The 2023 Titleist & FootJoy County Open
It was a glorious sunny day with a gentle breeze as the competitors started arriving at the Ramsey Golf Club for the prestigious County Open, last played for at Ramsey in 2012.
The Ramsey course was presented in truly magnificent condition and praise must go to course manager Richard Shilling and his team, and a special mention to James Else for ironing the greens at such an ungodly hour.
The early leader was former County champion Karl Arthur of the home club, who came in with a level par round of 70 that included an eagle on the par 4 tenth hole.
This was later equalled by Danny Loveday and Tom Burgh, both current County players who recently performed well in the County Championship at St Ives.
The real battle for the lead was taking place at the rear of the field between home club favourite Paul Hodgkin and the defending champion Paul Maddy, a professional playing out of the Gog Magog Golf club.
Hodgkin started his round with 4 consecutive birdies and followed this up with 3 more on the back nine, and despite two bogeys he finished in an excellent 65.
Maddy was also in great form and put in a strong challenge near the end of his round with birdies at 14,15 & 16 to tie Hodgkin on 65.
Former member Craig Thorburn, now turned professional and teaching out of Brampton Park, was in 3rd place at the half way stage with a steady 69.
The final round didn’t go as well as they expected for our two leaders with Paul Hodgkin’s round scattered with 6 bogeys, offset with 4 birdies to give him a 72 and a total of 139.
He didn’t think this would be good enough to beat the other Paul, the twice former European Tour player. However a triple bogey 7 on the 8th hole after a lost ball, meant that it could be a tight finish.
Paul came to the 36th hole needing a birdie to force a sudden death play-off and this he truly obliged for a 72 to take the contest into extra holes.
Commencing at the 1st hole, and followed by a fair sized gallery, the first 3 holes were played in par by both players.
At the 4th hole a dogleg to the right they both went over the corner trees.
Hodgkin finished in a greenside bunker whereas Maddy’s ball finished under a conifer tree.
He decided to try and play the ball off his knees rather than take a penalty stroke and unfortunately the ball didn’t come out after 2 attempts.
It was now down to Paul Hodgkin to splash out of the bunker and 2 putts to become the County Open Champion of 2023.
Paul became the 1st amateur to win the trophy since James Reeson in 2015. He also picked up the President’s Salver for the best score by an amateur.
Coming in a close 3rd on 138 was County Boys coach Ben Kerr, who finished with a fine round of 66.
The John Durman Handicap Trophy was won in fine style by Kyle Morris of St Neots with a net score of 70+67=137, with Mbachi Nkana runner up on 140.
The Senior prize went to Terry Ryan of Ely City and the under 21 prize to Sam Arthur of the home club.
Many thanks to the Ramsey club men’s captain Philip Ackers for his warm hospitality during the day and to the catering and bar staff who looked after everybody royally on the day.
All of the scores can be found at the CAGU website.
Next year’s County Open will be played on the 18th August at the Saffron Walden Golf Club.