GATESHEAD College has recruited a talented sports coach to head up its golf academy.

In his new role John Vallely will be responsible for developing the next generation of budding golf enthusiasts. The PGA professional has more than 14 years’ coaching and mentoring experience. He has worked with golfers of all abilities, from enthusiastic novices to experienced tour professionals.

He will kick off his new role by hosting two free ‘taster’ sessions at Matfen Hall on Saturday, July 26 (9am-1pm) and Thursday, August 7 (4.30pm-8.30pm). Golfers aged 16 and upwards will be able to test their technique and receive top advice on strength and conditioning, nutrition, tournament preparation and the mental strength needed to overcome tough competition.

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Vallely, who originally hails from Heworth, said: “I’m really passionate about helping all of my students to improve their game and achieve their potential. We’re not just looking to produce elite stars and fast-track them to success on the national and international stage; we also want to help inexperienced golfers improve their game and enjoy the sport as a hobby.”

Anyone aged between 16 and 19 and studying a full-time course at the college can join the golf academy. Students can benefit from up to nine hours of professional coaching and mentoring each week and will be able to hone their skills at Matfen Hall or the Dynamics Indoor Golf Centre in Gosforth.

To register for the taster days call John Vallely on 07899 090777. For more information on the golf academy, or information on how to enroll, please call (0191) 4902447 or (0191) 4902326 or e-mail

BRANCEPETH Castle - ranked in the top 100 in Britain and Ireland – says the ‘Get into golf’ initiative can bring fast health benefits through participants being out and about on the fairways and greens.

The programme, rolled out by England Golf, the country’s governing body, provides five cut-price one-hour lessons in basic skills – and is designed to lead to greater participation in the sport.

But England Golf insists the scheme is not only capable of making better players of novices and those who have lost their touch, but can bring many and varied health benefits.

The Durham club’s PGA professional David Fletcher agrees, having seen thousands of players over the years cover around 6,000 metres over 18 holes, losing more than 1,000 calories in the process.

Fletcher, 44, said: “There are huge health benefits to playing golf. I’ve seen enthusiasts return to the clubhouse physically rejuvenated and less stressed.”

The five sessions at Brancepeth Castle, usually in a group of up to six players, costs £25 per person, and equipment can be provided. More information on ‘Get into Golf’ at Brancepeth Castle Golf Club is available by contacting David on 0191 378 4115 or via ‘Get into golf’ at

THERE were four top 20 finishes for Durham golfers at the English Schools Under-16s National Championships on Monday.

Castle Eden and Hartlepool golfer Jack Ainscough was the best placed after posting a 145 total after 36 holes, which was four adrift of eventual winner from Welwyn-Garden City Loic Kelly. Ainscough’s Dyke House College and England North team-mate Cameron Wallace finished 16th with 151.

In the girls competition there was a sixth-placing for Bishop Auckland’s Jess Hall, who posted 154. Beamish Park’s Alexandra Stevenson was ten further back in 16th spot.