Debutants have an instant impact for the champions

TWO debutants came to the fore as the Royals made a winning start to their defence of their crown in the newly-sponsored Nedgroup Trust Limited Scratch League.

But while Dave Jeffery knows all about the ins-and-outs of the inter-club competition, having led the La Grande Mare Douit Dodgers in previous years before making the switch to the Royal Guernsey team, league newcomer Dale Rutledge wasted no time in making his mark for Tom Le Huray’s side against the L’Ancresse Martellos in a 13-9 victory.

Better known in island sporting circles for his time playing rugby for Guernsey Raiders, New Zealander Rutledge is already the lowest handicap at RGGC, playing off an exact 0.0, and his natural cheery demeanour almost belies the serious quality he has out on the links.

Up against a renowned gritty competitor in Arthur Evans, the Royals newbie took six points from a possible seven as he picked up a winning bonus point for finishing within 15 holes as well as a nearest-the-pin bonus on the seventh.

Just for good measure, having found the green at that par three, he holed the tricky 30ft birdie putt which had to negotiate the slope off the knuckle of the green-side bunker.

That was just one of several notable shots from Rutledge, with his up-and-downs from rough on both the ninth and 12th hole also extremely impressive in his 4 & 3 victory.

Jeffery needed even fewer holes to see off the challenge of an out-of-sorts Tom Pattimore.

Despite playing in the anchor match, the Island men’s team captain was first to finish as he matched Rutledge’s six-point haul.

A lengthy birdie putt holed from the front of the fourth green edged him ahead and from then on it was largely one-way traffic.

When he became the only player to pick up a nearest-the-pin bonus on the 12th thanks to an excellent hybrid to pin high, it took Jeffery to the verge of victory, which he wrapped up on the next hole.

‘I am pleased to have contributed some points on debut,’ he said.

But while the Royals dominated the singles rubbers, the Martellos had the upper hand in the foursomes.

It looked as though their captain Steve Mahy and his playing partner Sean Mills were in for a real battle against the Royals senior combination of Nigel Vaudin and Mick Marley, but the L’Ancresse pair moved up a gear after the turn and successive birdies on the 13th and 14th holes helped them to a 3 & 2 win.

That meant that the first rubber out on the course turned out to be the last to finish.

Given the quality of the pairings, the golf was scrappy at times and the result hinged on a mistake rather than a moment of magic.

Le Huray, who reported that it was nice to get back into competitive golf but admitted he still felt rusty following the delayed start to the season, joined forces with Roland Mills to take on the two Dannys – Bisson and Blondel – and coming down the stretch there was little to separate them, although both pairings had chances to move ahead.

They were all-square as they reached the 17th where both Bisson and Mills were surprised to see their tee shots finish up to the right of the fairway, leaving their partners with blind approaches.

As soon as he struck his, Le Huray knew he had pulled it and was unlikely to find the ball among the ferns to the back left of the green. Blondel safely found the putting surface in response and, sure enough, that proved good enough to edge ahead.

At the last, Blondel repeated the trick by knocking his tee shot into the heart of the green while Le Huray found the left fringe, but closer to the hole.

Bisson lagged his putt up to the hole side for a par, leaving Mills with a chance to salvage a half and he gave his birdie putt a good run at the hole, but it did not take the break in time and slipped by the cup, much to his chagrin.

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