National glory for Dyke House golfers

A TEAM of students from Hartlepool have become the first from County Durham to win the English Schools’ Team Championship.


From right to left at Wynyard Golf Club, where Dyke House's golfers train, is Wynyard PGA coach James Harper, student Will Skipp, European Tour golfer Graeme Storm, Dyke House's Elite Development Squad coordinator Rhys Morris and students Jack Burton and Louis Westmoreland.

A TEAM of students from Dyke House Academy have become the first from County Durham to win the English Schools’ Team Championship.

Hartlepool's Dyke House, which has played a part in producing rising talents such as Jack Ainscough and Cameron Wallace already, is celebrating after its latest golf side was crowned national champions. The previous best from the winners of the Durham Schools’ qualifier was fifth at that level.

Will Skipp, aged 17, Jack Burton, 14, and Louis Westmoreland, 14, finished top of the leaderboard at the home of England Golf, Woodhall Spa, to win prestigious title.

Eaglescliffe’s Skipp, the Durham County Boys captain, has won the Durham Schools’ Under-16s and Boys titles before and has represented Dyke House since stepping up from primary school.

The plus-two handicapper said: “I have played for the team since Year 7 and I am now in Year 12, so it’s nice to have gone all the way and won.

“We have reached the final before but couldn’t play in it, so it is nice to have been able to do that after six years. We can try again to retain the title next year because I am allowed to and I will still be at Dyke House. I knew I was playing well and I knew Jack and Louis were doing well too.”

The English Schools’ Team Championship is normally won by private schools, but Dyke House’s golfers turned on the style early on and were forced to wait hours watching none of the others come close.

The trio have put Hartlepool and Durham well and truly on the national golfing map.

Dyke House’s Principal Adam Palmer said: “It’s a fantastic achievement that we are incredibly proud of. It’s proof that with hard work, dedication and a desire to improve that truly amazing things can happen.

“We talk to the students all the time about the importance of hard work and all three of the boys epitomise this with their golf. I’m sure they’ll look back on this achievement and be very proud.”

Dyke House Principal Adam Palmer congratulates two of the golf team, Jack Burton and Louis Westmoreland

The success is just reward for their progress and determination to improve inside and outside of school.

They have received top coaching and advice at Wynyard Golf Club from Dyke House’s golf consultant/coach Graeme Storm as well as Wynyard’s PGA coach James Harper, on top of the one-to-one coaching they receive from their usual coaches at their respective clubs.

Burton scored 40 points at Woodhall Spa while Westmoreland carded just one less to give Dyke House a three-shot victory on seven-under above Scarborough’s Graham School.

Burton, who plays off four at Wynyard, said: “I was obviously a bit nervous but I enjoyed it. We tried our best and we came out winners. It has sank in now. I feel proud to know what we have achieved. I knew we had a chance if we all played our best and we could have won more easily.”

And Westmoreland, an 11-handicapper from Seaton Carew, said: “It was the best I have played on a tricky course. I kept the ball in play and scored well, it felt good to beat every school in England.”

Dyke House, a Northern Education Trust Academy, has prided itself on producing talented golfers over the years and all three players are part of its Elite Development Squad programme. A former student, Ainscough, was crowned the Durham County Men’s champion last weekend at Bishop Auckland, where Seaton Carew’s club champion Wallace was right in the mix too.

Storm said: “It is a massive achievement for the school. We have had players who have had lower handicaps before as a team, but to go and manage to win a national title is fantastic for them all and thoroughly deserved. Now they can look to build on it because that is what makes you a good player.”

And the Elite Development Squad’s coordinator at Dyke House, Rhys Morris, added: “It’s such a great achievement for the students, winning such a great competition on such a large scale.

“It’s brilliant that a school from the town the size of Hartlepool can go and win a national competition like that - and it may never happen again. The boys have worked so hard and have got the rewards in the end.”

Wynyard’s PGA coach Harper, who is also Burton’s coach outside of school, said: “It is nice to watch them grow and develop, they want to work hard which is perfect and that is what you want to see. They have all grafted in different areas of the game, we have watched them grow and progress. They have done it as a team.”