It was the closest possible finish to the Society’s first visit to the New Zealand golf club in Surrey, a unique course that oozes style and tradition. The top four players all came home with scores of 36 points each around this tight heathland course which was in exceptional condition for the start of the 2012 season.

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The eventual winner of the Burton Challenge Cup, traditionally played for at the first fixture, had to be decided on count-back of the final six holes as all the top four players scored the same number of stableford points on the last nine holes.

It was “Big Al” Alan Jackson, longstanding supporter of the Society and regular in the Inter Company Harmsworth Printing team, who finally prevailed to win the trophy. Maybe it was his recent retirement after years of service with the company and a little bit of extra practice on a short golfing holiday abroad that helped him to snatch victory from Metro’s Craig Fawcett.

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It was famous last words for Craig when, with just two holes to go, one of his playing partners remarked upon his good score only for Craig to see his tee-shot end up out of bounds and not score on that hole! “Big Al” was cut two shots to 12 handicap for his win and runner-up Craig one shot to 13.

Beaten into third place on the four-way count back was the Society’s keeper of the handicap bible, A&N’s Ian McGowan with Jobsite’s Mike Wall, again with 36 points in fourth place.

There was an exceptional turnout of 35 members and four guests for this fixture with another Harmsworth Printing team member, Keith Cottington, winning the champagne for being “Nearest the Pin” on the long Par 3 fifth hole. So close was his tee-shot that he went on to sink the putt and collected £25 along with the Mail on Sunday sports journalist Chester Stern who had scored a two on the 10th hole.

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With such a large turnout there was even a prize for fifth place and this was won by Broadbean’s Stuart Passmore with 34 points.

At every fixture, one of the trophies that everyone tries to avoid is the infamous “Wooden Spoon” although many past “winners” have then gone on to collect silverware at the other end of the prizes. This time the winner was Jobsite’s Phil Lightbody, so watch out for his name among the top prize winners at future events.

Secretary Garth Burden welcomed everyone to the start of the new golfing year and announced that the Society’s President, Lord Rothermere, had agreed to Metro entering a team for this year’s Inter-Company competition which takes place in Hardelot in early September after the Olympics and just before the Ryder Cup.

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The draw for the annual Match Play knock-out competition for the Cousins Bowl took place after vice-Captain Graeme Thomson had presented the prizes. Graeme congratulated the winners and thanked the staff at the New Zealand Club for their help in making the day run so smoothly.

The Society’s Centenary Book, funded by Lord Rothermere, which charts the history of the Society from its inception in 1910 by Lord Northcliffe to the present day, was available for new members. Additional copies can be purchased for £15 at future events.

The next Society fixture is the annual match against the Press Golfing Society at the end of April at Prince’s and then Royal Cinque Ports, Deal. The team of 16 is ready to defend last year’s win in Hardelot. The following weekend is the annual match against North Foreland Golf Club on 6 May which is open to all members, followed by the Society’s next golf day at Walton Heath on 14 May.

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