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Nazeing win 2023 Leslie Wood Championship

The 2023 Final between Hainault Forest and Nazeing was played on the 3rd September at Royal Epping Forest Golf Club. The hosts presented the course in great condition and made all their guests most welcome throughout the day.

It was a hot start weather wise at royal Epping Forest Golf Club as both teams and a keen crowd swarmed the first tee at 8:45 in the morning. It was also a hot start for nazing winning match 17 and five with match two and three also bringing home a point. However, matches four and five did go Hainault Forest Golf Club’s way. This meant that the morning matches concluded with a one-point advantage favouring Nazeing Golf Club at 3 to 2.

The weather heated up in the afternoon, with temperatures reportedly reaching 30 degrees celsius with a stiff breeze at times made playing conditions a little tough. Once again Nazeing managed points in matches one and two with convincing wins. Match three saw James Sammons beat Mitch Conlon two and one, which meant the score with the remainder of matches moving into the back 9 was Nazeing 5 Hainault Forest 3.

A halved match between John Roberts of Hainault Forest and Ben Everingham of Nazeing meant Nazeing edged forever closer towards the winning target of eight points. The next four matches so the points shared between both clubs each gaining two more towards their totals. So far Nazeing Golf Club appeared to be in control of the match, with 7 1/2 points already secured, with three matches still alive on the course. However, Hainault Golf Club were up in two of these matches, Chris Driver eventually beating Charlie Summerford 2&1, only after William Stewart had won 5&3 against Martin Anderson.

So now the score stood at Nazeing Golf Club, 7 ½ to Hainault Forest’s 6 ½. Paul Hodges from Nazeing playing Graham Baker of Hainault Forest Golf Club was match 10 and it swiftly became the deciding match, with everyone moving to hole 16 to see how things transpired. The 16th was a short path for dog leg left both players finding the fairway but with Graham Baker one down and Nazeing only requiring ½ a point to secure the match overall, it was looking a tall ask. Graham however, hitting his approach are on 16 to inside 8 foot or so, now had a put to take the match back to all square. The putt dropped dead centre and the cheer from the Hainault supporters could be heard before the ball had fully disappeared. Grahams tee shot 17 and narrowly missed the fairway left leaving him blocked out by the trees as the whole dog legs left with a pin position there was also back left making his approach very tricky. Paul Hodges on the other hand not only found the fairway but was some 30 to 40 yards further up the hole leaving him access to the green. Graham Baker unfortunately found more trouble up the left side before chipping on. This meant that Paul Hodges approach, which had finished some 10 yards short and left of the green, was a much easier pitch than he possibly once anticipated. Paul knowing that as long as he got it on the green, he had at least two putts to win the hole and guarantee the victory as Hainault Forest could only secure a half. As Paul’s well weighted pitch ran slowly past the hole the Nazeing crowd erupted knowing that it was potentially sufficient to secure the Leslie F. Wood Trophy. His ball finally came to rest just 10 feet from the hole, as Graham approached Paul to concede the crowd erupted once again. Both players shook hands and. Several players shook opposing players hands before making their way back to the clubhouse for the presentation and a meal. The match was played in great spirits & Royal Epping Forest Golf Club were fantastic hosts having won in 2022.

The Essex Golf Union would like to thank Royal Epping Forest Golf Club for hosting the event and their wonderful hospitality, and also the many spectators who came to enthusiastically support both teams and make it a special day.

Martin Webb is a keen amateur golfer and has been the editor of Suffolk Norfolk & Essex Golf Magazine since 2023.

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