History of the Senior Section
The Seniors’ Section in the early days consisted of 15 to 20 members, mostly ex forces, who socialised with their wives and family members in the clubhouse. In those early days several past club captains, a president and vice presidents formed the core of the seniors’ membership and in subsequent years another president of the golf club and a county president were also in the Seniors’ Section . Chas Woods was president of the club from 1957 to 1978, Bill Humphrey, a bookie, was a larger than life character, Les Kerr DFC had served in the Royal Air Force, George Wood another character, was a butcher and Fred Lawson it is understood, first played at Westerhope in 1944. It was agreed, back then, that the ideal time and format for the Seniors’ Section members to play golf would be thirteen holes every Tuesday, and thirteen holes was a founding principle which allowed members of all ages in the section to participate fully.
It was decided by the members to hold an annual Christmas dinner when prizes, cups and trophies would be presented to the winners and members’ wives, although not attending, helped to organise the event. Prizes and trophies were purchased and some were donated by members.
Membership of the Seniors’ Section grew steadily due to north east employers offering voluntary redundancy to older employees and subsequently golf became a popular game for retired workers.
The Northumberland Seniors’ League was formed in 1973 when a group led by Bill Humphrey contacted golf club seniors’ secretaries in the South Northumberland area. Thirteen clubs responded and in 1974 the inaugural league commenced. Bill Humphrey presented the trophy to be awarded to the league winning team. The trophy was bought with contributions from a group of Westerhope seniors, calling themselves the ‘ Westerhope Awaysters,’ so called, it is believed, because they liked to organise golf trips away.
To this day in 2017 the Seniors’ Section upholds the early principles of getting together to play in a golf sweep every Tuesday. In addition to the sweep, members play for several trophies throughout the year. A Field day at Westerhope is a popular event when prizes are awarded for different competitions within age groups. An Away Day is also well supported and to round off the year a Christmas competition is played for over several weeks.
The highlight of the year is the Christmas Dinner and Presentation Night, attended by almost all of the members and guests include the Club President, Captain, Secretary, Course Manager and the Professionals from the golf shop.
Thanks go to Nick Clark and Jeff Wonnacott who were helpful in providing some of the information in this brief history.