|Marriott Sprowston: The Official Report|
|Tuesday, 14 August 2012 00:00|
The last Regional Championship is here!
Green, green, green; that’s first thought most people have as they travel around the course at Sprowston Manor. They say the Irish landscape is made from 40 different shades of green, well I counted and Sprowston has at least 42. It’s a wonderfully verdant course with plenty of tricky holes and, today at least, around 120-odd Trilby Tourians looking to take the chance to clinch a last minute place in the TT grand final.
Not that all decided to take full advantage of that chance; rather bizarrely there were 6 late appearances before 9AM. This bothered tour benefactor William Hunt not a jot as he gleefully handed out disqualifications while (I swear I saw this) doing a little dance on the 1st tee. He loves a bit of hot DQ action, that man.
The first few holes at Sprowston Manor unfold across undulating parkland until the 11th, where they stretch out into longer, leaner holes. Then there is the pretty, sharply-descending 14th par 3 before the final slow descent to the clubhouse. It’s a huge circle, enveloping the hotel that had many a player in a spin.
Most did fine until the 7th but for some reason this apparently simple dogleg left had players over-shooting, under-shooting or simply pinging it into the nearby trees. The 11th, too, appears benign – just a straight par 4 with some reed ponds on the left of the fairway – but many of those that had recovered slightly from the 7th crumbled here as well and had nothing left to do but enjoy the walk back home.
Mid afternoon saw TT 2012’s traditional black clouds appear and a couple of quick, heavy showers did their best to dampen the mood, but there were too many players with too much to lose to allow a drop of rain deter them from the job in hand.
Among those in contention were 3 familiar faces from last year’s Sprowston qualifier – father and son finalists Gary and Aaron Stuttard and 2012 overall champion James Voce. Despite James managing to shorten his remarkable, over-elaborate pre-shot bum-waggling ritual from 5 minutes to something approaching 3 he just failed to make it into the play-off. Don’t feel sorry for him, he already has a place in the 2013 final as returning champ. Gary and Aaron didn’t manage to make it this year either, something which brought on much ribald needling in bar afterwards. Gary, you see, was last year’s club captain and after his round it was noticed that his picture was missing from the clubhouse wall of honour. Some say it vanished as soon as he registered his finishing score of 17, “ouch”. The shame of it.
The rain stopped just as the play-off began, and as WH put it “It was just a shower to freshen the course up” a large crowd enjoyed a tight final 3 holes. And all too soon it was over - Champion of Norfolk crowned, the last place in the TT final determined and just one big, last day at Stoke Park to look forward to. Now it’s back to where the TT was born for the 2012 grand final.
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