Introducing Observer’s new golf columnist

Chris McDonnell at Goodwood
Chris McDonnell at Goodwood

The Observer series has a new monthly golf columnist.

Chris McDonnell, academy manager at Golf At Goodwood, will be giving you an insight into his golfing world.

It will include thoughts on national and international golf events, news from the Goodwood Academy, useful hints and tips and an insight into what life as a professional golfer is really like.

McDonnell was brought up in Northumberland and started playing golf aged nine. In 2000, he was an England schoolboy international and he became Northumberland county champion in 2001 and again in 2003. His first big break came in 2005, when he played as an England Amateur International.

He said: “I turned professional when I was 25 and spent ten years playing across Europe.

“I was the 2007 North East/North West PGA Matchplay Champion and in 2012 won the Slovenian Open Championship.

“In 2014, when I was an England PGA international, I won the GB&I PGA Club Professional Championship and Austrian PGA Championship. I have played on the European Challenge Tour, MENA Tour and Alps Tour.”

McDonnell moved to the Middle East to take up a position as a teaching professional and junior co-ordinator at the Royal Golf Club in Bahrain – a little hotter than Northumberland.

He said: “I learned a great deal in Bahrain about coaching and found my passion for developing junior golf, as well as wanting to encourage female participation in the game.

“From the Royal Golf Club I came back to England to work at Goodwood and I am thoroughly enjoying it here. Alongside my fellow PGA professionals Christian Fogden and Craig Gardner, I want Golf At Goodwood to become famous for junior golf as well as being the preferred choice for women getting into the sport.

“If I could play a four-ball with anyone, it would be with my all-time hero Tiger Woods, tennis legend Roger Federer and footballer Steven Gerrard. We’d play at either Royal Lytham and St Anne’s or the Fidra Course at Archerfield Links – my two favourite courses.

“In my column I will be offering you the opportunity to ask questions. Hopefully I can help you improve and enjoy your game.”

* Read Chris’ column in the Observer from this month.

AROUND THE CLUBS

CHICHESTER

Chichester veterans played their championship in fine and dry weather and 55 entrants enjoyed the contest.

Early light rain in the first round on the Tower course stopped and conditions provided opportunities for low scoring.

Mike Snuggs led the way in the main championship with a gross 78 while in the handicap competition, David Guest stormed home with a nett 65.

The Cathedral course the next day was a different proposition with just four players scoring less than gross 90. It was a fine day with an increasingly blustery wind for the later starters but the main problem was the quickening greens.

Snuggs could not follow up his fine start as he blew out on the 14th hole with two lost balls off the tee. This left the way for John Styles, who followed up his first-round 80 with a magnificent 79.

His aggregate gross score of 159 gave him a resounding victory by 11 strokes from Anthony Denton. Styles joined other three-times championship winners Mike Beer and Brian Burn but now has the further distinction of being the first veteran to win the championship in three consecutive years .

The handicap trophy was closer with just three points covering the first three. Guest continued to play steadily for an aggregate nett 138 but was overtaken by Chris Penny, who scored an excellent nett 68 in the second round.

Neither could match the consistent play of the improving George Bell, who followed his first-round nett 66 with another strong round of 69 to win the cup by two strokes.

This year’s Seniors’ Cup, for players over 75, was won by the evergreen Bev Shrives-Wrist with an aggregate nett score of 147 .

Results: Vets Champion John Styles 159; 2 Anthony Denton 170; 3 Paul Compton 172; 4 Nick Hobbs 175; 5 Norman Moore 181. Handicap Champion George Bell 135 nett; 2 Chris Penny 137; 3 David Guest 138; 4 Campbell Goldsmid 146; 5 Bev Shrives-Wrist 147; Seniors Cup Winner Bev Shrives-Wrist.

Chichester veterans have reached the quarter-finals of the Cyril Blake county foursomes competition.

A resounding home victory of 4-0 against Slinfold secured their place and was helped by a tremendous 6&5 win from the new pairing of vets’ captain Jim Robertson and Mike Snuggs.

Results: John Styles & Nick Hobbs won 3&2; Jim Robertson & Mike Snuggs won 6&5; Dave Monkton & Chris Penny won 3&1; Paul Compton & Mike Harrington won 5&4.

SELSEY

The veterans’ section of Selsey Golf Club had their presentation day, but poor weather meant numbers in the nine-hole competition preceding their prizegiving was reduced to 36.

The presentation started with Gemma Tupper a fundraiser from St Wilfrid’s Hospice, presenting The Hospice Cup, which had been played for in April, to John Mustoe, the 26th year the cup has been competed for.

A cheque for £266 was presented to Gemma by the veterans’ captain Peter Senft (left) for the hospice, his chosen charity for the year.

COWDRAY PARK

A total of 85 players, representing 32 clubs from six different counties, converged on Cowdray Park for the annual seniors’ open, the first of two major summer events.

It was a dank and dismal day but the players were effusive in their praise of the course – a tribute to head greenkeeper Jonathan Smith and his greens staff.

The early scoring was not as high as expected, indicating that the course was proving the real winner, with the long rough proving a problem.

Cowdray club captain Martin Day was the first player to record a decent score of 35 points, but this was soon overtaken by a predecessor as 80-year-old Dennis Geal (Liphook) took the lead with an excellent score of 37, not beaten until nearly the end of the day.

Carding an excellent 38, John Kinnear of Copthorne overtook the field to land first prize. In his acceptance speech he thanked Cowdray’s organiser, David Imlach, and the club for an excellent experience.

