It has been my great pleasure and privilege to captain the Seniors team for 2018. Allow me to give you a brief insight into our season.
The year got off to a stormy start when I invited the players , as a pre-season get together, to take part in the March Winter Open at South Shields. To say there was a testing breeze was an understatement – Drivers were required at the par 3 first. To their credit all 20 players completed the course with Bob McAllister & Ian Davison winning the event overall with 38 pts.
We warmed up well in the spring with a halved match at Seaton Carew against the Ladies Vets team – never an easy proposition due to some rather over generous ladies tees at Seaton and an always tricky negotiation over shots. This was followed by a win against a S/Shields league team.
We were then invited to take part in two matches – one making up a composite team with the Juniors to play the full County side in a pre-season warm up at Castle Eden. One of our pairs, Dave McColl & Dave Foreman achieved a notable half against two County players. We also provided opposition for a match against the full Ladies County team to give them some foursomes practice before their County Week. Both very enjoyable occasions.
Unfortunately, despite great efforts from all involved , we then went on to lose all 5 county matches. Although disappointed I was not disheartened as many games were lost on very tight margins. Strangely enough we managed our best result at Tyneside against Lancashire, only going down 10 – 8. This against a team that won the League, the Big Six and also last month became National Champions.
I thoroughly enjoy watching the games and the quality of golf on display is at times outstanding . Epitomised by the game at Tyneside where I was standing at the back of the 15th green and beside the 16th tee ( behind the clubhouse). In the first game through I watched as Tony Holt from Lancashire holed his tee shot at the short par 3 , and then perhaps only 20 minutes later in the third game I also watched as Mike Baker hit the pin with his tee shot at the short par 4 15th . In the last game of the season at Northenden against Cheshire our top pairing of John Kirkpatrick & John Ellwood came to the 14th tee in the afternoon 4 ball match at 2 down .They went on to birdie the 14th, 15th, 16th & 17th holes but didin’t win a single hole and lost 2 & 1.
Also worthy of mention was how at very short notice , Ian Graham, from Bishop came in to the Cheshire match . Making his County debut he drove across to Cheshire on the morning of the match and partnered Geoff Charlton ( Ian off 6 & Geoff off 5) to wins both morning and afternoon against two Cheshire players ( both off 1).
I must also mention our newest recruit , John Kirkpatrick, from Ramside, who though still working full time managed to play in two matches for us. John plays off +2 and showed that class in winning the Seniors Championship at Heworth with rounds of 67 & 69 . He was closely pursued on that occasion by David Moralee and David Conway who also played some tremendous golf . John further went on to represent us in the Senior Champion of Champions at Woodhall Spa and took the title with rounds of 74 & 69 , becoming the first Durham winner of this National title.
We ended the year at Delamere Forest in Cheshire for the Big Six. Despite being at a substantial handicap disadvantage our 6 players performed tremendously well. Of our 10 counting scores, 3 were better than handicap, and 4 others in the buffer zone on what is a very demanding course . As previously stated Lancashire won, their 6 players having a cumulative handicap of zero !! Towards the end of the day we were leading the competition for the nett trophy so I rushed off to the car to get changed into suit and tie only to return and find that the last scores in meant we were pipped by 1 shot by Northumberland.
Obviously I would like to thank all 18 players who were called upon this year to represent the County. I also wish to thank the County for bringing us under their umbrella alongside the Main and Junior County teams . Great appreciation needs also be given to Pullman VW Garages who have continued their sponsorship deal into a 2nd year , and hopefully onwards into the future . This is of great assistance in supporting the players, especially when travelling long distances to away matches. If any member has dealings with the garage please mention your connection to the Section.
On a personal note my thanks to Peter Dewar, of the Durham County Executive, who assisted me as our Secretary and also to past Captain Gilbert & Chairman Geoff who have not only been on hand to offer support and guidance but have also attended to support the team whenever possible .
I look forward to 2019 with optimism. I am already hopeful of some new blood being introduced to the squad but if anyone knows of low handicap players either retiring or working but with flexibility to play matches on Mondays who may be interested then my contact details are on the website .
Keith McAllister (DCGU Seniors Captain)