East Riding end 45 year drought at the Yorkshire Team Championship

Sunday 9th September was a typical day of English weather with sunshine, rain, showers and a gusty breeze that swirled around the Knaresborough Golf Club. The annual Yorkshire Inter-district Union 6 Man Team Championship was being hosted by the Harrogate Golf Union and the changeable conditions provided a stern test for the 48 competitors.


The early portents weren’t good for the East Riding preparations as perennial representative Alan Wright had to withdraw with a bad back on the Saturday morning leaving Team Manager and Union President Andy Woodhead having to step into the breach. However, the team meeting on Saturday evening was calm and positive but with an undercurrent of steely determination.


Sunday dawned and early players were at the course by 6:30am. Played over 36 holes of scratch strokeplay, the Championship is decided on the best cumulative total of all 12 cards. Led off by Hornsea’s rising star Jack Maxey at 7:35am, his tee shot on the eighth and his first hole flew unerringly down the middle with a confidence that belied his 17 years. It was business as usual for young Jack.


His team mates didn’t quite set the scoreboard alight but neither were they out of the reckoning. The solid team spirit was personified by Nick Raybould who recovered from a disastrous 7 over after 7 start to complete the rest of his round in 1 under to post a 78 on the par 72 layout.


Lunchtime arrived and talk across the table was positive. Disappointed with some of the performances it was clear that the Union were still in it. Bradford led at half time on 457, closely followed by Harrogate and Sheffield on 458, Leeds on 459 and the East Riding 6 back on 463.


Following Maxey in the afternoon was Burstwick’s Lewis Hunt, a bundle of boundless enthusiasm, who was disappointed with his morning 77. An afternoon 3 over 75 was 2 better, Raybould was 4 better on 74. Brough’s Dan Digby put his morning disappointment behind him when he was 9 better on 73.


The excitement was building as the 2nd round scores came in and were posted on the screen. It was always going to be close, it was a question of who would hold their nerve. Into the back nine the East Riding, on the Howard Palmer “shot watch,” were only 7 over par collectively. Could they go on and win for the first time in 45 years?


Shots started to drift away as tired bodies hindered golf strokes and putts.


Hornsea’s Leigh Gawley, ever consistent, posted a 5 over 77 to beat his morning score by 2. In the clubhouse East Riding topped the leaderboard after first man out Maxey posted a superb 2 under 70 – one better than the morning.


Out on the course in the last group, President and Team Manager Andy Woodhead was fighting his own demons on a mentally demanding back 9. A birdie would be followed by a couple of bogies. Everyone knew it was tight, the tension was palpable.


In the trees on his 17th Woodhead played a marvellous iron out of trouble pin high followed by 2 putts for par. His tee shot split the fairway down the last. Taking the risk of one club less he hit his 8 iron hard. In the air the ball had spectators holding their collective breath as it appeared to be heading for the greenside pond. The Championship was potentially slipping away. For our rivals, however, it was not to be. The ball drew in to the green and finished 10 feet away from the flag. The closing birdie was a fitting touch for the reserve who held his nerve under 45 years of history.


Fittingly Maxey won the lowest gross on the day. His 71, 70 was 4 clear of his nearest rival and demonstrated the talent of this modest and likeable young man.



A somewhat disbelieving yet ecstatic team had done it. As Gawley pointed out “on paper we weren’t the best players, but we were the best team.”


Job done – Champions.. and I was there !


John Illingworth


  East Riding Team Score  
  Jack Maxey (Hornsea) 71+70 = 141  
  Lewis Hunt (Burstwick) 77+75 = 152  
  Nick Raybould (Hornsea) 78+74 = 152  
  Dan Digby (Brough) 82+73 = 155  
  Leigh Gawley (Hornsea) 79+77 = 156  
  Andy Woodhead (Hessle) 76+78 = 154  
  Team Championship Standings  
  Union Score  
  East Riding 910  
  Teesside 913  
  Harrogate 913  
  Sheffield 913  
  Halifax & Huddersfield 917  
  Leeds 923  
  York 935  
  Bradford 935