39th Channel Cup Medoc 8-11 October, 2015
In contrast to the storm clouds of Ireland, it was a warm Indian summer that greeted the Salamander golfers gathered for the 39th edition of the Channel Cup at the Medoc Golf Resort. The first action was to leave the resort for the local hostelry whose Scottish salmon tartare, stuffed guinea fowl, and apple tart & sauternes restored the undernourished.
The timetable allowed for a leisurely start on Friday morning, at noon on the lush Lacanau course. Despite the ubiquitous oak and pine trees, and the cunningly disguised stretches of water (each claiming one of my precious balls) creditable scores were recorded. Perhaps the clear blue skies, squirrels scuttling everywhere, warbling birds, and roe deer occasionally skipping across the fairway with their young helped. Once the results were calculated on the clubhouse terrace over cold beer, it was discovered that Tim Noble had returned over 40 points, and the Anglo-Saxons were monopolising the leader board – an ominous portent?
The Continentals therefore spent much of the equally delicious dinner reformulating and refining their pairings for the morrow, recruiting the star lady Norma to replace the absent Dina, thwarted by mystery bug on what was to have been her maiden appearance.
The morning mist of Saturday lifted to reveal the two ladies groups magnanimously teeing off at 9 am sharp to allow Ken to jet in from California, with Elisabeth maintaining the Noble tradition of 40 pts. And then at last the first two of the 16 pairs forming the teams finally struck their balls down the first fairway (or into the first rough), and the first Channel Cup decided by match play was underway. The course appeared deceptively wide and welcoming after the straights of Lacanau, deceptively so because a variety of ground foliage and animal holes lay in wait for wayward shots. As Apollo ascended, those who had invested in a new Salamander golf shirt were rewarded with the cool feel, while those who had not perspired profusely. As the matches progressed so did the tension, with half of the matches being decided only on the last hole!
Luckily the spa & bar were at hand for post-match relaxation. The Lillet cocktail and the Sémillion vieilles vignes (see http://www.chateaudecastelneau.com) presented by the vigneron in person, Loïc de Roquefeuil, also helped (. When the results came to be announced, the first three matches resulted in a Continental victories – but then the next four were Anglo-Saxon wins, Chris Skelton scoring a record gross of 3 under on the way out. A recount was therefore effected for the final match, with a possible draw in the balance, but the Continental team of Freddy & Greg were adjudged to have succumbed by the narrowest of margins – to veteran Richard and rookie Peter Felix.
Matters were adjourned late into the night, after a marathon post prandial claret tasting munificently led by the Laird McAlpine. Notwithstanding, or perhaps theretofore, all were present for the 9am briefing, and prior to the 9h30 shotgun, all had dutifully dispersed the furthermost corners of the Chateau course (voted the best in France in 2014), with clubs poised on the allotted tee, awaiting the promised shotgun. The problem - it seemed more like the trenches in WW1, with hunters letting fly their salvoes in the surrounding woods, so distinguishing which was meant for us was difficult. Which doubtless explains why, despite the simultaneous start, the returns to the clubhouse for lunch were far from being synchronised.
Once the round did get started, we discovered why - less innocuous than les Vignes, with multiple hazards, and greens that invariably deflected the ball from the hole at the last centimetre (and nothing to do with the level of claret consumption). Scoring therefore was difficult, all the more so when the gods, weeping over this performance, mediocre when compared to the previous day, meant that we were reminded how lucky we had been to remain dry until the final minutes. The shower did not prevent Chris returning a net of two under, despite finishing with only Olivier left in his team.We raised our glasses to absent friends, in particular Baudouin, fighting health issues, and Jacqueline & Philippe, and Ruedi, who we thank for the Saturday cocktail, as well as to the generosity of our sponsors, Henry Engelhardt, Olivier de La Giraudière, Reinhold Geiger, and Patrick Poggia who raised our cultural level with the classical cd’s from www.pragadigitals.com
Pairings and Stableford points per pair Matchplay Result