The annual challenge match between the under 14 teams from Sussex and Suffolk took place on Sunday 13th April
at Haverhill Golf Club in Suffolk. The third year of the challenge had the best weather so far with bright clear skies
and a testing wind on an excellent golf course.
The two well matched teams put on a great show over 10 holes of foursomes followed by 18 holes of singles with all
matches played off scratch and fittingly, the final overall result came down to the last match on the last green and the
last putt of about 4 feet deciding the outcome. With a hushed gallery (well about 50 people) watching anxiously,
Harvey Evans showed nerves of steel – certainly more steely than the nerves of many spectators – to sink the putt
which gave Sussex the narrow win 8 points to 7.
The morning foursomes were close and three of the five matches came down to the last green (the 10th). Will Townsend
and Jake Stoneham (Sussex) had a tough battle against the Suffolk pairing of Harvey Watts and Habebul Islam finally
getting a 1 up win but Tom Welch and Jamie Dart (Sussex) found it a difficult morning against the solid pair of Archie
Winter and Ben Tatum who ran out 2 and 1 winners. Harvey Evans and Joe Sullivan for Sussex were equally convincing
in their 2 and 1 win over Conal Downing and Sam Bingham (Suffolk). The other two matches both resulted in good halves
with Sam Sullivan and Ben Clarke (Sussex) winning the 10th hole to square their match with Alfie Halil and Liam Hansey
(Suffolk) while Josh Hulyer and Louis Martin (Suffolk) did the same over Zack Bacon and Alfie Hutton (Sussex). That left
the overall match score at 3-2 to Sussex and plenty to look forward to in the afternoon singles.
Captains Will Townsend (Sussex) and Harvey Watts (Suffolk) led the way and put on excellent performances with Harvey
showing strongly playing error free golf to edge out Will by a narrow 2 and 1 win. Jake Stoneham (Sussex) followed up his
good morning performance by winning comfortably against Habebul Islam (Suffolk) and Ben Tatum and Conal Downing (Suffolk)
also had comfortable victories over the Sullivan brothers from Sussex. Tom Welch (Sussex) against Archie Winter (Suffolk)
and Ben Clarke (Sussex) against Liam Hansey (Suffolk) were much tighter affairs with both matches finishing on the 18th –
a win 1 up for Tom and a similar result for Liam. In these two matches all four players showed wonderful fighting spirit to take
their matches to the 18th hole. In the tail end matches, Zack Bacon and Alfie Hutton (Sussex) proved too strong for their
Suffolk opposition of Sam Bingham and Josh Hulyer and finished their matches 7 & 5 and 6 & 4 respectively. Then it was
all down to Harvey Evans (Sussex) with the match at 7.5 to 6.5 and the nervous crowd watching. His match with Louis Martin
had been a nip and tuck contest and stood at all square on the 18th tee. After Louis had to take a penalty drop, Harvey looked
favourite to win, with Louis in the greenside bunker for three and Harvey at the back of the green for two. After a marvellous
bunker shot which nearly holed out, Louis settled for a five and Harvey only had to take his three shots to get the half and the
overall win. He left himself with that putt but coolly slotted it home to the delight of at least half the watching crowd!
It was a great day and with wonderful service from the Haverhill Golf Club, excellent hospitality from Suffolk even the 2 hour
journey home went well.
Men of the match – for Sussex, Jake Stoneham and for Suffolk Ben Tatum – both boys won both their matches. Special
mention has to go to the youngsters with outstanding displays from Zack Bacon and Alfie Hutton as well as to Harvey Evans
for showing how easy it is to sink 4 foot putts to win matches. In the end everybody was a winner.
Thanks to all the parents for such fantastic support over the weekend