Home of Champions

Prudhoe Golf Club founded in 1930, has always welcomed golfers into the club whatever their ability.  It has however, developed an outstanding reputation for producing golfers of the highest quality.  During the 75th anniversary year the Club took the decision to adopt the title of ‘The Home of Champions.’  Research proved it was no idle boast and honours boards displayed in the clubhouse, show clearly why the Club deserves such a proud title.

The story starts in 1951 and continues to the present day.  An analysis of the Honours Board puts the players’ achievements into context and the significance of the honours these players have gained. A summary of the honours is set out below:

A Summary of Club Honours

National Championships   14  Selections for England   30
Northern Counties  3County Championships26
Other County Titles 19League Championships11

The above figures show tiles captured up to the end of 2014 

The Roll of Honour starts with the very first champion, Neville Dunn. Neville won the British Boys Championship in 1951 when he was still a junior.  How he did it is a story in itself.  Early one Sunday morning, he took the bus from Wylam to Hexham and then another to Carlisle where he got a train to Glasgow and then to Kilmarnock.  Here he got yet another bus to Prestwick arriving at 9pm without anywhere to stay.  A couple of policemen suggested he went to the Police Station where he met a friendly desk sergeant who was a keen golfer.  The sergeant not only gave Neville an address for the night but also showed him a map of the course and gave Neville good advice on every hole.  Having won on Monday, it took Neville until midnight before he found lodgings for the rest of the week.   The rest is history as he went on to beat Walker Cup player, Michael Lunt in the 36 hole final.   Club members had given Neville the opportunity to play by collecting £5 – quite a tidy sum in 1951 – to help him with expenses.  And  Neville’s equipment is worthy of mention too – a pair of old heavy brogue shoes with cricket spikes nailed to the soles, a mismatched second hand set of irons and a matching set of woods given to him by Jack Timby.

The photograph is Copyright – Michael Dunn 2015. It must not be copied 

Janet Soulsby put the club on the map in the early eighties. Amongst many other national titles, Janet won the British Stroke Play Championship in 1981 and 1982.  She was selected for England many times, including the Curtis Cup team, and also became a regular on the ladies European tour.  Janet lived just across the road from the course!

David Curry was next to start winning national titles. Having reached the semi-finals of the British Amateur Championship in 1985, he went all the way in 1986 and won the Amateur in record style.  This gave him the opportunity to play in both The Masters and The Open.  He was selected for England including the Walker Cup team, was runner up in the English Amateur Championship in 1988 and went on to be a European Tour professional for many years.  Colin Montgomerie, having played along David in the Walker Cup, described him as the most nationally talented golfer of his era.

Shaun Philipson kept the momentum going into the 1990’s. Shaun won the British Mid-Amateur Championship in 1997, having reached the last 16 of the British Amateur Championship earlier the same year and was selected for England.  Shaun has a distinguished County record having won 6 County Championships. He is also the current course record holder at Prudhoe with a nine under par 60 and is no doubt still slightly frustrated with the last hole bogey that cost him a 59!

Other players who have achieved success at County level include Kevin Robson, Paul Armstrong, Shaun Philipson’s brother Wayne, Chris Hunter, Keith Thompson, James Curry, Andrew Scrimshaw, Daniel Shevill, Tom Rowland, Denny Ward, Barbara & Helen Wilson, Lucy Newton and Sarah Longstaff.

In 2009 the Club secured a remarkable treble which had never been achieved before – champions of the Newcastle & District and Hadrian Leagues (the two most competitive leagues in the county) and then defeated the league winners from Northumberland & Co Durham at the Champion of Champions event (Dixon Cup).

Kevin Robson’s massive contribution to local and county golf was rewarded when he was appointed County Captain in 2011.  Andrew Scrimshaw’s dedication to the game was rewarded when he was appointed to the professional ranks playing out of Close House  

In the 1980’s Peter Alliss asked the question “How can a small club in Northumberland produce golfers of such talent?”  The answer may lie in a combination of the course, the focus on developing junior golfers and the Club’s inclusive culture.

First of all a short course it may be, less than 6,000 yards but small, fast and well bunkered greens requires the better players to attack it to achieve a score necessary for maintaining and improving their handicap.  On the other hand, average golfers and beginners can choose whether to play conservatively or attack.  The course has a reputation for always being in great condition and with small greens that are invariably fast, especially during the main playing season.

Secondly, over many many years, the Club has always had a successful strategy for developing it’s junior golfers.  Juniors are considered, along with all sections of the Club to be important and a key part of the Club’s future.