|The Hewitt being contested on Royal St. Georges|
This last week was my first trip overseas and one of the things I was most excited about was to meet new people and learn about different ways of life. While we in the States speak the same language and have a lot of similar interest to our English counterparts, there are little intricacies about the ways of life that lend themselves unique traditions. One is the rich history of boy’s preps schools in England. Though maybe more common in New England, this is rare type of school in the westerns states and from what I can imagine quite different to our traditional high school environment. It’s the comradery that is made at these school that lend themselves to the Halford Hewitt.
I first heard about the Halford Hewitt from Will on my train ride out to Sandwich. He was there to support his school. He told me about the cup and it being the largest competitive amateur tournament in the world and I thought, “Impossible! I would have heard about this before.” Chalk one up to American ignorance. Indeed, the Hewitt has 640 players from 64 schools playing on Sandwich’s prestigious courses, Royal St. Georges and Royal Ports. The teams are made up of 10 best amateurs that have attended the school. Some schools, have many interested parties so a try-out is held. Will’s school held a 36-hole competition consisting of stroke play and a match play portion where the team captains watched and chose the best 10 players to represent the group. The mates I met while playing Prince’s were from Rugby School (they invented their namesake game, a long, long time ago). This year Rugby only had 12 players interested in the event and one was a new father so a tryout this year wasn’t necessary. As long as the schools keep fielding a team, they will keep being invited back. If they can’t field, there is a long list of prep schools waiting to get in. The format is simple, the 10 players from each team are paired making five-twosomes. They are then matched against a single competitor school to compete in an alternate-shot (foursomes), match-play event. At the end the round, whichever team has won more matches moves-on, the loser goes home. It’s March Madness for golf and I love it! I am convinced the Olympics should adopt something similar to bring out the spirit of the game.
The boys from Rugby were great fun during our practice round, talented golfers and good all-round individuals. Two of the three had played Rugby at the university level, one at Creighton and the other at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Johnny, who attended St. Andrews, use to wake-up in his dorm room and overlook the 18th hole at the Old Course. He explained, he wished he had spent less time drinking and more time golfing during his days at the university, but then again, don’t most of us.