Significant Individuals

These are some of the people who have played a part in the Club's history
Dr. Alister MacKenzie

The original 1874 course at Seaton Carew consisted of only 14 holes and was built on what was essentially meadow land, which over the years became more and more difficult to drain. By the end of the 19th century that course was extended to 18 holes, but by the mid-1920's equipment had improved and the shoreline had retreated Eastward, providing a new area of dunes. With this in mind the members decided that Seaton Links needed an extensive revamp and so they contacted one of the great golf architects of the day, Dr Alister MacKenzie. A letter, dated the 13th of July 1924, shows he already had some knowledge of the course, having been to Seaton Carew during the First World War He described it as a "fine piece of golfing country" and concluded that reconstruction could make it "by far the finest on the North East coast".

He recommended moving the course further East and "nearer the sea on the ground which has within recent years become available owing to the sea having receded”. There would be new tees and bunkers on most holes, others would be re-routed to existing greens, and five brand new holes would be created to replace the original 11th, 12th, 13th 14th & 15th. Perhaps his best piece of work was on the 17th, where he recommended “altering the approach to the green, so that the tee shot be played to the right”. It resulted in what is now widely recognised as the Signature Hole at Seaton Carew. So next time you play a round at Seaton Carew you'll know you're experiencing the work of one of the great golf course designers.

Jimmy Kay

James Kay was engaged as a professional by Seaton Carew Golf Club on the 1st of May 1886, following the resignation of Tom Park a member of the famous Scottish golfing family. His duties at the time included assisting in cutting and rolling the greens, filling divots and horses' hoof marks, playing with members, supervising the groundsman and charwoman and keeping a list of players in Club competitions. For that he and his wife were paid the princely sum of thirty shillings a week. However, it was James Kay's playing record which set him apart from both his predecessors and successors. According to press reports of the time he played in a total of 22 Open Championships, qualifying in 20 and twice finishing in the top six.

Without doubt though his greatest achievements came in what were known as "money matches", where he played against some of the top golfers of the time. Pride of place probably goes to his defeat in 1895 of the then Open Champion, J. H. Taylor, who had just retained his prestigious title. Some five years later, Kay exacted a similar outcome on another Open Champion, James Braid, although at that time the latter hadn't recorded any of his five championship victories. In fact Harry Vardon was the only member of the great triumvirate to actually get the better of him. Given such a remarkable playing record it's not surprising that James Kay was held in great esteem by the Club's members, however, in 1926 it was decided that a change of professional was necessary and he was awarded a pension and elected an Honorary Club Member.

Shortly before his retirement Kay was helping chop up some old sleepers when he got a splinter in his right thumb. Sadly, he developed blood poisoning and on the 17th of April 1927 James Kay died. His funeral was attended by fellow professionals, Seaton Carew members and staff from the Golf Club acted as pall bearers. The body of a local golfing legend now lies at rest in Seaton Carew Parish churchyard and he's commemorated in the name of the Old Course's 8th hole - Jimmy Kay.

Walter Hagen

"It is a splendid course. Personally I am very fond of seaside links. They are natural and provide very interesting and varied types of holes. The Seaton links are very well groomed, the greens lovely, and the fairways and lies good. It is not an easy course. It provides a good test of golf and is one on which I should like to play quite often." Those were the thoughts of four times Open champion Walter Hagen after a visit to Seaton Carew on Saturday 24th of July 1937. The “Clown Prince of Golf”, as he was known, had just partnered his Australian colleague, Joe Kirkwood, in an exhibition match against the Seaton pair of Club Professional, Bert Reveley, and former Captain and Schoolboy International, Peter Salmon.

The visit created considerable interest in local golfing circles, and despite showery rain there was a gallery of several hundred to accompany the match. Kirkwood had arrived well ahead of time and hit a few practice iron shots, followed by some work with a driver and brassie, before finishing with a little approach work and putting. Hagen didn't arrive until 2.30, when a large chauffeur driven car pulled up outside the clubhouse, and out stepped “The Haig” along with his female secretary. He then went into the locker room, but looked in no apparent hurry to start the match. In fact, he sat down and refused to move until his “togs” were brought in. Finally, he came out and instead of being given the bird by the spectators, as might have been expected, he was welcomed with a hearty round of applause.

The Seaton pair took an early lead and by the turn had gone four up. The next three holes were halved, but then the visitors mounted a come-back, thanks to birdies from Hagen at the 13th and 14th. On reaching the 17th the locals were dormie two, That was won by Hagen and Kirkwood with another birdie, but a half at the last gave victory to the home pair, meaning Bert Reveley and Peter Salmon had become the only Professional/Amateur combination to beat two of the best golfers of the era.

H.R.H, Edward, Prince of Wales

The visit by H.R.H. Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, (pictured far right in the group) took place during a short stay at the home of the Marquess of Londonderry, who was then President of Seaton Carew Golf Club. The Royal party arrived on the same day as the Club's annual match against the Artisans, so most members were out on the course. However, four caddies were hurriedly arranged.

His Royal Highness had already dressed for golf, except for his shoes which he changed in the men's locker room. The Royal party duly set off, shortly after 4pm, with a few local villagers watching them tee-off. The Club Captain, Harry Salmon, was anxious that the golfers ahead shouldn't hold up the VIPs and sent the assistant professional, “Mac” Nellist to tell them to let the Prince play through. As he passed the Royal party on the second hole, Nellist had the presence of mind to ask the equerry what drinks they'd like on their return to the clubhouse. The Club had no bar in those days and you had to ring a bell for service. After a few holes it seems the group split into two singles, with the Prince playing Viscount Castlereagh. They finished in about one and three quarter hours, although it's believed they missed out two or three holes, and then took drinks in the Smoke Room. The Prince of Wales had a lager.

Before the party left Alf Andrews realised he couldn't find the Prince's panama hat, which had been entrusted to him. A frantic search proved fruitless and eventually the Prince left without it. However, a promise was made that when it was eventually found it would be forwarded to His Royal Higness. The exploration resumed the next day and thankfully the missing “chapeau” was found near the 8th green, where it had obviously fallen from the golf bag. It was duly packed in a golf ball box and dispatched, and a few days later the Club received a letter of appreciation from the Prince's equerry, Captain Aird, and the honour of Seaton Carew Golf Club was upheld.

Edward Gilbert Bunting

C.G.Bunting had three sons, all of whom began their golfing careers at Seaton Carew after the Second World War. Gerald was appointed a Trustee in 1956 and held that position for over 50 years. Derek was always a keen golfer and was an SCGC member until he left Hartlepool in 1961. Before then he won the Gray Trophy in 1952 and also played for Durham County Colts against Northumberland. He joined his father as an R&A member in 1966.
However, it's CG's youngest son, Edward, who left a lasting imprint on the memories of many Seaton Carew members. He joined the Club as a junior in 1949 at the relatively tender age of 14. Just 11 years later he became Club Champion, a feat he repeated in 1971. He was made Club Captain in 1975 and was asked to be Captain again for the Millenium in 2000. He was President of the Club between 2002 & 2005 and was then made an Honorary Life Member.
In true Bunting tradition he became a member of the R&A in 1971 and was famed for taking each year's Club Captain, and a couple of guests, to visit the "Home of Golf", an undoubted high point in their Captain's year.
Edward was also Secretary of the English Golf Union's Northern Counties Group from 1987 to 1998 and Chairman from 1999 to 2001. He was also President of the Teesside & District Union of Golf Clubs in 2003.
Throughout his golfing life Edward used every opportunity he could to promote Seaton Carew Golf Club to the widest audience possible, and he helped attract many National and International events to our great links.