OAK Royal Golf & Country Club captains Lee Keller and Marion Mitchell were taken by surprise at their end of season dinner when they were presented with framed letters from one of the game’s most influential figures.

Sandy Jones, chief executive of the Professional Golfers’ Association, opened the Withnell club five years ago and returned in the summer to see how far it had developed.

He was so impressed that he was prompted to write to Kellor and Mitchell to congratulate them on the efforts they put in during their year of office.

“When I visited the club a few weeks ago I became aware of how it had matured into a first class golf facility,” he wrote.

“The course itself is welcoming to all who play and challenging to those who would play at the highest level.

“Its maturity belies its tender young years but that is only because of the hard work and dedication of the green keeping team who have nurtured some excellent greens and added some very strategic bunkers.”

He added: “I’m sure that everyone at the club appreciates the great service and commitment you gave on their behalf to ensure the membership was well represented at all time.”

Keller added: “The letter from such an important person in the PGA was totally unexpected and something I will always treasure.

“It completed a wonderful year as captain which has had many other highlights such as raising money for the Spinal Injuries charity.

“It’s great to see the club doing so well in these difficult times and it’s a credit to the green staff for keeping the course open when so many others in the area were closed by the weather.”

Mitchell, who also staged a garden party at her Brindle home to boost charitable causes, added: “The letter was a big surprise and I was honoured to receive it.

“The ladies’ section has had a good year and our open competition was a huge success.”