Golfers pay tribute after 102-year-old legend passes away

Douglas Lowman is presented with the trophy by Tommy Thompson's son Mike   Picture by Stephen Goodger

Douglas Lowman is presented with the trophy by Tommy Thompson's son Mike Picture by Stephen Goodger

  • Members stage fitting tribute to club’s centenarian
  • Tommy’s son visits to present prizes
  • Round-up of action from Cowdray, Chichester, Goodwood and Littlehampton
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MEMBERS at Bognor Golf Club are mourning the loss of local legend Tommy Thompson, who was still playing golf at the age of 102.

Tommy was still driving himself from Chichester, where he lived, to play at least twice a week. He joined his friends at his regular 7.30am tee-off time and still played close to his 28 handicap.

Tommy Thompson, pictured when he was 100 in 2013

Tommy Thompson, pictured when he was 100 in 2013

When he reached 100, he became something of a golfing celebrity, with Meridian TV and national papers following in the Observer’s footsteps in telling everyone about his grand achievements.

Even a newspaper in Indonesia picked up on the story as he opened his card from The Queen.

When he reached 100, he was awarded honorary membership of Bognor GC and said at the time: “I have no plans to retire whatsoever, I enjoy it so much. The fresh air and exercise does me good, and there’s also the social side of it too – it’s lovely to come here and see the many friends I have.”

Tommy’s first sporting love was athletics – he ran for Highgate Harriers in his teens, then moved on to cycling with St Christopher’s Catholic Cycling Club. He once cycled 224 miles in a day.

After that Tommy took up badminton but he had to give it up because of a shoulder injury. Soon after, when he was 67, Tommy was introduced to golf by his son Mike Thompson. He loved it and the rest was history.

Tommy and Mike both went on to win a number of club competitions, most notably the Chris Clark Trophy in 1992, with Tommy scoring a hole in one on the way to the title.

Tommy calculated when he was 100, that he had played in 5,148 rounds of golf and had worn out four sets of golf clubs.

In honour of Tommy becoming a centenarian, the golf club created a new competition – the Tommy Thompson Trophy – and it is played as the year’s first seniors’ tournament at the beginning of March, soon after Tommy’s birthday.

The 2015 trophy was held last week and attracted 80 seniors for the shotgun Stableford. It was a magnificent turnout in tribute to Tommy.

Mike Thompson, Tommy’s son and a former Bognor member, gratefully accepted the request to present the trophy and other prizes.

The competition was won with an excellent 40 points by Doug Lowman. Second on countback with 39 was Frank Hodder, third Ian Kracke, fourth on countback with 38 was Derek Whiting and fifth Ray Proctor.

Thanks must go to the greenstaff who produced a good course after a difficult winter and to the bar and catering staff who had to contend with 80 golfers as well as a private function.

It seems fitting to finish with Tommy’s own words: “I’d recommend golf to anyone and everyone – it’s a wonderful sport. And I’m proof you’re never too old to start. I had lessons when I started and have never looked back.”

Bognor’s ladies held a fun Stableford.

Results: 1 Sue Sidebotham, Jane Finch & Jackie Chamberlain 95pts; 2 Lyne Watson, Berit Smallcorn & Sue Meloy 92; 3 Chris Puddicombe, Lin Harbutt & June Smith 89.

On a glorious spring-like day, teams of four played a Stableford.

Results: 1 Debbie Fenton, Nicola Holton, Sara Stoneham and Sue Crossen 83pts; 2 Davina Rumsby, June Smith, Angela Chandler and Dora Vaughan; 3 Mary Hardy, Barbara Evans, Janet Weekes and Sue Meloy 81.

CHICHESTER

Matches, qualifying rounds and fun competitions have all been on the calendar for Chichester ladies.

In the second round of the Mail on Sunday competition, Chichester were again triumphant in a closely-contested match against Bognor.

In very windy conditions, the team of Rachel Greenland, Jennifer Sherwood, Lisa Mitchelmore, Caroline Hawkes and Helen Ball won 4-1, with four of the matches finishing on the 17th or 18th.

The first league match of the season saw the division-two team at home to Sweetwoods. The team of Yvonne Dunckley (captain), Jennifer Sherwood, Lisa Jackson, Val Edwards, Heddie Straw, Erica Ellicott and Terry Payne went down 4-3.

A fun reverse waltz was won by Caroline Hawkes, Sandy Johnstone and Angela Perkins on 65 points.

