Leeds League find just the right combination to lift county title

WHEN the Leeds 8 to 15 League finished in a tie between Horsforth GC and Scarthingwell GC, a re-match was arranged to decide the trophy's destiny.

Sunday, 24th April 2016, 7:05 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th April 2016, 8:13 pm

That match finished in a 2-2 deadlock.

As did a second play-off the week after that.

At the third play-off, another week on, the teams still could not be separated with the last of the four matches heading up the final hole as darkness descended.

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Team-mates drove their cars close to the 18th green and the group completed their rounds under the light of the vehicles’ headlamps.

And still the teams could not be separated.

The decision was therefore made to share the championship, with each club holding the trophy for six months, and as a consequence four players from each club were nominated to represent the Leeds League in the Grand Yorkshire 8 to 15 Champions final at Lindrick GC.

The bond built between them during those close-fought struggles came to the fore as they beat off the challenge from the champions of the Bradford, Leeds, Harrogate and South Yorkshire 8 t0 15 leagues to be crowned White Rose kings.

In wet and windy conditions, Horsforth and Scarthingwell produced some excellent golf with their four pairs registering a 158pt total to place themselves three ahead of hosts and runners-up Lindrick, South Yorkshire’s champions.

Baildon (Bradford) were third with 147 while Oakdale (Harrogate) were just outside the medal positions with 140.

Horsforth’s team captain Billy Hayes and his playing partner Phil Andrews were the last of the Leeds pairings to finish, carding 40pts to add to the three scores already up on the board of 38, 39 and 41.

“We thought we had a chance when we saw we had 158, but we were waiting on the last Lindrick score coming in,” recalls Hayes. “We had to wait probably a good half an hour, 40 minutes. It was a tough wait.”

Recalling the series of play-offs for the league title, Hayes says: “One of the times we had cars parked so they could put their headlights on the last green to give us a bit of light to see what was happening – and we still couldn’t sort it out.

“It was a bit surreal, playing floodlit golf.

“We were the defending champions.

“I said we should either see who’s the best drinkers or we should split the trophy, and that’s what we did.”

Heading into its fourth year, the league – run as a fourball betterball match play competition – will expand from nine clubs to 12.

“We’ve got three new teams so it has been split into two leagues of six, and there will be promotion and relegation,” says Hayes.

Cookridge’s Ian Williamson was the man behind the formation of the Leeds 8 to 15 League, which was designed to provide competitive match play team golf for a handicap category that is not served as well as either the low single-figure band below them or the Rabbits section above them.

“It is a friendly league,” says 10-handicapper Hayes.

“There is rivalry, friendly rivalry, and as much as we take it serious and we like to win – any golfer you talk to likes to win – at the end of the day you go in, you have a meal, you have a drink, you tell a few stories and everyone’s friends.”

Hayes was previously a member at Woodhall Hills, part of the Bradford Union, which already had an 8 to 15 league.

“When I moved to Horsforth I kept banging the drum about 8 to 15,” he says.

“Probably 60 per cent of golfers are in this category, but there’s not as much for them as the categories above and below.”