CUMBRIA golfers Linda Young and Ruth Coleby won the Plate final of the 2010 Ping Fourball Betterball Tournament on a day when strong winds brought a large branch crashing down beside the first tee at Gainsborough Golf Club, Lincolnshire.
Linda and Ruth were safely on the course at the time, but EWGA president Ann Irvin, a photographer and competitors had to run for safety as the branch fell across a path where they had been standing moments before.
Tracey Freedman and Louise Johnson of Portal Premier, Cheshire, had just teed off and were waiting for their opponents to hit when the branch crashed down. “We heard this creak, creak, creak,” said Tracey. “Everything seemed to happen in slow motion, but then I saw the photographer run and I ran too.”
Jude Gannon of Chilwell Manor, Nottinghamshire, was standing nearby: “It was just like a firecracker going off,” she said. “It was a good job it made a noise because that’s what warned people.”
Play was suspended from the first tee for about 40 minutes before the competitors, who were still due to start, began their rounds from the third hole. They played holes one and two at the end of their rounds.
The PING tournament, which is run by the English Women’s Golf Association, attracted entries from almost 17,000 women this year. The best 60 pairs of club winners qualified for the Grand Final, while the next 72 pairs went through to the new Plate Final.
The winds swept the course throughout the Plate Final, becoming steadily stronger as the day wore on, but despite the conditions the scoring was good. Linda and Ruth, who play at Penrith Golf Club, scored the narrowest of victories with their 42 points, taking the title on countback from Melanie Lesser and Mariette Robbertes of Bury St Edmunds.
Two more pairs were just a point behind, with Julie Ward and Diana Wood of Edgbaston taking third place on countback from Janet Duckels and Dawn Potter of Wike Ridge, Yorkshire.
“We are cock-a-hoop,” said Ruth. “We are always the bridesmaids, that’s our motto!”
Linda added: “We were fortunate to play a practice round when we thought the wind was bad – but today it was even stronger. We also had very good partners who kept us going over the back nine.”
She went on: “This is a great event and is very good for club golfers. Our club has always taken part but we shall go back and encourage even more women to join in.”
Melanie Lesser and Mariette Robbertes did all they could to win, including a chip-in and a birdie on the back nine.
The pair were philosophical afterwards. “We were pleased with how we played and didn’t feel we left anything out there,” said Melanie. “It’s the best result we’ve ever had considering 17,000 women initially entered this competition!”