Spring Tour 2019 (France - Montreuil sur Mer)
Alan Bigley wins the European Spring Tour with three excellent rounds of golf – securing 100 points (33.3 average stableford points per round)
We set off for the Eurotunnel at around 6.30/6.45am! The exception being Tom who left a little later and arrived a little earlier than the rest of us - the journey kept both James and Kelvin awake for the duration! David then managed to scrape (literally) under the height barrier for cars and off we went to French France where this year’s battle would commence. The weather forecast was mixed for the three days although it suggested it would be largely dry with a light/ moderate breeze – unlike the previous year when the players battled through a major storm over the three days.
Day 1: Golf: Les Pines (Golf D’Hardelot)
The weather despite a heavy shower was good and conducive to a good round of golf!! The challenge for the day (as well as Barry) was the 18-hole Pines Course, built in 1934 by the renowned British architect, Tom Simpson. Rated in France’s top 10 courses accuracy (oh dear Micky) is key as you navigate the tree-lined fairways and well-guarded greens of this stunning championship course. Tom Bennett by all accounts played exceptionally well indeed and took an early tour lead.
The winners on the first day were: -
|Longest Drive||Alan Bigley|
|Nearest the Pin||Alan Bond|
|Av S/B Pts||30.21|
We transferred to the Hotel Spa Hermitage à Montreuil sur Mer whichwas built in the 19th century, and is a grand, redbrick hotel overlooking Place Gambetta and the 11th-century Abbaye de Saint-Sauve. A short walk from the 9th-century Citadelle de Montreuil-sur-Mer.
A search party was sent out for Tips, Barry and Fred as they had not arrived at the hotel by 7.30pm. Unfortunately, Fred had lost his passport and they had visited a couple of local bars to see if anyone had seen it or handed it in. It was in Tips car all the time which was a real stroke of luck!
The evening comprised of a meal at Froggy’s just off the Place du General de Gaulle. Overall the food was good with some decent wine. Following the meal, the sensible went to bed with the not so sensible going for a couple of post meal beverages. Tom celebrated his victory by forgetting to use his range finder (first time for everything) and banging his head on his bathroom door, claret everywhere and a nice plaster placed in the middle of his forehead for the remainder of the tour.
The morning involved a hearty walk for most of us around the charming walled town of Montreuilwith its beautiful old houses and churches, its imposing ramparts and its cobbled streets. Chris Buck accompanied me on the walk and was explaining how the town origins lie in Roman times when the sea ran up the estuary of the Canche as far as Montreuil. He went on to inform me that the first ramparts were built in the 9th Century by the Count of Ponthieu and how in the 10th Century Montreuilrose to importance as the main sea port of the Capétiens. Finally, he educated me with the fact that the royal castle of which only two towers remain today, was built in 1186, a charter having been granted by Philip Auguste. Anyway, it was a nice morning walk on a warmish day.
Day 2: Golf De Belle Dune
Belle Dune Golf Course in Pas de Calais is widely recognised as one of the finest links-style golf courses in France and compares favourably with many of the great seaside layouts in the UK and Ireland. Belle Dune was designed by Jean Manual Rossi in 1992 and is spread out amongst the towering sand hills of Fort Mahon Plage on the Cote Picarde, one of the longest stretches of sand dunes in Europe.
James out with the handicap secretary on the first day bribed him with a kit-Kat and after not his best days golf was rewarded with an obscene handicap increase for this round at Belle Dune- the bribe paid off as follow in a very hard fought and close contest.
The winners on the second day were: -
|2nd||Jerry Watkiss||32 (18 B9CB)|
|3rd||Kelvin Paterson||32 (15 B9CB)|
|4th||Andy Tippett||32 (14 B9CB)|
|Longest Drive||Micky Mann|
|Nearest the Pin||Barry Browning|
|Av S/B Pts||27.57|
Post golf the search and rescue team were again dispatched this time to track down Mr Bucks sunglasses and his handkerchief. After every step was retraced on the 18thwhere he thought they had been lost they found in his golf bag – another real stroke of luck!
