Last-minute lesson helps Lema to victory

2014 Grand Medal Champion - Lema Townsend

A last-minute golf lesson transformed Lema Townsend’s game and helped her to an impressive three-stroke victory in England Golf’s Grand Medal Final at Peterborough Milton Golf Club.

“Twenty-four hours ago I couldn’t hit a ball,” said Lema, from Overstone Park in Northamptonshire (image © Leaderboard Photography).

“I spent hours at the driving range with the pro getting my swing back,” she added, after she returned her winning score of net 67, five-under par, and claimed the title of England’s best woman club medal player.

The other prizewinners were Belinda Rattray of West Kent, who scored net 70, playing off 25; and Michele Desmond of Knole Park, also in Kent, who had net 71, playing off 17 handicap.

Lema’s lesson was her last-ditch effort to rediscover her form for the final: “It was desperation, absolute desperation,” she said. But, the session with PGA professional John Cuddihy at Delapre Golf Centre did the trick: “He was magic,” said the 15 handicapper.

And, as she played in the Grand Final, her confidence gradually returned. “On the second, a par three, I managed to get a five and it was awful. But then something started to click,” she said. “It was lovely playing with my two partners, they relaxed me and they both had nice swings, with nice rhythm, and that helped.

“I didn’t know my score until I added it up at the end and, although I knew it was nice, it was a bit of a shock!” And when her win was confirmed she added: “It’s not real is it! I came here with no expectations.”

The competition, played in testing conditions with a long period of heavy rain, was contested by the cream of England’s club medal players. Each finalist had returned the four best medal scores at her club during 2013 and had won through a regional final to take her place at Peterborough Milton.

The field represented a wide range of club golf, with handicaps of the competitors spread from two to 30, and there was much praise for the course from the players.

Belinda took up golf only three years ago, encouraged by her fiancé and caddy, Dick Seamer, who has played in The Open as an amateur. “I used to play tennis, but now I’m into golf and I love it, I’m really enjoying it,” she said.

“I had a tough start when I went in thick rough on the first and had to take a drop,” she said. “But my fantastic caddy kept me on the straight and narrow and tried to help my course management. I only went in one bunker and I didn’t go in any deep rough after the first.”

Michele learned golf as a child, but has been playing seriously for only the last two years, and commented: “Today was stressfull! I stood over my first putt and my hands were shaking, I’m just not used to competitive golf.

“This is by far the biggest event I’ve ever played in and the conditions were tough – but I enjoyed it in the end! And I was very pleased with my score.”

She took third place on countback from Elaine Mankelow, who was representing the host club in the event and was the 2013 ladies’ captain at Peterborough Milton.