HAMPSHIRE captain Martin Young had to spend an anxious few hours away from the Liphook course as his side set about demolishing Dorset in the first Daily Telegraph South-East League match of the season (writes Andrew Griffin).
And after christening his team’s first win of 2017, he said he preferred playing to watching when leading the county.
The Brokenhurst Manor player had to drop himself from the eight-man team as the match clashed with a family christening.
So having spent Saturday with the team practising on the notoriously fast Liphook greens, and after helping with the early warm-up, the former England Mid Amateur champion was clocking up the miles driving back to the New Forest for the service – and then back again.
He arrived in time for lunch, after his side had raced into a 3-1 lead in the foursomes, and was then able to sit back and watch as Hampshire ran out more than comfortable winners by 81/2-31/2.
Young was relieved to get off to a winning start, having seen Hampshire stumble to three defeats out of four in his first league campaign in 2016.
He said: “I definitely prefer playing as captain than watching. It was horrible. I did not enjoy it all. But it was a good performance and I think, overall, we have a stronger league squad than last year.
“George Saunders and Ryan Harmer, who came into the six-man squad for the English County Finals, have undoubtedly added to the squad’s strength and we have Colin Roope, last year’s Hampshire Order of Merit winner, available, while Toby Burden has decided to commit playing more for the county.”
So even without British Amateur champion Scott Gregory and the US-based quartet of Harry Ellis, Billy McKenzie, Jamie Mist and Steven Anderson, Young will have his work cut out picking his next two league teams for the games against Kent – this weekend – and Sussex who travel to the captain’s home club in July when the American college golfers will be back in the UK.
The win over Dorset owed much to the Blackmoor trio of Roope, Mark Burgess and Ben Lobacz. Between them, they produced a 100 per cent return on the day, earning five points.
Roope, who played twice for Surrey in the English County Finals more than 10 years ago, got the chance to make his Hampshire debut after a strong showing in his first season with a new county which earned him both the gross and net Order of Merits.
He and Toby Burden won on the last against Dorset’s Andy Rideout and Luke Hirst.
It was finally left to Burgess and Lobacz to secure a third win in the bottom foursomes, beating Giles Legg and Callum Ward 2&1.
In the singles, Roope showed all his experience to force Ward into a series of mistakes, leaving the Blackmoor player five up by the 14th. That guaranteed Hampshire a draw and Harmer’s half nudged the hosts over the winning line before Burgess stiffed his downhill approach into the 16th to beat Legg 3&2.
Lobacz then made his putt for a one-hole win over Hirst, making light of the swirling wind which had added to the heathland course’s defences.
Hampshire Colts begun the defence of their South East League crown with a 91/2-21/2 win over Middlesex at Sherfield Oaks. Tom Robson’s side fielded a number of debutants, including Rowlands Castle’s Josh Sturt.