If you are still looking for your first hole-in-one then Seaton Carew Golf Club might be worth a visit after a recent hot streak! Getting an ace has always been seen by many average golfers as the pinnacle of their golfing career, after all the odds for achieving it are reckoned to be 12,500 to 1. And over the course of an 11-day run in August there was a staggering five hole-in-ones recorded by club members at the historic links by the North Sea.
“It was a staggering period. As a club I don’t think we have ever known anything like it,” said club secretary Roy Leonard. “Seaton celebrates its 150th year in 2024 and we have some long-standing members here who can’t remember anything quite like it.”
The incredible run of good fortune started on August 18 when David Goodchild holed out at the 15th hole, known as Cosy Corner, using a three wood.
Just two days later Carl Mason scored his first ever ace in 40 years as a member at Seaton Carew at the sixth (Mashie) with a seven-iron.
The 70-year-old, whose handicap peaked at seven before he started to suffer from frozen shoulders, said, smiling: “All I said to the three guys who witnessed it on the adjacent tee was ‘now I can die a happy man!’I have been on the edge of the hole on the 15th before, waiting for it to drop, and that was around 20 years ago. I just thought it would never happen. This time I decided to go out on my own for a knock before I played a competition. My shot was going towards the bunker, I didn’t see it bounce, and when I was walking towards the hole, it was blowing a gale. The ball must have been resting against the flag and as soon as the wind picked up it moved the flag and the ball dropped in. The three lads shouted hole-in-one - I’m a bit deaf so I couldn’t hear. I couldn’t believe it.”
The trend continued five days later when former Hartlepool United footballer Barry ‘Badger’ Parkes, now aged 83, struck the NINTH ace of his 46 years as a member with his five-wood on the sixth. “All of them have been at Seaton Carew,” said Barry, who reached a five handicap at his peak. I feel so privileged to have hit nine when a lot of people haven't even had one, I am a lucky so-and-so because the ball just keeps dropping in! I can’t remember too many of them, but I do want to hit 10 now because double figures would be amazing – like my good friend John Hall. I’m also so privileged to play at Seaton, one of the best and oldest courses in the UK. I love being part of the community – and it is most unusual to hear about all these hole-in-ones.”
Sean Cussons became the fourth member of this illustrious group to hole out at Mashie, using a nine-iron on August 28.
And the final member of the quintet was Peter Fearon when he got the fourth ace of his career and the first in a competition. That was also on Mashie and his club of choice was a five-iron.
Roy added: “To say the Scotch has been flowing freely at Seaton Carew is something of an understatement as ‘putting a bottle on the bar’ is the recognised way of celebrating such an achievement. Congratulations all round and cheers lads!”
The five golfers still have work to do to catch former Seaton Carew club captain John Hall, Barry’s long-term pal. John's tenth hole-in-one since joining as a member in 1953 was recorded earlier this year.
There was joy and tears as an emotional Alex Shaw became Seaton Carew Golf Club’s latest Club Champion for the first time. Seventeen years after landing the club’s Junior Championship title, the 34-year-old got his hands on the prestigious senior crown – an honour his late father would be extremely proud of. It was his dad, Adrian, who introduced Alex to the game as a ten-year-old and told him they were joining Seaton at the turn of the century as it was "the best course and club by far." Adrian, though, passed away two years ago after a short battle with an aggressive cancer, leaving Alex heartbroken. But Alex felt his inspiration was with him when he was able to build on a two-over par first round - that left him tied with two-time champion Ian Hendry and Jack Burton – by shooting the only level par score of the two days to become Club Champion.
The 2023 Seaton Salver took place on Saturday 3rd June and was a qualifier for both the Yorkshire Order of Merit and Durham County Order of Merit. The 36-hole event was played in glorious sunshine and a light breeze throughout most of the day and the course was in excellent condition with the hard and fast greens providing quite a challenge for many of the competitors.
The leaders after round one were Daniel Hayes from Bramhall in Cheshire on 2-under (69) with local man Alex Shaw just one shot adrift on 70. Cookridge Hall's Nathan Ali was in third spot with a 71, and cluster of players were tied on 72. Whilst some golfers appeared to find the afternoon's conditions more favourable, others struggled to maintain their morning form. Daniel Fox from Brancepeth Castle turned in the best performance after lunch carding a 1-under 70, with Seaton Carew's Jamie Holmes just one shot behind.
However, the overall winner with 69-72=141 was 16-year-old Daniel Hayes who is a member of the Cheshire County team. This was the first victory in an event at this level for the teenager who, in an understated manner, described the course "in good nick and the greens really good". The youngster intends to revisit Seaton Carew in the autumn when the Northern Counties Championships will be staged in October.
The massive improvements that have been made to the course at Seaton Carew Golf Club, over the past couple of years, have once again been recognised by the golfing press. Last year the Club saw its standing in National Club Golfer’s Top 100 Courses in England climb 39 places from 85th to 46th, taking it into the Top 50 for the first time. This January has seen the release of Golf World’s Top 100 list for England, and again Seaton Carew is the joint-highest climber, moving from 81st to 66th in that magazine’s rankings.
Such glowing recognition is a tribute to recently appointed course manager, Tom Coulson, and his dedicated team of green keepers who have taken the course to a new level. More than two dozen bunkers have either been built or remodelled, vast improvements have been made to a number of greens complexes, new tees have been built and over three hectares of Sea Buckthorn bushes have been removed. The latter work has completely opened up new vistas of some magnificent dunes which flank the course’s Eastern boundary.
The Club is currently consulting with renowned golf architects MacKenzie & Ebert to ensure that all future developments follow the design ethos of one the course’s earlier designers, Dr. Alister MacKenzie. This will create a layout which will appeal to golfers of all standards whilst still providing a challenge applicable to modern championship golf. This is reflected by the fact that Seaton Carew has been chosen by England Golf to host their prestigious English Amateur Championship in 2024, the year in which the Club celebrates its 150th anniversary and the sport’s governing body its centenary.