Merit marks for Thompson

Rhys Thompson is the toast of Slaley Hall after winning the Durham County Order of Merit – and he is just one of several success stories at the club’s QGolf Academy.

The man behind the academy, Steven Fawcitt, has worked at Slaley Hall for three years and was credited as part of Thompson’s success having worked with him on his short game.

Fawcitt explained: “Rhys had been struggling with his short game a little so we’ve been concentrating on that. As results indicate, he’s really turned a corner now.

“He won the Big Six individual title at Delamere Golf Club in August, then went on to extend his lead in the Order of Merit by winning the Ravensworth Bowl.”

Despite the 21-year-old Thompson – who works in the membership department at Slaley – being unable to compete in the final event, he managed to win the title by 10 points to add to his 2015 County Matchplay Championship victory. It secured him a place in this year’s English Amateur Championship and, once he has completed that tournament, he plans to turn professional.

While Thompson’s success is the headline act of 2016, Fawcitt and the QGolf Academy team also take great satisfaction from the more prosaic achievements of their other pupils.

Sara Mather won seven of the 20 club tournaments she played in, while 17-year-old Xan Milligan reduced his handicap from 10 to five on the way to winning his junior club championship. Meanwhile, Slaley Hall has cemented its place as one of the UK’s premier golf resorts after being voted Best Golf Hotel/Resort in the North of England for the third successive year by Today’s Golfer magazine.