The 2022 Brent Knoll Bowl was the DUGS first participation in this long-running scratch foursomes event, played at Burnham & Berrow Golf Club since 1950. Sixteen teams (The Army, RAF, The Navy Old Shirburnians, Old Epsomains, Old Cranleighians and the like) compromised of six players each take part, with the DUGS this year being the first team in anyone’s living memory to gain a spot in the event after a drop out. We took the opportunity with open arms and are delighted to have received an invite back for 2023 and beyond.
Five (Darragh Garrahy, Ruairi Kennelly, Ian Smith, Richard Knightly and Alan Hopkins) flew from Dublin early on the Friday morning. A group of screaming young Irish Dancers made sure no sleep was had en-route and the DUGS arrived bleary-eyed at Burnham to meet our sixth man, Aidan Neill.
Knightly, Smith and Kennelly had their first sight of the course, followed in the practice round by Neill, Garrahy and Hopkins. Neill and Hopkins, meeting for the first time, were soon exchanging 3-factorial jokes. This was too high-brow for the match manager, who was only concerned with trying to find the centre of the putter-face.
The Friday evening sees a draft where teams can buy others, or each other. The DUGS, buoyed by Pomerol, bought themselves after a bidding war with the Wigorns of Blackwell. After this the draw was made and we drew the old Blundellians (The OB’s) in the round of 16.
Neill and the match manager had to thrash out the finer points of the pairings for the Saturday morning. This required closing down the bar at the golf club firstly, after reacquainting with golfing society friends from over the UK, and returning to the guest-house, sans-key, to find it totally locked and the four more sensible team members fast asleep. The chastising we got from the proprietor would set anyone straight. It even straightened out the DUGS opening three tee-shots against the OB’s the next morning.
Knightly and Neill led from the front and won 5/3 , followed by Kennelly and Smith who were -4 gross in winning on 15, 5/3. The two young eye Doctors in the final pairing couldn’t see anything but trouble from the tee and wrong lines on the greens for the first 12 holes, in being five down. They recovered to a one down loss on 18. A 2-1 win in our first game was a great success.
The RAF, drawing from a large pool of golfing talent, have won the event four of the last five years, and we relished going up against them in the last 8. We kept the same order and game one lost on 17, with game 2 being level on the 17th tee when game three lost on 15. We ran out of steam (note to take the later Friday flight in 2023) and met a very steady side who showed us all their quality.
We sat on the terrace in the Saturday evening sun with some beers, watching the games come in, before heading inside for dinner. The barman was profuse in his apologies in saying that all he had left were ‘six fillets steaks and good wine’. We were well set-up to cover every topic in golf before retiring more sensibly than the night before. We had a catch up with Graham Jones, a DUG who is a member of Burnham, and were grateful for his support.
The Sunday saw a gross scratch foursomes stableford event for those not in the semi-finals of the matchplay, combining the three pairings scores. Off the tips with tricky pins and a very firm course, the DUGS won by 6 points. Knightly/Garrahy and Kennelly/Neill being the only pairings of the 36 competing to break 30 points, with 31 each.
The Warwickshire Bears beat the RAF in the final. Not so much an upset as to be a W-Bear you have had to be a Warwickshire County Player with a win-rate over 66% in your career. By winning the Sunday scratch stableford, we can’t be drawn against the Bears in the 1st round in 2023.
Here’s to backing ourselves again in 2023, and having more fun.