Happy ending after one in the eye

WHAT started with a dog walker being hit in the eye by a flying golf ball has ended with a safer course and a bill for £200,000.That's the cost shelled out by Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club to alter its links course to protect the public.

WHAT started with a dog walker being hit in the eye by a flying golf ball has ended with a safer course and a bill for £200,000.

That's the cost shelled out by Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club to alter its links course to protect the public.

Ironically, golfers say the three new holes created by the work has made the improved course far more challenging, while wildlife enthusiasts are thrilled with work done to protect rare plants, reptiles and mammals which live in its rough.

To mark completion of the scheme, last year's captain Roger Smith - standing in for injured current club captain Dennis Chaplin - along with club starter John Cook, and trustees Fred Schwer and Molly Gillingwater played the new holes.

They were watched by representatives of organisations which helped with the scheme.

Problems for the club began when solicitor Mike Kent, of Cliff Road, Felixstowe, was hit in the eye in July 2002 by a sliced tee shot while walking on the sea wall between Old Felixstowe and Felixstowe Ferry with his dog, Pharoah hound Anubis.

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He later received £500 personal injury compensation which he gave to the Blue Cross animal welfare charity.

In pursuing the matter, he said his intention was not money but to improve the safety of the course.

The golf club had been considering the work for some time, even before the incident, and was "extremely concerned" about the possible danger for members of the public because of the increasing number of walkers.

It wanted to ensure people could walk in safety and enjoy the sea wall and beach.

Golf course manager John Houston said the 15th hole had been the main problem but altering it meant two other holes would also need work.

The scheme, under the supervision of course architects Hawtree Ltd, had taken four months and involved moving 12,000 cubic metres of earth, mounding and shaping the new holes.

Mr Houston said he and his team were delighted with the outcome and felt the course now had some of the best holes in Suffolk - the new 14th is already winning acclaim as one of the most challenging in the county.

Conservation adviser to Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Peter Ling said the course was home to rare plants such as sea holly and reptiles such as the common lizard, grass snake and slow worm, as well as small mammals.

The club had been wonderfully co-operative in ensuring none of the habitat was lost and soils were removed and stored properly and put back again.

"This land, which is now a county wildlife site, was once a shingle bank and the habitat is very fragile and we wanted to ensure the work did not disturb the ecology of the area," said Mr Ling.

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