The West Lancashire Golf Club from Blundellsands in Liverpool has won the national final of the 2012 John Deere Team Championship golf tournament at its first attempt, beating off the challenge of 24 other teams from Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The final was held in September on the 7000 yard, par 72 Hunting Course at De Vere Slaley Hall in Northumberland, which has hosted the PGA Seniors tournament for the past five years.
The West Lancashire’s net score of 58 in the modified scramble event was just one shot ahead of Royal North Devon Golf Club from Bideford in Devon (who were judged second on countback) and Selby Golf Club from Yorkshire. The West Lancashire Golf Club was founded in 1873 and is among the 10 oldest golf clubs in England; it is also an Open qualifying course.
The successful West Lancashire team – made up of greens chairman Nick Jones, committee member Ian Kearney, first assistant greenkeeper Jamie Whittle and John Deere dealer Kevin Pickering of Turner Groundscare at Tarvin, Chester – won the John Deere Team Championship crystal trophy for the club to keep for a year.
They were also presented with a special John Deere leaping deer trophy as a permanent memento. The club has qualified for the John Deere Team Championship world final at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina in November, where it will be competing against teams from the US, Asia, Australia, Canada, Germany, Norway and Sweden.
“We knew we’d made a decent score, but we really weren’t 100 per cent confident that it was good enough to win the tournament – there were a couple of lipped putts, so we thought we might just have missed it by a shot or two,” said Nick Jones. “The signs were there, though – Ian Kearney found a brochure for Myrtle Beach in a golf magazine he was reading before the final!
“We didn’t realise we’d won until the announcement was made at the evening dinner, so as you can imagine, there was a big cheer from our table when our name was read out. We’re now really looking forward to playing in the world final, it’s going to be something different and a really great experience.”
John Deere Limited also presented a cheque for £5000 at the dinner to Jim Croxton, chief executive officer of BIGGA (the British & International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association), to support the organisation’s educational activities. BIGGA’s regional administrators support John Deere dealers in the setting up and running of the competition’s qualifying tournaments.
Altogether 21 dealerships organised 26 regional qualifiers for this year’s tournament, the sixth held in the UK and Ireland, with more than 400 golf clubs competing. The first UK competition was held 10 years ago in 2002, and the tournament celebrates its 25th anniversary in the US this year.