WITH Spring just around the corner, all golfers will be dusting off their clubs and turning their thoughts to getting out and onto the fairways again.

But looking a little further ahead, the Examiner (in conjunction with Hanson Travel) are again offering one lucky golfer the chance to win a FREE golfing trip abroad with the launch of the annual Examiner Matchplay Championship.

The Examiner-run tournament is now is its sixth year, and for the sixth time, the climax will be take place at a new venue, Meltham Golf Club having kindly offered to stage this year’s final in September.

And this year’s winner of the Examiner Matchplay title will find themselves being whisked off to Spain in November to play a week’s golf on the Costa Blanca.

Once again the competition features a home and away scenario for the first round only, with the remainder of the tournament a straightforward knockout over one round at the course of the first-named player in the draw.

Following the decision to scrap the Plate competition which used to be run parallel with the main event, the overwhelming majority were in favour of the home and away system for the first round, which at least guaranteed every golfer a minimum of two rounds.

Should of course, the first round end all square after 36 holes, then sudden death would take place at the second course.

If any match finishes all square after completion of the round, then sudden death MUST start down the first hole, and continue down the second, third, etc, irrespective of where the match began.

The last four players will then go forward to finals day at Meltham, on September 24, where the semis will be drawn prior to the competition starting in the morning, followed by the two losing semi-finalists playing off for third and fourth prizes in the afternoon, while the two semi-final winners meet in the Grand Final to compete for the FREE week’s holiday.

It is perhaps very fitting that the Meltham club will stage this year’s final, and they have always provided a strong presence since the Examiner Matchplay was first launched in 2004.

However, a word of warning for the Thick Hollins Club’s members – only two of the five previous winners have managed to emerge victorious over their own course in the final.

In 2004, Fixby member Nick Wilson (a regular entrant) won the first Matchplay title at Huddersfield, while last year, Paddy Carmody took first prize at his home club, Woodsome Hall.

Sadly, the latter had to leave Portugal earlier than anticipated after suffering a shoulder injury playing Gaelic football prior to the holiday, and, not surprisingly, found himself unable to compete properly after arriving in Lagos.

“The shoulder is still not just quite right, but I’ll definitely be entering again and trying to defend my title,” said Carmody.

“It’s such a great competition and I’m amazed more people don’t enter, because it’s probably the best prize in amateur golf. It’s a great prize to win, whether there’s 25 or 50 in the competition.

“Last year I won two rounds, sandwiched either side of a bye and found myself at finals day. And then I managed to win the tournament after going to the first extra hole in both the semis and the final.”

The other previous winners of the Matchplay prize were Richard Broadley (the current Union Matchplay champion), who won at both Bradley Park and Crosland Heath in successive years, and was followed by Cleckheaton’s Andy Mear, who won at Dewsbury in 2007.

The cost of entry has been held at £20 for the third successive year and the competition is open to anyone with an official handicap (men and women) who are over the age of 18.

The closing date for entries is Saturday, April 11, after which the first round draw will be made and published in the Examiner. All entrants will be notified by post, along with competition rules.

The first-named player will have home advantage and will be responsible for arranging a date suitable to BOTH parties, within the timescale allowed for each round.

Results must be submitted to David Lockwood at the Examiner 01484 437757 by the designated closing date for each round, after which a new draw will be made for each subsequent stage of the competition.

To enter, simply complete the coupon below (or a photocopy), and send to David Lockwood, accompanied by the entrance fee (cheques made payable to Hanson Travel), at Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Queen Street South, Huddersfield, HD1 3DU.