Chris Boughton's Golf Column: Mills gets season off to a flying start
Thetford Golf Club pro shop assistant, Owen Mills, the reigning club champion, made a great start to what could be a pivotal year for his career when he won the Southeast Golf Tour opening event of the year at Royal Cinque Ports last Thursday.
Mills made the step into the unknown with a long drive to the Kent coast to play alongside a +2-handicapper and a fellow 2-handicapper.
After a par at the 1st, he over-clubbed at the 2nd and dropped a shot. However, any concerns were alleviated by a run of three consecutive birdies, and when he parred the remaining holes he had completed the front nine in two-under-par.
A miss-hit approach from the middle of the fairway went over the back of the 10th green and, after a difficult recovery shot and three putts, he had recorded a double bogey and was back to level par.
A couple of good up-and-downs at long par-fours, in difficult windy conditions, helped Mills to play the last eight holes for the loss of just two strokes and he signed for 73; two-over-par.
That put him at the top of the leaderboard – and he stayed there. The win qualified him for the tour final at Woburn.
The Southeast tour involves eight events with three termed majors – including the one at Royal Cinque Ports.
The next event is again on the Kent coast at Prince’s GC on March 22. Good luck, Owen!
The Suffolk Golf Club
Mark Rothon dominated the Wednesday qualifiers at the Suffolk last year, but has had a lean time in competitions so far this year.
But the big hitting local cricket star (Walsham) returned to form last week with a win in the midweek medal netting 72 off his 17-handicap. Alf Jackson maintained his recent good run with a second-place score of 85-12=73 pushing James Edgar into third spot on count-back. Dave King finished in fourth place.
After five rounds of the latest 13-round Midweek Order of Merit, King leads the table with 30 points followed by Rothon and Edgar, who both have 23.
Malcolm Burroughs led the way in last week’s Seniors’ Monday Qualifier at the Suffolk Golf Club with 39 points from his 16-handicap. Alan Horne was just a point behind in second place and Eddie Banks came third with 37.
Stowmarket Golf Club
Michael Farrow decided to break with tradition this year and go to Swaffham GC to celebrate his last game as Seniors’ Captain at Stowmarket Golf Club.
And, judging by the entry list filling up quickly, and with several reserves in waiting, this was a very popular choice.
With the snow and the Beast from the East that they had last year at Gog Magog now a distant memory, 60 Seniors including Club Professional Jon Markham as their guest, experienced almost the complete opposite weather conditions removing jumpers and enjoying a gloriously warm spring day with only a light breeze.
The course was in great condition and although some found the greens not as easy as they looked, plenty of good scores were returned.
After a simple but well-cooked one course rolling lunch, Michael Farrow thanked Swaffham GC club staff, green staff and the bar and catering staff, and then the Seniors for supporting his year so well.
He then presented the prizes, vouchers redeemable at the Stowmarket Professional Shop, as follows: 1st prize with 38 points: Barry Austin, 2nd prize with 37 points and winner of the Bayley Trophy: Paul Heather, 3rd prize with 35 points: Rip Kirby, 4th prize with 34 points on count-back: Mike Helliwell, Best front 9 holes with 19 points on count-back: Phil Rudland, Best back 9 holes with 20 points on count-back: David Riedel.
Seniors’ Competition Secretary Barry Dove explained: “The background to the Bayley Trophy is that Stowmarket member Terry Bayley died suddenly in 2011 and the Final Fling that year was his last game with the Seniors.
His family presented the trophy in his honour and it is presented each year to the qualifying player (must have played in at least 4 Seniors qualifying monthly Stablefords or medals) with most Stableford points by the outgoing seniors captain.”
Suffolk Winter Alliance
After the early morning mist and frost had cleared, 71 players enjoyed the Diss course in the latest Suffolk Winter Alliance meeting on a fine day with temperatures in the mid-teens.
The top scorers were husband-and-wife pair Sue & Paddy Lockwood of Newton Green with 43 Stableford points to win the Millennium Cup.
Runners-up Were Stowmarket’s Andy Goodwin & Alex Bligh followed by Martin Mansfield & Gerry Scott (Haverhill).
Mansfield now lies joint fourth in the Order of Merit (Sweep) with 205 points.
Seven of the top 10 places are currently held by Stoke-by-Nayland golfers, with Graham Vandervelt (Stoke) leading the way with 214 points.
The next meeting is a fourball betterball competition at Flempton Golf Club.