bested by the ancient wisdom of Noel Muscutt and Steve Piercy 4&3. Neto-Bradley and Thomson and Chandler and Parkes couldn’t pick up a point either and it was only the pairing of Maxwell and Ebert which were to register a Cambridge W in the morning.
Refreshed and refuelled by perhaps the most generous quantity of potato-based dishes ever present at a CUGC lunch, the Blues returned to the course knowing that a quick start was needed if they were to have any hope of overturning the Wighorns lead. But the longed-for wins were not forthcoming as Parkes and Neto-Bradley got beat by the multi-generational duo of Blackwell’s Fitzpatricks, before Chandler and Patel were routed 6&5 by Dave Nevett and Lee Jones. Further down the batting order, the Blues were at least given something to hold on to when Maxwell and Hickman came in with a victory. But with Ebert and Trinkwon’s game still alive on the 18th, it looked like Cambridge could be shipping another important point.
Whispers soon reached the clubhouse that the Cambridge pairing were sitting on dormie; a halve at the last would do it, but with their Blackwell’s opponents in the fairway and Trinkwon and Ebert ensnared in the left rough, the odds were not looking especially favourable. Worse still, it fell to Trinkwon to hit the approach shot, whose long game had been taxing him all day. His hands trembling with what Trinkwon would later insist as being merely cold, the blue’s most dubious ball-striker set himself into his stance, gave his 9 iron a final, neurotic waggle, and, gritting his teeth with more force than an un-anaesthetised dental patient, closed his eyes hard and swung. There was the muted thwack of clubhead meeting ball, a flutter of nervous pigeons in a nearby tree, and for a second Trinkwon thought he might have thinned it, such was the suspiciously low trajectory on which his approach started out. But the ball climbed higher and higher, cresting into a panoramic, azure October sky and came to rest about 10 feet from the cup. A steady two putts from there and Cambridge had their second point of the afternoon, and though the Blues would eventually lose to the Wigorns 7-3, the spectacle of Trinkwon’s self-proclaimed wizardry and for Ebert, a 4-point weekend, meant the loss was an easy one to bear.