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Chris Boughton’s golf column: Snelling wins again

JUST CHAMPION: Ivan Snelling was crowned champion of the Suffolk GC's Order of Merit League. Picture: Chris Boughton
JUST CHAMPION: Ivan Snelling was crowned champion of the Suffolk GC's Order of Merit League. Picture: Chris Boughton

Despite early strong winds and a dire forecast, the players in the first Thetford Golf Club Winter ProAm of the new year encountered excellent course conditions.

Andy Marshall, representing Bawburgh Golf Club, came in with a winning score of 69 with a bogey-free round spiced up by an eagle and a birdie.

The eagle came at the downwind par-5 sixth with a three-wood followed by a rescue iron to two feet. He saved par after driving into the trees at the ninth and birdied the par-5 13th.

As the morning progressed the strong wind eased and the threatened rain stayed away, resulting in unexpectedly reasonable conditions for winter golf.

At the presentation, a clearly very pleased Marshall, who is a former European Tour member, said: “The course was as good as Sunningdale as far as I’m concerned.”

The runners-up, with two-under-par 70s, were Sam Forgan (Stowmarket), Paul Maddy and Neil Mitchell.

Paul Maddy’s father, Alan, has been elected president of the ProAm Series for 2018 and he shared the duties at the presentations with organiser Gary Kitley.

The third round of Thetford’s Winter League was held last week with Neil Elers and Ashley Forbes combining for 44pts in the four ball better ball competition.

Peter Croker and John Ward were second with 42 and have taken up the running at the top of the overall table with 115pts.

Tony Brooks and Dave Fitchett and Norrie Dickson and Brian Youngs are both on 109 with the best four scores from six rounds counting.

In the club’s latest midweek competition, Michael Gutherson took top spot with a score of 37 Stableford points from his handicap of 12. The best gross round came from Gareth Mills in 2nd place with 35 points playing off a handicap of five.

Oliver Coulter (12hcp) and Alan Hitchborn (13hcp) were 3rd and 4th.

The Suffolk GC

Entry is now open for The Suffolk’s Major Mayhem 2018.

Director of Golf Steve Hall announced: “Our unique tournament is back for a fourth year. Four rounds of Stableford competitions coinciding with golf’s Majors with the best two scores to count.”

Entry forms are available from the clubhouse and all four events are open to both members and non-members. There will be a prize presentation on completion of the final round.

Dates: Saturday, April 7 (US Masters), Saturday, June 16 (US Open), Saturday, July 21 (The Open), Sundya, August 12 (USPGA).

The final round of the Midweek Order of Merit league, which is linked to the Wednesday competitions, was held last week on a bitterly cold day and a strong north-easterly wind tested the golfers who were bold enough to venture out.

Bob Stevens won the competition on the day, with Mick Davey the runner-up and Lee Reynolds in third place.

Davey also secured the runner-up spot in the Order of Merit League as this was the final match of the current series.

Ivan Snelling did not feature in the leading places last week, but had already done enough to secure his position as league champion.

This is his second consecutive Order of Merit series win. The league is run for 13 weeks and points are scored from the player’s positions in midweek qualifiers at the club which are held most Wednesdays.

Suffolk Winter Alliance

Weather conditions were far from golf-friendly for the hardy competitors who took part in the latest Suffolk Winter Alliance meeting held at Flempton Golf Club.

The day started with the wind gusting to 60mph, but thankfully it died down as the day progressed, but the temperature wasn’t far above freezing so it still felt bitterly cold.

Despite the dire winter weather, 48 amateur players enjoyed the Flempton course which was in fine condition for the time of year.

The greens required more than a casual look as there were many sneaky borrows to be found, but they were nonetheless true if you had the correct line.

The four ball better ball Stableford competition was won by Paul Samain (Ufford Park) and Richard Walters (Diss) with 43 points.

Two Haverhill pairings (David Roope/Tim Daniels & Laurie Hastie/Malcolm Klingle) took 2nd and 3rd places with 43 and 42 points respectively.

Sam Forgan (Stowmarket) still leads both Order of Merit tables and, following his second place in Thetford’s ProAm recently, is clearly currently playing some superb golf.

The next meeting is near the coast at Southwold, on Sunday, February 4, and is another four ball better ball competition.

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