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Competition golf starting to get back in full swing as Mark Rothon makes impressive return

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Competition golf in the winter months in the UK can be very challenging, especially with many golfers still adapting to the complex adjustment of the World Golf Handicaps.

It has been a relatively quiet winter for competitions at most of our local golf clubs due to a combination of Covid restrictions (now easing), very wet weather in December particularly and course improvements (notably on the 13th and 14th holes at Bury).

There have, however, been a few events played in February so far.

Mark Rothon teeing off at The Suffolk. Picture: Chris Boughton
Mark Rothon teeing off at The Suffolk. Picture: Chris Boughton

The rain has largely stayed away but it has been very windy and bitterly cold, at times, with scores reasonably acceptable, so far, this month for the time of year.

On February 9, Chris Moye carded 40 points off his handicap of 14 to win the Mid-week Stableford at the Suffolk Golf Club, two points clear of four golfers all on 38 points – in count-back order: Dave King, John Dale, Mark Rothon and Chris Tate.

On Saturday, February 12, Rothon returned an impressive Medal score of 82-14=68 to win the Suffolk’s Saturday competition (also a county team qualifier).

On the following day he came third in the Sunday Medal with 85-15=70.

Rothon recently returned to golf after a lengthy period away on medical advice.

It is good to see him back, especially to be reminded of his remarkable swing speed and powerful ball striking.

Mark hits the ball a very long way which gives him a big advantage in the winter months when there is very little fairway run.

If he sustains his early February form he should make the Suffolk Tolly team again.

Meanwhile, in the Saturday Medal, Peter Cocksedge was runner-up with 90-19=71 followed closely by Richard Clegg on 81-9=72.

In the Sunday Medal and team qualifier John Mealy took top spot with 89-19=70, beating Perry Garrod on count-back.

The seniors’ section held a Betterball competition at the Suffolk on Monday, February 7 and despite the windy, bitterly cold conditions the leading scores were very acceptable.

The winners were Ian Jonsson and David Broster with 44 points, just one point ahead of runners-up John Barnes and seniors’ captain Tony Lawes, who carded 43.

Ray Keil and Maurice Rose finished third with 41 followed by Michael Downs and Paul Anderson taking fourth spot on count-back from Eric Gray and David Richards in fifth position (both pairs scoring 40 points).

It was another bitterly cold winter’s day for the Suffolk GC Seniors’ Stableford on Thursday, February 10 when Eric Gray finished with a fine score of 39 points to take top spot.

Peter Sharpe pipped Tony Lawes for second place with both scoring 37 points. Alan Horne came 4th with 36.

Bury St Edmunds Golf Club

The sun was shining and there was a stunning blue sky for the Friday mixed free play Stableford competition at the Bury St Edmunds Golf Club last week.

Members were actually taking their lunch at tables on the outside decking in the sunshine.

They were, however, sheltered from the strong blustery wind and it was challenging for the golfers and bitterly cold.

Andrew Mckee was the only golfer to beat his handicap in the competition, which he won by a margin of three clear points with a return of 39.

Five golfers did match their handicaps with 36 points, Colin Stephenson taking the runners-up slot on count-back from Colin Gray, Graham Judge, Richard Fuller and Pam Madams.

The GK 9-hole Stableford on Monday, February 7 was won by Louise Crouch with 19 points.

Louise was four points clear of runner-up Alan Firth with Angela Alais taking third place with 14.

Suffolk County Golf Union

The draw has been made for the Suffolk County Golf Union team knockout competitions for 2022.

The competitions – Stenson, Hambro, Tolly, Parks and Beaumont trophies – get under way in May.

Our local clubs therefore have three months to select their squads for these popular competitions.

The Suffolk Golf Club are already running a series of competitions alongside weekend qualifiers to aid selection.

Bury will be particularly looking forward to the Hambro and Stenson, in which they have an impressive record of wins in recent years.

I will review the first round draws and local team prospects nearer the time.