England’s best heading to Seaton Carew

Seaton Carew and Hartlepool will host the English Amateur championships July 30-August 4

One of the most prestigious events in England’s amateur golf calendar is heading to the North East, as the country’s best male and female golfers compete simultaneously for the English Amateur championships July 30-August 4 at Seaton Carew and Hartlepool.

The events consist of strokeplay qualifying over 36 holes for 204 men and 84 women – with players completing 18 holes over the links of Hartlepool and Seaton Carew’s Micklem Course – before the leading 64 men and 32 women progress to the matchplay stages at Seaton.

Staged since 1925, the men’s English Amateur Championship has been won by some of England’s most-decorated golfers – including Sir Nick Faldo, Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey, Mark James and Sir Michael Bonallack. In 2023, Romanby-based Ben Brown lifted the trophy with a 38th hole victory in the final at Ferndown – seven years after his brother, Dan, won the event at Ganton. Other players from the region to lift the trophy include Northumberland’s Alan Thirlwell and Peter Deeble, and Durham’s Harry Ashby – all of whom won the title twice.

Played since 1912, past champions in the women’s event include Bronte Law, Trish Johnson, Lily May Humphreys, and Felicity Johnson. In 2023, Surrey’s Ellen Yates won the title, beating former England international Rebecca Earl at the second extra hole of the final.

As well as Ganton, past host venues for either the men’s or women’s events in our region include The Northumberland, Brancepeth Castle, Silloth, Moortown and Alwoodley.

With 288 of the best male and female golfers in the country competing together over both courses on the opening two days, then facing off in matchplay, the event is one of the amateur game’s most appealing spectacles. Spectators will be welcomed to both clubs on the opening two days, and to Seaton throughout the matchplay stages.

Following the cut, matchplay rounds will take place over four days over Seaton Carew’s Micklem Course – with the men’s and women’s 36-hole finals being played over England’s 10th oldest course on Sunday.

Ahead of the tournament, which will be a major highlight in the 150th anniversary celebrations at Seaton Carew, we talk to the defending champions and key people at both host clubs, and delve into the history of Seaton Carew. We also take a detailed look at the Micklem Course here.

Ahead of the English Amateur championships, we catch up with the defending champions as well as key people at both host clubs

Ben Brown
Men’s defending champion
“It’s going to be great to defend the English Amateur so close to home – and have the chance to sleep in my own bed for the week. I’ve only played Seaton Carew once so far, but I really enjoyed it and it’s certainly somewhere I think I can do well. Being so close to home, I think I’ll have some support from my home club, Romanby, which will be great too. While it’ll be different to be defending the trophy and playing so close to home, I’m pretty laid back and the key will just be focusing and performing on the golf course. Winning last year was great and got me into the England men’s squad – which has been brilliant. Working with coaches like Graham Walker and Rob Watts is fantastic, and practising with the best players in the country at home and in Portugal over the winter is never going to do any harm.”

Ellen Yates
Women’s defending champion
“I’m really excited to come up to the North East, and Seaton Carew and Hartlepool, to defend the title. Last year’s event was amazing, especially with my dad caddying. I’d love to win in the UK this summer, so why not as defending champion? I’ve enjoyed my freshman year at college in the US, winning my first tournament, but I’ve been injured this spring so I’m excited to get some tournament rounds in. I haven’t played either course before, but my assistant coach at college is from Kendal and he says the wind will be a big factor. I love links golf, we play so much of it in the UK, so I’m looking forward to the week.”

Chris Pascall
England Golf immediate past president
“Preparing for the practice rounds and strokeplay at Hartlepool has been really important in the last few months as championship co-ordinator for the club. We’re delighted to be hosting the event alongside Seaton Carew, and this will be a massive occasion for us. I can’t wait to see the best men and women in England competing in the North East again. I’m sure it will be a fantastic occasion for everyone who is part of the event – from the players to the volunteers, officials and supporters.”

