The Journal Champion of Champions tournament, one of the best-loved events on the golf fixture list, is back this season after an absence of eight years.
Sponsored for the first time by TaylorMade adidas Golf, it will return at
De Vere Slaley Hall on Sunday, September 9, and this season's men's champions at each of the 101 clubs in The Journal circulation area are all invited to take part.
Slaley Hall, who are organising and administering the event - as well as hosting it - will also issue special invitations. These will be made after consultation between Slaley Hall's golf operations manager, Mark Stancer, and the county captains of Northumberland (Kevin Cademy-Taylor), County Durham (John Kennedy) and Cumbria (Cliff Heath).
The tournament will be an 18-hole scratch amateur strokeplay event to be played over the Priestman Course. It is free to enter and a free buffet meal will be provided for all competitors.
The Ryton firm Golftext will be providing the leaderboard always seen at tournaments staged by the PGA North East\North West, a region which includes Cumbria.
The winner will gain automatic qualification to play as an amateur in the
2008 staging of The Rock, a 54-hole professional tournament at Matfen Hall, which is the biggest regional PGA event in England.
The Rock is organised by the PGA North Region, which runs from North Wales to the Scottish Borders.
The news of the tournament's return was greeted happily by Alan Curtis, North region secretary of the Golf Club Managers' Association (GCMA), who is also the project manager of the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust.
A seven-handicap member of Beamish Park and president and secretary of the North Durham Union Golf League, Curtis said: "I gather the current editor of The Journal, Brian Aitken, was the original instigator behind the decision to bring back this tournament.
"Both The Journal and Slaley Hall should be highly complimented on restoring an excellent competition, which has always been well liked and keenly supported. Compared to some other regions, certainly our neighbours in Scotland and the North West, the North East and Cumbria is not that well off for top rank scratch amateur golf tournaments. We could not really afford to lose one of this substance in the first place and it will be beneficial to all the clubs in the region to see it brought back."
Journal editor Aitken said: "While I appreciate Alan's comments, I am sure
a man of his administrative pedigree will appreciate it is often a good deal easier to dearly want something done than for it to actually happen.
"The problems in the past were fixture clashes and the administrative problems special to golf that running such a tournament created for The Journal.
"Slaley Hall have worked tirelessly and expertly to take the heat off us in the areas that caused problems for us. Mark Stancer and his staff have made it all happen again and that has left us free to do what we do best and that is publicising golf in the North East and Cumbria.
"We could not possibly have a better venue. Since the Ryder Cup became a massive global TV event almost 30 years ago, Slaley Hall are the only club in the entire North of England to get on the shortlist to stage it. They also held European Tour events there seven years in a row. So we feel confident our Champion of Champions tournament is in very good hands indeed.
"Both The Journal sports editor, Kevin Dinsdale, and myself are delighted it is back on the fixture list. It's a pure golf event and we're proud of it."
Dinsdale said: "We'll be writing about as many of the competitors as often as we possibly can and we'll be carrying a ranking list of club champions at regular intervals on our Saturday morning sports pages. We shall approach this in the same way as the golfers - we want to do the very best we possibly can and get as much enjoyment out of it as possible."
Matthew Johnson, TaylorMade's golf marketing manager in the UK and Ireland, said: "A tournament like this is the ideal opportunity for us to illustrate how seriously we take high class amateur golfers, who are looked up to by members at their clubs and hopefully will be cheered on by them at Slaley Hall on September 9."
Time to sign up
The secretaries of the 101 clubs in The Journal circulation area have each received a letter from De Vere Slaley Hall inviting their men's club champions to enter the Champion of Champions tournament.
The clubs are: Allendale, Alnmouth, Alnmouth Village, Alnwick, Alston Moor, Arcot Hall, Backworth, Barnard Castle, Bamburgh Castle, Beamish Park, Bedlingtonshire, The Belford, Bellingham, Berwick, Billingham, Birtley, Bishop Auckland, Blackwell Grange, Blyth, Boldon, Brancepeth Castle, Brampton, Burgham Park, Carlisle, Castle Eden, Catterick, Chester-le-Street, City of Newcastle, Cleveland, Close House, Consett, Crook, Dalston Hall, Darlington, Dinsdale Spa, Duns, Dunstanburgh Castle, Durham City, Eaglescliffe, Eden, Garesfield, George Washington, Gosforth, Hartlepool, Headlam Hall, Hexham, Hetton-le-Hill, Heworth, High Throston, Hirsel, Hobson Municipal, Houghton-le-Spring, Hunley Hall, Knotty Hill, Linden Hall, Longhirst Hall, Magdalene Fields, Matfen Hall, Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough Municipal, Minto, Morpeth, Mount Oswald Manor, Newbiggin, Newcastle United, The Northumberland, Oakleaf, Parklands, Penrith, Ponteland, Prudhoe, Ramside Hall, Ravensworth, Romanby, Roseberry Grange, Rothbury, Ryton, Saltburn, Seaton Carew, Seaham, Seahouses, Slaley Hall, South Moor, South Shields, Stocksfield, Stressholme, Swarland Hall, Teesside, Tynedale, Tynemouth, Tyneside, Wallsend, Warkworth, Wearside, Westerhope, Whickham, Whitburn, Whitley Bay, Woodham, Wooler, The Wynyard.