ENGLAND Golf do not keep a record of such matters but it is likely John Kirkpatrick is one of few 50-year-old golfers ever to win a county championship.
He is almost certainly the first of any age to be rewarded by his golf club with a slap-up meal in their adjacent AA Rosette standard steakhouse.
So little wonder Kirkpatrick is pictured here raising a glass of wine with director Helen Roseberry in The Rib Room at the Ramside Hall Hotel.
A PE teacher at Durham Sixth Form Centre, Kirkpatrick conquered the breathtaking and windswept links of Seaton Carew to finish one shot clear of the reigning champion, Tyneside’s Ricky Lee.
Although Ramside’s golf club opened only 18 years ago, Kirkpatrick has followed Steven Dance, who won the title five seasons ago, as their second county champion.
Said general manager Tim Boyd: “John is Ramside’s first winner of the county golf title since The Rib Room won an AA Rosette just before Christmas.
“We decided the best way to honour all the achievements was to award John and Steven a free three-course steak meal for two with wine and all the trimmings.”
Kirkpatrick has handed over the championship trophy to Roseberry and it is on display in the clubhouse.
Whitehaven born, Kirkpatrick captured the Cumbria title as a teenager at the Workington club and spent five years in Cyprus as a former Regiment Officer in the RAF, also winning their golf championship.
Because of bad weather and course availability, the third and fourth rounds of Durham’s 72-hole county championship were played a month after the first and second rounds.
Kirkpartrick said: “I can’t say for sure these old bones of mine would have held up if we had played all 72 holes in two days as is usual in the county championship, but it would have been more difficult.”
A former member of Darlington, he added: “This is a lovely gesture by Ramside Hall and is very much appreciated.”
Director Roseberry said: “Steven Dance is on honeymoon in Mexico so this will be a nice surprise for him and his wife Kelly when they return.
“Steven will be as proud of John winning the county title at the age of 50 as everybody else is at Ramside Hall.”
County captain Bryan Ross, four years younger, has been impressed enough to make two unsuccessful attempts to perusade Kirkpatrick to play for Durham in the Northern Counties League derby match against Northumberland at Arcot Hall on July 6. Kirkpatrick added: “I was flattered but I have too many family priorities to be able to give Bryan the level of commitment it would need.
“Let’s leave us old guys out of it and let the kids have a go!”
Kirkpatrick settles for representing Ramside in the North Durham Union Golf League – playing No 1 in this week’s 13-1 slaughter of Ravensworth – and otherwise golfing around twice a month.
He still practises chipping twice a week – yet more evidence, as if any were needed, to suggest golfers who spend all their preparation time blazing away on the driving range should have a re-think.
Kirkpatrick shot 69 ,73, 73, 74 for a five-over total of 289.
Runner-up Lee will be hoping to go one better when he defends The Journal Champion of Champions title at Close House on September 8. Among Lee’s rivals will be Kirkpatrick, who has accepted Ross’s invitation to be one of the county captain’s six wild cards for the 18-hole scratch sprint classic on The Lee Westwood Filly Course.
Ross said: “John is a great guy and still a quality player.
“The way he finished with a birdie on the 72nd hole to beat Ricky . . . it was just meant to be, it was John’s moment.”
At the other end of the age scale, 15-year-old Matty Lamb joined Martin Coup and Sean Heads in the Hexham team which won the Northumberland Teams Championship.
All conquering Hexham, starting to reap huge benefits from one of the best youth policies in the UK, finished seven strokes clear of the runners-up, home club Blyth. The same margin covered Blyth and the third and fourth clubs home, Foxton and Close House.