Phil Cain
Seaton Carew club captain
“The English Amateur will be an incredible occasion for Seaton Carew, and a massive feather in our cap in our 150th anniversary year. We’ve made some major investments in the golf course in the last few years, and the tournament will be a great opportunity to see the best players in the country tackle a very different golf course to what was on show for the Brabazon 10 years ago. Personally, it’s sure to be a fantastic week and I’m looking forward to welcoming people to the club that has been so important to me for 45 years. I’ll also have a chance to relive some of my fond memories of playing in the event many years ago at Formby, and enjoy what is sure to be a wonderful week for the whole club.”

Diane Wilson
Seaton Carew ladies captain
“Hosting both English Amateur championships simultaneously will be a big occasion. The format is quite unique, and we’re excited to see the best male and female golfers in the country take on the golf course as it has been a little while since they were last here and so much has changed. The build-up has been exciting and I hope the players enjoy the course, and being up in the North East. Let’s hope for dry, breezy days to show the course at its best.”

Tom Coulson
Seaton Carew course manager
“We’re moving into the final stages after a long, busy winter and our team of six greenkeepers is looking forward to the final push. There’s some turf refinement coming ahead of the tournament, just to put the final touches on it, though we’re never far from tournament standards. The rough this summer will certainly be challenging after the wet winter, and I think that will test the players properly. A fearsome look from the tee, a bit of wind and some firm, fast conditions will find two proper champions. Just four years into the job at Seaton, this will be a fantastic showcase and test of the work we’ve done so far – and will give us a push as we move into the next stage of the course’s development.”

150 years and counting – England’s 10th oldest golf club, Seaton Carew, celebrates its 150th birthday in 2024

The 2024 season will mark a major milestone in the history of Seaton Carew as the club celebrates its 150th anniversary and adds to its legacy of hosting championships by welcoming the best male and female golfers in the country for the English Amateur championships.

The first club to be established in County Durham and Yorkshire, the 10th oldest golf club in England, and among the first 50 golf clubs in the world – it was named the Durham and Yorkshire Golf Club when it was founded in 1874.

Having moved from Edinburgh to Middlesbrough to continue his medical practice in the early 1870s, Duncan McCuaig quickly set out to establish the first course in the area. By 1874, he had found a suitable piece of land on the north bank of the River Tees just before the river entered the North Sea. Soon after, the original 14-hole layout was extended to 18, and the club was renamed Seaton Carew Golf Club in 1887. Dr McCuaig died in 1891 before this work was completed, and the Doctor par three is named in his honour.

Major works to the golf course were carried out by Dr Alister MacKenzie – the Yorkshireman responsible for Augusta National, Cypress Point and key elements of Royal Melbourne among many others – in the 1920s. MacKenzie recommended moving the course east and “nearer the sea on the ground which has within recent years become available owing to the sea having receded.” New tees and bunkers were created on most holes, while others were rerouted, and five brand new holes were created. The signature hole – Snag – was also changed, with Mackenzie recommending “altering the approach to the green, so that the tee shot is played to the right”.

In the 1970s, Frank Pennink created four additional holes to prepare for the potential loss of land at the southern end of the course. Today, the Brabazon loop allows the club to configure numerous layouts, though in practice two are mainly used – Old and Micklem – with the latter incorporating three Pennink holes.

Legendary golfers have walked the links in its 150 years, including the Great Triumvirate of Harry Vardon, JH Taylor and James Braid – with club professional Jimmy Kay playing exhibition matches against Vardon in 1898 and Braid in 1900. 11-time major champion Walter Hagen also played an exhibition at the club in 1937, and Sir Nick Faldo won the club’s pro am in 1976. Championships have also brought top players to the Teesside links, including Hartlepool’s Graeme Storm and US Open winner Justin Rose, who finished first and second respectively in the Carris Trophy at Seaton in 1996. Events including the British Boys’, Ladies British Open Amateur Strokeplay, and British Mid-Amateur have also been staged here – while the club has hosted the English Open Amateur Strokeplay (Brabazon Trophy) twice – in 1985 and 2014 – with the events won by Peter Baker and Roger Roper (tied) and Ben Stow respectively.

As well as its national championship pedigree, Seaton is a regular host of Northern Counties and county events – including the annual men’s Seaton Salver, which began in 1969 and is part of both the Durham and Yorkshire orders of merit. In 2024, the club staged its first Ladies Salver as part of a busy calendar of celebrations, which will be headlined by the English Amateur championships July 30-August 4.