Lee Westwood signs for Close House Golf, Newcastle
PUBLISHED: 15:55 08 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:58 20 February 2013
The days of big transfers at St James' Park may seem a distant memory, but that hasn't stopped one world class player signing for a North East club. Roger Tames explains
The North East has always loved a big name in sport. Alan Shearer was Uniteds ultimate signing; the Falcons were built on Rob Andrew; Durham cricket went for Ian Botham in their first season.
Now that same bravura principle is being utilised to put the regions new sporting gem right into the biggest international spotlight possible.
Close House Hotel & Golf has signed up world number two Lee Westwood to carry its name around the world. The Ryder Cup star will wear the Close House logo on his cap and the Newcastle course will be mentioned
every time Westwood is announced onto the first tee.
The 38-year-old, who last year ended Tiger Woods reign as world number one, is now Close Houses Attached Tour Professional. Its a typical piece of entrepreneurship from former Sage founder Graham Wylie, who has transformed the Tyne Valley course into a venue unashamedly aimed at the games elite.
Close House used to boast a modest nine-hole course set in delightful sports grounds owned by Newcastle University. From personal experience, I know the fairways ran alongside two excellent cricket pitches where the little lamented Tyne Tees TV cricket team used to play its home fixtures.
Having now enjoyed (?) the challenges of the spectacular new championship golf course cleverly woven into the hillside, the transformation that has been achieved is as breathtaking as the views over the Tyne.
And a challenge the course certainly is, especially for those of us who might generously describe themselves as social golfers. So how reassuring to hear the current world number two also describe the Colt Course as challenging
The other word Lee Westwood repeatedly used when describing Close House was impressive.
Guys like Lee go all round the world and play on the greatest courses, owner Wylie underlined. So for Lee to put his name to Close House means hes obviously impressed with our facilities and the golf academy weve built. Its a great endorsement for our course.
We think weve got something special at Close House. Our members like it but we wanted to put it on the map. What better way than having Lee Westwood as tour pro.
Wylie bought Close House back in 2004 from the university where he graduated. First his team extended the existing nine-hole saunter into the 6,000-yard par 70 Filly Course. The championship course was only opened earlier this year.
Its a new golf course but theyve done a great job in blending it with the existing surroundings, enthused Westwood. Its quite a challenge for golfers of all abilities with some stand-out holes. Its a real quality venue.
The North East can get a little neglected in golf but some good golfers have come out of this area since I first won at Slaley Hall ten years ago. Facilities like this can only bring on the game. The academy and the range are very impressive - unique.
With the latest video teaching bays, biomechanical analysis and physical profiling all available to the courses team of PGA professionals, it shouldnt be just the course itself that excels. The Academy provides a genuine centre of excellence.
Westwood was invited to the much-publicised launch day when he played with Alan Shearer to mark the official opening. Westwood and Wylie soon found themselves on the same wavelength and the Tyneside computer software mogul moved quickly to capitalise on their growing relationship.
The print version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of North East Life
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