On the weekend of 26th/27th April, 16 Golf Croquet players arrived in Sidmouth to play for the Haste Cup, a qualifying heat for the English National Golf Croquet Championship, (Ascot Cup). A couple of the players live in the area but the others came from as far afield as Dulwich in the East and Leicester in the North. Handicaps ranged from -1 to 8 but, as this was a level play competition, all players play on an equal footing.
On Saturday, with a gloomy wet weather forecast, everyone played 6 games in two all-play-all American blocks. After a heavy shower, the sun came out and, for the rest of the day's play, it was very windy and cold with occasional sunshine, but dry! After 6 games there were no clear winners of the blocks, though one player, David Bell from Leicester, had won all his games. Many retired to the pavilion to warm up and for refreshment.
Play resumed on Sunday, when all played the last game in their blocks. Following this were the usual semi-finals played by the 1st & 2nd in each block. This was followed by the final. The final matches were all the best of 3 games. Whilst these four players were battling it out, the other players continued to play games in a cross-over way to put them all in positions 5 - 16. All players, especially the higher handicap ones, enjoyed the experience of playing against low handicap players and all won at least one of their games, with most players winning at least 3 games.
During the final, between Ryan Cabble (Nailsea) and Guy Scurfield (Dulwich), play had to be suspended, at one game all, because of a very heavy downpour, including hailstones. When the court was considered to be fit enough for play the match resumed and Ryan's youthful exuberant play won the day, winning the match 2 games to 1 game. The two losing semi-finalists, William Ormerod (Swanage) and David Bell (Leicester), were playing for the 3rd & 4th positions. The match was suspended at one game all because of the rain and, with permission of the Tournament Manager Helen Pryor, both players called it a draw. They declared themselves to be joint 3rd!
Ryan Cabble has now won the Haste Cup four times in succession and, this year, it was presented to him by Amanda Haste, a country member of the Sidmouth club, now living in France. Amanda donated the cup to the club eight years ago. As a result of his win, Ryan has an automatic place in the Ascot Cup, held later in the year. The losing finalist, Guy Scurfield received a bottle of wine, to his delight..
The Sidmouth club looks forward to meeting all the players again next year, hoping for more sunshine!.