Volkswagen Masters 2008 - Ashridge

Ashridge was host to the sixth of this year’s Volkswagen Masters’ qualifying events, the half-way stage

Another course in the Golf Monthly Top 100, it is set in beautiful, rolling parkland, with the holes meandering through an old deer forest in a clover-leaf pattern which offers three loops that return to the clubhouse - one of nine holes, one of six, and one of three. Despite the threat of rain in the passing clouds, there was plenty of sunshine, and as at Liphook just three days before, the scoring was excellent.

If there had been any doubt about the all-time best score in the history of the competition, these were made insignificant by the superb performance from the winner of Group A, Mohammed Dewji. Mo is a GP and Clinical Director who plays his golf off a handicap of 9 at Woburn. He returned a truly impressive score of gross 73, nett 64, and when asked for the key to his performance said that it was chipping and putting - I hit one fairway all day! He also said that despite the greens being very tricky, the putts just seemed to drop, and quite modestly that If it s going to be your day, it s going to be your day! His 12-year-old son is taking to the game and Mo was delighted to be beaten by him in a match last month! Special mention must also go to runner-up Nick Darnell from Studley Wood, also off 9, who was just one shot behind - a score that would normally be more than good enough!

Group B also produced an excellent winner in Nick Calver from Brocket Hall. The 15-handicapper recorded a nett 66 for a comfortable four stroke win over David Bunce from Burnham Beeches. Nick knows the course reasonably well and felt that the excellent set-up at Ashridge helped him to relax and to play his own game. Indeed, he was clearly very relaxed, as he also won the separate short-game competition, not simply be being closest to the pin, but by holing out!

The winner of the higher handicap band, Group C, was Danny Marino who plays off 21 at Bedford & County. His 34 points gave him a 2-shot cushion over Graham Hayes from Stoke Park. The key to Danny s round was his playing of the three holes where he received two shots, nominally the three toughest on the course, all of which he parred for four points apiece.

Ashridge, where Henry Cotton was once the Pro, is on this year s roster of courses hosting regional qualifying for The Open Championship. As such, it is a true test of golf in a splendid setting, rightly deserving of the accolades it receives. All three qualifiers have seen Turnberry plenty of times before on television and are very much looking forward to their visit for the UK Final of the VW Masters in the middle of September.

Rob Smith
Rob Smith

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played 1,150 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, he still managed to play 80 different courses during 2021, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.