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Rockliffe Hall chief claims 'we're ready for our big day'
WITH the forecast favourable and the European Senior Tour professionals on site, Rockliffe Hall is ready to shine on the big stage and tournament chiefs are already thinking about the longer term.
Despite the short turnaround since the luxurious complex in Hurworth, County Durham, was awarded the English Senior Open in late August, a field of some well-known names from the sport over the last few decades have gathered to tee off tomorrow.
Rockliffe’s chairman, Warwick Brindle, will be a proud man, but his ambitions will not stop there.
He said: “It’s about showcasing what we can do. It’s about showing to the European Tour that we are capable of putting on a top-class, five-star event. All the indications are that the public are going to support it, even though we’ve not had that long to publicise it.
“For us we have already seen that we have been able to put a team together to put on the event. We have a two-year deal for the English Seniors Open, so next year we will be looking to fine tune what we have done this year.”
While Rockliffe must wait a few more days to hear the feedback from the Senior Tour pros about playing the course itself, European Tour representatives are already impressed with what they have seen – and that will boost the venue’s hopes of getting an even bigger event.
“The Tour has already had a good look round and have said to us that it could take a major event,” said Brindle. “They say the set up is perfect, the infrastructure is perfect and that means we are half way there.
“Now we just need to hear what the players think of it. We will be interested to hear what they think of it, then we can have a look at a few things for next year and then look even further ahead after that.”
Considering Rockliffe has arrived on the European Tour stage in a little more than four years since it opened its clubhouse doors in July 2009, the rise has been rapid. There is a determination, though, not to keep climbing.
“The Tour guys are committed to two years with us,” said Brindle. “What happens after that will depend on a number of things, but we would like to attract a major event here.
“We are looking at holding one of the existing events on the Tour schedule and moving it up here. That might be alongside keeping the English Senior Open, I don’t know. We will see how it goes.
“But the European Tour does need another event over here. It might be that we take on an event that has not been on the schedule for a few years; a bit like what has happened with the English Senior Open returning for the first time since 2007.
“It might take 18 months to plan for, reach an agreement. We are looking more at 2015 and if we can do that, that would be fantastic.”
Given the late turnaround and confirmation that the English Senior Open would be arriving as one of the late tournaments on the Senior Tour calendar, Rockliffe has performed efficiently to get a team in place to deliver.
Now the autumn sun just needs to shine until Sunday. Brindle said: “Saturday and Sunday look like being lovely summer days, there might even be a few golfers out there in short sleeves, which would be fantastic. The temperatures being forecast are in the high 60s. There might be an overnight shower to wet the course of Friday, but nothing too much to worry about.
“We never felt the rainfall would be a problem for us in October because we looked at the system we have here for previous years and the rainfall is never particularly high for this time of year. We were always fairly comfortable with that, it was just if the temperature dropped.
“One thing that people might not think about when they come along to watch is the amount of work behind-the-scenes to get this event on. For example we have drafted in 18 greenkeepers from around the country, Scotland and Ireland, just to help set the course up each day.
“That means we will have 30 greenkeepers out on the course at first light to get the set up right for each day’s play. There is a great deal of work that has gone in by our team, now we are just excited to see some golf.”
* Daily tickets for the English Senior Open, starting tomorrow and running until Sunday’s final day, are £10 each for those purchased in advance or £15 on the day. Prices include free parking, course map and start-sheet, plus a voucher for a four-ball for the price of three’ at Rockliffe Hall. Visit rockliffehall.com or call 0800 0232557 for further details
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