20th March 2017
Balby re-crowned National Champions at the AOC
Sport Open Golf National Championships in St Andrews
7th- 8th March 2017
After Balby Academy of Sport narrowly missed out in last year’s AOC Sport Championship finals by 1 shot, the team this year went to the home of golf in St Andrews with a motivation to become National Champions and improve on last year’s result. The 2017 AOC Sport Open Golf Championship was held at the same venue as the previous year, Fairmont St Andrews, which when the wind picks up can become a very difficult and testing venue
As traditionally the squad plays on parkland and heathland courses, it was decided to travel up to Scotland 3 days before the tournament to acclimatise to the links style of golf. This started at Berwick upon Tweed (Goswick Links) which was a really tough test and a good opportunity for the team to prepare for the tournament. This was followed by playing at Crail Golf Club which gave the players a chance to build up confidence ready for the first round.
The day before the tournament started, the team headed to Fairmont St Andrews where they played a practise round on the Kittocks course. After playing the Kittocks course the squad then went and mapped the Torrance course, which gave them great preparation to play the Torrance. After some encouraging signs and competitive scoring, the squad was already with a set game plan and ready to battle it out in the 36 holes strokeplay event.
The competition format was split into team and individual events played over 36 holes involving 18 holes on the Torrance and 18 holes on the Kittocks courses. The team event would consist of 4 players for every team, but only 3 scores counting on every course. The individual competition was split into boys and girls gross competition over the same 36 holes as well as a mixed net score competition.
Balby Academy of Sport took 5 players to compete in the tournament with the players being picked for the team: Luke Palmowski +1 (Hickleton Golf Club) Nicola Slater 1 (Lindrick Golf Club) Owen Musgrave 3 (Forest Pines Golf Resort) Harry Emmingham 5 (Birley Wood Golf Club). Tom Guttridge 5 (Sandhill Golf Club) also represented Balby Academy of Sport in the individual.
Just under 80 golfers from 19 colleges battled each other and the elements over the 2 days. For the opening round on the tournament the players were met with a beautiful sunny crisp morning, but unfortunately with this came the frost. Tee times were delayed for an hour, but this meant the course was in great condition and ready for the players. The Balby squad started really impressively with Luke Palmowski +1 (Hickleton Golf Club) teeing off first to shoot a very impressive 1 under par 70 around the Kittocks, which earned him a tie for 1st in the boys gross individual. This was followed by another tremendous score by Nicola Slater 1 (Lindrick Golf Club,left) of level par 74 around the Kittocks, which also earned her a tie for the lead in the girls’ gross event after day 1. Also, in the Balby Academy of Sport team, Harry Emmingham 5 (Birley wood Golf Club) battled after a tough start on the Torrance Course to shoot a very good +6 (78). The last member of the team Owen Musgrave 3 (Forest Pines Golf Resort) started his round really well but struggled on the very testing back 9 on the Kittocks, but still finished with a respectable +8 (79).
This was a great opening round for the team and put them in good stead to push forward going into the last round. After day 1, the team was tied for the lead which left them full of confidence and determined to bring home the silverware. The last player in the squad, Tom Guttridge 5 (Sandhill Golf club) shot a very well thought out round of +4 (76) on the Torrance Course, which put him in a good position in the mixed nett competition and the boys gross individual with only the final round to go. It was a very strong first round for the Balby Team because they were, at this point, tied for the lead as a team and two individuals were tied for the lead in both the boys and girls individual.
Day 2 came with more testing conditions with the wind really picking up and causing many problems for all the players. The joint leader from Day 1 in the boys gross, Luke Palmowski +1 (Hickleton Golf Club, right), didn’t have the best of starts to his round, but battled through some really testing conditions to shoot a round of +6 (78) on the Torrance. Luke was slightly disappointed, but this was still a good score. Nicola Slater, who was also leading the girl’s gross competition, shot an unbelievably good round of – 1 (73) which, in that wind, had to be the best round of the tournament. For the later starters, the wind picked up even more and made the 2 courses even more difficult. Balby players, Harry Emmingham 5 (Birley Wood Golf Club) Owen Musgrave (Forest Pines Golf Resort) and Tom Guttridge 5 (Sandhill Golf Club) all showed great determination to keep battling and posted 3 very respectable scores in very tough conditions. Harry carded a +12 (83), Owen shot a +10 (82) and Tom finished with a +10 (81). The conditions really did provide a huge test, but one that Balby managed to overcome and still shoot very good scores.
After the prize ceremony, it was Balby Academy of Sport leaving with the trophies. The team event was won by 7 shots, which was a massive achievement and one that all the team was proud off. Balby have now won the AOC Sport Open Golf Championship 3 of the last 4 years which shows their dominance in this tournament. Nicola Slater won the girls individual gross Championship with the next competitor 9 shots behind. Nicola also won the mixed net individual Championship, which was a great achievement and shows how good a tournament Nicola had played. Luke Palmowski also picked up a runner up prize in the boys individual National Championship, which was a big improvement on his 10th place finished last year.
So in this year’s tournament, Balby were crowned Champions again. This was a huge achievement and one they will be looking to match in their next national finals in May at The British Schools and Colleges, held at Forest of Arden, and at Moortown Golf Club, where they will be defending their Intercollegiate Tour gross and net titles. Hopefully our forthcoming warm weather training trip to Portugal over the Easter holidays will help our students refine their skills ready for the upcoming finals.
We are always investigating ways in which we can further support student, so if you have ideas and would like to get on board with this highly successful team, such as via practical support or sponsorship, please contact Ian Lindley (details below).
In addition, if you need any further information or wish to ask about applying to join the academy, please also contact email@example.com or call on 08453451629
Tom Guttridge, Harry Emmingham & Luke Palmowski