Solid Sheppard secures Handicap crown

Norfolk Handicap Championship winner Frank Sheppard, flanked by Norfolk County Golf Union president Robert Barnard (l) and Great Yarmouth and Caister captain Alistair Low (r) 

FRANK SHEPPARD mastered fast greens and defied high winds to land the Norfolk Handicap Championship at Great Yarmouth and Caister Golf Club.

The Norwich-based independent financial advisor shot a net 73 to pip Great Yarmouth and Caister member Simon Corke by a shot.

Corke was in the first group out and sat on the clubhouse lead before he was denied by Sheppard, playing in the very last trio.

By his own admission Sheppard – receiving 11 strokes – got off to a shaky start but salvaged bogeys with single-putts at the opening three holes.

He continued to grind away on a very challenging day on the east coast links and recorded a net par that almost felt like a birdie on the long 13th, which played into wind.

But it was at the other par-5 – the 15th – that Sheppard made his big move as he recorded a gross birdie.

His 6-iron down the wind came up short but a canny chip from 30 yards to nine feet set up an opportunity for a four that he duly converted.

On the final hole, Sheppard again showed his control in the trying conditions when he struck a solid drive followed by a 5-wood to the heart of the green from where he two-putted for a closing par.

His net three-over score was enough to secure him the biggest win of his golfing career – much to his own pleasure and shock.

Sheppard, 61, said: “I didn’t think I’d won. When I came off I thought, under the circumstances and conditions, ‘that’s a decent score – I imagine that’s got a chance of being in the top-five.’

“And then when we were in the car-park somebody said, ’74’s in at the moment’. I thought, ‘Oh, really? That’s one more than me…crikey’.

“Yarmouth in the wind isn’t the easiest place to play and it was a lovely day but it was blooming windy.

“I just kind of scrambled and battled all the way round – it was hard. The conditions were just so tough. And even when you had the wind behind you, it wasn’t easy because you couldn’t judge it.”

Leading net scores: 73: F Sheppard (Great Yarmouth and Caister). 74: S Corke (Great Yarmouth and Caister). R Masterson (Great Yarmouth and Caister); R Clarke (Mundesley). 76: J Roberts (Royal Cromer)

The team shield also went to players from the host club. Great Yarmouth and Caister trio Brian Johnson, Richard Masterson and Terry Norman combined to edge Bawburgh’s Richard Bunn, Andrew Gooch and Paul Greengrass by a single shot.

(left to right) Brian Johnson, Richard Masterson and Terry Norman, flanked by Great Yarmouth and Caister captain Alistair Low (l) and Norfolk County Golf Union president Robert Barnard (r)


Brave Bates battles to bag Amateur crown

WARREN BATES conjured a Sunday afternoon comeback to record a slender success in the 116th Norfolk Amateur Championship.

The Heacham golfer signed for a 72-hole score of three-over-par at Swaffham Golf Club to pip teenager Ben Willis by a single stroke.

It was the second time Bates had won the prestigious county crown, having also claimed it at the old Royal Norwich four years earlier.

Bates’ battling qualities combined with his talent as he powered up the leaderboard after a low-key start to his final round.

Through eight holes he was four back from joint leaders, playing partner Ben Rawsthorne and Willis, who was in the group behind.

But Bates rolled home a 20-footer for birdie on the ninth and then at the next boomed his drive to within inches of the putting surface on the 318-yard par-4.

With the door ajar he seized the opportunity, landing the eagle putt from 18 feet to close to within one of the summit.

There was soon a further key moment at the par-5 13th where Rawsthorne lost a ball off the tee. He was unable to convert a subsequent seven-foot bogey putt and then watched Bates hole out for birdie from a similar distance.

Bates also made a further gain at the 15th to grab full control and all of a sudden it was his title to lose.

A flyer from the left-hand rough saw his approach sail over the green at 17 and it took a bit of short-game magic to restrict the damage to a bogey.

And again Bates had to call on his green-side touch to salvage a par at the closing hole, a challenging par-4.

Then he had to sit and wait to see if Willis’ late move would result in a play-off. The Swaffham golfer had picked up strokes at 15 and 16 to tie at the top before just running through the green with his approach into the last.

From there Willis was unable to salvage his par, leaving his rival in the race to reflect on the spirited revival that ultimately proved just good enough to secure him top spot.

Bates, 22, said: “I’m very pleased to win. I’m never one to give up – anything can happen and it’s not over until it’s over. So it was, keep digging away, keep grinding and hope to get a result – and it came.”

It was an emotional victory for Bates, who lost his nan Erica in February of this year.

He added: “I dedicate the win to her. I definitely thought of her when I was playing. There was someone looking down from somewhere – it was good.”

Runner-up 17-year-old Willis and 16-year-old Ed Featherstone firmly indicated that the future of Norfolk golf looks bright.

Featherstone’s third-round 69 was the lowest score over the two days and helped him to finish in a tie for third place with Rawsthorne on seven-over.

The other star of the show was centenary-celebrating Swaffham Golf Club, which was presented in immaculate condition with its greens rolling superbly. 

The team trophy, staged over the first 36 holes, was claimed by Royal Norwich’s Rawsthorne, Ben Terry and Liam Cossey. Their combined tally of 461 was six shots better than the King’s Lynn trio.

Pictured left to right; Ben Terry, Ben Rawsthorne
The event was the last to be organised by Morgan Thompson-Williams as work commitments have resulted in him resigning from the role.

