The Grange team for the Spring Valley Reciprocal Event

The much anticipated reciprocal exchange between The Grange and Spring Valley was held on the 15th, 16th, and 17th March. 

In 2023, the 50th year, Spring Valley won the McMillan Shield at home with a convincing victory. It was important to win the shield back with our home ground advantage in the 51st edition. Of the twenty-four players from 2023, six were unavailable and Mark Demasi and Craig Brown were selected to make the twenty for the team this year. All the Spring Valley team had played in the event previously.

Originally the event was played over two days in a Stableford format, with the total points of the two teams deciding the winner of the McMillan Shield. The event also had a dollar for Saturday, dollar for Sunday, dollar overall played against all other players component. However, over the last few years, the format has gradually changed through a mixture of Stableford/match play to currently being a full Ryder Cup style format over fifty-four holes – foursomes Friday, 4BBB on Saturday, and individual on Sunday – with forty points up for grabs and The Grange needing twenty and a half to wrestle the shield back.

There was a minor complication for the team when Brian Worley pulled out injured – Simon Howe played in his place on Friday and Paul Thomas was in on Saturday and Sunday. Paul’s father had been a member of the original Grange team that played Spring Valley in 1973, so an excellent recruit.  Simon managed to play the whole weekend, filling in for Rod “I’m in a bowls final” McInnes on Saturday and for Spring Valley’s Larry Vun who sustained a nasty ant bite on the ankle on Friday. In good news, after lying low for two days, Larry made it back for the dinner on Sunday night.

After team selection on Friday, the Spring Valley team burst into song in an obvious attempt to get themselves enthused and motivated and to show us they really meant business. Unfortunately, it did not work as well as intended.

In terms of the matches, I will not go into great detail other than to say there was much discussion of hard luck stories, extremely long putts being sunk and numerous chip ins to frustrate the opposition in the match play format.

On Friday, we were off to a strong start winning seven matches and halving one, making the task for the visitors very difficult. It became even more difficult after the 4BBB on Saturday when Grange won six matches and halved another two to be leading 14.5 to 5.5 heading into the Sunday singles.

Just to be sure of victory, I had past Captain, Rick Kinnear, provide an extremely motivating address on the final morning. This obviously worked as intended as we won 14 matches and halved another two to win the shield back with a very convincing 29.5 to 10.5 victory. 

At the traditional Sunday evening dinner, the formalities included the presentation of the shield by Marty Rodgers, Spring Valley Captain, to me, and the presentation of the individual trophy – a silver tray – to Tony Francesca who won all three matches. This is always a difficult task selecting an individual winner in match play and is ultimately decided by the two captains. Over the weekend, there were four players from Grange who won all their matches – Mick Williamson, Rick Kinnear, Bruno Battistella and Craig Brown. James Ward from Spring Valley also won all his matches. 

The final presentation of the evening was to Cec Bailey, from Spring Valley, who has achieved ‘Legend’ status of the tour having been a part of this event for twenty years.

The 51st edition was another very successful year and we look forward to returning to Spring Valley next year with the ambition of retaining the McMillan Shield at Spring Valley.

Kym Linke