ONE of the biggest oversights in the history of the region’s golf has been rectified by the addition to the North East Masters series of The Peter Deeble Open, a new scratch 36-holer in honour of the great man at Alnwick Castle on September 29.
Another new event this season – the Northumberland Three Castles – has been confirmed for the end of July. The Castles, as it will inevitably be called, is being played on successive days at Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle and closing out at Alnwick Castle.
And to add to Alnwick’s good news, this week they became the first club in Northumberland to be awarded High Achiever Status for GolfMark, the England Golf scheme which identifies and recognises junior and beginner friendly golf facilities.
To put that distinction into context, only 14 of the 42 clubs affiliated to the Northumberland Union of Golf Clubs – exactly one third – have even the standard GolfMark accreditation.
All this arrives only 18 months after an Alnwick club then £60,000 in debt was heading for extinction until being saved by new owner Simon Kimble.
He has bankrolled so much investment into what were fast fading greens, fairways and bunkers that club manager Neil Foggon said: “There has been a 100% improvement in the course and in the long run we shall improve another 100% on what has been achieved already.” The event named after Deeble honours a Northumberland player, now in his late fifties, who was struck down in his prime by a rare form of motor neurone disease after winning the English Amateur twice in four years.
On the first occasion, in 1976, Deeble succeeded Nick Faldo as champion. Faldo went on to set a European record of six wins in majors and become a multi-millionaire, but Deeble has been unable to play golf for almost a quarter of a century.
Deeble represented Great Britain & Ireland in the 1977 and 1981 Walker Cups in New York and California, helped England win the European Team Championship in 1977 and amassed 67 England caps.
An international room-mate of Faldo’s, he played out of the Foxton club at his peak, but his first club was Alnwick, where he played with Foggon.
Said Foggon: “Over the past few years, The Journal has flagged up the fact that Peter is a bit of a forgotten man and I think it is important to remember our past heroes and this is something I have wanted to do for some time.
“I hope to attract a few of the golfers who played with Peter to enter the 36-holer. As a young golfer I was lucky enough to compete with and against him on many occasions representing Alnwick Golf Club.
“He was a wonderful role model for any aspiring golfers with a quiet, polite and sporting personality hiding an incredibly determined and steely character.
“Peter’s amateur career was beset with illness, he had Hodgkinsons at 20, however his record speaks for itself. I am delighted Peter has agreed to have his name associated with our new scratch open and this is a small tribute towards remembering the great things he achieved.
“I have tried to hold it late in the year so as not to clash with any major amateur events.” The Northumberland Three Castles will be played on July 24-26 and is sponsored by Bamburgh Castle, the castle itself rather than the golf club.
Players can enter for £66 a pair – it would usually cost two golfers £180 to play all three courses – and the entry fee includes discounted admission to Bamburgh Castle
Chris Calvert (pictured far left), the castle’s director, said: “We are very pleased to be putting our name to this new tournament and we are sure it will help drive visitors not only to the tournament itself but also to the castle.”
Foggon has flagged up assistant manager Daniel Harrison as been the key driving force behind both the Castles event and Alnwick’s GolfMark distinction. The club are building quickly on the foundation laid by the GolfMark award in taking golf to ten schools in their area next month, giving the youngsters a chance to have a go at the sport using use plastic clubs and sponge balls.
Alnwick will follow that up by hosting a Junior Golf Festival for the best boys and girls at each school on May 31.
The improvements to the course have led to Alnwick being chosen to host two 36-hole county junior championships for boys and girls on June 10 and August 27 Harrison said: “We are proud to have achieved the GolfMark distinction so soon after the club nearly closed its doors for good.
“It illustrates our new positive approach and we are going to develop even further in terms of what we do for junior players and newcomers to the game.”
:: ALNWICK Castle put on free junior coaching sessions every Monday (11 and under) and Tuesday (12-18) for members and non-members.
To inquire about joining in or entering the Northumberland Three Castles, contact Daniel Harrison on 01665 602632 or firstname.lastname@example.org