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Annual Handicapped Golf Classic

 The first tournament offered by Cripple Golf was the Annual Handicapped Golf Classic.  This was born in 2003, but unfortunately records were not retained in the early years and the first two tournaments are now lost to time.  However, from 2005 onwards following the acquisition of the now famous Claret Jug as the trophy the tournament has moved on to a new, more professional level.


The tournament's home has been Theale Golf Centre ( in Theale, near Reading, since it began in 2003.  Theale Golf Centre offers a challenging 6,395 yard par-72 challenge and this has created a very appropriate venue for this challenging tournament.  Cripple Golf envisage that Theale will remain the home of this tournament for the forseeable future.


The tournament has always been played on the shortest day of the year, which has prompted its nickname in golf circles as the "shortest day of the year tournament".  The challenge of cold weather, limited light levels and challenging fairways means that the tournament really tests the mental and physical abilities of the competitors to the limit.


The tournament is based on stroke play, but with a cap on 10-strokes per hole to allow for any disasters brought about by the weather.  Since 2003 the winning stroke total has year-on-year reduced and this is expected to continue as the tournament gains prestige and the field strengthens.


Tournament History:

Winter Classic 2007

The 2007 Winter Classic delivered a very, very cold affair.  This took some of the strategically-placed water hazards out of play due to ice, but made some of the bunkers incredibly difficult to play.

Prepared:  The tough conditions didn't phase Foote & Savery

Text book:  Savery takes advantage of the icy conditions by strategically using the lake in his attempts to find the green.  Text book use of the 8 iron.

Victoire:  Foote celebrates the win with valient runner-up Savery

Winter Classic 2008

The 2008 Winter Classic was played out in unseasonably good conditions, fine sunny weather and relatively mild, on 22nd December 2008.

The match was very close throughout.  However, a fine par on the 3rd left Foote with a 5 shot advantage and despite a a near miss of a par on the 6th, Savery was powerless to reach the turn better than 8 shots back.

However, a nice half-time pint of lemonade and two bags of crisps and the competition resumed.  Savery saw himself 11 shots behind after the 11th, but battled back to just 9 shots after the 13th.  Was the race back on?

Savery's fine technique left him with a good chance, but Foote's iron grip on the match couldn't be broken and the match finished with Foote victorious by 15 shots.

However, the best scores carded to-date were promising from both candidates.

Hopes were left very high for 2009 and the two majors to come.

Winter Classic 2009

The 2009 Winter Classic was played on Monday 21st December 2009 amidst conditions that can only be described as "challenging".  A period of heavy snow several days in advance of the tournament had left the course covered in a layer of now frozen snow.  However, the match was underway at 10:30am regardless, although the galleries were much smaller than had been hoped.

Foote adapted to the conditions slightly better and after 4 holes had raced into a 7-shot lead.  However Savery adjusted well and at the turn the lead was only 12 shots.

Bacon sandwiches and cups of tea at half-time defrosted limbs and picked up spirits, but as the competitors sat in front of the new fireplace in the club house the snow came back.  It was decided to carry on despite near blizzard conditions.  After 12 holes, at which point Foote was still only 12 shots up it was decided that the match should continue, despite it being a very close call.

The match continued and it was relatively close from there on, with the game delicately poised after 16, with Foote sat on a slender 14-shot advantage.

Foote was the eventual winner by 20 shots.  However it was agreed that neither golfer was able to show their true ability, especially on the greens where the inch-deep snow was causing problems with reading the run.


Despite the challenges the match was enjoyed by all and it is hoped that 2010 will bring more favourable conditions.  Especially as the journey home took up to 6 hours due to the icy roads.

Winter Classic 2010

In recent times snow has become a regular fixture for the Winter Classic. The organisers of Cripple Golf did not envisage back-to-back years with a snow-bound course, however, 2010 brought some very challenging conditions, so much so that the famous Theale course was deemed unplayable for the first time in the tournament's history. Snow drifts of some 3-feet deep meant that even Savery & Foote, who in 2009 managed to squeeze in 18 holes that they really shouldn't have, couldn't make it around the course. Mark "Bob" Savery, who recently made the long move from 'The Green' to 'Swallowfield Gardens' in Theale, offered a nicely warm front room for an alternative tournament of Wii Cricket! A full-length ashes match was not the same as competing for the hallowed trophy however, but nonetheless Savery enjoyed a narrow win thanks to some devilish spin bowling! Its all in the wrist action apparently.

It wasn't until 15th January 2011 that the course was deemed playable, and relatively good conditions met the two gladiators as they shaped up for the next instalment of this famous competition.

The match started in a roller coaster fashion. Foote leapt to a 3-shot lead after the opening hole, before squandering it to be all-square after 3. The match was all square again after 6, but the decisive move took place at the tough par-4 8th, where Foote took a 7 shot lead over Savery due to an implosion from Savery. The 6-iron would have been snapped in half, had that not already happened several years before at The Belfry.

Savery struggled to bring the game back from that point, despite indifferent play from Foote. The game ended with a 4-shot victory to Foote, despite Savery carding his best ever performance in a Winter Classic.

The result meant that Tim Foote retained the trophy for another year & despite Savery's first major coming in 2010 his wait for a first win in the Winter Classic continues.

Winter Classic 2011:

To follow