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Across the Pond golf rivalry pits Ripon against Ripon for 32nd year
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Two Ripon golf teams – from Ripon, England and from Ripon, CA – stand together following their final dinner at the Spring Creek Country Club Friday night. The British Riponites are at left and the USA Ripon team stands at the right. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin
RIPON - A group of 12 English gentlemen and their ladies from Ripon, England competed for the coveted silver cup on Ripon’s Spring Creek Golf Course links in an exchange of friendships that has lasted 32 years both here and in Great Britain.

The USA Ripon team won the silver cup back from the British team, and the ladies, who took to the course for a day, retained their silver by one point.

Ed Feichtmeir – a scientist and mayor in 1976 – issued invitations to the mayors of Ripon, Wisconsin and Ripon, England to visit California’s Ripon for the Almond Blossom Celebration during the United States’ bicentennial.

Mayor Feichtmeir made his initial contact with Ripon, England while on a business trip to York for the then Salida-based Shell Development Company.  

The late Talbot Kendall – owner of the San Joaquin Telephone Co. – nudged the Lord Mayor of Ripon, England, John Richmond, to accept the invitation by telling him of his plans to host him at his Pebble Beach home.

Kendall had insisted that Richmond bring his “mace rod” of office with him.  The Lord Mayor’s city council would not allow it without the official mace bearer accompanying the mayor.

In those early days of 1976, plans were structured between the two cities far across the Atlantic Ocean.  The golf games would take the format similar to the Ryder Cup.  Feichtmeir credited Richmond for the pomp and circumstance that he introduced to the competition that followed in 1978.

The first event was limited to the men golfers only, but it was quickly realized that the event was much more than just golf itself.  In 1980 when the Americans were invited to Ripon, England, their spouses were also invited – an exchange in hospitality and culture that has continued until this past week in the South San Joaquin County community.

English guests arrive
in Ripon on June 17
The first six couples arrived in Ripon on June 17 followed by another six on Friday, June 18, with the men’s competition taking place on June 22.

Debra Van Essen and Annette Weintz worked as a special team of two in their own right in organizing the daily activities that included barbecues and other social activities following the men’s days on the course.

The typical course of events began with a welcome night on the Friday they arrive to get everyone reacquainted.  On Saturday, there is an “Old Timers” golf day where past team members are invited to play a round of golf with representatives of the competing Ripon teams.

This year, the “Old Timers” day was followed by a barbecue dinner at the Mapes Ranch in Modesto that ended with a cowboy- style cattle round-up demonstration on horseback.

The British couples were hosted to a progressive dinner Monday night where they all went to the homes of four of the Ripon team members for the four separate courses.   Tuesday was an exchange night where an American couple hosted a British couple to their home other than the couple who was staying with them.  Friends were invited to share the dining experience and to learn more about the British culture up close and personal.

The men played in three events over Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday ranging from foursomes to singles.  On Thursday the men and women had an away day at separate places.  The men traveled to Diablo Grande and were matched with a team member from the opposite set of players in the 18-hole competition.

British ladies hold on to
their version of Silver Cup
The women were treated to an outing in San Francisco to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio followed by lunch in Sausalito where they spent the remainder of their day.

The women had one day of competition of their own where five from each team teed off on the Spring Creek course with the Brits holding onto their silver salver by a point.

While the men were having their matches the women explored the surrounding areas going to places like the Ceres Classic Vinegars, the Lavender Hollow Farms in Escalon for a tour of their lavender fields and to the Blue Diamond Almond Exchange in Salida.

On Friday, June 25, after all the matches were over and the winners were known, a gala was held at the country club facility with the men dressed in their matching blue blazers.  The men exchanged their logo badges with their counterparts.

And the Thursday away match winners were announced to the dinner crowd.  Ripon’s team captain, Mike Weintz, and his British counterpart Malcolm Craig, took the top spots.

The USA host couples took their guests to a variety of places including Monterey, Cambria and the Hearst Castle, Yosemite National Park, Pine Mountain and some even took their own trips to the Redwood forests.

The USA team was made up of Lauren Bartels, Nate Bogetti, Gary Fox, Gary Lowe, Gil Heckell, Steve Lay, David Ratto, Dennis Van Der Maaten, John Van Dyn, Ron Van Essen, manager; Larry Wing, and Mike Weintz, captain.

The Ripon, England Team was made up of Malcolm Craig, Mickey Doig, manager; Andy Groome, Roger Knight, Andy Marshall, David McGee, Hughie Orr, John Oxley, Peter Robinson, Don Sloss, John Waring and Paul Waterson, team captain.