Junior golf in Hampshire could receive a boost from the big rise in new members as more people took up golf during the first lockdown.
Many educational experts have spent the last year fearing the impact the COVID-19 lockdowns, which have closed schools as well as sporting facilities, on both learning and participation levels.
Hampshire Golf junior manager Wayne Matthews accepts golf faces as big a challenge as any other sport, with youngsters having got out of the habit of many of the things that were part of ‘normal life’ before March 2020.
The Newport Golf Club member from the Isle of Wight, has said:
“Participation numbers for juniors have remained quite low even before the pandemic.
“But hopefully with the large number of adults who took up the game during the lockdown last year, we will see a benefit with more young people coming down to the clubs.
“If more of them are tempted to take up golf that can only be beneficial to the county.”
Matthews has been involved in the county’s junior golf programme for the past 5 years, and has managed the U18 team with Rob Mulcahy from South Winchester GC for the past couple of years. They are both chomping at the bit to get their development programme underway for 2021, having been forced to write off the 2020 season.
“Our efforts to form an U10 squad for coaching proved difficult in the past, because there was a high attritional rate, so we have combined them with the U12s this year.
“We had a good recruitment day for the U12s at Sherfield Oaks, in November, with a good turn out and have now picked a 13-strong squad.
“The lowest handicap is 10 and the highest is 31, and we will continue to monitor all those that attended under coaches Adam Glass and Barney Wychard, who are based at Sherfield.
Article continues below this advertisement
“Under 12s manager Richard Beeston will look after those U10 players after Dave Telfer retired after a number of years in the role, and we thank him for all his efforts with Hampshire Juniors.
“The EZGO Junior Tour will give many of the youngest players a platform to improve and push for inclusion in the U12s squad, either later in 2021 or in future years.
“I was very impressed with the way Adam and Barney ran our selection day at Sherfield Oaks and now they have taken over the U12s coaching, I am really looking forward to working with them during the coming season.”
Matthews and Mulachy hope the South East League fixtures for the U14s, U16s and U18s, which were scrapped en masse in 2020 will go ahead as lockdown restrictions are removed.
Report by Andrew Griffin