Warwickshire’s Robert Ransford scored a first when he joined Hampshire’s Julie Rawdon in the winners’ circle at England Golf’s senior midlands tournament at Leamington & County Golf Club.
This was the first in a series of events which now offer men’s competitions, played alongside the established women’s events. It attracted a number of husbands and wives, including Yorkshire’s Jim and Judy Butler, who were both among the prizewinners.
Robert, who is a 12-handicap member of the host club, became the first winner of the men’s event, while Julie took the women’s honours, and he gave the new venture a seal of approval: “It’s a fantastic idea and I think it will catch on. It’s a great tournament and I like the format, with the two rounds played over two days.”
He scored a total of 73 points, returning cards of 37 and 36 from 36-holes of golf played in scorching heat, which called for special measures. “We struggle with the heat around here, it gets trapped in and become very sultry,” said Robert, 61, who was armed with cool towels in an ice bag, as well as the usual fluids and hat.
His precautions clearly paid off, because he played steadily throughout the event, notably without a single three-putt. He notched up his best spell on the back nine of his first round, which he completed in three over par.
Home advantage was a help: “Leamington & County is quite a difficult course if you don’t know it, especially if you don’t put the ball on the fairway,” said Robert.
Julie Rawdon won the women’s event with 68 points, finishing four points clear of the field – and was loudly cheered. She was among a group of eight ladies from Stoneham Golf Club, most of whom are annual regulars at regional seniors’ events.
She has been taking part for five years and this was her first win. “It’s very nice to win, but I didn’t expect it at all,” said Julie, a 13-handicapper who is ladies’ vice-captain at Stoneham and a past club champion.
She was tied for the lead after returning 36 points in the first round and held on well, despite the temperatures, to return a second round score of 32.
“It was a bit hot!” said Julie, who had a birdie in each of her rounds. “But I kept my wet towel with me and my ice blocks.”
Meanwhile, Jim Butler had grabbed the opportunity to join his wife, Judy, at a regional seniors’ event and was rewarded with the bonus of the men’s second prize.
“I’ve followed Judy to quite a few of these events and pushed her bag,” said Jim, who plays off nine at Kirbymoorside. This event fitted their personal schedule perfectly because it meant they could combine it with a visit to their son, who lives in Leamington.
“The last thing I expected was to win a prize,” said Jim. “I came here hoping to avoid the wooden spoon! It’s the first time I’ve won anything away from my club.”
Judy, who plays off four at Malton & Norton, was the women’s clubhouse leader for most of the afternoon, before two late cards edged ahead of her and left her in third place.
Further men’s and women’s senior regional events will be held at Liphook, Hampshire, on 28 and 29 August; and at Pannal, Yorkshire on 5 and 6 September.
68 Julie Rawdon (Stoneham) 36 32
64 Elizabeth Moverley (Copt Heath) 33 31, ocb from Judy Butler (Malton & Norton) 36 28
73 Robert Ransford (Leamington & County) 37 36
67 Jim Butler (Kirbymoorside) 33 34, ocb from Michael Abbotts (Northamptonshire County) 37 30
Image © Leaderboard Photography: Robert Ransford and Julie Rawdon