84 days ago, Graeme Storm missed a fairly short putt that would have kept his playing rights for the European Tour for this season. After playing in 28 tournaments his winnings of 247,645 euros was 100 euros short of the required amount to keep his card and he finished at number 112 on the Race To Dubai where those players finishing 111th or better kept their playing rights for the full Tour. At the age of 38 he faced the prospect of either going back to qualifying school or making his living on smaller tours than he had been used to or relying on sponsors invitations to get into tournaments. The look of despair on his face after making bogey on the 18th hole summed it up better than any words could. Then he got a reprieve. The American Patrick Redd decided it was unsafe to travel to Turkey to play and so dropped out of the rankings giving Graeme a lifeline and his card for this season.
He has certainly capitalised on his good fortune picking up 40,000 euros in the South African masters in December to get his year off to a good start. At the weekend, he did even better by winning 164,000 euros and becoming the South African Open Champion. Never one to do things the easy way he had to beat world number 2 Rory Mcilroy in a dramatic 3 hole Play Off. It was nine years and 198 days since his last victory at the French Open in 2007 but having already virtually secured his card for the year he can relax now and enjoy the rest of the season.
Graeme is attached to the magnificent Rockliffe Hall hotel and golf course just outside Darlington in Country Durham. This 5-star luxury golfing resort has 61 beautifully decorated bedrooms and three restaurants all offering the best in cuisine using fresh local produce. To play the onsite golf course from the back tees would stretch most player’s abilities as it is one of the longest courses in Europe at 7879 yards and you would certainly need some of Graeme’s length off the tee to play it anywhere near reasonably well. Fortunately there are a variety of tees to play from so that whatever your level of ability you can tee it up to give you a challenge suitable to your abilities. This certainly is an excellent venue for a golf break in the North of England.
Lakes, wetlands, woodland and exceptionally clever bunkering combine to make this a true championship golf course. So much so that the Seniors Tour have used this venue on more than one occasion. It’s generally in exceptionally good condition and even in winter its very rare for you not to be able to play on the proper greens and tees. So, like Graeme if you want to get your year off to a great start go visit Rockliffe Hall, follow in his footsteps and treat yourself to one of the North’s great golfing treats.