Lancashire’s Gina Parish secured the biggest prize of a short golfing career when she won England Golf’s Grand Medal Final by a stroke at Northamptonshire County Golf Club.
She claimed the title of England’s best woman club medal player with a net score of two-under par 73. “It’s brilliant,” said Gina (image © Martin Izzard), who has been playing seriously for just two years and has a handicap of 26.
“When I set out today I wanted to win, because you have to have a goal and a target, but I had no expectations. I am just so totally made up!”
The competition, played in warm sunshine, was contested by the cream of England’s club medal players. Each finalist had returned the four best medal scores at her club during 2012 and had won through a regional final to take her place at Northamptonshire County.
The other prizewinners were Rachel Turner of Cheshire, Abigail Turner of Devon, Tracy Crew of Berkshire and Julie Wilding of Surrey.
In the final Gina, 41, (Lancaster) was accompanied by her partner Andy, who admirably fulfilled caddy duties, and she summed up: “I had some great holes, some good recovery shots – and some shocking shots!”
She works full-time as a project manager in IT and has limited opportunity to play golf but, despite that, she’s determined to work on her game. “I’ve just got the bug, I thought golf was going to be a really boring game – but it gets in your head and gets a grip,” she said.
Last year Gina came down from 35 to 28; this season she’s cut two shots off that and she’s aiming for 22. “I’m trying to put in a lot of effort and crash it.”
She finished one shot ahead of runner-up Rachel Turner, who had a net score of 74, playing off nine handicap. She switched from hockey to golf five years ago and this was the biggest event she’s ever played in.
Rachel confessed to first tee nerves but remarked: “This has got to be right up there with the best! It’s the first time I’ve qualified for anything like this and I’ve played one-under par on handicap on a fantastic course with greens like lightning.”
The competition for third place was intense with four players tied on 75. Their final positions were calculated on countback with Abigail Turner claiming third spot, while Tracy Crew was fourth and Julie Wilding was fifth. Yorkshire’s Mandy Coates finished sixth, just missing out on the prizes.
Tracy Crew, the Berkshire county captain, was in the first group out and set the early target, which stood for hours before a series of leaderboard changes towards the end of the day. Although Tracy moved down the order she had the compensation of winning the scratch prize with her gross 79.
The four-handicapper said: “I’m so pleased with my score. When I looked at the range of handicaps I thought I was really aiming for the gross. I didn’t think that I might be leading the handicap prizes with half the field in!”
The Crew family has a good record in this event. Two years ago Tracy’s daughter Laura, reached the final at Droitwich when she was only 15. “I went with her and thought it was a fantastic idea to have an event for everyone, from low to high handicappers.”
Par 75 CSS 76
73 Gina Parish (Lancaster)
75 Rachel Turner (Vicars Cross)
75 Abigail Turner (Okehampton), Tracy Crew (Reading), Julie Wilding (West Hill)