DURHAM JUNIOR GIRLS' GOLF ROCKS!

 

On Saturday September 23, Durham Junior Girls celebrated the end of a very successful season with an emphatic 7/1 win in their final Inter-County Match, played against Yorkshire, with earlier matches against Cumbria, Northumberland and Lancashire resulting in a further two wins and one narrow defeat (41/2/31/2). These very positive results reflect their other performances throughout the year and the steady and encouraging evolution of our young golfers in the County. In teams made up of older, more experienced players and younger girls rapidly rising through the training ranks, they have certainly demonstrated that Durham Junior Girls’ Golf really does ‘rock’!  It will hopefully continue to do so, future-proofing further success as these younger players prepare to step into the golfing shoes of those about to move permanently into Women’s Golf.

The Results…

Junior fixtures throughout the season have produced some really encouraging results from our more seasoned players, as well as our emerging stars:

  •   Jessica Hall (Bishop Auckland) not only won the Appleby Bowl at Dinsdale Spa, but, in the process, created a new course record with a gross 73. Ramside’s Maggie Whitehead was also a worthy runner-up.

The Stableford Competition was won by Emily Atkinson (Durham City) with 38 points, closely followed by nine year-old Morgan Bailey (South Moor) on 36.

  •   The Junior Championship, played at Brancepeth Castle, produced some phenomenal scores:  Jessica Hall, who won the event, scored 12 under par over 36 holes, while Cara Weddell (Barnard Castle) won the best net (139).

Emily Atkinson again won the Stableford Competition, with Wearside’s Neve Pearson as runner-up.

  •   The Clement Trophy match-play competition was won by Neve Pearson who defeated  Cara Weddell in the final.

 

Six of these younger players represented Durham in the Junior Jamboree at Carlisle in August. Playing in her very first Jamboree, Ella Jackson (Seaton Carew) scored 42 points, reducing her handicap and helping Durham into third place on Day 1. Morgan Bailey, at nine, was the youngest (and smallest!) player at the event. They are all hoping to play again next year but, if this season is anything to go by, some of their handicaps will probably be too low to do this!

Juniors on the Women’s Circuit…

Several Junior players are already familiar – and successful - faces on the Women’s circuit. The 2017 County Champion is Briony Bayles of Bishop Auckland, who, together with five other juniors, Jessica Hall, Alex Stevenson, Ella Crang, Kitana Hollins and Gabrielle Dickinson, also represented Durham in the Northern Counties Match Week at Morecambe in June.

Jessica Hall (Bishop Auckland) and Alex Stevenson (Beamish Park) won the Ladies’ Championships at their home clubs – Alex creating a new course record in the process.

 

… and further afield…

Nor are their successes limited to home events:

  •   In July, Alex Stevenson won the Scottish Under-16 Title by two shots.
  •   Jessica Hall was invited to play in the Portuguese Amateur Open in Lisbon in February. She finished 18th, the highest English player in the field.
  •   In May, Jessica went on to win the Critchley Salver after playing 5 under par over two rounds at Sunningdale. At the Northern Championships at Alwoodley, she also had the second best gross score while Maggie Whitehead (Ramside) won the best net in the ‘Rising 14’s’ category.
  •   Jessica and Briony also played in the English Girls’ Championship at the beginning of August, finishing a credible 8th and 12th respectively.

Leading by example…

The girls are to be commended not only for their achievements, but also for their positive attitude and the fact that they so obviously respect and appreciate all those people - their parents, clubs, coaches and, of course, the County volunteers - who have devoted their time and energy to guide and support them on their various roads to success.

It is also heartening to see that they do not restrict themselves to individual events for personal glory and advancement, but are more than willing to play for County Junior (and Senior) Teams and to represent their clubs in teams, mixed competitions and national events. Representing England in the future is surely on the cards for some of these highly motivated youngsters.

Most of the girls started at a very young age, taking advantage of the different opportunities on offer to progress from ‘taster sessions’ through ‘Birdie’ groups and junior coaching into elite coaching. Some aspire to, and have even progressed as far as, the Professional ranks via University scholarships. Their achievements, dedication and perseverance are to be admired.

In addition – and most importantly - their contributions to the development of golf within the County cannot be ignored, the more ‘seasoned’ amongst them acting as role models for the ‘newbies’. As ambassadors in initiatives such as Get into Golf and Girls Golf Rocks they lead by example and with enthusiasm, showing what’s possible and the endless opportunities presented by getting involved in the world of golf.  Keep rocking, girls!