Game, set and match

James Melville and Jimmy Guy win the Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs title at Wynyard Golf Club

A year after setting off on their season, James Melville and Jimmy Guy have been crowned Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs champions for 2019.

James and Jimmy, members of Crook and Brancepeth golf clubs, overcame Stocksfield-based Jon Douglas and Mark Laverick 2&1 in a close final at Wynyard. Having gone behind early as Jon attacked the opening holes of the round, which started on the back nine, the title and £600 prize were won by James as he got up and down from the back of the eighth green – holing a downhill six-footer to close out the match.

“We’ve played some cracking blokes and some cracking matches all the way through the event, and the final was another brilliant match,” said Jimmy.

“The way Jon started the round, I thought we were in for a tough game of scrapping to make halves, but we used our few shots really well and capitalised when Jon didn’t make the putts. We worked our way around well between us, but those up and downs were the key to overcoming two really talented players.”

James added: “We don’t win much so this is a bit of an odd feeling.

“That final putt, having made a mess of the first one and left 6ft, was so nerve wracking. I was really nervous standing over it, thinking about the putt but also about what Jimmy was going to say if I had three-putted two greens in a row with the match on the line. Seeing it drop into the hole was a great feeling.”

Part of a strong Crook contingent in the 2019 event, James and Jimmy overcame Vaughan Raine and Shaun Elliott from Crook in the semi-final at Brancepeth, having progressed through five rounds of matches, starting with the preliminary round in April.

Meanwhile, Jon and Mark reached the final with victory over Consett Golf Club’s Barry Cranston and David Hornsey at Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club.

“Our quarter-final game against Johnny Harrison and Adam Reid from Bishop Auckland/Wynyard at Crook was a really important game for us. To get a 6&5 win like that gave us a lot of confidence,” said James.

“Our hardest game was against David Thompson and Terry Buckley from Billingham,” added Jimmy. “That was the only game, apart from the final, which we were down in. We needed some good breaks and really solid golf to win that one. Playing our mates, Vaughan and Shaun from Crook, in the semi-final was great fun, tough but fun as well.”

In the final, Jon made the strongest start with good chances to win the opening three holes – making par at the 12th hole to go 1up as James and Jimmy both failed to get up and down.

James immediately got the Crook pair back to all square with par at the 13th before Jimmy made a nett birdie at the long par five 14th and a birdie at the short par four 15th to go 2up.

The 16th, 17th, 18th and first holes were then halved in pars before James made use of his shot on the par four second, making a nett birdie to take a 3up lead with seven holes to play.

James and Jimmy made their first mistake of the match at the short par four fifth, both failing to get up and down after missing the green to give up a hole to pars from the Stocksfield pair. That win led to another at the par four sixth as Mark made use of his shot to make a nett birdie and get back to just 1dn.

However, that burst of form didn’t last. Both Jon and Mark missed the green at the par three seventh, gifting James the chance to swing momentum back to the Crook pair as he narrowly missed is long birdie attempt and tapped in for par to go back to 2up with just two holes to play.

James then made the crucial putt at the eighth hole to close out the match. Having found the back of the green in two, and with two putts to half the hole and win the match, he left himself a slippery downhill six-footer. That putt hit the back of the hole hard and dropped in to give James and Jimmy a 2&1 win.

“We’ve won the winter league at Crook, our only other doubles win together in five years, but this is something else entirely,” said Jimmy. “We’ll definitely be back in 2020 to defend our title.”

In 2019, 72 pairs took part in Match Play Pairs with matches played across the region throughout the season.

A huge thank you to all the clubs which gave courtesy for these matches and to Wynyard Golf Club for hosting the final. You’ll find all the details for this year’s tournament, including how to enter online and via post, on page 17.

For more on Match Play Pairs go to