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Thetford Golf Club's Left-Handers Championship goes the way of Sullivan Goddard

One of the unusual events at Thetford Golf Club is Mr G’s Left-Handers Championship, which gives those players who stand on the other side of the ball a chance to take centre stage.

This year there was an exciting finish as holder Dean Scott was pipped by 11-year-old Sullivan Goddard.

Both players came in with 35 points but 13-handicap Sullivan had a better back nine than four-handicap Dean.

Sullivan Goddard, winner of Mr G's Left-Handers Championship at Thetford Golf Club. Picture: Malcolm Grubb
Sullivan Goddard, winner of Mr G's Left-Handers Championship at Thetford Golf Club. Picture: Malcolm Grubb

A total of 16 players took part from nine different clubs around the region, but three Thetford players finished at the top of the standings. In third was 18-handicap Ian Gosling with 34.

Steve Quick, a seven-handicapper from Eaton, lived up to his name with an express start with birdies at the 1st and 3rd holes, but after 21pts on the first nine he could only add another 12 on the remaining holes to finish fourth.

Justine Twogood (21hcp) recorded a hole-in-one at the third hole at Thetford while playing in the Halloween Gruesome Greensomes on October 31.

Justine Twogood had a hole-in-one at the 3rd at Thetford Golf Club in the Halloween Guesomes competition. Picture: Malcolm Grubb
Justine Twogood had a hole-in-one at the 3rd at Thetford Golf Club in the Halloween Guesomes competition. Picture: Malcolm Grubb

David Clarke is this year’s Champion of Champions at Thetford Golf Club. He returned 75-4=71 to win the Bill Jennings Trophy, which is for all those who have won a trophy or a medal event over the past year.

Birdies at the 10th, 12th and 14th helped him play the last nine holes in one under par to snatch victory.

Chris Robson, who plays off plus one, was runner-up with 72. He also had three birdies, at the 2nd, 10th and 12th, but rued a bogey five at the 18th as he finished one behind.

The equivalent competition for the ladies is the Chisholm Trophy and Fiona White won with 88-11=77, beating Sian Miller (113-36=77) on count-back.

Thetford finished top of the Five Counties Scratch League in their first year in the competition.

It involves five clubs in different counties but because of the Covid-19 shutdown was reduced to playing each other club once, rather than twice.

The top two teams were then set to contest the final, with Thetford set to face Peterborough Milton at Gog Magog near Cambridge. Now that final has been postponed.

The final league table showed Thetford top with seven points, Peterborough Milton with six, Luffenham Heath with four, Gog Magog with two and John O’Gaunt with one.

The last trophy competition of the year was the Hooper Cup, which is a medal for players aged over 60. Chris White won with 79-10=69, two better than Gary Roberts (80-9=71).

New World Handicap System

The new World Handicap System (WHS) for golf was launched in England, as planned, last Monday, but as expected most clubs experienced problems. All our local golf clubs are reporting that they have members who are still without new WHS handicaps.

The new system was originally planned for launch in December 2019 but problems with the setting up of the algorithm for calculating the handicaps caused a significant delay. Then the first Covid-19 lockdown hindered progress further and eventually a date of November 2, 2020 was set for the new launch day.

Developed by the R&A and USGA, the WHS unites six handicapping bodies under one system. In theory, it will be easier to understand and give players the opportunity to use their ‘Handicap Index’ on any golf course in the world.

Some local golfers that I have spoken to point out that many play golf mainly or totally on their own local club course making the new WHS a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Controversy also surrounds the registration for the new system as it needs a personal email address which not all members have. Apparently, some cubs have tried to register all their members using one generic email address.

It appears to be generally low handicap golfers, who tend to play competitions on multiple courses, who are most in favour of the new system.

The algorithm that calculates the handicap does so over the player’s last 20 competition results submitted, as opposed to the current method of adjusting from each new competition played. Also, the handicaps will be calculated on a centralised online hub, not local pros manually or on their PC-based independent software.

Course rating and slope rating also come into the equation, but I will leave that for another time.

Finally, another controversial change is the max handicap rising from 28 to 54 for both men and women. This is also aimed at making golf more accessible, but I suspect that all clubs will now be playing competitions in three divisions to avoid very high handicappers winning all the qualifiers!

Most golfers do not like change, but I expect once the teething problems are sorted out (especially the requirement for registration with a personal email address) that golfers will quickly get used to the new WHS and even appreciated its advantages.

Covid-19 2nd Lockdown

As expected, there was no reprieve and all golf club houses, courses, pro shops and driving ranges had to close-down on November 5 and will remain closed until at least December 2.

There has been a lot of discussion in our local clubs about angling being allowed to continue (except competition and matches)! However, sadly the government stood their ground on golf, despite a petition with more than 250,000 signatures.