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Ben Pauling and his wife Sophie have big plans after buying Naunton Downs Golf Club

All Areas > Sport > Golf

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Monday, 30th March 2020, 08:00

Sophie Pauling Sophie Pauling

When a National Hunt trainer wins a race at Cheltenham it’s fair to say that everything has gone off to a tee.

And that’s especially true of Gloucestershire handler Ben Pauling, who knows what it’s like to win at the four-day Festival in March, because he has recently bought Naunton Downs Golf Club.

He has bought it with his wife Sophie and it will be Sophie rather than Pauling himself who will be responsible for running the delightful club tucked away in the heart of the Cotswolds.

“It’s a good opportunity for me to take on a business challenge,” said 34-year-old Sophie, a mum-of-two who has worked in events management in the past.

“Ben will be very much focussed on the racing and this is a project for me to take on and make my own.”

And she has big ambitions for a club that was celebrating its 25th anniversary only a couple of years ago.

“We’re improving the clubhouse and the course,” she said. “The course has always been very, very well respected and we want to get it back to where it was.”

Work on painting the clubhouse began almost as soon as they’d bought it and plans for a new restaurant – appropriately enough it is called the Bunker – were, at the time of writing, at an advanced stage.

And it seems their plans are going down very well with the regulars at the golf course, which can be found six miles outside Stow-on-the-Wold and fewer than 13 miles from Cheltenham.

“They’ve all been very positive which is wonderful,” said Sophie. “We’ve been thrilled with all the help we’ve received from them, they’ve been very enthusiastic.”

One-time football manager and 'I’m a Celebrity' winner Harry Redknapp has visited the course – he’s got horses at Pauling’s yard just outside Bourton-on-the-Water – and he, like many of the club’s members, will be looking forward to playing a round of golf with Sophie on the 18-hole, 71 par course.

That may have to wait for a while though.

“I don’t play golf,” admitted Sophie, “but I want to learn, I want to have lessons.”

And what about her husband Ben, does he play?

“He might like to think he does,” laughed Sophie, adding: “I’d love to be able to beat him in a year’s time.”

Other Images

Naunton Downs Golf Club
One-time top football manager Harry Redknapp, second from left, has visited Naunton Downs

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