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Is this England's oldest county golf champion?

July 1, 2013

Durham golfer John Kirkpatrick has good reason to raise a glass of wine in The Rib Room restaurant at Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club.

The 50-year-old PE teacher and Ramside Golf Club member could be the oldest county champion in UK history, after winning the Durham title at Seaton Carew Golf Club in Hartlepool earlier this month.

It's 32 years since John last lifted a County Championship when he captured the Cumbrian title as an 18-year-old playing out of Whitehaven.

This time, he birdied the 72 nd hole at the difficult windswept links course on the Teesside coast to win by one stroke from defending champion Ricky Lee of Tyneside Golf Club.

John shot rounds of 69, 73, 73 and 74 for a five-over-par total of 289.

Delayed Finish
Because of bad weather, the third and fourth rounds of Durham's 72-hole county championship were played a month after the first and second rounds.

John commented: "I can't say for sure these old bones of mine would have held up if we had played all 72 holes in two days as is usual in the county championship, but it would have been more difficult."

John has always stayed fit and served in Cyprus as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF Regiment before going into teaching.

He still exercises daily and played Rugby regularly until he was nearly 40 years old.

Although Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club is only 18 years old, John is the second club member to win the County Strokeplay Championship. Durham County player Steven Dance won in 2008 at Chester-Le-Street Golf Club.

John, who teaches sports science at Durham Gilesgate Sixth Form College, has handed over the championship trophy to Ramside director Helen Roseberry and it is now on display in the clubhouse.

Helen, said: "We decided the best way to honour these incredible achievements was to give John and Steven a free three-course steak meal for two with wine and all the trimmings in our Rib Room restaurant and grill."

"This is a lovely gesture by Ramside Hall and is very much appreciated,"said John.

"Steven Dance is on honeymoon in Mexico at the moment so this will be a nice surprise for him and his wife Kelly when they return. Steven will be as proud of John winning the county title at the age of 50 as everybody else is at Ramside Hall,"said Helen.

John will represent Durham in the English Champion of Champions tournament at Woodhall Spa Golf Club in Lincolnshire, the home of the English Golf Union, later this year.

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