Hills borough’s Clive Downing completed an emotional rollercoaster when he won the England Golf Gold Medal to become the men’s handicap golfer of the year.
Clive had a net score of four-under 68 on the Red course at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire – and came off the course in tears, revealing: “It’s been an emotional day because my wife has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.”
His wife, Jane, who was diagnosed in the last few weeks, accompanied him to the championship and walked the last nine holes as he played his way to success.
“It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever won in golf,” said Downing, who was playing off six handicap. “It’s been fantastic and everyone has been so supportive of Jane.”
He finished two shots ahead of a group of three players who had net scores of two-under 70.
They were Graham Anstey (The Kendleshire), Darren Booker (Tadmarton Heath) and Roman Toloczko (Scraptoft). The host club’s William Ayres took fifth place on 73.
The Gold Medal was open to the 2015 medal winners at English golf clubs and the finalists all won through a regional round to take their place at Frilford Heath, where the championship was part of England Golf Week. This five-day festival of golf included a host of finals for handicap players, involving over 500 competitors in total.
Clive was originally third reserve for the Gold Medal final, but once he got his place he made no mistakes.
He went round in a gross score of two-over par 74 which he described as “fantastic”, especially after a disappointing practice round. His short game was brilliant, with a chip-in on the long sixth for an eagle three and two long putts holed, both from off the green.
He enjoys medal golf, commenting: “It’s a good test of mind and it’s character building. I had a double bogey, but then came back par, par.”