Philip Brabazon won the Royal Tunbridge Wells Handicap Weekend
The Royal Tunbridge Wells club is blessed with a delightful and elevated setting in a leafy park, with views across Kent and even of the South Downs on a clear day, but during this weekend its location could be described best as 'exposed'. At times it was a strain to see what was going on a couple of lawns away as the rain slanted then straightened then slanted again in the wind.
This was a tournament for the dedicated and hardy and to their credit the players continued throughout - other than breaking for the excellent cakes, scones and sandwiches at tea - even if at times they had to use their mallets as brooms to sweep away standing water.
That these were (overly) keen players was signaled on Saturday morning when John Hobb's (Manager) scheme of linking the length of a game to the competitors aggregate handicap was given the thumbs down - for most this would be the last outing of the year and they wanted all the time they could get to put those prized skills and tactical insights learnt and developed over the season into practice.
In some games so dazzling were the choices of shot that TW's coach, Mick Belcham, stood spellbound asking again and again "why on earth did s/he do that?". The rejection of shortened games backfired as only four rounds were possible over the two days, which risked a mass tie as an outcome but meant many of the twelve competitors were in with a shout on Sunday afternoon.
By Sunday lunchtime Philip Brabazon (Nottingham) had ridden his luck to win his three games - helped by Avril Willshaw (Rottingdean) forgetting she had a handicap of 9, not 8 and later by Barney Lewis (RTW) not getting rid of his bisques sooner, for once that happened he played a stormer, commencing his second ball with a four yard hoop and going on to peg-out his opponent's Rover ball. Fortunately for Philip, Barney's unfamiliarity with the mechanics of the end game and in particular how to take advantage of an excellent Rover peel opportunity meant Philip was given another shot that he took full advantage of. Philip's good fortune continued and he took first place, followed by Avril 2nd, Barney 3rd and Jeremy Smith 4th (Preston Park).