In profile: Bury Free Press columnist Chris Boughton explores Stowmarket Golf Club
Founded in 1902, Stowmarket Golf Club has been on its present site in Finborough Park since 1962.
This well-established beautiful parkland 18-hole course is set in 150 acres of undulating Suffolk countryside.
The first course consisted of 8/9 holes on rented land with play being limited to winter months.
The club has occupied three sites during its 100 year plus history, celebrating its Golden Jubilee on the current owned site in 2013.
As part of a £250,000 investment over the past decade, Stowmarket has constructed a 10 million litre reservoir to have an assured water supply, re-furbished the clubhouse, re-laid the car park, and purchased significant course maintenance equipment without incurring debt.
Stowmarket has been designated an EGU ‘centre of excellence’ and has also been awarded the Golfmark High Achiever distinction.
Now measuring some 6,114 yds from the white tees, the par 69 course initially evolved through normal play but during the mid-60’s, designs were invited from Hawtree and Charles Grayston who was chosen but Hawtree were involved in 1968 in the design of six new greens.
Stowmarket’s parkland course requires accuracy and good ball positioning; appealing to long hitters and strategists alike whilst the greens give any golfer a master test of their putting skills.
Stowmarket receives much praise for its high-quality greens. Starting with a challenging par 5 the tempo quickly changes at the par 3 second, pinpoint accuracy is vital here for a hole that often plays a club or two longer than its yardage seems to warrant.
At 250 yards, the downhill 4th is one of the longest par 3’s in the country.
On the back nine there are spectacular views, typically from the par 5 13th and its inviting downhill fairway which sweeps away, offering a wonderful birdie opportunity to the bigger hitters.
The signature hole is the magnificent 17th, a 437-yard par 4 with danger right and left, terminating in a long but narrow green.
Currently the course record of 64 is held jointly by club members Sam Forgan, Patrick Spraggs and Matthew Rawlings, who holed out in one on the 18th, all in 2011, and Adrian Meredith in 2007.
The club’s biggest open events have included the County Men’s and the County Ladies Amateur Championships, and the Seniors County Championships.
The Stowmarket Mixed Open is always extremely popular and invariably oversubscribed.
Club manager Trevor Golton said; “We are a well-run and successful private members’ club whose policy is to invest in its course and facilities.
“We are proud to say that we own the land and the buildings, thus it will be here in perpetuity for members to enjoy.”
Recent investment continues to see major improvements in course drainage along with enlargement of some tees and newly refurbished rubberised pathways.
Stowmarket were the Suffolk County Ladies’ Stearn Trophy champions for 2019 beating Haverhill in the final at Hintlesham in October.The winning team: Jo Finter, Wendy Cooper, Kim Davis, Jenny Buckle, Bev Gray and Linda Gilham. Stow have won this competition six times since it started in 1985, but their last victory was in 2006. This is a match-play Foursomes competition for 10-20 handicap golfers.
Stowmarket has a close connection to this event as the trophy was donated to the Suffolk Ladies’ County Golf Association by Hilda Stearn, who was a senior member of the Stowmarket Golf Club and president of the county in the mid-eighties.
The club’s men’s golfers have also enjoyed recent team success, winning the prestigious Curry Cup in 2017.
Golton is the manager and Jon Markham, who runs the on-site golf shop, is the PGA Professional.
Facilities include a driving range and a state-of-the-art golf simulator.
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