The sun was rising, the birds were singing, and the Blues were still slumbering soundly, dreaming of pured 3 irons, when the alarms went off at a prompt 7:35am on Saturday morning. A relatively late start for the Blues (usually serenading the larks before 6 o’clock) but no amount of sleep was ever going to feel sufficient to prepare them against the might of the vaguely mafia-sounding ‘Society’, who have developed a habit of bettering Cambridge in recent years by increasingly humiliatingly large margins. This weekend then promised a tough slog for Adam Parkes’ fledgling team and even the usually indominable captain was heard petitioning that he would nip off his left nut for a halve.
At 7:45 however, it looked as though the Blues would be lucky to get even that, not because of any golfing ailments, but because of a potentially missed tee-time. New(ish)comers George Baron, Ed Tillson and Will Trinkwon had been on schedule to arrive well ahead of their 8:45 match times when a venerable elderly resident fell down and injured herself outside of Selwyn. Fortunately, George and Will were just by the college picking up Ed at the time and were able to come to her aide. The subsequent calling of an ambulance meant that the Cambridge trio had to push back their games in the morning, but also, maybe, saved an old lady’s life. Some things, we would all do well to remember, are more important than a win on the golf course.
But picking up a W is still crucial and after a pretty sorry performance at Little Aston and Blackwell, Trinkwon was desperate to rectify things this weekend. He and Rohan Gupta swiftly achieved this, going 1 under through 13 holes to dispatch ex-Blues Jamie Giddins and James Cumberland 6&5 and proving that karma/a hot putter exists once and for all. Ebert and Tillson, Baron and Condron were defeated in the next two matches, but an imperious 4&3 victory courtesy of Adam Parkes and Seb Hickman swung the momentum back Cambridge’s way. This proved a key turning point in the morning session. Playing behind Parkes and Hickman, Matt Davey and Joe Chandler fed off the former’s great play and raised their own games to a high level themselves, downing David Bonsall and Chris Bellingham 3&2. Andre Neto-Bradley and Nick Winder also seemed to get a boost from flood of blue up on the leaderboard and despite a strong fight back from Mark Bonney and Chris Slim, held on to close out their match on the last. The result was a very unusual 4-2 lead for the Blues as the teams paused for lunch. But with a wrathful and determined Society and the perils of an open plan bar tab, the Blues were anticipating their form not to last.
Parkes though was having none of it, resolving once more to lead the team out in the afternoon singles and battling to a gritty 2&1 triumph over the always-dangerous Jamie Giddins. Secretary Seb Hickman, whose suspicious taste in trousers called to mind a young Jasper Parnevik or John Daly, also ground out a win, dusting off the efficiently German Paul Schonberger 3&2. But when Ed Tillson explored regions hitherto unfathomed in Worlington’s shrubbery, tramping from bushel to forest to bushel enroute to a 3&2 routing by Chris Bellingham, the Society looked to be reasserting itself. And That feeling was only heightened when James Cumberland came in with the scalp of Neto-Bradley and a 3 iron with its 1 penny coin sweet spot worn brown. Plainly some Cantabrian heroics were due. And amazingly were duly delivered. The first hammer-blow was struck by Will Trinkwon who barely making a bogey all round registered an unholy 7&6 victory over the very reverend Mark Bonney. The Society reeled under the hit. Matt Davey then added further fuel to the blaze, more blue on the scoresheet with a 3&2 win over Henry Ellis, which was quickly followed by a significant Ebert victory over David Ryan, Joe Chandler’s sound beating of Will Pearmain, and finally Andrew Condron’s 5&4 extinction of Chris Slim. The miracle had happened, Cambridge had extended their lead and with only 36 holes of foursomes to go, the Light Blues were nursing a 14-4 advantage in a match which virtually everyone had expected them to lose very comfortably.
*Owing to the reporter’s absence during the evening dinner, this report will decline an extended account of the night’s proceedings. All that will suffice to say is that many people got very drunk, Chris Slim vomited in a manhole, Adam Parkes introduced himself to everybody in the local Wetherspoons (‘Hi I’m Padam Arkes, who are you?’) ten times before collapsing in a heap of broken dreams by a weathered-looking fruit machine, and David Bonsall – chairman of the R&A rules committee and the marshal responsible for passing ruling on Jordan Speith’s infamous tangle on the 13th hole in this year’s Open – gave a speech about some obscure new addition to clause 23.*
To cut an already too long story short (see the above insert): the Saturday night dinner was a pleasant but bruising affair that left many of the two teams battling hangovers when they returned to the course Sunday morning. But even with alcohol-addled bodies the Blues felt confident they strike on from yesterday’s heroics and come away with the victory, or at least that was what they were telling themselves when they arrived at Royal Worlington and after a quick round of putts on the putting green readied themselves to head out on the course. Winder and Condron were off top against Society frontrunners Will Pearmain and Alex Silver. Nothing but a clean sweep for the Society in the Sunday matches would do and Pearman and Silver dutifully gave Cambridge something to think about with an early win. James Cumberland and Chris Bellingham also did the dirty on their Blues opponents, Mabbutt and Chandler falling victim to a resurgent (Cumberland) ‘Sausage’ and a Bellingham now cured off an earlier spate of topping. Cambridge were soon back in command of things though as Parkers and Ebert got one over on David Bonsall and a struggling Chris Slim who simultaneously fighting a handover, rip hook, cold putter and the chipping ‘yips’ did a good job of managing to stay upright, let alone keep his ball on the course. However, Cambridge’s repost didn’t last long as the next two matches were also claimed by the Society, before Trinkwon and Neto-Bradley hit back with an 8&7 demolition of Sam Cates and Dai Rowley-Jones – Trinkwon still yet to play the last 5 holes in any of his weekend games – to raise spirits again ahead of the final afternoon foursomes.
While the Society did their best to stage a comeback in the afternoon, Cambridge shut the door on them for good with a brace of strong victories from Gupta and Hickman, Parkes and Baron and Condron and Trinkwon, who holed a pressure-packed 6 footer in front of a intimidatingly-crowded 18th green to seal a rare full-4-points-won weekend. Captain Adam Parkes was also undefeated to add some personal relish to what was overall a rarefied and impressive triumph for the light Blues. While this reporter doesn’t want to jinx things and it’s still early season, the CUGC crop is looking a strong one this year. If I were Oxford I’d certainly be watching my back; VM 2K17 could be interesting.