STONEHAM Golf Club’s Lawrence Cherry has become the youngest Hampshire captain in more than 70 years – at the tender age of 26.

Having led Hampshire Colts to the South East League title as a playing captain in 2022, the former Hampshire Boys captain was voted in at last week’s county AGM. The last 26-year-old to lead Hampshire was Royal Guernsey’s David Warr, who took the job at just a month older than Lawrence, back in 1980.

Cherry moved from his home club in Southampton – where he was golf operations manager, moved – to North Hants where he is now the assistant secretary, back in September.

And he has now taken over the Hampshire captaincy from North Hants GC’s Neil Dawson, who stepped down at the end of 2022, having accepted the men’s captaincy for 2023 at the Fleet club.

Hampshire Colts South East League winners 2022

Lawrence Cherry (holding trophy) with the winning Hampshire Colts team who beat Bedfordshire away to claim the South East League title, in October. Picture by HAMPSHIRE GOLF

Cherry, who led Hampshire to the English Boys County Finals in 2015, admitted the last couple of months have been a bit of a whirl since Dawson informed Hampshire Golf’s president Alan Drayton, he would be standing down after three years in the job.

Lawrence explained: “I moved job in September and it was a month or so later that the county secretary gave me a call to sound me out about the prospect of taking on the captaincy.

“I knew there were some more likely changes coming in the set up of Colts golf in the South East Group for 2023, but I was not thinking about the men’s team job.

“Obviously, there had to be a conversation with Rob Climas, the secretary at North Hants about the amount of time I will be away with the county which will prevent me working weekends at least eight or nine times during the season.

“Rob was fine with that and obviously North Hants can be very proud that I am following Neil and keeping the role within the club.”

Dawson has already admitted that having seen his first season in charge wiped out by the pandemic, his team have not performed at critical moments in his two full seasons in the job.

It is now 10 years since a Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands team has won the South East League Final, and they last reached the English County Finals in 2017 – having dominated the South East Qualifier with seven victories from between then and 2002.

And Cherry has made no bones about what he wants to achieve as captain – and what he will demand and expect from his squad. Lawrence said: “I want them to share my drive and my ambition to win. I want to be qualifying through the league to play in the South East Final.

“I want to be lifting the trophy at the six-man qualifier. I just want the players to feel that, and to be as excited about the season ahead as I am,” added Cherry.

Warr was a former England Boys cap from the 1970s. Hampshire Seniors champion Trevor Gray, who became the first Royal Jersey member to captain Hampshire in the post-war era in 1990, said: “David was training to be an accountant on the mainland so was a regular in the county first-team after a very successful junior career for five or six years.

“He decided he would return to Guernsey when he qualified and the county realised there was never going to be a better chance to have someone from Guernsey as county captain, as David said he did not think he could do it while living in the Channel Islands, although I did do that 10 years later.

‘David agreed to take the job on for one year – rather than the traditional two-year term. He was very young at the time – all the past captains who had been county champions – like Clive Cole and David Harrison – were in their 30s, and many of the rest tended to be older than that.”

Brian Winteridge

Brian Winteridge, who won the county championship four times – twice while Hampshire captain in the early 1980s

Winteridge claimed Sloane-Stanley twice while captain

In the 21st Century, Kevin Weeks (2003/5) and Martin Young (2016/17) – both from Brokenhurst Manor – and Blackmoor’s Colin Roope (2018/19) have been playing captains.

Harrison (1970), Young (2016) and Brian Winteridge, who succeeded Warr as Hampshire captain, are the only three post-war captains to have won the Sloane-Stanley Challenge Cup at the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship.

Winteridge, who was by then a member at Hockley, claimed the county championship in both years he was Hampshire captain in 1981 and 1982. His second victory at Royal Jersey was the last time a player has successfully defended the Sloane-Stanley Challenge Cup.

Winteridge, who won four county championship titles in eight years, passed away in 2020, aged 71, having moved to Devon during his retirement.

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