An epic golfing trek

HOW would you like to play the top 100 golf courses in GB and Ireland?

HOW would you like to play the top 100 golf courses in GB and Ireland?

Thought so.

Well, for current Ipswich Golf Club captain, Russell Leeburn, that dream has been realised

The retired orthodontist, now 64, decided as far back as 1973 to take a copy of Golf World, look at its Top 100 British courses . . . and then play the lot.

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It took 31 years, plenty of bogies, a few birdies and lots of determination. But Russell (handicap 9.6) was not going to give in.

“I really wanted to do it,” he told me.

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“My friend Jacques de Lapeyre and I decided to give it a go, however Jacques sadly passed away before he could complete it.

“That made me more determined to carry on.

“Each year, I would get the Golf World to see the updated list. The top 80 were invariably, bar their ranking order, the same, but I tried to play the new ones.

“I was still working, so my assistants at work told anyone who was after me, I was ‘on a course’, which technically I was.

“West Lancs, at number 99, was the last course I played to complete the then current top 100. That was in 2004. I kept up with the list for a few years after that.”

Russell has many a story to tell of some of his adventures.

“I remember playing at Fulford, where Bernard Langar famously climbed up a tree to knock his ball out onto the fairway,” he said.

“When we played the hole, one of my playing partners insisted on climbing the tree, even though there was no ball up there!

“The problem was, once up, he got a bit of vertigo and couldn’t get down. It took ages to get him back on the ground.”

Russell’s wife Jane, although not a golfer, has accompanied him on many a trip . . . “she has walked some of the best golf courses in the country. And she’s a great ball finder,” Russell laughs.

And for Russell, there is no doubt what the scariest shot in golf is.

“It’s the second to the 18th at St Andrews on the Old Course,” he says.

“You are pitching to a huge green, and even when St Andrews is quiet, there are always 20 pairs of eyes watching. It’s one shot you don’t want to fluff.”

Financially Russell will admit to having spent a fair few bob chasing his dream.

“I try not to think how much it has cost me,” he admits.

And now his wants to play more courses in the USA. And if enthusiasm is the key ingredient to that wish, he is likely to have worked his way from New York across to California in the not too distant future.

HAVE you done anything in golf that fellow golfers would find interesting?

Call me, Mike Bacon 01473 324686, or e-mail

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