Scratch ace Birkett gives Tod’s trophy hopes another boost

Coming to TodmordenGC: Mark Birkett
Coming to TodmordenGC: Mark Birkett

Todmorden Golf Club has announced the arrival of a second top player in the space of a fortnight.

Scratch player Mark Birkett is joining from Halifax GC as the Rive Rocks club builds a formidable team to go into battle this summer.

Birkett is the latest recruit by Tod’s Dave Stafford, who recently persuaded Frank Greaves to make the move from West End.

The three know each other from playing together in the Halifax-Huddersfield Union’s representative side.

Tod also have Michael Murray, winner of the Union’s stroke play title in 2011, and a fifth low handicap player in Chris Thornsby.

Stafford said: “We have now got two good lads coming down from Halifax and that should do us the world of good.

“We had probably our strongest team ever last year and this is much stronger.”

Stafford said Greaves would captain the team in Division Three of the local scratch league.

With five players for four slots, there is cover for an absentee and Stafford said Thornsby would probably only play in home matches as he worked in Manchester.

“We should definitely go up to Division Two and then who knows?” added Stafford.

Todmorden will also be setting out their stall to make a mark at county level.

Stafford said they would be entering the Yorkshire foursomes and the team championship, which opens with the Division Seven event at Normanton on April 15.

The top six from that are promoted to the Division Six competition at Low Laithes a fortnight later and the set-up of the competition means teams can climb through the leagues during the summer.

Stafford is hoping the arrival of Greaves and Birkett will act as a spur to some of the club’s up-and-coming players, such as six handicapper Ben Whitham.

Stafford said part of the attraction for Birkett to move had been Tod’s two for one offer for new members until the end of April. That meant Birkett’s full playing membership had cost him only £270 - much less than at Ogden.

Seventeen players took part in Sunday’s winter league at Rive Rocks, where the course was drying up nicely after a let up in the rain. The winner was Mick Shackleton with 37 points.