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Swann and Utton shrug off penalty for victory at Rookery Park

PUBLISHED: 15:57 02 February 2012

Richard Utton, Winter Greensomes winner at Rookery Park.

Richard Utton, Winter Greensomes winner at Rookery Park.

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Greensomes are far from the ideal format for a pair who have never previously played together.

Brian Swann and Richard Utton, however, were clearly not worried about this when they paired up for the first time and went out to win the Rookery Winter Greensomes with 41 points.

The victory was remarkable because the pair incurred a two stroke penalty on the fifth hole. Although it was not affecting the shot, they removed a leaf from a hazard “because it made the bunker look untidy”.

The infringement was spotted by ‘Sherlock’ Bidle and the penalty resulted. Two birdies and steady golf, however, more than compensated for the lapse.

Although living locally, Richard Utton played green fee golf at Ufford Park, Woodbridge, Sprowston and Braintree, without ever visiting Rookery Park. An experience at Braintree changed this practice. A hooked drive crashed into the rough grass where the ball struck a large stone and bounced high into the air.

It came down and struck a mesmerised golfer, on the next fairway, right on top of his head. Although the golfer soon recovered, with nothing worse than a large bump, Utton thought it was time to settle down in a club, take lessons and play golf properly.

He joined Rookery Park and won the Rabbits’ Cup in his first year. After winning two Turkeys and another greensome, his handicap has come down to 17.

Brian Swann, whose handicap is 14, startled his playing partners recently when he sent his ball crashing into a greenkeepers’ tractor.

When the vehicle appeared again, Swann reacted aggressively and smashed his ball straight into it once more. Colleague, Marc Hunt, became suspicious. He realised that Swann was a disgruntled Ipswich supporter and that the vehicle was bright green.

He has kept a very close eye on his partner ever since.

There are fears that, with so many Ipswich fans playing at Rookery, the greens’ staff will refuse to drive the green tractor, especially when they are wearing protective yellow jackets. Roger Hutton with Glen Kemp and a rejuvenated David Knight, with Billy Donachie, took second and third prizes in the Winter Greensome.

After winning with Gerry Hardiman and fighting him for a second place, Mick Varley decided it was time to win a Stableford by himself.

After a moderate first ten holes he never dropped another shot and won with 43 pts, which was six points ahead of the field. Rookery’s nearly man, tough nut, Steve Cocca, collected yet another prize, finishing second, with Luke Thompson third.

David Batley


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