Club honoured to host Open

TAKING A SWING: Bury St Edmunds Golf Club's general manager Mike Verhelst
TAKING A SWING: Bury St Edmunds Golf Club's general manager Mike Verhelst
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BURY St Edmunds Golf Club is honoured to have been selected to host the prestigious Suffolk Open next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, August 11/12.

For as well as welcoming the county’s top players, it gives the club a superb opportunity to showcase its course, facilities and the real focus it places on encouraging young players of the future to get involved in the game.

To make the weekend even more attractive to youngsters and their families, the club has organised a special “Tri-Golf” session on both days.

Professional Mark Jennings will be on hand for an hour from 11am each day, offering some tuition as youngsters get the chance to see what it’s like to play by hitting some balls.

And to make it a family occasion, there will be a barbecue from 10am on both days.

Club general manager Mike Verhelst said: “It is really exciting and Tri-Golf should show young people just how easy it is to get into golf.”

Currently the club has 920 members, with 750 of them playing. It has around 80 involved in its junior development programme.

“We are looking to the players of the future,” said Mike, who joined the club two years ago from Stoke-by-Nayland.

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, he plays off a six handicap himself and says he would probably be involved in playing in the Open if he wasn’t involved in his job.

The club is indebted to companies who are helping it to host the Open, including main sponsor Carrs BMW, of Bury St Edmunds.

Organised by the Suffolk Golf Union, the Open was staged last year at Halesworth when it was won by Stowmarket’s Patrick Spraggs, who also took the title in 2010.

The Championship for the Michael Farraday Challenge Cup will be decided over 54 holes off scratch. The leading amateur will receive the Chris Easterbrook Trophy.

The leading 40 players and ties or all players within six shots of the leading score will qualify for the final 36 holes on the Sunday.

Players eligible to take part are amateurs with a handicap of six or better and registered Suffolk professionals or assistants.

The maximum number of players allowed to take part is 120.

In the event of a tie for first place, the winner will be decided by a “sudden death” play-off.

The event will be special for the president of the Suffolk Golf Union, Ron Kent, who has actually been connected with Bury St Edmunds Golf Club for some 40 years, but now limits himself to the nine-hole course.

The last time Bury St Edmunds hosted the Open was in 2004.