A round with… Mike Bowers

The Cellular Solutions MD on his passion for golf, his long-term partnership with the Northumberland county union, and more

Mike Bowers’ sporting connections in the North East are far reaching. A county rugby coach and referee, the former Gosforth RFC player has longstanding ties with Newcastle Falcons, Durham County Cricket Club and a number of amateur sporting clubs across the region. He has also been a partner of the Northumberland Union of Golf Clubs for 15 years, supporting the development and playing opportunities of some of the county’s most successful players through sponsorship of the county team. Following an incredibly successful year for the county, we sat down with Mike to learn more about his passion for the game…

1  How much golf do you get to play?

If I’m lucky, I’ll play a corporate event or with work most weeks during the summer. I try to get a competitive round in each weekend too, often with my sons, Sam, 18, and Harry, 14.

2  How did you get into golf?

My father was a late starter in golf, though my uncle Stan always played. I started out at Newcastle United Golf Club, my dad’s home club, aged nine. I left the game to concentrate on rugby until I was 25. I’ve been back playing golf since then.

3  Which is your favourite course in the North East?

I’m lucky to be a corporate member at Close House, which is an unrivalled golfing experience in the North East. If I venture out, I love going back to Bamburgh at least a couple of times a year. I’ve played some of my best golf there over the years.

4  And further afield?

I’ve been lucky enough to play Loch Lomond Golf Club a few times over the years and it’s always a very special experience from the moment you arrive. I’ve got a trip to the US planned next year for my 50th birthday, including a couple of days at The Masters and golf at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill – so that answer may change soon!

5  What’s your best score ever?

A one under-par 71 at Laguna Golf Course in Villamoura, Portugal in 2003 as part of the NENW PGA Portugal pro am.

6  Which is your favourite golfing memory?

Holing a five iron from 200 yards for an albatross on the eighth hole at City of Newcastle Golf Club after my opponent had setup a 3ft putt for eagle. His reaction was priceless!

7  What about embarrassing moments?

At Close House ahead of a charity event, our table was joined by a guy I didn’t recognise. I introduced myself and he stood there, saying nothing. After an awkwardly long silence, I realised it was the current Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke! People still point out who he is whenever he’s on the TV.

8  Do you have any superstitions?

No, too often they’re used as excuses for poor mental preparation.

9  What are your strengths on the course?

My competitiveness – I always go out there to win. Even when you’re down in a match, if there’s enough holes to play you can win.

10  And your weaknesses?

My chipping. I’ve done some work on it with Matthew Naylor, but it’s still the weakest part of my game. The kids think I’m taking them out on the par three course for their benefit, it’s purely for mine.

11  Which is your favourite club?

My seven iron – though I do have a real fondness for my Scotty Cameron putter too.

12  Who is your best golfing friend?

I’m lucky to have been introduced to the game by my father, and to have had the chance to play so much golf with my family, including my late brother Peter. I have so many golfing friends, it’s impossible to single one out.

13  How does your sporting background help your golf?

I retired from rugby at 27, so I’ve avoided any injuries which affect my golf. The sporting mentality, that desire to win, is a big part of playing good golf.

14  Who is your favourite tour player?

Right now, it’s Lee Westwood. I’ve been lucky to spend some time with him at Close House and he’s a great person to play golf with and socialise with. 

15  Which event do you enjoy attending the most?

The TV coverage makes the majors come to life, but for real drama it has to be the Ryder Cup. I was at Celtic Manor and Gleneagles, and the experience of the Sunday singles is unlike any other in sport. The way the atmosphere builds is incredible.

16  Who do you admire?

Close House owner Graham Wylie. He could have disappeared into the sunset, but he’s chosen to put so much energy into the golf club as well as his charity work and being involved in things like the World Transplant Games. His passion for everything he does is incredibly admirable.

17  Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?

That’s an easy one – Tiger, Jack and Seve.

18  If you could have one mulligan, when would you have used it?

My tee shot on the 18th at Newcastle United in the Hepworth Bowl. I dragged it out of bounds left, knowing I had the whole golf course on the right side, en-route to a triple-bogey seven. A five would have won me one of the oldest trophies in regional golf, and my very own green jacket!