"I am very proud to be a (tiny) part of the “Sporting Excellence” of Cambridge"Vinícius Alvarez

Golf is a “Full Blue” sport and the Varsity Match this year would have been the 131st played, making it the oldest amateur golf event in the world. However, the lesser-known CUGC’s second team is not too far behind. The Divots vs Stymies Varsity Match this year would have been the 69th match, which is a very respectable mark itself.

My beginning as a Stymie:

I am a 1-year Masters of Corporate Law student from Brazil, and golf is not exactly a household sport back home. Nevertheless, due to my father’s initiative, I started playing when I was around seven years old and competed quite often in junior events with some (mild) success. However, life got in the way and my golfing habits in the past few years have been fickle at best. This all changed when I came to Cambridge – I have probably played more golf here than in the past ten years combined!

"I have probably played more golf here than in the past ten years combined!"Vinícius Alvarez

It all started with an exchange of e-mails with the Stymies Captain to see if I should bring my clubs to the UK or not, as I did not realise how serious sport was at Cambridge before arriving. I ended up bringing them, not knowing what to expect – but it was the best decision of my life.

In my first fixture, I was told to arrive in “jacket and tie”, something unthinkable nowadays in most clubs in Brazil. When I entered the clubhouse at Royal Worlington & Newmarket Golf Club (our beloved “Worli” – CUGC’s home club), I quickly realised why. I was taken aback by seeing all the players chatting (about rugby and cricket, naturally) whilst having tea and biscuits before we would eventually tee off. This was by far the most “British” experience I had ever had until then.

My game was quite rusty and my first shots as a Stymie were a top, a shank, a duff ,and a bladed wedge, making us lose the first three holes. Great start! I just remember thinking “what the hell have I gotten myself into?!” and that I would most likely never get invited to another fixture. Luckily, my nerves calmed down and I ended up winning both games that day, giving me some much-needed confidence and showing the captain I could at least swing a club!

Fixtures:

Golf is an individual game, but at Cambridge (and the UK in general) we normally play match-play foursomes in the morning followed by foursomes or, weather and daylight conditions permitting, singles in the afternoon. The side with the most points at the end of the day wins the fixture, making it in effect a team sport.

The golfing ability of the Stymies is not expected to be particularly brilliant (after all we are CUGC’s second team), but the main squad this year was very competitive. Despite the natural home-advantage club members have, we won most of our fixtures (including the coveted “Lion Trophy” which was, in fact, a lion shaped wine holder), making it one of the best Stymies teams in the past few years.

The CUGC Stymies has a marvellous fixture list! It is probably one of the best in the country and we are incredibly lucky to be invited to play at some of the best courses in England. Some of the clubs we play are very exclusive, and I would probably never get to play them in normal conditions, others are hidden gems but no less impressive. All the courses we play are spectacular.

The members of the clubs we visit are always very welcoming and friendly, and often treat us to bacon rolls and a pint (or two) even before we tee off (at 9:00 am!). After a delicious roast dinner (fuelled with beer, wine and a Kümmel to top it off), we go out for a second time, hoping to finish before sunset (and without any “air shots”) and have a final pint before heading back to Cambridge.

"The members of the clubs we visit are always very welcoming and friendly, and often treat us to bacon rolls and a pint (or two)"Vinícius Alvarez

My experience as a Stymie:

My experience with the Stymies this year was fascinating, and much more than I could have ever expected: I will be forever appreciative for the opportunity to represent CUGC. I have made great friends that I hope to keep in touch with for a long time!

Golf is a wonderful sport, because one starts at a very tender age and will still play until the later phases of their life. Hearing former Cantabs speak about their stories, how they were at Cambridge all those years ago, and how they still have ties to CUGC, their Colleges and the University was unique and very enriching.

Some of the more elderly members make a special effort to play the fixtures against us, showing how much they still care and, more often than not, one of the members will bring along their dog as the 5th member of our group, which is always a delight.

Being a 1-year student, I had to juggle and cram many commitments into my nine (turned six) month stint at Cambridge. Between studying, going to lectures, faculty events, formals and spending time with my wife, I made a special effort to go out and play on the weekends and managed to play in a total of 14 different clubs (in 18 different fixtures)!

Not all of these clubs were close to Cambridge and some weekends were exhausting. One in particular stands out, when we went to Rye (to play in 60 MPH winds) on Saturday and Aldeburgh on Sunday, totalling almost 380 miles. And we still managed to win both fixtures! Talk about resilience

The collegial and friendly atmosphere of CUGC also helped a lot with integration by hosting training sessions, drinks receptions, Christmas dinner and other events, which were always good fun. The Varsity Match Selection dinner was particularly nice, made quite loud by us consuming a great quantity of the famous Royal Worlington’s “Pink Jugs”.

A "collegial and friendly atmosphere"Vinícius Alvarez

A particularly bittersweet moment was being selected to play the Varsity Match (in Gullane, Scotland) only to see it postponed due to the pandemic. However, I still hope we manage to play the VM at some point, even though I will likely not be able to attend, as I need to go back to Brazil soon.

The silver lining was the fact that the Hawks’ Club decided that those selected to play were eligible for membership, which was a very noble and commendable act on their part. I am very proud to be a (tiny) part of the “Sporting Excellence” of Cambridge. I am also very grateful to St. Edmund’s College who offered me a generous grant to assist me on representing the Stymies.

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Playing for Cambridge, CUGC and the Stymies was a very rewarding experience which I will never forget. Even though I was only here for a year I felt very much welcomed by the club and urge all of those prospective student/golfers to get involved! Trust me. You will not regret it! The CUGC Stymies is one of the sweetest deals in Cambridge.

Cheers and GDBO!

Vini

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