TWO of the biggest amateur golf tournaments on England’s domestic amateur calendar – the Hampshire Hog and Selborne Salver, both staged in Hampshire – have been cancelled for the second-year running because of the coronavirus pandemic.
East Hampshire’s Blackmoor Golf Club, which has staged the Salver every year from 1976 up until 2019, took the decision – along with the organiser of North Hants GC’s Hampshire Hog, which is staged 24 hours later – to call off the 2021 events back in January.
Blackmoor spoke to Fleet’s North Hants GC before taking the decision, long before any road map out of lockdown was outlined by the Government. Both clubs felt that even with the likelihood of a spring resumption of golf, any relaxation that came before their April dates, risked having a weakened field, if any restrictions on travel or overnight trips remained in force.
And with club members, who pay more than £1,000 a year in membership fees – desperate to make up for lost golf in the first quarter of the year, finding an alternative date in a crowded amateur calendar proved impossible.
North Hants’ assistant general manager Katie Laud said: “Next year will be the 66th year of the Hog and we will of course try and make sure it is a very special Hog as the event has not taken place for two years. Both the Hog and the Salver will take place on the weekend of April 9&10, 2022.”
Justin Rose – who led the Masters at Augusta after the first two rounds last week – most famously made the golf world first sit up when he shocked the England selectors, who traditionally attend both events, with a stunning performance to win the Hampshire Hog in 1995, aged just 14.
He beat off a stellar field of top England amateur internationals to win the 36-hole competition at the Fleet club. In doing so he put his name on the distinctive solid silver trophy alongside a number of players who had gone on to star in the Ryder Cup and Walker Cup – the amateur’s equivalent to the world-famous match against the USA.
Indeed, within two years of that unlikely triumph by Rose, who still had four years left to play golf as a junior, became an England international, making his debut against Spain in 1997.
Twelve months earlier, having turned 16, he helped Hampshire, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands win the English County Championship for the first time since the competition began in 1926.
And less than 12 months later, Rose became the youngest player to appear for Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup at Quaker Ridge GC, in New York, having turned 17 the month before the 1997 clash.
The other two Hog winners who played in the Ryder Cup were Lee-on-the-Solent’s Steve Richardson and Scot Gordon Brand Jnr, who claimed the amateur event in 1979 and 1988 respectively. Richardson would feature in the War on the Shore at Kiawah Island just three years after lifting the trophy in Fleet. He was runner-up on the European Tour Order of Merit behind Seve Ballesteros to earn his Ryder Cup debut.
Other leading amateurs to featutre on the Hampshire Hog honours board include the UK’s most successful player not to turn pro – Sir Michael Bonallack a five-time Amateur Champion, who won the inaugural event in 1957, Philip Scutton a year later, North Hants’ own Major David Blair – the only man to win the Hog three times (1966, 1967 and 1970), and to successfully defend the title. Scot Blair played in the Walker Cup twice in 1955 and 1961.
In more recent times, Peter McEvoy, who played in the Masters and Open Championship twice as the Amateur Champion, took the Hampshire Hog crown in 1989. McEvoy is one of just eight players who have won both the Hog and Selborne Salver in their career.
The others are Gordon Brand Jnr, Andrew Sherborne, Andy Clapp and Jordan Smith – who all played on. the European Tour – and England’s most-capped amateur Gary Wolstenholme, who has been playing on the Euorpean Seniors Tour, having turned pro at 50, and Northumberland’s John Metcalfe, the only player to have won both events in the same weekend, completing a historic treble by landing the Hampshire Salver for the best 72-hole aggregate.
The other player to complete the double – and the only from Hampshire – was Army GC’s Ian Gray, who took the Salver in 1982 and claimed the Hog a year later, having just returned from a Tour of the Falklands having not played golf for six months!
The Hog has been won by two other Hampshire golfers other than Rose and Gray – Royal Guernsey’s Bobby Eggo and Lee-on-the-Solent’s Russel Tate, who kept the trophy in Hampshire the year after Rose’s win.
Ryder Cup players Fitzpatrick, Sullivan and Fisher top Selborne’s honours board
At Blackmoor, the Selborne Salver has been won by the likes of current European Tour players Matt Fitzpatrick and Andy Sullivan, who both made their Ryder Cup debuts in 2016, six and five years respectively after their win.
Walker Cup caps Jordan Smith and Jack Singh-Brar, a former Hampshire Junior champion, have also won the Salver in the last eight years. In 2003, Ross Fisher claimed the crown and went on to win five times on the European Tour. The big-hitter from Surrey was part of the winning Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor, in 2010.
In total 12 winners of the Selborne Salver have gone on to be selected for GB&I’s Walker Cup team. Peter McEvoy, the inaugural Salver winner, was selected in 1979, four months after his win in East Hampshire.
Other high-profile names on the board include European Tour winners Jim Payne (1991), future BMW PGA Championship winner Scott Drummond (1995), and Zane Scotland, who took the trophy in 2003, four years after becoming the youngest player to qualify for the Open in 100 years as a 16-year-old.
In the last decade, Andrew Sullivan shattered the course record with a 60 on his way to his win in 2011, while Fitzpatrick was unable to defend his title in 2013 because he was on international duty for England.
He was crowned US Amateur Champion – becoming the first Englishman to win that title since 1911 later in 2013 – and played in that year’s Walker Cup team with Corhampton’s Neil Raymond.
Before 2008, just five Hampshire players had won the Selborne Salver Army GC’s Ian Gray (1982), Hayling’s Mark Treleaven (1992), Sandford Springs’ James Knight (1996), Stoneham’s Ryan Henley in 2005 – the year of Blackmoor’s centenary – and Hayling’s Mark Thistleton two years later.
But in 2009, Blackmoor finally produced a home-grown champion when Hampshire first-team player Mark Burgess denied another high quality field in front of a large gallery of club members.
The Salver, which was first played for in 1976, would have celebrated its 45th champion in 2020, but will now have to wait until 2022 to crown its latest winner.
A Blackmoor spokeswoman said: “Regrettably the Hampshire Salver and Selborne Salver won’t take place this year, but we are pleased to confirm the dates for 2022 have been agreed. The Selborne Salver will take place on Saturday, April 9, as part of the Hampshire Salver.”