GOLF: Whittlebury Park to host champions in Hollingsworth opener

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Whittlebury Park will host defending champions Wellingborough in their opening match of the 2017 Hollingsworth Trophy on Saturday, March 25.

Silverstone and Stoke Albany are involved in the other Group B fixture 24 hours later, while Farthingstone begin their campaign a week later.

Last year’s beaten finalists Brampton Heath also need to wait a little while before beginning their Group C campaign as Priors Hall play Overstone Park and Cold Ashby take on Peterborough Milton A on the opening weekend.

Kingsthorpe begin their pursuit of a record 14th title with a home tie against Collingtree Park in Group D on Sunday, March 26. Kettering, Rushden and Peterborough Milton’s B team are in action seven days later.

In Group A, Northampton host Oundle on the opening Sunday, Northants County face Daventry a week later, while Staverton Park need to wait an extra six days before starting their campaign.

Handicap League

The fixtures have thrown up an unusual quirk of fate as the opening game of 2017 sees a repeat of the 2016 final as reigning champions Hellidon Lakes host Brampton Heath on Sunday, April 29.

After topping their group in each of the last six years on their way to three titles, Hellidon will provide formidable opposition for fellow Group A rivals Northants County, Rushden and Staverton, who all begin in May.

Another tasty opening contest takes place in Group C during the same month as Oundle host local rivals Peterborough Milton. Priors Hall, Overstone and Kettering also play in the same group.

Farthingstone play Daventry in the first Group B fixture in mid-May, Cold Ashby host Kingsthorpe four days later, while Delapre need to wait until June before starting.

Collingtree Park, Northampton, Cherwell Edge, Wellingborough and Silverstone will battle it out in Group D.

Ladies Scratch League

Reigning champions Wellingborough will need to wait before starting their Ladies Scratch League title campaign as they host the opening two fixtures of the season on May 21.

Whittlebury face Overstone at Harrowden Hall, while Northampton play 2015 champions Northants County, who remain the only team to deny Wellingborough top spot in the last eight years.

Wellingborough begin against Whittlebury at Northants County GC on June 10.

Ladies Intermediate League

Seven clubs have entered teams to compete in a new Ladies Intermediate League for the 2017 season.

The tournament, which is aimed at ladies with a handicap between six and 16, will see three-player sides compete against each other at neutral venues every month throughout the year.

Northants County sit out the first round of fixtures in early April when they host the clash between Northampton and Peterborough Milton, Silverstone’s game with Wellingborough and the match between Elton Furze and Overstone Park.

County Team Director Mary MacLaren explained: “The Scratch League gives the best players an opportunity to play against each other.

“But there is a handicap gap between the Cecil Leitch League and the Scratch League, so some ladies miss out on competitive team action for their club. This will now fill that void.”

County Dinner

Tickets are selling gradually for the County Dinner Dance as Northamptonshire Golf Ltd get ready to celebrate their first full year in existence on Saturday, March 18.

Following the merger of the men’s and ladies governing bodies to form an all-inclusive organisation in early 2015, the NGL has enjoyed a smooth transition.

To say thank you to all the clubs and their members, the county are organising a three course dinner, with coffee, at the Northampton Saints Rugby Ground.

With all profits going towards Northamptonshire Junior Golf, tickets are priced at £42.50 per person. Visit www.northantsgolf.co.uk for more details.