WHAT seemed like a good idea after five pints down the pub around 10.30pm on Saturday night was rebounding on Durham county golfer Bryan Ross by lunchtime on Bank Holiday Monday, when he had completed the first round of the 36-hole Westerhope Open.
What was that bright idea suggested at The Green, just down the road from Heworth Golf Club? The 40-year-old Ross had allowed a pal to talk him into taking up a last-minute spot in the Great North Bike Ride from Seahouses to Tynemouth Priory the following day.
A Sunday event in aid of the Chris Lucas Trust billed as lasting 50 miles, Ross and the other participants found they had 56 miles clocked up on their bikes by the time they had finished.
Following a three-over 75 in the first round the next morning on the golf course at Westerhope, Ross was on the brink of quitting halfway through. “I was knackered,” he said. “But in the end I decided to go out for the second round.”
He fired a six-under 66 to tie on 141 with Northumberland county player Sean Heads and go into a three-hole strokeplay play-off. The 21-year-old Heads, from the Hexham club, returned birdie par par to win the play-off by three shots, claim the biggest title of his career and say generously: “Bryan was absolutely knackered.”
Ross, though, insisted: “I wasn’t. When you’ve just shot 66, you don’t feel tired. Sean birdied the first and I didn’t, so I had to play catch-up and it didn't come off. Sean deserved to win.”
Tuesday night brought victory in the semi-final of a mixed competition at Heworth for Ross, an IT manager with Newcastle City Council who lives in Wardley, Gateshead.
This weekend he’s playing foursomes and singles for County Durham against Lancashire at South Shields on Saturday and on Sunday he will attempt to win the 36-hole Heworth club championship for the sixth time in seven years. Victory at Heworth would surely make Ross the fittest man in The Journal Champion of Champions field and he says: “People outside the sport laugh when I say it, but it’s golf that keeps me fit.
“You hear pro golfers moaning about their schedules, but it is nothing unusual for us amateurs to be playing 72 holes in two days as we shall be doing this weekend. That means walking 20 miles and more. There are also a lot of dynamics in a golf swing and Tiger Woods has set a trend which has filtered all the way down. The vast majority of young golfers work out these days to keep up with the competition.
“The profile of the sport has totally changed now from the days when it seemed to be all about middle-aged guys.”