WELCOME TO ISLE OF MAN GOLF
Last Wednesday saw the eagerly awaited Men's Northern Counties Golf from Alnmouth Golf Club, the fourth oldest golf course in England, a par 71 course situated around Foxton Bay. Two of the team, Peter Glover and Liam Cowin, both of Douglas GC, were making their first full Northern Counties appearance. One could be forgiven for losing your appetite at breakfast and taking several comfort breaks ahead of tee off; well I can report than both Glover and Cowin both ripped their opening drives straight down the middle off the first hole, no problem. With slightly overcast sky and wind at 20mph and picking up both players would reach the turn a few over par. The back nine saw Glover with a couple of the "unmentionables" something the great Murray Crowe, professional at Castletown for 43 years would tell you as being the closest thing to a perfect shot, given the proximity of the sweet spot to the hosel !" Glover could be forgiven for arguing otherwise and would sign for an 82 with his club mate Cowin faring just one shot worse at 83. Both very respectable scores given the weather conditions and of course their first Northern Counties experience.
Island Mens Golf Champion (and I don't think this will wear thin for him), Jamie Arniel was out next. The talented man from Ramsey, riding a wave of confidence took charge of the course straight away and was out in level par. Commanding the difficult back nine Jamie would sign for a stunning 72, setting the tone for the day.
The consistent Daryl Callister from Santon was next off as fourth man. “Mr Reliable”, was never going to disappoint and was one over par at the turn. The difficult back nine claimed several shots, but Callister, would sign for an excellent 76 for round one.
Rob Noon played like a seasoned county player to play his first 9 in level par; something that the Douglas player is more than capable of and in the fickle world of golf, Rob would probably suggest he should have been a couple better! Again, the back nine playing much harder both laps with the majority of holes seeming to be into the strengthening wind, would add to the difficulty factor and Rob would sign for an exceptional 74.
Former England player, and last man out for the island, Tom Harris, now playing out of Douglas Golf Club, reached the turn in an excellent one under par. As he turned for home Harris stepped up a gear and took charge of the back nine coming home in one over par for a best of the day level par 71 for Team IOM, cracking golf by all accounts!! Just comparing our scores with the Competition Standard Scratch for Round One being 75, one can see just how well the island players scored.
The island tally for Round One would stand at 458, just five shots adrift of Cumbria, ten shots behind Durham, with Lancashire on 444 and Northumberland on 442, Yorkshire 439 & Cheshire 437.
After the lunch interval it was straight back out on the course. Peter Glover performed very well indeed returning an 84, which was very commendable indeed given the fact every time he pulled an iron / wedge out of his bag there was potential for another "socket"!
Liam Cowin, after suffering the “Captains curse” on several occasions; (every time Captain Kev Moore appeared, he would drop shots), would sign off his first Northern Counties experience with a score in the 70s, marvellous for a first timer and a memorable day for him (79). Out on the course still Jamie Arniel was showing it who is boss in the differing wind conditions and now very overcast. Jamie would sign for A magnificent 75 to compliment his stunning 72 from round one, and a terrific 147 tow round total.
Mr Reliable, Daryl Callister, manoeuvred the ball around the testing course as he does best in his usual brilliant, consistent manner shaving two shots off his morning round to record a fantastic 74, for a 150 total.
The ever competitive Rob Noon battled his way around the windy course, producing some pedigree iron shots through the wind and signed off with a super birdie on the last for an exceptional 72, this would just pip team mate Arneil's "snooker" tally of 147 by a single shot for 146. On a day where the island made progress and showed the opposition of the continuing improvements, four players equalled or beat their first round score, something that delighted Captain Moore and all concerned, as Kevin would say second rounds had been somewhat of a Nemesis for the island team over the years!
There was no hanging around the clubhouse, dwelling over missed opportunities as each player returned to the course to see in their team mates, which shows real team spirit, something that you need from all to succeed.
Last man out, Tom Harris, started with two straight bogeys in the wind and rain, this he quickly got back, taking full command of the tricky environment, Harris was pushing it as hard as he could, there was a chance of beating Cumbria, right up to the last couple of holes. For Harris, another tremendous level par 71, and although the team just finished a single shot outside of Cumbria, Harris had the fantastic consolation prize of third best individual 36 hole score on the day, what a terrific achievement!
And so team Isle of Man finished on 913 for seventh place, just beaten by Cumbria on 912. The winners on the day with a runaway score of 872 were Northumberland, winning in their own back yard! This was an away performance to build on for future years; with team and squad spirit growing and players like Jamie Arniel has the past year and a half, “finding themselves, realising just how good they actually are”, the island has a chance, and it is an improving chance, to win the event. The Northern Counties in two years time is scheduled to return the the island, with Captain Moore's experience and the beacon of encouragement he shines and the growing confidence within the squad, it might just happen, it certainly won't be for the want of trying!
Special thanks to President Niall Keenan and Island Northern Counties team reserve Joe Raeside; who will almost certainly get his turn on the full Northern Counties stage very soon) for being on hand for and contributing to the team spirit during the week.