New double act at Felixstowe

GOLF: Next month the Felixstowe Ferry men's captain will be sleeping with the new ladies captain, and nobody will raise an eyebrow!Mike Wootton has been the Felixstowe captain since March and on November 2 his wife Wendy starts her year of office as ladies captain.

GOLF

NEXT month the Felixstowe Ferry men's captain will be sleeping with the new ladies captain, and nobody will raise an eyebrow!

Mike Wootton has been the Felixstowe captain since March and on November 2 his wife Wendy starts her year of office as ladies captain.

It is the first time in the club's 122-year history that a husband and wife have been captain at the same time – although it will only be for four months.

Felixstowe is the fifth oldest club in the country and for the next four months it will certainly be something special for Mike and Wendy.

Now 66, Mike has been a member at Felixstowe since 1958, but was an all-round sportsman for many years.

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As a rugby player he was a hooker for Ipswich, Wasps, Suffolk, Eastern Counties and London Counties; he represented England on one occasion at sailing; was an international referee and squash coach; played hockey for Suffolk Exiles and cricket for Felixstowe.

It is little wonder that he did not get married until he was in his mid-fifties, and Mike said: "If it was there to kicked, hit, sailed or run I'd do it."

Taking up golf was quite by accident. It happened one day when there was a delay for rain while waiting to play cricket for Felixstowe.

Mike said: "One of our members, Peter Downing, got his golf bag out of his car and suggested I tried to hit a ball over the square. With my very first shot I hit the best shot of my life and the ball went out of the ground and into somebody's back garden. From that moment I was hooked."

Even though he has been a member at Felixstowe all these years, Mike had never been on the committee.

Two years ago he received a call asking him when he would be next going to the club. "I was to meet the captain and the past senior captain," said Mike.

"What flashed through my mind when I went down there was an incident that happened back in the early 1960s before the breathalyser was introduced.

"I had had a skinful at the rugby club after a match and decided I would drive down and have one more at the golf club. I knocked over a vase of flowers in the foyer and was subsequently hauled in front of the committee!"

Although never having been on the golf club committee, Mike had been president of the Ipswich Sports Club for three years and had been on committees of every sport that he had played.

Felixstowe's golf captains are selected by the committee and as a result Mike was invited to become vice-captain with captaincy to follow.

"They told me that the problems of being on the golf club committee were the same as other sports," he said. "It didn't take long for me to decide and I became vice-captain to Fred Schwer. I regarded it as an honour."

One of Suffolk's outstanding sportsmen in his younger days, Mike, who was then a member at Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club, represented his county in the European OK Championships.

He said he launched himself into golf 15 years ago when he met Wendy who did not take up the game until five years ago because she was working full time.

Now both Wendy and Mike devote hours each week in their dedication to Felixstowe Golf Club.

"If you're going to the job properly, you have to have plenty of commitment," said Mike. "That means supporting matches, social functions and playing as much as you can, especially in club competitions.

"When I accepted the post of vice-captain and then knowing I would become captain, I effectively wiped out two years of my life and devoted it to golf.

"Vice-captain was a learning curve and captain is total commitment."

Wendy's progress at the game and her role on the committee has been quick.

She said: "When I joined the club I was the first new lady member that the club had had for about a year. The section was very low on members.

"I soon became involved, helping with the handicap system, then work on the social committee before taking over as competition secretary. "That taught me so much about golf.

"Almost three years ago we had a big influx of new members and the ladies' membership increased to over 100."

Wendy has reduced her handicap from 36 to 19 in that time, inspired by watching Amanda Hockley soon after she had joined the club.

"I was asked to trolley pull for her and I was so gob-smacked how Amanda hit the ball that I soon became hooked with the game."

Her husband is very supportive, and said: "Wendy has been so enthusiastic about the golf club. She cajoles, encourages and is so infectious, and that's made a huge difference.

Now two-thirds the way through his captaincy, Mike said he had not set any targets when he took over last March.

"I didn't try to set out to achieve anything," he said. "I wanted the members to have a good year, and if there are no complaints then everything must be running smoothly.

Wendy added: "I think Mike's a peoples' captain." As far as Wendy is concerned, she is looking forward to becoming captain and said: "I want to make it fun and enjoyable for everyone and keep the continuity going."

Mike, who plays off a 16 handicap, and Wendy play regularly together and enter the club's mixed competitions.

Once Mike's year of office ends next March, he will be able to turn his attentions to helping Wendy, who is also secretary of the Suffolk Ladies Golf Association, have a memorable year.

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