IT was Scotland’s turn to organise a prestigious tournament for golf journalists this year – and they chose to stage it in the North East of England.
Close House’s Colt course was the venue this week for the annual “Home International” competition between golf writers from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
They played three rounds on Monday and Tuesday, with Scotland emerging on top in an event which has taken place for the last 20 years.
Close House was picked as the venue because the director of golf, Russell Smith, was previously head of golf at Gleneagles and knows many of the Scottish team. Martin Dempster, captain of the Scots, said: “It may seem strange for us to choose a course across the border when there are so many we could have played in Scotland.
“But Russell is very proud of Close House and was keen to show us the course and the hotel.
“The facilities were first class – and there was the perfect end with a win for Scotland.”
Ireland, featuring a guest in their six-man team in former Newcastle defender John Anderson, a seven-handicapper from the Prudhoe club, were second.
England, who included journalists Alan Hedley, from the Whitburn club, and City of Newcastle’s John Wardle were third, with Wales filling the final place. Tim Taylor, who writes on golf for The Journal, was ruled out by injury. He is receiving a new knee at the University Hospital in Durham next month.
Smith, who was given the go-ahead to host the tournament by owner Graham Wylie, said: “We are keen to promote stay-and-play at Close House.
“People who live in the North East already know all about Close House, but we are trying to spread the message much wider.
“When the Irish team found they can be at our course very quickly after a 40-minute flight from Dublin, it shows we are easily accessible for golfers who want a short break.
“The region is not a natural destination venue for golfers, though, and that’s something we want to change. It’s why we are doing our best to tell golfers in the Ireland and Britain that this is a great place to stay and play a few rounds.
“Obviously we want them to play most of their golf at Close House, but there is also fantastic links golf nearby on the Northumberland coast and other great places to visit in the region.
“I know the journalists were impressed by what we have to offer here and hopefully they can spread the word through their columns.”
THE Dr Jonathan golf advice column, written by the Close House head teaching professional Jonathan Lupton, will be back in The Journal next week.