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Simon Byford’s golf column: Bury St Edmunds Golf Club’s Alice Barlow reclaims Suffolk Ladies Amatuer Matchplay

Bury St Edmunds GC golfer Alice Barlow reclaimed the Suffolk Ladies Amatuer Matchplay title she lost last year to fellow county team-mate Abbie Symonds.

It was not an easy affair though with Alice carrying a shoulder injury into the weekend.

Alice was gunning for seven wins in this event, an unprecedented accomplishment.

Bury St Edmunds' Alice Barlow lifts her seventh Suffolk Ladies Amatuer Matchplay title Picture: Contributed
Bury St Edmunds' Alice Barlow lifts her seventh Suffolk Ladies Amatuer Matchplay title Picture: Contributed

The weekend started with 36 holes of strokeplay with the top eight progressing to the matchplay. Alice finished second in the strokeplay by three shots to Abbie Symonds who carded scores of +2(76) & -1(73), to Alice’s scores of +4(78) & level par(74).

The matchplay quarter-final saw Alice play Molly Newson from Thorpeness. Molly put up a good fight but Alice was just too consistent and ran out a 7&6 winner.

Sunday morning’s semi-final saw Alice pitted against up-and-coming junior golfer Josie Knights from Ipswich GC.

Alice raced into a 3up advantage early, but the young junior didn’t seem phased and staged a great comeback to be all square by half way. Alice managed to get 2-up again with birdies on 10 and 11. Holes 12 to 15 were shared, but Josie rallied to level after Barlow made mistakes on 15 and 16. Another error off the tee at 17 saw Barlow go 1down with one to play.

But Knights had an errant tee shot at 18 and found a fairway bunker and this gave Alice the advantage which she duly took, as she birdied 18 and took the match to extra-holes.

The first extra hole was halved after Barlow got up and down from 40 yards, and Barlow’s par at the second extra hole was enough to take her through for a repeat of last year’s final.

Alice was determined to get off to a good start and avenge last year’s defeat by Symonds, but an errant approach at the first gifted the hole to Symonds. Alice won the second after a great approach. The third was gifted to Barlow after Symonds had trouble up the left. Alice’s approach at the par-three 4th hole nearly holed in one and left a kick-in birdie to take her to 2up.

The par-five 5th saw Symonds 20 feet away in two, and Barlow 25 feet away in two, but Barlow rolled her putt in for eagle which Symonds could not match. Three halved holes followed and Barlow’s par at the 9th saw her go 4up at the turn. A great Approach at the par-five 11th saw Barlow make yet another birdie which Symonds could not match. A bogey at 12 by Symonds gifted the hole to Barlow to go dormie six. Both players missed the green at 13 only for Barlow to chip in for a three and claim the title for the seventh time.

Thetford GC

The weekend saw Thetford’s best golfers come together for one of the premier competitions in the club’s calendar, the Juster Cup. This 36-hole scratch event, played over two days, saw fine weather and fast greens. The course was at its best, justifying the many positive comments on the improvements delivered by the new course manager Matt Perks and his team.

Chris Robson wins Thetford Town Golf Club's Juster Cup. Picture: Peter Allott
Chris Robson wins Thetford Town Golf Club's Juster Cup. Picture: Peter Allott

The winner, Chris Robson, delivered a fine level-par 72 in his second round to carry home the trophy. Ross Wilson was the leader after 18 with a 75, one shot ahead of Robson and Ed Garrard.

With the leaders playing together in the second round, it was Robson who held his nerve to win by four shots ahead of Andy Cunningham, who finished second.

There was a nett competition played in parallel, this was won by John Hopkins with some outstanding play over two rounds.

Thetford’s 2024 Handicap League campaign got off to a flying start with an away win in the first match at Mattishall. The team are keen to avenge the 2023 season which saw them cruelly miss out on promotion on ‘goal difference’ in this Norfolk county competition.

Team captain Mark Twogood fielded a side that had a number of changes from last season. His strategy worked well and the team delivered a hard-fought win in a match that looked it was going Mattishall’s way until the final few holes. The team will now host the return match in June.

Stowmarket GC

In the Stowmarket Lady Captain/Pro Challenge qualifier, it was Lizzie Laflin & Jenny Buckle who prevailed returning a fantastic 42 points. In second were Fiona Ferrie & Tracey Delaney on 41, with Anna Suggett & Amanda Davies third on 39.

The Professional Team event was also competed for in the past week, and the winning team scored a remarkable 94 points. The team consisted of John Smethem, Tim Mills, Andrew Coxhead and Eddie Butel. Well played, guys.

Bury St Edmunds GC

The Bury Juniors continued their ‘major’ season in the Snazell Cup.

Rafa Richardson continued his rapid progression through the handicap brackets with an amazing nett 65 from his 31 handicap. Second was Charlie Goodridge who carded a nett 71 which equates to a gross 76. Third was Louis Sturman on nett 72.

On the same day, four juniors from Bury St Edmunds were away representing Suffolk Under-14s in the final round of their inter-counties matchplay league. The team were away at Enfield GC and were simultaneously competing against Middlesex and Norfolk. The Bury boys in the team of eight were: Lucas Bond, Jacob Severn, Ethan McCleary and William Cobbald. All four boys won both of their matches to ensure Suffolk finished top of the league and will progress to the national finals in September at West Sussex GC. Congratulations.

Have a great golfing week.