Chris Boughton's Golf Column: Our sport latest to go into lockdown
On Monday night, March 23, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced further actions to try to help restrict the spread of coronavirus, Covid-19 via a live TV broadcast at 8.30pm.
Included was the closure all golf courses. These had remained open briefly, nationwide, following the earlier closure of golf clubhouses and bars the previous week.
Golf’s governing body, England Golf, backed this up with a statement shortly after, that also instructed all golf clubs to close their courses, giving their full support to the government’s decision.
A subsequent government announcement the following morning clarified that course maintenance staff were exempt and could carry on working.
This was an important concession as the courses could deteriorate considerably, even if it is only for three weeks, for a variety of reasons including the weather and our local golf course menace ‘the rooks’ which need daily discouragement from damaging the greens and fairways.
Therefore, all our local golf clubs and courses will be closed for at least three weeks commencing March 24.
This decision was widely expected despite clubs implementing widespread measures to minimise social interaction when playing golf as provided by new Golf England guidelines. If golf courses do reopen after three weeks these guidelines will still be relevant.
The Men’s Suffolk Golf Union and the Suffolk Ladies Golf Association have both announced postponements and in some cases cancellations to meetings and competitions as a result of the Virus.
Both organisations did this promptly with events typically ramping up from April onwards. See their web sites for details.
The Suffolk Winter Alliance Pro-Am meeting scheduled for Sunday 22nd March, at Haverhill GC, was also cancelled.
The Suffolk Golf Club
The Men’s Captain at The Suffolk Golf Club, Gordon Markham, took top spot in last week’s Midweek competition, with a Stableford score of 37 points. Runner-up Martin Levens came second on countback from Steve Jackson.
Both with a score of 36pts. Jackson is now the joint leader, with Ivan Snelling at the top of the Midweek Order of Merit table.
There were also two Seniors’ competitions played at The Suffolk last week, both being won by Tony Lawes.
On Monday, Lawes came out on top with a winning points score of 39 while on Thursday, 38pts was enough to again finish in first place.
Norman Hartley came second on count-back on Monday and Michael Field took Thursday’s second place also on count-back.
The Suffolk held their popular annual Golden Ball competition last Sunday where a shotgun start helped with social distancing, ensuring there were no queues on the first tee box.
On a lovely sunny spring morning the winning team were Lenny Hopkins, Tim Nickerson & Rhys Nightingale with 121 points.
A long way back in second spot were Alf Sandford, Tish Mortlock & Val O’Neill with 101pts.
They were followed by Des O’Keefe, Jim Chapman & Pat Evens in third position (92pts).
Stowmarket Golf Club
Stowmarket GC held their Free Membership Shoot-Out on Sunday, March 15.
The winner was David Boom who hit his ball 12ft 10” from the hole.
Alan Whitelaw held the lead for some time but eventually had to settle for second place with 13ft 6”.
Boom was awarded a prize of one year’s free membership for 2020/21 and it was presented to him by club captain Martin Anderson.
Annie Tyler (Chair of Membership and Revenue) said: “Thank you to everyone who took part and to the spectators who helped make it a fun occasion.
“Thank you also to helpers Joanne Finter, Jon Markham and Mark Wincer.”
A total of 46 members took part.
Bury St Edmunds Golf Club
On Friday, March 14, Steve Lankester a had a very good round of golf in the Mixed Qualifier at the Bury St Edmunds Golf Club.
His scorecard included four birdies: out in gross 37 and back in gross 35.
The first birdie was at the 7th hole, but his purple patch came with three consecutive birdies on the 15,16 and 17th holes.
Playing off a handicap of 5, Lankester carded 41 Stableford points to win the competition.
Four-handicapper Stephen Duffety also carded four birdies, scoring gross 36s on both nines to finish in second place with 40pts.
Mickey Power was third on count-back.
In the following Friday’s Mixed competition held at Bury Golf Club, Justin Millard was also on a birdie-fest scoring five on his back 9, including finishing with three consecutive birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes.
The four-handicapper notched up a very impressive total of 42 Stableford points to win, three ahead of runner-up Ben Coleman (39pts).
Garry Clark took third place on count-back from Jamie Cooper.
Both players carded 38.