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A Leighton-based grandmother who took up golf just three years ago is facing a tough challenge after winning a dream trip to play at a Scottish club which has hosted the world-famous Open Championship on nine occasions and which until three years ago, banned women from being club members.
Marie Bigrave won the trip to play Royal Troon located close to the Firth of Clyde in South Ayrshire in Robbie John’s Captain’s Day at Leighton’s Plantation Road club, helping to raise £3,800 for Robbie’s charity, Newlife, which supports disabled children with equipment, grants and health services.
The chance-in-a-lifetime prize was donated by Leighton club member Denis Leitch, whose late great grandfather David Hutchison Leitch, a top amateur golfer of his day, won a championship silver salver at Troon in May 1888 – and kept it until it was discovered in a family house clearance 125 years later.
Denis subsequently donated the 18 inch x 14 inch salver on “permanent loan” to the Troon club, where it now takes pride of place in the trophy cabinet.
Swedish-born Marie can take three guests with her for the golf-and-accommodation package to play at the club founded 141 years ago, and where guests are required to produce a handicap certificate to “establish proficiency.”
“I’ve  never been to Scotland before, never mind playing a club as prestigious as Troon,” says Marie, adding: “That means I’ve got to get a lot of practice in before this time next year to get my official playing handicap.”
Mother of two and three times a grandmother, Marie, who has worked in the NHS for 30 years and who is currently an assistant practice manager at a GP’s surgery in Wing, took up golf three years ago, joining Leighton’s successful Academy programme with Linda Duckworth, with whom she still plays at the Leighton club.
Both Marie and husband Steve, a retired BT project manager, are qualified ‘golf safeguarding officials” and heavily involved in the sport, Steve now playing off a handicap of 19.  Marie and Steve will be inviting two long time friends to join them on the trip to Troon, a club proud of  its Open history, but which only lifted its ban on women members in 2016 after being advised it would not be considered as a future Open Championship circuit venue unless it did so.
Grandmother Joan Waples has completed a hat-trick of trophy wins in the space of two months at the Leighton club she’s been a member of for 45 years. Having already won the Spring Meeting and Rosewear Bowl, 78-year-old Joan won Leighton Ladies Buckmaster Salver Medal with a nett 73, beating Bronze “A” division winner Norma Stevens-Hack by a shot.  Anne Tilbury carded a nett 78 to beat Christine Robinson by s shot for the Silver Division top spot while Margaret Osborne was Bronze “B” winner with a nett 78, Angela Blackhall finishing runner-up.
Barbara Bradley teamed up with Verity Barfoot from the South Beds club to win Leighton Ladies invitation day with 41 points.
Leighton club Captain Robbie John won the Rushmere Society White Trophy at Porters Park golf club with a 39 point haul, two clear of club colleague Philip Spratt-Callaghan….and took home the nearest-the-pin prize for good measure.   Former Leighton Captain David Hawkins finished third in the Bedfordshire Captains Day at Pavenham.
Leighton club Captain Robbie John with Troon-bound Marie Bigrave and husband Steve.