League’s new format hailed a success in first year

The new structure of the Newcastle & District Golf League has been hailed a success, with clubs set to compete in two flights of eight once again in 2023 following positive feedback on the first year of the two-division format.

Newcastle United topped division one and were crowned 2022 champions, while the creation of promotion and relegation between the two tiers added drama to the final night of the season.

Newcastle United earned a first title in 25 years – topping division one with 123 points from 14 matches. Club captain Jen Anderson said: “Winning the league for the first time since 1997 was fantastic.

“The change to the league has been very well received among players in our team and among the people I’ve spoken to. 

“The competition between the clubs was fantastic, with some excellent nights of very close matches which we all knew counted so much with eight very strong teams playing home and away. Seeing the players and captains twice also helped get to know each other better.”

Newcastle United finished top of division one, 19 points clear of Northumberland Golf Club. With promotion and relegation introduced for the first time, Westerhope topped division two and will move up in 2023 along with Blyth and Morpeth as Whitley Bay, Ponteland and Tyneside move down.

Westerhope captain Craig Armstrong said: “We’re very happy to have been crowned division two champions. With everything to play for on the last night, both for us and our opponents Blyth, and the other teams playing for promotion and relegation, we certainly enjoyed it right to the end of the season. We’re very happy with the new format and we’re looking forward to 2023.”

With 16 teams in the league, in the past there has been a fall off in competition in the latter part of the season among the clubs no longer competing for the title. However, as league secretary/chairman Marcus Chisholm explains, the new format ensures there is a great deal to play for in the final weeks of the season.

“We’re very happy with the reception the two-division structure has received, and we couldn’t have wished for a more exciting end to the year at the bottom of division one and top of division two as eight teams were vying for positions on the final night.

“Having received such positive feedback from many of the established league players, as well as club captains, we look forward to building on this year’s success in the second year of our two-year trial of the new format, and beyond.”

The final fixture of the league’s season, the Players Team Championship, took place at Westerhope Golf Club in September with City of Newcastle’s Andrew Minnikin lifting the individual trophy as his home club won the team title. 

Meanwhile, Tynemouth Golf Club’s Stewart Fell, the 2022 Northumberland county champion, was crowned League Player of the Year after winning 12 of his 14 matches this season. He added his name to the trophy for a second time following his success in 2019.