One half of a champion golfing couple will later this month end a remarkable few weeks by competing for England at one of the world’s most iconic courses.
Rebecca Ferguson and Stewart Fell met as teenagers at Tynemouth Golf Club and – although still in their mid-20s – have become two of the best golfers in the club’s distinguished 100 year history.
In September 25-year-old Rebecca finished ahead of dozens of the other top Northern amateur golfers to become the 2017 Ladies Champion of Champions.
The following weekend, also at Ramside Hall in County Durham, Stewart played in horrendous weather conditions to beat the field by three strokes and equal the course record to lift the men’s Champion of Champions trophy.
“We couldn’t be more proud,” said Tynemouth Golf Club’s manager Paul Whittaker. “To have one Champion of Champions is fantastic. To have both – who are a couple as well – is incredible.”
Rebecca’s achievements have not stopped there. Competing against thousands of other club golfers, she topped the 2017 Titleist Order of Merit. That means she also qualified to represent England in the Grand Final at Trump Turnberry on 18 and 19 October. She previously won the Order of Merit when she was just 21.
Although members of her family played golf – and Tynemouth Golf Club’s professional John McKenna is her uncle – Rebecca, known as Bex, was 15 by the time she took up the sport when injuries started affecting her potential as a promising 800 meters runner.
Stewart, who is 26 and works in technical support for Sage, started much earlier. “I was given a set of plastic golf clubs by an auntie and started smacking the ball around the garden and apparently I was quite good at it,” he said. He began lessons at Tynemouth at the age of five and was a member when he was 11.
“I love the place. It seems like I’ve been here all my life. I met Bex here and have made so many friends through the club. I’m so proud to be a member,” he said.
Stewart is the lowest handicapper in the history of Tynemouth Golf Club and has been its champion golfer five times. By becoming the Champion of Champions he qualifies to play on the prestigious PGA EuroPro tour.
But despite his achievements he has no ambition to go further in the sport: “If I was playing for a living I wouldn’t enjoy it. I play to enjoy golf and, luckily, I’m OK at it.
“I’ve seen first-hand how hard Bex works on her game and it puts my lack of practise to shame. We’re completely different at golf,” said Stewart.
“I’m so competitive,” said his partner of six years. “I come here every day and just practise, practise and practise. Even when it’s the winter and snowing, I’ll be working on my putting. I absolutely love it here. It’s like a second home.”
As well as success in golf, Bex achieved a First Class Honours Degree in Sport and Exercise Science from Sunderland University and has just completed a Master’s Degree in International Marketing at Newcastle University.
She is looking to pursue a career outside golf, but thinks – one day – she might become a teaching professional.
“They’re both a credit to their families and Tynemouth Golf Club,” said Paul Whittaker. “The success of the British Masters at Close House demonstrated how popular golf is in this area. We hope that will encourage more people to try the sport. You don’t have to be a Bex or a Stew or even a Lee Westwood to enjoy it.”