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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Oxford v Cambridge

The Ladies’ Golf Varsity Match

The ladies’ golf teams at Oxford and Cambridge enjoy a fantastic fixture list, playing against many prestigious clubs between the start of term in October and the annual varsity match in March, when they finally face each other. This year the 12th match was hosted by Rye Golf Club on Tuesday 24th March. The first match was held in 1998 and, although Oxford dominated the first seven matches, winning six of them, Cambridge are catching up and the tally now stands at 8 matches to 4.

Photo back left :Etta Martin Smith, Kate O’Donnell, Katie Taylor, Louisa Tarn, Leanne Mullen (Cambridge Captain), Amy Bilderbeck (Oxford Captain), Jennifer Hauschild, Gillian Kinnear, Alex Walvis, Front left Alexia Sohet, Angharad Porteous , Jennifer Mc Sloy, Jane Han, Lucy Webb-Wilson.

On paper, Cambridge were the stronger side, having lower handicaps and more experience than the Oxford team, whose 2008 players had all graduated at the end of that year (with the exception of Amy Bilderbeck, who had been the reserve at Royal Liverpool and was promoted straight to the captaincy). With all the matches played off scratch, Oxford knew they had to come out fighting. Amy and her partner, Jennifer Mc Sloy took an early lead with an excellent 3 at the short 2nd in tricky blustery conditions. However, the opposing captain, Leanne Mullen, and her partner, 2-handicapper Louisa Tarn, showed their class as the match progressed and they emerged convincing winners at the 14th. The last match proved to be similarly one-sided, despite tremendously long hitting from the Oxford pair, tidier play around Rye’s immaculate and difficult greens proved the decisive factor. By contrast, the second match was fought to a nail-biting finish, with the Cambridge pair making a good par on the 18th to narrowly take the third point of the morning for the light blues.

Cambridge only needed to win two points from the six afternoon singles but Oxford went out determined to make them fight for every one. The top match was a high quality game between the lowest handicapped players on the two teams, with Louisa eventually getting the upper hand over Oxford’s Gillian Kinnear and closing out the match on the 15th. The match-winning point was secured a short time later on the same green when Kate O’Donnell prevailed over Jennifer Mc Sloy. The remaining matches were played to a conclusion with each player keen to prove their skill and resolve. Jennifer Hauschild put in a gutsy performance against the significantly more experienced Cambridge captain, but hopes of a win against the odds were dismissed at the 17th. When Katie Taylor secured another hard-fought point against the Oxford captain, it was in danger of looking like a white-wash, but the remaining Oxford players had other ideas. In the fifth match, Alex Walvis had struggled to adapt to the links conditions but battled with herself, as well as her opponent, to stay in the match. She managed to get to 1 up going down the 18th but Cambridge’s Etta Martin Smith was not to be denied some reward for her consistent good play and won the hole to secure a half. Her team mate, Alexia Sohet, was not so lucky in the exciting final match; although she fought back from 2 down to square the match after 17, Oxford’s Lucy Webb-Wilson holed a great putt for a birdie to win her game and salvage some honour for the dark blues.

Despite the historic rivalry between the universities and a strong desire to win on both sides, all the matches were played in fantastic spirit. The many spectators who turned out to watch were treated both to fine golf and sincere sportsmanship. Friendships were formed which will last beyond university. Both past and present golfers are invited to become members of the Oxford and Cambridge Ladies’ Golfing Society, which was founded in 1991 to provide competitive golf for alumnae and to promote women’s golf at the two universities. Members of the O&CLGS meet each year at their Spring and Autumn Meetings, a number of matches and the Ladies’ Niblick, a knock-out tournament held just down the road from Rye at Littlestone Golf Club. More information about ladies’ Oxbridge golf can be found at

Results (Cambridge names first)
Leanne Mullen & Louisa Tarn beat Amy Bilderbeck & Jennifer Mc Sloy 5&4
Kate O’Donnell & Katie Taylor beat Gillian Kinnear & Jennifer Hauschild 1 up
Etta Martin Smith & Alexia Sohet beat Alex Walvis and Lucy Webb-Wilson 3&2
Tarn beat Kinnear 4&3
Mullen beat Hauschild 2&1
O’Donnell beat Mc Sloy 4&3
Taylor beat Bilderbeck 2&1
Martin Smith halved with Walvis
Sohet lost to Webb-Wilson 1 down
Final score: Cambridge 7 ½ Oxford 1 ½
In the match between the reserves, Cambridge’s Angharad Porteous beat Jane Han 5&4.

Thanks to the Cambridge Captain, Leanne Mullen, for the report and photo.