When South Moor Golf Club was given the honour of hosting the McGregor Trophy in 2011 no-one knew the legacy would run for a decade and beyond.
It was the first time the English Boys Under 16 Open Amateur Stroke-Play Championship, whose previous winners include Justin Rose, Graeme Storm and Edoardo Molinari. had been hosted in the North East.
The heathland course in Stanley, County Durham, really rose to the challenge of hosting 132 elite young players over four days.
The tournament was deemed such a success that the club has gone on to host hundreds more young hopefuls, annually running the North of England under 14 tournament for girls and boys.
And the benefit to the local economy from hosting the McGregor in 2011 and the subsequent under 14s events will soon tip over £1million – when total spent by competitors and their families is tallied for accommodation, food and travel over the last decade.
Players have been attracted to come to Stanley from around the world, from as far afield as Dubai, Hong Kong and South Africa.
Hosting the 2011 tournament was a coup for the South Moor, once a ‘Miners Only’ National Coal Board club, and members enthusiastically helped out to make sure the course was at its very best and offering a genuine, Northern welcome to the youngsters.
Newcastle lad Jack Hermeston’s winning score of 281 over four rounds showed the course – considered to be one of the toughest in the North East – was no pushover.
The champion recalled how the event helped him on his way to England honours and college golf in the US, where he is now a coach with the University of Missouri Kansas City.
Jack said: “I still remember a lot of the shots I hit like it was yesterday and the support from the local crowd was incredible.
“The win at South Moor really helped propel my career and open up new opportunities.
“It allowed me to break into the England Boys’ squad that year and represent England in numerous events around the world.
“The win also played a big role in allowing me to come and play college golf in the United States which was an incredible experience in itself.”
European Tour winner Aaron Rai, 26, also competed in the McGregor at South Moor, plotting his way through the gorse, heather and bracken to finish ninth, ahead of future Italian tour player Renato Paratore in 24th.
And winners of the North of England under 14s events that South Moor went on to host have also used the experience to help them progress up the ladder.
They include Walker Cup players Barclay Brown and Ben Schmidt.
John Walker was with the Durham County Golf Union before he became Championship Secretary for the English Golf Union and knew the quality of South Moor’s course when it came to choosing the McGregor venue.
Looking back, he said: “There really was no part of the decision that held any doubt.
“The course is one of the best around as indeed are the members who took to the championship with so much enthusiasm, making the competitors and accompanying parents so welcome.”
South Moor chairman Guy Carr said hosting the McGregor was a huge coup for the club, which led on to running the annual under 14s event.
He said: “The members put so much in to the event in 2011 and their pride in us putting on a great event was really appreciated by the English Golf Union.
“Roy Case, who has been a champion of junior golf, founded the under 14s North of England event and we were delighted when he chose South Moor to host it annually.
“It’s a real boost to the area economically and something we can all be proud of.
“South Moor Golf Club hosts some of the best young players every year and our members get a real kick out of seeing future stars testing their skills against their course.
“We are hoping for another brilliant event this year.”