In a four-ball better-ball matchplay competition, Helen Ball and Kathy Donohoe beat Lisa Mitchelmore and Caroline Hawkes.

A team Stableford with a twist involved players earning their normal Stableford points for each hole but then having to subtract the number of putts taken. This resulted in a minus score for the team.

In first place with minus 17 were Lisa Jackson, Fiona Walsh and Lyn Santer; second with -30 were Marilyn Forward, Margaret Leigh and a fellow team member and third with -38 were Val Edwards, Jeannie Blackman and Fran Syson.

Nearest the pin went to Marilyn Forward and Lyn Santer while the fewest putts were taken by Caroline Hawkes, Fiona Walsh, Val Edwards and Lyn Santer.

The first qualifying Stableford of the season took place on a rainy, windy day. Fiona Walsh came first with 33 points, second was Lisa Mitchelmore with 30 and third with 29 was Jennifer Sherwood.

On the Tower course and in slightly better conditions, Fiona Walsh came top again with 35 points followed by Margaret Leigh and Lyn Santer, both on 31.

Three ladies played a fun ‘bingo bango bongo’ competition. Janet Leonard triumphed over Keely Poole and Yvonne Dunckley.

Odds and evens was the name of the section’s next game. Playing in pairs, one score to count on the odd numbered holes and both to count on the even holes, Jennifer Sherwood and Maria Mills came first with 56 points, Fiona Walsh and Lyn Santer weresecond with 54 and in third were Jeannie Blackman a playing partner with 52.

COWDRAY PARK

Cowdray Park played their penultimate Surrey & West Sussex Winter League match at home to Guildford. They won 3-1 but failed to make ground on leaders Puttenham, meaning Cowdray need to win their final match, at home to Farnham, 4-0 and hope that Puttenham fail to score more than a point in their final away match.

Cowdray’s day started badly with a narrow defeat for captain Phil Harrison and recent Stableford winner Mike Hughes by one down.

In match two, the in-form duo of John Doran and John Newman followed up their victory at Puttenham with a stunning 8&7 win over their opponents.

The final two matches were a little closer with Paul Owen and Graham Thompson edging home by 2&1 and David Tilley and David Balfour closing the day with a 4&3 win.

Cowdray Park’s monthly medal attracted a field of 75 and all three divisions were won with a score of 67.

Matt Harrison, Scott Evans and Andrew Pay were the respective divisional winners while Ron Barber and Wayne Challen both made welcome returns to form.

GOODWOOD

A charity gold day will take place at Golf At Goodwood tomorrow to raise vital funds for Afghanaid.

It is the brainchild of Guy Harding, who is hosting the event to help meet his fundraising target for next month’s London Marathon.

Harding, who grew up in Selsey, went to school in Chichester and played hockey for Chichester Hockey Club will be hosting more than 40 golfers.

Afghanaid work tirelessly in Nnorth-eastern Afghanistan to develop and enhance the livelihoods of women and children through education and training.

Their work is regularly hampered by natural disasters and this, added to instability associated with NATO troops’ withdrawal and the installation of a new government, means the work Afghanaid is doing is as important as ever.

Harding said: “I thought a golf day would be a great way to raise funds for Afghanaid. Not only does it bring together friends and family in the beautiful surroundings of the Goodwood estate, but it also hammers home the fragility of the situation in Afghanistan.”

Guy added; “Sport and equality with in it is a great barometer of a country’s development and freedom of its peoples. Slowly but surely progress is being made, yet all donations can make huge differences on this path to equality and empowerment.”

See www.justgiving.com/guyharding

LITTLEHAMPTON

Littlehampton Golf Club members celebrated the anniversary of the club’s founding in 1889 with an all-club competition that attracted a large number of entries.

The season at Littlehampton is already in full swing. Members were complimentary at the condition of the course for early March and this augers well for another successful season.

The pairs competition was won with a fantastic score of 49 points by Brett Neal and Rob Butcher. Normally 48 points would win any competition, but Paul Marjoram and Tony Buckle had to content themselves with second place while husband and wife Russell and Rita Ixer could only finish third with another amazing score of 47 points.

Club captain Mike King presented the Founders Day trophy to Neal and Butcher.

The Littlehampton seniors’ section completed their winter order of merit. This is played over four rounds of Stableford competition for the Howard Agar Trophy. Points are awarded for the top 20 players in each round.

The winner with 61 points was Ken Kenny, 12 points ahead of John Ludlow and David Cosgrave.

The first hole in one by a senior in 2015 was achieved on the 16th in the fourth round by Gareth Jones.