Fitzwilliam Golf Society

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Western Tour Day 2 - Cleeve Hill - 29 September 2023

On the Friday, we were all downstairs for breakfast at 8.00 am. This was also good – and many of us had a pleasant view out from the breakfast room, down to Bishops Cleeve and over to the Malvern Hills – on what was already a fine weather day. Colin suggested that we had a putting competition before our tee off starts from 10.30 am – so we all travelled up to the nearby golf club for around 9.30 am – and had a few putts.

Cleeve Hill is one of my favourite courses – set high up in the Cotswolds (indeed it takes in the highest point of the Cotswolds at 1083 feet above sea level). The course is highly regarded (for example, being rated number 67 in GB & Ireland by Golf World) and seems to be improving in quality (particularly the greens), especially after new ownership took over a couple of years ago. It really is a spectacular place to play golf – and very enjoyable especially when the weather is kind. It is also extremely good value at present (unlike many courses seemingly these days).

There are some magnificent holes with very fine vistas all around. I particular like the uphill par 4, 8th (to the trig point, the highest part of the course – with brilliant views all around), the long par 4, 9th (down and then up, great views all of the way), the long downhill par 3, 10th (again marvellous views), the uphill and then downhill par 4, 13th (to the Iron-Age fort surrounding the green – and from the fort looking down on Cheltenham and its racecourse), the par 3, 15th (the Punchbowl hole) and the par 4, 18th (excellent looking out from the high tee – and then down and then up slightly again towards the Clubhouse – a fine finishing hole).

There was some fine golf – in this Individual Stableford competition from many of our players. And the competition for first place was very close – with 3 players scoring 35 points. It was only on the last green that Clive Makin finally saw off the challenge of Andrew Garden – with a single putt finish – to win on (last 6 holes) countback. So Clive is a new name on and very deserving winner of the Tour trophy. He now qualifies for our Inter-College team next April. Andrew has won the trophy before and came so close to winning again here. And the fast improving David Williams (also beaten on countback) was again very nearly a winner (as at Woodhall Spa).

At the end of the round, we were well looked after and we had an excellent lunch – the sausage casserole was extremely tasty – and followed by chocolate brownie with ice cream. We had time to chat in our groups – and re-live our rounds, amongst other things.

After our late lunch, the prize giving took place. There were prizes for the first six places:

1stClive Makin 35 points (on countback)                           4th – Richard Newport 34 points

2nd – Andrew Garden 35 points (on countback)                    5th – Pete Thomas 33 points (on countback)

3rd – David Williams 35 points (on countback)                     6th – Harry Coe 33 points (on countback)

There were also good scores by Alan Wood 32 points, David Wheeler 31 points, Graham May and Martin Holmes 29 points and Stuart Lester 28 points. Feature Hole Winners were:

Nearest the Pin in 3 on the par 4, 13th was won by David Williams (on the signature hole).

Nearest the Pin on the par 3, 15th was won by Alan Wood (a very fine shot over the quarry).

Longest Drive on the 18th was, of course, won as usual by John Uwins (miles down the fairway).

There were 2s scored by David Wheeler (on the 6th), Alan Wood (on the 15th) and Pete Thomas (firstly a remarkable second shot from way down in the quarry on the 15th – and then another 2 on the longer, uphill 16th).

And the short – course putting competition was won by Stuart Lester.

We all departed for home soon after the prize giving. I think in many people’s minds was a thought to come back sometime soon to play (or even just walk in the area) at Cleeve Hill again. Bristol & Clifton was a reasonable course to play, with the second nine being particularly good. But Cleeve Hill, especially on such a good weather day, was the real star on this tour.

Next year we are touring in mid-May in Northern France, with a new Tour manager, our 2024 Captain, Stuart (I’m only acting on that trip in a consultancy role). But I will be back more fully running the show again, on a tour to Shropshire (Ludlow / Church Stretton) in early October.

Mike Hamment, President and Tour Organiser

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