Having made a success of running their first European Senior Tour event, despite taking on the English Senior Open at six weeks’ notice, one of Rockliffe Hall’s next challenges is to find a title sponsor.
Rockliffe have pushed the boat out handsomely, agreeing to pay the tour around £600,000 to host the tournament this season and next, initially without an overall sponsor’s identity preceding the name of the event.
I can vouch for the goodwill flowing in Rockliffe’s direction, having taken in the superbly-organised tournament at the weekend before pitching up at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire on Monday for the Football Writers Association Golf Day.
Lovers of the James Bond films may well remember Oddjob decpitating a statue at Stoke Park with his steel rimmed bowler.
On the evening before the tournament, I shared a bottle of wine with Bryan Gunn, the former Norwich and Scotland goalkeeper who smiled when I updated him on Rockliffe’s debut on the European scene.
Now director of talent recruitment for Paul Rooney’s agents, Triple S Management International Ltd, he said: “I popped into the Rockliffe cluhouse one day when I was next door at Middlesbrough’s training ground.
“It struck me at the time as a great place for corporate entertaining, you can see any sponsor of theirs getting full value for money. They are lovely people.”
The following day, one of my playing partners in the FWA tournament was William Hunt, the Savile Row clothes designer and sponsor of The William Hunt Trilby Tour, a cult series of tournaments for club golfers. The Trilby Tour held their Grand Final at Rockliffe this season and Hunt repeated exactly those same words: “They are lovely people.”
He added: “Warwick Brindle and the rest of the Rockliffe team really know how to look after you. I wish them well in their hunt for a title sponsor; they deserve one.”
Warwick Brindle, who is the chairman of Rockliffe, presented Tinning with a commemorative plate and thanked several sponsors which included the local authorities from Stockton and Darlington.
Michael Petch, tournament director for the European Senior Tour, said: “We are looking forward to next season already.
“We are delighted to confirm the dates for the 2014 English Senior Open when we’ll be back at Rockliffe Hall from August 22 to 24.”
Craig Goodfellow has had some consolation for losing his Rockliffe course record, having signed for 66 a few years ago.
Goodfellow, who represents Penrith Driving Range, tied with Westerhope’s Spike Nesbit in the end-of -season Tour Championship for professionals in the North East and Cumbria at Hexham, both men scoring four-under 66 in a tournament sponsored by True Temper.
Simon Robinson (Sharpley Golf) scored 68 with David Clark (Morpeth) one shot further back.