END OF AN ERA: Darren Pearce has been the pro at Barnard Castle Golf Club since 1994
END OF AN ERA: Darren Pearce has been the pro at Barnard Castle Golf Club since 1994

Barnard Castle Golf Club
DARREN Pearce, the club's professional for 26 years, has handed in his notice but stressed it will be an amicable parting.
Attempts to balance the books have brought some rumblings of discontent at the club and a petition has been posted calling for an extraordinary general meeting, claiming the committee have not done things by the book.
Darren, who is 55, said: “I wouldn’t let them post it outside my shop because I don’t want anything to do with it. The committee are trying to do their best for the club.”
Originally from Castle Eden, where he became a scratch golfer and played for England Boys, Darren came to Barnard Castle in 1990 and spent four years as assistant to John Harrison before taking over.
He has recently stepped down after 20 years on the committee of the North East and North West Professional Golfers’ Association, of which he is a former captain. He turned down the captaincy of the whole North region because of his commitments at Barnard Castle.
On becoming the full pro, he was joined at the club by his partner, Shirley Bradshaw, who will be staying on in her administrative role but on reduced hours.
“We had been thinking about our futures for a while and the lockdown gave us more time to consider it,” said Darren.
“We are here seven days a week and would like to do other things and spend more time with our three grandchildren.
“I will be leaving the job on good terms with the club and would like to stay involved. They have offered me honorary lifetime membership and the opportunity to be an ambassador for the club.”
He added that a cut in his salary had played only a very small part in his decision.
In a statement to the members, the management committee said the club had made a loss in the last two years and needed to make a surplus to fund course improvements and the much-needed refurbishment of the clubhouse and kitchen. They are taking the opportunity to have the work carried out while the clubhouse remains closed.
The statement added: “We felt the retainer being paid to the professional was out of line with the size of the membership and the club’s income. We are going to invest in measures to increase the membership and we were proposing to link the professional’s retainer with membership numbers. It was felt this would achieve the best balance between cost and benefit.”
The statement also outlined the inspections which had taken place to ensure that gas and electricity installations comply with safety standards. Four quotes have been requested to do the necessary work.
It continued: “We have acted in the best interests of the staff and members. Every member of the committee is spending many hours examining and rectifying problems without payment in any form. We all love our club and have only the best interests of members, staff and the long-term future of the club at heart.”
Club captain Bob Henderson said: “We are sorry Darren feels the need to leave. He has been an asset for a great number of years and his service has always been appreciated. We have thanked him and hope he will continue supporting the club.”
Darren has agreed to stay until the end of August. He said he has offered to help find his replacement and added that he saw no reason why his assistant, Peter Hartley, could not be an interim pro until he passes his one remaining Professional Golfers' Association exam.