Walker Cup 2006

9 September 2006, Meadows

All six contestants for the Walker Cup turned up well before the start time of 9.30 a.m. for this event – many thanks to them for doing so and for helping to set out the lawns.  The players were (in reverse handicap order) Chris Soper (20), Joe Henderson (20), Joe Lennon (16), Duncan Reeves (14), Tony Whateley (12) and Robert Lay (11).  Charlotte Townsend was manager.

The format was three rounds, eighteen point games with full bisques (base 10) with a possible play-off should there be no clear winner at the end of this.  Fortunately, this was unnecessary.

Before the games even started, I was confronted with awkward questions as manager.  In an 18 point game, once the first ball goes through hoop 1, partner ball goes to 3-back.  But, showing his Lauriston roots, Joe Henderson asked what happened if he peeled partner ball through hoop 1 – did this mean that the ball he was playing with was then for 3-back? My opinion was that it did, but it would be a rather pointless exercise! (The laws say “… as soon as one of the balls of a side scores hoop 1 for itself or by being peeled through hoop 1, 3-back becomes the next hoop for its partner ball and the appropriate clip is placed on 3-back immediately.  If both the striker’s ball and the partner ball complete the running of hoop 1 in the same stroke, it is deemed that hoop 1 was only scored by the striker’s ball.”)  In the event, no-one attempted to peel their ball through hoop 1, so the question was purely academic.

As manager, it was my role to cook the lunch, so once all the games had started, I prepared to leave.  But as I did so, another awkward refereeing question arose.  Joe Henderson accidentally changed from playing his red ball to his yellow ball after running hoop 1.  Neither he nor his opponent, Chris, had spotted this.  However, Joe Lennon, who was playing on the same lawn, mentioned it without thinking to Chris.  I was called on to decide whether Joe H’s turn should end (Joe himself being totally unaware of all the discussion).  Chris did not think he would have spotted the error, and was happy to condone it.  I agreed, but then made a telephone call to Rod in Cambridgeshire to check I’d made the right decision.

By the time I returned from the shops, both Joe H and Chris had used all their bisques, with a rather lamentable scarcity of hoops.  But at least no more refereeing questions…

Wrong balls seemed to be a prominent feature of the first round.  Robert had a superb turn, under complete control, only to realise well into it that he was playing with Duncan’s ball.  And Tony, in his game against Joe L, played the wrong ball twice.  Perhaps the brilliant sunshine was going to all their heads.  It also led to some slow play – all the games went close to, or over, the 2¼ hour time-limits.  Both Joes were victorious, and Duncan finally managed to beat Robert +3 on time (a close game, in which Robert as well as Duncan played some excellent turns but neither seemed to be able to complete them).

Lunch (or perhaps the wine?) seemed to loosen the players up a little, and the remaining games were mostly played much more expeditiously.  Joe Lennon beat Joe Henderson in less than an hour, and Duncan beat Chris in about the same amount of time.  Tony beat Robert, meaning that the final round of games got started in good time for an early finish to the day.

On the third lawn, James Hopgood was practising hard, and announced with elation that he had succeeded in doing his first triple, the one minor flaw being that he had failed to put a peg on the lawn...

In the third round, I was surprised to see Joe Henderson join up, having scored a hoop, at hoop 1 with Tony’s balls joined up at hoop 2.  Joe explained that his aim in the game had been fulfilled – he was not going to be whitewashed by Tony!  Joe has started a campaign for double bisques for the over-eighties.  Despite this somewhat uninspiring start to the game, Joe went on to win without any extra bisques – albeit on time.

While Joe relaxed in the knowledge of his hoop, the other 20 handicap player, Chris, was getting into his form.  His scores were improving each game, and he succeeded in scoring six hoops without a bisque in his final game against Robert.  This was not enough to gain him a win, however, but it was a creditable performance in his first-ever tournament.  [Actually it was his second tournament, but the previous one was just short croquet - Ed.]

At the beginning of the third round, Duncan and Joe Lennon were both unbeaten, and since they were playing one another, the winner of that game was to be the winner of the tournament.  It was hardly surprising that they were the contenders in the final, given that both of them have had significant handicap rises this year – I found it hard to believe that Joe was playing off 16, and Duncan off 14 – and they were both playing significantly better than those handicaps.  However, the end of their game was wobbly to say the least.  Duncan missed a very short, gentle roquet at penult, leaving Joe the opportunity to run rover and peg out in that turn.  Joe, however, chose to ignore Duncan’s balls and take his own ball down to rover, leaving himself no opportunity to peg out.  He joined up, well away from Duncan’s balls, and Duncan promptly hit in.  Just as things were getting exciting, Duncan missed another short roquet and Joe managed his peg-out, +5.

Joe L was presented with the prestigious “Walker Cup in absentia Cup” as the whereabouts of the cup were unknown (perhaps with Steven Boyne, last year’s winner?).  [In fact the Walker Cup had been left in the pavilion by Steven, who had phoned the Match Secretary to say where it was, but as the Match Secretary was away for the weekend the message didn't get through in time.]  A good day was had by all, and we finished it off in Cloisters.

Charlotte Townsend



Joe Lennon beat Tony Whateley +6, Joe Henderson +14 and Duncan Reeves +5.
Duncan Reeves beat Robert Lay +3T and Chris Soper +9
Joe Henderson beat Chris Soper +13 and Tony Whateley +3T
Tony Whateley beat Robert Lay +12
Robert Lay beat Chris Soper +8