The manager of Leighton Buzzard’s Plantation Road golf course has booked a flight to the United States after receiving an invite to help prepare the Pebble Beach course at Augusta for the 119th US Open.
Paul Harris, 42, heads out to California in early June to join other professional greenkeepers preparing the course for the start of one of golf’s four Major competitions on June 10, and remain until the winner receives the coveted Green Jacket six days later. He had been nominated for the role by UK tour competition organisors.
“It’s a great honour for both me and Leighton Buzzard golf club. For me, working with other top class greenkeeping professionals will be a great experience from which you can only learn” says father of three Paul, who is in his fifth summer as Leighton’s course manager having been chosen from a 40-strong list of candidates.
A keen golfer himself with a single-figure handicap, Paul is likely to meet up with a host of British competitors bidding to win the $15m purse, not least Ian Poulter, who honed his golfing skills at the Leighton club before turning professional 20 years ago. Since winning the Italian Open in 2000, Ian has won a score of other major competitions around the world, with his steely grit and determination helping Europe to unparalleled success in victories over the United States in Ryder Cup tournaments. Ian, currently ranked at 29 in world golf, is an Honorary Life Member of the Leighton club and attached to the Woburn club.
In addition to Paul’s recognition, his young first-year apprentice Rob Irons has been nominated by his college tutor for the Toro-sponsored student Greenkeeper of the Year award.
Experienced campaigner Joan Waples has won her second Leighton Ladies title in a matter of weeks. Top finisher in the Spring meeting with a nett 74, two shots clear of Barbara Bradley and Marilyn Myatt, Joan last week won the Ladies Rosewear Bowl, beating Elaine Powell and Elsa King on countback after all finished with 36 points.
Four players tied for top spot in Leighton’s May medal with nett 69s, Colin Mcleod getting the verdict over John Mckay, Mark Sandham and Andrew Ashall on countback. Richard Samuels headed a chasing pack with a nett 70, a shot clear of Graeme Foster, Neil Laming, Nigel Barnes and Giovanni Cerosio.
Bryan Pratt is the new Beck Trophy champion, his nett 68 beating Andrew Hall by a shot. Lewis Scott took third place with a nett 70, a shot clear of Jeremy Taylor and Steve Marriott.
Last Wednesday’s May Medal was won by George Bashford on countback from Lee Sanders and Tony Conneely after all three carded nett 70s, with Geoff Dimmock, John Bunyan, Dharm Naveen Diwakar, Ron Burgoyne and Martin Flynn all posting nett 71s.
Sue Preston had three shots cut from her handicap after carding the highest score in Leighton Ladies Stableford with 39 points, four clear of Division Two top scorer Jane Tizzard. Kate Wright pipped Jackie Stimpson for top spot in the Silver Division on countback after both scored 33 points.
Phil Rickard won the Sandhouse Society Resurrection trophy with a 39 point haul at Berkhamsted, beating Keith Edmunds on countback; John Preston was third, pipping Tim Martin by a point. Leighton’s John Smith won the Rushmere Society Dawson Trophy after carding 35 points at John O’Gaunt.