Seniors’ captain Mike Hughes said he hoped they had all enjoyed their day and thanked Imlach for all his hard work in making the day such a resounding success, and helpers Colin Tebbutt, Eric Bounton, Ralph Fanshawe and the ladies.

Club captain Martin Day presented the prizes.

Prizewinners: Overall winner John Kinnear (Copthorne); Best Cowdray Player - Martin Day; 2nd Cowdray - Pat Harrison; 2nd Visitor - Dennis Geal (Liphook); 3rd Cowdray - Barry Overington; 3rd Visitor - David Wickinson (Crowborough); 4th Cowdray - Mike Hughes; 4th Visitor - Andy Steven (Copthorne); 5th Visitor - P Woods (Pyecombe); 6th Visitor - Roger Blackburn (Crowborough); Nearest the pin: 3rd hole, Peter Goodwin; 9th, Mike Hancock; 11th, Robert Mummery; 17th, Roger Blackburn. Nearest the pin in two: 12th, Dennis Geal; 18th, Mike Jolly. Best 3-ball; Martin Day; Alec Price; Mike King.

Cowdray Park seniors entertained Worthing, one of the best teams in the county, after a night of torrential rain and triumphed 5-3.

The match was on the cusp of being cancelled because of the heavy overnight rain, but conditions improved quickly.

Cowdray started strongly, winning the first three matches, but Worthing pulled it back to 3-2.

The first two matches from the 17th were split between both sides, leaving the final match out on the course to decide the result.

Cowdray’s pair of Alan Robinson and Mike Cardiff were unaware of the pressure being heaped on them and came in with a fine 3&2 win against two much better-handicapped players to clinch victory for the home side by 5-3.

Results: (Cowdray names first): Sam Howes & Peter Hallt beat Ian MacDonald & Bob Durgan 6&4; Ian Heustice & Barry Overington beat Mike Hall & Alex Price 2&1; Colin West & George Crouch beat Simon Norris & Gordon Harrison 4&3; Chris Hoare & Colin Tebbutt lost to Brian Quaife & John Wood 2&1; Trevor Edwards & David Wickham lost to Ricky Cannons & Neil Bowen 1 down; Ken Marjoram & Mike Briant beat Mike Hyatt & Jim Smith 4&3; Mark Kelly & Eric Bounton lost to Dec Mooney & Mike Machin 2&1; Alan Robinson & Mike Cardiff beat Michael Carroll & Ron Simcock 3&2.

Cowdray ladies held a Ping four-ball better-ball.

Results: 1 Catherine Staples and Myrna Heustice 43pts; 2 Jill Parry and Lil Cummins 40; 3 Leo Crouch and Sandy Barnett 40; 4 Linda Doney and Frances Marjoram 38.

Forty-three Cowdray ladies competed for the Diamond Jubilee Cup, first played for in 2012. The format is 18-hole medal.

This year’s winner was Nikki Bain, a fairly new member of the ladies’ section with an amazing nett 69.

Runner-up was Lina Cullen with 70, the first two reducing their handicaps by three and two shots respectively. Sue Brown was third with nett 73.

BOGNOR

Bognor’s prestigious Purley Trophy is the club’s 36-hole county scratch event.

Big events like this are their chance to showcase their course and what they have to offer – and they felt this one proved they’re good at what they do.

The course was presented in wonderful condition, the catering excellent. It was a great event where all parts of the club contributed to a fantastic day.

Last year’s winner, Richard Harris from Hayling GC, was able to retain his trophy with scores of 70 and 71, a one-over-par total of 141.

Bognor’s Andy Brown came second with scores of 71 and 72 (143) and another Bognor member Olly Longlands came third with scores of 73 and 71 (144).

Sixty Bognor seniors played in the popular Brian Poston Greensomes. He was club secretary for many years up to his retirement in the late 1990s and is still a regular player at the club.

Winners with an excellent score of 42 points were Mike Watts and Ray Pepperell, ahead of Dave Chalmers and Peter Lott on 41 and last year’s winners Ron Stevens and Simon Watts on 40. Brian Poston presented the prizes.

Bognor’s Wednesday Evening League team recorded their second consecutive win with a good performance away to neighbours Littlehampton that secured a 4-1 victory.

Results: Richard Perry & James Maclean won 2&1, Simon Watts & Ian Hendry won 2&1, John Cable & Phil Hawkes lost 2&1, Richard Beresford & Rob Comins won 3&1, Rob Redmond & Mark Watson won 3&1.

Bognor seniors made the long trip to Singing Hills and looked doomed from the start as a number of players had to drop out late on for numerous reasons.

Match captain Barry Ingate got 16 fit men out but Singing Hills were too strong and ran out 6½-1½ winners.

Results: Barry Ingate & Alan Fitzgerald lost 3&1, Jim Stephenson & Terry Kuhler lost 3&2, Roger Selway & Bob Lee halved, Trevor Till & David Turner lost by 1 hole, Ian Bright & Steve Flack lost 3&1, Frank Hodder & Clive Millett lost 3&1, Alan Delves & Ken Catt halved, Chris Hickling & Andy Isitt halved.

There was an excellent turnout of 53 seniors on a cold, wet day for the seniors’ midweek Stableford. Overall winner was Roger Leverton with 40 points. Other divisional winners were Steve Flack with 38 and Gordon Davidson with 34.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.

1 Make this website your homepage

2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex

3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex

4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!