The City of Newcastle Golf Club cast off its jinx to be named as England’s Champion Club after a 36-hole tournament which ended in the dark following a fog delay.
The team of Northumberland county champion Phil Ridden and fellow county players, Alex Dixon and Mark Wharton, stormed to an emphatic 14-shot win in the tournament at East Devon Golf Club.
But there were plenty of twists along the way before they claimed Northumberland’s first victory in the keenly contested competition.
“We thought we were jinxed,” said City of Newcastle men’s captain, John Franklin. The club has been runners-up in this competition twice before, most recently in 2015 when they lost out on countback.
This weekend, they finished the first round one shot off the lead, then completed their second round in level par, finishing with a team total of 11-over and roaring into the lead.
They played early on the second day and went off to a local pub in Budleigh Salterton to watch Newcastle FC on television. When the match was over – with a loss to their team - they returned to the golf club to find mist coming in over the course and play suspended. “We thought the jinx was following us,” said Franklin.
But, despite fog and encroaching darkness, the field eventually completed play and City of Newcastle’s victory was confirmed. Franklin commented: “This means a great deal to us.”
The competition is challenging with all three gross scores counting in both rounds. After yesterday’s first round City of Newcastle were on 11-over par and one shot behind Norfolk’s King’s Lynn.
Today, they were on top form. Ridden was round in three-under 67, Dixon in one-over 71 and Wharton in 72 for a level par total.
“The game plan was to get three decent scores, not one exceptional score,” said Franklin. “The nature of the course was that the number of bogeys, rather than birdies, would win it.”
The runners-up were Northamptonshire County on 25-over par, followed by Somerset’s Burnham & Berrow on 29-over.
The individual winner was Norfolk’s Jack Yule, of King’s Lynn, who was seven-under par for the two rounds, with scores of 65 68. King’s Lynn were the halfway leaders but fell back to seventh place.
Ridden was the individual runner-up on one-under, followed by Leicestershire & Rutland’s Steve Sansome (Birstall) on two-over.
This sees them representing England in the European Club Champinship held in Bordeaux next month!