Blackwell Grange team win national foursomes title

After 10 matches throughout 2023, Blackwell Grange’s Marcus Duncan and Matthew Walker lifted the Daily Mail Foursomes trophy at Marriott St Pierre in Chepstow.

The Durham pair – who came out on top in the national event, which was first played in 1964 and is open to every club in the country, with 1,296 pairs signing up this season – completed their victory with a 2up win over Surbiton’s Martin Ainsworth and Angus Watkins in the final.

“Becoming a national champion is unbelievable,” said Marcus, who celebrated his 55th birthday on the day of the final. “You get to a certain age, and you don’t think things are going to happen in your life – then you win a massive competition and have people singing Happy Birthday to you on the final green… it was surreal!

“To win a tournament as big as this one is very special – I don’t think we’ve come down yet.”

“We joked about what it would be like to win after scraping through the first round,” said 13-handicapper Matthew. “Having thought about it so long ago, it’s odd that you have no idea what to do when it happens.

“Without a doubt, winning the final is one of the best moments of my life.”

Marcus and Matthew overcame a slow start in the final – trailing from the fourth hole and going 3dn through seven. Having battled back, Matthew hit what he describes as “probably the best shot I’ve played in my life” on the 16th – a bunker shot to a matter of inches – to get the match back to all-square with two holes to play.

They then went 1up on 17 as Matthew found the heart of the green with his approach and the Surbiton pair failed to get up-and-down. On the last, it was 12-handicapper Marcus’ turn to play a superb shot at the 236-yard par three – pitching from 52 yards to 12ft. When their opponents couldn’t make four, two putts saw the Blackwell pair crowned champions.

“I’d been practising all morning to a 50-yard marker, so I knew I had the shot in me,” said Marcus. “Like we’d seen all the way through the event, confidence was so important to hitting good shots and winning holes. To have that on the 18th, in the final with the crowd around the green, was such a big help. Getting a big cheer on 18 was wonderful ¬– unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”

“Watching Marcus on 18 was a lot easier than hitting the pressure shot on 16,” added Matthew. “He’d been chipping well all day and had no nerves over the shot, which was just brilliant. He came up with a superb shot with so many people watching.”

During the finals, played over two days at St Pierre, Marcus and Matthew found key wins late in their matches. In the last 16, they narrowly avoided going 4dn early before completing a 2up win over Great Torrington. They then beat Beau Desert 3&2 in the quarter-finals, before overcoming Birch Grove 1up in their semi-final match.

“Every match at St Pierre was a rollercoaster,” said Marcus. “In all four matches, we were down walking off the 11th, but 12 to 18 was where we seemed to play our best golf.”

“We just played every hole like a mini match,” added Matthew. “I think that mindset, and never believing we were out of the fight, was really important all the way through.

“The hardest part for me was the mental tiredness. I’d normally be lucky to play 72 holes in a couple of weeks, so having four rounds over two days, under so much pressure, was different. I guess it’s designed to replicate the pressure of a big tournament, and it certainly did!”

Having met at Blackwell Grange during Covid, Marcus and Matthew qualified through a club event before going into the draw for this year’s national tournament. After a bye in round one, Marcus needed to chip in on the 19th hole to beat the Woodham team in round two. Next came an emphatic 9&8 win over Crook at Blackwell, before a walk over in round four, and a 5&3 win at Oakdale in their first away match.

A close-fought 3&1 win over Romanby led to the regional final at Northumberland Golf Club – where Marcus and Matthew just came through pouring rain to seal a 2&1 win and trip to Wales for the finals.

“There were so many highlights throughout,” said Marcus. “The game against Crook was like a dream – we played unbelievably well for those 10 holes. We took so much confidence from that win, and it was really important as we went on to play more very good players on some tough courses.”

“The Crook win galvanised us for the rest of the competition for sure,” added Matthew. “While we certainly had some luck along the way, we also prepared really well – playing practice rounds and taking every match seriously, which ultimately paid off.”

“The support throughout has also been really important,” added Marcus. “From family and friends, some of whom made it down to St Pierre with us, to everyone at Blackwell Grange, and PGA professional Aaron Cox, who has been such a big help from the very start.”

The Daily Mail Foursomes will return in 2024, with the finals scheduled to take place at Slaley Hall. For full results, and information on next year’s event, visit