Balby and Hartpury the big winners at AoC Sport Open Golf Championships 2017

The 2017 AoC Sport Open Championships returned to the wonderful Fairmont St Andrews resort in Scotland last week, with Balby Academy of Sport and Hartpury College emerging as the big winners.

Just under 80 golfers from 19 colleges battled each other and the elements over the highly regarded Torrance and Kittocks courses.  The competition rounds began on Tuesday and players were greeted to a beautiful crisp sunny morning. Unfortunately the clear skies did mean that a frost had fallen which put the tee times back slightly but after the delay the course was in superb condition, and with such a high quality field entered, good scoring was expected.

The competition had four different events for the students to compete in; the mixed individual Nett, the boys gross, women’s gross and the main prize of the week, the Open Championship team.

After the completion of the first rounds, as expected the scoring was good and the leaders were tightly bunched at the top of the leaderboard. The players were certainly taking advantage of the bright and calm conditions and soft course and the halfway leader in the Nett event was Finley Cook from Birmingham Met College, with a superb Nett 64. Robert Francombe from South Gloucestershire & Stroud College and Thomas Rigby from St John Rigby College completed the halfway podium – both four shots back on Nett 68. A tight group of four players on Nett 69 were also ready to pounce if any of the leaders slipped up.

In the girls’ event, the halfway stage saw a three-way tie for the lead with Nicola Slater from Balby Carr Academy, and Danielle Price and Laura Andrew from Truro and Penwith College all tied for the lead after shooting an excellent 74 gross. Three shots further back were both Emily Wilson and Victoria Pawley also from Truro and Penwith College.

In the Gross boys’ event we also saw a tie for the lead with Luke Palmowski from Balby Carr Academy and George Bryant from Hartpury College both tied after shooting a gross 70 on the Kittocks course. They were closely followed by Harry Bowness from South Gloucestershire and Stroud College who shot 71 on the Torrance course, so all was to play for.

In the team event we saw another tie for top spot with Balby and Hartpury College both level-pegging, with Myerscough a further five shots back and SGS College one shot further back looking to move forward on the last day.

And so to the second rounds. The weather conditions were certainly not as kind as they were on the Tuesday and this Links venue began to show its teeth with a fair morning breeze expected to turn into strong winds later in the day. Predictably this threw a lot of the good work from the previous day out of the window as players struggled to cope with the conditions and scores rapidly rose. Through the chaos of the wind a few managed to keep their cool and the winners come the end of the day were most certainly deserved.

In the mixed Nett competition, Nicola Slater produced arguably the round of the day to shoot a superb 73 on the Torrance course and after courtesy shots had been award she finished on a Nett 140, enjoying a narrow one-shot victory over the day one leader Finley Cook. Also on 141 and moving into third place was Emily Wilson who had an excellent second day as well, moving up 12 places and onto the podium.

In the girls’ event Nicola’s great second round left her on a combined 147 meaning she picked up the girl’s top prize, with a nine-shot victory over Emily Wilson and Danielle Price from Truro and Penwith College, who finished on 156 and 158 respectively.

In the boys’ gross event, with many second round challenges being blown off course quite literally, the top three managed to maintain their good form from the previous day to keep themselves around the top of the leaderboard. There was however some switching around with George Bryant taking the top spot from Luke Palmowski, the pair shooting a total of 144 and 148 respectively. Sneaking into third position from Coleg Meirion Dwyfor was Thomas Froom, winning the four-way tie on 152.

The Team event saw Balby Academy once again picking up the Claret jug, finishing on a total of 443 and beating Hartpury College by four shots, with Truro and Penwith College 1 a little further back on 456.

Thanks must go to the golf club for the hospitality and letting us use their two wonderfully presented courses, to the staff who make so much effort to bring the students, and to all the competitors for making the event what it is.

Finally, a big congratulation to all the winners.

Full results can be viewed below.