HORSFORTH GC father and son pairing, David and Craig Vine, could not quite get to grips with winning the Morocco Matchplay title - partly because Craig was gripping his clubs too tightly.
The Vines were one of four couples playing in a round robin format to decide who would play off for the championship in the grand final of the pairs section of an event powered by HowDidiDo and sponsored for a second year by the Moroccan National Tourist Office.
They made an excellent start over the North Course at Mogador in Essouira by winning their first match, but went down by one hole in the second as their opponents enjoyed what they admitted was a “freaky day” where the the luck went their way.
However, thanks to the margin of victory in their opening triumph they knew a second win could put them in the final.
“But I just didn’t turn up on the day,” said rueful Craig, an 11-handicapper.
Father David, who plays off four, commented: “We were playing the eventual winners and we lost on the last hole. Unfortunately Craig didn’t come in on a single hole and I more or less played them by myself.”
Some work on the range preceded their play-off the following day and they took third place with an emphatic 5&4 win.
“The day before I was just a bit tense with gripping my club,” said Craig. “I was gripping it too tightly.
“One of our opponents said after they had beaten us on the third day that he could see I was doing it - but obviously wasn’t going to tell us then.
“We feel like we missed an opportunity to win the title.”
However, the pair have resolved to take another shot at trying to win the championship by entering this coming season’s qualifying competition.
“We will definitely try to qualify for the final again next year, we have really enjoyed it,” said David. “They’ve (the organisers) really taken care of us and the Moroccan people in the hotel were really fantastic, so polite and friendly.”
All the finalists – other sections were singles, mixed pairs and senior pairs – were put up at the five-star Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa hotel.
The courses at the resort were designed by nine-time major champion Gary Player, of South Africa, and the Vines found a stern test laid before them, but one which they enjoyed.
“It would have been nice to have had a practice round to take a look at the course,” said David who, along with son Craig and the other competitors, played the course sight unseen for their first match.
“It would have helped to have known which side of the greens to be aiming for by getting to know the slopes. But it was the same for everybody.”
Both said the greens were the fastest they had played on, and David commented: “There was some very hard holes and the test was made more difficult because of how fast the greens were running.
“That said we enjoyed it because it was a good test of golf.”
David was impressed by the standard of golf on show and said: “Nearly everybody had a good handicap, the players were all a really good standard. That was a bit of a surprise as we thought there might be some 20-plus handicappers competing.
“But I suppose you have to come through several rounds to even make the regional final and I think the consistency of the lower handicap golfer is a factor in competitions like this.”
The Morocco Matchplay event was the first David, a self-employed builder, and Craig, who is director of, and runs, Simply Carpets & Beds in Horsforth, had entered as a pair.
After battling their way through a series of matchplay rounds, they scored 43 stableford points at Oulton Hall to win the northern regional pairs final.
They intend to enter more events this year together, although father David added with a smile: “As long as Craig promises not to throttle the life out of his golf club any more.”