A marriage made in heaven is the best way to describe yesterday’s announcement that Rockliffe Hall has been chosen for the return of the English Senior Open in less than two months’ time.
I had the pleasure of playing Rockliffe recently. Take it from me, their beautifully maturing course is every bit as five-star as the hotel and spa facilities.
Even, shall we say, highly-seasoned Tour pros from the over-50s age range are bound to be deeply impressed at what they see.
As George Griffiths, one of the tour officials on the panel at yesterday’s press conference, put it: “Rockliffe have built up such a massive reputation in such a short space of time.
“This event is as much about spectators finding out what they are all about as it is seeing some seriously good golfers.”
It was six years ago this particular Open was last played, at St Mellion, and November 2013 will bring the fourth anniversary of Rockliffe’s opening. The tournament will be played on October 4-6 and again at Rockliffe in 2014, possibly in August.
Rockliffe’s chairman Warwick Brindle said: “Right from the start we set ourselves the target of achieving a milestone like this because second best has never been good enough for us. But we never thought the opportunity for us to put on a five-star event would come along so quickly.
“This follows on from the huge success this summer in holding The Ashes, so we know the North East will support the tournament in a big way.”
Rockliffe have been patiently negotiating with the Senior Tour almost since the flagship venue of Durham County golf came into existence.
This event, with a prize fund of ï¿½200,000, fills a hole in the North East golfing calendar now that the Slaley Seniors has been decamped by De Vere to Cheshire. Rockliffe do their bit for three PGA tours, with Graeme Storm representing them on the European tour, Roger Chapman on the Senior Tour and Darlington’s Ellie Givens on the Ladies European Tour.
Last season Chapman completed a staggering double in capturing both the US Senior PGA Championship and the US Senior Open.
As Brindle put it: “It will be wonderful to see Roger competing in this tournament here. It is all about supporting the people who represent us.”
Andy Stubbs, managing director of the European Senior Tour, said: “The success of the BMW PGA Championship and The Senior Open Championship in England this year has demonstrated the appetite for tournament golf with great public support.
“That has helped us to re-establish this tournament in a region renowned for its love of sporting events.”
FOR more information, visit rockliffehall.com