Ex-pro Dion swaps cricket whites for chef's kit in new role at Barney golf club
Barnard Castle Golf Club
CHEF Dion Wood is hoping for a busy summer in the extensively refurbished clubhouse at Barnard Castle Golf Club.
A former professional cricketer from Zimbabwe, he is confident the new look will prove a big hit with members and visitors alike.
“I think it looks fabulous,” he said.
“The summer is shaping up to be quite busy, but winters are a problem here. We’ll have to try to get some events organised like curry nights and quizzes.
“We have steak night on Thursdays and the Sunday carvery is going well. Non-members are welcome and we have dining space at either end, leaving room for the members in the middle.”
Clubhouse manager Glen Fitzgerald concurs, saying: “The clubhouse now has a more modern look. It’s a lot more welcoming and fresh and should appeal to more people.”
Glen has always been in hospitality, starting near his boyhood home at the former Royal Hotel, in Woodland, before moving to Headlam Hall then becoming manager at the Red Well, just round the corner from the golf club.
Dion got into catering as a young man in Bulawayo after becoming the youngest person to play first-class cricket for Matabeleland at the age of 15 years seven months.
“My dad was a professional cricketer but my parents wanted me to have the back-up of a trade,” he said.
“I qualified as a chef the year I decided to come to England in 1998.
“I was an all-rounder and played as a club pro in Berkshire, but my partner Tracy’s family were from up here so we moved up and I was a pro for Darlington, at Feethams, then Richmond.
“When I reverted to amateur status I played for Haughton then helped Rockliffe Park win the district league for five successive seasons.
“I always had kitchen jobs as well, and when I stopped playing I became the chef at Richmond Cricket Club.”
Dion and Tracy set up a company called TDS Catering, but tragedy struck when Tracy developed cancer and died in 2019. Their daughter, Sophie, became a partner and runs the Richmond Golf Club end of the operation.
While Covid has been beneficial for golf club memberships it certainly hasn’t helped clubhouse business.
But with the combination of the new look and Dion’s flair things could be about to take off at Barney.
A management committee statement thanked those who had been chiefly responsible for the refurbishment, singling out David Bainbridge for his “excellent workmanship on the panelling in the bar and restaurant”.
The statement added: “He has done a phenomenal job, putting in many hours co-ordinating and scheduling the work.
“We are also indebted to lady captain Caz Smith and her vice-captain Yvonne Mee, who have spent hours sourcing the lighting and fabric, and to our stalwarts Steve Wilkinson and Maureen Raw."