YORKSHIRE’S flag is flying high at the moment, captain Darryl Berry’s team winning the Northern Counties six-man championship just days after Masham’s Dan Brown had kept the English men’s title in the county’s hands for the third year running.
The team win at Delamere Forest earned a place in the English finals, to be held at Sandwell Park in September, the White Rose’s Under-16 team having already claimed a spot in their equivalent event with victory at Lindrick last month.
Add in Meltham’s Jamie Bower’s success in the Brabazon Trophy – England Golf’s flagship stroke play event – The Oak’s James Walker winning the Selborne Salver, Lindrick’s Bailey Gill hoisting the Welsh Open Youths’ crown and numerous players earning international caps at senior and junior level and it is easy to see why Yorkshire is the pre-eminent force in county golf.
Yorkshire’s win at Delamere Forest was achieved without Brown, Bower, Walker and their county team-mates, Steve Robins (Hull), Will Whiteoak (Shipley) and Jonathan Thomson (Rotherham), who are all chasing the European amateur title in Estonia.
“Maybe it was a blessing in disguise it clashing with the Europeans, although it should never happen,” said Berry.
“We were struggling for a team at one point, but we managed to get a team of guys who all turned up in top form and were all willing to learn and put a shift in to get to the county finals.
“The boys won as well in the county finals so it shows what’s coming through.”
One minor area of concern carries echoes of Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s dilemma of recent years, losing top-class, home-grown players to international duty for much of the season.
“That is a concern for me,” admitted Berry. “These boys who are coming through: are we actually going to get them or will they just get taken by England again? If we do keep these we will be dominant for a long time.”
The situation is something of a double-edged sword.
The kudos gained by players reaching international standard is a reflection of the fantastic coaching system that Yorkshire have forged, producing, among others, Masters champion Danny Willett, and past US Amateur champion and twice a European Tour winner, Matt Fitzpatrick.
But it does, on paper, weaken their hand at representative level, although when players produce the combination of spirit and skill that saw Yorkshire prevail at Delamere Forest, the negative proves only a nominal one.
“It’s going back to the times when I played, and before I played, when – without being awful – Yorkshire just had to turn up and everybody else looked at their team and got frightened,” said Berry.
The six players who triumphed on Wednesday – Ben Hutchinson (Howley Hall), Kealan Lowe and Ben Brewster (Wheatley), David Hague (Malton & Norton), James Cass (Fulford) and Gill – are all included in tomorrow’s line-up as the Northern Counties League champions take on Durham at The Oaks.
Berry’s men trail Lancashire in the table, but face their Roses Rivals in what could be a title decider in September at Lindrick.