The Lee Westwood influence on the Filly course at Close House is a big hit with Shaun Embleton, the Ryton club contender for Sunday’s Journal Champion of Champions.
The 33-year-old Embleton knows a thing or two about golf lay-outs – he’s a greenkeeper at the club he joined as a 14-year-old.
He got up to date with what to expect during his free practice round for the Champions last week.
Embleton had the advantage of having digested Westwood’s views on the £1m revamp of the Filly when the Ryder Cup star was a guest golf columnist for The Journal in July.
The former world No 1, the Attached Tour Professional at Close House, flagged up the big changes on what is now called The Lee Westwood Filly Course.
Westwood wrote: “The Filly is really interesting, especially after all the changes.
“In terms of its setting, the course is a cracker with some fantastic views of the Tyne Valley.”
Embleton said: “You can definitely tell that Lee Westwood has had an input into the changes.
“The shape of the course suits my game because I draw the ball and, of course, everything is in top condition at Close House and the greens are running very true. I feel now that a player like me, a one-handicapper, has been brought into contention in that I have an outside chance of winning the Champions.
“That is especially true of the fairway bunkers on the par fours which have been well positioned to catch the stray shot.
“The risk and reward factor is spot-on.
“I am really looking forward to the tournament but I am glad I had a practice round.
“It is not a course you can expect to win on if you are playing it for the first time”.
Embleton made headlines seven years ago when he landed a mammoth 314-yard hole-in-one at Ryton’s fourth.
Last year he grew in stature by playing the North East Masters series of scratch 36-holers, capturing threetop-10 places.
A third-place finish in the county championship helped to bring him his county debut at the age of 32 and he has been a Durham regular this season.
“Once I made the decision to play the 36-holers my confidence grew by leaps and bounds,” he said. “I had always thought I was not good enough to play them – but how do you know unless you get out there and give it as try?”
CLUBS are reminded the deadline for entering their player in the Champions is noon today. There is separate information for clubs and players on www.closehouse.co.uk , click on golf then The Journal Champion of Champions 2013.