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Simon Byford’s golf column: David Ball wins Golf Photo of the Year for picture of Thetford golf course

With the challenging weather conditions we have seen many courses resorting to using temporary greens to stay open, just like we can see in this fantastic image of Thetford Golf Course.

Temporary greens may be a little frustrating to play on, but the positive of still being able to get out to enjoy the exercise and pleasant company must always be remembered.

Also, spring is another week closer, and using temporary greens means that the main greens will be better once spring has sprung.

Thetford's temporary green Picture: David Ball
Thetford's temporary green Picture: David Ball

Despite the measures taken to keep courses open, there has been plenty of competitive action to be covered, along with an award presented to a very deserving greenkeeper.

Thetford GC

We have covered David Ball’s photography skills in previous articles, but last week he was officially recognised by BIGGA (British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association) at their annual awards.

David’s shot using a drone of Thetford’s course covered in frost with a fog laden sky has won Golf Photo of The Year.

David Ball won Golf Photo of the Year at the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association's awards Picture: David Ball
David Ball won Golf Photo of the Year at the British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association's awards Picture: David Ball

David was presented with a framed print of his photograph by BIGGA Chairperson Steve Lloyd. Well done David, keep up the documentation of the seasons at Thetford, we enjoy looking at your pictures.

The fifth Winter League competition took place on Sunday in freezing conditions, and as such it was played on temporary greens.

Despite the shorter course, the scores will still count toward the final league scoring.

The format for the Winter League is the best two foursomes and best two Fourball Better Ball scores from the six rounds counting toward the final league positions.

Some 36 pairs braved the cold conditions to take part and clear winners on the day, with 43 points, were Christopher Hawkins and Nicholas Marshall, closely followed by Dean and Gary Scott with 42.

In third place was Tristan Adams and Chris Oxborrow on 41 points.

With only one round of foursomes left to play, it is starting to get crunch time for those pairs wanting to make a move towards the top of the leaderboard.

Stowmarket GC

Stowmarket Golf Club held their annual Captain’s Drive in.

Stowmarket's captains at their Drive In Picture: Jon Markham
Stowmarket's captains at their Drive In Picture: Jon Markham

Driving into office were Ian Hayes (Men) Jane Jewers (Ladies) Roger McGregor (Seniors) and Ollie Grogan (Juniors).

A Texas Scramble competition was held with over 100 people taking part. It was also an opportunity for the outgoing captains to present cheques to the respective Captain’s Charities.

In 2023 these were The Brain Tumour Charity and AJ’s Legacy, who both received a split of the £10,120 that was raised during the year.

The new captains also unveiled that their chosen Charity for 2024 would be SARS – Suffolk’s Emergency Medical Charity.

Good luck to all the Stowmarket GC captains in their year of duty.

Bury St Edmunds GC

The Bury St Edmunds ladies held a Stableford across two divisions.

As it transpired, it was a day for the Viviens.

In Division One, it was Viv Kemp who prevailed with a 36-point return.

One shot behind was Jackie Over with 35 points and Julie Byford came in third.

Viv Whittaker took the win in Division Two with 32 points, Karen Batch was second on 30 points and Nicky Elstone took third spot.

The Bury men competed in a Stableford on the same day, also split into two divisions. Ed Tonnar held all the keys in Division One to take first place on 39 points, with Sam Renville second on 34 points.

Third place went to Kevin Froud on 32 points.

In Division Two, Paul Hadley had the correct medicine to emerge victorious with 36 points, Andrew McKee was just two shots adrift on 34 for second place and Mervin Aho collected third place on 30 points.

Just a few days later the men and ladies’ sections combined for a mixed Stableford.

Andrew Callen headed the pack with a fantastic 39 points in tough conditions, Chris Bugg took second place with 36 points and William Kirkham came third with 32 points.

The Suffolk GC

The Suffolk Seniors held two Stableford competitions this past week.

In the first iteration it was Richard Edmondson who topped the leaderboard on a tough day for scoring with 28 points.

Second place went to Haslett Schofield in the first outing for The Count with Haslett’s 27 points deemed greater than Derek Bloomfield’s and Roger McGann’s.

In the next Seniors Stableford, Haslett continued his good form, winning with a fantastic 39 points.

The Count dropped by to determine second place, and once again Derek Bloomfield was the unlucky one, as it was determined Ian Jonsson’s 33 points was ahead of Derek’s.

There was also a weekend of Stableford action at The Suffolk.

On the Saturday, it was again left to The Count to calculate the winner.

Dominic Shepherd-Barnes was the victor on 33 points, with Ivan Snelling left to take second.

Three shots back on 30 points was Edward Moore in third.

The Sunday version also needed The Count, he had no time to visit other parts of the region this week, kept busy at The Suffolk.

Glen Barker rolled back the years to return 36 points and beat Chris Tate on the same score. Men’s captain Perry Garrod claimed third place with 34 points.

Have a great golfing week.