Year review – The best of 2022

Dean Bailey looks back at the biggest stories of 2022 as golfers from our region starred on the international stage once again, tour players and elite amateurs shone, proven winners rose to the top once again, and new names made the headlines

The 2022 season proved another incredibly successful one for the region’s golfers at every level – from professionals on global tours, led by Callum Tarren’s success in his first year on the PGA Tour, to amateurs of all ages at home and overseas. 

Undoubtedly, the region’s female golfers shone once again, led by Jess Baker, winner of the 119th Women’s Amateur Championship. There were also multiple national titles for Rachel Gourley – including a win in the Rose Ladies Series against the professionals; a college win for Jess Hall in the US; international team victories for Maggie Whitehead and Rosie Belsham; and a national title for 14-year-old Charlotte Naughton.

The county season was full of action once again for both men and women as the Durham Ladies County Golf Association celebrated its centenary, while there was plenty of action at club level right across the region, and the North East & North West PGA season proved incredibly busy from start to finish too. Here’s the Northern Golfer team’s pick of the biggest stories and successes of the year…

Before the season even got into full swing, Arcot Hall’s Rachel Gourley got off to a winning start in the historic Sunningdale Foursomes alongside England teammate Lottie Woad.
Across the pond, Durham’s Jess Hall won the Fresno State Classic to bring her time as a college athlete in the US to a close.
Closer to home, James Wilson continued his fast start to his professional career with victory in the North East & North West PGA’s Turkey pro am, and celebrations got underway to mark the Durham Ladies County Golf Association’s centenary year.

Scottie Scheffler won the Masters at Augusta National to get the season officially underway in April.
Meanwhile, in the North East, Alnmouth and Alnwick member Joseph Henderson won the Northern Golfer Men’s Champion of Champions title at Longhirst Hall as the event returned at the start of the year to crown a 2021 champion, after a two-year absence during the Covid pandemic.
17-year-old Rachel Gourley was in the news again, right across the UK, as she won the Leveret Trophy at Formby Ladies and the Scottish Girls’ Open at Irvine before topping the leaderboard in her first event alongside the professionals, birdieing four of the final five holes at Walton Heath – where she won the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship title in 2021 – for a two-shot victory over Sharna Dutrieux in a Rose Ladies Series event.
There was also success on the national stage for Blackwell Grange-based PGA professional Aaron Cox, who was named Participation and Development Coach of the Year at the England Golf Awards.
In the North East, Arcot Hall’s James Rutherford won Northumberland’s North & South Trophy at Goswick, Cameron Wallace won the Cleveland Salver, and the Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs tournament got underway.

The opening weekend of May saw Close House and Ramside member Maggie Whitehead eclipse the field in the Ladies Champion of Champions at George Washington as Kendal’s Joey Hornby added his name to the Junior Champion of Champions trophy.
The county golf season got fully underway as Ella Crang was crowned Durham county champion at Seaton Carew; Martin McCririck won the Durham men’s Matchplay Championship with a dramatic sudden-death playoff victory over Jack Richardson at Beamish Park; and Hexham’s Morgan Blythe won the 72-hole Northumberland Strokeplay Championship at Dunstanburgh Castle.
James Glenn returned to form with victory in the Keith Shivers Bowl at Heworth as Aaron Cox continued his early season success with victory in the PGA’s Open Series event at Marriot Worsley Park. There was also good news for Durham teenager Jamie Jopling, who received the first Hero’s Handshake Award of 2022 for his work championing the game among junior golfers.

Jess Baker rose to global stardom and earned invitations to four majors with her victory at the 119th Women’s Amateur Championship at Hunstanton. Jess, 19, beat Sweden’s Louise Rydqvist 4&3 in the 36-hole final with her dad, Steve, on the bag.
Meanwhile, Ponteland-based 14-year-old Charlotte Naughton became the youngest-ever winner of the Northumberland ladies county championship at Blyth as Tynemouth’s Stewart Fell won the county’s men’s championship at Bedlingtonshire. Wynyard-based pro James Harper won the Northumberland & Durham Open at Morpeth, and Wayne Melles won the Seaton Salver.
At Slaley Hall, Matthew Cort won the national PGA Professional Championship, and Scott Vincent won the first-ever Asian Tour event in the UK.
On the international stage, Linn Grant made history as she stormed to a nine-shot victory at the Scandinavian Mixed to become the first female winner of a DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event.

