Wear delighted

Sunderland legend Gary Bennett and Howard Walton teamed up to officially open Wearside’s new academy course as part of the club’s 125th birthday celebrations.

The £85,000 project was made possible by a £70,000 Sport England grant with the club funding the rest from their own resources.

The nine-hole par three course was unveiled as part of a launch of the club’s academy with Gary and club captain Howard among the first to tee off. They were joined by other officials and captains John Chaytor, Linda Lowes, William Girdwood and Harvey Craig as well as juniors Elliott Moon and Millie Hixon. The par three course has been set up to offer older and younger members a place to play and practice, as well as encourage people to give the sport a try.

The course’s completion was also made possible thanks to the support of Sunderland City Council – which backed the grant application. Club chairman Jim Dutton said: “We are finding it popular with a lot of older members, some in their 80s, who can’t manage a game on the full course.”

There is also a replica of St Andrews’ Himalaya putting green and a driving range which members of the public are also welcome to try.