DE Vere Slaley Hall, having brought back The Journal Champion of Champions in 2007, has landed one of the main events on the 2008 European Seniors Tour.
Mark Stancer, Slaley Hall’s golf operations manager, yesterday announced both the big dates for next season.
The Journal’s Champions event will be on Sunday, September 14, 2008. The PGA Seniors Championship will be staged a few weeks earlier, from Thursday, August 21 to Sunday, August 24.
It will feature a record prize fund of £300,000, a 50% increase on the £200,000 played for in September.
“This is all wonderful news for us at Slaley Hall,” said Stancer. “We were deeply impressed by the outstanding quality of the amateurs of the field for The Journal’s event and we are delighted to be able to announce it will go ahead next year.
“We have had the European senior professionals here often before – although not for an event of this stature – with former Ryder Cup captains Sam Torrance, Mark James and Bernard Gallacher turning out and the tournaments have always gone down well.
“De Vere Slaley Hall was also recently named Hotel of the Year at the 2007 North East England Tourism Awards, so these are happy days for us.”
Mark James, a major winner on the Champions Tour, the US PGA seniors circuit, said: “I’m pleased to hear this. The Hunting Course is a tough test – brutal in places – and although we stay in so many hotels, they often don’t stick in the mind, Slaley Hall does. It is excellent.”
The De Vere Hotel Group as a whole were the existing sponsors for the championship, but they have agreed a new three-year deal with the Professional Golfers’ Association,.
PGA Chief Executive Sandy Jones said: Now the championship is moving to Slaley Hall, it further enhances this event, which has a history of great champions. And in the modern era of the Ryder Cup – the worldwide TV era since America started playing against Europe rather than Britain 28 years ago – Slaley Hall is the only Northern club to be short-listed to host the event.
“I think that puts Slaley’s stature into context and I am sure golf fans in the North-East of England will enjoy seeing so many great players”.
The tournament’s past champions includes Open Championship winners Max Faulkner, Kel Nagle and Peter Thomson.
The 2008 championship will be staged on the Dave Thomas-designed Hunting Course, marking a return for the Seniors Tour to the course which held the Northern Electric Seniors tournament from 1992 to 1996.
It also strengthens Slaley Hall’s links with the Seniors Tour. Their other championship course – the Neil Coles-designed Priestman Course – played host to the De Vere Northumberland Seniors Classic from 2001 to 2005.
The PGA Seniors Championship is the longest running event in the history of the European Seniors Tour.