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Simon Byford’s golf column: Bury St Edmunds Golf Club founder John Samson recognised in centenary celebration event





This time dedicated to John (SJM) Samson, who played a pivotal role in the creation of the club and left a lasting legacy on the town too. John practiced as a solicitor in London until 1919, when he joined John Greene as a partner in the local law firm Greene and Greene, which brought him to the town.

During the first world war, he had served with the London units of the Territorial Force winning the Military Cross at Ypres where he was wounded. Like so many of Bury St Edmunds Golf Club’s founders, he was extremely active in public affairs: he was mayor on three occasions, scout commissioner, director of the gas company, cathedral churchwarden, clerk to the governors of the grammar school, legal secretary to the bishop and founder president of the Bury St Edmunds Rotary Club.

John SJM Samson speaking at Bury St Edmunds Town Council Picture: Bury St Edmunds Golf Club archives
John SJM Samson speaking at Bury St Edmunds Town Council Picture: Bury St Edmunds Golf Club archives

Following his offer to provide land for the provision of a municipal golf course, local MP Colonel Walter Guinness made it clear to the local authority that no charge for constructing such a facility should fall on the public rates. John, who was a member of the council, was asked to draw up a plan which would ensure that the council incurred no financial liability.

It was his subsequent report that confirmed to the council that they could not take on the responsibility for constructing the course, and was the catalyst for the decision to form a company, Bury St Edmunds Golf Club Ltd, to take the plan forward.

John was appointed company secretary in 1922 and held the post until he retired, after a long illness, in 1955. No director before or since has served as long. At the time of his death in 1961 he was still club president. The club owes a great debt to John Samson.

The competition itself was a Fourball Betterball event, with separate prizes for Men’s and Ladies’ pairs. It was played across three days to involve as many players as possible. In fact, 150 players participated and the scoring was red hot. In the Ladies’ event, Sue Anderson & Caroline Sumpter were victorious with 40 points. Second place went to Claire Sykes & Linda Smailes with 39, Liz Beznce & Salome Smit were third on 38 points.

The Men’s competition needed some serious scrutiny from The Count, as three pairs all returned a stonking 46 points. Alex Storey and Luke Hayden were the unlucky ones finishing third, Kevin Harris and Neil Blunsten were awarded second, leaving Mike Brooks and Alan Garnett topping the pile. Mike and Alan’s score was even more impressive considering it was during the torrential rain of Sunday afternoon, with the other scores occurring on the milder Saturday afternoon conditions.

Stowmarket GC

The Stowmarket members returned to competition golf, firstly with a Ladies’ Medal. Split across three divisions, top of Division One was Di Evans with a nett 69. Liz Laflin was second with 75.

In Division Two, George Anderson was first on nett 80, Yvette Youngs was second on 84. Anna Suggett won Division Three with nett 79, and Pam Wilshere was second with nett 84.

In the Seniors March Stableford, Steve Blowers emerged victorious in Division One on 39 points, Eddie Butel finished second with 38 points. Division Two was won by Mel Clarke scoring 34 pints, and Mike Heywood got The Count’s nod ahead of Keith Yeates after they both scored 33 points.

The Men’s section held both a midweek Stableford and a Saturday Stableford. The midweek iteration saw John Allen win Division One with 37 points, James O’Doherty was second on 35 points. It was almost déjà vu in Division Two, this time with Dan Allen scoring 37 points to take the win. Second place went to Steve Brown on 36.

Finally, the Saturday Stableford was played. In Division One Liam Double returned the score of the day with 39 points. Andy Goodwin was second on 37 points. In Division Two Nick Boyle was the victor on 37 points, Dave Smith second on 35.

The Suffolk GC

The Winter League at The Suffolk is heading for an exciting finish. Round five of six was played this past weekend with club captain Perry Garrod & Paul Delaney leading the way on 39 points. Second place went to Danny Hawkins & Lewis Gammon on 38, with Richard Budgen & Dave Kind third on 37.

In the overall shakedown Richard Budgen & Dave King hold a slender one-point lead over Danny Hawkins & Lewis Gammon, with 153 and 152 points respectively.

However, with the best four scores from six counting, and only these two pairs having completed four rounds, there is a plethora of pairings ganging up behind, poised to overtake.

Favourites among them are Gavin Hogg & Stephen Haygreen on 123 points from three rounds. All to play for in the final round next.

There was also time for a Seniors Greensomes competition. Howard Lee & Ian Jonsson won on the day, scoring 42 points. Second was Richard Graves & Alan Horne on 41 with a little help from The Count ahead of Haslett Schofield & Paul Anderson on the same score.

Finally, there was a Seniors Stableford contested. Derek Bloomfield is certainly enjoying his new fairway woods, with another great round of 39 points. Second place was held by Eric Gray on 39 and Roger McGann third on 34.

Have a great golfing week.