The former England cricketer, Durham CCC director of cricket and Ramside Golf Club seniors captain on his passion for golf
Geoff Cook has spent nearly 50 years in top-level sport. A county cricketer with Northamptonshire from 1971-1990, he played seven test matches and six one-day internationals for England in the early 1980s. He moved to Durham when the county gained first-class status in 1992 and captained the team. Following his playing career, he became a coach and ultimately the club’s director of cricket – a role he retired from in September 2018 after 27 years with Durham. Geoff continues to be involved in cricket, coaching locally, supporting club cricket and working with the England U19 squad to spot talented young players for the national system. Away from those roles and being a grandparent, he captained the Ramside seniors team in 2018 and remains part of the team. Here’s more from our round with Geoff…
1 How much golf do you play?
I play far more than I have done in the past, up to a couple of times a week in various things. I really enjoy the camaraderie and touch of competitiveness golf provides. I played sport professionally for 20 years and that gives me a great perspective when I’m out there trying to play to a handicap of 13.
2 How did you get into golf?
I dabbled a little bit when I was younger, as many cricketers did with varying degrees of success. We had some fantastic opportunities to play golf at brilliant courses but never took it particularly seriously. I was a country member at Goswick for a while then joined Ramside a few years ago.
3 Where do you like to play in the North East?
I’m very lucky to be a member of Ramside and enjoy both courses here. A little further afield, Goswick is a fantastic place to play and I have some special memories of playing at Slaley Hall.
4 And further afield?
I’ve been lucky to play some fabulous courses all across the UK and around the world. I’ve always enjoyed golf in Scotland and the Ramside seniors’ trip to Turkey has taken us to some brilliant courses. For a stand out pick, it would have to be Turnberry or Wentworth.
5 What’s your best ever round?
I’ve shot 75 at Goswick once – it was rolling nicely that day.
6 Which is your favourite golfing memory?
There are so many, but a recent highlight was a golf day at the Westmoreland resort in Barbados to celebrate the retirement of West Indian legend Wes Hall from his post-cricket career as a politician.
7 What about embarrassing moments?
Playing at Woburn while trying to recover from the night before, I made a birdie at the first hole then failed to get my next 17 tee shots airborne.
8 Do you have any superstitions?
Not when playing golf – I’m far too relaxed for all that. As a cricketer, I had a few. When opening the batting with Wayne Larkins, I always stayed on his right side when walking out to open the batting.
9 What are your strengths on the course?
As every 13 handicapper does, I have good days and bad days. My pitching, from around 100 yards and in, is generally a strength.
10 And your weaknesses?
Putting has always been something I’d like to improve. I can be very inconsistent on the greens.
11 Which is your favourite club?
My seven iron.
12 Who are your best golfing friends?
I’m lucky to have many golfing friends and see lots of them regularly, but I always look forward to playing with Mike Candlish. He has the best outlook on golf I’ve ever come across. He’s supremely competitive but if he fluffs a shot, he’s straight on to trying to hit the next one better. I always enjoy playing with him.
13 Has playing professional sport in the past helped your golf?
Hand eye co-ordination obviously helps in both sports. Having played other sports to a high level, I have a very relaxed outlook on golf, which can help when things aren’t quite going to plan.
14 Who is your favourite tour player?
I’ve always enjoyed watching Sergio Garcia. He’s a fabulous golfer with a passion for what he’s doing. When he’s good, he’s sensational and when he’s not so good, we can all relate to the frustration he shows.
15 Which event do you enjoy following?
Sky has done a great job of moving golf broadcasting forward and I enjoy the coverage a lot. I’ve always enjoyed the week of The Open and this year’s event at Royal Portrush was a fantastic spectacle.
16 Who do you admire?
I worked with the Professional Cricketers’ Association during my career, including as its chairman and secretary, and was incredibly inspired by the work of John Arlott – the PCA’s president from its formation until 1991. It was an honour to hear him speak and learn from him – he had a great sense of fairness and social responsibility. It was a real privilege to work with him.
17 Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
Peter Alliss for his abilities as a raconteur, my brother Dave, who sadly passed away, and AP McCoy as my brother would have loved to spend time with one of the great jockeys.
18 If I could offer you a lottery win or a scratch handicap, which would you choose?
It would have to be the lottery win, I’d be very content hacking my way around the world’s best courses.