The evening again saw Hughes, Bigley, Watkiss and Cudmore leading the way and first to hit the local bars as the advanced party! We dined in another local restaurant Clos Des Capucing where again the restaurant food was excellent and the wine pleasant (just ask Tom) with a good evening had by all until the handicap adjustments were discussed for the following day. Two of the members pinned the handicap sec down whilst the others hit and kicked him – he was then tarred and feathered. Slightly unfair probably as the deepest handicap cuts were for the Hon Handicap Sec himself and Mr Tom Bennett after his flying start to day 1.
Just a small group went out for a night- cap with two of them appearing in the top 3 on the final day!! Just goes to show that the early to bed and drinking in moderation does not always pay the dividends you might expect. Tippett and Bond as usual were last seen being thrown out of the hotel bar at 2pm as they needed to set up for breakfast!!
This day saw an early breakfast – with most of us still pondering the lucky dip of the mass soft bolied egg maker – after 7 mins you might well have a raw egg or a hard boiled egg and occasionally one that was just right to go with your soldiers. The skies were cloudy but the forecast was for a dry cold day: so it proved with Tippett, Mann, Watkiss & Bond regretting the option of wearing shorts ! The final day saw the leaders as being Kelvin Paterson 64 (playing off 19), Micky Mann 64 (playing off 11), Alan”I am going -straight to the tunnel” Bigley 63 (now playing off 4 – yes 4) , Jerry Watkiss (playing off 11) & Tom Bennett (playing off 18) one further back on 62. Would someone in the chasing pack set a tough target for those leaders to overcome; probably?
Day 3: Golf de Wimereux
Situated within the dunes of Ambleteuse, and dating back to 1901, the traditional links beauty of Wimereux was redesigned after the first world war by British architects Campbell and Hutchinson. This stunning 6,726-yard Par 72 championship seaside layout features views out across the channel to the White Cliffs of Dover and heavy pot bunkering. The pedigree of the course is of a very high standard and it is for this reason that it was chosen as the MGS Spring Tour decider (what that’s not right it was because it was near the EuroTunnel!). The main defence of this course is the wind which on this day was light thus some exceptionally good scoring was possible on a relatively open links course.
The winners of day three were: -
|3rd||Peter Cudmore||36 (21 B9CB)|
|4th||Mark Hughes||36 (19 B9CB)|
|Nearest the Pin in Two||Alan Bigley|
|Nearest the Pin||Mark Hughes|
|Av S/B Pts||34.35|
Following the final days play we congregrated in the clubhouse for the overall prize giving. The winner was still unknown with everything in the mix and subject to the Handicap Secs final totting up of the combined score over the three days. Would Mr Tippetts final day charge be enough: not quiet – see below:-
Congratulations go to Mr Alan Bigley shooting just 3 over par on his final round to win the Spring Tour by two shots despite a late charge by Tips who almost came from zero to hero when required. Peter Cudmore the holder was looking forward to seeing the trophy he won last year although alas it had not travelled to France on Insurance grounds (what that’s not right we just didn’t know where it was!)
Captain Kelvin who fell from first to last last year – played solidly on the last day and was placed in the top 5. It must have been that pep talk from vice-captain James.
A big thank you goes to Mr Andy Tippett for organising the whole shooting match and doing a grand job. Thanks also to Mr Alan Bigley for arranging the restaurants etc. A big thanks also goes to all the drivers who each did a fantastic job.
A special prize went to Barry Browning for the most lost balls over the 3 days – a total of 11 from the overall 52 balls lost (average of 3.71 balls lost per player – just over 1 each per day!)
All arrived home safe and sound and looking forward to the next monthly event at Cooden for the Anniversary Trophy in beautiful May on a course that is one of the favourites of the society.