An international field of almost 300 men will head to Leicestershire next week to compete for the title of the England’s champion senior golfer.
They’ll play at Kirby Muxloe and Rothley Park Golf Clubs, which will host the 54-hole English senior men’s open championship from Wednesday to Friday, 1-3 June.
The 288 competitors will include defending champion Ian Attoe (Worplesdon); the chief executive of the R&A, Martin Slumbers (Worplesdon); former world speedway champion Dave Jessup (Wrotham Heath); and Charlie Banks (Stanton on the Wolds), a past winner of the Brabazon Trophy, one of the majors of amateur golf.
A host of senior internationals will take part, while in-form players include the current England Golf senior order of merit leader, Mike Ready (Old Fold Manor). Ready and Andrew Carman (Coventry) tied second in the Irish seniors; and Andrew Stracey (Denham) won the North of Scotland seniors’ open.
The lowest handicapper in the field is Rupert Kellock (Sunningdale), who plays off plus-2.5 and who celebrates his 55th birthday on May 31, making him eligible for the championship by just one day.
Players are travelling from far and wide and the field includes representatives of Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Italy – as well as 15 from clubs in Leicestershire and Rutland.
Kirby Muxloe has two players in the event: past captain Peter Dawson and Mark Riley. In addition, Graham Webb, another past captain and the current County President, will be England Golf’s chief referee at the championship. Rothley Park will have three players to follow: Gary Baines, and two past club champions, Ian Anderson and John Hardwick.
This is the first time either club has hosted an England Golf national championship and both are looking forward to it. Kirby Muxloe manager, Terry Walker, commented: “There’s definitely a lot of excitement at the club and members are looking forward to seeing how the players tackle the course.
“The players will find it a fair but testing challenge and it will ask them to use every club in the bag. There are three particularly long par-fours and two have water features short of the green, prompting decisions about whether to go for it or to lay up.”
At Rothley Park, club manager Danny Spillane said: “The club as a whole is delighted and proud to be part of the championship.”
And his verdict on the challenge of the course: “I think it will test their shot making, their positional play and their patience. It’s not over-long, although it can play long, and the long, narrow greens are the defence of this course.”
The championship will be played over 54 holes of stroke play over three days. All competitors will play 18 holes on each of the two courses over the first two days. The field will then be cut to the leading 80 competitors and ties who will play a further 18 holes on the third day at Kirby Muxloe.
Caption: Defending champion Ian Attoe (image © Leaderboard Photography).