5* Rockliffe Hall, in Hurworth, County Durham, has unveiled exclusive plans to host one of Europe’s best known golf tournaments.
Representatives from the European Tour visited the resort on Wednesday (21st August) to announce the reintroduction of the English Senior Open to the Senior Tour schedule for 2013 and 2014.
Last played in 2007 at St Mellion, the English Senior Open will take place from October 4-6, 2013 at Rockliffe Hall.
The English Senior Open attracts names such as Roger Chapman and Carl Mason as well as former Ryder Cup captains, Ian Woosnam and Sam Torrance, and will be held at Rockliffe Hall this year and next year.
The tournament will be the biggest of its kind to be held in the North East region for many years and follows the area’s recent success in holding The Ashes. Thousands of spectators are expected during the three day event, with a pro-am tournament being held on the Thursday with 20 teams taking part.
With a prize fund of £200,000, the English Senior Open will be the fourth event of 2013 to be played in England, following June’s ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship at De Mottram Hall, The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Birkdale last month and the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters, which takes place at Woburn Golf Club next week.
Despite only opening four years ago, Rockliffe Hall has quickly gained a reputation as a world-class golf resort and has become home to a variety of high profile golf tournaments including the William Hunt Trilby Tour Grand Final and the Northern Golf Masters. The resort was selected as the Olympic training camp for both the US Ladies football team and Team GB’s Men’s and Ladies teams prior to their London 2012 campaigns and was also chosen as an official FIFA training venue for the 2014 World Cup bid.
The course was strategically designed by world-leading golf architect, Marc Westonborg from Hawtrees, and, thanks to its engineering and construction, the course remains open all year round and benefits from no winter greens.
Warwick Brindle, Chairman of Rockliffe Hall, said: “We are delighted to be hosting a major European Senior Tour event and this will be the biggest tournament of its kind to be held in the North East for many years. Our region really is on the map for world-class sporting events, having recently hosted The Ashes at Chester-le-Street, and we’re incredibly excited to be able to bring thousands of visitors to the region in October. Not only is this a tremendous boost for Rockliffe Hall but also a superb opportunity to showcase this beautiful region.”
Former Open de France winner Graeme Storm is the professional attached to Rockliffe Hall. Graeme added: “For Rockliffe Hall to host its first European Seniors tour event proves what I have always believed in- that we have a real gem of a golf course right here in the North East and I am really proud to work with the team there.”
Andy Stubbs, managing director of the European Senior Tour, said: “Over recent years, we have discussed with Rockliffe Hall their ambition of hosting a Tour event, therefore we are delighted that this will now happen with the return of the English Senior Open to the Senior Tour schedule.
“The success of the BMW PGA Championship and The Senior Open Championship this year have demonstrated the appetite for tournament golf in England with great public support, and have helped us to re-establish this tournament in a region renowned for its love of sporting events.
“The course and hotel facilities at Rockliffe Hall are superb and the legends of senior golf are certain to enjoy participating at the venue over the next two years.”
James Ramsbottom, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, added: “This is a great coup for Rockliffe Hall and another tremendous example of how the North East is being recognised as an excellent location for top sporting events. I am sure the venue will deliver a superb occasion.
“As well as the immediate economic impact, it will give a global audience the chance to see all that Tees Valley and the wider North East has to offer. I’m convinced they will like what they see and the region’s reputation will be even further enhanced.”
Stephen Catchpole, managing director of the Local Enterprise Partnership, Tees Valley Unlimited, said:
“We welcome today’s announcement wholeheartedly. Rockliffe Hall is one of a number of first class facilities that we are fortunate to enjoy here in Tees Valley and I’m sure all involved in the Open will be suitably impressed. We anticipate increased visitors, increased businesses networking opportunities and an increased understanding of what we have to offer in terms of industry, leisure and quality of life.
“There are positive things happening in Tees Valley and through the passionate and committed work of all the area’s stakeholders, including the team at Rockliffe, we can demonstrate them on a national stage.”
Sarah Stewart, chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative; said: “The North East has long been renowned for hosting sporting events of the highest quality, from the annual Great North Run to the recent Ashes Test Cricket in Durham. The news that Rockliffe Hall will host the English Seniors Golf Championship is fantastic and further reinforces the region’s reputation as a first-class destination for golf enthusiasts.”