FORMER RAF serviceman Rod Shimwell’s sage advice helped keep Andy Greetham grounded as they tackled the Yorkshire Challenge for the first time – and led to the Hessle duo (pictured) lifting the prestigious title.
They had to come from 10 shots back with a round to play in the seventh staging of the pairs event held over the county’s three Ryder Cup venues, Lindrick, Ganton and Moortown.
And Greetham, 55, heaped praise on his partner for sharpening the mental side of his game, regarding it as the main factor behind his drop in handicap from six to three.
“He’s got me to realise that it’s not like a game of cricket where if someone hits you for six you bowl it a bit quicker,” said Greetham. “You’ve got to stay within yourself in golf, stay calm, and he’s got me down to three, which I never, ever thought I would be down to that level.
“I had a nickname at cricket, ‘Red Haze’, because I was a quick bowler, 6ft 5ins, and I got quicker or more aggressive with the way I bowled - but that’s no good in golf. You only beat yourself up.
“The final three holes [at Lindrick, where Shimwell went birdie, net eagle, par at the 210-yard par-3 last], Rod was seriously focused. He doesn’t hit a long ball, but he has such a beautiful swing. He’s been there, done it. He loves it, it’s his sport. He’s a class player. We all hit bad shots, but he taught me that you go down, find it, and play again.”
Sixty-nine-year-old Shimwell, who represented the RAF “on and off” for 28 years before retiring from the force at the age of 55, brought his equanimity to bear immediately after the pair returned their only blob of the entire three days, at the par-5 14th at Lindrick when in sight of the finish line. It followed a four-point net eagle at the previous hole.
“When we had the blob I turned to Andy after we came off the green and I said, ‘We didn’t have a zero there, we’ve just had two twos’,” recalled Shimwell.
A leaderboard at the back of the 11th green had told them they had drawn level by that stage with overnight leaders Gary Varley and Liam Betts, of Normanton, and both pairings finished on 119, alongside Jody Greenall (Woburn) and Thetford’s Richard Scott.
Shimwell and Greetham took the title on last-day countback, while Varley and Betts did not even have the satisfaction of runner-up spot, which went to Greenall and Scott, but Varley and Betts did win the Moortown Series.
The overall champions also finished as Ganton Series winners, while Lindrick Series winners were Rudding Park’s Richard Pallister and John MacNamara.
“It was our first Yorkshire Challenge and winning was a bit of a shock considering the position where we were after two rounds,” continued five-handicapper Shimwell. “I think that the wind blowing for all three days probably helped as it helped with us being lower handicaps.
“Better ball is all about mix-and-match. There were several holes where one of us was out of it completely and the other person managed to get at least a point, apart from that once.”
Greetham concluded by reflecting that he almost aced the last at Lindrick - and yet did not get his score down on the card.
“I nearly had a hole-in-one, hit a 5-iron, it pitched short of the pin and, we’re not sure, but it looked like it just deviated slightly,” he said. “It was too much club and finished at the back right behind the pin, but Rod rolled his first putt up stiff and, job done.”
The champions have already committed themselves to defending their title next year. To register your interest for the 2020 Yorkshire Challenge, email tournament administrator Luke Allen – email@example.com.