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Chris Boughton’s golf column: Felixstowe course does Suffolk proud

TOP RECOGNITION: Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club was named the Championship Venue of the Year award at the England Golf Awards
TOP RECOGNITION: Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club was named the Championship Venue of the Year award at the England Golf Awards

Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club is a classic links course set right next to the sea on the Suffolk coast.

Like all links courses it is an environment of weather extremes. I’ve played it in mid-summer with only a light sea breeze in glorious sunshine and blue skies and it was a delightful experience. I’ve also played it in the winter in gale force winds and horizontal rain when it was a challenge to match any of the more famous Scottish links courses.

We all have selective memories though and Felixstowe Ferry always reminds me of the summer experience of playing by the sea in the warm sunshine using golf shots that are rarely employed inland. But I always enjoyed playing there whatever the weather.

I visited Felixstowe last Saturday in bright sunshine to take photos, but it certainly wasn’t warm with strong easterly winds blowing across the golf course from a very choppy sea. It was bitterly cold, but there were still plenty of golfers playing plus kite-surfers enjoying the wind and the waves.

In September, Felixstowe hosted the 2017 English Women’s County Championship and all who visited, or took part in the event, heaped well deserved praise on the club and its staff for the way the championship was organised and the superb condition of the course.

Last week the club received the Championship Venue of the Year award at the EGA Awards 2018 event (sponsored by Travel Bag) held at the very grand Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.

It is rare for any major golfing event to be held in Suffolk (apart from the occasional Euro-pro tour event) and Felixstowe have done themselves and the county proud with this superb achievement.

Bury St Edmunds GC

Twenty-two brave souls took part in the February midweek Stableford competition on a cold and windy Wednesday. Despite the weather Jeremy Paxton returned a superb score of 41 points from his handicap of nine.

He started well with a birdie on the first hole and his round also included 12 pars, four bogeys and one double bogey. Steve McCellan took second place with 39 points off a handicap of 11 pipping Craig Nurse on count-back. Nurse (1hcp), however, recorded the lowest score of the event, a gross 70, which included four birdies and 12 pars. Adrian Lewis (20hcp) topped Division Two with 34 points.

The 82 golfers in the club’s February weekend Stableford enjoyed much better weather with only a light breeze and sunshine. Two handicapper Justin Millard scored 38 points to win the overall event and Division One with a solid round that included two birdies, two bogeys and the rest all pars.

Also in Division One, Jonathan Last, Daniel Bright and Michael Gee all carded 36pts.

Bill Newall beat Richard Walker in Division Two to take top spot, both players scored 36. Division Three was also won on countback with Raymond Peachey first and David Peake runner-up.

The sixth green is currently being rebuilt on the Bury course as part of the ongoing course improvements. Work is expected to last for about three weeks with the officials hoping the new green will be in use by early summer. The club have been posting daily photos on their Twitter page illustrating the extensive work involved.

Bury’s first round match in this year’s Suffolk County Tolly Cup (10-18 handicap) team knock-out competition is at home against Aldeburgh on April 29. Trials to select this year’s squad started last week and include a match against the club’s Hambro Cup (under 10hcp) squad on Saturday, April 21.

Bury were runners-up in the Tolly Cup last year and the Hambro team were champions for the second year running. Hambro captain, Phil Smailes, will be planning for a hat-trick of wins whilst this year’s new Tolly captain, Paul Glasswell, will be hoping to take the team to the final again. Smailes is also captaining the Stenson (scratch) side.

The Suffolk GC

Tony Hurst (20hcp) scored a stunning 46 Stableford points in the latest midweek competition. His back nine included birdies on the 10th, 14th and 15th holes. Graham Chapman’s second place with 41 points was also a superb performance. James Edgar came third with 35.

Bob Stevens still leads the midweek Order of Merit table with 29 points. Hurst is close behind in second place with 27.

Thetford GC

Father-and-son Gary and Dean Scott won the latest round of Thetford’s Winter League. They came in with 40pts in the four-ball better-ball competition to win by a single point from two pairs, Peter Croker & John Ward and Mark Lingard & Tim McAlinden.

It was a popular win as Gary’s uncle, former Norwich City footballer Dick Scott, had died the previous Sunday and he was able to dedicate the win in Dick’s memory.

In the overall competition Croke & Ward took another step towards the trophy. With one round to play they have an impressive total of 154pts in the best four from six event.

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