The early exchanges of the season seemed to indicate that The Beamers were a spent force, and that this league would be a running battle between Bruin The Hole and Arnie’s Army. Well, we should have realised after our pre-season predictions had already been blown apart, to expect the unexpected and that’s what we got to a degree. This week.
With the troops well-rested from a mid-season camp in Spain, Arnie’s Army looked set to march all the way to the summit of the league with a regulation victory over the newcomers. Even in spite of a 40 footer going in on the opening green in favour of Sally Gunnell’s Soldiers it surely wouldn’t be long before Arnie hit his straps. Inevitably things were levelled up with a finely worked birdie on the picturesque 12th hole.
What all the onlookers thought, and most likely Arnie himself, was a sign of things to come, were to be sorely mistaken as Gunnell set about the task with relish. Refusing to buckle against the barrage coming her way, Gunnell fired in an array of stunning wedge shots to within gimme range, which only applied more pressure to the overwhelming favourites.
Indeed Sally forged a narrow advantage heading into the final 3 holes, and after trading birdies on the 16th they did tremendously well to halve the par 4 17th in birdie after their muscular opponents had all driven the green. Trailing by a hole playing the last, Arnie’s were under intense pressure from Sally Gunnell and also The Beamers who heckled from a neighbouring fairway as they bore witness to events unfolding. With the tension palpable, Gunnell steadied herself to knock one last wedge shot to within gimme range to nullify Arnie’s birdie and secure a win for the ages. Not only do the 3 points go a long way to justifying Gunnell’s controversial training methods, but it also goes a long way to derailing Arnies’s title bid.
The Beamers could easily have been distracted by events in the neighbouring match, and may well have been had their Shank or Be Shanked opponents not been taken down by a debilitating bout of illness over the weekend that starved the packed grandstands of a match they had been anticipating for weeks. Of course they all sported their matching outfits, played in bare feet and didn’t fail to entertain as they bickered relentlessly with each other, while all along pouring in a relentless flow of birdies. It may not have been the spectacle we all longed, but The Beamers once again proved that on their day they are the hottest ticket in town.
The one constant in the Team League world has been the form of Bruin The Hole, and unlike their fellow title contenders, this week they did not disappoint. Up against the champions in waiting were the always improving Beer Merchants who refuse to settle on a consistent line-up as they strive for perfection. This was a quality contest, that looked destined to end up in Bruin’s favour, but it wasn’t without a fight that they came out victorious. A late flurry of birdies ensured that avoided the same fate as Arnie and set them firmly atop the table.
Before the final ball was struck Bruin turned their attention to next week’s colossal encounter with The Beamers. Asking more questions than a pumped up Paxman, Bruin badgered opponents and commentators alike to get the inside track on how they can gain the upper hand in the contest. Ultimately though, they will know that if The Beamers bring their “A-game” there are very few in the modern game with either the artillery or mental fortitude to cope. It promises to be epic.