Boarding and Day School for boys aged 7 - 18 years

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HALFORD HEWITT REPORT 2012

Bedford have been playing in the Halford Hewitt since 1937 – not once in 74 attempts had the team made it to the Saturday of the tournament……until 2012.

Played over the links of Royal Cinque Ports & Royal St Georges, the Halford Hewitt has been described by the golf writer Nick Tremayne as 'the greatest of all truly amateur tournaments'. Founded in 1924 it is competed for today by the old boys of 64 English and Scottish public schools which each field five foursomes pairs, making 640 competitors in all. The sheer size of the "field" - plus the hundreds of supporters who routinely turn up - is part of what makes the "Hewitt" a unique sporting event. The tournament has a rich history, frequently pits average golfers against famous internationals, and produces moments of golfing pressure simply not experienced by amateur players elsewhere.

Over the past few years the team has been getting stronger as a result of the School Golf Foundation programme but it had not translated into results. In 2012 Bedford arrived on the Kent coastline without captain Dan Mules and best player, George Wilson, who were both abroad. Remarkably the Kent coastline was blessed in sunshine all week and the team headed into Thursday’s opener against Downside having practiced well and in form.

In Round One, Bedford defeated Downside fairly comfortably 4-1 with notable mention to Oli Hopgood and Mark Orchart at pair three winning 2 up in a tense match. Hopgood was making his debut alongside seasoned competitor Orchart and is the latest product of the Bedford School Golf Foundation. Top pair Tom Langley-Poole and Simon Blundell won their match 4&2 whilst Colin Beesley and Tim Henderson began their 100% winning record for the week by dishing out a 6&5 thrashing. Emotions ran high in the anchor pair where Ed Kent partnered Adam Wilkinson to a 2&1 victory – the latter of whom had won a recent battle with cancer.

    

Friday was Round Two at Royal Cinque Ports against Merchant Taylors – seeded 10 on the recent Anderson Scale and 2009 Finalists. The Hewitt was appearing to be a doddle for young Hopgood as he and Orchart won again 4&3. Beesley and Henderson handed out a 5&4 beating to Merchant’s fourth pair but a narrow loss for Langley-Poole and Blundell left the match at 2-1 with matches two and five in the balance. At pair two, Iain Pratt & Brian Gillett stood on the par four seventeenth 1 up have just lost two holes on the bounce. Pratt managed to hold his nerve sending a peerless six iron to 8 feet from the pin. The Merchant Taylors pair missed the green and were unable to get up and down leaving Gillett to roll the putt to the hole to send Bedford into their first ever Saturday by 3 &1/2 to 1 &1/2.

Bedford’s first ever Saturday game was against Cheltenham at 8.20am at Deal. There were easy wins for Langley-Poole & Blundell at pair one (9&7!!) and also for Kent & Wilkinson 6&5 at pair five. Cheltenham had put their strongest pairs out at two, three and four and won matches two and three and with match four finely poised. After a fine up and down at the 17th to keep the match going, Beesley and Henderson managed to win the 18th to send the heated contest into extra holes to decide the whole match. Both pairs found the green in two but Bedford were only 10 feet away from the hole, after a smooth wedge from Beesley. Cheltenham took three putts leaving an unsympathetic Henderson to gleefully take Bedford into the quarter finals!

 

Bedford then learned that a positive from reaching the quarter finals is a professionally taken team photo (still to receive copies).

After a quick lunch the quarter final commenced against Eton. Beesley & Henderson rounded off their 100% week with another 6&5 win whilst Pratt & Gillett took out Eton’s top pair 4&3. Pair three (Hopgood & Orchart) and Pair five (Kent & Wilkinson) suffered big losses leaving Langley-Poole and Blundell to try and take Bedford to the semis. Blundell’s Mickelsonesque short game on 17th took the match to 18th with Bedford one down. Unfortunately Bedford could only make bogey and Langley-Poole and Blundell reflected on a match they thought they should have won. But that says something – the Bedford team were disappointed at losing to Eton on a Saturday afternoon quarter final.

 

This was a very satisfying and memorable week for Old Bedfordian golf – Mark Orchart quoted that the week had ‘made his Hewitt career’ after competing for 30+ years. The team played good and sensible golf all week and realized at long last that we can compete at this level.

Special thanks go to Chris Johnson as non playing captain and for his needlework in providing the team t-shirts (sponsored by Paragon – if this gets into Golf Quarterly!) Thanks also to Simon Kimber for supporting all week and for being non playing captain on the record breaking Friday. The team sports psychologist, Dr Charles Coker, also deserves an honorable mention for his words of wisdom all week.

The team is now looking forward to 2013 and the future with the addition of further players who have benefitted from the Bedford School Golf Foundation programme.

The date for the 2013 Halford Hewitt is the week of 8th – 14th April 2013. Selection weekend likely to be 16th/17th February 2013.

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