Fire Halts County Match at Burnham

Monday 6th August 2018

Channel League Somerset v Cornwall, Sunday 5th August 2018, Burnham & Berrow GC

Another glorious day had dawned as the teams of Cornwall & Somerset arrived at Burnham & Berrow for the latest encounter in the 2018 Channel League campaign.    Despite the lack of rainfall over a period of three months the historic links of B&B was presented in pristine condition with both sides looking forward to the challenge. But sadly no one was to predict what would happen later in the day - during the singles matches -  as an on course heathland fire caused the match to be halted with both teams and other golfers being instructed to leave the course for their own safety.

County Captain Ian Veale selected his pairings for the morning series of five foursomes matches with County Champion Joe Cruse and partner Tom Fox leading Cornwall on their way. Cruse & Fox would come undone on the front nine against the strong opening pair from Somerset of Sam Fernley & Phil White, standing on the 10th tee 4 down. The Cornwall pair exhibited a fighting spirit and fought back to stand on the 18th tee all square, but an uncharacteristic tee shot from Cruse on 18 would cost them the hole.

Next up for Cornwall were Jack Irwin who was paired with Kieran Faulkner, making his 2018 Channel League bow following a strong showing in the County Championship earlier in the season. Irwin & Faulkner would face the might of Will Poole & Craig Adams, Adams a former professional. The Cornwall pairing played some great golf and when Irwin holed from 6 feet on the 18th green following a great chip from Faulkner the scores were level at 1 - 1.

Yet another game would go the distance as Richard Jasper & George Leigh stood on the 18th tee with a one-hole lead against Tom Trowbridge & Jack Palmer. A pin point regulation par was the order of the day as Jasper first found the fairway with his tee shot. Leigh found the green with the approach and when Jasper rolled the putt stone dead a one-hole victory was sealed to edge Cornwall ahead.

Conor Wilson, playing with Joe Reynard would extend that lead as they capped off a seemingly comfortable win on the 15th green, despite being 1 down after the front nine holes against Jeremy Larcombe & Kobe Adams.

In the fifth and final foursome Aaron Stephens was paired with Jack Mewton, also making his 2018 Channel League debut, and they were involved in a great tussle with Somerset Captain, Justin Lane who was partnering Oli Worts. Somerset held a two-hole lead after nine holes. Cornwall then held a one-hole lead after 14 holes. Somerset would win the 15th and 17th to ensure another match would go the distance as they now held a slender one-hole advantage. Somerset found the green in regulation and despite being closer to the pin Mewton faced a delicate bunker shot. Lane left his putt 7 feet short from distance before Mewton nearly holed his bunker shot, which was subsequently conceded for a par. Worts to hole for the win, which he dutifully did to leave the score delicately poised at 3 - 2 in favour of Cornwall.

Lunch was taken and nobody could have foreseen what would unfold as the afternoon singles commenced! With the leading singles match between Cruse & White playing the 12th hole it became evident that a fire had taken hold of the scrub area between the 8th and 12th holes. With the ground tinder dry and a slight breeze blowing off the Bristol Channel the fire took hold and became a major incident forcing officials from Burnham & Berrow to close and evacuate the golf course. Numerous fire engines attended the scene in a bid to contain the fire which was spreading!

At the time Cornwall had the upper hand in the singles and were ahead in 7 of the 10. Pictured above is Richard Jasper with the developing fire in the background.

Both sides retired to the clubhouse with none of the singles matches being able to complete. Both the Somerset Captain, Justin Lane and Cornwall Captain Veale, addressed the players and expressed their disbelief at what had been witnessed, at the same time extending their best wishes to B&B and the fire service as they fought to contain the devastation that the fire was causing.

Confirmation of the match result has been received and in the circumstances the result of the morning foursomes stands and all singles matches are halved. No one would have wanted the result determined in this fashion and everyone’s thoughts were with the host club. Fortunately after some considerable time the fire was contained and Burnham & Berrow were later the same evening able to indicate business as usual would take place today. A statement from the golf club said: "The fire started at our reservoir behind the 13th tee and has taken out all the rough ground between the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th holes." An aftermath picture of the damaged area is shown below.

Veale also thanked Ocean BMW, Ace Engineering, Datson Consulting and St. Austell Brewery all of whom are valuable sponsors and supporters of Cornwall Golf.

Next up for Veale and the Cornwall team is a visit to Tavistock Golf Club on Sunday 9th September to play Devon.