The County showed its appreciation to Morgan for his dedication and commitment to the role over the last 4 years. (Morgan is seen here being presented with a gift by County Secretary, Peter Johns).

Norman Blanch will be taking over from Morgan.


Fast-finishing Gooch duo land Salvers – at last!

ANDREW and Jill Gooch followed up a couple of near misses by finally getting their hands on the Coronation Salvers at Thetford Golf Club.

The husband and wife duo from Bawburgh Golf Club produced a stunning back-nine to close out on 40 points – two clear at the top of the pile from John and Julie Little.

The Gooch combination were second in the foursomes tournament in 2019 and took third place 12 months ago.

And their consistency in the annual Stableford handicap was at last rewarded at Thetford where they powered through the line.

The pair, receiving 14 shots, registered a gross birdie on the par-5 10th hole and closed out their victory with four straight pars.

Their teamwork was in evidence on the last green in front of a packed clubhouse terrace as Jill hit a fine chip from a difficult lie.

That left Andrew only needing to two-putt from mid-range to secure the win but he conjured up a grandstand finish, holing the 25-footer.

Andrew said: “We felt we were due! We just really got into it.

“Eighteen points on the front nine, we knew we’d got a shout. I made some mistakes early on but we recovered – and then the back nine was just tremendous.

“We birdied 10 which was brilliant. That really was a great moment and four pars to finish, so that was just strong.”

As for her partner’s gallery-pleasing right to left putt on the 18th green, with a smile Jill added: “He likes an audience!”

In all 30 pairings strode out through the sunshine and showers. But aside from the winners the Littles were the only other duo to notch up a tally that bettered their stroke allowance in the fun and, on occasion, unforgiving alternate-shot format.

Reigning County Foursomes champions Paul Greengrass and Richard Bunn were third on countback from former European Tour professional Andy Marshall and Beth Buckingham.

Leading scores 40: A Gooch (Bawburgh) and J Gooch (Bawburgh). 38: J Little (Sheringham) and J Little (Sheringham). 36: P Greengrass (Bawburgh) and R Bunn (Bawburgh); A Marshall (Dereham) and B Buckingham (Dereham); S Naughnane (Dereham) and B Kendle (Swaffham). 35: I Leeder (Dereham) and A Leeder (Dereham)

COUNTY FOURSOMES at Bawburgh Golf Club

Evergreen Paul and Richard victorious in County Foursomes thriller

The winners of the Carrick and Thompson Bowls are pictured here (left to right Richard Bunn, Robert Barnard, County President, Paul Greengrass)

PAUL Greengrass and Richard Bunn confirmed that age is just a number when they claimed the 2022 County Foursomes crown at Bawburgh.

The evergreen duo have totted up 131 years between them but came through four rounds – including a play-off in the final – to take the title at the end of two days’ exciting golf.
They not only proved their stamina, but showed great nerve when they emerged victorious at the first extra hole after an epic match play duel with Warren Blackwell and Ryan Woods.
It completed a satisfying weekend’s work for the triumphant Bawburgh pair.In the opening day’s 36 holes – played under a Stableford format – Greengrass and Bunn were second among the eight qualifying pairs.
They received 10 strokes and recorded 72 points to take the second qualifying spot behind Sprowston Manor’s Blackwell and Woods, who surged through to the final day thanks to a tally of 74.

In the semi-finals Greengrass and Bunn notched a 3&1 success over Karl Diggens and Craig Morton. That winning margin was matched by Blackwell and Woods as they overcame Jake Keeley and Josh Weeds in the other last-four match-up.

The subsequent final was a hard-fought affair with Greengrass and Bunn receiving two strokes from their opponents.

Helped by Greengrass holing his second shot on the par 4 17th, the match was locked all square after regulation play, but Greengrass and Bunn dug deep to secure the coveted County Foursomes title at the first extra hole.
Keeley and Weeds were 3&2 victors in the third-place match with Diggens and Morton.

Richard Bunn said "we would like to thank all at the Norfolk County Golf Union for the organisation and officiating at the event. We would also like to thank Bawburgh Golf Club and Glen Lodge for hosting the event, to the greens staff for preparing the course in such great condition - the greens were fantastic for the time of year. Thank you to our playing partners, particularly in the semi final and final, the games were played in true golfing spirit. And finally, it shows that competition golf is not just for the youngsters!"

Proprietor, Robert Barnard added "It was a pleasure for Bawburgh Golf Club to host the County Foursomes and all the golf was played in such a sporting spirit, a fact recognised by the referees over the two days. There was some great golf played and the final was a thrilling affair!"
The winners of the Foursomes Challenge Salvers are pictured here (from left to right Jamie Tuck, Robert Barnard, County President, Jon Batten

The four pairs that finished fifth to eighth in the opening day’s Stableford play returned to battle for the second-flight title.

Last year’s top-tier victors Harry Brister and Lewis Daniels had their sights on further silverware but they were thwarted in the final by Jon Batten and Jamie Tuck.

The Sheringham men were seventh in qualifying but came through 1-up from a tense semi-final with Justin Warr and Jason Mudd.

In receipt of two shots from Brister and Daniels, Batten and Tuck went on to land the second-flight title with a 3&2 success.

The County thank Bawburgh Golf Club and its members for allowing us to use their course for this event. We also thank all the Staff both on and off the course.

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