The Wheeler Salver

The Salver was presented to CAGU by Barry Wheeler 50 years ago in 1970, in memory of his father Les, a past captain of CAGU and Gog Magog.

The semi finals and final took place over the Old Course at Gog Magog last Saturday.

41 CAGU golfers signed up for this County MatchPlay Championship in July, a late start due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

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The 1st semi final was between Luke Bowers and Richard Temple, both of the home club. Luke, a former County player turned professional, has just had his amateur status reinstated. Richard is a former winner of the Wheeler Salver, having beaten former European Tour member Paul Maddy in the 2005 final.

The 2nd semi final featured Jake Plumb, one of the most promising youngsters in the County who plays at the Links Golf Club and is also a member at Gog Magog. His opponent was Josh Austin-Tierney, again a member of Gog Magog. Josh has had a fantastic season and has had his handicap reduced from 2 to scratch after the lockdown.

The Bowers/Temple semi final turned out to be a ding dong battle with Richard looking the better from tee to green but Luke’s short game was rock solid and this proved decisive as he ran out the winner by 2 & 1.

The other semi final was more one sided with Jake struggling to find his game early on as he went 4 down. A spirited fight back saw him reduce the arrears to 2 holes at the turn but this was short lived as Josh took charge and booked his place in the final winning by 6 & 4.

There quite a strong wind blowing as the finalists made their way to the 1st tee.

Luke raced into a 2 hole lead with birdies at 2, 6 and 7 but a birdie at the 8th by Josh reduced the lead to one hole at the turn after they halved the short ninth hole in pars.

The match see sawed on the back nine holes with Josh winning the 10th and 11th holes with par/birdie to go 1 up. Luke hit back winning 12 and 13 to go 1 up and surprisingly won the par 5 14th hole with a five when Josh made a bogey.

Luke, now 2 up and looking the likely winner, made an unforced error at the 15th hole where his drive finished in the bushes right. He had to take a penalty drop and he lost the hole when Josh made a solid par.

The 16th was straight into the wind and neither player made the green in regulation. Luke wedged up to 15 feet whilst Josh hit a poor chip from just short of the green, 18 feet past the pin. This left him a very delicate putt down the sloping green. He took his time with his “AimPoint” methodology but his calculations were spot on as he holed the putt. A shell shocked Luke left his putt for a half short of the hole and the match was all square.

Josh hit what was probably his worst shot of the final on the par 3 17th hole and his ball finished pin high in the trees to the right. Luke hit the green but left himself a long diagonal putt down the green. Josh played a masterful chip to 4 feet whilst Luke’s putt raced past the pin to 10 feet. Typical match play situation occurred when Luke missed and Josh holed to go 1 up with one to play.

Luke hit 2 lovely shots onto the green at 18 and Josh from the rough down the left hit a pin splitting long iron that just ran over the back right of the right into the grassy hollow. He then chipped well to 3 feet and watched Luke’s long putt finish agonisingly 3 inches short of the cup. Josh then holed a tricky putt to run out the winner by one hole.

It was an exciting final to watch where the standard of golf in those conditions was of high quality.

It was Josh’s first County title and watching them both play, I’m sure they will both have a few more in the bag in the years to come.