Helping hand was major boost for Hampshire as dominant opening win against Dorset set team up well for second battle

Hayling's Toby Burden at the 13th on his way to halving with Dorset's Harry Mitchell. Hampshire beat Dorset. Picture: Andrew Griffin
Hayling's Toby Burden at the 13th on his way to halving with Dorset's Harry Mitchell. Hampshire beat Dorset. Picture: Andrew Griffin
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Hampshire captain Colin Roope was grateful for all the help he was given in helping to comprehensively defeat Dorset in the opening league match of the 2019 campaign.

Roope, from Blackmoor, said: ‘I have to thank Brokenhurst Manor for letting us switch the Channel Islands game – playing the course two weeks before the first league game and letting us select the pin positions for the match was a massive help, writes Andrew Griffin.

‘Our county secretary David Wheeler works very hard and closely with the clubs and the venues are normally agreed a good year in advance.

‘So when we play the Channel Islands at home every other year, it makes sense to me to play on the same course as the first home league game if we can.

‘Last year, we arranged a friendly against a scratch team from the Isle of Wight, at Shanklin, where we were due to play Kent in the first home game.

‘We got exactly the same result against Kent – and again that was the biggest win against them for probably 20 years at least.’

Roope’s only headache now as he prepares for the trip to Kent is how to accommodate Hampshire’s two US-based college golfers in his eight-man team.

George Saunders and Conor Richards are due back from the States after playing in the US college national finals, while Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson – who was left to cheer from the sidelines after he was ruled out after a minor operation – should be fit in time for the trip to Redlibetts, in Sevenoaks, on May 26.

Having had to juggle his side in the run up to the Dorset game, it is the best possible headache a captain can have, although he will be without Billy McKenzie, who will be at Chantilly for the French Amateur Championship.

Roope, who was injured playing in the Selborne Salver in April, will almost certainly resist any temptation to recall himself.

After facing Sussex at North Hants on June 30, the last of the four games will be a tough trip to Surrey’s Addington Palace, in August.

Last season, Hampshire drew with Surrey at Hayling, having drawn away at Dorset in the first match.

But two big wins against Kent and Sussex ensured their first South Division title since 2012, although they lost the South East League Final against Essex, at Frilford Heath.