When Surbiton CC arranged its 2020 calendar last year, no one was expecting the Summer Handicap to be our first tournament of the season. But lockdown meant all our earlier tournaments needed to be cancelled or postponed - and the relaxation of lockdown came before the Summer Handicap met the same fate.
We had a very good entry for the tournament, both in terms of numbers (24) and also in terms of handicap range (from -1.5 to 12). After such a long wait during lockdown everyone was keen to get in as much competitive play as possible and - partly because we used 18pt games for our non-knockout games - most people played between 6 and 8 games over the 2 days. People whose games finished early also had the option of playing a game of 1-ball while waiting for their double-banked game (and thus their lawn session) to come to an end.
In the main event, Dave Evans (the current holder) and Barry Holland both stormed their way into the final. In the final Barry's good form faltered, while Dave's continued; and after some impressive breaks and a few minor errors (soon forgotten) Dave won by the most convincing margin of all (+26) thus retaining his title. On the adjacent lawn, the final for the "Knockees' Knockout" was won by Andre Machell who (playing Tim Masterton) pegged-off one of his opponent's balls and then won by the narrowest margin of all (+1). Honourable mentions in the Swiss went to Cliff Hunter, Tony Elliott and Paul Watson.
Obviously things were not the same as in pre-Covid days: spectators were asked to stay away; whole lawns had to come free before any new games could be out on them; entry into the clubhouse was strictly limited; the usual fabulous meals were not on offer; the balls and clips had to be washed between games; and all sorts of precautionary cleaning needed to be done. And some familiar faces decided to stay away this year in order to avoid any risk of infection - faces that were missed and which we hope to see again soon.
No-one will deny that the season has started late this year. But started it has - and croquet is as much fun as it always was!