It was President’s Day at Banbridge Golf Club last Saturday. John Parkes, in his final year as President, ably assisted by his wife Mary, had everything organised to perfection.
It turned out to be a brilliant occasion. The weather was glorious, the course was close to immaculate, the matchplay final was a thriller, the prizes were perfect, the meal was sumptuous, the music from Gerry and Lee was just ideal and the craic was mighty. What more could you ask for?
The highlight of President’s Day is always the fourball matchplay final. This is known as the President’s Prize and it starts away back in the month of May until there are only two pairs standing come the first Saturday in September.
In the semi-finals, David and Jamie Thompson had beaten Ryan Simpson and Neil Comiskey at the 21st hole while Gareth Moody and Aaron Buchanan had beaten Paul and Mark McCullough 2 and 1.
So it was Gareth and Aaron versus David and Jamie in the final.
This is how the match unfolded:
1st- Aaron won it with a par 4 to go 1 up.
2nd- Jamie and his dad both got pars, good enough to level the match.
3rd- Halved in pars.
4th- Aaron won it with a nett birdie. Himself and Gareth went 1 up again.
5th- David got up and down for a brilliant half.
6th- Gareth came in with a superb birdie to go 2 up.
7th- Once again, the hole was halved in par.
8th- Jamie sank a 20 footer for a winning birdie 2. Only one hole in it.
9th- Lots of errors here from everyone except David. He won the hole and halved the match.
So, at the halfway stage, there was nothing in it. It was all very exciting.
10th- Gareth sank a 15 footer to get a half with David. How crucial was that!
11th- Big mistake from Jamie. He takes 3 putts from 11 feet to lose the hole and go one behind.
12th- Jamie redeemed himself. He won the hole with a par 3. It was all square again.
13th- Gareth hit his tee shot so far right, it almost hit a car on the Ballykeel Road. That’s where a good partner is invaluable. Aaron won the hole with a par 4. One up again.
14th- David had a chance to win but 3 putted. The hole was halved. Gareth and Aaron were 1 up going into the final four holes.
15th- Gareth hit a 5 iron into 15 feet but Jamie matched him. It was another half.
16th- It was Jamie versus Gareth once again. They were both on in two and both got pars. One hole in it, two holes to play
17th- All 4 players hit brilliant tee shots. Jamie hit the best approach, his ball finishing 5 feet above the hole. Gareth chipped dead for his par. Jamie had a putt to win the hole and square the match. He had 2 putts for the half.
He went for the win and watched in horror as his ball trickled past the hole and rolled 6 feet past. The 17th green, as we all know, is a nightmare. You have guessed what happened. Jamie missed the return putt and the match was over. Gareth and Aaron had won a fantastic match by 2 and 1.
It was a match worthy of the occasion and all credit to the four players.
There were more prizes to be won by all the other members in an 18 holes stableford competition.
The winner was Barry Casey with 44 points. Second was Neil Clydesdale with 42 points and Mervyn Waddell was third with 41 points. Malcolm Russell won the senior’s prize and Conor Doran won the best gross.
Liz Ramsey was top lady and Denise McBrien was runner-up. Helen Cocks won the best gross and Maura McGrath won the 9-hole competition.
There was a special prize for Hilda Caughey who got a hole-in-one at the 15th.
Melissa Whan was the best juvenile girl.
It was a wonderful day from start to finish and we all hope that John will remember his President’s Day with fondness.