Golfing glory for Alan Jones on his Welsh Seniors debut in Home Countries' Championships

Alan Jones in nice weather on practice day

Alan Jones has just returned from a stormy four days at the West Kilbride Golf Club, which is a links course in Scotland that looks out over the Isle of Arran, where he has represented the Welsh Senior team in the Home Countries’ Senior Golf International matches.
Alan admits that it was the toughest golf he has ever played, not only because of the heavy rain and high winds, but the quality of the oppositions as he carried the Pembrokeshire Flag with distinction and marked his international debut with four points out of a possible six as he won three games, halved another two and lost just once by a narrow margin.
“The view was amazing and the course such a challenge because 5 holes on the back nine run parallel to the beach and although Arran was 10 miles or so away it seemed much closer and we could watch the storms rolling in - but the greenkeeping staff did an amazing job of keeping the course playable as our teams of seven from Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland played each other with six singles and three foursomes each day as the format for a best of nine-match final result.

Amazing golf stats – and due recognition for Alan

Alan has always been a lover of golf statistics and he was able to tell that there are amazingly seven golf courses on Arran, three of 18 holes, three of nine holes and even one of 12 holes!
Similarly, the town of West Kilbride has a population of just over 5,000 and the club can boast 980 members, a ratio of almost one in five that golf clubs in our area would love to have!
“Although it was my debut I was chosen by the team manager to play in the singles and the foursomes each day, although it meant 36 holes of tough golf to test our fitness and focus - and having to dry my waterproof gear every night in the hotel, which was situated a mile down the road.


Alan in a smart Welsh team photo call


Great weather for practice day – but a real storm blows as he starts with a big win

Alan lines up a vital putt“The practice day on Monday was undertaken in lovely weather and there was little hint of the challenges to come - but we were warned by locals at the club, and my word were they right, because on the Tuesday we were hit by nature’s challenges as we played.
“We were up each day at 5:30am, breakfast at 6:15, a quick practice session at 7am and our tee-off at 7.30am, which seemed as if we were playing in the dark because of the storms that blew in and out.
“Our first match was against Scotland and I was fourth out against David Thompson - and I was delighted to be able to adapt quickly to the prevailing conditions and eventually won 6 & 4.

Hardly time to grab a bite before the foursomes was on him!

“Because I’d won well I thought I had some time before I was to play in the foursomes with Gwyn Jones but as I sat outside the clubhouse admiring the sea view the team manager popped his head around the corner and asked if I was ready to go out again in 20 minutes and so I had to dash in for a quick sandwich and be back on the first tee as we took on the No 1 Scottish pair in Ronnie Clark and Derek Patton.
“Of course I was disappointed we lost 2 & 1 but I thought I hadn’t played badly and after drying off and a good meal that evening I was ready for Day Two!”

Alan with winning foursomes partner Nigel Evans

Disappointing half against England after he looked firm favourite

 Alan with another successful Welsh player in Neil Roderick“The rivals that day were England, traditionally a very strong squad and I was drawn against Ian Ashendon in a match where we were very close throughout but I went to the 18th hole with a 1 hole lead, as the rain poured down.
“I thought I was favourite to win as we were both of the final green in two but both some distance from the hole. It was tough to take when Ian roled in a 40 feet putt across the final green to leave me with a 25 footer to seal the win … the putt slid by and we halved the match.
“In the afternoon I joined Nigel Evans in taking on Ian Ashendon again alongside Richard Jones, who hailed from the Rotherham area - and we beat them 2 & 1 to help Wales win by five matches to four - and I celebrated my good form in what was a good day for me!”

A hard-fought singles battle but a great foursomes success

Day three saw Alan take on Carl Bornemann in the singles and again he had to call upon all his skill levels and commitment to keep in touch with his Irish rival so that they were all square driving off at the final tee.
“My second shot was good one into the wind and I finished up 12 foot from the pin and had a birdie chance whilst my opponent had made his par.
“I missed the birdie putt and felt a bit disappointed with the halved match, but I was happy with my overall contribution to the team effort.”
The closing foursomes was understandably tense, especially since Nigel Evans and Alan were taking on Declan O’Neil and Jody Fanagan, who had played in the 1995 Walker Cup (the amateur version of the Ryder Cup) and beaten a young Tiger Woods and was runner up in the US Senior Amateur Championship just a few weeks ago.

“They were obviously very experienced players, especially in the still-awful conditions,” Alan admitted, “but we played well as a duo and were still one up going to the last hole, which we completed in par and helped Wales win this match by 5-4 and as a result we finished second overall behind host country, Scotland, with England third and Ireland bringing up the rear.’

And finally . . .

The next day saw Alan make the long journey home, which had taken over 10 hours on the way up but increased to 12 hours on this occasion because he had to take a deserved break along with team mate Neil Roderick, who plays for Clyne Golf Club in Swansea.
Neil is rightly regarded as the doyen of the Welsh squad, with a number of appearances, and hopefully Alan will follow in his footsteps because the Pembrokeshire golfer, who is a regular at South Pembs Golf Club,  flew the flag of that little-known club ‘up the line’ as well as Pembrokeshire Golf in general.
We at send our congratulations to our old friend Alan Jones and look forward to next year, when he can hopefully earn a second ‘cap’ and play as well as he has done this year on debut!

 Alan looks on as conditions worsen