Whitby golfer Chris Halley became Yorkshire Order of Merit champion when he won seven out of the eight amateur competitions he was involved in this summer, including the Yorkshire Amateur Championship.
He also holds the unofficial course record at Wynyard Golf Club in Billingham, beating Podraig Harrington’s 63 by a single shot.
With a fantastic reputation on the amateur scene, self-taught golfer Halley (28) is now preparing to turn professional in time for Q School next year.
“I started golfing when I was 14, just messing around at Whitby Golf Club,” he said.
“I took it up as a laugh because a mate from school’s mum was a steward there.
“When you’re 16 you’ve nothing else – it was just golf all day every day.
“When I started playing it was fun, then I got to two handicap without any lessons and I thought I would take it seriously and see how good I could get.”
Halley said the proudest achievement of his career was winning the Yorkshire championship.
“I didn’t think about it at the time because it was a five day championship,” he said.
“It was 36 holes every day and it was red hot. I was tired, so when I actually won it I shook my opponent’s hand and was thinking ‘right, what’s the next hole?’.
“It hadn’t registered, but then when I was driving home I thought ‘no one from Whitby has ever won that’ and obviously it’s a massive thing.
“You are on paper the best player in the county.”
Halley believes his form has stepped up a gear over the past two years which has seen him start to win regularly. He had a single putting lesson with his coach, for just an hour, then went out and “holed everything.”
“I hit my drive long and straight and don’t make many mistakes and I think that’s why I do well, but recently I’ve put a lot of work in on my short game and that’s helped massively.”
Halley always gives himself time to prepare for each round of golf.
“I always get there at the same time and I will always putt first, go hit balls, then pitch.
“Then before I go out I hole some putts from short distances. If you putt first you’re getting an idea of what the greens are like, rather than when you go pitch first and you’re just pitching for the sake of it.”
Halley admits he gets nervous at the thought of turning pro.
“I played in my first pro event this year and missed the cut by one shot. There were people that have been pro for years and missed the cut by miles, so I don’t have anything to be nervous about,” he said.
“I will maybe be nervous on the first tee, but that’s about it.
“I turn up now at tournaments and think ‘If I can have a good game, I have a good chance of doing really well’.
The main difference between being amateur and turning pro is that soon Halley will be playing for money and a living, knowing that winning four or five tournaments could be life-changing.
“It’s also more expensive to enter pro tournaments and to do well you have to devote all your time to practising and playing, so you need support to be able to do that.”
Halley’s ideal playing partner is Tiger Woods.
“He’s the person I watch most, but everyone’s going to say that.
“He’s the best, that’s why.”
Halley is confident he will do okay once he turns pro.
I think I can do all right.
“A lot of the lads that are doing all right on the tour have never had the amateur background I have had.
“I’ve had a good amateur career and I hope to carry that experience into the professional ranks.
“As long as I don’t have a shocking day, I should do all right.
“At the end of the day I have got nothing to lose.
“If I do it for two or three years and don’t make any money, I can turn back amateur and I’ve lost nothing.”