Golf: New Fixby contest will open door to Alwoodley

A new individual strokeplay tournament for amateur golfers, the Fixby Challenge, is to be staged at Huddersfield Golf Club on Friday, June 17.

And the victor will earn a place in the all-expenses paid two-day grand final of the inaugural Northern Matchplay Championship at Alwoodley later this summer.

The Northern Matchplay contest – an extended version of last season's popular Yorkshire competition – is a season-long knockout event for handicap golfers from across the north of England.

The winners of separate county competitions from Cheshire, Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire will progress to the 72-hole climax at Alwoodley in September.

And the winners of two stand-alone tournaments, one of which is the Fixby event, will also join them. The other competition is to be held at Pleasington Golf Club, near Blackburn in Lancashire, next August.

Championship organiser, Edward Battye, explained: "The main route to the grand final is by entering the matchplay section and by becoming the champion of your county.

"However, I also wanted to add an extra dimension and provide another way for golfers to qualify.

"A stand-alone tournament, where effectively the winner takes all, should add for some great excitement and tension."

Battye, a former member at Huddersfield, added: "When the opportunity arose to bring the event to Fixby it was an easy decision.

"The course speaks for itself and it's perfectly located for golfers across the north. It's a true test of golf and whoever comes out on top here will be a worthy winner."

Huddersfield, one of the finest championship courses in the north of England, has hosted European Tour Seniors events and is a regular venue for the Yorkshire Amateur Championship. In 2009 it was a qualifying course for the prestigious Brabazon Trophy.

The course has also drawn plaudits from players nationwide after work was carried out on the greens about a decade ago, bringing them up to exacting USPGA standards.

While the player returning the best nett score on the day at Fixby will progress to Alwoodley, a prize voucher of 200 will also be awarded to the player returning the lowest gross score over the 18 holes.

That carrot should be enough to tempt many of the regions lower-handicap players who are familiar with the testing track.

The entry fee for the Fixby Challenge is 40 – which includes soup and sandwiches – but anybody entering before the end of this month can do so at a reduced price of just 30.

Battye, a scratch player himself, launched the Yorkshire Matchplay event 12 months ago and has unveiled a beefed-up version across the north this year, featuring both the individual and better-ball pairs challenges which drew more than 300 entries for the Tyke event last term.

The Dewsbury District member has, though, pegged entry fees at 2010 levels – just 15 per person for the singles and 25 per pair.

"The competition is open to anyone with an official handicap upto 28, though the most anyone can play off is 18 for competition purposes," the 31-year-old continued.

And he believes the lure of big-name courses – all the ones being used for the regional finals are top-ranked tracks – is a major part of the attraction.

"I'm delighted to have secured six top-class courses as regional final venues, including Wallasey, West Lancs, Seaton Carew, Berwick on Tweed and, of course, the beautiful Pannal club for the Yorkshire final."

More details about the Fixby Challenge and Yorkshire Matchplay, including entry forms, can be found online at www.northernmatchplay.com