New Melville Golf Classic winners
An unfancied Fairfield College staff team has stunned the favourites to win the Melville Golf Classic at Ngahinepouri.
The Fairfield Three Putts team of Scott Major, Chris Langley, Charlotte Willson and Kendall Pears were first time entrants, and nobody was tipping them, but they smashed the field with a net of 49 off a 15 handicap, in an ambrose format through 18 holes.
To underline their superiority, Pears also took home the award for both the longest drive and the “closest to the pin” shots for men, and Willson did likewise for the women.
“We are very humble in victory,” Pears said in hugging the trophy. “Fairfield College has long been a sleeping giant in Waikato sport, but this is a sign it is awakening from its slumber.”
Melville will now need to stitch together a powerful syndicated team next year to reclaim the Auld Mug from Fairfield and restore club pride, perhaps even having to bring the Noorlands out of golfing retirement.
Second were defending champions Advance Joinery with a 53.5 net from a 13.5 handicap. Advance boss Kris Allen was disappointed team anchor Paul Tubby Smith had not been able to get them home via his handicapping skills.
“We have an old saying in joinery – measure twice, cut once,” Allen ruminated. “Tubby really should have measured those handicaps a second time. Of course golf is the only game in the world where a precise knowledge of the rules can earn you a reputation for bad sportsmanship.”
Because he is from Sheffield, miserable comes easily to Allen, but he cheered up significantly when he was awarded the prize for most lost balls. However he was not the worst golfer. By popular acclamation that award went to Melville Feds coach Merv Williams, who was even worse.
Third place went to the travelling Waitemata AFC team, playing off an 11.7 handicap.
One notable golfer among the field was Hamilton Labour List MP Jamie Strange, who boosted the GJE Electrical team. Strange carded an 11-handicap in his prime and is still a useful golfer.
Strange is also a former club member, having played for Melville’s Reserves and Waikato A team a decade ago.
The tournament raised over $6000 for the club, and chairman Wytse Bouma thanked Michael Mayne and Sam Wilkinson for their inspired work in organising it, and the sterling input of commercial manager Steve Owens.
Sponsors were: Research Motors, Provident Insurance, GJE Ltd Electrical Contractors, Lodge Real Estate (Manu Nahna), Freedom Villages, Southern Autos Manukau, SD European, Advance Joinery, Allfast Solutions, Harcourts Whangamata, Premier Skills, Whitfield Braun Barristers & Solicitors.
For the first time in years Owens got his clubs out and contested the tournament, leading the floral Team Owens to runners-up spot as the best dressed behind Team #843 (in ill-fitting old Melville jerseys).
Third in the best-dressed stakes was Advance Joinery, sporting an array of shirts from shit English football club.
But the best-dressed awards were just a sign the judges don’t always get these things right.
Because easily the most interestingly dressed individual was Neil Mouncher. The former detective sergeant – who has now turned his hand to house painting to try and gain more friends and community respect – delved deeply into the dusty recesses of both his wardrobe and his mind to dredge out a 1996 Waikato United shirt (No 17) from the final game (away to Napier) played under that name before amalgamation with Melville AFC.
That occasion has always haunted The Mooch because on the trip home, as Waikato’s most fervent Sunderland fan he was subjected to ridicule when he was unable to name the Sunderland team which won the FA Cup in 1973. On this occasion Mouncher’s memory failed again him, when he was asked who had worn the No 17 shirt during that final Waikato season. (The correct answer is it was shared by Che Bunce and Dominic Rogerson in 1996, according to football historian Ron Anorak.)
Biggest tournament disappointment was the failure of the Premier Skills team to fire, given they had former top golfer Darrion Jamieson in their team.
Award for most divots went to Derek Waldegrave from the Waitemata team. The Marc Evans Memorial Award for Most Fluid Consumed went, disturbingly, to northern league stopper Luke Searle from Team #843.
Meanwhile in hailing the success of the tournament and trying to spruik further interest for next year, Melville club manager and former Rotherham golf product Phil Wheatley argued that for footballers on their day off, no other sport was as suited for ethical or metaphysical examination as golf.
“The Melville Golf Classic is an occasion where decorum always takes precedence over showmanship and it is perhaps the one event on the club calendar where deep philosophical questions become par for the course over a 5-hour period,” Wheatley said, after winning the sausage-eating contest.
“Indeed, a persuasive case can be made that there is a useful and instructive analogy between the best golfer and his pursuit of excellence in the game of golf, and the good human person and his pursuit of human flourishing.
“Though golf does not require great stamina, the coordination involved in hitting a ball hundreds of yards to a small patch of grass is a testament to human evolution and perseverance. The golf swing is one of the most frustratingly complex and difficult manoeuvres to master in all of sport and it is this which gives it such a compelling aesthetic dimension.
“Perhaps the hardest lesson golf has to teach you is that that somebody can be better than you are on any given day, regardless of handicap difference, years of experience or anything else.
“Golf is a mystifying game. It would seem that if a person has hit a golf ball correctly a thousand times, he should be able to duplicate the performance at will. But such is certainly not the case, certainly not at the Melville Golf Classic.”