Hampshire’s English County golf dream shattered by pandemic

Hampshire captain Neil Dawson has been left deeply disappointed after next month’s English County Finals were called off because of the ongoing threat from the pandemic.

Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 1:22 pm
Hampshire Golf captain Neil Dawson. Picture: Andrew Griffin.

Earlier this month, England Golf’s two national championships were held at its Lincolnshire HQ at Woodhall Spa – and also concurrently for the first time in their history.

But the plan to have 30 teams contest the county crown over two days at Seacroft has now been scrapped.

The revised format would have seen teams of four play a mixture of foursomes and singles on both days before a winner was declared – instead of the four regional champions meeting in a round-robin contest over three days.

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Dawson said: ‘We went up to Seacroft two weeks ago for a practice weekend – we knew a final decision was not going to be made until August 10 on whether it would go ahead.

‘But to come back and then find out it was definitely off was a major disappointment.

‘While we appreciate everyone’s health is paramount, the fact that the big championships are taking place this month and seem to be going ahead safely, and successfully, we were looking forward to competing.

‘The majority of my squad are older players – mid-amateurs – in their 30s, who are not able to play in the Brabazon and the English Amateur very easily because they work and have other commitments.

‘They were really looking forward to playing in the new format – we felt it suited us and a seaside golf course like Seacroft is normally where we play our best stuff.

‘I understand England Golf were concerned that the risks posed by a team event were different – people sharing cars travelling and then with the accommodation as well.

And then there are the officials and support teams – maybe some caddies – could have meant some counties bringing 10-12 in their group.

‘But if the organisers had said no caddies, officials or coaches, we would have just had to get on with it.

‘My players enjoyed the recce trip – we did some good work and had our plan coming together.

‘They wanted to play in the finals and try and win it – as we did in 2017.’

A team from Hampshire, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands, which make up Hampshire Golf, have only won the English County Championship twice in its 94-year history.