FOR the last six years the development arm of the Durham County Golf Union has gone from strength to strength – and it is teeing itself up for even greater success.

While golf clubs from across the region attempt to conjure up their own ways of introducing more and more youngsters in to golf, the county set-up have dedicated their own time to achieving just that.

Under the watchful eye of the Union’s lead coach, Mark Rayson, it is hoped Durham will unearth the next generation of talent on the greens.

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And the success of previous years suggests Durham are going exactly the right way about achieving their goals and they are determined to ensure that continues in 2014.

After five consecutive years of winning the Inter-County Under-18s Tournament against Cumbria and Northumberland, despite being the smaller county, Durham want to retain their title once more this year.

There will also be a drive to retain the Srixon Junior Under-12s Golf Tour Final they have won for the last five years too and they will begin the search for new recruits within the next fortnight.

The county’s programme is aimed at helping boys and girls with talent and enthusiasm to develop their golfing skills to enable them to progress within the game and reach their full potential.

To get involved in the 2014 programme, sessions will take place throughout February. The dates and venues are: Sunday, February 2 (10am-2pm) - Ramside Hall Golf Club; Sunday, February 9 (10am-2pm) - Headlam Hall Golf; Sunday, February 23 (10am-2pm) - Beamish Park Hotel Range.

Rayson, formerly a junior development coach at Ramside Hall and a fully qualified PGA professional, said: “We do the assessment days to go through the talent ID process.

“What started as a numbers game six years ago has become more focused on performance in the last couple of years because of the success we have had.

“That’s why we have done so well in the Inter-County competitions and by the time we have finished with the golfers we work with the aim is that will be ready to reach an elite level.”

The County academy programme features high quality coaching from PGA qualified professionals for golfers in the eight to 18 age bracket.

The project is run under the umbrella of the Durham County Golf Partnership, which has links to England Golf, the PGA, the Golf Foundation among others.

Rayson said: “The programme has been there to try to help children get in to golf and because we take them in from the age of eight we aim to give them the right guidance and coaching to get them to a high level. We want everyone we work with to reach their full potential.”

Over the years a number of the programme’s golfers have stepped up to national level.

And former County academy players Ben Bailey (Wynyard GC) and William Skipp (Eaglescliffe) have been chosen for the England Golf Under-16 regional coaching squad.

Five of the girls have made their squad. They are Briony Bayles (Bishop Auckland GC), Aimee Goodlad (Castle Eden GC), Jessica Hall (Bishop Auckland GC), Kitana Hollins (Ramside Hall GC) and Alexandra Stevenson (Beamish Park GC).

Players must register in advance to attend. Registrations must be submitted online or received via email/post no later than the Friday of the previous week of each date.

Players can register online by using the link or by downloading a registration form at

Further information is available from Mark Rayson on 07927 754952 or by emailing

ROCKLIFFE HALL has also started their own search to develop the region’s rising talent.

The next generation are being given the chance to play Rockliffe when it holds a Junior Golf Academy, starting from Sunday, February 9 and runs for six weeks.

Young people aged from six to 14 are invited to take part and receive tuition and master-classes from some of the region’s top professional golfers at the Hurworth-based Championship golf course.

The six week course, fully-structured by Rockliffe Hall’s golf professionals and aimed at beginners who want to enter the game or those that want learn more about it, will start with a basic introduction to golf and cover aspects such as grip and stance, short game and putting, long and short bunker play and long game and woods.

The six week course runs between 10-11am for 6-10 year-olds and 2pm-3pm for 11-14s. It costs £75 per child for the full course.

For more details contact 01325 729980 or email