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AGM County Captains Report

Friday, November 29, 2019

As your county captain I was under no illusion when I stood here last year that I faced a huge task to emulate the success of Sammy in 2018.

Norfolk were no longer there to make up the numbers and the pressure was on to win County Match Week and go through to the National Finals again and with this in mind we set about our winter training wishing to concentrate on, what we thought, were our weaknesses at the National Finals in Devon the previous year.

The coming together of the established players with some new faces and a few of the up and coming juniors continued the great team spirit we enjoyed the previous year.

We worked on our core strength in Pilates with Fiona Spencer at Royal Norwich and our short game with Tony Varney at Mattishall.

Practice matches were arranged against the County Senior Men at Great Yarmouth & Caister and the Hunstanton men both teams enjoyed the opportunity to try new partnerships and fish and chips but where the result was not as important as the experience gained. Which actually meant we lost these two matches but whose counting!!

In May the Ladies Championship at Hunstanton produced some magnificent golf. With Amelia Williamson studying in the States and unable to defend her title there was everything to play for. The first days strokeplay produced some excellent scores with Ryston Park’s Tiffany Mills winning with a 2nd round sub par score. The matchplay stages didn’t disappoint and gave those present a wonderful opportunity to watch golf at its best highlighted by a final between Swaffham’s Abigail O’Riordan and Karen Young from Eaton with Abigail winning on the 18th to claim her first title, a round that included 2 eagles!

We then had the unenviable task of selecting the team who would represent us at County Match Week. With a few obstacles in the way such as exams, work and overseas studies we settled on our team of Amelia Williamson (Royal Cromer), Amy Taylor (Bawburgh) Chloe Gibbs and Jo Herd (Royal Norwich), Tiffany Mills (Ryston Park), Abigail O’Riordan (Swaffham), Chloe Rowswell (Eaton) and we welcomed back Karen Young (also of Eaton). A strong team we felt had every chance of winning the title.

We had our final practice match against the County Boys which gave the opportunity for all the team, with the exception of Amelia who was competing away, to come together and finalise our foursomes partnerships.

In June we travelled to County Match Week at Aspley Guise in Bedfordshire with great confidence and our opening match against the old enemy Suffolk did not disappoint with an inspiring 6-3 win. We followed this up with victories against Cambs & Hunts, Bedfordshire and Essex before entering the final day undefeated. Although it sounded as though we had it in the bag Herts had found a run of form and had other ideas and a good win for them against us would see them win the East Region title and snatch victory from us. The team were determined not to lose at the last hurdle and on the day, although we suffered a narrow 5-4 defeat, we had amassed enough points earlier in the week to win the title and qualify. Through all the stress of the last day one of my lasting memories will be placing Carol Delf and Sammy, neither of who had a clue how to tweet for all the supporters back home, in strategic positions around the course with instructions to text me as the matches passed them so I could tweet the latest scores. Everything went fine until I got different results on the same hole from the same match so apologies if the scoring went a little mad on the last day!

And so in September off to Delamere Forest in Cheshire we went. My fact finding trip 3 weeks prior gave an insight into the warm welcome and test of golf we would face. With Amelia and Amy back in the States we invited juniors Hope and Eve Neild to join the team.

We started our week against the previous year’s champions Gloucestershire and the team gave a good account of themselves before going down 6-3. Hope and Eve playing together in the morning foursomes recorded a fine win on their debut but although we went into the afternoon leading 2-1 we were unable to overcome the strong singles challenge from the Gloucestershire players.

The rest of the week followed a very similar pattern. We played well in all of our matches but there was always that little something that stopped us from crossing the line. We competed well in every game and I feel we were unlucky to finish bottom of the table, a result not helped by the dead rubbers played on the last day leading to some somewhat unexpected results.

Again we have identified our weaknesses and strengths and have taken away what we think we need to work on to compete at this level. We will be working hard over the winter to improve – in fact training has already started in specific areas.

My sincere thanks to all the players who represented Norfolk at East Region Match Week and the National Finals. My thanks too to all the caddies, spectators and the good wishes and cards received from clubs and individuals. They really do mean a lot to us. We know it is not always possible to come and support in person but knowing you are thinking of us is really inspiring. I hope the Twitter feed made you feel part of the action.

Away from the County team my congratulations to Karen Young on winning the East Region Seniors Championship and to Chrissie Owens for finishing as runner up. Also to Tiffany Mills and Ann Fletcher who finished joint 3rd in the East Region Foursomes. Next year the East Region Ladies Championships will be held at Wensum Valley here in Norfolk so it would be great to see a good entry from within the county.

I cannot close without giving special mention to Amelia Williamson. Amelia was undefeated at County Match Week for the 2nd year running winning all 9 of her matches. She has had a wonderful season both in the USA and back here in the UK where she was joint winner of the Astor Salver in Berkshire, she represented the English Women at the Chiberta Grand Prix in France where she finished 3 under to win with a 65 in the final round and she played in the Home Internationals at Downfield which England won. She came 3rd in the Pleasington Putter with her lowest ever round of 8 under and came 7th in the Dutch Junior Open. These are just a few of her achievements, there are many more and we are very lucky to have Amelia as part of our county team. I only wish I could have got her back to the UK for Delamere.

A few thankyou's and special mentions go to:

- Heather for her guidance and for always being there when I needed a wise head to turn to
- Congratulations to Sherrill in her first year as County Junior Organiser
- Vanessa on leading the County 2nd team and to giving a good account of themselves in the Finals Day at Barnham Broom
- Nicky Wylie for managing the Senior Ladies team
- Helen/Moneypenny for giving me the budget to allow us to compete at Regional and National level – I will be coming to see you soon with my begging bowl

It has been a great team effort in 2019 and I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.  I hope we can carry this forward into 2020.

Sue Heeles your Norfolk County Captain

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Norfolk Ladies' County Golf Association

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