Golf fans in the north east of England can look forward to watching leading lights from the European Senior Tour after it was confirmed Close House will play host to the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship in 2015.
The Newcastle club, which will hold the tournament from June 11-14, has signed a three year agreement to stage the event which is the oldest on the Senior Tour’s schedule.
The Championship, which boasts a £260,000 prize fund, will be played over the 6,813-yard par-71 Lee Westwood Colt course which was designed as a tribute to iconic English golf course architect Harry Colt.
The 72-hole tournament has been won by legends of the game including five-time Open champion Peter Thomson and Christy O’Connor while Spain’s Santiago Luna will be defending champion following his victory at Stoke by Nayland last year.
Close House’s reputation continues to grow as evidenced by its appearance in Golf Monthly’s list of GB&I’s Top-100 Courses for the first time.
“We are absolutely delighted to announce that Close House will play host to this year’s ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship,” said owner, Graham Wylie.
“To stage a top-ranking tournament of this magnitude for the first time confirms an exciting period in our development and is testament to everyone connected with Close House and shows how far we have come since opening less than four years ago.
“The decision to stage the championship here at Close House gives us an excellent opportunity to showcase our facilities and will allow golf fans in the Newcastle area an exclusive opportunity to see top class professional golf at close quarters.
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming all the leading European Senior Tour players to the North East.”
ISPS Handa will be sponsoring the Championship for a fourth successive year as it continues its mission to promote opportunities for blind and disabled golfers.
Tokyo-based ISPS revealed its commitment by establishing, along with The PGA, an academy programme to train PGA Professionals to coach blind and disabled golfers.
“ISPS continues to promote disabled golf and we are delighted to sponsor the PGA Seniors Championship once again, to help raise its profile and also to be taking the tournament to Close House for the first time,” said Dr Haruhisa Handa whose ambition is to make golf a Paralympic sport.
“Through our relationship with the PGA, we have been able to establish the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme which gives blind and disabled golfers greater access to specialised coaching and I thank the PGA for their great efforts.
“It is through involvement with high profile tournaments such as the PGA Seniors Championship that we are able to spread the message about disabled golf. At Close House, we will enjoy the fantastic venue and we look forward to seeing the best players on the European Senior Tour test their skills over the Lee Westwood Colt Course.”
PGA chief executive Sandy Jones added: “The PGA Seniors Championship has a long history of being contested at prestigious venues and Close House is a worthy addition to that list. It was last staged in the North East as recently as 2012 and I’m sure the spectators will be as knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the tournament as they were then.
“ISPS Handa have supported golf at various levels for more than 25 years, including several tournaments which they use as a platform to promote opportunities for blind and disabled golfers. This will be the fourth year they have been involved in the tournament and their support is a huge boost to this historic event.”
Andy Stubbs, European Senior Tour managing director, commented: “Close House will be an excellent venue for the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship and we are delighted to be returning to the north east of England, a region we have enjoyed a close association with over the years and great support from the local fans.
“As one of our leading events, the field will naturally be a very strong one, including local players John Harrison and Graeme Bell, who recently came through our qualifying school in Portugal.
“We would like to thank ISPS Handa for their continued support of this event, as well as our colleagues at the PGA and the members and officials at Close House and we look forward to another superb tournament in June.”
Tickets for the event will be made available for the event at www.closehouse.com/pgaseniors on a complimentary basis.
Visit www.PGA.info for the tournament information throughout the season