Howley Hall pair all set to challenge event history

Howley Hall's Miles Foster and James Appleyard, who have been playing golf together for years, won the 2017 Yorkshire Challenge by just a point after 54 holes of competition.
Howley Hall's Miles Foster and James Appleyard, who have been playing golf together for years, won the 2017 Yorkshire Challenge by just a point after 54 holes of competition.
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Howley Hall’s Appleyard and Foster all set to challenge history

The ever-more popular trilateral pairs event, now in its sixth year, sees pairs compete in three divisions, each named after the course on which they begin their pursuit of overall as well as divisional glory.

Appleyard and Foster started out on their route to glory against more than 200 other pairings at Moortown, the Leeds course that staged the first Ryder Cup on British soil in 1929.

By the time they reached Ganton on the final day they had a three -point lead, but a final-hole birdie from Appleyard was ultimately required to give them just a one-point overall victory from Lindrick duo Bailey Gill – a Yorkshire county player – and Julian Maturi.

Years of playing together means the Howley Hall men know one another’s game inside out and trust one another’s judgement. The latter element proved crucial, as Appleyard explained.

“I hit a great three wood down into the wind at the last at Ganton and hit a five iron to about eight feet,” recalled two-handicapper Appleyard.

“I haven’t birdied that hole very often when I’ve played it before and we were looking at my putt and I’m saying, ‘it’s right edge’ and Miles said, ‘You’re kidding me, it’s left edge’. So I hit it left edge and it went in.”

And the reason he went with his five-handicap partner’s assessment? “He’s a better putter than me,” said Appleyard.

This teamwork proved invaluable throughout the three days as Appleyard and Foster closed with 38 points at Ganton after accumulating 44 at Moortown followed by a further 44 at Lindrick.

“We both played really well,” continued Appleyard. “Individually we would probably have scored 76, 77, but we dovetailed really well so that when one was out of the hole the other was in.

“Miles made pars on his shot holes, so that’s five birdies picked up straight away, and I had a few birdies and an eagle on the first day. It sounds easy, but that’s how we did it.

“We did struggle a bit on the last day at Ganton, to be fair, but we managed to claw it back on the back nine.”

Effective course management also played its part in their victory in the prestigious event that has grown rapidly since its inception in 2013.

“There’s certain holes where Miles would tend to go off first, like the 14th at Ganton, the short par-4,” said Appleyard. “So he’d hit a five, maybe a six iron down the fairway and if he’s in play then I’d go for the green. It just depends on the hole. If we feel there’s an advantage to attack it then we’ll go for it, but otherwise we just play us own game.”

The Howley Hall pairing achieved the feat of winning the competition at their first attempt while many other repeat participants are yet to taste even daily glory let alone be crowned Supreme champions.

“We have been playing together for years, we play together every weekend, and last year we just decided to enter” explained Appleyard.

“I hadn’t played much because I was busy with work and I’d only probably played four or five times last year before the Yorkshire Challenge. And we played in it and played great.

“It’s a brilliant event, played on three great courses. You’d pay a lot more than the (£395 a pair) entry fee if you were just paying the green fees and you’ve obviously got a competition to play and prizes to play for, which is great.”

They will be playing the Moortown series again and, therefore, finishing at Ganton on what is generally seen as the hardest course of the three. But pragmatic Appleyard commented: “People say it’s the toughest, but you’ve got to play them all it’s just that if you have to post a score on the last day Ganton’s potentially not as easy as the other two. But by playing the other two first we’d given ourselves a three-shot lead.”

For more details about the event and to follow progress of the 2018 competition go online to yorkshirechallenge.co.uk.