MONTHS of planning and preparation will be put to the test in the next five days as Yorkshire ladies look to win back the Northern Counties Match Week title under the captaincy of York’s Dawn Clegg.
Penrith is the stage for the six-county event, a round robin competition involving three foursomes matches and six singles each day.
Yorkshire begin by facing Durham, and encounter Northumberland tomorrow, Cheshire on Wednesday, holders Lancashire on Thursday and finally Cumbria on Friday.
New county champion Megan Garland, of Selby, and Woodsome Hall’s Curtis Cup player Rochelle Morris head a strong line-up representing the Yorkshire Ladies County Golf Association.
Also in the side are Huddersfield’s Megan Lockett, last year’s White Rose county title-holder; Scottish women’s Open stroke play champion Olivia Winning (Rotherham); Yorkshire junior champion Megan Clarke (Cleckheaton & District); Pleasington Putter runner-up Holly Morgan (Hallamshire); Yorkshire championship quarter-finalist Hannah Holden (Lightcliffe), and Alison Knowles (Hickleton), who finished in the top 12 in the British ladies’ open amateur stroke play championship last year.
Morgan and Holden were the first pairing out, followed by Garland and Morris, and Clarke and Holden.
“We have got a strong team, but you can never be complacent,” said Clegg. “Obviously we have prepared well. Coach Steve Robinson and Carol Waites, our performance manager, have worked extremely hard with the team over the winter period and we honestly feel we have prepared as well as we can do.
“It is now up to the girls to put all their practice into play and I know they are keen and hungry and eager for it.
“Obviously we have been working with the foursomes pairings and Steve, as part of his preparations, has been up to Penrith and worked out the par-5s, the par-3s, and assessed who’s better to take on which shot – the approaches, the drives, the par-3 tee shots.
“Foursomes is all about communication between the two players in a pairing, telling the other where you’re thinking of putting the next shot and, again, Steve has done a lot of distance practice training with pitching.”
Getting up and down in two from close to the green is essential in all forms of golf, but particularly match play because of the psychological sting it can inflict.
“We have been working on the short game – pitching and chipping – and Steve had a session where he set them tasks from different yardages and if they didn’t achieve it they had to go back and do it again.”
Clegg will hold team meetings each evening to find out what areas worked well and which might need improvement as they look to win back the crown lost narrowly to Lancashire last year.
“This year I have made it my aim, my direction to be very honest and upfront in communicatingwith the players and that will continue through Match Week, “ said the captain, who will have to leave out three players from each session each day.
“The aim each evening is to look at things in more detail and to be more precise with things – that is the game plan.
“The girls have worked as hard as they can do and I admire their commitment,” she said. “I am in awe of them and the work they put in and I’m very proud to be the Yorkshire captain. We want the trophy back, but the other teams will be keen, too.”