New competition to boost seniors game
GOLF: Seniors golf in Suffolk is set for a boost if an idea to stage a Hambro Cup-type competition gets off the ground. Ray Beaumont of Bungay has been in touch with Mike Thomas, a member of the Suffolk Golf Union, to sound him out about the possibility because there is a need for more competitive golf for players of a seniors age, ie 55 and over.
SENIORS golf in Suffolk is set for a boost if an idea to stage a Hambro Cup-type competition gets off the ground.
Ray Beaumont of Bungay has been in touch with Mike Thomas, a member of the Suffolk Golf Union, to sound him out about the possibility because there is a need for more competitive golf for players of a seniors age, ie 55 and over.
Mike, a single figure handicapper at Felixstowe Ferry who last year presented a trophy for a team prize at the Suffolk Seniors Championship, said:
"The general feeling is that the idea is a good one, but the Suffolk Golf Union have not got enough people to administer it.
"But the SGU have given it their blessing, and hopefully we can get it off the ground and adopt Hambro or alternatively Stenson Shield rules.
"It's something I want to pursue and it will give the chance to get seniors into competitive golf."
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The plan would be to play this proposed new competition in midweek, and it is intended to start it this year.
"Essex run it on similar lines and take it seriously," said Mike who added: "If any club is interested, I will be pleased to hear from them. They can contact me on 01394-283973."
The possibility of setting up a Hambro-style seniors competition is likely to be raised at the annual general meeting of the Suffolk Golf Union in March.
It would also be a boost if a sponsor could be found who would be prepared to put up a trophy.
The whole idea is an excellent one and should attract a great deal of support from Suffolk clubs.
After all, most clubs in the county have strong seniors sections, and as Mike Thomas pointed out:
"Many of them play as many 26 fixtures in a season and fielding up to 16 players for each match.
"These inter-club seniors matches are tremendous value and one of the great innovations for seniors. It's a very healthy and a very much-enjoyed form of golf.
"Having said that, it doesn't give the better seniors players enough competitive golf."
Mike is now in his ninth year on the Suffolk executive committee, and says: "I try to encourage seniors golf whenever I can."
Besides the Suffolk Seniors Championship, that incidentally wasn't played in 2000 because of the petrol crisis, there is a definite shortage of competitive seniors golf.
Many seniors are just as competitive as players 40 years younger than them with a good number still playing off single figure handicaps.
There is the English Golf Union South East Knockout in which Suffolk first became involved in 1998.
The format is foursomes played off scratch.
Mike said: "I captained the team the first two years and then Nick Owles (a former Suffolk captain from Bungay) took over.
"We haven't done very well in it, but the standard is incredibly high. Some counties have former internationals in their team."
A Suffolk seniors team of 12 low handicap players will play the county under-16 side in the spring. This match has become an annual one since it started in 1995.
Last year it was played at Aldeburgh, who gave the two teams the courtesy of the course, and Mike Thomas is hoping it may be played again there this year.