After various dropouts and late additions, we had the full complement of 16 players – perfect for four lawns and with 11 different clubs represented. Players travelled from as far afield as Blackpool, Nottingham, Brighton and Sidmouth to take part in this tournament where matches were played level with Advanced Rules.
The conditions were challenging from the start and got worse. The lawns were green but sufficiently fast that most of the players found if quite difficult to get in front of the hoops. However, the firm hoops, although accurately set to a 1/16, were the main problem for most. There was frustration and disbelief as balls bounced back time after time. As the temperature soared towards 30C, the ground dried out even more, the lawns speeded up and the hoops became increasingly unfriendly. Completed games with peg-outs were fairly infrequent. Some players found the right technique and ran the hoops effortlessly but the majority struggled.
The star of the Blocks was Nathan Baker from the Fylde club (handicap 4) who won all three matches with two peg-outs. He succumbed, -22, to Andrew Wise (Bristol, handicap 1) in the semi-final but must be very pleased with his calm performance. The other Block winners, all with two wins, were Andrew Dutton (Woking, 1,), John Wells (Cheltenham, 4) and Andrew Wise. John Wells played Andrew Dutton in the other semi-final which was slow and low-scoring, John winning +4T. In the Final, Andrew Wise, showed his experience and skill and put enough breaks together to win the match and take the Margaret Fleming Shield.
The runners up in the Blocks were Adam Moliver (Cheltenham, 2.5), Paul Castell (West Sussex,1.5), Sarah Melvin (Dyffryn, 1) and Peter Nelson (Sidmouth, 3.5). In the semi-finals for their consolation event, Peter beat Sarah and Adam beat Paul. Adam then beat Peter in the final to win a bottle of Merlot.
The prize for the fastest win went to Chris O’Byrne (Reigate Priory, 3.5) with a time of 1h 53min. Frances Ransom (Bristol, 4.5) caused the biggest upset by taking 16 index points from Paul Castell.
The local players from the Nailsea club were Geoff Hughes, Pat Long and Erica Malaiperuman. Although she had the highest handicap of the three, Erica was the most successful, claiming 3 wins from 5 games, all against players ranked higher than her.
The manager thanked the players for their fortitude in the heat and unfamiliar conditions. There was a good spirit throughout and many players expressed appreciation of the opportunity to learn how to run firmer hoops than they usually experience. Others might have preferred to be able to play their usual game! The manager also thanked the Nailsea members who had worked hard to make the tournament a success – lawn maintenance, hoop setting and catering had all been done with the usual Nailsea dedication and hospitality.