Sidmouth enjoy fine Palairet Trophy success over Okehampton at Churston.

Damein Gee putts out watched by Neil Holland at Sidmouth

Damein Gee putts out watched by Neil Holland at Sidmouth - Credit: Archant

The best selected golfers from both Sidmouth and Okehampton travelled to the sunlit heights of neutral Churston Golf Club near Paignton for a Palairet Trophy first round tie in what is surely the premier competition for all amateur golfers in Devon, writes George Carr.

The Churston club, with its warm welcome, stunning views across Torbay, and some very challenging golf holes made for a memorable day out for golfers and spectators alike.

Sidmouth last won this trophy back in 2003 when Paddy Tallon led the side as playing captain while Richard Bowden was the ‘on course captain’, which office, he holds to this present day.

Given that some 41 clubs from the county are in this year’s draw, to repeat that success would indeed be a rare achievement

Neil Holland and twice Devon Amateur Champion, Damion Gee, were the leading pair for Sidmouth - in this ‘foursomes’ match-play format, two teams of two play in a four-ball. Only two balls are used and after teeing off players play alternate shots until the hole is completed, the two players in each team taking alternate tee shots.

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Neil Holland, striking the first ball of the day down the opening par-three, hit an awesome iron shot to within a few feet of the pin some 240 yards away which secured the first hole for Neil and his partner Damien Gee and set Sidmouth on their way. Neil and Damien were giving four shots to their opponents, in spite of this they twice established a three-hole lead but were glad in the end to see off the dogged Okehampton pair one up on the eighteenth after a hard fought battle.

The formidable pairing of Duncan Taylor and Chris Lewis were next up for Sidmouth; giving two shots to the opposition they were certainly put to the test but produced some very impressive golf to claim a two and one victory on the 17th to put Sidmouth two up.

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Lewis Perry and David (Harry) Bater, off third and also giving two shots, had to produce their best golf to stay all-square; seven pars and three birdies to the tenth found Lewis, shortly after, needing to sink a fifteen foot putt across the scary slopes of the 13th green to stay upsides with the feisty Okehampton pair, but Lewis holed out with some aplomb after which the Sidmouth duo never looked back and ran out three and one winners on the 17th green to clinch the match and put Sidmouth in the next round to the relief of their many supporters.

Although Nick Gingell and James Spiller were last pair off, their three and two victory (the most comfortable of the afternoon and a credit to both players - particularly young James making his debut in this competition) found their match finished before the penultimate pairing of veteran, Chris Ashley and club manager Jonathon Lee in front of them whose match went to the eighteenth. Lee’s timing during the match could not have been finer than his arrival in the car-park a whole four minutes before his tee-off time (shades of Rory Milroy!)

Having managed to halve the par-three first hole in five, the rest of this encounter was distinguished only be its exceptional mediocrity; that neither side managed to lose was its only saving grace and the the par by both pairs on the closing hole was a rare one indeed.

If the victory margin for Sidmouth of four and a half to a half sounds a comfortable one it was far from it; all five matches were nip and tuck, and it was only over the last few holes when the players found themselves faced with a strong head-wind that the superior ball-striking of the Sidmouth players began to assert itself - Well played indeed gentlemen! In the next round, to be played at The Warren (Dawlish). Sidmouth will face Fingle Glen on June 2, be there!

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