Golf: East heads east in bid to earn yet more glory

Stephen East
Stephen East
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Stephen East has been a name synonymous with Yorkshire amateur golf for the best part of four decades.

He is the county’s most capped player, was Yorkshire’s amateur champion as long ago as 1982, and went on to win a whole host of national mid-amateur titles.

And age has certainly not slowed down the Moortown member.

If anything, the step up to senior level in the world of amateur golf has given him a new lease of life.

For East has won twice this year since turning 55, and could have had a further hat-trick of titles.

“It just felt as though I could compete at that level,” is his rather modest assessment of how he has adapted to life among the old campaigners.

The successes have all added up to a call-up to the England Senior squad for the European Team Championships in Poland next week.

East joins Clive Jones (Toulouse, France), Tony McLure (Longhirst Hall, Northumberland), Alan Mew (Stoneham, Hampshire, IoW & CI), Richard Latham (Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire) and Andrew Stracey (Denham, BB&O) in the six-man England team hoping to win the continental title for the first time since 2010.

England are one of 20 nations in action at the Sierra Golf Club in Petkowice from September 2-6.

“It was great to get the England call-up after winning national senior title,” said East.

“I’m no stranger to the England team, I played on the men’s team down the years.

“The seniors will be a little different. It’s more about golf course management than it is bombing the ball 300 yards with your tee shot.”

East has used his golf-craft to good use this year, with his wins at the English Seniors at Maften Hall in Northumberland in June and at the Spanish Seniors at La Manga in February, the obvious highlights.

But, typical of a serial winner, it was the ones that got away that he remembers most.

“I know I won in Spain in February as well but I could also have had another two or three wins but I just missed out, which is disappointing,” said East of his near-misses at the British, Irish and Scottish senior championships in 2014.

East’s remarkable year follows on from his stellar achievements in regular amateur events the world over.

Down the years, as well as being a stalwart for his county, East – who spent much of his career at York Golf Club – won the English Mid Amateur Championship for the Logan Trophy three times, as well as the European, British and Portuguese titles.

Such success over a long period of time begs the question of why East did not make the move into the lucrative professional ranks.

“I thought about turning professional but it was an expensive business back then, just as it is now, and I just couldn’t afford to do it,” he said.

Drax's Liam Ridgill, top left, and Leeds Golf Centre's Nigel Sweet, front second right, take their places among the Englanf Golf award winners.

Yorkshire twice among the winners at Engl;and Golf Awards night