A round with… Jonathan Ward

The Durham County Golf Union secretary takes to the hot seat to share his favourite golfing memories

Heading up golf in Co Durham is a big job – just ask Jonathan Ward. As well as organising matches, practices and travel for the county’s men’s and boy’s teams, Ward oversees elite competition for 44 clubs and 17,000 male golfers – from the County Championship through to team events and handicap competitions. With a busy summer – covering 25 consecutive Saturdays of events – it’s no wonder he’s relishing the winter months and having the chance to get out to some of the fantastic clubs in his patch. Here’s more…

1 With a packed schedule how do you fit golf in?
It’s not easy fitting much in during the season with most golf tending to be social midweek rounds and away trips, or a round with some of the county team lads on the practice day before a County away match. I do get a bit more in over the winter months and will try and play at least once a week.

2 How did you get into golf?
I come from a golfing family; my grandmother being a club ladies secretary and my grandfather was a scratch golfer, county captain and county matchplay champion in 50s. Unfortunately, he died before I was born so my father introduced me to golf at South Shields Golf Club when I was eight years old.

3 Which is your favorite course in the North East?
I will always have an emotional tie to South Shields having started there and been a member for 30 years before joining Durham City Golf Club when I moved to Durham. I have always also liked playing Seaton Carew, Brancepeth Castle and my home course Durham City.

4 And further afield?
I’ve just got back from a few days golf in Portugal playing Vilamoura Old Course, which is one of my favourites. I also got to play at Poipu Bay, where Tiger Woods won seven PGA Grand Slam Championships while on my honeymoon in Hawaii. That is a special place with the best views you will ever get on a golf course!

5 What’s your best ever round?
A three under-par 68 to win the Alexander Cup at South Shields a few years ago.

6 Which is your favourite golfing memory?
Making a hole-in-one to win a league match for South Shields away to George Washington. A great moment but also a costly one with so many players and caddies around.

7 What about embarrassing moments?
Flying the County Flag upside down at one of my first events as county secretary and not noticing it until I came to take it down. I don’t think anyone noticed – but now everyone will know!

8 Do you have any superstitions?
I can’t say I have, but for some reason I always prefer white tees – probably so I can find them as it’s one thing I hate buying.

9 What are your strengths on the course?
My short game as it’s the only part of my game that hasn’t suffered too much with a lack of playing.

10 And your weaknesses?
Length off the tee for sure – but I’ve always been quite straight so keep it in play more than most.

11 Which is your favourite club?
Probably the putter. I have only had three in all the years I have been playing and have had my current Scotty Cameron for more than 10 years.

12 Who is your best golfing friend?
Having played since childhood and worked in golf for a few years now, I have made too many golfing friends to pick one, but I still often play with my oldest golfing friend Mark who I grew up playing with at Shields in the 80s.

13 Do you/have you played any other sports. Do they help your golf?
With a young family, running a couple of times a week is the best option to keep fit these days. I did the Great North Run for the first time this year. I used to play a bit of squash but it messed up my swing…

14 Who is your favourite tour player?
Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros were my golf idols growing up but these days I enjoy watching Sergio Garcia for his ball striking, flair and emotion. I also like to follow the career of home grown talent like Graeme Storm as he has supported the County over the years and still spends some time with our team each season.

15 Which event do you enjoy watching/attending the most?
I’m sure most people say the Masters or the Open Championship and I can appreciate why, but the Ryder Cup is my favourite golfing event to watch as I like the team element and the passion. I have never attended one but it’s on my bucket list.

16 Which sportspeople do you admire?
A hard one! Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus did so much for the popularity of golf without spoiling their legacy by making headlines for the wrong reasons.

17 Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
Sergio Garcia as I’d love to watch him strike the ball from close by, Peter Kay to add some humour and if I could time travel, my Grandfather who I never got to meet but have heard so many great golfing stories about.

18 If I could offer you a lottery win or a scratch handicap, which would you take?
The lowest handicap I’ve held is three and the holy grail for many golfers is to be off scratch so I’d take that – though a lottery win is much more likely these days!