Thank you, Raouf, for constructing these bird scarers.
It was a needle match - the First Round of the GC Inter-Club Championships and we had been drawn away (a significant factor, see later) against Phyllis Court.
By dint of careful management by the club manager (take a bow Chris W), we were able to field one of our stronger teams (Ralph Allim, Ian Shore, Paul Gunn, Geoff Johnson) with an aggregate handicap of -2. However, Phyllis Court were able to raise a team with an aggregate handicap of -4, so we knew we had our hands full!
The format for the match was a doubles pairing plus two singles in the morning and 4 singles in the afternoon, all matches being played as best of three, with teams being fielded in DGrade order.
The day started a bit scrappily (the fact it was the first competition in the season showed) in light drizzle. By lunchtime, the weather had improved somewhat as had the quality of play to the extent that the teams were level pegging, with Paul winning his crucial singles match and the doubles game drawn at one game a piece. A minor feature of the morning was an exploration of one of the lesser used GC rules - that for overlapping play.
After a hospitable lunch in the clubhouse, the various singles games showed everyone had raised their game (adjusting from the relatively level lawns at High Wycombe to the more exacting surface at Phyllis Court) some close and challenging matches developed. The play was exciting enough to attract a range of spectators. Under their gaze it was gratifying that High Wycombe won every afternoon match to bring the score to an unassailable 5.5 to 1.5 lead to High Wycombe, meaning there was no need to play the deciding doubles match. During play some fiery tactics were a feature of the lead players, while others showed a certain dexterity of stroke could also be a winning formula. Man of the Match was Paul Gunn, starting the season as he means to continue.
The win means that High Wycombe goes through to the next round to play either Ashby or Watford - date TBD.
The Club hosted its first external event on a glorious March day. It was a 60th Birthday gathering of 16 family members arranged by Ed and hosted by Ed, Nigel and Mark during a Saturday afternoon. Just using Lawn 2 (split as two half lawns) with the Club's gazebo as a base for the guests, it illustrates how a small event can be staged only taking up one lawn. All food and drink was brought by the birthday boy's family.
It also throws open the idea of how easy it is for any Club Member to initiate and host a small event. Do keep the idea in mind for yourself, family and friends. It is a great way to help keep the Club's finances topped up and the Committee Members are always there to advise and support.
HWCC is hoping to secure the opportunity to join a trial of a new format for low-handicap players.
WCF and CA committee members have been aware for some time that players who have reached a very high standard, in either GC and AC, sometimes start to feel that the sense of challenge that has motivated them so far may be starting to wane. A radical proposal was therefore put to a recent meeting of the CA Innovation and Future Technology Committee to address this issue.
The system is to introduce some randomness into hoop running, in order to recreate the element of challenge that was there for players at the start of their careers. Hoops for a practice session can be modified to become semi-magnetic (see picture). A simple smartphone app -- currently only on Android, though an iOS version is envisaged -- generates a signal that turns the magnetic field on or off. This can be programmed to be at random, or following a series of limited patterns, for practice sessions. As a modern composite ball that contains sufficient ferrous material approaches the hoop, it will either be attracted, repelled, or treated neutrally if the field is not in operation at that moment.
The CA has given permission, during the trial period, for the hoop magnets to be considered as integral to the hoop itself, and neither an Outside Agency nor an Accessory (Rules 4.1 and 4.2 of GC Rules 6th Edition).
Psychologist Dr A. Blague will be conducting research into the effects of this system on the players who take part. She hypothesises that the random 'errors' introduced into practice sessions, will test and further strengthen the mental resilience of top players. Her research will form part of the CA trial report, due to be produced before the start of the 2023 season.
HWCC is seeking CA approval for us to be a club in the trial. If we are successful, you can expect to see the modified hoops in action shortly. Once again, High Wycombe is hoping to be a First.
But who's complaining? 16 degrees, sunshine from start to finish, lunch taken outdoors, even the occasional mention of sunscreen!
The event itself provided yet more evidence that Advantage GC does give people of different handicaps a fair chance to compete against one another. Three of the first matches ended 7-6 (and the fourth was 7-5); the lowest handicapped player (3) ended in the bottom half of the tournament; and the final was played between a 4 and a 9.
So, as the winter series ends, it's nice to know that, since we started in October:
My thanks go to all the HWCC members who have helped in many ways to put these shows on. Day Managers Sharon, Martin, Geoff B, Keith and Richard. Referee (and Advantage GC pegmaker!) Ian. Hoop-setters Raouf and Keith.
A real club effort!
The High Wycombe series of winter tournaments draws towards its close. Saturday saw the last of the level play events, a day enjoyed by eight people with handicaps of 5 or higher. Three were visitors from Caversham. It's always good to welcome people from other clubs.
The weather provided rather more moments of sharp showers than had been forecast, but players had been prudent and brought wet weather gear. By the end of the morning rounds, David Dibben and Mike Vickery had established strong positions to win their respective blocks. But it was "the other Vickery", Kay, who came from 2nd place to beat Mike and so go into the final against David. Unsurprisingly, that game went to the 13th hoop, David winning in a tense battle there. Congratulations, David.
Meanwhile, in another part of the forest (see A A Milne), tournament manager Chris was getting some excellent 1:1 coaching on refereeing from Ian Shore, who was himself multi-tasking with giving refereeing decisions for the players. Qualified referee Brian Jamieson also joined in the learning sessions, to everyone's advantage.
A rich, enjoyable day. One more tournament to go.
Another successful Winter Tuesday Tournament was held on 8 March at the Club. It was cold but with beautiful sunshine.
The handicaps of the eight players ranged from 2 to 12 which led to some interesting start scores. Geoff Johnson (2) playing Minty (12) meant that Geoff entered the lawn with 14 pegs but undaunted (well, a bit) he ran 11 hoops to win the game! Minty played the shot of the match by running Hoop 1 with her first ball by a careful deflection off her opponent's ball.
Pat Winning and Martin Dock both won their respective blocks which put them in a good position for the afternoon. However, Carol Jamieson won her game in Round 4 and so met Martin in the Final. Would there be a repeat of the heavy win for Martin from their morning game? No sirree: Carol more than reversed the score to win. The bubbly was hers!
Many thanks to Martin for arriving extra early and staying late to help set up and put away the equipment. Also, a big thank you to Brian Jamieson for agreeing to be the referee and adding professionalism to the tournament.
All the donations you left for Ukrainian evacuees have gone into packaging boxes loaded onto a ten tonne lorry along with so many more donations that left from Slough destined for Poland. There, I understand, they will be transferred to a Polish military lorry that will take them to where it is needed most.
Tiny drops in the ocean that will hopefully make a few lives easier. Let's all hope they can safely return to their homes, land and lives soon.
Thank you for all your kind help.