Liphook is a superb Golf Monthly Top 100 course in tip-top presentation, and with the club championship due the following day, it was just about as good as it gets. Arthur Croome, who worked with Fowler, Abercrombie and Simpson, is credited with its design - the only course actually bearing his signature. It is an excellent heathland design where the five par-3s and three par-5s make up the par of 70.
Perhaps in response to the excellent conditions, the lowest handicap group, Group A, produced a new record low score of 65, five under par. This was achieved by Dave Lucking from nearby Cowdray Park, playing off 6, in his first visit to Liphook in 15 years. Demonstrating the sportsmanship of this event, Dave attributed his win to the help and support of his playing partners who knew the course better than he, and who were therefore able to offer factual information on distances and hidden trouble. Indeed, it was a family affair as the two runners-up included Dave s son, Steve, and scratch golfer Kevin Hickman from Waterlooville, who both finished on 69.
Group B was won by 11-handicapper, fellow Cowdray Park member and former club captain, Phil Harrison. Phil was almost in need of a new VW estate to carry his prizes home as he also won both Nearest-The-Pin and the Short Game Competition. At the very pretty par-3 seventh, his 8-iron tee short actually hit the pin and finished just two feet away, and his place at Turnberry was secured. Three shots behind in second place was Kenny Thorpe from Mannings Heath, playing off 12.
In the higher handicap band, Group C, there was a very close battle with Sharon Taylor from Royal Eastbourne being unlucky to lose out on countback following an excellent front-nine of 21 points. However, with 32 points and a back-nine of 19, four of them coming from his excellent birdie on the short but uphill par-5 closing hole, Richard Freedman from the host club was the final recipient of an invitation to the UK Final at Turnberry in September. Richard, who plays off 19, has been a member at Liphook for more than fifty years and counts his win as the highlight of his golfing career so far!
All three winners praised the condition of the course and in particular the excellence of the greens - and all are really looking forward to their first-ever trip to Turnberry.
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Rob Smith has been playing golf for 45 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012. He specialises in course reviews and travel, and has played more than 1,200 courses in almost 50 countries. In 2022, he played all 21 courses in East Lothian in 13 days. Last year, his tally was 81, 32 of them for the first time. 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 seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! Of those missing, some are already booked for 2024. He is a member of Tandridge in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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