Chris Boughton’s golf column: Youngster beats 46 golfers to title

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Sixteen-year-old Alfie Halil from Flempton Golf Club is the 2017 Suffolk Open Golf Champion, scoring 69 in the morning and 73 after lunch to win the Faraday Trophy by one shot from Bradley Wilkins (Professional at Bramford Golf Centre). Halil also picked up the Chris Easterbrook Trophy for the best Amateur score.

Held at Rookery Park GC on Sunday, in ideal weather conditions, Halil beat 46 of the top golfers from around the County, including 10 professionals. He started the year with a handicap of four and will now play off scratch. Alfie’s mother, Lorraine, said: “He practices very hard and has excellent coaching and support at Flempton from resident PGA Golf Professional Paul Kent and we are very proud of his golf achievements this year.”

Kent, who is renowned for his holistic approach to coaching, once held the course record for Rookery Park also with a 69. Halil’s triumph is a stunning result for a 16-year-old young man — the youngest winner for over 30 years.

Halil had already enhanced his growing reputation as a rising young local golf star with third place recently in the Suffolk County Junior Golf Championship, just two shots behind the winner. His 69 in the afternoon, at Felixstowe Ferry, was the second lowest score of the day, only bettered by the Junior Championship winner, Conal Downing (Rookery Park), who had a 67.

Newton Green’s Harvey Watts was runner-up, and the winner in the under-14 category was Bury’s Daniel Howes. The top sixteen from this competition will go forward to the Suffolk Junior Matchplay Championship at Bury on August 24-25, with five local juniors taking part: Alfie Halil and Jude Everitt from Flempton and Max Adams, Teddy Hall and Max Weaver from Bury.

Halil and Everitt also starred in the Suffolk County under-18s Junior team in their victory over Norfolk & Cambridgeshire in the Eastern qualifier of the Junior Anglian League at St Neots. Suffolk will face Northamptonshire, at Heacham, in the final on August 21.

The Suffolk

The Suffolk GC ladies pulled off one of their best Suffolk County Knockout team results last week when they beat Felixstowe in the Stearn Trophy (10-20 Handicap) quarter-finals by 2-1, over 36 holes.

Despite playing away from home, Felixstowe were favourites to take the trophy this year, having won it three times in the past seven years. But The Suffolk were never behind with the pairings of Bernie Bugg/Karoline Chan and Joan Plumb/Rio Everitt both winning by 4 & 3.

Team captain Bugg said: “This is an amazing result for us. Felixstowe is a much larger club than The Suffolk with an impressive history of success in this competition. We may be small but we are mighty.”

Next stop the semi-final against Fynn Valley at Bury GC.

Bury St Edmunds

Bury GC also made it through to the Stearn semi-finals, by 2-1, with a fine win away at Ufford Park. Despite losing one game 5&3, they won the other two 5&4 and on the 37th hole. The winning team were Clare Charlwood, Wendy Flack, Joan Garrett, Liz Bezance, Viv Kemp & Helen O’Connell. They face Thorpeness in the semis at Fynn Valley. Both semi-finals are on Monday, September 4.

Bury’s run in the Stenson Shield (played off scratch) came to an end last Saturday when they were beaten in the semi-final, by a strong Aldeburgh team at Ipswich GC. However, the Bury club have also reached five other Suffolk County team semi-finals this year.

In addition to the Ladies’ Stearn semi, the Seniors’ Beaumont Trophy (10-20 handicap) team face Cretingham at Felixstowe Ferry on August 22, and the following day the Seniors’ Parks (under 10 handicap) team are at Newton Green against Ipswich.

Stenson Captain Phil Smailes gets another chance to reach a final this year when he leads the Hambro (under 10 handicap) team against Brett Vale at Haverhill (Bury are the reigning Hambro champions) on August 27. On the same day, Colin Aves takes his Tolly (10-18 handicap) team to Stowmarket to play their semi-final against Diss.

Six Suffolk County Golf Union team knockout semi-final appearances by one club, in the same year is quite remarkable.

Thetford

A series of showers all day could not dampen the enthusiasm of 80 golfers taking part in a charity ProAm at Thetford GC last week. A total in excess of £5,500 was raised for Breast Cancer Research and a special fund for Brad Smith, the former Thetford golf assistant, who had his right leg amputated after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

An auction of various golfing equipment and vouchers for four-balls at various courses helped swell the amount raised, along with a raffle which was well supported by the guests and Thetford members.

The day was organised by Thetford’s teaching professional, Stuart Smith, who challenged the golfers to play from the ladies’ red tees, reducing the yardage from 6849 yards to 5940 while par went up from 72 to 74. The advantages of the shorter course were countered by difficult wet playing conditions and the winning score came from an amateur, Giles Evans, with 69, who donated his prize to the fund for Brad.

Steve Gibbs and host club greenkeeper David Ball were joint second after 72s. The winning team score was 102 points by another former Thetford assistant, Will Cross, who is now at Dereham.

His team-mates were 14-year-old Sam Devonport, who was recently crowned as the Norfolk U18 Handicap champion, and Steve Bazzoni and Debs Bryan from Heydon Grange.

Trevor Wignall’s Captain’s Weekend was well supported with more than 100 players taking part on each day. Saturday’s competition was strokeplay and the club chairman, Jon Congdon, won with a nett 68 off his handicap of 11 just pipping 12-handicap Terry Young on countback. Tim Norman, playing off 19, was third with a nett 69.

The ladies’ competition was interrupted by a heavy downpour and there were only three finishers. Janice Fossey won with 33pts, three better than runner-up Kath Malvern.

On Sunday, there was a Texas Scramble with a shotgun start and the winning team was Daryl Breen, Daniel Franklin, Craig Estlea & Jonathan Franklin with 62-6-56. Runners-up were David Fawcett, Rob Bentley, Rob Kingsley & Pat Gould with 63-5.2-57.8.