Last Sunday, Aberdovey GC hosted the semi-final and final of the Golf Union Wales Victory Shield. Throughout the day, a very strong south-westerly prevailed and consequently the superb Gwynedd links played to its full 6,535 yards.
The Victory Shield is one of GUW’s flagship competitions. It is a tough foursomes format. Over 80 clubs entered and the four that won through to Aberdovey were Conwy, the favourites, Pennard, Llanwern and Tenby.
The first semi-final was contested by Tenby’s young Luke Harries, with the experienced Dave Morris, and Llanwern’s Julian Sansom and Richard Taylor.
Tenby was soon two down losing the second and third to birdies. However, they then won the next three holes with pars.
The following four holes were halved. Tenby went two ahead with a par on the difficult 11th, but Llanwern then had a magnificent birdie on the exposed 12th where the green has had to be rebuilt following the 2014/15 winter storms.
Tenby claimed two of the next three holes, both downwind par fives. They birdied the 13th and Llanwern went out of bounds on the 15th. A half on the short par four 16th claimed a 3 and 2 win.
In the second semi-final, Pennard’s Oliver Dixon and Robert Neuker secured superb one up victory over Conwy’s Lee Jones and Evan Griffith, both of whom are Welsh internationals. Robert hurt his ankle during the round and was replaced in the final by Callum Dale.
A predicted storm delayed the final by over an hour. Tenby got off to a steady start and were one up after five, winning the second with a par four.
However, they lost the next three holes. Both pairs drove out of bounds on the hard sixth and Tenby failed to par with their second ball. Pennard eagled a long seventh when Callum holed a 45-foot putt from off the green. They then birdied the eighth.
A par three on the ninth pulled one back for Tenby, but then Pennard claimed the next two holes with par fours. At this stage, the Tenby pair were a little ragged and they found themselves three down with just seven to play.
Dave pulled his tee shot on the 12th but then holed along downhill putt for a unexpected three to reduce the deficit. Tenby then won the long 13th with a par and were now just one down with five holes remaining.
The next two were halved in pars. Tenby were gifted the 16th when Pennard hit two tee shots out of bounds. The 17th was halved in pars.
The 18th, along par four, was full of drama and took almost half an hour to complete. Dave’s drive went left into very deep rough close to a ditch. Luke could only move the ball a matter of inches and then a penalty drop was required.
Meanwhile, Pennard failed to find the fairway after two shots on the right hand side. It transpired that both pairs were just short of the green, but Tenby had played four to Pennards three. Luke attempted to chip in, but the ball ran about six feet past. Callum putted, but left it 10-feet short and Oliver missed. Dave kept his composure and holed so that the final went into extra time.
The 19th was halved in fives. The 18th was used as the second play - off hole. This time, both pairs hit the green in two. Tenby were a little unlucky as Luke’s approach kicked right and deep. Nevertheless, Dave putted to just over two-feet.
Callum knocked his putt dead and Tenby conceded. Luke needed to sink his put in order to take the match to the third extra hole. He had holed out impeccably well all day, but unfortunately lipped the left edge for a very disappointing and undeserved finish.
Several years ago, at Prestatyn, Tenby’s Paul Haley and Dan Cope also lost in the final, but it is way back in the 1960s since the club last won the Victory Shield represented by Barry Smith and David Howells.