AS Graeme Storm wandered from tee to tee at Hartlepool Golf Club, more than 100 young golfers made the most of some stunning Bank Holiday weather by playing in the European Tour pro’s third Junior Open.

The Graeme Storm Junior Open has been held on the same fairways and greens where he learned his trade. He is an honorary member too, having started out there as a teenager before going on to win the British Amateur Championship and then two Tour titles.

Storm, who celebrated his 40th birthday this year, has been doing a lot of work in promoting the game to youngsters. He hopes his own tournaments will continue to grow from strength to strength – and he would love to see some of the players follow him onto the professional stage.

“Even in the first few years we have done this we have seen players come here and play like Jack Ainscough who has then gone on to study as part of a scholarship at Colorado University,” said Storm.

“There are others who have got university placements, like Bryony Bayles, she is going to Kansas, and there are others who have gone on to do other things too.

"Hopefully in years to come we can look back on some of the names on the results sheets and remember them competing here at Hartlepool.

“Kids have come from all over the country, as far down as Buckinghamshire, all over, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, it’s brilliant. The power of social media has grown it.

“We have separated the younger age group this year, they will be at Wynyard on May 19 playing in the Mini Storm. That’s where we hope to grow the group, hopefully they will then step up to this day for the 11-18s at Hartlepool.

“We don’t want to take everything for granted though, we want to make sure this continues to get better and we are looking at ways to move it forward. To do that we will look to attract even better players for the gross section, to kick that a little bit further on.”

This year the Junior Open, in association with Dyke House College where he is a golf consultant, doubled up as a qualifier for both the Telegraph Junior Golf Championship and the North of England Under-14s Championship.

Freddie McKenna shot a 73 to win the 11-14 boys gross competition and Libby Bell carded a 76 to win the girls in that age group.

In the senior category, the 15-18s, there was success for Charlotte Pickering after her 77 and Alex Buchanan claimed the boys’ title.

Storm, with his arm in a sling after undergoing surgery on a wrist injury that has ended his 2018 schedule prematurely, said: “The kids that we have had over the last couple of years have come back to support us again.

“I went out in the buggy, the kids did great, there was some fantastic golf from what I saw and the kids were loving it. There were some great players out there, you could see that just by standing along the first tee.

“I would like to say thanks to my wife Sara because without her this event wouldn’t run like it does. I am away all the time. She does all the organising, the prep, writing the emails, deals with the flak, I don’t know how she does it.”

Former Middlesbrough defender Colin Cooper, now part of Gareth Southgate’s England set-up ahead of the World Cup through his Under-21s work, spent the day at the golf club watching the action, with all the money raised going to the charity set up in his son’s name, the Finlay Cooper Fund.

The Fund will receive £2,600 from the Junior Open and it is hoped that will pass the £4,000 mark after the Mini Storm has taken place. The money raised was from entry fees and a raffle, including a prize from former Masters champion Danny Willett which was won by Storm’s son Oliver and has been donated to the Finlay Cooper Fund for auction.

Cooper, a 14-handicapper himself who plays at Pannal, said: “It’s been great to be here again, everyone says it’s a great event when they come and we seem to get blessed with the weather every time.

“We are on the coast in Hartlepool, everyone is in shorts, it’s been fantastic. They are all enjoying themselves, people wandering around. I enjoy golf, first played when I was about 15 when I got a second hand set of clubs, and it’s great to see how far some of these children can hit the ball.”


11-14 Boys Nett

Jamie Skinner 59, Ben Ellis 62

11-14 Boys Gross

Freddie McKenna 73

11-14 Girls Nett

Amy Buchan 66, Libby Bell 70

11-14 Girls Gross

Libby Bell 76

15-18 Girls Nett

Cara Weddell 71, Charlotte Pickering 72

15-18 Girls Gross

Charlotte Pickering 77

15-18 Boys Nett

Ben Suggitt 59, Lee Reynoldson 63 (BB9)

15-18 Boys Gross

Alex Buchanan