1970 to 1999

With the dramatic reduction in press coverage on county golf, and the loss of all county records in the 80s, our archive for this period is somewhat lacking. On a more positive note, the advent of affordable colour photography resulted in a number of images no doubt taken by followers of the county who were keen to try out their new toys!

1974 saw the first Cheshire man to take the helm as President of the English Golf Union. Ted Hill, a Bramhall member, had this honour. Prenton's Peter Dutton followed in 1989 and Heswall's Stuart Cookson in 1994. Sadly "Rusty" Williams (Chester G.C.) passed away in his year as President-elect of the EGU.

Ted Hill

On the playing front, the most notable aspect of the 1970s was the rise to prominence of Crewe G.C’s  Roy Smethurst who emerged to challenge the dominance of Gordon Edwards and establish himself as a legend of Cheshire Golf.

Other prominent players in the era included Peter Dennett, Brian Stockdale, who had moved down from Lancashire, Phil Jones, the son of three-times county champion Jack Jones, and Phil Bailey.

In 1972 Roy Smethurst was runner-up to Kevin Jones in the County Championship at Sandiway, and he was also second the following year, behind Gordon Edwards who won what proved to be his last County Championship. Roy was to reverse the 1973 result in 1978 at Stockport by winning the first of  four championships. He won again in 1982 at Delamere and defended his title the following year at Heswall.

Edwards, however, was not finished and in 1974 he won another Matchplay Championship, beating Sandiway's Clive Tickell at Royal Liverpool. In 1986 he won it again at the age of 54, beating a young Gareth Bradley at Wallasey.

Cheshire versus Yorkshire: a long established rivalry. This is from May, 1978 at Mere
Cheshire: Bradshaw, Bailey, Jones, Smethurst, Dennett, Biggs, Jordan, Brown, Williams, Behrend, Walker, Geddes
Yorkshire: MacKenzie, Kelley, Carrigill, Smith, Mitchell, Crawshaw, Walker, Whiteley, Holliday, McCarthy, Clay, Hopkinson

Bromborough’s Phil Jones was undoubtably one of the finest ball strikers  the county has seen, and one of its most consistent performers. Although he never emulated his father’s three (consecutive) County Championshps, Phil did secure one victory, on his home course in 1987 where he held off Caldy’s Ray Hughes. This victory was the only year between 1986 and ’89 when Phil Bailey didn’t win the County Championship. Phil had won his first title in 1979 at Sandiway, and confirmed his class with wins in ’86 at Wilmslow, again at Sandiway in ’88 and finally at Caldy, by then his home club, in 1989.

Success for a smaller club: Alderley Edge produced three consecutive winners of the T.P.D.Taylor Trophy (leading Under-23 player in the County Championship) Left to right: Jeremy Dixon (1981), Ralph Brindle ('83) and David Austin ('82)

1984 was a momentous year, in that inter-county golf was put on a formal footing with the creation of the Northern Counties League, generously sponsored by The Daily Telegraph. There had been stubborn resistance in some quarters of county golf against the formation of formal leagues, perhaps on the basis that it may detract from the friendly nature of annual matches between the counties. The league, however, proved to be a tremendous success and it increased interest in county golf and added an edge to matches that had been lacking. This resulted in a greater enthusiasm amongst players to represent the county, even on long away trips to Northumberland and Durham. Phil Bailey was County Team Captain for several years, and led the team to its first Northern Counties League title in 1990, a success that they repeated in the following year. Emerging players such as David Bathgate, winner of the Carris Trophy in 1987, Andrew Hill, an England Youth international, Andrew Sandiwell, Adrian Hill, Gareth Bradley, Jonathan Hodgson and others ensured that Cheshire had a strong and competitive team.

The Northern Counties winners, 1990 led by Phil Bailey

1987 also saw Cheshire's Boys team win the English County Boys title for the first time at Formby. This period was certainly Cheshire's strongest since the 1920s and '30s.

Cheshire's winning team at the 1987 English Boys County Championship

There was success on the burgeoning Seniors golf scene also, Gordon Edwards winning the English Seniors in 1988, and subsequently in '93 and 96. Roy Smethurst was to trump Gordon's great successes with an incredible run in senior golf post 2000.

Macclesfield Golf Club produced a highly promising junior in Welsh-born Jamie Donaldson.He won the 1997 Welsh Amateur Championship and followed this up in 2000 by winning the Welsh Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship. Jamie was Cheshire County Champion in 1998, beating a desperately unlucky Gareth Bradley at Bromborough. His subsequent professional career and his shot to win the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles is well known to all followers of the game.

Jamie Donaldson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Researched and written by Jerry Dixon, with thanks to Roy Smethurst and Dave Peel