This is going to be quite a year for Fulford.
The York club have a rich history of hosting top-class tournaments and they’ve got two that will really get the pulses racing of spectators over the coming months.
The Carris Trophy, also known as the English Boys’ Under-18s Open Amateur Stroke Play, arrives in July.
Back in December, the R&A also announced the club will host the inaugural Girls’ Under-16s Open Championship at the end of April.
Fulford will host this season opener for three years with 90 young players from around the world teeing it up on the top 100 course.
With preparations well underway, we caught up with general manager Gary Pearce.
You’ve secured a new girls’ tournament from the R&A for three years. What a fillip…
We’ve been promoting junior golf for quite some time.
We’ve got a really strong junior membership and a number of girls who are of that age group as well. We’re hoping they are going to be involved and will apply and play in it.
It has been a successful section for the last five or six years. We’ve got 70 junior members, a really good coaching programme and there’s a pathway forward to progress to student membership and hopefully stay with us over the long term.
How did you get the nod?
It was a complete shock and surprise, to be perfectly honest. The R&A rang us up.
There was a new tournament being put in place, they were aware of Fulford as a venue – we’d been on their consideration for different tournaments over the past few years – and I got a call and was asked if we could host it.
My view was straightaway ‘yes’. That was echoed by the rest of the board who were very keen to support it.
You’ve held big amateur events at Fulford before – the 2013 European Ladies’ Team Championship, for example. How does this compare?
The success of that tournament in 2013 put us on the radar for different events. This tournament is hopefully going to be as popular and people will buy into it.
This is a great opportunity to see some young, good, players. The R&A are hoping to attract 90 and it will be a great opportunity for them to see players early in the season, so they can put them in squads and teams to play later in the year.
How pleasing is it to be hosting for three years?
It makes a lot of sense. A lot of planning goes into the first year and, obviously, you roll out the same plans – if they were successful – in year two and three. It gives us time to plan and get things right over a number of years. We are hoping that won’t be the end of the relationship. We will do a three-year stint with the R&A for this and hopefully, if everything goes well, we will be considered for other things in the future.
Did you know?
Fulford was a mainstay of the European Tour in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Events such as the Benson & Hedges International Open were held at the course for 23 consecutive years and some of the winners – Tony Jacklin, Lee Trevino, Greg Norman and Sandy Lyle are just four of those who went on to reach the pinnacle of the world game.
All the holes on the championship layout, which was designed by Charles MacKenzie – brother of Augusta National architect Alister, are named after former tournament winners.
One hole in particular, the 17th, has produced a story that has gone down in club folklore.
In the Benson & Hedges third round, in 1981, Bernhard Langer hit his approach shot into a large tree that stands just to the left of the green.
The German climbed the tree and played his ball from the branches – a shot that was immortalised on TV.
Nearly four decades later, the tree still stands – adorned with a plaque to memoralise the moment.
The image of Langer playing the shot also adorns the Fulford locker room and the club’s scorecard.
Amazingly, he didn’t even win the tournament. The honour that year went to Tom Weiskopf.