This year's Charity One-ball saw tournament two regional finals held: the usual Southern final at Winchester and a new Northern final at Bowdon. The pedigree of the winners of each could not be more different. Libby Howard-Blood (Nailsea), playing off 22 in her first tournament won at Winchester, while Colin Irwin, ex-GB international and playing off -5, won at Bowdon!
At Winchester this year we had an unusual number of high handicappers among the qualifiers. The lunchtime leader, unbeaten after four rounds of the swiss, was Gill McDiarmid (Woking), followed by Simon Balmford (Parsons Green), Martin Pulsford (Surbiton) and Libby.
In the afternoon Simon and Martin fell away, while the two ladies were joined by another strong lady contender in Anne Wilkinson (Roehampton), along with John Weydling (Littleton) and Peter Haydon (Dulwich).
Going into the eighth and final round there was the potential for a four-way tie. However, Libby - gaining in confidence with every game - powered to a seventh win, Gill was edged out of the prizes and the deserving runners-up were Anne and John. The sole minus player, Graham Gale (Guildford & Godalming) was weighed down by timber all day and collected the booby prize.
In the morning's dry weather at the inaugural Northern Regional Final, John Lucas (Bowdon) was the leader, unbeaten after four rounds with Tim King (Ashby), Colin & Neil Thompson (Bowdon) close on his tail. The rain of the afternoon's session soon changed the speed of the lawns and, after six rounds, the two clear leaders were Colin and Neil who then effectively played a final to determine the overall winner and runner-up. Tim King and Graham Good (Bury) tied for third place.
The poor Spring weather played havoc with this year's heats. While a record 33 heats were scheduled, four had to be cancelled and six suffered postponement (at the time of writing this account two had yet to be played and so the totals quoted will be increased once they are!).
364 players took part in heats prior to the finals and a little over £3000 was raised for this year's chosen charity, Prostate Cancer UK.