|Frilford Heath: The Official Report|
|Wednesday, 23 May 2012 14:00|
What a fecund place Frilford Heath is; just a few minutes on their course will reveal squirrels, rabbits, geese, pewits, kestrels and dozens of species of trees and plant including larch, spruce, birch, rhododendron, bluebells, daisies, gorse and wonderful flowering hawthorn, the blossom of which is one of the key indicators of the start of summer.
Today though, Hawthorn blossom falling gently to the ground was more a sign of Trilby Tourians shanking shots into the rough, tearing through the flowering key indicators of summer like hot arrows whizzing though jelly. Either the players were very nervous, very awful or the course was a huge challenge. We'll be kind and say the 3, 4, 5's over par many players were registering were down to beautiful but tough design of Frilford Heath's holes and not bad play. We're diplomatic like that.
In a first for the TT, dawn saw a covering of frost on the course and while this had mostly melted by the first tee off it left a fairly damp course which either ran fast or, in the particularly briefly sodden parts, dead. Not that this excused the quality of the 1st tee drives, some of which were quite frankly shocking. Those players taking a provisional on the opening hole should hang their heads.
Most of the holes on the front nine weave through tricky heathland which means a delicate tip-toe through the gorse to retrieve mis-hit balls. The 9th, the club's signature hole, fooled its fair share into just such rough but it was the long, straight 12th that built the real wall between the men and the boys. It features a green with a wicked off-set upslope which invites overhitting (hello woods), underhitting (bunker-ville) and deceives the eye with the angle of the slope leading to many, many, multiple mis-judged puts.
After the 12th the course rises and falls through more manicured pasture-style holes, which at least was more pleasing on the eye for the many needing to take their mind off their scores. Not all were doing badly, however, and as Frilford has a reputation as a thinker's course it was the thoughtful and meticulous who were rewarded. See, gents, sometimes a little bit of homework (and a practise round) pays dividends.
As usual, William Hunt held court round the score board and tried to keep on top of his maths as the top scorers kept coming in with ever better cards. In the end a 6-man, one-shot shoot out was required to finalise the top 10 and the final 4-man play off even went to a 2-man sudden death before the TT found it's 2012 Champion of Oxfordshire.
A paradoxical day, then. Lovely weather, lovely surroundings and a lovely walk through the countryside, but some terrible rounds and more than a few defeated Trilby Tourians vowing to do better next time. Some couldn't do much worse.