Former Durham County champion Richard Aisbitt overcame fierce winds to equal the new Morpeth course record with a five-under first round of 66 in the 36-hole Sandy Twynolm Trophy.
Opened this season, the altered course has been lengthened by 218 yards to 6,341 yards.
The Brancepeth Castle player became the first golfer to sign for 29 over the back nine, with birdies on six holes after the turn.
Aisbitt signed for 73 in the second round to finish runner-up on 139, two shots behind Workington’s Will Bowe who scored 70 67. A 15-year-old Morpeth junior, Robbie Allen, took first place in the net competition with two gross scores of 77, which was 140 net playing off seven.
The item in last week’s Teeing Off golf column giving a closing date for late entries – flagging up the net competition being open to all single- figure players despite this being a scratch tournament – attracted six extra players in two days.
Explaining the extra yardage this year, Morpeth general manager Terry Minett said: “It means that although the par of 71 remains the same, the standard scratch score has gone up from 69 to 71, also bearing in mind many of our trees have now grown and matured.”
Northumberland captain Andrew Minnikin, who came third, said: “The course is definitely going in the right direction and playing as well as it has ever done.
“It is in fantastic condition and it is always preferable for the standard scratch to be the same as the par.”
Minnikin is currently trawling through the massed ranks of all those who have played in the same Northumberland side as former Scotland international Twynholm, who retired from county golf after 30 years and 112 caps earlier this season. That is the qualification for playing in the Sandy Twynholm Testimonal at Morpeth on October 6, when the field will be asked to donate £5 a head to the club’s junior section funds.
“The county executive are being very supportive of this,” said Minnikin.
“It’s a way of celebrating Sandy’s remarkable county career and recognising all his many achievements.”
If you have been accidentally missed off this particular list of county old boys, then you can make contact with Minnikin through nugc.org.uk