This very popular end of season Golf Croquet doubles competition took place in beautiful weather. The lawns were lush due to persistent rain for several days and although slow, they were running mostly true. Fourteen pairs were accepted which made for two blocks of 7, all play all, one 13 point game BUT 2 clear hoops were required up to a maximum of 10 -9. Games were untimed and all 7 block rounds were completed before 6pm. Interestingly, of the 42 block games only 5 went beyond the thirteenth hoop. The top four from each block went forward to quarter-finals on Sunday morning and the rest went into a mini-block of 6, carrying forward scores from the main blocks.
In block A, the fourth place was decided between 3 pairs on 2 games each and in block B, third and fourth places were decided between 3 pairs on 3 wins. The top 3 seeds in each block went through. The quarter finals were 19 point games and the top seeds from each block went into the semis. These were best of 3 13 point games; In the lower semi-final, Freda & Tim started slightly nervously and were soon 1-3 down. From that point on, everything was relatively close with Richard being very accurate on length and Tim running hoops cleanly. Nothing much went for Freda & Tim and Ryan & Richard kept playing steadily, winning the first game 7-4 and the second 7-5, with Richard producing his new jump shot at a critical point. More on this later!
The upper semi-final had far more twists and turns. Sue & Lionel were relatively comfortable in taking the first 7-5. Jacob had been somewhat over-anxious at hoops, not running them at his smooth best. But in the second game, Jacob & Mike played better and eventually won 7-6. The deciding game had further ebb and flow. Jacob went for a 5-yard jump shot at 2, peeled Sue through and soon Sue & Lionel went 3-0 up. They went 5-2 up with steady, good play. But Jacob then engineered a peeling opportunity at hoop 8, got his ball in the vicinity of hoop 9 and this was strong enough for Mike to eventually get into the jaws, which led to them winning hoop 10 and levelling the scores. However, Sue & Lionel took hoop 11, before a battle led to another levelling of the scores at 12. Sue then made the killer blow with an approach to 1 yard in front of 13 and when Mike straightened her shot up, Jacob was left with no way of stopping her running the hoop to win the match.
So we were set up for a final between last year's winners, Richard and Ryan and the new pairing of Sue and Lionel. The first game swung backwards and forwards, with both sides showing nerves and just missing hoops. At the 12th hoop, Richard declared a shot to clear opponent or run the hoop and managed to go through the gap, with Lionel eventually running to level at 6 all. Richard's approach to hoop 13 went through the back to a few inches in front. Both of the opposition just miss long clearances and Richard runs to win 7 - 6.
In the second game, it was looking like Sue and Lionel were making a comeback and went 5 -3 up. Richard won hoop 9, running to 3 yards from hoop 10. After an exchange, Ryan played a totally clean jump shot to level the score at 5 all. At hoop 11, Lionel had his ball in the jaws and Richard set himself for his recently acquired jump shot! Played from well behind his feet and looking somewhat ungainly, it ran the hoop effectively to go 6 -5 up. At hoop 12 all players had good approaches. Richard cleared Sue's ball, which just missed the return, leaving Ryan an angled hoop to win the game and the match. There was a good crowd, encouraged by the lovely warm weather and they were treated to an excellent final, with contrasting styles.
The Plate, which was a block of 6 carrying forward results from the main blocks, was won by Maggie Cowman and Valerie Harding with 4 wins; also on 4 wins were Ted Flexman and Roger I'Anson, who lost out on the "who beat whom" regulation.
The competition went well and all games were played in good spirits, making the manager's job easy. The weather, food and social side were excellent and left us all looking forward to next season.
Full scores can be found at www.croquetscores.com/../the-black-sheep-yorkshire-open-doubles-ripon-spa-hotel