Beautiful warm weather greeted the 14 ladies and 14 men as they competed for the Pro’s Cup at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Course.
This was the 10th annual match between the Solheim Ladies team and the defending champions, the Senior Men’s Ryder Cup team. The ladies were dressed in their blue and yellow matching sharp outfits, looking to regain the title they won two years ago. The men wore their blazing red and black outfits hoping to imitate Tiger Woods and his usual march to victory.
There was again great excitement and anticipation in the air and the men knew they were in for a stiff battle when Val Chubey hit a booming long drive to begin the ‘friendly’ competition. The men were in awe as lady after lady came out with their A-games, especially with their opening drives. However the men were not intimidated as they knew more than a super tee shot is needed to win a match.
The format was seven pairs of ladies matched with seven pairs of men. The front nine was an alternate shot format and the back nine was a best-ball format.
Each nine was worth two points, but the 18-hole match was also worth two points, meaning six points were up for grabs in each match. There were 42 possible points and at least 22 were needed to win the Pro’s Cup.
The ladies obviously had quite a pep talk from their captain Martha Cruikshank as they darted out to an early lead, but the men didn’t flinch.
After all seven matches finished their nine holes the score was seven to seven. The real battle for the prestigious title had just begun!
The ladies had the men on the ropes when the team of Ginny Green and Robin Foster took all six points from the strong team of Jim Panetta and Ted Wiens.
The third ladies team added four more points and there was a sense that the ladies were the ones marching to victory, but not so fast!
Suddenly the tide turned on the next three matches, and maybe a little “lady luck” had something to do with it.
Yours truly (Harry Huizer) hit a shot in the fourth match on the 17th hole, which not only went through a tree but somehow shot forward off a branch and miraculously ended up on the green, shocking himself and his opponents, thus turning a sure loss of a hole into a winning hole. Without this turn of fate the result would have been quite different.
The tide was now turning in the men’s favour. The ladies never quit and they lost a heartbreaking sixth match by one hole, giving the men a five to one result due to the scoring system.
Sometimes the scoring doesn’t seem fair, as the ladies will certainly agree to!
The ladies dominated the final match but it was a little too late, and the men won the nail-biting finish 23 to 19.
The ladies deserved a better fate as they won as many holes as the men, but a one-hole win at the right time in a few of the matches gave the men the victory and the Pro’s Cup.
The players all had their lunch on the first tee, and then came the exciting and “tearful” moment when our pro Keith Vant presented the Pro’s Cup to captain Harry Huizer, with the ladies captain Martha Cruikshank looking on, but in true sportsmanship clapping along with all the players and fans.
It was really a winning day for everyone, as could be seen from the fun and friendly chatter after the matches were completed.
For sure it was a nail-biting victory for the men in one of the most exciting club events of the year.