Bury St Edmunds County Upper 1 became the second team in four years from Suffolk to win the English Schools Team Championship at Woodhall Spa.
With the best two scores from three to count, their line-up of Ben Aves, Ali Reid and Alex Earle compiled 77 Stableford points to finish one ahead of Carr Hill High and Sixth Form College from Lancashire with Northampton School and Tudor Grange from Worcestershire sharing third spot on 73.
In extremely windy conditions over the Bracken Course, fifteen-year-old Aves returned 39 points off a handicap of seven, backed by 38 from Reid, off 20, while 19-handicap Earle posted 30.
“This is wonderful because it is a national competition and there were a lot of good players here,” said Reid. “It was also very windy, much different to our practice round, and I found the greens hard to read.”
The trio (image © Leaderboard Photography) , all members of Bury St Edmunds Golf Club, enjoyed chip-ins to boost their tallies. Aves holed from off the green at the fifth for par, a hole he eagled in the practice round, Earle sank a 50-yard approach to the sixth for par, while Reid benefited by a 30-yard chip-in for birdie at the fourth. However, Earle found the Bracken’s water hazards troublesome and fell foul of them on several occasions.
Jim Neale, a representative of the school travelling with the team said, “It is a huge honour to win such a prestigious competition and the school is rightly very proud of each of the lads. The team is young and eligible to return for at least the next two years – hopefully!”
However, the team’s 77 points paled into insignificance compared to their 88 point tally when they qualified at Rushmere in Ipswich.
Aves, whose handicap has descended from 11 at the start of the year, also won the newly instigated individual prize, The Tom Ward Cup, his 39 points being one more than four other returns.
This has been inaugurated in memory of Tom Ward, England Golf and the National Schools Golf Association’s official photographer, who sadly passed away just over a year ago.
There to present the cup was Tom’s widow Elizabeth, who travelled down from her home in Yorkshire to hand over the new trophy.