The weather improved in the afternoon and there were no further squalls. Light remained good until late in the evening which was fortunate because the start of the last quarter-final was delayed due to Malvern requiring extra holes to despatch Rugby in the morning. We allowed them 20 minutes for lunch, which may be ample for a vegan teetotaller but is a significantly shorter period than they are accustomed to.
It would be nice to report an afternoon of high drama, but unfortunately there wasn’t any, although I am sure it didn’t seem that way to the combatants.
In the top match, Ampleforth were always in control against Charterhouse winning the second and fourth matches by the time they reached the Chequers pub next to the 14th green. In my day that would have resulted in a party in the Chequers but in these less enlightened times more athletic lifestyles prevail. Charterhouse needed to win the remaining three matches and once they had lost the third game on the 17th green it was all over.
The Edinburgh vs Loretto match was similarly devoid of drama with three comfortable wins for Loretto and two wins for Edinburgh the closest of which, 2/1, was the only game that reached the 17th hole.
Cheltenham’s delightful run, the best for many years, came to an end when they met their Bannockburn in the shape of Watson’s. The Scots won the first and fifth games mercilessly 5/4 and 4/3 respectively before Hogg and Johnston in the second game administered the coup de grace 2/1. The remaining matches were immediately declared halved as everyone rushed off either to the bar or to loved ones far away (well, Cheltenham).
Which left Tonbridge playing Malvern in what promised to be the titanic struggle of the afternoon and would no doubt unfold in the freezing twilight at the end of the day. Even that didn’t really materialise as Malvern were always ahead just not comfortably so until the end. We could have had some drama at in the second game where Hedges and Greenwood (Tonbridge) were playing Barrett-Greene and Hind. Both sides managed to swap balls on the 15th after having played blind second shots over the ridge short of the green. Fortunately the Hon Sec was firmly established in the bar by that stage so there was no hope of asking for a ruling and so common sense prevailed. It was decided correctly that whoever played the wrong ball first (Malvern) must have forfeited the hole. This put Malvern 1 hole down with three to play. They fought back valiantly to all square and were heading off to the 19th when news came through from behind that Malvern had secured the three points necessary.
So the semi-final line up is Ampleforth vs Loretto and Watson’s vs Malvern. Two Scottish schools among the four semi-finalists is an interesting outcome given the harsh weather conditions that have prevailed all week. The inevitable conclusion is that the Scots felt much more at home this week than they have done for a few years.