IT seems a contradiction that, at a time when in some ways Northumberland golf has never had it so good, there are two blips on the county’s radar.
Chris Paisley (pictured), the former Walker Cup player attached to Close House, has just completed his first tournament as a European Tour player.
He tees off again today in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, on the border of the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Within recent years, four other players have also used the county’s junior tournaments as an initial launching pad towards achieving meaningful international amateur honours at various age levels – Jack Hermeston, Matty Lamb, Garrick Porteous and Jake Storey.
Any or all of these four might follow Paisley, Kenneth Ferrie, David Curry and John Metcalfe as Northumberland-born players to make it on to the European Tour.
Four of the best coaches in the country – John Harrison, Paisley’s brother Andy, and the McKenna brothers John and Steve – undertake the men’s county coaching.
The McKennas also guide Northumberland Junior Golfing Association players.
Yet the 2012 season brought a bottom-place finish for the men’s team in the Northern Counties League, not entirely unexpected considering half the side was in the process of turning professional this time last year.
More surprisingly, two vacancies on the county executive have remained unfilled for a year, a state of affairs which puzzles the county president Stan Peat, a former captain of the Gosforth Bridlepath club.
He is hoping for the gaps to be plugged around the time of the annual meeting at the Northumberland club on Monday January 28 (7.30pm).
Anybody who would like to put themselves forward for the county executive needs to go through their club.
Peat said: “On the executive we enjoy watching first-class golf and we derive much satisfaction from the progress of the elite players who have been nurtured by us since they were very young.
“When we play away matches, the executive are able to play on championship courses on the preceding Friday afternoon.
“I have had courtesy rounds at Birkdale and Lytham, courses I would not normally be able to play or be prepared to pay the fees they charge.
“There is also a good social life. We have the option of attending other county dinners, at our own expense, and the executive have annual matches with the Durham and Lothians executives.”
There is a county golf body to organise and tournaments to be run, so work must be done.
Peat added: “There is some sort of county event most Saturdays between the beginning of March and the end of August.
“There are occasional Sundays and Wednesdays and, during county week, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings.
“The elected members do not need to attend all events but most of them attend most of them.
“There is a financial cost when we travel to events.”
Anybody who needs to know more before deciding whether to ask their club to put them forward can contact Peat on 0191 266 5419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow the progress of the North East and Cumbria players in the Alfred Dunhill Championship – Paisley, Graeme Storm and Gary Lockerbie – visit europeantour.com
After an 11-shot win in Thailand at the weekend, Charl Schwartzel returns to one of his favourite courses.
The 28-year-old had his first European Tour win at Leopard Creek eight years ago and has been a runner-up four times since.
DURHAM County’s annual meeting is in the Beaumont Suite at Ramside Hall Hotel on Wednesday January 16 (7pm).