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Simon Byford’s golf column: Countback and ‘The Count’ explained

I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to discuss a little ‘in-joke’ I have had within my writing, but also explain it so that all golfers can understand exactly what does ‘countback’ mean, and who is ‘The Count’?

Countback is essentially a way to determine placings within a golf competition, without the need for a physical play-off like you would see on TV in professional events. Firstly, a play-off is not practical in amateur golf, due to differing times that people finish their rounds, and of course it would be hard to fairly incorporate differing handicaps.

Columnist Simon Byford as his fictional 'Count Back' character
Columnist Simon Byford as his fictional 'Count Back' character

Therefore a better method was needed, and this is where ‘Count Back’ steps in. In my admittedly slightly odd mind, Count Back is a fictitious character, who arrives at the close of a competition to organise the players into their respective positions. He is certainly not derived or in any way related to the Sesame Street character of the same name (showing my age here).

The actual premise of countback is simple. If two or more players are tied on their 18 hole score, then whoever has the better back nine score will be placed highest. If that still is a tie, then it reverts to the last six holes (13-18), then last three (16-18) then two (17-18) and then the final hole individually. If this still results in a tie then The Count would go back hole by hole, starting at the 18th, until there was a differential.

I hope this explains Countback in a simple way, and if you have read this you are now aware of my little pet character, The Count, who as you will see has had an extremely busy week.

PGA professional Simon Byford, whose column appears in the Bury Free Press Picture: Mecha Morton
PGA professional Simon Byford, whose column appears in the Bury Free Press Picture: Mecha Morton

Bury St Edmunds GC

The Bury St Edmunds Juniors played their December Stableford in challenging conditions, and it signalled the start of the tour of the local area for The Count. Although he was not required for first place however, Louis Sturman scored 39 points from his 9 handicap. Second place did need the calculations, with Ethan McCleary adjudged to be higher ahead of Gabriel Foster.

Bianca Theeruth completed a very successful year by winning the Ladies December Stableford. Her 31 points left her six shots clear of Mariette Robbertse in second place.

The Bury Men also played a combined Stableford across the weekend. Division 1 was won by Philip Castle with 39 points, and then there were three players scoring 37 points. Once again The Count was called upon to administer the results. Dan Cole took the photograph finish ahead of Dean Shave and Peter Sandry.

Division 2 was almost a mirror image, where Keith Smith nudged it round for 36 points and top spot. Then there were three players again one shot back on 35 points. Sean Studd this time had the best back nine, followed by Stephen Wyman and Darren Malpass. Just to round off The Count’s work, Division 3 needed a card play-off to determine the winner. Michael Gargett’s 36 points coming out on top against Andy Donnison. Bob Renville came third on 34 points.

Thetford GC

Some 78 players took to the course on Sunday to play the December Stableford. Conditions must have been excellent if the scoring is anything to go by.

Division 1 was won by Daniel King with 41 points, Nathan Muggeridge was second on 40 points with Grant Cooper third on 39. Division 2 was much closer with The Count judging that Roy Francis’ 40 points bettered Christopher Hawkins. Third place was Glyn Manning with 39.

Playing professional Giles Evans and assistant pro Owen Mills played their first Junior/Pro game at Thetford Golf Course over the weekend. Juniors Cameron, Hayden, Ruby, Vakaris, Ollie and Oscar had a great time whilst learning the rules and etiquette of golf and is something the club will continue to do in the New Year.

Ruby Reeve took part in this event and is the club’s 2024 Junior captain. Thetford are extremely proud of Ruby who has also been named Norfolk county Junior captain for 2024.

The ladies play their Christmas Cracker Waltz later in the week, a 13 hole Stableford competition where they will all be wearing their festive jumpers. Following the competition the ladies come in to a hearty bowl of soup, pull some Christmas crackers and join in the sing-along of Christmas carols.

Stowmarket GC

The Stowmarket Men played a Stableford, and Division 1 was won by Colin Leathers with 36 points. The Count continued his tour of the clubs in our area, using his calculations to award Daniel Ruegg second andMatt Pizzeythird after the pair both returned 35 points.

There was no need for The Count in Division 2, where Neil Harris triumphed on 38 points, with Paul Swallow second on 36 and Anthony Mills third with 35.

There was also a Christmas Texas Scramble, where teams of four took part to win festive prizes. First place was helped in no small part by big hitting Jonathan Brown, along with his fellow team-mates Judd Brown, Robert Rush and Amanda Rush. The runners-up went to Paul Swallow for the second time this week, with his team of Simon Brown, Paul Robinson and Steve James. Third place was the team of Martin King, Jane King, Greg Potter and Tina Potter.

It was a nice social event to end the calendar year.

The Suffolk

Andrews Sandford had his books in order to score 39 points and win the Mid-Week Stableford. David Wilbraham was second on 36 points and John Dale third on 32.

The Seniors Stableford heralded a clear victory for Richard Graves on 36 points, four shots clear of Andrew Rudd on 32 and Haslett Schofield on 30.

The weekend Stableford saw some fantastic scoring on the Saturday with Robert Shaw topping the leaderboard with 42 points, Paul Dobbyn second on 40 and Chris Tate marched into third on 38.

The Sunday iteration was a much closer affair. Andrew Sandford continued his rich vein of form to take his second win of the week. His 38 points was one ahead of both second and third. This meant that The Count was needed, determining Richard Budgen’s 37 points to be better on the back 6 holes than Men’s Captain Perry Garrod.

That brings to a close the golf for this week, and for 2023. Thank you so much to everyone who has read and commented to me regarding the column, and to those contributors each week thank you.

Have a great golfing Christmas and New Year.