Best friends become Seaton Carew captains

Phil Cain and Hugh Hamilton Jnr have become Seaton Carew Golf Club’s captain and vice-captain – 35 years after holding the club’s junior captaincy together.

The best friends, who have been members of Seaton for more than 40 years, will play big roles throughout the club’s 150th anniversary in 2024 – which includes co-hosting the English Amateur Championship July 28-August 4.

Phil, 53 – who officially teed off his captaincy with ladies captain Diane Wilson at the Captain’s Drive-in on New Year’s Day – said: “We didn’t aspire to be captain when we were younger, it was always about being the best golfer for Hugh and I. As you get older, the history of the club and its significance in the golfing world dawns on you. To be captain in its 150th year is one of my proudest moments. What has made it extra special is to do it with my best friend, and during a year when one of the biggest amateur competitions is coming to town. It will be fantastic.

“This is one of the first 50 clubs incorporated in the world, and to be captain in the 150th year is a complete honour. Representing this incredible place is in our blood.”

Phil – whose father Brian was captain in 2001 while his brother, Nick, is a former greenkeeper – first joined Seaton Carew on Christmas Day in 1978, when he was given membership as a present at the family home, just a long par five from the first tee.

Hugh, who was born in Limerick, Ireland, joined five years later having moved to Hartlepool with parents Hughie and Yvonne Hamilton. Their friendship blossomed at Seaton, and on the local Dodds Field, where they used to practise.

Hugh, who turns 54 in March, said: “My late dad, Hughie, was a footballer with Hartlepool and he got me into golf while playing on holiday in Scotland. Of all the people to sign my proposer at the time was Pools’ record goalscorer Kenny Johnson.

“What a period that was. Phil and I were fortunate that all the lads were of a similar age and were very competitive. We wanted to beat each other, and as juniors we had the likes of England international Alex Robertson and Barcelona Open winner David Whelan to look up to. Phil and I went on to have 80 caps between us for Durham. We were both club champions (Hugh eight times and Phil twice) and Durham junior double champions.

“It’s fantastic to now be captain and vice-captain together. Neither of us ever even had these positions on our radar – all we wanted to do was win the club championship. Now we find ourselves as administrators.”
It is clear how proud Phil and Hugh are to hold their positions as they chat around the Captain’s Table inside the clubhouse – particularly with the English Amateur Championship on the horizon.

Phil said: “We have both played in the English Amateur. I lost at Formby to Paul Page, who beat Tiger Woods in the US Amateur Championship. Hugh played at Alwoodley, and we can’t wait to welcome it to Seaton.

“Seaton is right up there with the finest links courses in the world. The land is raw, the dunes are only young, and that rawness is very rare. Under Tom Coulson’s stewardship I think we can continue to improve the course. The membership has just invested £750,000 in a new irrigation system, so I only see this course getting better. There’s a lot to play with and we are just the custodians – members come and go but this needs to be here for another 150 years.”

Hugh added: “When we first joined, we didn’t know how big or good Seaton Carew Golf Club was. Like most good links courses, this was at the end of a village. You had to be seen and not heard from in those days as a junior. Those days taught us well, how to behave and speak to people properly. Now we find ourselves as captains having swung a few clubs together on a nearby football field all those years ago.”