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Durham girls aiming for the top
UNDEFEATED: Durham stayed unbeaten in three inter-county matches this year and also finished second in the Northern Jamboree at Sandburn Hall
WHEN Jodi Ewart played a starring role in Europe’s Solheim Cup success Stateside last month, the North-East’s golfing fraternity was rightly proud.
The North Yorkshire talent, who played out of Catterick for years before settling in the United States after University, had learned the game and developed her talent since childhood.
Darlington’s gifted Ellie Givens is now a fully-fledged competitor on the Ladies European Tour, while Consett’s Anna Scott has also graduated to that level having gone through the American scholarship programme.
Over the last six months the success of Durham County Ladies’ Golf Association’s junior section have shown there could be more names from the region in with a shout of hitting the top.
Durham’s juniors have gone unbeaten in matches with other northern counties this season, using different girls along the way.
“It’s certainly the first time that it has happened while I have been doing this for the last five years,” said Durham County junior organiser, Gloria West. “I’m not even sure whether it has happened ever before. It’s a fantastic achievement by the girls.”
The season ended last week with a 5.5-2.5pts success over Yorkshire at Darlington Golf Club. There were victories for Jessica Hall (Bishop Auckland), Alexandra Stevenson (Beamish), Shannon O’Dwyer (Hartlepool) and Hannah Dickinson (Castle Eden). Kitana Hollins (Ramside) halved the hole with Toni-Louise Naylor.
In July there was a 4.5-3.5 victory over Lancashire at Bentham. Laura Alexander (Wynyard), O’Dwyer, Dickinson and Aimee Goodlad (Castle Eden) were all fruitful in their singles matches to see Durham over the line.
Two months earlier there was joy at Beamish against Northumberland when Natasha Martin (Beamish), Hall, Katie Milne (Beamish), Stevenson and Hollins were largely responsible for the 5.5-2.5 win. There have also been contributions from Bishop Auckland’s Briony Bayles and Durham’s Rebecca Woolley.
And two of the Under-18s squad’s youngest golfers, Goodlad and Stevenson, both aged 12, have been selected to take part in the England Golf Regional Coaching programme at Matfen Hall with coach JJ Valley along with Hollins, Hall and Bayles.
“England Golf only take golfers to Regional training if they think that in a couple of years’ time they could represent England,” said West, a member at Seaton Carew. “That’s what they are looking for. Jessica Hall is just 14 too and is going.
“It’s the best group of girls we have had at Durham since I have been CJO. “Our aim is to promote golf as a sport to enjoy but it is also to bring as many golfers in to Durham and the county’s clubs as we can. Essentially, I believe you should encourage children in to sport and then encourage them to achieve the highest standard they possible can.”
Understandably there is a great deal of excitement emanating from the Durham County Ladies’ Golf Association, given that there continues to be year on year progress made.
Other highlights this year have been Martin’s ability to break a course record at Houghton-le-Spring, while Alexander is regarded as the group’s best player at this stage and has worked her way down to a three handicap. She has big intentions to go to America.
The scholarship programme across the pond, which proved so beneficial for the likes of Ewart, is often the target by many of Durham’s girl golfers. Rebecca Horner, a big part of the squad last year, has already taken on that route after getting down to minus one.
As well as staying unbeaten for the three inter-county matches this year, Durham also finished second in the Northern Jamboree at Sandburn Hall.
Consett’s Erin Goodfellow, Wearside’s Lindsay Curry, Darlington’s Ella Crang and Katie Atkinson, Hartlepool’s Amy Sutheran and Durham’s Gabrielle Dickinson played their part. Dinsdale’s Stephanie Angus had to withdraw through illness.
“We are all immensely proud of the girls’ achievements and very pleased,” said West. “They have all worked wonderfully hard and have been on cloud nine all summer. To have got through the year in the manner they have is fantastic, beating Lancashire for the first time since anyone can remember too. We now look forward to next year.”
* Anyone looking for further information on Durham Ladies’ Golf Association. Can log on to the website http://www.durhamladiesgolf.org.uk.
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