University of Exeter Golf Thornhill (left) presents Alumni Captain Rod Alexander with the Northcote Trophy

Alumni golfers strengthen grip on Northcote Trophy

The annual Northcote Trophy Golf tournament again saw alumni and students go head to head at The Warren Golf Club, Dawlish from 3-4 May. Alumnus John Gilbert reports on another successful event.

This year’s annual Northcote Trophy Alumni v Students golf match saw the alumni record the most convincing of their three victories to date, winning 9-6, to retain the Trophy they narrowly regained in 2013.

Once again the venue was The Warren Golf Club, Dawlish, which showed little lasting damage from the winter storms. This year’s event was held a little later than usual in the first weekend of May, rather than in late March / early April, with some warm spring sunshine to show the course off at its best and most scenic.

A month earlier and the course would have been without the trains that are such a feature as they snake their way along the estuary close to the course and were sorely missed when the main line was closed.

Timing may have helped the Alumni as the exam season was beginning and may have reduced the student’s golfing focus, despite another very successful season, finishing second in the UK university golf rankings.

Another factor, as always, in the Alumni success and competiveness is the negotiating ability and leadership of captain Rod Alexander. Negotiated concessions over handicap allowances enabled the Saturday 4-balls to provide the Alumni with a strong position (3 ½ - 1 ½) going into Sunday’s singles.

Led by Captain Alexander and Northcote Trophy newcomer Geoff Wyborn, a resounding 4 &2 victory was achieved against University 1st team captain Laurie Potter (+3) and Ben Leigh (1).

Other Alumni pairings also gained victories – Sean Mason (Scratch) and John Gilbert (17) and newcomer Dave Watson (7) and Mark Taylor (15). Stalwart of the Alumni team Roger Peek, and newcomer Martin Wright (18) halved their match. Only Chris Hayter (Scratch) and newcomer Brian Stopp (14) lost to the students, inspired by the big-hitting of Georgia Thomas (5).

Captain Alexander was firmly in the driving seat and was generous with the hospitality at the traditional Saturday evening alumni-students meal. With a much changed student team to contest the singles, the bedtime message to his team was clear; to get the 7 1/2 points on the board as early as possible and to keep Saturday’s momentum intact.

Sunday’s singles saw 2013 Club Captain James Wallace (2) mark his Northcote Trophy debut as an alumni team member replacing another recent student golf team member Chris Hayter.

Former University 1st team golfers of the early 2000s Sean Mason and Dave Watson both scored early wins to get the alumni off to the fast start sought. In the next two matches the students fought back with wins for newcomer Alex Broggio (3) and club captain Tom Thornhill (scratch) over James Wallace and Martin Wright.

Results from the next four matches brought the 2 ½ points needed to retain the trophy, led by captain Rod Alexander defeating Georgia Thomas, coming from 4 down to win, with halves from Mark Taylor and Roger Peek, and a convincing 5 & 4 victory by Geoff Wyborn,  an inspirational role model to the older generation of alumni golfers.

Unlike in previous years, results did not depend on the final two matches. Both were closely fought, with a half earned by Brian Stopp against James Pratt (6), and James Seleman (5) getting revenge against John Gilbert, winning by 2 holes following Saturday’s 4-ball defeat.

A delighted Rod Alexander once again had his hands on the Northcote Trophy, presented by Exeter University Golf Club Captain Tom Thornhill knowing that with one or two more University players moving into alumni status the future looks bright, but the days of concessions may be over. Next year will be a tougher challenge!


The University of Exeter thanks Rod Alexander and John Gilbert for their ongoing commitment to the Alumni Golf Society. For more information about alumni golf events contact

Date: 14 May 2014