Hole-in-one worth waiting for as Tarbox takes the trophies

Fred Ritchie (right) is congratulated by Senior Section skipper David Roberts after potting his first hole-in-one at the age of 81.
Fred Ritchie (right) is congratulated by Senior Section skipper David Roberts after potting his first hole-in-one at the age of 81.

A Leighton Buzzard golfer who’s played the game regularly for over 70 years last week hit his first ever hole-in-one – at the age of 81.

Fred Ritchie was approaching his tenth birthday when he took up the sport in his native Glasgow and went on to earn a handicap of just three, winning competitions on numerous courses before joining Leighton Buzzard’s Plantation Road club over 30 years ago.

But despite playing several times a week, becoming Captain of the Senior Section and competing in club and inter-club events, the coveted inch-perfect ace eluded the retired Phd physicist.

Until last Monday that is, when he hit the ball 160 yards with his favourite six-iron on Leighton’s Par 3 second hole….and saw the ball drop into the cup.

Said Fred: “I’ve had several close calls, but never a hole in one; it’s been a long time coming, but well worth waiting for.”

But Fred has some way to go before beating the age record as Ben Bender hit his first and only hole in one, a 152-yard shot with a five wood, at his club in Ohio at the age of 93.

He immediately hung up his clubs after 60 years in the sport.

Winter league winner John Tarbox landed two more trophies in the Ian Mann Seniors’ championships, winning the nett competition with a 70 on countback from Andrew McDonald, Mike Smith, Derek Ellam and Robbie John, and the trophy for players aged 70-79 with the same score, one shot clear of Peter Rutt. Derek Ellam won the competition for players aged 80 and over with a nett 70, with Geoff Smith and George Darbyshire runners-up.

Leighton Seniors continued their winning streak with a 4-2 victory against Stocks, with wins by Ian Rimmer and Keith Griffiths, Dave Bishop and Chris Figg, Geoff Allatt and Keith Camp and Harry Adam and David Sweetnam.

Leighton’s club team managed to secure a 4-1 win at Whipsnade on Saturday despite the absence of skipper Jeremy Taylor. His “vice” Robbie John and Manny Barker posted good intent with an opening six hole win and were followed home with wins by Keith Edmunds and Mark Hammond, Darren Valentine and Simon Enright, Steve Leng and Peter Burgoyne and a half by Will Sampson and Stephen Schmidt.

Joshua Lowe won Leighton’s June club stableford, carding 43 points which triggered a three shot cut to his 21-handicap. Brandon Waddington was runner-up with 41 points which resulted in his handicap being reduced by a shot along with Kenneth Bailey who finished with 39pts with Will Sampson. Heading the chasing pack were Andres Valentine, David Woulds and Julian Heffron with 38pts.

Gill McDougal won her second ladies trophy of the year when she beat Rosie Harnell on countback for the Crtoxford Cup after both finished with 43 points. Heading the chasing pack was Stephanie Howlett with 41pts, Elaine Powell, Val Berry and Farida Cerosio with 40pts, and Elsa King and Christine Bateman with 38pts.

Ladies Captain Patti Marriott teamed up with Lindsey Parker (Woburn) to win Leighton Ladies Invitation Day with 47 points on countback from Trisha Boote and Edwina Tarrant (Tilsworth) with Pam Stannard and Lynda White (Aspley Guise) third with 46pts.