Big event is teeing off again

The Journal Champion of Champions tournament, one of the best loved events on the golf fixture list, will be back this season after an absence of eight years.

The Journal Champion of Champions tournament, one of the best loved events on the golf fixture list, will be back this season after an absence of eight years.

It will return at De Vere Slaley Hall on Sunday, September 9, and this year's men's champions at each of the 101 clubs in The Journal circulation area will all be invited to take part.

Slaley Hall, who are sponsoring, organising and administering the event - as well as hosting it - will also issue sponsors' invitations.

These will be made after consultation between Slaley Hall's golf operations manager, Mark Stancer, and the county captains of Northumberland (Kevin Cademy-Taylor), County Durham (John Kennedy) and Cumbria (Cliff Heath).

The tournament will be an 18-hole scratch amateur strokeplay event to be played over the Priestman Course. It is free to enter and a free buffet meal will be provided for all competitors.

The Ryton firm Golftext will be providing the leaderboard always seen at all PGA North-East North-West tournaments.

The winner will gain automatic qualification to The Rock tournament at Matfen Hall in 2008, which is England's biggest regional PGA event.

This will enable The Journal's amateur Champion of Champions to test his skill against professionals drawn from the PGA North Region, which runs from North Wales to the Borders.

The news of our tournament's return was greeted happily by Alan Curtis, North region secretary of the Golf Club Managers' Association (GCMA), who is also the project manager of the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust.

A seven-handicap member of Beamish Park and president and secretary of the North Durham Union Golf League, Curtis said: "I gather the current editor of The Journal, Brian Aitken, was the original instigator behind the decision to bring this tournament back.

"Both The Journal and Slaley Hall should be highly complimented on restoring an excellent competition which has always been well liked and keenly supported.

"Compared to some other regions, certainly our neighbours Scotland and the North-West, the North-East and Cumbria is not that well off for top rank scratch amateur golf tournaments.

"We could not really afford to lose one of this substance in the first place and it will be beneficial to all the clubs in the region to see it brought back."

Journal editor Aitken said: "While I appreciate Alan's comments, I am sure a man of his administrative pedigree will appreciate it is often a good deal easier to dearly want something done than for it to actually happen.

"The problems in the past were fixture clashes and the administrative problems special to golf that running such a tournament created for The Journal.

"Slaley Hall have worked tirelessly and expertly to take the heat off us in the areas that caused problems for us.

"Mark Stancer and his staff have made it all happen again and that has left us free to do what we do best and that is publicising golf in the North-East and Cumbria.

"We could not possibly have a better venue. Since the Ryder Cup became a massive global TV event almost 30 years ago, Slaley Hall are the only club in the entire North of England to get on the shortlist to stage it.

"They also held European Tour events there seven years in a row. So we feel confident our Champion of Champions tournament is in very good hands indeed.

"Both The Journal sports editor, Kevin Dinsdale, and myself are delighted it is back on the fixture list. It's a pure golf event and we're proud of it."

Dinsdale added: "We'll be writing about as many of the competitors as often as we possibly can and we'll be carrying a ranking list of club champions at regular intervals on our Saturday morning sports pages.

"We shall approach this in the same way as the golfers - we want to do the very best we possibly can and get as much enjoyment out of it as possible."

Become your 2007 men's club champion - there are no substitute entries allowed.

Make sure your club secretary sends back the entry form to Mark Stancer at De Vere Slaley Hall.

Er, that's it!


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer