A CHARITY competition is offering North East golfers the chance to play at some of the country’s finest courses for just a £2 entry fee.
The Hall of Fame contest, in its 15th year, has raised thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK since it was set up by golf nut Robert Hall.
The 65-year-old 13-handicapper from Lanchester organises the national competition, which regularly attracts more than 600 golf clubs a year – but take-up in the North East could be better.
It costs just £2 per player to enter the qualifier at his home course. The Stableford contest is divided into two sections for regular and senior players.
Each club’s winner is then invited to play at one of 10 regional qualifiers – ours in the North East this year was at the beautiful Brancepeth Castle – with the top two regular and two best seniors winning through to the national final.
Previous venues for the finals include St Andrews, Royal Birkdale, Gleneagles, Carnoustie, the Belfry and Royal St David’s.
This year’s final was held over two days at Woodhall Spa, reputed to be England’s best inland course. Its main challenger to that title, Ganton, will host next year’s final.
Robert, a former member of Garesfield Golf Club when he lived in Rowlands Gill, near Gateshead, said: “We play at some wonderful courses.”
He would like more golfers from the region to take part – and will be writing to club organisers this month.
“It’s quite strange, but the response in the North East is one of the poorest in the UK,” the father-of-three said.
The contest has raised many thousands of pounds over the years for Cancer Research UK, with participants encouraged to gain sponsorship for Stableford points scored.
And the prizes for the finalists are excellent, with major sponsors backing the national competition.
Included on the prize table last year were a top-of-the-range motorised trolley for the best senior, and a huge tour bag for the champion mainstream player.
Robert, now retired after working in sales in the transport industry, decided to raise money for the good cause after three members of his wife Maureen’s family were diagnosed with cancer.
And three years ago he received treatment for prostate cancer, which was detected early.
“I’m one of the lucky ones and as long as I’m feeling fit and well, we will continue with what we’re doing,” he said.
The competition is a labour of love for Robert and Maureen, who travel round the country to each of the regional qualifiers – two each in Scotland and Wales, six in England – making sure everything goes smoothly. When the competition was smaller, Robert managed to squeeze in a game at some of the top finals venues, but lately, with up to 40 players to marshal, he has to keep to his official duties.
Now living in Bury St Edmunds, the keen Sunderland fan manages a couple of games a week at his home club Stowemarket, and is already looking forward to this year’s finals.
“Ganton and Woodhall Spa are both amazing courses,” he said.
“I get to meet some great guys as well.”
For more information, Robert can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org