England and Wales (North) Region
04 Jun 14
David Clark has dedicated his first victory since taking over as the Head PGA Professional at Morpeth Golf Club in Northumberland to the memory of his friend and predecessor, the late Martin Jackson.
Clark battled through rain and wind to set a tournament record with a four-under 64 in the Hadrian Healthcare Pro-Am at County Durham's boom club Whickham, finishing three shots clear of the field.
The 36-year-old Clark took it harder than most when Jackson died a year ago.
“I had my first golf lesson from Martin at the age of ten and he sold me my first set of clubs”, said Clark.
“I also did my PGA apprenticeship at Morpeth and worked for with him for eight years before becoming a freelance golf pro.
“He was my boss and he became my friend. Sometimes a golf pro and his assistant can work ten-hour days in the shop together so you either get on with each other or you don’t.
“I enjoyed working with Martin, he was a typically straightforward Yorkshireman. He was honest and straightforward so you always knew where you stood with him and he would do anything for you.”
In 2012 Clark won eight events in a row on the PGA’s regional professional circuit for the North East and Cumbria.
Clark took over at Morpeth on October 1 and the Whickham tournament brought his first triumph since late last season.
He said: “My form was ropey going into the event but concentrating on keeping dry seemed to clear my head of any technical worries.
“Instead of fretting about my swing path or anything like that, my only thought was to hit the ball with the middle of the club and that seemed to free my mind.”
Eleven days before their Pro-Am, the Whickham club announced a waiting list for seven-day membership, having reached their capacity of 450.
Said marketing director Ken Greatbach: “We still have openings for six and five-day members but there has been an incredible and unprecedented popularity in golfers wanting to play in our Saturday competitions.
“We have delivered affordable golf and have let golfers know about it through a concentrated recruitment campaign.”
This is a dramatic turnaround for a club which lost 177 members in three seasons a few years back and ran up a six-figure overdraft before wildly successful wholesale changes took effect.
Whickham were also in the forefront of the North East Golf MasterKey scheme being introduced this season for six Durham County golf clubs.
This allows members of Beamish Park, Brancepeth Castle, Chester-le-Street, Durham City, Wearside and Whickham to play the other five courses for free during 2014.
Whickham brought equal joy for the Pro-Am sponsors, Gateshead based Hadrian Healthcare Group, who romped off with the team award six shots clear of any other team.
The group run residential homes for the elderly in Barnard Castle, Blyth, Bradford, Gosforth, Hull, Leeds, Scunthorpe, Wetherby and Whickham.
The Healthcare team’s pro was Cumbria’s Craig Goodfellow, the only player in the history of the Professional Golfers' Association to win both the national PGA club professional and assistants’ championships.
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