It will be celebration time next week when the PING women’s fourball betterball tournament marks its 10th anniversary.
The Plate and Grand Finals take place on Monday and Tuesday, September 7 and 8 respectively, at PING’s own Gainsborough Golf Club in Lincolnshire. Each day, 50 pairs will compete for the titles, continuing a success story which began in 2006.
The tournament, which is run by England Golf, was an instant hit when it was launched and thousands of players from 800 clubs grabbed an opportunity to play an unusual format for women.
Over the past decade the tournament has become one of the highlights of the calendar and became so popular that the Plate Final was added to the Grand Final in 2009.
This year, 846 clubs took part by running qualifying rounds and the 50 pairs who reached the Grand Final mostly scored 44 points or better, with just four claiming their place with 43 points. The remaining 37 clubs with 43 points and 13 clubs with 42 points successfully qualified for the Plate Final. The ballots for both finals were decided on countback.
The tournament is an event which combines competition with friendship and club spirit. Most finalists arrive in their club colours and pairings have featured mothers and daughters, in-laws, sisters, twins – and a pair whose surnames were Duck and Mallard.
There’s been players as young as 12, as well as competitors at the other end of the age spectrum. One pair brought their own fan club –an entourage of nine supporters from their proud club, bearing a large, home-made banner.
The players represent all abilities, with high handicappers and low, internationals and very new golfers, county players and former professionals. One finalist played when she was 37-weeks pregnant and, twice, competitors were so determined to take part that they played solo when injury or illness forced their partners to call off.
Finalists have also faced some interesting hazards, such as the time when a deer chewed a competitor’s ball!
The rewards for reaching one of the finals include a fabulous goodie bag, great prizes and a lovely lunch. The most-common word at registration is ‘Wow!’ and when one competitor signed in for last year’s Grand Final she asked the organiser: “Can I kiss you now? It’s Christmas come early!”
Click here for championship webpage
Caption: 2014 Grand Final winners Sheila Mcdonald (left) and Pam Wiseley (Image © Leaderboard Photography)
2014 Pam Wiseley & Sheila Mcdonald – Houldsworth, Cheshire
2013 Denise Page & Sarah Dawson – Willow Valley, Yorkshire
2012 Rita Towler & Dorothy Scholes – Harwood, Lancashire
2011 Laura Harrison & Abbie Spence – Hobson, Co Durham
2010 Cath Rawthore & Hilary Tarleton – Sale, Cheshire
2009 Sue Elliott & Rachael Thomas – Henbury, Gloucestershire
2008 Bridget Moore & Jenny Readman- Meon Valley, Hampshire
2007 Cynthia Hollingsworth & Megan Ball – Colne Valley, Essex
2006 Shirley Kay & Jenny Knight – Matlock, Derbyshire
2014 Sian Mansey & Carol Simpson – Horsley Lodge, Derbyshire
2013 Karen Hughes & Elaine Ducker – Cottingham, Yorkshire
2012 Ros Ford & Sarah Gotts – Cretingham, Suffolk
2011 Philippa Mason & Samantha Reagan – Shooters Hill, Kent
2010 Ruth Coleby & Linda Young – Penrith, Cumbria
2009 Lilias Adamson & Sue Pearson – Ely City, Cambridgeshire