leeds’ captain Nigel McKee is hopeful his side can use their fine end to the Yorkshire Inter-District Union League season as a springboard to success in this Sunday’s six-man championship at Halifax Bradley Hall.
McKee’s men won three of their last four fixtures, finishing with a 20-16 victory against Halifax-Huddersfield at Outlane three days ago, and their only loss in that run was by the narrowest of margins, 19-17 away to East Riding.
“Let’s just hope we can put in a good performance on Sunday at Bradley Hall,” said McKee. “I think I’ve got a strong team and hopefully we can do the business.”
The line-up chosen to go head-to-head with the other seven unions’ top sextets is Adam Frontal, Tom Broxup and Tom Madden (Cookridge Hall), Andy Wiltshire (Pontefract), Dan Bradbury (Wakefield) and Ben Firth (Moortown).
McKee commented: “I’ve got two guys who made it to the match play stage of the English men’s amateur [Broxup and Firth], Dan, who’s had a great season, Frontal who is an ex-Yorkshire champion, Wiltshire who is an ex-Yorkshire player, and Tom Madden, who is an absolutely fabulous player, so, yeah, I’m delighted.”
The players will practise at Bradley Hall on Saturday ahead of the event.
The value of accumulating course knowledge showed itself during the afternoon singles against Halifax-Huddersfield when, after sharing the foursomes 6-6, Leeds prevailed 14-10.
“I was delighted to beat them there when that’s their favourite course to play on,” beamed McKee. “They like to go there because it’s very quirky.
“But I think once the lads had got a look at it in the morning they were happy and, to be fair to them, they performed in the singles, didn’t they?
“There’s a lot of blind shots and cross-over holes. It’s not a bad course, it’s just different.
“There are a lot of courses like that, Ogden and Baildon for example, and you have to play them. I grew up playing my golf at Low Laithes and they always said there you needed one leg shorter than the other.
“Facing awkward stances, that’s how you learn to hit different shots, so it gives you good grounding, in retrospect, for other courses, hitting those sidehill shots.”
Leeds were bottom after three opening defeats in McKee’s first season as captain although within that time they had faced both Sheffield and York, who ultimately finished top of the pile with six wins and a defeat apiece, champions Sheffield retaining the crown because of a better game-points tally.
“I was wondering, ‘what am I going to do, what is the way forward?’,” recalled Leeds’ leader, “but we’ve finished fourth. We were fifth last year so it’s onwards and upwards.
“I’m still on a learning curve with this role [after almost a half-century of appearances as a player], but I’m really loving the job, and it’s been great.”
One area McKee has identified as needing improvement is in the foursomes with Leeds too often giving their opponents the upper hand come lunch-time.
So he was especially pleased that they managed to gain parity at Outlane after the morning session.
The last game proved pivotal, Waterton Park’s Damien Simpson and Cookridge Hall’s Luke Whittaker turning the tables with two closing birdies to win one up having been one down on the 17th tee.
“Damien and Luke, absolutely fantastic those two guys,” said McKee. “They pulled it out of the fire, because if we go in 8-4 down it’s a completely different scenario.”