IF today’s Journal Trophy final is to be decided on competitive spirit alone, then Iben Cocker may find she has few peers in the 12-strong field at Ramside Hall.
The 46-year-old Cocker has the best handicap, eight, she’s won the matchplay championship at her club, Bellingham, three years in a row and she will join Gosforth next season in search of fiercer competition.
Off the course, she is equally competitive. Cocker and husband John are the owners of the Riverdale Hall Hotel in Bellingham, which started life as a six-bedroom set-up in 1979.
Now, having had £300,000 spent on it in the last eight months, the hotel has become one of the country’s leading bases for salmon fishing and golf enthusiasts with 33 bedrooms, a greatly extended restaurant and four self-catering apartments. Head chef Cocker, whose first golf club was Hexham, said: “Bellingham is a lovely course and I shall keep up my membership there, but Gosforth has a large and highly competitive ladies’ section, where I also have some good friends.”
Busy woman Cocker has been using the internet to mug up on the final venue, Ramside Hall, the only course in the North-East to rate a gold award in the current Golf Monthly magazine rankings.
County Durham do not have a single-handicapper in the final, so helping Cocker lead out the field today will be Joanna Ellison, a ten handicapper who has won the Houghton-le-Spring club championship seven times.
The 33-year-old Ellison, who works at the Lloyds TSB bank’s call centre in Sunderland, said: “I have entered The Journal Trophy about half a dozen times before, but this is the first time I’ve ever got through to the final.”
ANYBODY who would like a 1st Tee Golfing Holidays brochure should ring (01670) 789877, visit the website www.1sttee.co.uk or email email@example.com
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JOURNAL TROPHY DRAW
10.30: J. Ellison (Houghton-le-Spring), I. Cocker (Bellingham).
10.38: M. Wigham (Brancepeth Castle), F. Southeran (Bamburgh Castle).
10.46: J. Elliott (Chester-le-Street), P. Wright (Matfen Hall).
10.54: H. Kipling (Consett), J. Jennings (Newbiggin).
11.02: L. Murray (Tyneside), K. Jowett (Newcastle United).
11.10: S. Dale (Bishop Auckland), (S. Cummings, Backworth).
CALLERS COMBINED FINAL
11.18: J. Longhorn (Seaton Carew), S. Phillips (Gosforth).
11.26: M. Brown (Crook), P. Barnes (Westerhope).
11.34: M. Watkins (Castle Eden), D. Wilkinson (Dunstanburgh Castle).
11.42: J. Robinson (Garesfield), S. Ayre (Berwick).
11.50: L. Jackson (Consett), S. Fitzpatrick (Gosforth Park Ladies).
11.58: N. Askew (Chester-le-Street), D. Beaumont-Wigham (Morpeth).