Thirty years ago, an 18-year-old John Kirkpatrick, playing out of Whitehaven, captured the Cumbrian title, marking the last time he lifted a County Championship.
After that, he remained fit, and served as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF Regiment before deciding to go into teaching. He now teaches sports science at Durham Gilesgate Sixth Form College.
Now, the fifty-year-old PE teacher and Ramside Golf Club member is one of the oldest – quite possibly the oldest – county champion in UK history, after winning the Durham title at Seaton Carew Golf Club in Hartlepool.
John birdied the 72nd hole at the links course on the Teeside coast, scoring rounds of 69,73,73 and 74 for a five-over-par total of 289, one stroke ahead of Ricky Lee, the defending champion from Tyneside Golf Club.
The third and fourth rounds of the 72-hole Championship were delayed due to bad weather, and played a full month after the first and second rounds.
“I can’t say for sure these old bones of mine would have held up if we had played all 72 holes in two days as is usual in the county championship, but it would have been more difficult,” said Kirkpatrick.
Although Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club is still fairly new at just 18 years old, John is the second club member to win the County Strokeplay Championship. Durham County player Steven Dance won in 2008 at Chester-le-Street Golf Club.
John has handed over the trophy to Ramside director Helen Roseberry, and it is now on display in the clubhouse.
The clubhouse honored him with a free steak meal for two ‘with wine and all the trimmings’, to which he said: “this is a lovely gesture by Ramside Hall, and is very much appreciated.”
Kirkpatrick will represent Durham in the English Champion of Champions tournament at the home of the English Golf Union later this year.