Who says sexism in golf cannot be beaten? Take a look at the picture accompanying this story and you don’t have to work at the Royal Observatory to spot something all the players have in common.
When Tyne and Wear club Ryton came within a hair’s breadth of national glory by finishing runners-up after a play-off in the final of the Mail on Sunday Ladies Classic in Spain, all the players had men caddying for them.
It was a point not lost on team captain Gill Beauchamp, a 56-year-old landscape architect from Low Fell.
She said: “From what I could see, male caddies with other clubs were in the minority all through the tournament, although most clubs didn’t really start using caddies at all until the last 16.
“Caddies were generally reserve players or other female members of clubs supporting the team, but all the men at Ryton have not only been proud of us getting to the final they have been very supportive as well – as has the whole club.
“Most of the ladies had their husbands or partners on their bags and it all made for a great atmosphere. We could hardly have come any closer to winning.”
The tournament attracted an initial entry from 1,455 clubs in the UK and Ryton’s women battled their way through nine rounds to reach the finals at the El Rompido club in Andalucia.
In the semi-finals, Ryton eliminated Kent club Nizels 3-2 and played Rothley Park from Leicestershire in the final.
Ryton got off to a flying start when Beauchamp beat Sally Jee 5&4, but under the Spanish sunshine the contest boiled up into one of the closest in the history of the world’s largest team golf competition.
Ryton’s Sarah Bendelow halved her match with Carol Duncumb, Jean Reid lost 2&1 to Vic Standring and Bev Wears beat Suze Everitt by the same margin.
That put Ryton one up with one rubber to play, Claire Miller losing 2&1 to Jane Hebblethwaite.
With the overall match locked 2½-2½ Miller and Hebblethwaite went back down the par-four first and their contest was decided on that 19th hole.
The key factor there followed Miller opting for a three-wood off the tee after finding a fairway bunker first time round and in the semi-final with her driver.
She pulled her shot into scrub on the left of the fairway and had to drop out from an unplayable lie.
It remains a heroic team effort from a club which has only 32 lady members – winners Rothley have 109.
Ryton skipper Beauchamp, an associate director with engineering and envioronmental consultants Wardell Armstrong added: “I was really proud of all the players who got us so far. It was an excellent performance.”
FORMER Durham County champion Ricky Lee, now living in London, has broken the four-year-old course record at his new club The Rayleigh Resort in Essex, signing for a six-under 66.
The 2012 Journal Champion of Champions was six under after eight holes, going on to add a bogey and another birdie to his card.
Lee, a plumber and former Europro Tour player, moved south to be closer to his girlfriend Lucy Clarke, head professional at The Rayleigh.