YORKSHIRE captain Darryl Berry feels the pain of last year’s cruel Northern Counties Union League season is being used as a motivational tool by his side this time around.
They finished level on eight match points with Roses rivals Lancashire, but the crown eluded them by half a game point.
Yorkshire face Cheshire at Ilkley today, with Berry able to field what he deems as arguably his strongest side save for the absence of Huddersfield’s Nick Marsh. The English amateur champion is on international duty in the European Team Championships in Sweden.
“The good thing about losing last year by just half a point is that the players want it more this time and they don’t want to be in the position of letting other teams have the chance to win the league,” said Yorkshire’s captain.
After two matches, visitors Cheshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire – who face Northumberland at Lancaster – all have three points from a win and a tie.
Yorkshire’s tie came from the Roses clash at Hillside when Berry saw his men fight back from a daunting 5-1 deficit from the morning’s foursomes.
Gaining a share of the points – and Cheshire’s tie with Cumbria on the same day – means the maths are fairly straight-froward.
“ If we can win the next three matches heavily, we will win the league, I believe,” said the captain. “Of course, we have to take one game at a time like the cliche says – in fact, one shot at a time. But pulling back against Lancashire was massive and means we do have it within our control.”
Five changes from the last match involve the inclusion of England internationals and Lindrick club-mates Joe Dean and Jonathan Thomson.
The latter is making his first appearance of the season.
Cheshire beat Yorkshire 10-8 at Bramall Park last year and Berry commented: “We’ve now got to go and beat them and give them the medicine that they gave to us. They are top by a long way ‘goals wise’ at the moment, but we’ve played the two strongest teams on paper.
“It’s going to be a good game, but I’ve probably got the strongest team I’ve had for a long time. We’re still missing Nick Marsh, who’s away with the England team in the European Championships, but that’s taking nothing away from the guys that are here.
“All of them deserve to be here for their abilities and especially for their points scoring.
“I’ve had to drop players who could still be in this team and that’s been the hardest thing this match. It makes it all a bit easier because they realise they’re not getting dropped because of their ability but because I’ve got someone else who’s probably playing a lot more golf than them.”
Home member Jack Lampkin has helped to improve the team’s course knowledge by producing specially-made yardage charts, complete with advice on trouble spots to avoid and preferential places to target.
However, Berry is not totally convinced everyone will reap the maximum reward from them given what he sees is an over-reliance on the modern shot-assessing tool, the laser range finder.
“If you just rely on a range finder you don’t necessarily see the potential trouble on a shot,” he explained.
“They see a number to the flag, like 175 yards, and say ‘right, that’s a seven iron’. They might miss notes like ‘don’t miss it left’ or ‘leave it short of the pin’.
“It’s advice for you that’s free, so use it. They’ve got to start educating themselves because when these guys turn pro, as some will, there are no range finders, it’s all yardage charts.
“The more they can use yardage charts, the better. It gets them thinking better.”
Berry was very impressed with the state of the course during Friday’s practice day and commented: “The course is very tidy, one of those courses where everything’s out in front of you, there’s not much that’s hidden away.
“I had a meeting here at the back end of last year and had as many of the lads as I could come and play as I knew there was going to be a match here.
“If you use your head around here you can just make it fairways and greens, and people will struggle to beat you.”