LIKE last year’s popular Masters winner Sergio Garcia, retired teacher Mike Dickson knows how it feels to finally don the winner’s green jacket at a Dr Alister MacKenzie course after years of trying.

Dickson won South Moor Golf Club’s inaugural MacKenzie Masters, a new season-long competition for members and non-members of the Stanley golf course - his first trophy in more than 20 years.

It took Garcia 18 years of heartache and 73 attempts before he won his first major in thrilling fashion last year at Augusta.

The course architecture supremo MacKenzie, dubbed the Good Doctor by golf fans, helped shape the County Durham course which has historic links to the coal industry before he moved out to the US and designed the ultra-exclusive Augusta National.

Dickson, 65, and originally from Musselburgh, only began playing golf at 40 and last won a competition in 1995.

He beat 40 finalists to win the MacKenzie Masters in October after coming first in the last of the monthly qualifiers put on by South Moor where he is a member.

The delighted 21-handicapper said: “Winning the MacKenzie Masters was a complete surprise. I entered purely by chance. The trophy reminds me that golf is very unpredictable.”

Dickson, like Garcia, is now looking forward to trying to retain his title this year.

The monthly qualifiers for the Heineken-sponsored competition begin the week after the US Masters, on Sunday, April 15. The top ten qualifiers from each monthly event will go head-to-head in the final on August 25.

Entry costs £5 for members and £12.50 for non-members to play the highly-rated course which winds its way through gorse and heather. For entries ring the pro shop on 01207 283525.

STOCKTON-based Erimus Insurance Brokers has announced its sponsorship of local professional golfer, Callum Tarren, on the China Tour.

Living in Darlington, Callum is attached to Rockliffe Hall, and has embarked on his third China Tour, having come seventh and third in his first and second tours respectively. Winning in China would qualify the golfer for the European Tour and would help his progress through the world rankings; he is currently ranked 506 and would like to break into the top 100.

Callum turned professional in August 2015. He said: “It’s really difficult to organise and manage these tours. Other than Erimus’ sponsorship I am entirely self-funded, and it’s expensive; clothing, equipment, travel and hotels - it all adds up. I can’t express how grateful I am for this sponsorship.”