Chris Boughton's Golf Column: Stowmarket enter Golfsixes leagues
The ground-breaking Golf Foundation GolfSixes leagues for 2019, for juniors without handicaps or handicaps of 36 or higher, got under way across Suffolk last week.
Within Suffolk there are 12 teams competing, the most by any UK county, which have been divided into three leagues of four with each league playing eight fixtures, six away and two at their home club.
Each team consists of six Juniors playing a pairs Texas Scamble format and using a modified Stableford points scoring system over a shortened 6-hole course.
The winners of each league will play a county final later in the year.
The idea of this event is to introduce young golfers to a team and competitive environment and hopefully encourage others to not only get into golf but also to stay in golf.
This is the first time Stowmarket Golf Club has entered a team in this event and their first fixture was played last Sunday at Ipswich Golf Club in the Ipswich league.
Barry Austin, a member of the Juniors’ Helpers team at Stow, said: “We have put together a squad of 12 juniors with the intention of giving each member at least four games.
“Our team consisted of Callum Maskell and Rebekah Meekings, Finley Edwards and Ruben Hearn, Reece Edwards and Joshua O’Donnell.
“The other squad members are Ella Markham, Toby Markham, William Rosten, Theo Bloomfield, Otis Bligh & Ben Rudland.”
In the first Ipswich league match, there were very good performances from all three Stow pairings, and they finished joint second with Felixstowe Ferry just five points behind the home team, Ipswich Golf Club.
Austin added: “It was good to see so many parents caddying and supporting their children during the afternoon which concluded with a putting competition for all the competitors which was won by Reece and Joshua, and they all enjoyed some light refreshment in the clubhouse.”
In the West Suffolk league, the first match was held at The Suffolk GC and was won by Bury St Edmunds GC.
The Bury team are coached by club Pro Simon Byford who said: “Best friends Sophie Carter and Lexie Fordham paired together for their first GolfSixes event.
“Along with Jessica Woodland, the three are part of the Girls’ Scholarship programme at Bury and will all be looking to work towards their handicap this year.
“Jacob Severn is making waves as the youngest golfer to become active on the 18-hole course at only eight years old and he will also be looking to get a handicap by the end of the summer holidays.
“Rhys Whiting is in his second season in the GolfSixes programme, and his younger sister Charlotte will feature in future matches.”
Fraser Gregory is part of Byford’s successful coaching programme at Moreton Hall Preparatory School, in total there are five of the school’s pupils representing Bury this season.
Last year’s overall GolfSixes champions for Suffolk, The Suffolk GC, made a good start this year coming second in the West Suffolk league first match on their home course.
Last year, club pros Steve Hall and Adam Trett coached youngsters from County Upper and King Edward VI Upper Schools and this year they are coaching Thurston College and Thurston Primary School juniors.
The Suffolk team in this first event were Toby Grimwood, Oliver Grimwood, Matt Jones, Evan Williams, George Stratton & Charlie Wood.
A Golf Foundation spokesperson said: “Since last May, 24 leagues have been staged across 22 UK regions, involving 102 clubs and 1,160 juniors playing 161 fixtures.
“Some 25 per cent of participants were girls and there was a 34 per cent increase in Junior membership at the clubs involved (42 per cent in England).”
Three of our local golf clubs had made it through to the second round of the Hambro Cup which was held last Sunday.
Home advantage is huge in these inter-club team competitions and despite their formidable record in this event in recent years Bury St Edmunds were beaten at Ufford Park by five.
Captain Phil Smailes said: “The team played well but we just had to concede too many shots.”
Stowmarket were also far too strong at home against the Suffolk in their local derby and will now be the only local club in the Hambro quarter-finals this year.
Stowmarket also had the luxury of a home draw against the Suffolk Tolly team and won the match by 14.
The Suffolk did well to hold Stow to all-square after the morning games.
Bury St Edmunds will join Stow in the Tolly quarter-finals after beating Halesworth at home.
Flempton were knocked out by visitors Thorpeness.
Bury St Edmunds Golf Club
Daniel Hawkins scored a superb 44 Stableford points to win the Men’s Qualifier held at Bury last Saturday, and will play off a handicap of 10 next time out.
Andrew Gee carded 40 points including 4 birdies for second place in Division One on count-back from Paul Glasswell.
Gareth Douglas also had a fine round of 41 points to lead Division Three.
In the latest Ladies’ Qualifier at Bury, also on Saturday, Mariette Robbertse scored 43 points and finished eight points ahead of second placed Liz Bezance.
Liz was also runner-up in Division One of the Ladies’ Thursday competition where Molly Smith topped Division 1 with 39 points.
Christine Tilbrook led Division Two with 37 points.