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Date: February 21, 2009 07:20AM
A long-forgotten hook and an astonishing slice of luck have combined to create
a unique trophy for members of one of Norfolk's top golf clubs.
The story begins years ago when an anonymous golfer stood on the first tee and
hooked his ball into a high hedge of conifers, planted between the hole and the
ninth green. The ball was lost without trace - until now, when the winter
programme at Eaton included cutting down the trees.
As greenkeeper Richard Mitchell sawed the felled trees into lengths he realised
he was looking at a cross-section of trunk - with a golf ball embedded in it.
“It's an incredible find,” said the Norwich club manager's Peter Johns.
“It was pure luck that it was discovered. If Richard had cut the trunk an inch
or two either way we'd never have known the ball was there.
“We think the ball came off the first tee, went into the trees and was lost.
It must have lodged in a fork or embedded itself in the trunk and the tree just
grew round it.”
The cross-section - inevitably known as a tree wood - was entrusted for
preservation to Jim Cook, a past captain and skilled woodworker. It's thought it
will become a trophy and one idea is to use it as an honour board to record all
holes-in-one at the short ninth hole.
The trees were felled during the winter maintenance programme after they were
found to be dying and also draining moisture from the ninth green.
Eaton golf club member Jim Cook with the slice of tree with the golf ball
embedded in it
Their removal is the first phase of a programme to reshape the area behind the
green by extending a bunker, new tree planting and the creation of some mounds.
Woodland management has also been carried out elsewhere on the course,
continuing the work that helped Eaton win an English Golf Environment Award in
“We are keen to expose the really mature oaks which we have on the course,”
said Johns. “We have some magnificent oaks which have been 'lost' in the
middle of wooded areas. By thinning out we have been able to make a feature of
Notable clearing has been carried out on the right of the third hole while the
removal of two pines has created an avenue of oaks leading to the elevated sixth