The society had another very successful year in 2014 with an expanded list of fixtures and an ever increasing membership.
The main event of the year was the Fitzwilliam Open, played in September at Gog Magog Golf Club for the first time. A field of 21 players enjoyed beautiful September weather, fine views over Cambridge and some tricky greens. The winner with 37 points and the new Fitzwilliam Champion Golfer was Peter Bennett. He was presented with the Croft-Baker Trophy after Dinner in College. Last year’s runaway winner, Bob Barltrop, scored a very respectable 36 points to claim second place. Alan Wood (34) and David Williams (33) were third and fourth.
Following an overnight stay in college for many, we enjoyed an excellent morning tour of Fitzwilliam and its many new buildings led by John Mueller of the Development Department. For one member, it was his first visit back to college for 40 years. We were honoured to have the Master join us for coffee in The Grove.
The afternoon round was at Royal Worlington Golf Club, the University course, near Mildenhall. This is regarded as the country’s finest nine hole courses and has a very traditional clubhouse. The pairs’ competition was won by Mike Hamment and Andrew Stracey with 44 points. The latter is a scratch golfer and, in a display of golf never previously seen at Fitzwilliam event and unlikely ever to be matched, completed 18 holes in five under par gross.
Earlier in the year, three matches were held against other Oxbridge institutions. Our oldest fixture is against St Edmund Hall which was held at Burnham Beeches Golf Club in May. In an exciting match play competition, wins by the last two Fitz pairs namely Brian Smith & Tim Sullivan and Mike Hamment & David Williams levelled the score at 3½ each to halve the match. Fitz, as holders, retained the “One Size FitzHall” Trophy and remain one up in the series.
The match against the Johnians (St John’s) at Porters Park Golf Club (near Radlett) in June was also enjoyable but with a less successful outcome. The match format was the average of the individual scores. Despite good individual scores by Matthew Hignell and Bob Barltrop, Fitz lost to go 1-2 down in the series.
Society History was made with our first hole in one, scored by Peter Bennett. Hitting to a raised green, Peter spent several minutes scouring the bushes around the green before eventually finding the ball in the hole! At the Cambridge Dinner, he was presented with a Porsche car as his prize – but in this case, a model version.
Our next opponents were Cambridge University Land Society, who hosted the event for the first time, at Essendon Golf Club near Hertford. Realising that match play format best suited the Fitzwilliam spirit, we proposed an amended format and ran out 3-2 winners after good wins by Matthew Hignell, Michael Hall, Mike Hamment, Peter Bennett and Graham May. This levelled the series 1-1.
The Society’s second Summer Tour comprised a long weekend in the Oxford area in very warm weather at the end of July. Round One was a team event at Chipping Norton Golf Club. Our excellent Tour Manager, Mike Hamment then led a Sunday morning tour around Oxford which included a punting trip. One of our number, seeking to steer around some less accomplished tourist punters, took an unexpected dip in the Cherwell. He spent the rest of the tour drying out his mobile phone. The afternoon round was at Oxford Golf Club which was set up at its most challenging because it was the day of their club championship competition. The winning pair was Matthew Hignell and Bob Winckless with a creditable 34 points. Round Three was at the delightful Studley Wood course where the victorious pair were Bob Barltrop and Colin Dunkerley with 43 points, winning on countback. The Order of Merit winner over the three days was Matthew Hignell.
A new match was held this year. Christ’s College Golf Society had only formed over the Summer, partly inspired by the success of Fitz Golf Society. We were honoured to be their first opponents in early October at Mid Herts Golf Club, the home course of both organisers. A pairs’ match was held with Christ’s running out winners 3-1. Our only winning pair was Graham May and Matthew Hignell. The event was a great success and we now have a new annual fixture.
After five years as Captain, Henry Croft-Baker has now become the society’s first President. Henry was the inspiration behind the formation of the Society and was donor of the trophy which bears his name for the Fitz Open champion. We thank him for his enthusiasm during his term of office. Our new Captain, introduced at the Cambridge dinner is the equally enthusiastic Michael Hamment and we wish him well in his post.