A round with… Chris Pascall

England Golf president Chris Pascall invites us to Hartlepool Golf Club for a round, and to share stories from her life in golf

Chris Pascall’s golfing journey has been an eclectic one. A decorated amateur locally and nationally, Chris has represented England on and off the golf course for more than 50 years. Recognising her commitment to the game – as a player, official, and national team captain and selector – in April 2023 she became England Golf president. We met up with Chris at her home club, Hartlepool, to hear stories from throughout her distinguished golfing career…

How much golf do you get to play?
I’ve played a lot less recently, serving as Durham captain in 2022 and then going into the England Golf presidency in April this year. If I play a couple of times a month at the moment, along with a few practice sessions, I’m quite happy.

How did you get into golf?
My father played at Castle Eden Golf Club, and he got me into it when I was 11. I progressed quickly and got down to single figures by the time I was 15. I got picked for Durham when I was 16 and represented the county for the next 20 years. I won my first national event, the English Girls’, in 1972 when I was 17 and went on to represent England at the Home Internationals that year. A full England cap followed in 1979 and I played for the national team through to 1981. When I got married, I settled down a bit and focused on county golf and work.

Which is your favourite course in the North East?
Aside from Hartlepool, which after 50 years still tests me every time I play it, Northumberland Golf Club – where I represented Durham in Match Week as county champion for the first time and won the northern championship – is a real favourite.

And further afield?
The Robert Trent Jones Snr-designed Royal Park course at Roveri Golf Club, north of Turin in Italy, blew me away when I played it in a European event. It still sticks in my mind today.

What’s your best score?
Playing in the European Ladies Team Championship against Spain, I made five birdies in the first eight holes and was three under-par when the match finished. I also remember winning 36-hole strokeplay tournaments with two under-par scores at both Silloth on Solway and Gullane.

Which is your favourite golfing memory?
The first time I played for England, in the European Ladies Team Championship, had a big effect on me. Playing well that week gave me a huge amount of confidence. Captaining teams has also been so special – leading the England Women’s team at Hillside which featured Bronte Law, Georgia Hall and Charley Hull all making their debuts while they were still juniors was particularly rewarding.

What about your most embarrassing moments on the course?
There have been a few! The most recent one was at Northumberland Golf Club when I was captaining Durham. I managed to fall and slide down the hill from the first tee to the fairway. I could have done myself some damage, but I think the adrenaline and embarrassment got me through it.

Do you have any golfing superstitions?
I prefer golf balls with the numbers one and three on them. I also had a 50-year superstition about only using red tees, but I broke it this year when I started using a pink castle tee with my driver.

What are your strengths on the course?
Years ago, my long irons were always the key to good scores. The skill that has always been my strongest is keeping the ball low, and those are still my favourite shots.

And your weaknesses?
It’s the opposite end of the spectrum – the lofted pitches around the greens.

Which is your favourite club in the bag?
My driver, which is a Ping i15. I’ve had it a little while and it has been very reliable.

Who is your best golfing friend?
I enjoy playing with lots of different people. There are a few of us at Hartlepool who play regularly, but I really do enjoy meeting people through golf. I must mention two people – Rosie Preston from Brencepeth and Durham president Lesley Still. I’ve known Rosie since we were 16 and we’ve spent so much time together outside of golf as well as playing; while Lelsey and I started out together over 50 years ago and are still both very involved in the game.

What would you be doing if you weren’t so involved in golf?
I enjoy sport in general, including cricket and horse riding, so I would like to think I could have gone down one of those routes if I hadn’t stuck with golf.

Who is your favourite golfer?
Bernhard Langer has been my favourite for a long time. I saw him up close on the practice ground at Fulford Golf Club and his control was amazing – his caddie hardly moved when he was picking up the balls. His work ethic was, and still is, outstanding.

Which golf event do you enjoy most?
I love to watch The Masters and I can’t wait to go as England Golf president in 2024. Closer to home, County Match Week has been very important to me for a long time. Getting the northern counties together and competing is always so special and I know all the girls take a lot from it. I played in more than 20 of them and I know what players feel and how important it is to everyone involved in women’s county golf.

Who do you admire?
Catriona Matthew is incredible. She makes no fuss, but she played such superb golf during her career. She also captained a brilliant European Solheim Cup team.

Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
The great Bernard Langer, Durham cricketer Paul Collingwood, and Catriona Matthew would make for a fun game.

If you could have one mulligan, when would you have used it?
It’s a tough one, but in the semi-final of the English Amateur at Royal Liverpool I’d been down for a long time and got back to all-square after 16. At 17, I made five and lost the hole. If I’d managed to hit the green there, I think I would have had a good chance to get the win. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.