BRADLEY Hall have been the dominant force in the Halifax, Huddersfield Union scratch team championship over the past two decades but as the new season looms, Andy Whitworth, mainstay of the Holywell Green club’s side, predicts a tough time ahead.

Whitworth, unequalled individually in Union competition with the marvellous record number of Union championship triumphs he has racked up, said: “The situation is that we are struggling.”

It follows the switch from Bradley Hall to Fixby of Andy Shaw, who like Whitworth is off plus one, scratch man Jim Fairhurst and Andy Appleyard, a three handicapper.

“We have lost three key players who would have played major roles in our team,” said Whitworth, a member of the Bradley Hall team that surrendered the scratch team championship by one shot to Woodsome Hall last season when the latter had home course advantage.

“We can still put out a useful side,” said Whitworth, who can line up with two handicapper Paul Taylor, the 1998 Union champion who captains the team, Martin Cockroft (2) and Dave Whitaker (3). “But we are bound to miss the three who have moved on. We have a number of players off around the five handicap mark but with all players not always available for selection, they need to push for team places. Also, quite a number of us are over 40 – we are struggling for new blood.

“Like most clubs, we would welcome new members, and like some we have dropped the entry fee.”

Whitworth pointed out that the trio who have moved on to seek new challenges had left on good terms.

The move has been beneficial for Shaw and Appleyard as Fixby have a reduced subscription system in place for players under 30 and an entry fee does not apply to those in that age bracket.

“Maybe we should look at something like that,” added Whitworth, a past club captain at Bradley Hall.

Bradley Hall have claimed the Union scratch team title on seven occasions since 1994. West End, Woodsome Hall and Fixby, each with two title wins, come next in that period.

This year the championship goes to Meltham, the club of Union president Phil Walton, on July 26.

With two events to go David Astin has one hand on the Halifax, Huddersfield Alliance professional order of merit title.

The Hebden Bridge man finished behind faultless runaway winner Chris Hanson in this week’s pro-am section of the competition at Meltham to pick up points and strengthen his position.

Only Bradley Park’s Tom Wild has chance of overtaking Astin in the final events at Willow Valley and Ryburn.

Georgina Simpson, the European Ladies Tour member attached at Fixby, has her annual golf day in aid of the Wooden Spoon charity down for April 23 at the club. The charity benefits local mentally and physically disadvantaged children.

“The response has been overwhelming,” she said.

“We are limited to 26 teams for the shotgun start event which includes all kinds of interesting side competitions. Some places are left so I would urge bookings to be made as soon as possible.”

All details can be obtained from the club on 01484 426203 and at georgina@georgina