English Golf Courses

Durham mourns "one hell of a golfer" Clark

Tributes have been paid to Roy Clark, the County Durham plumber who once matched, and stunned, the great Lee Trevino.

The pair came face-to-face in the 1970 Whitley Bay Classic, by which time Trevino had already won the first of his six major championships. The 36-hole event attracted a field of some of the biggest names of the era, including Peter Thomson, Peter Oosterhuis, Tommy Horton and Neil Coles, with Clark competing in the 18-hole amateur competition that took place concurrently.

Although he missed out on winning the title, Trevino rewarded the 1,000-strong gallery that followed him with a 69 in the afternoon round. Clark, who won the amateur competition, was the only other player to shoot a 69, drawing praise from Trevino, who described him afterwards as “one hell of as player”.

It was a sound assessment. In 1996, Clark won the first of his three Durham Seniors Championships and, in doing so, became the first Durham player to win every county title available to him in all age ranges.

In the 46 years between 1953 and 1999, he won 14 different county titles. In 1961, he did the strokeplay and matchplay double, one of only three players to pull off the feat in the 108-year history of the county union. He was also awarded 42 county caps.

Still, he couldn’t be tempted into the paid ranks and, instead, spent his whole life in Stanley, becoming a heating engineer as well as a plumber. He was also a talented footballer. He had a trial with Burnley and played in the Wolsingham Welfare team who won the Durham Challenge Cup in the 1950s.

He is survived by Marion and their son, Chris.

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