Hampshire ended a fine season on a high by winning the county final of England Golf’s South Eastern Group.
Richard Elmes’ side produced a resounding 7½-4½ victory over Essex at Ashford Manor to win the title for the first time since 2009, when they tied with Hertfordshire.
The team’s last outright success had come in 2002.
Hampshire, who boasted a 100 per cent record in the southern section on their way to the final, blitzed the northern section champions in the afternoon singles after tying the morning foursomes 2-2.
“We were always in control,” said the captain, Elmes. “I think they did well to get to 2-2 in the morning, as we were up in every match after nine holes.
“We were disappointed with two-all in the end, but saying that if someone had offered me that before we started I would have bitten their arm off, because you can’t win it in the morning, but you can lose it.”
Hampshire’s points in the morning came from the pairings of Martin Young and Mark Burgess, who won 4&3, and Harry Ellis and Ryan Henley, who prevailed 2&1.
Both defeats, for the duo of Sam Robertshawe and Haydn Reay, as well as Jordan Ainley and Mark Sawford, came by the narrowest of margins, losing 1up.
But Hampshire stormed clear in the afternoon, with English Amateur champion Ellis going out first and setting the tone with a 7&6 win over Essex’s Adam Morris.
“Harry was in supreme form all weekend,” said Elmes. “In fact, all the team played really well. There wasn’t a weakness in there.”
Young won match two by a score of 2&1, while Robertshawe triumphed 4&3. Henley then added a half, while Reay and Burgess were both beaten.
There were two emphatic wins at the bottom of the order, though, with Ainley thumping Jordan Wallace 4&3 and Sawford trouncing Ross Dee 6&4.
“Mark Sawford hadn’t been well all week,” revealed Elmes, who had Brokenhurst Manor’s Jon Young on standby. “He had a chest infection and he was a bit worried about whether he was going to make it.”
Victory in the final capped a memorable success for Elmes in his first year as captain.
“The team spirit has been excellent,” he said, reflecting on the season. “Everyone has wanted to play.
“A classic example was Harry Ellis and Neil Raymond driving back from Scotland on a Saturday just so they could play for us on the Sunday against Kent.
“The team spirit has been great and everyone has worked so hard.”
Hampshire’s Colts squad, who also won the southern section with a 100 per cent record, will contest their county final this Sunday at Royal Black Heath, also against Essex.