Charlotte Naughton followed up her first county title with a national one when she won the English Girls’ Under 14 Open Championship at Formby Ladies, while Northumberland’s Rosie Belsham helped England’s women defend the European Teams Championship at Conwy in Wales.
Thailand’s Chanettee Wannasaen won the LET Access Series’ Trust Golf Links Series event at Ramside Hall, and Alnwick professional Darren Grey won his second Society of One-Armed Golfers World Championship at Tynemouth.
On the NE/NW PGA circuit, Ken Ferrie won the PGA Championship at Middlesbrough as Tim Dykes won the Sunderland of Scotland Masters at Westerhope. In men’s county golf, Seaham’s David Patterson won a playoff to lift the Durham County Strokeplay Championship trophy at Castle Eden, and the three-men teams from Durham City and Hexham won the Durham and Northumberland teams’ championships respectively.
The spotlight was also on Slaley Hall again as Nick Poppleton won on the EuroPro Tour at the Northumberland venue.

Callum Tarren retained his PGA Tour card with a top-125 finish in his first FedEx Cup campaign to lead the way in August.
The region’s girls once again shone on the national stage too, with Maggie Whitehead and Rachel Gourley helping England’s joint men’s and women’s team win the inaugural R&A Trophy at the Home Internationals.
Across the North East, the men’s league golf season came to a close with Newcastle United, Close House, Durham City, Bamburgh Castle and Eaglescliffe winning trophies as Northumberland Golf Club and Ramside won their respective junior league titles.
At South Moor, Joshua Gardner won the North of England Under 14 Championship, and Jess Hall returned to the headlines with a win alongside Jamie Birkbeck in the Durham County Mixed Foursomes.
After 955 days, Close House member Alistair Collin ended his Top 100 Heart Challenge at Turnberry, raising more than £30,000 for the British Heart Foundation by playing the UK & Ireland’s Top 100 courses.

As the season began to wind down, there were still big events to be won.
We crowned three new Northern Golfer champions of champions at Longhirst Hall as Woodham’s Tony Tomlin won the men’s event, Hexham’s Morgan Blythe won the junior event in his final under-18 tournament, and Faye Wheatley became a two-time Ladies Champion of Champions as she dominated the field once again.
In men’s team golf, Brancepeth Castle won Durham’s Clark Cup while Durham City won the Dixon Cup, which brought together five league-winning men’s teams.
Over in the US, former Northumberland county player Matthew McClean won the US Mid-Amateur at Erin Hills, while at home, Durham’s girls won the Junior Jamboree for the first time.
It was also a busy month on the NE/NW PGA circuit as Vince Guest won the Matchplay title, Tim Dykes won the season-long Mizuno Order of Merit for the first time, and John Harrison won a professional event for the 46th year in a row before winning another one just a few days later.

Beamish Park’s Luke Allen and David Whalen were crowned the 21st Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs champions at George Washington after another full year of matches across the region.
Abroad, Jodi Ewart Shadoff won her first LPGA title in the US, and Morpeth’s David Clark and Steve Redpath won the SkyCaddie PGA Pro-Captain Challenge in Italy.
There was also national success for Garesfield’s Marc Coulthard and Gareth Powell in the PING Pairs final, an event which brought together more than 10,000 players.
At regional level, there were wins for James Glenn in the North of England Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship at Seaton Carew, Northumberland’s boys in the Northern Counties league, Phil Waugh in NE/NW PGA’s Tour Championship at Matfen Hall, and Houghton-le-Spring’s Sean Foster and Dan Ellison in the Northumberland and Durham Inter-County Foursomes final at Tynemouth.