The entrepreneur and South Shields Football Club chairman shares his favourite golfing moments
It’s been a fast start to Geoff Thompson’s chairmanship of South Shields Football Club.
Having purchased the club’s ground at Filtrona Park – renamed Mariners Park – in 2015 to return the team to the town following a two-year stint in Peterlee, Thompson has seen the club win four trophies in 2016-17 – the FA Vase, the Northern League and league cup, and the Durham Challenge Cup. The Mariners also won 32 consecutive games earlier this year – success which seemed impossible just two years ago.
A leading North East entrepreneur, Thompson is founder and non-executive chairman of the UK’s largest business energy consultancy Utilitywise, when he’s not running the football club or overseeing his business you’re likely to find him on the golf course…
1 With a packed schedule how do you fit golf in?
I’ve just moved into the non-executive role at Utilitywise so I’m hoping this season is the start of my golf improving again having struggled to play to 10 in the last few years.
2 How did you get into golf?
I started as a young lad around the age of 13 and my dad used to drop me off at Heworth Golf Club on his way to work in the school holidays. We’d play 54 holes in a day with a couple of breaks for a bowl of chips and a blackcurrant and lemonade.
3 Which is your favourite course in the North East?
There are quite a few. I love links golf so Seaton Carew needs to be on there. I’m also a fan of Brancepeth and my heart will always be at Heworth where I have so many old friends. I’ve also been a member of Close House with my wife Andrea and we love spending time there too so there are a lot of favourites to pick from.
4 And further afield?
We’re members of The Renaissance Club in North Berwick and love spending time up there; it’s a stunning course. I’ve also been lucky enough to play Augusta National twice.
5 What’s your best ever round?
Sadly there aren’t too many to pick from but I’ll never forget playing at Whitburn and making the turn 3dn before rallying to win the game at the last. That was about 30 years ago and I still remember it!
6 Which is your favourite golfing memory?
The two rounds I’ve played at Augusta National were incredible experiences, I’m very lucky to have had the chance to play such an iconic course. I must also mention Andrea’s eagle on the King’s Course at Gleneagles!
7 What about embarrassing moments?
Playing a match for The Renaissance against a club from the US, I had a fresh air shot on the third tee trying to chase after two big drives. I’ve also played against Lee Westwood in a charity event wearing Royal & Awesome trousers and it was suggested I could be Laura Davies in a ‘guess the player’ competition on their website.
8 Do you have any superstitions?
No, but I do have a very specific pre-shot routine which I have to go through on every shot.
9 What are your strengths on the course?
I’m a good long putter, I don’t three putt often.
10 And your weaknesses?
I’m poor at getting the ball up in the air and stopping it with my wedges, which is why I prefer links golf.
11 Which is your favourite club?
I’m very happy with my driver and I like giving it a good lash now and again.
12 Who is your best golfing mate?
Paul Hailes, an old pal of mine from Heworth, is a terrific golfer and I’ve always enjoyed playing with him over the years. Our matches are normally very competitive.
13 How has playing golf helped your career?
As a young lad growing up in South Shields, golf taught me a lot about discipline and how to conduct myself. There’s a lot you can learn from playing golf as a kid. In business, you can learn about the people you work with by spending four hours with them on the golf course – it showcases every facet of someone’s personality.
14 Who is your favourite tour player?
It was always Seve back in his day, I loved watching him play golf. Rory is an exceptional player and I like to watch him play.
15 Which event do you enjoy the most?
I’ve always enjoyed the Ryder Cup and there have been so many memorable matches. I’ll never forget watching the Miracle at Medinah unfold on TV – what an amazing sporting occasion!
16 Who do you admire?
Warren Byrne from the football club scored the Budweiser Dream Goal last year – you need to watch it on YouTube if you haven’t seen it. Winston Churchill has always been an inspiring person for me as well.
17 Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
I’d have to pick from Seve Ballesteros, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and my late uncle Bert.
18 If I could offer you more trophies for South Shields FC or a scratch handicap, which would you take?
It would have to be success for the football club and the town. I’ve seen what the last two years have done for the area and to keep that buzz going in years to come would be fantastic.