Northern powerhouse

The British Masters proved the North East should have a regular European Tour event

Walking the fairways at Close House on the Sunday of the British Masters was a special occasion. Paul Dunne’s 61 was sensational. Rory’s chase was nail-biting. The sight of 15-deep galleries was awe-inspiring.

I’m too young to remember, or to have been inspired by, the days of Seve, Monty and co teeing it up at Slaley Hall so to see Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and the best of the European Tour playing on my doorstep in front of packed galleries inspired me – and I’m sure it inspired the thousands of youngsters who shuffled through to the front of the galleries and saw their heroes up close throughout the week.

To hear young fans, and older ones, cheering on McIlroy and local favourite Stormsy (Graeme Storm’s new nickname which grew in popularity throughout the week), proved as inspiring for the players too with many talking about the warm welcome from the galleries and the obvious passion for the game they felt within the ropes over the four days.

To have found a venue capable of hosting the British Masters – a big event on the European Tour, grander than many regular weeks with a true major feel created by huge grandstands, a packed tented village and a stellar field of players – is fantastic for our region. To have a tournament of such high status here was more than likely a once in a generation experience – and it proved a lot to the European Tour team.

That’s why each of the 68,000 people who attended throughout the week deserve a huge thank you for proving that there is a real appetite – bigger than the last two British Masters in the south of England – for top-tier golf here. A huge thank you must also go to Lee Weestwood and Close House for their work in ensuring the Tour had no choice but to bring the event here.

We proved that given the opportunity we can support the grandest events and provide an atmosphere worthy of a premier European event.

Our top venues, big businesses and sporting decision makers now need to leverage more access to events for us to watch and be inspired by. We also need the European Tour to look further afield than it’s base at Wentworth and its old favourites in the south of England and deliver tournament golf to people across the country – sharing the chances to see the best players in the world and the chances to be inspired by these occasions.

Who knows, the North East may well be a regular tour stop once again, we’re certainly capable of hosting them…