The All England Golf Croquet Championship was won by Richard Harris (3 handicap) from Ryde CC, who was playing in the finals for the third time. He won the event two years ago and was a beaten semi-finalist last year. He beat a recent convert to Golf Croquet, Farooq Malik (4 handicap), from Dulwich CC, in a final, which due to time constraints, was reduced to one 19-point game, which Richard won 10 - 5.
In warm, sunny weather and little or no wind, the culmination of a season long progress to the final of the All England Golf Croquet Championship took place at Ramsgate. The four lawns were beautifully presented and showed no signs of wear after a long season. There were 12 players in an all-play-all block one 13-point game.
The surprise of the event was Nick Mounfield's failure to reach the final; Nick (1 handicap) from Letchworth CC, had played superbly in the block winning all of his 11 games, displaying all the talent and, at times, breathtaking accuracy of a scratch player, running long and angled hoops and making vital clearances from the far reaches of the lawn. Qualifying number 1 for the semis, he met Farooq Malik, who was fourth in the block. Nick had already beaten Farooq 7 - 3 in the block, but Farooq managed to reverse that result to win 7 - 4 in a foreshortened semi of one 13 point game.
The second semi-final was between Richard Harris (3), who finished second in the block and Brian Wilson (10), from Lansdown, who finished 3rd in the block after a 5-way tie of players with 6 wins. Applying the CA regs for deciding such a tie, Brian was placed third and Farooq fourth in the block. Richard won fairly easily, 7 -3, against an inexperienced player, who had 7 extra turns but did not always use them to his best advantage. Brian did show promise for the future and brought out the best in Richard, who took this form into the final.
Again, because of time constraints, the final was reduced to one 19-point game. Richard had had a slow start to the competition but his game came together latterly and in the final, he played some very accurate and thoughtful croquet, running some long and angled hoops, which won the applause of a good crowd of local players and other competitors, most of whom had stayed on to watch the final. Richard came out a worthy winner beating Farooq, who made some good clearances, but displayed the caution of the AC player in not taking all his chances for hoops.
A feature that was remarked upon by those of us used to playing in National Golf Croquet Competitions was the somewhat leisurely pace in some of the games, a reflection perhaps of the lack of experience of some of the players generally and in the best use of extra turns in particular. These were often used to defend a hoop, not always effectively and several attempts to use an extra turn to jaws a hoop were frustrated by the ball running the hoop on the fast, rabbit-run-free lawns.
The whole competition was played in good spirits with a friendly atmosphere and despite the range of handicaps from 1 to 10, most games had a close finish with no shock results in the block, reflecting that competitors played mostly to their handicaps.
The lawn preparation and hospitality provided by Ramsgate members contributed to the success of the weekend and my thanks go to all of the players whose co-operative attitude made my task of managing the final easier than it might otherwise have been.
Nick Mounfield 1 Hdcp 11 Wins
Richard Harris 3 Hdcp 7 Wins
Brian Wilson 10 Hdcp 6 Wins
Farooq Malik 4 Hdcp 6 Wins
Peter Ross 5 Hdcp 6 Wins
Paul Guram 9 Hdcp 6 Wins
Peter Dyke 2 Hdcp 6 Wins
Bob Ellis 3 Hdcp 5 Wins
Christina Rice 5 Hdcp 5 Wins
Gavin Taylor 9 Hdcp 4 Wins
Richard Marshall 10 Hdcp 2 Wins
John Knight 8 Hdcp 2 Wins
Farooq Malik beat Nick Mounfield 7 - 4
Richard Harris beat Brain Wilson 7 - 3
Richard Harris beat Farooq Malik 10 - 5